Tom Suozzi, the Democratic candidate in the 3rd Congressional District, on Tuesday emphasized the need for state money to remain in New York to improve infrastructure, alleviate poverty and deal with other issues in the state.
Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive, addressed over 50 people in Great Neck in his 17th town hall event, which focused on jobs, the economy and taxes. He was joined by former Rep. Gary Ackerman and Martin Cantor, director of the Long Island Center for Socio-economic Policy.
The focus of the event, Suozzi said, was to get ideas from residents and Ackerman and Cantor and find answers to questions from people with different viewpoints.
“A lot of politics in America these days has evolved into just people attacking each other and yelling at each other,” Souzzi said. “The purpose of this meeting is to talk about ideas and talk about some very difficult challenging issues in this country that are very real.”
Suozzi, who is running against state Sen. Jack Martins, a Republican, addressed the shrinking middle class in America and the changing world economy that he said has hurt the workforce in America and quality of life for employees.
“We want [employees] to have good wages,” he said. “We want them to have health insurance. We want them to have pensions.”
America, Suozzi said, is competing with countries whose workforces aren’t regulated and don’t have the same protections.
“We don’t want to have a race to the bottom to be more like them,” Suozzi said. “We want to see the rest of the world uplifted to our standards.”
Souzzi said he’s in favor of the progressive income tax and the state needs to evaluate how to keep money within its borders to fix the problems in New York.
New York and other blue states are typically net donors, Suozzi said, giving more to the federal government in taxes than they get back. He said the state needs to keep the money to fix poverty, crumbling infrastructure, schools and sewers, which will make the state more competitive and provide better wages to employees.
Suozzi said the most important part of providing employees with better wages is to have an educated workforce and a competitive economic system to make doing business in New York more attractive.
Cantor said as generations change and millennials come in, it’s harder for them to find jobs. He referred to a recent survey that said 60 percent of millennials searched for jobs in the last year and 68 percent said they were unable to find jobs that align with their skills.
“These are all issues we’re dealing with out here on the Island,” Cantor said. “These are all things that are directly related to the Congress.”
Suozzi was asked how America can regulate multinational conglomerates and prevent them from stashing their money offshore.
He said that around $2 trillion of American corporate profits are being kept overseas because companies want to avoid the high tax rate imposed by America.
He added that politicians need to come up with a plan to regulate money and keep it in America and then put it into the country’s infrastructure.
Suozzi said he invited Ackerman and Cantor to the event to gather ideas and come up with answers.
“Nothing is changing because we’re all being fed billions of dollars in think tanks and advertising to convince us that we’re all no good,” Suozzi said.
Suozzi said he holds these events to hear from experts and residents to gather answers to fight the people who are benefiting from the status quo. As examples, Suozzi noted that gun rights, climate change and health care haven’t changed because the people in charge are benefiting from the issues’ current state.
“You need the guys to fight against the powerful industries,” Suozzi said. “And you need the ability to actually win.”
Suozzi said changes are made when people discuss issues and find answers.
Ackerman, who served in Congress from 1983 to 2013, said it’s important for people to come out and discuss issues in a reasonable way, especially with many campaigns going on.
The Suozzi campaign handed out packs of postcards after the event, urging people to fill them out and send them to their friends who are undecided voters. They hope to send out 30,000 of them in the next few weeks, Suozzi said.