Trump Hosts Bipartisan Meeting on Resolving DACA, Immigration Conundrum: ‘I’ll Sign Anything’

Faces of immigrants make up the American flag © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

[Note: In an unprecedented action, the White House originally sent out a transcript in which Donald Trump’s statement, in which he seemed to agree with Senator Feinstein on passing a “clean DACA” was modified. When the change was discovered, the White House sent out a corrected transcript.]

Donald Trump may think that his bipartisan meeting on resolving the DACA issue went swimmingly, but it is not at all clear that the Republicans and Democrats can come together on a clean DACA fix, with or without the “security” elements (which Trump understands to mean a wall but Congress seems to acknowledge means a range of solutions) by  March 5th, the date that Trump himself set as the expiration of protections for Dreamers, much less by January 19th, the date when government could shut down if the budget resolution is not adopted.

[Adding to the drama, a federal judge in California issued a nationwide injunction late Tuesday ordering the Trump administration to restart the DACA program because the way it was ended  “arbitrarily: and “capriciously” and questioned the contention that Obama did not have the authority to implement it to begin with.]

Still, the to-and-fro was eerily civil – probably because the worst hard-liners were left off the guest-list and the Congressmembers in the room were for the most part were veterans of years of negotiating immigration reform.

There was no discussion of making legal immigration actually work – having enough immigration judges to hear applications, giving parents of legal American children a means toward a legal status.

But in the end, Trump said he would sign whatever Congress came up with – a clear display that he does not actually care or have a grasp of policy. He contradicted himself numerous times, and went back-and-forth seeming to agree with whoever was speaking. He even seemed to moderate his concept of what a “wall” – “a great, beautiful wall” – would be, appearing to agree with Democrats that “wall” was a metaphor for border security, not one contiguous structure like the Great Wall of China, but fencing, mountains, rivers. But he insisted he could build it for less money and ahead of schedule than what is being proposed ($18 Billion is requested; estimates go as high as $45 billion), like Wolman ice rink in Central Park. No different than that. Indeed, throughout, Trump kept suggesting that it was a “simple” matter to solve immigration.

It should be – 86 percent of Americans favor a fix for DACA, and the vast majority support immigration reform. Yet just a few days after Trump appeared to come to agreement with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on DACA, for which Trump received rare praise, he hardened his line because of the reaction of the hardliners who are his base. There was universal wonder whether that would happen again.

And it is really interesting that the very day this civilized discussion of a “bill of love”, as Trump termed a DACA fix, was taking place, the Trump Administration announced it was kicking out some 200,000 Salvadorans, along with hundreds of thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans, who had come here after some disaster as much as 20 years ago, who have children who are American citizens.

In Tuesday’s meeting, Trump’s tone was calm, even conciliatory – politely calling on the Senators and Representatives, not insulting Democrats and especially Democratic women – even urging the sides to come together, go out to dinner, bury the hatchets – a clear effort to counter the image that emerges from Michael Wolff’s inflammatory “Fire and Fury”. Trump only veered off topic a few times – notably, in extolling the virtues of bringing back earmarks as the best tool for forging (buying) compromise (whereas now, there is no incentive), and the need to build up the military.

The exchanges are rather extraordinary – most notably because the press was not thrown out after the photo op, but were allowed to listen in for 55 minutes.

Most astonishing was the comment by Senator Charles Grassley that he would support a pathway to citizenship as part of comprehensive immigration reform. (A bill that had all the elements currently being discussed was passed 68-32 in the Senate in 2013, only to be tabled and effectively killed in the Republican-controlled House, leading President Obama to adopt DACA provision rather than have no action at all. That sparked the controversy that Obama trespassed into territory that belonged to Congress, even though Congress had abdicated its role. But there is no such criticism of Trump who through executive orders and administrative policy is defying the Affordable Care Act in an effort to sabotage Obamacare into oblivion.)

The climax to the bipartisan meeting – considered extraordinary for being bipartisan after an entire year of Republicans acting on their own, deliberately excluding Democrats on significant issues including health care and tax reform – was Trump’s reply to what sounded like a plea from Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been working on immigration for a decade, “If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat,” POTUS said. “You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”

Here is a highlighted (and corrected) transcript — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

IN MEETING WITH BIPARTISAN MEMBERS

OF CONGRESS ON IMMIGRATION

Cabinet Room

 

11:39 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everyone, for being here.  I’m thrilled to be with a distinguished group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers from both the House and the Senate.  We have something in common, we’d like to see this get done, and you know what this means.

We are here today to advance bipartisan immigration reform that serves the needs of the American families, workers, and taxpayers.  It’s DACA.  We’ve been talking about DACA for a long time.  I’ve been hearing about it for years, long before I decided to go into this particular line of work.  And maybe we can do something.

We have a lot of good people in this room.  A lot of people that have a great spirit for taking care of the people we represent — we all represent.  For that reason, any legislation on DACA, we feel — at least a strong part of this group feels — has to accomplish three vital goals.

And Chairman Goodlatte will be submitting a bill over the next two to three days that will cover many of the things.  And, obviously, that will — if it gets passed, it will go to the Senate and we can negotiate and we’ll see how it turns out.  But I feel having the Democrats in with us is absolutely vital because it should be a bipartisan bill.  It should be a bill of love.  Truly, it should be a bill of love, and we can do that.

But it also has to be a bill where we’re able to secure our border.  Drugs are pouring into our country at a record pace and a lot of people are coming in that we can’t have.  We’ve greatly stiffened, as you know, and fewer people are trying to come in.

But we have tremendous numbers of people and drugs pouring into our country.

So, in order to secure it, we need a wall.  We need closing enforcement — we have to close enforcement loopholes.  Give immigration officers — and these are tremendous people, the border security agents, the ICE agents — we have to give them the equipment they need, we have to close loopholes, and this really does include a very strong amount of different things for border security.  

I think everybody in the room would agree to that.  I think that we — it’s a question of the amounts.  But I think everyone agrees we have to have border security.  I don’t think there would be anybody that says “no.”

Second, it has to be a bill to end chain migration.  Chain migration is bringing in many, many people with one, and often it doesn’t work out very well.  Those many people are not doing us right.  And I think a lot of people in the room — and I’m not sure I can speak for everybody, but a lot of the people in this room want to see chain migration ended.

And we have a recent case along the West Side Highway, having to do with chain migration, where a man ran over — killed eight people and many people injured badly.  Loss of arms, loss of legs.  Horrible thing happened, and then you look at the chain and all of the people that came in because of him.  Terrible situation.

[False: Had nothing to do with chain migration]  

And the other is — cancel the lottery program.  They call it “visa lottery,” I just call it “lottery.”  But countries come in and they put names in a hopper.  They’re not giving you their best names; common sense means they’re not giving you their best names.  They’re giving you people that they don’t want.  And then we take them out of the lottery.  And when they do it by hand — where they put the hand in a bowl — they’re probably — what’s in their hand are the worst of the worst.  

[False. Not how visa lottery works. People in visa lottery are vetted.] 

But they put people that they don’t want into a lottery and the United States takes those people.  And again, they’re going back to that same person who came in through the lottery program.  They went — they visited his neighborhood and the people in the neighborhood said, “oh my God, we suffered with this man — the rudeness, the horrible way he treated us right from the beginning.”  So we don’t want the lottery system or the visa lottery system.  We want it ended. 

So those three things are paramountThese are measures that will make our community safer and more prosperous.  These reforms are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans.  They’re from every standpoint, from every poll, and they’re being requested by law enforcement officers. 

I had the big meeting with ICE last week; I had a big meeting with the Border Patrol agents last week.  Nobody knows it better than them.  As an example, on the wall, they say, “sir, we desperately need the wall.”

And we don’t need a 2,000-mile wall.  We don’t need a wall where you have rivers and mountains and everything else protecting it.  But we do need a wall for a fairly good portion.  We also — as you know, it was passed in 2006 — a essentially similar thing, which — a fence, a very substantial fence was passed.  But, unfortunately, I don’t know, they never got it done.  But they need it.

So I’m appealing to everyone in the room to put the country before party, and to sit down and negotiate and to compromise, and let’s see if we can get something done.  I really think that we have a chance to do it.  I think it’s very important.  You’re talking about 800,000 people — and we’re talking about lots of other people are also affected, including people that live in our country.  That’s from the security standpoint.

So maybe the press can stay for a little while and a couple of folks can make statements and I don’t mind the statements.  We want to have this as a very open forum.  I will say, though, that I really do believe Democratic and Republican — the people sitting around this table — want to get something done in good faith.  And I think we’re on our way to do it.

This was an idea I had last week.  I was sitting with some of our great Republican senators and we all agreed on everything.  It was a great meeting.  Right?  David, right?  We had a great meeting — Tom.  It was perfect.

Then I said, “yeah, but we’d like to get some Democrats.  Well, what do they say?”  And I say, “let’s have the same meeting, but let’s add the Democrats.”  And that’s what we’ve done.  And I think we’re going to come up with an answer.  I hope we’re going to come up with an answer for DACA, and then we go further than that later on down the road.

Dick, perhaps you’d like to say a few words?

SENATOR DURBIN:  Thanks, Mr. President, for inviting us.  We’re all honored to be a part of this conversation.

September the 5th, you challenged us.  You challenged Congress.  You said we’re going to end DACA, not replace it.  As of today, we have not done that.  We face a deadline of March 5th, which you created with your elimination of DACA, and we know that, in the meantime, there have been efforts underway by Senator Graham and I.

We sat down with a bipartisan group of senators.  We have worked long and hard, many hours have been put into it.  And we feel that we can put together a combination for the future of DACA as well as border security, and that there are elements you’re going to find Democrats support when it comes to border security.  We want a safe border in America, period, both when it comes to the issues of illegal migration, but also when it comes to drugs and all these other areas.

Now, I will say that there is a sense of urgency that’s felt by many of us when it comes to this issue.  There are many of these young people who are losing the protection of DACA on a daily basis.  As of March 5th, a thousand a day will lose DACA protection.  Nine hundred of them are members of the U.S. military.  Twenty thousand of them are schoolteachers.  In my state of Illinois and the city of Chicago, there are 25 of them in medical school who can’t apply for a residency if they lose their DACA status.

So lives are hanging in the balance of our getting the job done.  We’ve got the time to do it.  In a matter of days — literally of days — we can come together and reach an agreement.  And when that happens, I think good things will happen in other places.  And we’ll see some progress in Washington.

THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that, Dick.  I very much agree with that.  Tom, would you like to say something?  Tom Cotton.

SENATOR COTTON:  Thank you for inviting us all here and I’m glad to be here with Democrats and with House members as well.  You know, I think, on this issue, there’s a lack of trust and has been, for many years, a lack of trust between Republicans and Democrats; a lack of trust among Republicans; most fundamentally, a lack of trust between the American people and our elected leaders on not delivering a solution for many, many years about some of these problems.

And I hope that this meeting can be the beginning of building trust between our parties, between the chambers, because I know, for fact, all the Republicans around the table are committed to finding a solution, and I believe all the Democrats are as well.

So I think this is a good first step in building the trust we need for a good bill, Mr. President, that will achieve the objectives that you stated: providing legal protection for the DACA population, while also securing our border and ending chain migration and the diversity lottery.

Thank you for the invitation.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, thank you very much for having us down here.  I agree with Tom Cotton that the American public are very frustrated with us.  One of the reasons they’re frustrated with us is because we continue to couple things on which we have large agreement with things in which we do not agree.  This is a perfect example of that.

Eighty-six percent of the American people in the most recent poll are for ensuring, as you have said, not providing for DACA-protected kids to go to a place that they don’t know, they didn’t grow up in, and it’s not their home.  They’re Americans.  They don’t have a piece of paper that says they’re Americans, but they’re Americans.

And it seems to me, Mr. President, if we’re going to move ahead in a constructive way, that we take that on which we agree — pass it.  The American public will be pleased with all of us if we do that.  Just as, in September, you recall, we did the extension of the CR.  No drama.  We were all for it.  You and the four leaders met, we came to an agreement, and we passed that CR.

In my view, we can pass the protection in the — well, I understand your position is procedurally it was not done correctly.  You then, as Dick has said, challenged us — pass it correctly.

If it’s put on the floor, Mr. President, I believe we will have the overwhelming majority in both the House — and Senator Graham thinks that we’ll have a substantial majority in the United States Senate as well.  That, I think, is the first step, Tom, to creating some degree of confidence.

Democrats are for security at the borders; I want to state that emphatically.  There is not a Democrat that is not for having secure borders.

There are obviously differences however, Mr. President, on how you effect that.  You just indicated that yourself.  And you indicated this would be a first step, and then we continue to talk as we’re talking today about how we best secure the border.  There are differences of opinion within your party and within in our party.

So I would urge that we move forward on protecting the DACA-protected individuals — young people, young adults, as you pointed out in one of your statements — who are productive parts of our community — that we protect them and get that done.  And then, because I think everybody around the table, as you pointed out, is for security — and then the issue is going to be how do we best effect that border security.

So I would urge us to move, as Senator Durbin has urged us to move, on the DACA students.  As a matter of fact, the Speaker, I think today, but maybe yesterday, said, we need to solve the DACA issue, and we need to solve it in a way that is permanent, not temporary.  And I agree with him on that issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, interestingly, when you say that, President Obama, when he signed the executive order, actually said he doesn’t have the right to do this.  And so you do have to go through Congress, and you do have to make it permanent, whether he does, whether he doesn’t — let’s assume he doesn’t, he said it — and that was a temporary stopgap, I don’t think we want that.  I think we want to have a permanent solution to this.  And I think everybody in this room feels that way very strongly.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  What happened, Mr. President, I think, is that the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill, as you know.  We did not consider it in the House, so we didn’t reach those issues.

Very frankly, on border security, Mr. McCaul, the Chairman of the committee, reported out a unanimous security solution, which we then included in the bill that we filed on comprehensive immigration reform.  So I think we can reach agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I also think that, after we do DACA — and I really believe we should be able to be successful — I really think we should look in terms of your permanent solution and to the whole situation with immigration.  I think a lot of people in this room would agree to that also, but we’ll do it in steps.  And most people agree with that, I think, that we’ll do the steps.  Even you say, ‘let’s do this, and then we go phase two.’

Kevin, what would you like to say?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Well, first, I want to thank you for bringing everybody together.  You got the Senate, you got the House, you got both parties.  And I like the exchange of ideas, and I think everybody has a point here.

The one thing I don’t want to have happen here is what I saw in the past.  There were four bills that were passed on border security years ago that never got finished.  There were immigration bills passed that — we’re right back at the table with the same problem.  Let’s make a commitment to each one, and, most importantly, to the American people, that, when we get done and come to an agreement, that we’re not back at this problem three, four years from now. 

That’s why — yes, we’ve got to do DACA, and I agree with you 100 percent — but if we do not do something with the security, if we do not do something with the chain migration, we are fooling each other that we solved the problem.  You know how difficult this issue is.  So let’s collectively — we’re here at the table together.  I’ll be the first one to tell you, we’re all going to have to give a little, and I’ll be the first one willing to.

But let’s solve the problem — but let’s not tell the American public at the end that it’s solved when it’s not.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think a good starting point would be Bob Goodlatte, who has done a bill, and I understand you’re ready to submit it.  And you’re going to take that and you’ll submit it and they’ll negotiate it in Congress or the House.  And then it goes to the Senate, and they’ll negotiate — both Republican and Democrat.  But it could be a good way of starting.

Now, if anyone has an idea different from that — but, I think, starting in the House.  Starting in the House — Mike, you good?  You’re ready.  I think you’re ready to go.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  We are, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I would like to add the words “merit” into any bill that’s submitted because I think we should have merit-based immigration like they have in Canada, like they have in Australia.  So we have people coming in that have a great track record, as opposed to what we’re doing now, to be honest with you.

But I think merit-based should be absolutely added to any bill, even if it has to do with DACA.  That would be added to the things I said.  I think it would be popular.  I can tell you, the American public very much wants that.

But, Bob, where are you with the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  So, tomorrow, Chairman McCaul and Congresswoman McSally and Congressman Labrador — we’re the chairmen of the two committees and the chairmen of the two subcommittees — are going to introduce a bill that addresses the DACA concerns.

And let me thank you, Mr. President, both — I was an immigration lawyer before I was elected to Congress.  I want to thank you both for campaigning on securing our borders and the interior of our country, but also on addressing DACA in a way that makes sense.  Don’t do it ad hoc; do it through the congressional process.  So you’ve challenged us, and we should step up to that challenge.  And we’re going to do it in a bipartisan fashion, but we have to put our best foot forward.

And we’re going to do that with this legislation.  It’s going to address DACA in a permanent way, not a temporary short-term thing.  We’re going to address the border enforcement and security and the wall.  We’re going to address — in Mr. McCaul’s bill, we’re going to address interior enforcement, but not everything that the administration had on its list.  

We’re going to address chain migration.  We’re going to end the visa lottery program.  We’re going to address sanctuary cities and Kate’s Law. 

We think it is a good bill that will both address the two things our Speaker told us right after you made your decision, which is, we have to address the problem we have with the DACA kids being in limbo, as Dick Dubin described it, and I agree with that.  But we also have to make sure this does not happen again.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Dick, you and the Democrats are going to have a lot of things that they’re not going to agree — you’re going to talk to us about it.  I just felt that this is something that was long overdue.  You’d have a meeting and you’d say, this is what we want.  We’d have a meeting — and this has been going on for years.  And I just — you know, at a certain point, maybe I’ll just lock the doors and I won’t let anybody out — (laughter) — until they come and agree.

Michael, do you have something to say about the bill?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCAUL:  Yes, I’ve been in Congress for seven terms.  I’ve been trying to get this border secure for seven terms in Congress.  I think this is a bipartisan issue.  I think DACA is a bipartisan issue. 

We have an opportunity, I think, before us to get this done for the American people.  When it comes to chain migration and the lottery system, we saw two recent terror attacks in New York that were the result of this, I think, failed immigration policy.  We’d like to see that fixed for the American people and along with, as Bob talked about, sanctuary cities.

Now, you and I talked about this extensively.  So we think our bill, our House bill would be a good starting ground for this negotiation.  And I, too, want to commend you for bringing everybody together. 

I think what we don’t want to see happen is for the conditions for DACA to occur again.  We want to get security done so we don’t have to deal with this problem five more years down the road. 

So thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, there are so many points of agreement, and a lot of it is common sense.  And I really think we’re going to come out very well.

David Perdue, do you have something to say?

REPRESENTATIVE PERDUE:  Well, yeah, my observation is that three times in the last eleven years, well-intentioned people, some of whom are in this room, attempted to do what we’re starting to try to do today, and we failed.  And I think the difference is, is their mission creep ended up in an effort that became too comprehensive. 

And so, today, my encouragement for all of us is to do what Dick has been trying to do and talks about repeatedly, and that is to limit the scope of this.  And I like the idea that both sides have pressure to solve the DACA issue.  But I think the bigger issue here is not just the DACA issue, but what we can do to start the path to the steps that solve this immigration problem.  For several reasons — there are social issues; there are political issues; there are economic issues about our workforce that have to be addressed. 

But limiting this to the legal immigration side and combining the balance between various solutions on DACA; DREAMers, if it gets in the conversation; as well border security and chain migration, I think therein lies the balance of a good deal that can be done.

And I don’t think — I agree with Dick.  I don’t think it’s going to take long to get it done if we just lock ourselves in a room and make it happen.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think you’re right.  I think it could be done very quickly. 

Would anybody have anything to say prior to the press leaving?

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Mr. President, I just have one comment.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Senator Durbin mentioned that lives are hanging in the balance.  As we come up on the January 19th deadline, the lives that are hanging in the balance are those of our military that are needing the equipment and the funding and everything they need in order to keep us safe, and we should not playing politics on this issue to stop our military from getting the funding that they need.

I think we have the right people in the room to solve this issue.  The deadline is March 5th.  Let’s roll up our sleeves and work together on this.  But those who need us right now before the January 19 deadline is our military.  And let’s not play politics with that.  Let’s give them what they need to keep us safe.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, good.  And I think a lot of people would agree with that.  We need our military — I can’t say more than ever before.  We had wars.  Right, Lindsey?  We had a lot of other areas and times.  But we need our military desperately.  Our military has been very depleted.  We’re rebuilding, and we’re building it up quickly, and we’re negotiating much better deals with your purveyors and with your manufacturers and with your equipment-makers — much better than it was before.

I looked at boats that started off at $1.5 billion, and they’re up to $18 billion, and they’re still not finished.  In this case, a particular aircraft carrier.  I think it’s outrageous.  So we’re very much agreeing with you on that one.

Would anybody like to say?  Yes, Steny, go ahead.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  I want to follow up on that.  There are no Democrats that don’t want to make sure that the military is funded properly.  And over the last four years, we had an agreement between Mr. Ryan and Senator Murray — Speaker Ryan and — that we understand that our military is critically important.  But we also understand that our domestic issues, whether it’s education, whether it’s healthcare, whether it’s environment, whether it’s transportation and infrastructure, they’re important, as well. 

And both the defense and non-defense sides of the budget are hurt when you have a CR, because they cannot blink and they cannot get contracts if they don’t have any money to do so.  So that, very frankly, I think Ms. McSally is correct.  But what we ought to have done over the last six months — particularly when we did the September and we gave 90 days — is to reach some agreement on what the caps are going to be.  The Murray-Ryan agreements were parity.  We believe that’s very important.

So we can get to where we should get and want to get there, but we ought to have an agreement based upon what the last —

THE PRESIDENT:  But, Steny, we do have to take politics out of the military.  We need that military.  All the other things we talk about, we’re not going to be here if we don’t have the right military.  And we need our military, and we need it stronger than ever before, and we’re ready to do it.  But we have to take politics out of the military.

One thing that I think we can really get along with on a bipartisan basis — and maybe I’m stronger on this than a lot of the people on the Republican side, but I will tell you, we have great support from the Republicans — is infrastructure.  I think we can do a great infrastructure bill.  I think we’re going to have a lot of support from both sides, and I’d like to get it done as quickly as possible.

[Trump doesn’t seem to get it: social spending – health care, education – are equally important to military spending.] 

Yes, John.

SENATOR CORNYN:  Mr. President, I, too, want to thank you for getting us together.  You made the point last week when Republicans were meeting with you that, why are we continuing to have these meetings just among ourselves when what we need to do to get to a solution is to meet, as we are today, as you insisted, on bipartisan basis.

[The only reason there is any interest at all in “bipartisan” solution – to DACA, immigration, infrastructure, the budget – is because they need 60 votes, not 51, to get measures through the Senate, unless McConnell does what Trump wants and gets rid of the filibuster.]

But part of my job is to count votes in the Senate.  And as you know when you hosted us, the leadership, at Camp David this weekend, I believe both the Speaker and Majority Leader McConnell made crystal clear that they would not proceed with a bill on the floor of the Senate or the House unless it had your support, unless you would sign it.

So that’s, I think, the picture we need to be looking through — the lens we need to be looking through is not only what could we agree to among ourselves on a bipartisan basis, but what will you sign into law.  Because we all want to get to a solution here, and we realize the clock is ticking.

But I think that for me frames the issue about as well as I can.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Very well said.  One of the reasons I’m here, Chuck, so importantly, is exactly that.  I mean, normally you wouldn’t have a President coming to this meeting.  Normally, frankly, you’d have Democrats, Republicans, and maybe nothing would get done. 

Our system lends itself to not getting things done, and I hear so much about earmarks — the old earmark system — how there was a great friendliness when you had earmarks.  But of course, they had other problems with earmarks.  But maybe all of you should start thinking about going back to a form of earmarks.  Because this system — (laughter) —

PARTICIPANT:  Yes, yes, yes.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This system — (laughter) — but you should do it, and I’m there with you, because this system really lends itself to not getting along.  It lends itself to hostility and anger, and they hate the Republicans.  And they hate the Democrats.  And in the old days of earmarks, you can say what you want about certain Presidents and others, where they all talk about they went out to dinner at night and they all got along, and they passed bills.  That was an earmark system, and maybe we should think about it.

[This is true: earmarks allow for horse-trading, for a President like Johnson, but not Obama who did not have the benefit of earmarks, to make deals. Without it, politicians have no incentive to “compromise” and every incentive to revert to partisan fringes because all they have to fear is being primaried. Trump wants to return to using earmarks, so he can quite literally buy votes with taxpayer money. That is what is behind the infrastructure plan – it turn the US Treasury into a political slush fund to benefit Trump and the Republicans.] 

And we have to put better controls because it got a little bit out of hand, but maybe that brings people together.  Because our system right now, the way it’s set up, will never bring people together.  

Now, I think we’re going to get this done — DACA.  I think we’re going to get — I hope we’re going to get infrastructure done in the same way. 

But I think you should look at a form of earmarks.  I see Lindsey nodding very hard “yes.”

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Starting with the Port of Charleston.  Absolutely.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of the pros are saying that if you want to get along and if you want to get this country really rolling again, you have to look at a different form, because this is obviously out of control.

The levels of hatred — and I’m not talking about Trump.  I’m talking you go back throughout the eight years of Obama and you go before that, the animosity and the hatred between Republicans and Democrats.

I remember when I used to go out in Washington, and I’d see Democrats having dinner with Republicans.  And they were best friends, and everybody got along.  You don’t see that too much anymore.  In all due respect, you really don’t see that.  When was the last time you took a Republican out?  Why don’t you guys go and have dinner together?  (Laughter.)

But you don’t see it.  So maybe, and very importantly, totally different from this meeting, because we’re going to get DACA done — I hope we’re going to get DACA done, and we’re going to all try very hard — but maybe you should start bringing back a concept of earmarks.  It’s going to bring you together.  You’re going to do it honestly.  You’re going to get rid of the problems that the other system had — and it did have some problems.  But one thing it did is it brought everyone together.  And this country has to be brought together.  Okay?  Thank you.

Yes, Lindsey?

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Well, at 6:40 p.m., I’m going to go to Menendez’s office, and he’s taking me to dinner.  (Laughter.)

And he’s buying.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sounds like fun.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  He didn’t know that, but he’s buying.  We’re going to Morton’s.  You’re all welcome to come.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We can usually get bipartisan agreement when the other guy buys.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s a very important thing, because our system is designed, right now, that everybody should hate each other.  And we can’t have that.  You know, we have a great country.  We have a country that’s doing very well in many respects.  We’re just hitting a new high on the stock market again, and that means jobs.  I don’t look at the stocks, I look at the jobs.  I look at the 401(k)s, I look at what’s happening, where police come up to me and they say, “Thank you.  You’re making me look like a financial genius” — literally — meaning about them.  And their wives never thought that was possible, right?

