Congressional Corner With Sean Patrick Maloney | WAMC

Congressional Corner With Sean Patrick Maloney

Jun 16, 2020

Election day is only a few months away.

In today’s Congressional Corner, New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat from the 18th district, wraps up his conversation with WAMC’s Alan Chartock.

This conversation was recorded June 9th.

Alan Chartock: Sean Patrick Maloney is of the 18th beautiful congressional district in the Hudson Valley. Sean how’s Joe Biden doing?

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney: I think doing pretty good, tell you the truth. And as he says, you don't have to compare him to the Almighty, you just need to compare him to the alternative. And I think he's a lot better than the alternative.

And if you were his campaign manager, what recommendations would you be giving? You know, a lot of people say, well, you know, he's not out there enough and look at them compared to Trump. And yet, if you think about it, his numbers keep going up and up and Trump's keep going down. He must be doing something right.

That's right and I think the characters I'm looking for in a good candidate are the same as you look for in a good leader. You want to be steady. You want to be yourself. You want to understand what's truly important during the day to day ups and downs and all the noise. And I think Joe Biden is getting almost everything right because he is steady. He's talking like an adult. He's trying to unify the country to speak above some of the pettiness that we've seen in our politics. He is calm, he's clearly experienced and knows how to use government in a time of crisis. And he's going to set an example by his own conduct of the importance of taking seriously the CDC guidelines and the health recommendations to wear a mask to avoid unnecessary contact with people. He's an adult and so I don't have a lot of criticism for the way he's conducting himself. And look, nobody's perfect, but I do think he represents the opportunity to bring some stability and a little less anger and division to our country at a time when we really need that.

Now your fellow representative Eliot Engel is in a primary battle to hold his seat. So have you endorsed him?

I have, I have and I've worked closely with Congressman Engel. He chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee in the house, which is a very powerful committee and very important, and he has a lot of seniority. And he's always been a good friend to me. But you know, the people of that district are going to have an opportunity to make up their own minds.

And there are a number of people, AOC and others who want to make the party more progressive, are they right?

They’re out there advocating for the ideas and beliefs that they have. That's totally fair. I mean, this is a democracy. You know, none of us have a right to hold these offices. We all have a two year contract. And so that's the only thing going on. My concerns would be that we can’t be better at beating Democrats than we are at beating Republicans. In other words, you can beat all the Democrats you want, but at some point, you gotta beat the red team if you really want to bring change to the country. Sometimes those things can happen in tandem and sometimes they’re at odds with each other. It concerns me that there’s not one Bernie Sanders candidate that has ever beat a Republican for federal office. Ever. Not one. Name one. There is not a single example anywhere in the country where a Bernie Sanders candidate has beat a Republican incumbent the way I did, the way a lot of Democrats did in 2018. We won 63 seats in the House, flipped 40 Republican seats. Not a single one of those people was from that wing of the party.

I share a lot of the ideas of those folks and I would call myself a progressive and I want to see the party embrace a lot of progressive ideas. I support things like the Green New Deal, I support reforms in policing, I support lots of things that I think are important to that wing of the party. I also want to build our coalition so that we can govern the country. And I think you have to do both things, because we’re really good at talking to people who already agree with us, and we’re really good at fighting with ourselves, but at some point, you gotta build a coalition, you gotta get on the other side of the chess board, and you gotta win power and bring real change for people. That’s what I want to do.

Let's talk a little bit. Sean Patrick Maloney about SALT deductions, state and local taxes. We were able as New Yorkers, and I'm a Massachusetts person, but I was too, and I pay taxes in New York, to deduct state and local taxes from our income tax. Now we can't. The President of the United States took away the money from the blue states. Any chance we'll get it back?

Well, people should know in the Heroes Act, which is sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk, which has passed the House of Representatives. Not only do we provide a trillion dollars in support to states and local government, including $66 billion to New York over the next two years, $32 billion of which would go directly to counties and municipal governments. In addition to that in the Heroes Act, there is a full restoration of your state and local tax deductions. So we would give them all back to people in New York. That'd be a huge shot in the arm to folks in in our part of the world and by the way to people's home values into the real estate industry. So we've already passed it out of the house, and I'm proud that we've done that. The Senate needs to move the whole bill, and that's part of it.

