By Joe Anuta
On issues like taxes and energy policy, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) takes a stance firmly on the right of the political spectrum in the northeast Queens congressional race, but some of his other views are most closely aligned with moderates.
Halloran is facing off against state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) to represent a seat that covers Bayside, Flushing, Forest Hills and Rego Park, while running westward to Middle Village and Glendale.
Though Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district by about 3-to-1, Halloran hopes to tease out conservative voters in working class neighborhoods, like Ridgewood and Middle Village; voters from the orthodox Jewish and Korean communities who share some of his social mores; and small business and property owners, who might be amenable to his stance on lowering taxes and regulations, he recently told TimesLedger Newspapers in an interview with editors and reporters.
The councilman often points out that many portions of the district voted for former Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who endorsed Halloran, and elected former Republican state Sen. Frank Padavan.
Halloran, a lifelong Queens resident who has worked in the NYPD and under district attorneys in New York City and upstate, believes fixing the economy will solve many of the country’s ills, and believes tax reform is one way to get there.
“I think the rich should pay more,” Halloran said. “But not so much more that you’re saying their obligation to society is somehow to give half of what they earn.”
The councilman said if he had been in Congress, he probably would have voted for the most recent tax plan created by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Republican vice presidential candidate, but he has ideas of his own to simplify the system for Queens businesses owners and residents.
Halloran proposes to eliminate nearly all deductions except charitable contributions and those related to mortgages, co-ops and condos and then break income taxes into three categories: 5 percent for low-income earners, 10 percent for middle-income earners and 15 percent for high-income earners, although those numbers would be subject to revision. The corporate tax rate, he contends, should be set at 20 percent.
Halloran believes that by eliminating most deductions and drawing every American into the tax base it will bolster the economy from the ground up rather than trying to tax the wealthiest earners. He also believes a lower corporate tax rate would draw multinational corporate headquarters back to the country and could contribute trillions of taxable income to the economy.
Ryan’s plan proposes similar tax cuts, but Democrats have criticized the plan as not being revenue neutral, since trillions of dollars would be lost from tax rolls that might not be made up from cutting deductions.
One of Halloran’s campaign pledges is to lower gas prices, which he contends goes hand in hand with making America more energy independent. That can be done, according to the councilman, through projects like the now-defunct Keystone XL Pipeline, which would have funneled oil from Canada to refineries in southwest America, and also by investing in viable energy sources like nuclear power.
A controversial subject in Queens is hydrofracking, where deposits of subterranean natural gas are released by cracking the rock formation where they are stored, Halloran said the process should move forward in New York as long it is not done in underground areas where the city gets its drinking water, since toxic chemicals are often pumped into the ground to get at the gas.
“Safety has to come first. The environment is important,” Halloran said. “But we shouldn’t be saving the caribou while we’re giving money to dictators in the Middle East who are using it to blow us up.”
Halloran does not support the Affordable Health Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, and like many of his GOP counterparts he thinks that states could do a better job, contending New York’s Health Plus programs could be expanded.
Halloran and Meng both have pledged to protect Social Security. Halloran wants to do so by forbidding any money raised from the Social Security Trust Fund to be put into the general fund.
On some social issues, Halloran moves closer to the political center. He supports a woman’s right to have an abortion for victims of rape and incest, and also for any woman up until the end of the first trimester in her pregnancy. The GOPer also supports civil unions, including all benefits accorded to married couples, but opposes same-sex marriage, saying the government should not have been involved in religious matters in the first place.
He supports giving illegal immigrants the chance for permanent residency, but has also proposed to make English the official language of the country and require ballots to only be printed in English. He contends that offering adult language classes would be a better way to engage recent immigrants.
Halloran has traded multiple barbs with his opponent thus far in the race, but has come under criticism himself.
After blasting Meng for failing to file financial disclosure statements for months after the deadline, Halloran was found to have missed post-election filings following his successful 2009 bid for the Council. One of his delinquent filings was passed on to the Albany district attorney, according to the state Board of Elections.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.