No, the country is doing well in so many ways, but there’s such divisiveness, such division.  And I really believe we can solve that.  I think this system is a very bad system in terms of getting together.  And I’m going to leave it up to you, but I really believe you can do something to bring it together.

SENATOR GRAHAM:  Other than going to dinner with Bob — I’ve been doing this for 10 years — I don’t think I’ve seen a better chance to get it done than I do right now, because of you.  John’s right — I’m not going to support a deal if you don’t support it.  I’ve had my head beat out a bunch; I’m still standing.  I’m “Lindsey Grahamnesty,” “Lindsey Gomez” — you name every name you want to give to me, it’s been assigned to me.  And I’m still standing.

The people of South Carolina want a result.  How can I get a letter?  I’ve been for a pathway to citizenship for 11 million people because I have no animosity toward them.  I don’t want crooks, I don’t want “bad hombres.”  I want to get a merit-based immigration system to make sure we can succeed in the 21st century, and I’m willing to be more than fair to the 11 million.  I just don’t want to do this every 20 years.

Now, we made a decision, Mr. President, not to do it comprehensively.  I think that’s a smart decision but a hard decision.  We’ve passed three comprehensive bills out of the Senate with over 55 votes.  They go to the House and die, and I’m not being disparaging to my House colleagues, this is tough politics if you’re a Republican House member turning on the radio. 

To my Democratic friends, thanks for coming.  The Resist Movement hates this guy.  They don’t want him to be successful at all.  You turn on Fox News, and I can hear the drumbeat coming.  Right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts are going to beat the crap out of us because it’s going to be amnesty all over again.  I don’t know if the Republican and Democratic Party can define love, but I think what we can do is do what the American people want us to do.

Sixty-two percent of the Trump voters support a pathway to citizenship for the DACA kids if you have strong borders.  You have created an opportunity in here, Mr. President, and you need to close the deal. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Lindsey.  You know, it’s very interesting because I do have people that are — just to use a very common term — very far right and very far left.  They’re very unhappy about what we’re doing, but I really don’t believe they have to be, because I really think this sells itself.  And, you know, when you talk about comprehensive immigration reform, which is where I would like to get to eventually — if we do the right bill here, we are not very far way.  You know, we’ve done most of it.  You want to know the truth, Dick?  If we do this properly, DACA, you’re not so far away from comprehensive immigration reform.

And if you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat, I don’t care.  I don’t care — I’ll take all the heat you want to give me, and I’ll take the heat off both the Democrats and the Republicans.  My whole life has been heat.  (Laughter.)  I like heat, in a certain way.  But I will.

I mean, you are somewhat more traditional politicians.  Two and a half years ago, I was never thinking in terms of politics.  Now I’m a politician.  You people have been doing it, many of you, all your lives.  I’ll take all the heat you want.  But you are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.  And if you wanted to go that final step, I think you should do it.  And if you want to study earmarks to bring us all together, so we all get together and do something, I think you should study it.

Chuck, did you have something to say?

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  I’d like to talk about the reality of the whole situation and take off from what Cornyn and Graham have said of the necessity of you working with us.  And you are doing that by having this meeting and other meetings as well.  But we’ve always talked in the United States Senate about the necessity of getting 60 votes.  And that’s pretty darn tough.

But if we would write a bill that you don’t like and you veto it, we’re talking about a 67-vote threshold — two-thirds in the United States Senate.  So that’s the reality of negotiating in good faith and getting something you can sign.

The second reality is the March 5th date that’s coming up.  Because if we don’t do some good-faith negotiation and make progress, and get a bill on the floor of the United States Senate, our leader is going to have to bring up either the House bill or the bill that some of us have introduced in the United States Senate, and we’re going to have a vote on it.  And those people that don’t want to vote to legalize DACA kids are going to have to explain why they haven’t wanted to protect the vulnerable people that we’re all here talking about.  We’re talking about everything except doing something for the DACA kids.

You know, I would vote for a path to citizenship, which isn’t very easy for me, but I would do it just as an effort.  But there are certain things that we got to guarantee that we’re going to do.

THE PRESIDENT:  Chuck, that’s going to be brought up.  I really believe that will be brought up as part of what we’re talking about, at some point.  It’s an incentive for people to do a good job, if you want to know the truth.  That whole path is an incentive for people — and they’re not all kids.  I mean, we’re used to talking about kids.  They’re not really kids.  You have them 39, 40 years old, in some cases.  But it would be an incentive for people to work hard and do a good job.  So that could very well be brought up.

SENATOR GRASSLEY:  We’re talking about legalizing people here that didn’t break the law because their parents, who broke the law, brought them here.  And we ought to be talking about what we can do for the people that had no fault of their own, and get the job done, and not worry about a lot of other things that we’re involved in.  And that means that we got to make sure that we tell the American people, when we’re taking this step, that we’re doing something that all the people agree to.

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, let me just say, I think Dick and I agree with what Chuck Grassley just said.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s hard to believe.  When was the last time that happened?  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  We need to take care of these DACA kids, and we all agree on that.  Eighty-six percent of the American public agrees on that. 

With all due respect, Bob, and Mike, and Lindsey, there are some things that you’re proposing that are going to be very controversial and will be an impediment to agreement.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate those things.  You’re going to sit down and you’re going to say, listen, we can’t agree here, we’ll give you half of that, we’re going to — you’re going to negotiate those things.

     REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  Mr. President, comprehensive means comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, we’re not talking about comprehensive.  Now we’re talking about —

REPRESENTATIVE HOYER:  No, we are.  We are talking about comprehensive.

THE PRESIDENT:  If you want to go there, it’s okay because you’re not that far away.

SENATOR HOYER:  Mr. President, many of the things that are mentioned ought be a part of the negotiations regarding comprehensive immigration reform. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I think if you want to take it a step further, you may — I’m going to have to rely on you, Dick — but you may complicate it and you may delay DACA somewhat.

SENATOR DURBIN:  I don’t want to do that.

SENATOR HOYER:  You can’t do that.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You said at the outset that we need to phase this.  I think the first phase is what Chuck and Steny and I have mentioned, and others as well:  We have a deadline looming and a lot of lives hanging.  We can agree on some very fundamental and important things together on border security, on chain, on the future of diversity visas.  Comprehensive, though, I worked on it for six months with Michael Bennet, and a number of — Bob Menendez, and Schumer, and McCain, and Jeff Flake — and it took us six months to put it together.  We don’t have six months for the DACA bill.

PARTICIPANT:  We’re not talking about comprehensive immigration.

PARTICIPANT:  Take a look at our bill and let’s talk some.

PARTICIPANT:  I hear you.

SENATOR DURBIN:  You’ve mentioned a number of factors that are going to be controversial, as Steny has mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT:  But you’re going to negotiate.  Dick, you’re going to negotiate.  Maybe we will agree and maybe we won’t.  I mean, it’s possible we’re not going to agree with you and it’s possible we will, but there should be no reason for us not to get this done.

And, Chuck, I will say, when this group comes back — hopefully with an agreement — this group and others from the Senate, from the House, comes back with an agreement, I’m signing it.  I mean, I will be signing it.  I’m not going to say, “Oh, gee, I want this or I want that.”  I’ll be signing it, because I have a lot of confidence in the people in this room that they’re going to come up with something really good. 

Senator, would you like to say something?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  I would.  As you know, we tried for comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate.  It was on the floor, there were a number of amendments, it got a lot of attention in the judiciary committee, and then the House didn’t take it up. 

I think there needs to be a willingness on both sides.  And I think — and I don’t know how you would feel about this, but I’d like to ask the question:  What about a clean DACA bill now, with a commitment that we go into a comprehensive immigration reform procedure?  Like we did back — oh, I remember when Kennedy was here and it was really a major, major effort, and it was a great disappointment that it went nowhere.

THE PRESIDENT:  I remember that.  I have no problem.  I think that’s basically what Dick is saying.  We’re going to come up with DACA.  We’re going to do DACA, and then we can start immediately on the phase two, which would be comprehensive.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Would you be agreeable to that?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I would like — I would like to do that.*  Go ahead. I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first. 

[The original transcript, which was modified by the White House to change what Trump actually said, read: THE PRESIDENT:  I think a lot of people would like to see that, but I think we have to do DACA first.]

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Mr. President, you need to be clear though.  I think what Senator Feinstein is asking here: When we talk about just DACA, we don’t want to be back here two years later.  We have to have security, as the Secretary would tell you. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But I think that’s what she’s saying.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  What do you think I’m saying?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  I’m thinking you’re saying DACA is not secure.  Are you talking about security as well?

