By Bill Parry
Declaring that the playing field simply isn’t fair for working families and the middle-class families in Queens, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) presented his “Better Deal” social and economic plan at Vaughn College of Aeronautic, Engineering, Aviation and Technology in East Elmhurst on Tuesday.
Crowley blamed Republican policies in Washington that, he said, work in favor of corporations and special interests, choking off “money for investments in our future,” and offered his package of 10 proposals aimed at creating better jobs with higher wages, improved education, better and more affordable housing and an improved justice system, among others.
“It has always been my belief,” Crowley said, “that Americans can do best when their communities are secure and they are strong, when they have the opportunity to seek out the kind of life that they want for themselves, and when the American Dream is available to all Americans regardless of their background or heritage. That seems more important today than ever, but for far too many families, that just simply isn’t the case.”
In his “Better Deal,” Crowley plans to push for an increase in funding campus-based aid programs providing low-income students with a mixture of grants, loans and work-study options. It would help students at an institution like Vaughn, where 80 percent are minority with annual household incomes below $33,000.
“Without the critical federal dollars that are provided, the dream of a degree is just not possible,” Vaughn College President Sharon DeVivo said. “Student aid programs are what help get them on their way to a degree.”
Crowley will also introduce legislation to increase federal school construction founding for schools in highly overcrowded areas. He also believes New York City must provide better leadership when it comes to the homeless crisis, and he again endorsed the Home Stability Support Bill authored by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills).
“It’s a good plan, one that would drive resources from state and local governments to keep people in their homes,” Crowley said. “If the governor’s office and the mayor’s office worked together, we might alleviate more suffering.”
Crowley’s plan would also stand up for immigrant communities, protect Dreamers, enact comprehensive immigration reform and make it easier for “new” Americans to register to vote. Before wrapping up his presentation, Crowley slammed President Trump’s alleged remarks that have dominated the national news cycle for more than a week.
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin continues to assert that last week, Trump complained that America was taking too many immigrants from “s–thole countries,” though Durbin’s recollection is disputed by two Republican colleagues.
“I believe that what he said was racist, and I believe that it has no place in American society,” Crowley said.
Crowley also railed against Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul for suggesting that Trump’s Queens upbringing led to the president’s racist views when he said, “You got sort of a Queens saltiness coming out, and then I think people have misinterpreted it that’s he’s a racist” on a Sunday morning national news show.
“I took umbrage with my friend Rand Paul when he made reference that (Trump’s) from Queens,” Crowley said. “I’m from Queens, and that’s not what we say from Queens, and I take extreme umbrage with that particular statement.”
As for Trump’s alleged comment that set off the imbroglio and a torrent of formal protests from governments in two hemispheres, Crowley, a son and grandson of immigrants, explained why he was angry.
“Wherever you come from is very special to all of us, our history,” Crowley said. “We may look back nostalgically and say it would be great to go back to the old country, but we also recognize that those old countries had large problems, be them political, religious strife, economic strife or governmental strife. But they are still the old country. It’s the place you come from, and you have tremendous pride in your ethnicity, the traditions, the religion — it all becomes part of the fabric that makes America the mosaic it is today, and that was all spat upon by the president.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr