We Are Not Stuck With Zeldin

Fight Back

East Hampton

May 21, 2018

To the Editor,

I want to live in an America that strives to be the best it can be, an America that does not look backward with blinders on and pine for illusory “good old days,” but an America that looks forward with energy and determination, and the collective will to find solutions to the problems we face.

Immigration, climate change, and gun safety are just some of the challenges confronting us. I have no doubt this country is up to the task, but we need smart, dedicated people working toward common goals, led by a president who is committed to those goals, and a Congress that has the political backbone to do its duty.

While there is no shortage of dedicated people, we are saddled with a president who thinks that building a wall, burning more coal, and kowtowing to the N.R.A. will make America great again, and a Republican-majority Congress that rubber-stamps whatever he does.

We may be stuck with the president (for now), but we are not stuck with Lee Zeldin, who has voted to defund DACA (in 2015), allow coal mining companies to dump waste into streams, and who has received more money in N.R.A. donations than any other current New York representative.

If you want a representative who will fight back against Trump’s regressive policies, vote for a Democrat in November.

Sincerely,
CAROL DEISTLER

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Posted in climate change, DACA, Environment, Guns, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Leave a comment

Local Economy Dependent on Immigrants

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Recent reports describe  increased round up of latinos. Along with suspected “bad guys” ICE is sweeping up many more innocent undocumented workers.  This was highlighted by the latest Trump visit to Long Island and Lee Zeldin’s cheer leading.  Read more here and here.

Here is the flip slide however: the Long Island Farm Bureau is begging Zeldin to help with temporary work visas to keep their farms open. Landscapers, pool companies, roofers, house cleaners, deck builders, construction crews are absolutely reliant on Latino workers.  Here is a relevant article which was published in March 2018.

From: the Southampton Press

BY MICHAEL WRIGHT

For many business owners on the East End, immigrant workers from Central America and South America have become the indispensable backbone of their workforce.

Many firms employ immigrant labor, and some say it’s because of their work ethic.

Business owners across East End trades this week said that if newly aggressive federal deportation policies targeting undocumented immigrants overreach, the effect on the local workforce could threaten their businesses’ ability to operate—and could even drag down the local economy as a whole over time.

Owners and employees of a cross-section of medium-sized businesses in the residential development industry—construction, landscaping and residential painting companies with between 15 and 40 full-time employees—all of whom live in Southampton or East Hampton, spoke this week about their concerns.

None would speak on the record by name, for fear of both legal fallout and becoming the focus of public anger in such a volatile climate, but said that the view of the immigrant community’s importance to the local community is often misunderstood or underestimated by others.

Each of the business owners said that the bulk of their employees are Latino immigrants. Some acknowledged that they are often not certain about a worker’s status, since New York State does not require an employer to verify legal residency of an employee when they file W-2 or 1099 forms linked to a tax identification number. Others said they are aware the majority of their workforce are not legal residents.

But all said that every employee on their crew, documented or not, has a tax ID number or state-issued work permit and pays the full complement of state and federal taxes that any legal resident would pay, and are covered by workmen’s compensation insurance. They said that most other medium or large local companies like theirs have similar arrangements with their employees.

Each also said that, apart from the economic firestorm that would consume their industry if large numbers of immigrants were taken from, or left, the local community, they see most of their employees as upstanding members of the local community: family men, homeowners, devout church-goers and consumers.

Seeing The Need

Most, but not all, of the business owners spoken to said they support Donald Trump and his tough stance on immigration enforcement. They do so in large part because they say they see the impact of companies that, unlike theirs, employ undocumented workers off the booksmaking it difficult to compete with them in the marketplace.

Those who said they support the president’s approach are confident—or at least hopefulthat the administration’s policies would not cost them the most critical components to their business.

“As a business owner, I see both sides of it,” a Southampton-based painting company owner said. “I do the right thing in terms of taxes and insurance, so I have a certain amount of animus toward the guys I see who aren’t doing the right thing and are charging much less and taking business from me.