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Well, I think if we have some meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, that’s really where the security goes.  And if we can get the DACA bill, because March is coming and people are losing their status every day — 

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  But, let’s be honest.  Security was voted on just a few years ago, and, no disrespect, there’s people in the room on the other side of the aisle who voted for it.  If I recall, Senator Clinton voted for it.  So I don’t think that’s comprehensive; I think that’s dealing with DACA at the same time.  I think that’s really what the President is making.

It’s kind of like three pillars: DACA, because we’re all in the room want to do it; border security, so we’re not back out here; and chain migration.  It’s just three items, and then everything else that’s comprehensive is kind of moved to the side. 

So I believe when the (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  And the lottery.

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  And the lottery.

THE PRESIDENT:  And I think you should add merit.  I mean, if you can, add merit-based.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think — I don’t know who is going to argue with merit-based?  Who can argue with merit-based?

Dianne, go ahead.

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  Can I ask a question?  Do you really think that there can be agreement on all of that, quickly, to get DACA passed in time?  I wanted to ask Mr. McCarthy a question.  Do you really think there can be agreement on those three difficult subjects you raised in time to get DACA passed and effective?

REPRESENTATIVE MCCARTHY:  Yes, because you have heard from Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan, who said they will put the bill onto the floor if the President agrees to it.  And us getting to the room, I haven’t seen us be this close and having this discussion in quite a few years — or the whole last four years.

So I think, yes, we can make this happen.  We all know it.  We’ve done it before.  You and I spent a long time — we did probably one of the most difficult things to do in California — water.  And I believe we can get there and we can just keep working each day on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think what we’re all saying is we’ll do DACA and we can certainly start comprehensive immigration reform the following afternoon.  Okay?  We’ll take an hour off and then we’ll start. 

SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Okay.

THE PRESIDENT:  I do believe that.  Because once we get DACA done — if it’s done properly — with, you know, security, and everything else —

SENATOR FEINSTEIN:  That’s the point.

THE PRESIDENT:  If it’s done properly, we have taken a big chunk of comprehensive out of the negotiation, and I don’t think it’s going to be that complicated.

SENATOR PERDUE:  Mr. President, we have —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

SENATOR PERDUE:  We have to be very clear though.

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

SENATOR PERDUE:  In my opinion, we’ll be right back here either five years, thirty years, whatever.  But this, the chain migration, is so insidious; it is the fundamental flaw in the immigration policy of the United States.  If any conversation about DACA is being held without that consideration — I agree with border security as well — but any conversation about that is not going to go anywhere in the United States Senate.  And if we think we’re going to divide one side versus the other, that’s just not going to happen on this issue.

THE PRESIDENT:  David, I think chain migration has taken a very big hit over the last six months.  People are seeing what’s happening.

People — for instance, the man on the Westside Highway that killed the people and so badly wounded.  You know, it’s incredible when they talk about wounded, they don’t say that arms are off, and legs are off, one person lost two legs.  You know, nobody talks about it.  They said eight died, but they don’t talk about the twelve people that have no legs, no arms, and all of the things.  So I’m talking about everybody.

I really believe that when you talk about the subject that we’re all mentioning right now, I think they had — how many people came in?  Twenty-two to twenty-four people came in through him.  He’s a killer.  He’s a guy who ran over eight — many people — eight died; ten to twelve are really badly injured.  So I really think that a lot of people are going to agree with us now on that subject.  I really don’t see there’s a big —

SENATOR PERDUE:  Seventy percent of Americans want the immigration policy to be, the family — the nuclear family and the workers.  Seventy percent.   

THE PRESIDENT:  David, the chain immigration, though, has taken a very big hit in the last year with what’s happening.  I mean, you’re looking at these killers — whether you like or not — we’re looking at these killers and then you see, 18 people came in, 22 people came in, 30 people came in, with this one person that just killed a lot of people.  I really don’t believe there are a lot of Democrats saying, “We will be supporting chain migration,” anymore.

PARTICIPANT:   Mr. President, should we get the Homeland Security Secretary —

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Yeah, if you don’t mind.  Just on a couple of things on border security.  I just want to try to make sure we’re all linking.

The reason that border security is so important to have as part of this discussion is that it doesn’t solve the problem if we can apprehend people but we can’t remove them.  So we need the wall system, which is some physical infrastructure as the President described — personnel and technology — but we have to close those legal loopholes, because the effect is that is this incredible pull up from Central America that just continues to exacerbate the problem.  So border security has to be part of this or we will be here again in three, four, five years again — maybe, unfortunately, sooner.

The other point I would just make is, the President asked DHS — he asked the men and women of DHS, what do you need to do your job?  Congress and the American people have entrusted to you, the security of our country.  What is it that you need?  The list that we have provided is what we need to do our mission that you asked us to do.  It’s not less than, it’s not more than; it is what we need to close those loopholes to be able to protect our country.

So I would just encourage — everyone, much more eloquently than I can, described all the reasons why we all, I think, are committed to helping the DACA population.  But to truly solve the problem, it’s got to be in conjunction with border security. 

THE PRESIDENT:  Jeff.

SENATOR FLAKE:  I would just echo what has been said by some here.  Those of us who have been through comprehension reform, that was six, seven months of every night negotiating, staff on weekends.  And a lot of things we’re talking about on border security and some of the interior things have trade-offs, and we made those during that process.  I don’t see how we get there before March 5th.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s okay.  So I think that’s why we make it a phase two.  We do a phase one, which is DACA and security, and we do phase two, which is comprehensive immigration.  And I think we should go right to it, I really do.  We do one and we then do the other.  But we go right to it.

Yes.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  Mr. President, I think it’s important to thank you for your flexibility and your leadership.  And so I think what all of us have to do is have the same willingness to have a little bit of flexibility to get this issue done.  And, obviously, I want to do a lot more than DACA.  But the urgent thing now, for obvious reasons, are these young men and women who we have to deal with, first and foremost.

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree.

REPRESENTATIVE DIAZ-BALART:  And to Steny’s point, there are two issues which we keep hearing that everybody agrees to, and that is dealing with these individuals on a permanent and real solution, and border security.  

     So I don’t see why we shouldn’t be able to do that, and I’m hoping that that will then lead us — to Senator Collins’ point, there’s a lot of lack of trust.  If we can get real border security and deal with these individuals, if we can get that done, then I think, my gosh, it all opens up to do a lot more things in the future for the Americans.

REPRESENTATIVE GOODLATTE:  I just want to reemphasize what Secretary Nielsen said.  It is so important they understand when you talk about border security, if you apprehend somebody at the border, but then you cannot send them back outside the United States, even though they’re unlawfully present in the United States, you have not solved this problem, because they’re then released into the interior of the country and the problem persists.  And that sends a message back to wherever they come from. 

THE PRESIDENT:  I agree, Bob.  And you know what?  We’re going to negotiate that.  I agree, and I think a lot of people agree on both sides.

Henry?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I agree with my good friend, Mario, in the sense that if we focus on DACA and border security, I think we can address this.  Issues of chain migration or the other issues, I think that should be looked at in the second phase.

But again, I say this with all due respect to both Democrats, Republicans — but being from the border, I always get a kick out of people that go down, spend a few hours, and they think they know the border better than Cornyn — or some of us there, because we’ve lived there all our life.

Let me explain this.  For example, if you look at the latest DEA — you’re worried about drugs, look at the latest DEA report — more drugs come through the ports of entry than in between ports.  But we’re not even talking about ports of entry, number one.

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Our bill does.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  No, I know — I’m just saying.  I’m saying.  (Laughter.)  I’m just saying ports — let’s finish this.  And some of us have been working this longer than some other folks.

Number one, if you look at the 11 or 12 million undocumented aliens, which is the second phase, 40 percent of them came through visa overstays.  So you can put the most beautiful wall out there, it’s not going to stop them there because they’ll either come by plane, boat, or vehicle itself. 

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  That’s in our bill, too.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yeah, and I know.  So the other thing is, the other thing that we had looked at — the wall itself, Mr. President — if you talk to your Border Patrol chief or the former Border Patrol chiefs, I’ve asked them, how much time does a wall buy you?  They’ll say a couple minutes or a few seconds.  And this is our own Border Patrol chiefs that have said that.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  It’s not mine.  Mine has made clear the wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  They have not.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not the ones I spoke to.  They say, without the wall, we cannot have border security.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Okay.  Let me show you.

THE PRESIDENT:  All you have to do is ask Israel.  Look what happened with them. 

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  No, ask Yuma.  Ask San Diego.  The wall works.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, without the wall, you can’t have it.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All right.  Homeland Appropriations, your chief that was there, and the former chiefs have all said that.

Now, the other thing is —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they didn’t do a very good job.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Well, if you look at — this is where the wall — Mr. President, if you look at where the walls are at right now, this is where the activity is where the walls are at right now.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have massive miles of area where people are pouring through.  Now, one of the good things, because of our rhetoric or because of the perceived — you know, my perceived attitude — fewer people are trying to come through.  That’s a great thing.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Right.

