Cobb, Stefanik campaigns trade attacks over social safety net programs

NY-21 Week in review

(Cobb photo by Watertown Daily Times, Stefanik photo by Post-Star)

Democratic activists and Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb used last week’s 53th anniversary of the Medicare and Medicaid programs being signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson to criticize U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik for her votes on those safety net programs.

About 20 to 25 people from labor and community groups held a Medicare and Medicaid birthday party rally outside Stefanik’s office on July 30, according to activist Joe Seaman.

Cobb, in a news release, criticized Stefanik, R-Willsboro, for her yes vote on House Concurrent Resolution 71 on Oct. 5. This was part of the discussion of the Trump tax cuts.

This resolution outlined the budget priorities and would have converted Medicare to a system where seniors would receive a voucher to purchase insurance in the private marketplace or opt for traditional Medicare.

However, Stefanik voted no on a subsequent resolution on Oct. 26, which included Senate amendments.

Campaign spokesman Lenny Alcivar, in an email, explained that the difference in the second vote was the elimination of the state and local tax, or SALT, deductions.

Stefanik voted against the Trump tax cuts because they capped at $10,000 the amount of state and local taxes that people could deduct on their federal return. This hurts people in high-tax states, such as New York state.

Cobb does not mention Stefanik’s subsequent no vote in her release. Instead, she accused Republicans in Congress of “shutting down Medicare” to pay for corporate giveaways and bailouts for the richest 10 percent.

“Understanding Elise Stefanik’s voting record in Congress is easy: follow the money. She has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists who profit off the Medicare system,” Cobb said in the news release.

The Stefanik campaign criticized Cobb for not having a plan for protecting Medicare.

Cobb’s website makes no mention of Medicare. It does say that she would work to improve Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Cobb did not return a message Monday seeking follow-up comment.

Stefanik picks up endorsements

Stefanik has picked up the endorsements from 36 elected and appointed leaders in Fulton County.

Northampton Supervisor James Groff, who is chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, said Stefanik is one of the most hard-working members of Congress.

“She continues to deliver her constituents tangible results and to fight for our district’s needs. She has been a strong, transparent and independent voice for NY-21 and I am grateful for her hard work. She has done great things for our local economy, our military and our veterans,” Groff said in a news release.

New gig for Nelson

Patrick Nelson, a former candidate in New York’s 21st Congressional District, recently was elected as a member of the New York State Democratic Committee.

Nelson said he wanted the post to make some changes at the state party level, including allowing unaffiliated voters to cast votes in the primary.

“If a candidate excited you and might bring you into the Democratic Party, you are denied that opportunity in the state of New York,” he said.

Nelson said his other priorities are to have more Democrats from more rural areas represented at the Democratic National Committee level.

“When we have a Democratic Party that’s becoming rapidly urban and coastal, maybe that’s because all of our leaders are urban and coastal,” he said.

Other goals are to develop multi-year strategies for state and local races, and to get corporate political action committee money out of the process, according to Nelson.

Minita Sanghvi was the other state representative elected in Saratoga County.

Nelson finished fifth in the five-member field in the race for the Democratic nomination in the NY-21 primary.

Seat still safe for GOP?

New York’s 21st Congressional District still does not appear to be in play, as far as political pundits are concerned — despite the amount of attention the race has received from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The Cook Political Report still lists it as a solid Republican district, and it is not one of the races listed on the Democratic National Congressional Committee’s Red to Blue website.

One might think that the district is in play, with the RNCC coming right out of the gate with the label of “Taxin’ Tedra” on the night of the June 26 primary and the release by national Republicans of the secretly recorded video, where Cobb is heard saying that she thinks assault weapons should be banned but she cannot take that position publicly.

The race between U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, and Democratic challenger John Faso in NY-19 is one of the 63 competitive races listed on both that website and the Cook report.