“But I also see the need,” he added, with a slight sigh. “We created what we have here, and now we need [immigrant workers] to sustain it. It’s hard for me to say what should be done. Except, I guess, I know what needs to be done: The guys who want to work and are paying their taxes and keeping out of trouble, they should be allowed to stay. But they should definitely go after the bad guys.”

Another business owner echoed the sentiment that tougher immigration enforcement should apply only to violent or repeat criminals, not law-abiding people, and said his immigrant employees do, too.

“These are honest, hard-working guys—that is not who they’re going to go after,” a Southampton landscape company owner said of his impression of federal immigration authorities. “They’re only going after the ones who are killing, and the gang members. My guys understand that what the president is talking about is the criminals. And they want the criminals out too.”

Business, Not Greed

Asked why their crews are made up of mostly, if not entirely, immigrant workers, every employer offered a slight variation of the same sentiment: Not because they are cheaper, but because they are the best workers. “White guys, especially the young ones, don’t really want to work all that hard, and when there’s waves they don’t want to work at all, so they just don’t show up,” said one. “I’ve had white guys, black guys, Spanish guys, Russian guys, Polish guys, Irish guys. The Spanish guys show up to work every day, and they work hard. They would work 60 or 70 hours a week, seven days, if they could.”

Each told a series of very similar anecdotes about their travails as employers in finding and hiring non-immigrant workers.

“I started banging nails as soon as I got out of college, and I’d hire my buddies from high school,” recalled a high-end construction company owner based in East Hampton Town. “They’d be smoking pot in the port-apotties, doing blow in the office trailer, or they wouldn’t show up. Then, one year, I hired two Colombian guys. They showed up for work, they didn’t drink—and eventually my all-American crew became an all-immigrant crew.” “I remember my dad’s workers when I was a kid: They were all white, and even then I could tell they were the bottom of the barrel—but that was all you could get back then,” said the painting company owner. “I’ve had two American guys work for me, and they weren’t worth a darn. I get five or 10 Spanish guys looking for jobs every day—nobody of any other race or color has even called for a job.”

A Cottage Industry

Immigrant workers are more than just an expedient business solution to the need for more and more labor in the local economy, one of the businessmen said. They were the foundation that allowed it to rise to a new labor-intensive stratosphere of elegance, ornateness and complexity.

The painting company owner offered that, in the last two decades, the immigrant labor market, particularly among companies not following costly taxation and workman’s comp requirements, allowed the residential development market to grow at an exponentially faster rate and evolve in more labor-dependent ways than it would have otherwise.

“The spec house market was completely dependent on that,” he said of companies staffed by off-the-books immigrant employees. “You take the standard 6,000-square-foot spec house: I have to charge $100,000 to paint that house. But [a spec builder] gets them done for $40,000, because he uses the guys that are paying off the books. If that wasn’t there, all that spec building in Bridgehampton and Water Mill, and all over, that would never have happened.”

Going a step further, the painter said that if the robust supply of immigrant workers were removed or substantially diminished, the demands of the current market could not be met, and that attempts to keep up would likely, over the years, force economic contraction, as services like caring for intricately sculpted landscapes and seemingly endless renovations and expansions of existing homes become more and more expensive.

“Eventually,” he said, “even the rich people are going to say it’s not worth it.”

A Catch-22

The employers labored to cast aside a common misconception about undocumented workers: that they are paid substantially less than legal residents and citizens for the same jobs, and that they do not pay taxes.

Each said their immigrant workers typically make the standard wage for the jobs they do. They acknowledged that there are companies dodging the system but said that most of the recognizable names in the development-related trades in this region are following the letter of the law in regard to employees whose immigration status is clouded.

“These guys take deep pride in paying taxes,” a construction company owner said of his employees. “They want to play by the rules, desperately. If they could pay $10,000 or $15,000 to be able to apply [for legal residency] tomorrow, they would do it in a second. They would buy health insurance in a second—if they could. And they are strong and healthy, they eat well, they work hard and are in shape. They would be paying into the system, not taking from it.”

In 2013, the Social Security Administration issued a report on “unauthorized immigrants” that estimated undocumented but on-the-books workers were paying about $12 billion a year into the Social Security program alone. The report pointed out that the vast majority of those workers would never be eligible to receive the benefits of the program later in life like citizens who paid the same amount in taxes would. Additionally, undocumented residents get no tax refunds.

Three employees of one of the business owners who sat in the company’s office on a recent Friday to explain how they came to be part of the massive undocumented workforce, for their part, said that they are happy to pay taxes and would be willing to pay fines or fees for their past immigration violations if it would give them a path to legal residency. Two said they have already spent many thousands trying to find such a path, and in some cases lost tens of thousands more to unscrupulous attorneys who took their payments up front, in cash, and then vanished.

“I tried to come here legally first,” said Jose, a construction worker. “My brother got here by applying. My seven brothers, we all applied. Only one got a visa.” Jose, who is 29 and a native of Ecuador, said that in his hometown he could work for his father’s masonry businessmaking about $35 a month. “I make more than that in an hour now,” he said.

Another of the workers, an Ecuadorian immigrant named Gallo, said that he pays more than $20,000 a year in taxes and workman’s comp insurance. In 2006, after being arrested by immigration agents while visiting Niagara Falls, he paid an attorney $35,000 to help him apply for legal residency. The man simply never filed the application and vanished with his money.

Since then Gallo has reported annually to an immigration court judge to show that he is fully employed and paying taxes. He worries now, however, that if he reports to the court again, he could be seized and deported. “It’s a Catch-22,” said his boss, who said several employees fear they are in a similar bind. “They’re scared to go to the immigration court like they’ve been doing, to show that they’re doing things properly. But if they don’t go, then they’ll get a deportation warrant put on them. So they could get deported if they don’t go—but if they do go, they could still get deported.”

Two of the three men own homes and have young children who are U.S. citizens. They say that in recent weeks they have grown scared of their future in the United States, even though they have seen no actual evidence of deportations from the community.

One, named John, a former Colombian national soccer team member, said that he worries that if he or he and his wife were to be deported, their mortgage would go into default and be seized by a bank—the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars already invested in it simply lost.

His son is an American citizen. When he was 3 he was diagnosed with leukemia and relies on medicines now that he could likely not get if the family left the United States together.

“He has to stay here because he has to keep getting his medicine—if I had to leave, what would become of him,” John said. “My son, he is 10. He tells me all the time, ‘Daddy, be careful.’”

 

Comment:

If you want an emetic, take a look at the vitriol in the comments section of the original article, with comments by anonymous people with telling names like “SlimeAlive”.  DP

Posted in Uncategorized, immigration/deportation, Zeldin, Employment, economy, Trump, Discrimination, economics, long island | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

William Floyd’s Top Two Students

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Found this great story from 5/17/2018, by RANDALL WASZYNSKI, in the Long Island Advance – thanks for tip, Marc Rauch.

A Latina and a Pakistani get the honors at Lee Zeldin’s old high school.  I am still waiting to see a congratulatory note from LZ!

Congressman Lee Zeldin grew up in Suffolk County, New York, where he graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach.

 

Here is what you can do: post a comment on one of his Facebook pages with a link to the article in the Long Island Advance.  Something like this:

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The William Floyd School District is pleased to announce its 2018 valedictorian and salutatorian, who anticipate graduation in June. Both are heavily involved in the National Honor Society. Valedictorian Asma Asghar serves as a co-president of NHS and saluatorian Michelle Lara is vice president.

Valedictorian: Asma Asghar

Finishing at the top of her class, Asghar has secured a 102.36 weighted grade point average as a first-generation American, moving from Pakistan to Shirley in fifth grade. She has an older brother studying engineering, who graduated from William Floyd, and a second younger brother in the district.

Asghar will be studying neuroscience at Barnard College and aspires to continue that discipline or other options within the medical field. She has been conducting research as an advanced research student at William Floyd High School and is president of Stony Brook Science and Technology Entry Program, which is dedicated to encouraging and preparing more underrepresented minority and low-income high-school students for entry into scientific, technical, health and health-related careers.

“Just like with the research and with Stony Brook STEP, [William Floyd has] been very supportive in providing a lot of opportunities, where we can go to Brookhaven National Lab and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory,” Asghar said.

After completing school, Asghar aspires to volunteer in countries in need of medical camps and would like to be a part of setting up those camps.

“Over here, we have affordable healthcare compared to other developing countries,” she said. “So I would like to use that knowledge to help other places in the world and other people.”

Asghar has served the William Floyd community along several avenues of community service, including Relay for Life for Breast Cancer Awareness, Thanksgiving food drives, and tutoring.

She sees her tutoring of students learning English as their second or third language as most notable, since she was an ENL student herself. Asghar is fluent in four languages, including English, Urdu, Punjabi and Hindi.

Salutatorian: Michelle Lara 

Lara has earned a 101.20 weighted grade point average and has been named the salutatorian of her graduating class. She is also a first-generation American and, along with six other William Floyd students, was honored by the Town of Brookhaven Hispanic Advisory Board in November.

Lara says her greatest achievement is receiving acceptance to Harvard University, where she plans to study biology. She said that the application process was tough in that she had to teach herself.

“I don’t really have any family with the experience of going to college,” Lara said. “It was great to have that hard work and a bunch of research that went into it pay off.”

Lara aspires to become a neurosurgeon though is not ruling out other medical-field ventures.

She has been heavily involved in the music community through her time at William Floyd, serving as vice president of both the symphonic orchestra and jazz band. Playing piano, violin and percussion, Lara also took part in chamber orchestra, pit orchestra and wind symphony. She also participated in NYSCAME All-County Band and NYSBDA High School Honor Concert Band. Lara plans to continue being in orchestras and jazz bands in the future.

“Music has always been somewhere I can call home,” she said. “The music faculty [at William Floyd] is so supportive, and I’ve always found it to be a welcoming and enriching community.”

Lara also participated in girls varsity cross country and girls track and field for three years.

 

Posted in Education, immigration/deportation, long island, Trump, Uncategorized, Women, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Issues that Matter in NY CD-1

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From: Steven Lupo  as posted on FaceBook:

I was knocking on doors for Kate Maguire Browning today. At one of the first homes I went to, a young woman answered the door. She looked exhausted. I apologized for disturbing her and explained why I was there. She asked me for Kate’s position on healthcare and I gave her the best answer I could. I then asked why it was important to her.

She responded her daughter was terminally ill. She been up most of the night and that’s why she looked exhausted. My heart broke. She said life has been a struggle, not only because of her daughters illness but also the constant battle with insurance and pharmaceutical companies, who try to deny her daughter coverage.

I brought up the fact that my daughter was born premature and spent 14 days in NICU. But I was lucky. I could concentrate on my daughter’s recovery. I didn’t have to worry about going broke or fighting insurance companies. I stated no American should have to go through what she is going through.

At this point I reminded her of Zeldin‘s position on healthcare. I reminded her how he voted to take healthcare away from millions of Americans. He has voted on the side of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies, to charge us more money, while offering inferior coverage.

Later in the day I met a widow on a pension. She is living on her deceased husband‘s federal pension. She is very worried that the Trump administration will reduce her benefits. She’s worried if Social Security and Medicare will be there for her children. She’s worried the inflation we are starting to see will eat away at her fixed income.

Many live in the echo chamber of #RussiaGate, but most Americans are looking much closer to home. They are concerned about their jobs, affordable healthcare, affordable homes, lower taxes, educating their children, environmental issues, the opioid epidemic, etc.

That’s what I focus on as I speak to folks. That is the message we need to focus on to unseat Zeldin.

And we must never, NEVER, bash the other Democratic candidates. NEVER!

We must unite and rally around the primary winner. We have a tough battle ahead. Please stay positive!

 

Posted in Brookhaven, Kate Browning, long island, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

US Healthcare: no Bang for the Buck

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Health care in the US is more expensive, by far, than anywhere else on this planet.  It represents greater than 17.9% of the US GDP.   Health spending is projected to grow 1.0 percentage point faster than Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year over the 2017-26 period; as a result, the health share of GDP is expected to rise from 17.9 percent in 2016 to 19.7 percent by 2026.   Other comparable developed countries pay much less:

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The question is why are we so wasteful and what do we get for all this money.  If you look at longevity as the overall measure of success for healthcare, we are not doing very well, as described in a recent article in the NY Times:

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The above graph shows life expectancy over time compared to similar developed nations.

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This shows life expectancy as a function of health spending per person.

So what are the proposed causes for this dramatic inefficiency? The authors propose many factors to explain the sudden up tick in health care spending around 1980. For example:

“suppliers marketed very costly technological innovations with gusto,”and they “found ready customers in hospitals, medical practices and other entities eager to keep up with rivals in the medical arms race.”  The last third of the 20th century or so, was a fertile time for expensive health care innovation: Coronary artery bypass grafting, innovative drug treatments for H.I.V. for cancer and expensive NICU care for premature babies.

But innovation does not necessarily translate in to better outcomes. Almost no matter how it’s measured, longevity in the United States has not kept pace with that of other nations.

Another study, published in JAMA, found that even accounting for motor vehicle traffic crashes, firearm-related injuries and drug poisonings, the United States has higher mortality rates than comparably wealthy countries.

So here is the presumed bottom line.

“The lack of universal health coverage and less safety net support for low-income populations could have something to do with it.  The most efficient way to improve population health is to focus on those at the bottom,” says Ms Glied from Columbia Univ. “But we don’t do as much for them as other countries.”

The effectiveness of focusing on low-income populations is evident from large expansions of public health insurance for pregnant women and children in the 1980s. There were large reductions in child mortality associated with these expansions. “Those reductions were much larger for poor children than for richer children,” Ms. Currie said.

In 1980 the United States spent 11 percent of its G.D.P. on social programs, excluding health care, while members of the European Union spent an average of about 15 percent. In 2011 the gap had widened to 16 percent versus 22 percent.

Slow income growth could play a role because poorer health is associated with lower incomes. “It’s notable that, apart from the richest Americans, income growth stagnated starting in the late 1970s,” Cutler said. “Social underfunding probably has more long-term implications than underinvestment in medical care.”

Read more here about how social programs can lead to increased longevity: Are better health outcomes related to social expenditure?

It has been known for some time that low income/wealth is associated with much decreased longevity:

  • as the income gap increases in the US, so does the disparity in life spans between rich and poor as reported in the NY Times
  • in the U.S., the richest 1 percent of men lives 14.6 years longer on average than the poorest 1 percent of men, while among women in those wealth percentiles, the difference is 10.1 years on average.
  • This eye-opening gap is also growing rapidly: Over roughly the last 15 years, life expectancy increased by 2.34 years for men and 2.91 years for women who are among the top 5 percent of income earners in America, but by just 0.32 and 0.04 years for men and women in the bottom 5 percent of the income tables.
  • U.S. tax and spending policy does relatively little, compared with its peers in the developed world, to reduce inequality and with the new tax policies enacted by our current government this will worsen.

In the NY Times (2014) Leonhardt and Quealy note that “The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest”.   The following interactive graph shows who many developped countries like Norway, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands are making gains for the lower 20th percentile of wage earners surpassing American incomes for this bracket.  American incomes are losing their edge, except at the top:

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It is this same bracket (the lower 20th percentile) that have such poor life expectancy dragging down the overall life expectancy for the entire country.

Finally, this study shows an interesting shift: since about 2004 the lowest quintile income group in the US is spending much less on healthcare on a per capita basis, than the highest income quintile.  One of the authors remarks that “co-payments and deductibles have bent the cost curve.  But it’s come at the expense of poor people and middle-income people.”

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My conclusions:

  1. efforts by the GOP to slash medicare will make things worse
  2. the new tax law will make things worse by aggravating income disparity
  3. advances in medicine benefit the health care industry and affluent Americans who have access to the newest treatments, but on average the population does not benefit as measured by life expectancy, for example.
  4. How you vote may be a matter of life or death.
Posted in ACA, American Health Care Act, Health Care, Medicaid, medicare, Pay Equality, Poverty, Tax Reform, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Zeldin Votes to Hurt Hungry Constituents

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The “Farm Bill” is generally known as the biggest safety net for millions of farmers across the country. But it also includes the Supplemental Nutrition Program — known as SNAP or “food stamps”. Last year, 40 million people used the program, totaling about $70 billion in spending.

