July 30, 2020
From Democrat Tracy Mitrano:
Congressional candidate Tracy Mitrano (D-NY23) took aim at Republican and Democratic coronavirus relief plans during her weekly press call, chiding both parties for loading their bills with irrelevant spending proposals. “Both Democrats and Republicans should take the pork out of this new stimulus bill and focus on that which is going to help with the pandemic and the economic fallout,” Mitrano said. “This is a general problem with Congress: You try to do something to help people and everyone sticks their hand in to get this and that. This is not the time!”
Mitrano criticized the first stimulus plan for emphasizing aid to corporations, banks and other special interests instead of those who were hit the hardest: Covid-19 patients, frontline workers, childcare providers and schools. Noting that the average cost of making a school safe to reopen is $1.7 million per district, she declared that “If it can’t be done safely, it can’t be done, and it’s going to take money to do it safely.”
Republicans in Congress have balked at extending the $600-per-week subsidy for workers who lost their jobs in the economy downturn. Many—including Mitrano’s opponent, incumbent Rep. Tom Reed—say they’re concerned that the subsidy will provide a disincentive for going back to work. Mitrano called for research to see whether that’s the case.
“Are people really disincentivized? Is that true, or is it just a Republican trope,” she asked. “And if it is true, what other way can we help people at that level?” Mitrano also called on Congress to pump money into struggling municipalities.
“You move from a recession into a depression when municipalities go bankrupt,” she declared. “Get the help to where it is needed most: Public health and safety, schools, municipalities, and the poorest members of our society, who always suffer the worst under economic downturns. And again: Get the pork out of it. Let’s be clear, clean, transparent and honest.”
Tom Reed: Wrong on farmers, debates
Mitrano sharply criticized Reed for not standing up for dairy farmers against a co-op that she said engages in unfair business practices. Vermont farmers are suing Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) for violations of anti-trust laws. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an amicus brief in support of the farmers.
DFA “moved into this area, and they are part and parcel of why more than 250 dairy farms a year have gone out of business in this district,” said Mitrano, “and why we had 11 suicides last year here and just north of us.” DFA threatens farmers with claiming their milk is contaminated if they seek relief from their unfair business practices, she said. “That’s illegal!”
A single member of Congress can’t control the strength of the dollar or the price of milk, Mitrano said, but he or she can call for hearings to investigate the complaints. She said Reed won’t do that because agricultural businesses and cooperatives are among his most generous donors, so he won’t even support the DOJ effort. “It is long overdue that Tom Reed paid attention to the people who have supported him the most,” she said. “He does not care about them; he has done nothing to protect them, and in Congress I will.” She also scoffed at Reed’s reluctance to debate with her. His stated reason is that he hosts town hall meetings around the district. But town halls are part of the job for a member of Congress, Mitrano said. Debates are a candidate’s obligation, so voters can hear from both contenders and determine who to support based on where they stand on important issues. “Tom Reed can’t and won’t do that because he has failed this district on the issues: healthcare, education, infrastructure, protecting farmers and our environment,” she said. “People of the 23rd district deserve better: A representative who will show up.”