The Republican View: Seat at the table


Mike Sigler


I know a lot of my friends and constituents are not a fan of Tom Reed. They don’t like the way he campaigns and/or some of his stances or that he supported President Trump early on in the presidential race.

Like the presidency, Congressional elections are often binary choices. Many will vote for Tom’s opponent because there’s no other option. That’s not why I’m voting for Tom. It’s not because

his opponent is terrible, but rather because I know who he is and where he stands. I’m not always going to agree with Tom, but when I don’t, I’ve contacted him and he’s listened. I’ve had a place at the table.

Many in Ithaca would like to see their congressman come out against President Trump, oppose him at every turn; I like that our congressman is a realist. I believe it’s better to sit at the table than to throw rocks at the windows, but I also understand many Ithaca voters do not agree with that, going so far as to make Nazi comparisons, and would prefer condemning everything, even a growing economy and people rejoining the workforce in record numbers.

Right now, more people are reentering the workforce, there are more jobs than people to fill them, and wages are going up. Reed’s opponent, instead of fighting for New York’s share of the boom, says jobs like the ones at Dresser Rand leaving Wellsville weren’t the type of jobs the 23rd district needed. (Democratic Rural Conference, April 2018) I suggest those jobs were also dismissed in the years leading up to 2016 and led to Republicans flipping more than 1,000 elected seats in the country, capturing both houses of Congress and the presidency.

Constituents are not always going to agree with Tom, but he shows up. He’s held more town halls than any congressperson. He faces constituents, explains his positions and why he holds them, and yes, can be swayed on policy. Two examples that show Tom blazes his own trail are healthcare and immigration.

On healthcare, Tracy Mitrano has locked in on “Medicaid for All,” but with better marketing. It’s a good rallying cry for her base, but it ignores the costs and ignores the experience of Vermont and California who both went to implement universal coverage until they saw the bill. It also ignores the deficiencies of universal systems we already have in place like Veterans Affairs with people dying while waiting for care.

When Tom saw that Obamacare would not be voted out, he tacked, and with his Problem Solvers Caucus came up with solutions and ways to fix the program. This put him at odds with President Trump asking that the Cost Sharing Reduction payments to insurance companies be part of the congressional budget. Tom is not afraid to bring new ideas forward, and presidents are allowed to change course with advice from those at the table.

The Problem Solvers also suggest allowing states to innovate. States are a microcosm of the country. If it works in one state it could then be taken nationally instead of risking the entire system as was done with the Affordable Healthcare Act rollout. There’s no doubt that the ACA has negatively affected workers and small business. Tom wants to reestablish the federal definition of a “small business” at 500 and not 50 workers as it is under the ACA, allowing small companies to grow again and to reestablish the expected 40-hour-work-week that some employers cut to 30 to escape the growth-stunting effects of the employer mandate.

On immigration, ending illegal immigration is consistently ranked one of the top issues for voters and again, Tom’s caucus is bringing ideas forward to change the system. Once again, Tom and President Trump have competing proposals on this issue. Tom seems to understand that no one will get everything they want, but that with close to 12 million undocumented people in the US, the system needs change. This plan would create a more than decade-long path to citizenship for undocumented people, and it physically hardens the border. The bottom line is, the Republican party is not against immigration. We need the workers, but why is it hard for anyone to understand why it should be done legally? Tom’s caucus and the President understand that.

The GOP is a big tent party. When there’s major policy in front of Congress, there will be many competing ideas from Congress and the President. I don’t see that psychoanalyzing the President “That hurt came from a mother who favored a brother, doesn’t it? You needed your father’s approval to compensate for what your mom failed to give.” (Mitrano Blog Post 8/19/17) is a path to good legislation. It is possible to disagree with someone without being disagreeable and to win them to your point of view.


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