Republicans and Trump want strict work requirements for people who receive those benefits, a plan all Democrats reject. That left House leaders searching for conservative votes.

The GOP rebellion Friday came from two groups, fiscal conservatives opposed to the high level of government spending in the farm bill and a group of more than two-dozen representatives who threatened earlier this week to block the farm bill until they were guaranteed a vote on immigration and border security.

The Congressional Black Caucus claimed the work requirements would “ensure that more Americans go hungry,” claiming the GOP changes to SNAP would result in 2 million people losing access to food stamps.

Eve Krief is a Suffolk county activist and she points out that Lee Zeldin should be held accountable for voting for the failed bill.  It would have

HURT 15,621 HUNGRY HOUSEHOLDS IN HIS DISTRICT!!
Look at the following table under the heading SNAP (Food Stamps)

  • 15,621 SNAP households
  • 5,740 SNAP Households with children
  • 8,079 SNAP households with elderly
  • 67% SNAP households (2 or more people) who worked in 2015

32908676_387860491697840_5348658709423718400_nSource: Fiscalpolicy.org

This legislation was defeated.  But we were clearly lucky to have benefited from a  rebellion within the Republican ranks.  The issue may resurface.

Single mothers with newborn babies, and no income, are at the highest risk!

Lee Zeldin’s inhumane vote is here to stay.  Let’s remind him in November.

 

 

Posted in Congress, Farm Bill, Politics, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Promises Broken

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Trump campaign promises (which some liberals supported) remain largely ignored. He ran as an economic populist and bucked the GOP’s economic brand, contributing to his appeal. But he has violated every one of his promises.

  • Donald Trump promised to negotiate the price of prescription drugs covered through Medicare. “we’d save $300 billion a year,” “We don’t do it. Why? Because of the drug companies.” “We’re going to negotiate like crazy.” On May 11th, Trump announced the federal government would NOT directly negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare. And he chose not to allow American consumers to import low-cost medicines from abroad.
  • there will be no infrastructure bill this year. Contrast that with promises of hard-hat jobs modernizing roads and airports across the country. Instead we got a regressive tax cut, with a huge increase in the deficit.
  • Trump promised over and over to pull out of Nafta and renegotiate a much better deal. Nafta was the ultimate culprit for declining blue-collar wages.  He promised a better deal: “I don’t mean just a little bit better, I mean a lot better.”  But, there is no easy “better” trade deal to be negotiated.
  • Trump also repeatedly promised universal health care. “Everybody’s gotta be covered.  … I am going to take care of everybody, I don’t care if it costs me votes or not” But he never compromised with Democrats and sabotaged the existing program.  And now the rate of uninsured is climbing again.
  • “Draining the swamp” … Trump promised to enact reforms to reduce the power of lobbyists and business. He specifically
    promised:
  1. A constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress
  2. A ban on federal employees lobbying the government for five years
  3. A ban on members of Congress lobbying for five years
  4. Tighter rules about what constitutes a lobbyist, instead of letting people call themselves consultants
  5. Campaign finance reform limiting what foreign companies can raise for American political candidates
  6. A ban on senior government officials lobbying for foreign governments

All empty promises!

In stead Trump embraced Washington sleaze with unprecedented gusto. This includes lobbying for foreign governments: Michael Cohen was a conduit for business interests to buy their way into Trump’s good graces.

  • Trump also promised, to raise taxes on the rich, including on himself.
    “It’s going to cost me a fortune, which is actually true,” he said.  Instead, the only promises he has kept are the ones that put money in the pockets of Trump and his cronies.

Broken Promises  should represent a guide for the 2018 campaigns across the country to turn Congress blue.   Sitting Rep. congress members that have backed Trump, like Lee Zeldin, are all complicit in these lies to their constituents.

Posted in ACA, democrats, GOP, Health Care, Labor, Politics, Seniors, swamp, Tax Reform, Trump, Uncategorized, Zeldin | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments