Hochul and Corwin Debate

19 May

I was unable to catch yesterday’s congressional debate which was held in Rochester (sorry, can’t embed) between Kathy Hochul and Jane Corwin, but I’m listening to it as I’m typing this.

Based on the tenor of the recent ads, I can guess that Hochul went after Corwin for her support of the deficit-raising, Medicare-privatizing Ryan budget. I can guess that Corwin accused Hochul of wanting to raise everyone’s taxes to 120% and collectivize farms.

Based on some Tweets, and this post I saw about the debate, there was apparently some back and forth regarding the now-infamous Mallia tape. Corwin refused to budge or address the issue in any meaningful way, doing the same deflection about how Mallia was on his own time while harassing the old man candidate, while Hochul said that she would have fired Mallia. Period. Nice, short answer.

If you saw it, what were your thoughts about it?  Listening to it while typing this, it’s fascinating that Hochul is doing exactly what I always thought a viable Democrat in NY-26 needs to do to win: assert their independence from the national party and establish their centrist bona fides. I don’t think that the electorate in this district is necessarily as die-hard conservative as people make it out to be. I believe that they’re quite centrist but skew right, but they’re willing to vote for Democrats who are flexible, pragmatic, and middle-of-the-road. They’re willing to vote for a Democrat who has proven that they’re responsive and competent.

Frankly, I don’t understand why we can’t just plug the Medicare and Social Security funding issues by reverting income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans to where they were under the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, when the economy was doing quite well indeed. I also don’t understand why we can’t divert a lot of money and reduce, to use a popular term, “waste, fraud, and abuse” from the over-bloated defense budget to help ensure that Americans have access to necessary health care.  Our priorities need to be reviewed and revised.

Corwin seems very Washingtonian and polished. Hochul is folksy and has a distinctive speech pattern that is instantly recognizable, like Brian Higgins’.

As the debate was going on, the Hochul press operation blasted emails to reporters that rebutted Corwin points, or highlighted inconsistencies. For instance, Corwin said she would consider getting rid of subsidies to oil companies, but the Ryan budget she said she would have voted for maintains them:

In April, the world’s six largest publicly traded oil companies reported a combined $28.1 billion in first-quarter profits. Only BP’s earnings declined from the year before. The profits stemmed from a surge in the price of oil, which jumped 16% in the first quarter, rising above $100 a barrel in March. [CNN, 4/29/11]

Corwin Signed The ATR Pledge

In May, Corwin signed the Americans for Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” According to the pledge, Corwin will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses…and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits.” [Americans for Tax Reform, 5/12/11]

Americans For Tax Reform Opposed Efforts To Eliminate $21 Billion In Subsidies For Big Oil

In May, Americans for Tax Reform opposed the Close Big Oil Tax and Loopholes Act, saying it was “nothing more than a billion dollar tax.” [Americans for Tax Reform, accessed 5/17/11]

The bill would have scaled back tax breaks for BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, and Conoco Phillips, resulting in federal tax revenues of $21 billion over ten years. [Forbes, 5/18/11]

Republican Budget Proposal Preserved Subsidies For Big Oil

When challenged by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace about whether the Republican budget included reductions in Oil and Gas subsidies, Ryan said, “we don’t have a tax problem.” [Fox News Sunday, 4/03/11]

Wall Street Journal: Budget Rejected Obama’s Call To Increase Taxes On Oil And Natural Gas Companies

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Republican budget proposal rejects Obama’s call to increase taxes on oil and natural gas companies. [Wall Street Journal, 4/16/11]

Republican Budget Cuts Funding For Alternative Energy Development

The Republican budget proposal calls for drastic cuts in federal spending on energy research and development and for the outright elimination of subsidies and tax breaks for wind, solar and other alternative energy technologies. [New York Times, 4/06/11]

Another one, challenging Corwin’s claim to want to cut spending. When she had the chance in the Assembly, she punted:

Corwin Voted Against 4 Of 5 Appropriation Bills Included In Gov. Cuomo’s Budget

In 2011, Corwin voted against four of the five appropriation bills included in the enacted budget. The budget closed a $10 billion deficit and included a 10 percent across-the-board cut to state agencies [New York State Assembly; Reuters, 3/31/11]

Bill Corwin’s Vote Final Vote
State Operations Budget Appropriations Bill (S2800-E) N 144-3
Legislature & Judiciary Budget Appropriations Bill (S2801A) N 113-36
Debt Service Budget Appropriation Bill (A4002) N 97-48
Aid to Localities Budget Appropriations Bill (S2803E) N 137-12
Capital Projects Budget Appropriations Bill (A4004D) Y 145-2

[New York State Assembly, Accessed 3/31/11]

WGRZ Truth Test: Corwin Voted Against 4 Of The 5 Bills That Actually Included Cuts

In a truth test, WGRZ said Corwin voted against four of the five budget bills that “actually included the cuts.” [WGRZ, 4/12/11]

At least one commenter has claimed I’m “demagoguing” the Medicare abolition issue, but am I?


I know that serious people are supposed to be shocked, shocked at the Democrats calling the Ryan plan a plan to dismantle Medicare—but that’s just what it is. If you replace a system that actually pays seniors’ medical bills with an entirely different system, one that gives seniors vouchers that won’t be enough to buy adequate insurance, you’ve ended Medicare. Calling the new program “Medicare” doesn’t change that fact.

Matt Yglesias:

“Medicare” refers to a single-payer universal health insurance program instituted by the Social Security Act of 1965. If a political movement committed to having that program “wither on the vine” and die puts forward a bill to abolish that program and replace it with a system of private vouchers, then it doesn’t matter whether or not the voucher program is stillcalled Medicare. That’s what House Republicans voted to do, and there’s nothing even slightly misleading about calling this an effort to end Medicare. What’s misleading is the effort to use nomenclature to obscure the nature of the change.

I don’t know why Corwin so proudly supported the Ryan budget bill, which the House Republicans passed overwhelmingly, intending it to become law, and now backs away from what it does, and what it is. It was always known that the Ryan bill would be a non-starter in the Senate and it would never have been signed into law. So, I don’t get the political calculation that led to Republicans to vote for it, or which prompted Corwin to support it.  She’s now trying to back away from it, claiming it was only a “plan” to be “tweaked”. People are suggesting that it’s unfair or incorrect to call the Ryan plan – which raises the deficit over 10 years – what it is, but Corwin owns this.

She also owns the tactical disaster that is the Mallia tape. Not only was it a dumb stunt, but they managed to obstruct a one-day story into a 10-day-long fiasco of epic proportions.

I can’t wait to see what these genius 20-somethings will dream up for Chris Collins.

36 Responses to “Hochul and Corwin Debate”

  1. Susan Dayton May 19, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    The 20 somethings that are still hanging around after the Lee debacle are the leftovers. Those with the wherewithal to take their talents elsewhere did just that. It’s odd that the final resting place for the dregs is Florida. It was an observation in Florida that when people lost their jobs they didn’t say, “Let’s go to Columbus.” Florida became the dumping ground for those who one might characterize as the least employable.

  2. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    We could fix Social Security by removing the $106,800 ceiling. Doing so would change this from a regressive to progressive tax while greatly increasing revenue. We could also end the mortgage interest deduction, basically a subsidy for wealthy homeowners. Or we could elect Jane Corwin and continue asking the poor and middle class to pay more and do with less while reducing taxes for the wealthy.

  3. Jesse May 19, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    “the deficit-raising, Medicare-privatizing Ryan budget”

    Disgustingly partisan and completely dishonest right here.  As if anyone on the left has proposed one single bill that would lower the deficit.  Better  to hide from that rail and win elections, right Alan?

    • Alan Bedenko May 19, 2011 at 9:37 am #

      Disgustingly partisan and completely dishonest right here.

      In what way is it dishonest? It raises the deficit over 10 years, and it privatizes Medicare into a program where old people get a voucher to buy insurance, and are on the hook for the remaining value.

      As if anyone on the left has proposed one single bill that would lower the deficit. Better to hide from that rail and win elections, right Alan?

      “Anyone on the left” isn’t the issue. The Ryan budget is the issue. Calling it demagoguery and “disgustingly partisan and completely dishonest” doesn’t make it so.

  4. Jesse May 19, 2011 at 9:15 am #

    Awesome, blackrock wants to raise taxes 13% on everyone making over $100k.  Screw  you, blackrock.

    • Alan Bedenko May 19, 2011 at 9:44 am #

      The social security ceiling is a ceiling. To say getting rid of it would “raise taxes 13% on everyone making over 100k” is, to put it mildly, an oversimplification. It would raise social security taxes a certain percentage on income above the ceiling, depending on whether the person is employed or self-employed. It would also help shore up the social security trust fund, which lots of people concern troll about, but exclude certain options to fix that as “raising taxes” and, therefore, unacceptable.

  5. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    @Jesse- The wealthy have been evading their fair share of taxes for the past 30 years. Social Security is presently a regressive tax just like sales tax, squeezing the poor and middle class while at the same time we have continued to reduce the tax burden on the wealthy. The wealthy need to stop whining and start contributing to the country that provided the infrastructure and opportunity necessary to acquire that wealth.

  6. Brian Castner May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    The income limit on SS is as antiquated as the current retirement age. Raise both a bit, and the system gets solvent quick. On Medicare, no complaints on the Ryan plan from the left have a shred of credibility until their own solvency plan exists. Some of the “Ryan hates your poor grandma” rhetoric is demagoguery, but most of it is just smokescreen covering for a lack of a counter-proposal. One will eventually be forthcoming – the system goes broke in 13 years.

  7. peteherr May 19, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Let’s hold off on fixing Social Security or Medicare until at least Monday. If the world ends Saturday, I would hate to have wasted all this time squabbling about it. Now, someone pass me some fried dough and cheese steak.

  8. Mike In WNY May 19, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    It is very telling that the most vociferous people claiming the rich have been evading their fair share of taxes are most likely the same people who probably pay little or no taxes, while receiving government support.

    • Alan Bedenko May 19, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      @Mike in WNY: on what basis do you make that allegation?

      claiming the rich have been evading their fair share of taxes are most likely the same people who probably pay little or no taxes, while receiving government support.

  9. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    @ Brian- Why not remove the ceiling instead of raising it. If those earning less than 106K can afford to pay then those earning more should be just as able. As for the Ryan plan, as citizens it is our duty to criticize or support the proposal, that is how government is supposed to work. On the system “goes broke” comment, I have heard similar threats of the sky is falling for the past 35 years and so far we seem to have managed to avoid disaster.

  10. Eric Saldanha May 19, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    @ Mike in WNY – name one, please

  11. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    @Mike- Actually I pay more taxes than the average American and recieve NOTHING in government support, but don’t let that fact get in the way of your attempt to divert the debate away from any substance.

  12. Bbill May 19, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    It is very telling that the most vociferous people claiming the rich have been evading their fair share of taxes are most likely the same people who probably pay little or no taxes, while receiving government support.

    Like Warren Buffett.

    Some folks may think the assault on the middle class is no big deal … it is very telling that the most vociferous people defending the plutocracy often worship the legacy of Ronald Reagan, who spent the 80s rhapsodizing about the 50s, when the middle class was strong, the wealthiest 1 percent didn’t control a quarter of the nation’s wealth, and paid their fair share. A bit ironic, that.

  13. Eric Saldanha May 19, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    @Brian – here’s a counterproposal…don’t destroy the program. Ensure its solvency by, as Alan suggested, cutting billions in bloat from the defense budget, restoring income tax levels to (gasp!) Clinton-era levels and strengthen the health care reform efforts, which already will reduce the deficit over the next decade.

    While I know you’re not the garden-variety Palinista Republican, for any conservative to complain about “demagoguery” after the yearlong circus the GOP conducted against health care reform is laughable.

  14. Brian Castner May 19, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    @ BRL – Well, now that we’re down to numbers, its matters what the numbers are. Social Security was initially sold as the government helping you save for retirement. It would be your money (grown) returned back to you. Since social security benefits have a cap, it made sense that “contributions” would have a cap. Of course, your social security contributions have been a tax for years, and money you pay in has only the tiniest bearing on the amount you draw out. The government would have to come clean a bit that the whole thing has been a wealth transfer sham for years. That may not bother you, but most Democrats know to avoid such talk. I’d rather raise both the ceiling and the retirement age, as both were set when people made less and didn’t live so long. As for Medicare, its up to you to believe the Department of HHS or not. If you think its all chicken little rhetoric, you wouldn’t be the first. Lets do nothing for 13 years and find out.

    @ Eric – That plan would involve turning the revenue spigot between the General Fund and the Medicare Fund in the opposite direction. Currently, we only borrow single digit Trillions from China because our General Fund borrows from Medicare before printing Treasury Bills. How much would you like to borrow to fund Medicare in addition to our normal spending?

    And on the demogoguery, Palin’s deathpanel crap was infantile. Thank you for noting that Democrats do not let hypocrisy stand in the way of their own “turn about is fair play.”

  15. Ward May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    So the (Acorn) Working Families Party thinks the Hochul endorsement by the Buffalo News was “unexpected”, because the News “generally endorses Republicans”. I’m surprised Alan didn’t include this in his cut & paste spume.

  16. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    @Brian- Raising the retirement age is reasonable and likely to happen, wouldn’t be the first time of course. Removing the ceiling would ensure solvency while having little effect on the disposable income of wealthier Americans. As for Medicare, I don’t think anybody believes we will “do nothing” in the next 13 years. The hope is we do something that will protect and fund the most successful social program in America.

  17. Mike In WNY May 19, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Using 2007 tax return figures:

    46.% of filers <$50k paid no taxes
    0.2% of filers $200k+ paid no taxes
    25.4% under $50k who paid taxes paid less than 5%.
    22.2 % under $50k who paid taxes paid between 5% and <10%.
    35.4 % $200k+ who paid taxes paid between 15% and <20%.
    31.3% $200k+ who paid taxes paid between 20% and <25%.
    16.3% $200k+ who paid taxes paid between 25% and <30%.

    Those are effective tax rates based on the AGI, gross income figures are very similar.

    Clearly, the "rich" are paying more than their "fair share".


  18. Mr. F.N. Magoo May 19, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Raise the retirement age, lift the SSI ceiling but make the rates lower on any income beyond 106,000. Trim the defense budget but make the Veterans administration budget the responsibility of the Pentagon to more realistically reflect the true cost of defense. Instead of a straight increase on tax rates above 250,000, make capitol gains on investments count as income. Forgive the SSI contribution and grant a reasonable tax break to people who continue to work and defer collecting benefits when they reach retirement age.

  19. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    @Mike- Wow, some are paying between 15-30% on million dollar incomes, poor bastards, hope their kids are not going hungry. Those lower income earners payed lots of taxes too, almost all regressive like sales taxes, SS, and various other fees and charges. It really comes down to disposable income, and that is where the great divide begins. Keep advocating for the wealthy, they need your help, after all the top 10% only control 80% of the wealth, we need to use government to help them accumulate even more.

  20. Rob May 19, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Where would the Republican party be without its army of people driving 15 year-old Oldsmobiles defending the rights of billionaires to not pay taxes?

  21. Brian Castner May 19, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    @ Magoo – that’s the most reasonable thing I’ve ever seen you write – good job.

  22. Mike In WNY May 19, 2011 at 11:56 am #

    BRL, when you look at things in terms of dollars, the “wealthy” pay far more in taxes, yet receive less in terms of government services and benefits. If you really want to punish people for success, you are advocating a more communist/socialist society.

  23. Black Rock Lifer May 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    @Mike, BTW, you haven’t provided any examples to back up your claim that those critical of our regressive tax policy are somehow on the tit or not paying taxes. Maybe my Black Rock address was key to your misconception, wouldn’t be the first time for such a baseless assumption.

  24. Bbill May 19, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    If you really want to punish people for success, you are advocating a more communist/socialist society.

    Somewhere Frank Luntz is proud. This is how the plutocrats manipulate folks into acting against their own interests — if you advocate for the middle class, you’re a commie!

    If the John Birch Society had their own cable network in the 60s as they do today, would civil rights legislation ever have had a chance?

  25. pirate's code May 19, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    @ Magoo, Castner, others — “raise the retirement age…” Curious as to what you mean. Raise the minimum age to begin collecting any SS? Or raise the age at which so-called “full benefit” kicks in? Or both? Haven’t done the research yet but I suspect the math may change dramatically depending on which approach is implemented.

  26. Chris Charvella May 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    I know I’m a bit late to the Social Security ceiling party, but I’d like to remind Jesse and the Conservative ideologues that it was most recently Ronald Regan who saw the need to raise the ceiling. Inflation and longer life spans being the main reason. The ceiling currently sits at ~$100k, raise it to $150 and see how fast social security becomes solvent.

  27. Mr. F.N. Magoo May 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm #

    Index the retirement age to life expectancy using agreed upon actuarial tables and census information. I can’t propose an arbitrary number because I don’t have the expertise nor access to those figures. And squeeze the difference between the minimum age to collect and the age for full benefits toward the latter. And raise the percentage of untaxed income people can invest in individual retirement accounts.
    And forgiving the SSI contribution by individuals who choose to keep working without collecting benefits shouldn’t be taken to mean forgiving employers their contribution. That would lessen the possibility of age discrimination towards younger, possibly more expensive workers.

  28. Fat Tony May 19, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    Much like you can check a box to give money to presidential campaigns, how about a voluntary check box where you can forgo your Bush tax cuts. Then people like Buffet and the NYC millionaires who recently signed a letter urging government to raise their taxes can be fulfilled while small business owners and those who have prospered but aren’t “rich” can be left alone. Let’s see how many step up to the plate.

  29. Jesse May 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    “In what way is it dishonest?”

    It’s dishonest because you are advocating doing nothing, which is FAR WORSE financially than the Ryan budget.  Claiming that it’ll raise the deficit is retarded when it won’t.  It will, in fact, raise the debt.

    It’s not a great plan.  But bitching about it without providing any specific alternative is dishonest, and only meant to defend your favored blue team.  The fact that you can cry about how mean and nasty the R’s are while pulling the same sort of rhetorical crap puts the lie to your self-affected air of superiority.

    @Chris C: I didn’t say “don’t raise the limit”.  I just said blackrock wants a huge tax increase, which is pretty obvious when he whines that the rich (who are the only ones actually paying income tax) aren’t paying enough.

    My desire for Social Security: raise the retirement age, turn it into a means tested welfare program for POOR seniors, and let the rest of us opt the hell out of it.  No way the whiny demagogues would ever let that happen, though.  We’ll just tax and spend ourselves to Athens instead.

  30. Rob May 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    “It’s dishonest because you are advocating doing nothing.”

    He is?? I totally missed that.

    The Ryan plan guts Medicare because we supposedly can’t afford it, but includes zero tax increases, at a time when marginal income tax rates are at a near-historic low. It’s a completely irresponsible, unserious plan, even as an opening offer. And Boehner has announced that tax increases are off the table in any grand bargain. Fuck the Republicans and their whiny-ass supporters.

  31. Mr. F.N. Magoo May 19, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    The Ryan Bill (it passed the House; its not a plan or a concept or a beginning) can’t even claim to be based on good math. It reflects “$200 billion in lower interest savings due to an error by Chairman Ryan’s staff in calculating interest savings……the spending reductions under the Ryan plan total just over $4.3 trillion over ten years. Combined with tax cuts that total just under $4.2 trillion over ten years, this produces a grand total of $155 billion in deficit reduction over that period.” Ryan is not a serious man and this is not a serious plan.


  32. Jesse May 20, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    ROFL “not a serious man”.  Nice reply, from a guy who’s handle is “Magoo”.  And what does Obama’s “plan” do over 10 years, Mr Magoo?  I’ve already said Ryan’s is not a great plan by any stretch but it’s a damn sight better than anything coming out of the Democratic party these days.

    By denigrating Paul’s plan (“Bill”, whatever) without advocating any alternative, Alan and most of the rest of the country (right AND left) are defending the status quo.  The status quo is indefensible, the demographics simply don’t hold up, and saying “let’s just eliminate waste and fraud” is a bullshit response – if it were that easy, don’t you think it would have been done already?

    Also, for the record, historically the nation can not generate more than about 19% GDP in tax revenue.  We’re already above that.  There’s essentially no way you can raise EVEN MORE MONEY by raising taxes.  For crying out loud, you have over $2,000,000,000,000 in revenue.  If you can’t figure out how to spend it, the problem is not the tax rates.

  33. Rob May 20, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    “There’s essentially no way you can raise EVEN MORE MONEY by raising taxes.”


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