By Mark Hallum
Freshman U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Little Neck) and his Republican general election challenger Dan DeBono exchanged remarks on national and statewide policies at a North Shore Towers debate Wednesday night.
Questions ranged from the federal tax bill to the state comptroller’s report claiming New Yorkers get less back in taxes than they pay to the federal government.
While Suozzi believed the Republican federal tax bill to be irresponsible because of the growing deficit and falling stock market, DeBono said it would pay out for middle income folks.
“The tax cut was totally irresponsible,” Suozzi said at the Oct. 31 debate. “The deficit is soaring. It gave a big jolt to the stock market at first and now in the past couple weeks we’ve seen the entire gains of the stock market wiped out.”
The tax bill was part of a $1.5 trillion stimulus package which DeBono said would bring relief to homeowners by “a few thousand dollars” while the recent stock market dive was just a dip compared to the initial gains since the 2016 election.
“There is a myth floating around Long Island, Queens and the rest of this country. This bill will be tremendously beneficial to the median income taxpayer and homeowner in this area,” De Bono said.
A recent report from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found that state taxpayers see $24 billion less in funding from the federal government than it pays.
DeBono wants to create alliances with other members of congress.
“I’m not sure if we’ll ever get to parity, but we certainly can do a lot better than negative $24 billion,” DeBono said. “So what this requires is a position in the congress in which you have sway with your fellow congressmen and you can promote programs that people buy into and actually get legislation passed.”
Suozzi said the state should be leaning on the scientific research institutions throughout the city and Long Island to channel federal funds back to New York.
“I think we have tremendous potential here by connecting Long Island, through Queens and Brooklyn into Manhattan on the 495 research corridor,” Suozzi said. “We can’t be working separately… we need to be all working together using the great research institutions that are already bringing billions of dollars that I’ve helped bring even more money into the area.”
But it was not all disagreement.
Both agreed that the federal government needs to provide a robust funding package to the state in order to get the wayward transit system back on track which the MTA claims could cost up to $60 billion when including subways, buses and railroads including the Long Island Rail Road which suffered a poor on-time performance rating from January to April.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall