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Issues

Affordability

Affordability/Housing

Our fiscal policies are geared towards addressing short-term crises. I propose tackling pressing, yet overlooked issues and streamlining inefficient tax breaks to prioritize the needs of New Yorkers. This includes:

 

Supporting families:

  • Establish an independent commission to ensure the sustainability of Social Security; the current trust funds are projected to run out of money within eight years if no action is taken.

  • Adopt common-sense zoning reform in NYC to encourage more construction, without destroying historical neighborhoods. Develop a national plan to construct millions of very affordable housing units, offered at 30-40% AMI, by identifying areas with the appropriate infrastructure--and local support--which can accommodate new high-rises. The type of housing built should also be broadened to include very affordable small, simple, yet safe and well-built units.

  • Reform NYCHA to address the unacceptable living conditions of residents, and also to provide a path to ownership for hardworking, long-term residents.

  • Reinstate the child tax credit which, in 2021, successfully cut the child poverty rate by over 40% at a modest cost. Institute paid parental leave and fund universal 3-K.

  • Reinstate the SALT tax deductions that were removed by Trump. While the benefits may favor higher-income families, NY must stem the out-migration to other states which offer lower housing costs and no income tax.

 

Fair taxation and finding new sources of income:

  • Increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 25 ~ 28%, a rate which would maintain our global tax competitiveness.

  • Finally eliminate the carried interest tax boondoggle; profits generated by the hedge fund and private equity industries should be treated for what they are, income, not as capital gains (which incur a lower tax rate).

  • Establish the principal of a corporate tax break quid pro quo: all tax breaks should support clear social, economic, and environmental objectives. This can be used to accelerate the climate transition and boost the construction of new affordable housing.

Climate Change & Healthy Environment

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is a fantastic first step towards tackling carbon pollution. More is needed, however, particularly in industry, buildings, and agriculture, which collectively generate nearly 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. The policies I endorse encompass four key areas:

  • Continue to support and monitor IRA progress. Bottlenecks include:

    • Overcome challenges in national and local permitting that can unduly hinder good projects.

    • Address the need for new transmission to connect growing renewable supply (I support CETA and more).

    • Provide support for community solar which enhances grid resilience.

    • Adapt incentive levels to market changes; offshore wind is a good example.

    • Modulate the evolution of efficiency standards to align with technological change.

  • Accelerate the transition in all sectors by championing the Inflation Reduction Act 2.0 bill. The bill will include several key provisions, including broadening IRA investment incentives to sectors currently not covered, introduce the requirement that corporate tax breaks offer clear economic, social, and environmental benefits, mandate that energy costs be factored during credit underwriting by financial institutions, and finally adopt the polluter-must-pay principal to specific sectors. Specifically, these measures will include:​

    1. Investment tax credit for more efficient equipment used in industry, commercial buildings, trucking, and agriculture.

    2. Bank support quid pro quo: examples include the federal mortgage guarantee which should be tied to energy efficiency, or the flood insurance program which should provide incentives to rebuild damaged homes in safe areas.

    3. Total cost underwriting bill: examples include requiring that banks incorporate energy costs during the mortgage underwriting process, or that energy and other operating costs of rented equipment be disclosed to customers.

    4. Business tax break quid pro quo: examples include equipment depreciation and building amortization which should be tied to overall efficiency. 

    5. Carbon pollution fee: in specific sector, a polluter-pay principal will be applied, combined with a carbon border adjustment mechanism to discourage offshoring industry to countries with low environmental standards.

  • Reduce pollution in agriculture and improve consumer health and safety:

    1. Tie subsidies in the five-year Farm Bill to improved environmental practices, such as reducing fertilizer and pesticide overuse.

    2. Double school lunch budget for serving balanced meals, including organic produce where feasible.

    3. Mandate sustainable agricultural practices for the corn used in ethanol production.

    4. Advocate for FDA regulation of meat, poultry, and egg production; the USDA’s dual mandate of promoting and regulating agriculture results in unsafe practices.

  • Strengthen regulation in pollution-prone sectors with no clear market-based solution:  

    1. Support a federal plan to phase out single-use plastics.

    2. Advocate for a federal plan to achieve higher recycling rates.

    3. Propose a plan to replace all lead water pipes, prioritizing the health of children.

    4. Support a phase-out approach, coupled with incentives, to non-automotive gasoline engines where alternate technology exists, starting with school buses, garden-tools, vans, and scooters.

Environment
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Politics
Political Reform starts in NY State!
The problem: antiquated rules and excessive money in politics!

The combination of an antiquated candidate selection process with an accelerating arms race for
funding political campaigns has overwhelmed the system. The result is accentuating acute partisanship and dysfunction.
When the Legislature designs voting districts, they tend to favor the party in power. Consequently, at a
national level, only ~15% of elections are truly competitive. In a closed primary system, as in NY, only a
registered Democrat can vote in the Democratic primary. This explains the low participation at ~20%.
And it only takes a plurality to win a primary (not 50%). The result is that the District 10 Representative
was elected by only 5% of registered Democrats!


Out-of-control campaign financing adds to this craziness. While individual campaign contributions are
capped, there is no cap to a candidate contributing their own money, or for funding by secret PACs.

This explains how in NY-10, a perfectly “safe” blue district, Dan Goldman spent more than $7 million in 2022, including $5 million of his own inherited wealth, to fund his campaign—vastly outspending other candidates. The
runner-up was outspent by a factor of 12x (and also faced negative ads paid by a secret PAC). And the irony is that this sum was spent by a candidate who claims to favor campaign finance reform…


This is not what democracy should look like!

The solution: electing candidates who are genuinely committed to reform!

I propose a set of smart, realistic, reforms to be instituted at all levels: New York City, New York State, and at the Federal level, including:  

  • Open primaries: allowing all registered voters, regardless of their party affiliation, to vote for any candidate, in a single primary election where candidates from all parties are competing against each other. The top 3 to 5 vote winners then face-off in the general election. 

  • Ranked choice voting: expanding this system, successfully used in NYC primaries, to all elections, including the general election. 

  • Banning gerrymandering and mandating a truly Independent Redistricting Commission with membership chosen from the general public (as is the case in California).

  • Campaign finance reform, including spending caps, public matching, disclosure of PAC funders, and hopefully one day overturning Citizens United.

None of these reforms would require any difficult US Constitutional changes. With all levers of
government in the State controlled by Democrats, all that is missing is mustering political will and electing
reform candidates. Additionally, I will propose a law in Congress to institute these changes at the Federal level.

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