Well, at one point, President Ford said, you know, New York drop dead at least according to the Daily News. Mitch McConnell said similar things adding up to the same result. What makes you think he might move?

Well, I'm encouraged that there's a bipartisan group of people pushing him to move. I mean, if you talk to Marcus Molinaro, the Republican county executive in Dutchess County or Steve Neuhaus, Republican county executive in Orange County, if you talk to Peter King, no liberal, a conservative Republican member of congress from Long Island, we all agree and support the Heroes Act. And there are a lot of Republican governors out there. Larry Hogan in Maryland, Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Mike DeWine in Ohio, who all need assistance now. New York is in the bullseye because we were the center of the pandemic so we needed more than anybody. And bear in mind, we send $29 billion more to Washington every year than we get back. So we're just asking for our own money. But I don't have a lot of hope that Mitch McConnell's ever going to see the light. I think it's time for some new leadership in the United States Senate. And everybody should get involved in that fight because this matters for New York.

There is some speculation, I read something from Mitch McConnell himself, he writes me almost every day. I'm sure he writes another 8 million people along with me, but he said the Republicans are in real danger in the Senate. You think the Senate might go Democratic?

I think there is a movement in this country to get results, whether you're talking about the legislation we passed to help people with their pensions or the gun safety legislation or cleaning up corruption in politics, all this dark money in politics, whether we're talking about the aid to state and local governments in New York, whether we're talking about the Equality Act, which would stop LGBT people from being fired from their jobs, the way they can in 30 states. I mean, these are all things we've done on the environment, on health care, that are sitting on Mitch McConnell’s desk. And people want change, people want action on immigration reform, on the Dreamers. I mean, on an area after area, we are standing still. And so as Robert Kennedy said, you’re not going to change some of these policies until you change some of the men who make them. We need to change some of the men who make them in the United States Senate and in the White House, by the way. And I hope everybody takes that as a personal task this year. Everybody has a role to play. Everybody can do something. This is going to change because everybody does a little, not because some of us do a lot.

You mentioned Robert Kennedy, I've been interviewing on this very program, you know, his Grandson, Joe Kennedy, who I think you know, who's running against Ed Markey. I’ve been interviewing him too. What do you make of that race?

Well, what I can tell you is I love Joe Kennedy and he's one of my best friends in the house. We were elected in 2012 together. He gave a toast at my wedding. We're very close. Our families are close. He's a remarkable American. He is smart, and he's honest, he has no visible vices that I can tell. He's extraordinary talent, and I think the people of Massachusetts are gonna send him to the United States Senate. And I think he's gonna be a real leader. He's a great, great young leader in the Democratic Party. In some ways. If his name weren't Kennedy, I think he would be even more recognized as the rock star he is. I think that in some ways, he has to live into that mantle when in fact, on any scale, he is really a standout talent. So looks Ed Markey supports a lot of the things a lot of us support. This is a family fight in some ways. Ed Markey is not a bad man, but I do think Joe's the better candidate. I think he's gonna win that race and I think he's gonna be a great senator from Massachusetts.

One last provocative question. Who should Joe Biden nominate to be vice president?

I think he's got a great group of people that he can look to. I'm a big fan of Val Demings from Florida. I sit next to her on the Intelligence Committee. We're friends. She's smart, she's honest, she's a former police chief. She has a strong religious faith. She knows what she's talking about. African American woman. I think she'd be outstanding, but I think there's people like the mayor of Atlanta. I think there's people like Stacey Abrams, I think there's people like Kamala Harris, you may have noticed I’m naming African American women. I think it would be great if the vice president nominated a woman. I'd like to see him nominate an African American woman. It'll be his decision. Obviously, the most important issue is who's ready to be president of the United States at a moment's notice. But all those people would be, and there's some others I've left out. We've got a really great bench of future leaders in the Democratic Party.

And speaking of which, it's great to talk to you. And thank you so much for being with us. Sean Patrick Maloney, and giving us your thoughts on so many of these issues. We so appreciated from the 18th District of New York State. Thanks so much.

Happy to do it. Take care Alan.