THE PRESIDENT:  And therefore — I mean, our numbers have been fantastic, maybe for all the right reasons.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But let me just finish my thought.  I want to ask you that — we’re playing — you saw the game last night.  It was a good game last night.

THE PRESIDENT:  I did.  Very good game.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We’re playing defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. border.  We spend over $18 billion a year on the border. 

If we think about playing defense on the 20-yard line — if you look at what Mexico has done, they stop thousands of people on the southern border with Guatemala.  We ought to be looking at working with them.

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we stopped them.  We stopped them.  You know why?  Mexico told me, the President told me, everybody tells me — not as many people are coming through their southern border because they don’t think they can get through our southern border and therefore they don’t come.  That’s what happened with Mexico.  We did Mexico a tremendous favor.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We actually put appropriations to help them with the southern border.

THE PRESIDENT:  The point is — I know, we always give everybody — every other nation gets money except ours.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally —

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re always looking for money.  We give the money to other nations.  That we have to stop.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  But finally, the last point, Mr. President, is instead of playing defense on the one-yard line, if you look — this is your material — we know where the stash houses are at, we know where the hotels are at, we know where they cross the river —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  And we’re going after those.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Why stop — why play defense on the one-yard line called the U.S. —

THE PRESIDENT:  Henry, we’re going after them like never before.  We’re going after the stash houses —

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  All I’m saying is, if we focus on DACA, we can work on the other things separately — on sensible border security, listen to the folks that are from the border, and we can work with the —

THE PRESIDENT:  And you folks are going to have to — you’re one voice — you folks are going to have to come up with a solution. 

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  And if you do, I’m going to sign that solution.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  We have a lot of smart people in this room.  Really smart people.  We have a lot of people that are good people, big hearts.  They want to get it done.

I think almost everybody — I can think of one or two I don’t particularly like, but that’s okay.  (Laughter.)

REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY:  Where is he looking?

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Who is he looking at?  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m trying to figure that out.  Everybody wants a solution.  You want it, Henry.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.  I want to work with you on this.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think we have a great group of people to sit down and get this done.  In fact, when the media leaves, which I think should be probably pretty soon.  (Laughter.)  But I like — but I will tell you, I like opening it up to the media because I think they’re seeing, more than anything else, that we’re all very much on a similar page.  We’re on the same page.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  We are.  We are.

THE PRESIDENT:  And, Henry, I think we can really get something done.

REPRESENTATIVE CUELLAR:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  So why don’t we ask the media to leave.  We appreciate you being here. 

Q    Is there any agreement without the wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  No, there wouldn’t be.  You need it.  John, you need the wall.  I mean, it’s wonderful — I’d love not to build the wall, but you need the wall.

And I will tell you this, the ICE officers and the Border Patrol agents — I had them just recently on — they say, if you don’t have the wall — you know, in certain areas, obviously, that aren’t protected by nature — if you don’t have the wall, you cannot have security.  You just can’t have it.  It doesn’t work.

And part of the problem we have is walls and fences that we currently have are in very bad shape.  They’re broken.  We have to get them fixed or rebuilt.

But, you know, you speak to the agents, and I spoke to all of them.  I spoke — I lived with themThey endorsed me for President, which they’ve never done before — the Border Patrol agents and ICE.  They both endorsed Trump.  And they never did that before.  And I have a great relationship with them.  They say, sir, without the wall, security doesn’t work; we’re all wasting time. 

Now, that doesn’t mean 2,000 miles of wall because you just don’t need that because of nature, because of mountains and rivers and lots of other things.  But we need a certain portion of that border to have the wall.  If we don’t have it, you can never have security.  You could never stop that portion of drugs that comes through that area.

Yes, it comes through planes and lots of other ways and ships.  But a lot of it comes through the southern border.  You can never fix the situation without additional wall.  And we have to fix existing wall that we already have.

Q    So you would not be for what Senator Feinstein asked you, which would be a clean DACA bill that doesn’t —

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill where we take care of the 800,000 people.  They are actually not necessarily young people; everyone talks about young — you know, they could be 40 years old, 41 years old, but they’re also 16 years old.

But I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA.  We take care of them and we also take care of security.  That’s very important.

And I think the Democrats want security too.  I mean, we started off with Steny saying, we want security also.  Everybody wants security.  And then we can go to comprehensive later on, and maybe that is a longer subject and a bigger subject, and I think we can get that done too.

But we’ll get it done at a later date.

Yes, ma’am.  Go ahead.

SENATOR HIRONO:  Mr. President, I’m Senator Hirono from Hawaii.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I know.

SENATOR HIRONO:  And as the only immigrant serving in the United States Senate right now, I would like nothing better than for us to get to comprehensive immigration reform.  But what I’m hearing around the table right now is a commitment to resolving the DACA situation because there is a sense of urgency.

You have put it out there that you want $18 billion for a wall or else there will be no DACA.  Is that still your position? 

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  I can build it for less, by the way.

SENATOR HIRONO:  But you want that wall? 

THE PRESIDENT:  I must tell you, I’m looking at these prices.  Somebody said $42 billion.  This is like the aircraft carrier.  It started off at a billion and a half, and it’s now at $18 billion.

No, we can do it for less.  We can do a great job.  We can do a great wall.  But you need the wall.  And I’m now getting involved.  I like to build under budget, okay?  I like to go under-budget, ahead of schedule. 

There’s no reason for seven years, also.  I heard the other day — please, don’t do that to me.  (Laughter.)  Seven years to build the wall.  We can build the wall in one year, and we can build it for much less money than what they’re talking about.  And any excess funds — and we’ll have a lot of — whether it’s a Wollman Rink or whether it’s any — I build under budget and I build ahead of schedule.  There is no reason to ever mention seven years again, please.  I heard that and I said — I wanted to come out with a major news conference, Tom, yesterday.

No.  It can go up quickly, it can go up effectively, and we can fix a lot of the areas right now that are really satisfactory if we renovate those walls. 

SENATOR HIRONO:  And can you tell us how many miles of wall you’re contemplating?  Whether it’s $17 million or $13 million or whatever is — can you tell us?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, we’re doing a study on that right now.  But there are large areas where you don’t need a wall because you have a mountain and you have a river — you have a violent river — and you don’t need it.  Okay?

SECRETARY NIELSEN:  Senator, I’m happy to come visit you this week to walk you through the numbers.

Q    I’m not the most politically astute person in the world, but it seems to me not much has actually changed here in terms of your position at this particular meeting.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think it’s changed.  I think my positions are going to be what the people in this room come up with.  I am very much reliant on the people in this room.  I know most of the people on both sides.  I have a lot of respect for the people on both sides.  And my — what I approve is going to be very much reliant on what the people in this room come to me with.  I have great confidence in the people.  If they come to me with things that I’m not in love with, I’m going to do it because I respect them. 

Thank you all very much.

Q    Think you could beat Oprah, by the way?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I’ll beat Oprah.  Oprah would be a lot of fun.  I know her very well.  You know I did one of her last shows.  She had Donald Trump — this is before politics — her last week.  And she had Donald Trump and my family.  It was very nice.  No, I like Oprah.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I don’t think she’s going to run.  I know her very well.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it’s phase two.  I think comprehensive will be phase two.  I think — I really agree with Dick.  I think we get the one thing done and then we go into comprehensive the following day.  I think it’ll happen.

Thank you all very much.  I hope we’ve given you enough material.  That should cover you for about two weeks.  (Laughter.)

12:33 P.M. EST

See also: 

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only 

NYS Takes Actions to Protect Immigrants from Trump Decision to End Temporary Protected Status

 

NYS Takes Actions to Protect Immigrants from Trump Decision to End Temporary Protected Status

Federal Government Ends TPS Status for 16,200 Salvadorans and Thousands of Haitians and Nicaraguans Currently Living in NYS

Governor Directs NYS Department of State to Increase Resources Available to Communities Across New York

Residents Seeking Information and Legal Counsel Urged to Call New Americans Hotline: 1-800-566-7636

Office for New American Outreach Centers, Liberty Defense Project to Increase Outreach

Statue of Liberty, New York City: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo directed the New York State Department of State to increase access to and offer additional resources for communities impacted by the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today directed the New York State Department of State to increase access to and offer additional resources for communities impacted by the Trump administration’s arbitrary decision to end Temporary Protected Status for individuals from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua. Of the 114,127 Salvadorans currently living in New York State, 16,200 are TPS beneficiaries and will be impacted by the federal government’s decision to end TPS recognition for the country.

“After fleeing a horrific natural disaster, Salvadorans found safe haven on our shores and have called the U.S. home for more than a decade. They have worked hard, paid taxes, bought homes, and had families – all in an effort to achieve the American Dream,” Governor Cuomo said. “This federal administration’s decision to tear families apart, disrupt small businesses, and lead those who have become part of the American fabric to an uncertain future, is disgraceful and unjust. We will work day in and day out to connect with impacted New Yorkers and make sure they know their rights and legal options in order to help protect these hard-working men and women.”

