Now that the 2018 elections are completed it will be back to business for various consulting groups, politicians, attorneys, and political pundits. Local news stations will schedule its many interviews with the same consultants/groups to discuss the surface policies that “may or may not effect” our communities. Ironically the spin local government will take is the so-called policies of the conservative ultra-right, and not the mountain of promises progressives campaigned on. Unbeknownst to many; there will be years of progressive legislation delivered in the State Senate, State Assembly, and the City Council. The unbeknownst portion of this statement will be a stagnate government, as the same bills are going to be introduced in all bodies of government (State, City and Nationally). Unfortunately, now that New York State is a one-party government we as working-class citizens are stuck in a system of uncertainty (with a deceased Republican Party, and a non-existent Independent Party).
So far, the polices our progressive government officials are taking a stance on are Medicaid/Medicare for all, Job Guarantee, Free Schools, Paid Sick Leave, Housing rights, Immigration justice, and Campaign Finance Reform. With both local, and state government now in the hands of the “blue wave” there is nothing we as New Yorkers can expect (except a struggling economy, or the possibility of higher taxation) outside of the promises our officials campaigned on. When I hear these policies from individuals like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, my accounting degree automatically considers cost over operation (or in her case promises). The newly elected congresswoman has yet to explain to the nation (and more importantly her community) her plan (or path) to funding these policies. Her statement of “we will just pay for it” is an absurd statement I once heard a child say to their parent when requesting a gift. When I see the newly elected representatives in Western Queens (Corona, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights) I consider the possibility of a people’s government, then the cost evaluation of their promises (i.e. policies) defers my expectation to uncertainty. A government is a structure of body that protects and provides an opportunity for all its citizens. Unfortunately, the term “provides” has been mistaken with “supports”.
Let’s look at what these policies represent and let’s discuss the possibility of passing and funding these policies.
Medicaid for all is an ambitious proposal for any political figure to achieve. President Clinton proposed the thought, and President Obama provided the simplest plan where a national medical program would be able to pay for itself under a specific time-span (the Affordable Care Act). However, what politicians are now proposing is a national insurance program that will provide medical care for all citizens and residents (including the undocumented and refugees). Such a program is monumental task, and the national media outlets reports the total estimated cost to be forty billion dollars. Given the latest statistics, with the most conservative cost (from less expensive and less populated states then New York), medical insurance could reach the trillion-dollar range.
How our newly elected Congressional Representative provides funding for her campaign policies will most likely determine her re-election.
On justice reform, free schools (collegiate and secondary), paid sick leave, housing rights there is overwhelming need for change in our country. These top four issues affect the working class, especially in minority communities. Justice reform for both black and brown communities has been a need for many years. In our community the last champion of Justice Reform was our Assembly Member Jeffron Aubry, who created the change our community needed to reduce the number of brown and black citizens in jail. The protesting of the Rockefeller Laws in our state was crucial during the late 80’s and early 90’s; and Jeffron Aubry’s voice was the answer we needed at the time. However, time has passed and the fight against (what is now known as) minimum sentencing laws has been abandoned. Free Schooling was once a reality in New York City, with City Universities providing free collegiate education during the late 60’s to 70’s. However, the cost of salaries, utilities, construction, and union organization demanded more funding above the governments annual budget. Free Schooling is a program best handled by the state legislation, and not the Federal Government. Unfortunately, when it comes to campaign promises and funding ninety percent of our politicians suffer from tunnel vision. What surprises me more is the lack of acknowledgement our congressional member has of the outdated Financial Aid system, and income threshold for receiving financial aid awards.
On housing rights, the progressive approach is to provide homes for every member of society, and to simultaneously build affordable housing. In my prior article I initiated the discussion of affordable housing. Our political officials want to build affordable housing, while creating union jobs (at a livable wage) and taking away tax relief (credit) from real estate investors/corporations. They protested the construction of new apartment complexes in their communities (such as the failed development on 82nd Street) but failed to realize the economic benefit of such a plan. Members in government such as Senator Ramos and Assembly-Member Cruz should be commended for identifying the homeless problem in our city. At the same time the issue of homelessness in our city arrives from an old law that mandates a right to shelter in New York State (including New York City). In Callahan v. Carey (1981), it was argued New York must provide shelter to all homeless members of society, Under Article XVII of the New York State Constitution. In 2018, New York City has maintained its promise to shelter the homeless, from all states, as our Mayor (and progressive alike) has used the law, resulting in the creation of homeless shelters in our city. The “Hotels to Shelters” program has created nine homeless shelters within East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, and Corona. In Jamaica Queens there was said to be thirteen shelters created within a span of five years. In return, the communities affect by these shelters must bear the burden of overcrowding schools, overpopulated communities, and criminal activity. Providing for the homeless is our duty as American citizens, however having black and brown communities absorb a political agenda is unfair to the residents of New York City (particularly communities of color).
***To be continued