Yesterday, the Trump Administration announced it was ending TPS recognition for Salvadorans living in the U.S., effective September 9, 2019. El Salvador residents had been granted TPS since 2001, when an earthquake devastated the Central American country. The decision to end TPS for Salvadorans follows the Trump administration’s recent termination of TPS recognition for Haiti, impacting 50,000 individuals nationwide, and Nicaragua, impacting 2,800 individuals nationwide.

Governor Cuomo has directed the New York State Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project – both hosted by the New York State Department of State – to increase outreach and communication efforts to impacted residents and communities across the state to ensure they understand their rights and legal options.

Since 1990, the United States has offered TPS to immigrants from 10 countries that have experienced civil unrest, violence, a natural disaster or an epidemic. Those who are granted TPS – approximately 342,570 individuals across the nation – have the legal right to reside and work in the United States. El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras constitute the countries with the most TPS beneficiaries in the U.S.

U.S. Representative Yvette Clark of the 9th District, who recently sponsored legislation to let every person covered by TPS on Jan. 1, 2017 apply for permanent residency by proving before a judge that they would face extreme hardship if forced to return home, said, “Our nation has welcomed TPS beneficiaries who fled unexpected and, in some cases, deplorable circumstances in their home countries, and has given them opportunity to flourish here in the U.S. These hard-working men, women, and their children have embraced their new lives and have become a part of the fabric of our nation. Many are business owners, hairdressers, teachers, nurses, and doctors. They are our neighbors and friends. I applaud the Governor’s continued commitment to these individuals and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him in protecting our communities.”

Jose Calderon, President of Hispanic Federation, said, “By terminating the Temporary Protected Status program to Salvadorans, the Trump administration has turned its back on America’s promise to be a haven for those unable to safely return to their home country. Ending TPS will not make us richer or safer. Instead it will damage our economy irreparably, heartlessly break up families, and destabilize established communities (nearly one-third of TPS holders own homes in their communities). We stand with Governor Cuomo and call on Congress to rectify this grave injustice immediately by passing legislation that would provide permanent residency for long-time TPS holders.”

Additional Resources and the New Americans Hotline

Anyone impacted by the TPS decision may contact the New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636. The toll-free, multilingual hotline provides live assistance in more than 200 languages. Anyone can call the hotline for information and referrals, regardless of citizenship or documented status. Calls to the hotline are confidential and anonymous. The hotline operates from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), and is managed by Catholic Charities Community Services.

The Office for New Americans’ 27 neighborhood-based Opportunity Centers, and lawyers specializing in immigration law and members of the Liberty Defense Project, will provide free up-to-date information and advice to TPS individuals from all affected countries and through individual consultations. The consultations can also provide guidance and screening for possible adjustment of immigration status.

To locate an Office for New Americans Opportunity Center, click here. To view the Office for New Americans Opportunity Centers Map, click here.

Upcoming Know Your Rights seminars and consultations will take place on the dates included below. Locations will be announced as soon as possible and made available through the hotline and online at: www.newamericans.ny.gov.

  • February 8 – Hispanic Federation and Make the Road New York
  • February 15 – Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Hispanic Federation
  • February 22 – Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

The New York State Office for New Americans

Governor Cuomo established the Office for New Americans to assist newcomers to New York State who are eager to contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York State. The New York State Office for New Americans helps New Americans fully participate in New York State civic and economic life.

The Office is committed to strengthening New York State’s welcoming environment for New Americans and facilitating their success by:

  • Creating a network of neighborhood-based “Opportunity” Centers;
  • Increasing access to English-for-Speakers-of-Other-Languages (ESOL) training;
  • Preparing New Americans for the naturalization process;
  • Connecting New Americans to business resources to harness their entrepreneurial spirit;
  • Developing and leveraging the professional skills of New Americans;
  • Strengthening the connections between New Americans and their communities through civic engagement and other opportunities;
  • Reduce exploitation of New Americans by scammers and con artists; and
  • Marshal State resources to better serve New Americans.

The New York State Liberty Defense Project

The Liberty Defense Project is the first-in-the-nation, state-led public-private project to assist immigrants, regardless of status, in obtaining access to legal services and process. In 2017, Governor Cuomo announced a historic $11.4 million investment in this project.

The Liberty Defense Project is administered by the state’s Office for New Americans and is run in partnership with law firms, legal associations, advocacy organizations, major colleges and universities, and bar associations.

The Liberty Defense Project provides:

  • Free legal consultations and screenings for immigrants throughout New York State;
  • Direct representation to immigrants in deportation proceedings as well as other cases;
  • Help with filing immigration applications for naturalization, employment authorization, permanent residency, etc.; and
  • Know Your Rights trainings for immigrants and community at large.

Angela Fernandez, Esq, Executive Director of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, said, “In light of the federal government’s termination of TPS for 277,000 El Salvadorians, we celebrate Governor Cuomo’s forethought in creating the Liberty Defense Program of the NYS Office of New Americans. The Liberty Defense Program allows organizations like ours, and other across the state, provide the highest quality immigration legal defense to those who are most disenfranchised.  And in this case, it will mean the difference between being deported or being able to remain in the only country many TPS holders call home.”

Elise Damas, Lawyer for Central American Refugee Center, said, “The federal government’s decision to end TPS will be disastrous for our Salvadoran neighbors across New York State, but in the face of this injustice we must stand up and fight. New York State has always welcomed new Americans and we will not allow anti-immigrant sentiments in Washington to change that.”

“New York is a beacon for immigrant rights, and our legal partners are critical to protecting these populations,” New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “The Office for New Americans and the Liberty Defense Project stand ready to assist our diverse immigrant communities in navigating the drastic changes put forth by the federal government.”

In State of the State Address, Governor Cuomo Advances Far-Reaching Agenda to Build on Progressive Policy

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers the 2018 State of the State with an expansive progressive agenda of specific proposals for social, economic, environmental and political justice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany, presenting a far-reaching 2018 agenda that delivers on the promise of progressive government by advancing a slate of critical social and economic policies to improve the lives of New Yorkers. The bold agenda includes a full package of legislative reforms, robust investments and targeted actions – from a comprehensive women’s rights agenda to a first-in-the-nation plan to fight the federal tax assault to nation-leading criminal justice reforms – that will increase opportunity for New Yorkers and ensure the Empire State continues to serve as a beacon of equality, unity and fairness for the nation.

These sweeping proposals build on seven years of progress under Governor Cuomo – passing a $15 minimum wage, tuition-free college, marriage equality, paid family leave, gun safety, infrastructure, and landmark criminal justice reforms, all while lowering taxes for the middle class, capping property taxes and keeping spending increases to the lowest levels in generations. In the face of a concerted federal assault from Washington, New York will continue to lead the way in 2018, fostering our shared values of opportunity, equality, fairness, and hope, and proving the competency of our progressive government.

“New York believes that there is no future built through division – but only through unity,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said. “The New York way is that tolerance is expected from all, inclusion is our operating principle, and forging community is the ultimate goal. For too long in this country, government has promised too much and delivered too little. This administration understands that effective government requires citizen confidence and management competence.  To better society, government leaders must be dreamers and doers; visionaries and achievers. We are facing unprecedented challenges to women’s rights, our immigrant community, the environment and our economy. New York is unwavering. We will continue to lead the nation by fighting to protect and advance the rights of all women, ensuring the integrity of our elections, safeguarding New York’s natural resources, creating the jobs of tomorrow, combating the federal assault on our tax code and reforming our criminal justice system so that wealth does not dictate outcome.”

Highlights of the Governor’s 2018 Agenda include:

  • Keeping New York Economically Competitive
  • Upholding the New York Promise
  • Expanding Educational Opportunity for All
  • Continuing Economic Opportunity and Growth Under NY Works
  • Providing A Cleaner, Greener and Healthier New York: The Wellness Agenda
  • Leading the Fight Against Climate Change
  • Advancing the Democracy Agenda
  • Building a Stronger, Safer New York

 The Governor’s 2018 Policy Book is available here.

Here is a run-down of the specific proposals:

KEEPING NEW YORK ECONOMICALLY COMPETITIVE

Since day one, Governor Cuomo has fought to reduce taxes for New Yorkers. Today all New Yorkers pay a lower state tax rate than when Governor Cuomo took office, and the Governor has secured the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947, the lowest corporate tax rate since 1968 and the lowest manufacturers tax rate since 1917. While Washington leaves our middle class behind, New York will continue to fight for our hardworking families.

  • Fight the Federal Tax Assault on New York: The recently enacted federal tax law is an assault on New York. By gutting the deductibility of state and local taxes, the law effectively raises middle class families’ property and state income taxes by 20 to 25 percent, and undermines a critical foundation of state and local government finances in New York State and across the nation. New York is already the top “donor state” in the nation—contributing $48 billion more annually to the federal government than it gets back—and under the new law the State will pay an additional $14 billion per year. Governor Cuomo believes that we must take dramatic action to preserve our state’s economy. He is putting forward a multi-part strategy to fight this assault on New York. First, we will challenge this unprecedented federal double taxation in court as unconstitutional, because it violates states’ rights and the principle of equal protection. Second, we will lead the nation’s resistance to the new law, starting a repeal-and-replace effort: “Tax Fairness for All” campaign. Third, we will take action to protect the state’s economy by exploring the feasibility of a major shift in tax policy, and are developing a plan to restructure the current income and payroll tax system, as well as create new opportunities for charitable contributions to support public programs. As we launch this massive and complicated undertaking, we will engage tax experts, employers, and other stakeholders in a thorough and collaborative process to produce a proposal that promotes fairness for New York’s taxpayers and safeguards the competitiveness of New York’s economy.
  • Address the Carried Interest Loophole: Despite promises to the contrary, the federal government left in place the so-called “carried interest” loophole. Using a multi-state approach, Governor Cuomo will address this Wall Street giveaway.
  • Reduce Taxes to Record Lows for Middle-Class New Yorkers: The Budget continues to lower Personal Income Tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. With the middle class tax cuts of 2012, rates were lowered from 6.85 percent to 6.45 percent for taxpayers in the $40,000-$150,000 income bracket, and to 6.65 percent in the $150,000-$300,000 income bracket. Under these new reforms, the rate will drop even further this year, to 6.33 percent and 6.57 respectively. They will continue to drop all the way to 5.5 percent and 6 percent, respectively, when the cuts are fully phased in by 2025. The average New Yorker will save $250 in taxes in 2018, and $698 when fully phased in. These new lower tax rates will save middle class New Yorkers nearly $6.6 billion in just the first four years, and annual savings are projected to reach $4.2 billion and benefit 6 million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the state’s lowest middle class tax rates in more than 70 years.
  • Continue to Reduce the Local Property Tax Burden by Making the State’s County Shared Services Panels Permanent: Governor Cuomo has made a historic commitment to reducing local property taxes for millions of New Yorkers. New York State will build on the historic progress achieved by taking the next step forward to provide local governments with new tools to put money back in the pockets of middle-class families. The state will provide $225 million in the FY 2019 budget to meet the match commitment of the County Wide Shared Services Initiative and the Governor will work to make the state’s successful county-wide shared services panels permanent in order to institutionalize savings initiatives. The Governor proposes that state funding for local government performance aid be conditional on the continuation of shared services panels. The state will also ease rules on the creation of local healthcare consortia to reduce local health insurance costs. The Governor will direct the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish guidance and provide technical assistance to local governments in order to ease the process of creating health consortia, specifically for smaller municipalities. The Governor has directed the Department of State and other agencies to continue to work with local municipalities to examine other legal and policy impediments to shared services by municipalities, such as zoning and other functions, to be considered this session. Additionally, to help communities across the state take advantage of Smart Street Lighting technology and its taxpayer savings and energy efficiency benefits, Governor Cuomo will launch a statewide Smart Street Lighting program to convert 500,000 street lights to LED technology by 2025. This program has the potential to reduce energy consumption annually across the state by 482 gigawatt hours, the equivalent of 44,770 households, save taxpayers $87 million annually, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the quality of light and safety of communities across the state. Finally, Governor Cuomo will continue the state’s local property tax relief program that will provide an average reduction of $380 in local property taxes to 2.6 million homeowners this year alone. 

UPHOLDING THE NEW YORK PROMISE 

Advancing the Women’s Agenda 

New York has a long and proud legacy of leading the way to advance women’s rights. From the birth of the women’s rights movement at Seneca Falls to the recent passage of the most comprehensive Paid Family Leave policy in the nation, New York continues to champion women’s rights and break down barriers to equality.

In 2018, we will build on our progress by continuing to advance equality for women and protect our rights against federal attempts to stall and undermine us. The Council on Women and Girls will release a full set of policy recommendations to create opportunity for women to succeed in every area: work, health, safety, education and family life.

  • Combat Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: The Governor will launch a multi-pronged agenda that targets sexual harassment in the workplace. The comprehensive reforms to protect women’s rights include legislation to prevent public dollars from being used to settle sexual harassment claims against individuals, void forced arbitration policies in employee contracts, and mandate that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications and nondisclosure agreements they have executed.
  • Remove Firearms from Domestic Abusers: New York law prohibits the possession of firearms for individuals convicted of felony or “serious” offenses. However, this excludes certain misdemeanor offenses involving domestic violence, such as assault and battery crimes or strangulation. To ensure that all domestic violence offenders are held to the same standard, Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to include all domestic violence misdemeanors on the list of prohibited offenses.
  • End Sextortion and Revenge Porn: To end this disturbing form of sexual exploitation, Governor Cuomo proposes a two-pronged approach that will criminalize disclosing or threatening to disclose sexually compromising images or videos with the intent to cause material harm to the victim’s mental or emotional health or to compel the victim to undertake some sexual act; and criminalize compelling a person to expose him or herself or engage in sexual conduct by threatening to harm the victim’s health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. This new legislation will create the following crimes, which will also require registration as a sex offender:
  • Unlawful Publication of Sexual Images: With intent to cause material harm to mental or emotional health, a person (1) disseminates images of intimate sexual nature; or (2) compels another to engage in conduct by threatening to disseminate images of an intimate sexual nature. This will be a class A misdemeanor; punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 3rd Degree: A person compels or induces another person to expose his or her sexual or intimate parts or engage in sexual conduct by instilling a fear in him or her that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor will perform an act intended to harm the person, or another person, with respect to his or her health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships. This will be a class E Felony; punishable by up to four years in prison.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 2nd Degree: Same as above but the victim is under 17-years-old. This will be a class D Felony; punishable by up to seven years in prison.
  • Sexual Extortion in the 1st Degree: Same as above but the victim is under 15-years-old. This will be a class C Felony; punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
  • Codify Roe v. Wade into State Law: For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into state law to secure a woman’s access to reproductive health options. This year, the Governor will again call for the passage of legislation to ensure the rights of women to make personal health care decisions to protect their health in addition to their life, and to ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Governor will also continue to champion a constitutional amendment to codify these protections into the state constitution.
  • Pass the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act: Contraception has been a critical tool for women to gain economic and social independence. The use and availability of contraception also reduces the rate of unintended pregnancy and abortion. As the federal government rolls back access to reproductive health care, New York will not be part of an attempt to undermine the independence of women. In 2017, Governor Cuomo fought to uphold the reproductive health protections of the Affordable Care Act, no matter what happened at the federal level, by enacting regulations that ensured access to cost-free contraception and medically necessary abortion. In 2018, the Governor will advance a program bill to enshrine access to contraception including emergency contraception into New York State law, by passing the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.
  • Call on the New York State Common Retirement Fund to Invest in Companies with Women and Minority Leadership: New York State’s Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises Program has seen dramatic increases in participation due to the Governor’s goal of 30 percent MWBE State contract utilization—the highest goal of any state in the nation. However, despite this progress, women and minorities remain severely underrepresented in business ownership, in management roles and on corporate boards. To further address these imbalances, in 2018, Governor Cuomo will call for the New York Common Retirement Fund to invest in companies with adequate female and minority representation in their management and on their boards of directors. The Governor will work with Comptroller DiNapoli to put in place processes and standards to systematically invest in companies that invest in women and minority leadership.
  • Reauthorize MWBE Program Legislation and Expand the MWBE Program to All State-Funded Contracts: Since taking office in 2011, Governor Cuomo has transformed the State’s MWBE program. In order to continue building on this promise, Governor Cuomo will propose legislation during the 2018 session that will reauthorize the law and expand the MWBE Program requirements to more contracts entirely funded by the state. The legislation will require MWBE goals on state funds used for contracting purposes on the local level. This will leverage the largest pool of state funding in history to combat systemic discrimination and create new opportunities for MWBE participation. 

Criminal Justice For All 

Governor Cuomo has advanced significant criminal justice reforms throughout his time in office, improving every stage of the justice system from arrest to community reentry. Three major reforms were passed this past year, including Raising the Age of criminal responsibility, extending the landmark Hurrell-Harring settlement’s indigent criminal defense reforms to the entire state, and requiring law enforcement to video-record interrogations for serious offenses, as well as allowing properly-conducted witness identification into evidence at trial. In 2018, New York will build on this bold progress by restoring basic fairness to our state’s criminal justice system.

  • Reshape Bail and Pretrial Detention: When New York’s laws governing bail were enacted back in the 1970s they were among the most progressive in the nation. Unfortunately, the status quo is no longer acceptable. Governor Cuomo is proposing legislation that will eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges. Instead, people will be released either on their own recognizance or with non-monetary conditions imposed by the court, such as reporting to a pretrial services agency. For people charged with a violent felony offense, both monetary and non-monetary bail will be permitted, but only after a judge conducts an individualized review of the nature of the case and the defendant’s personal and financial circumstances. If monetary bail is set, the court must give the defendant a choice between cash or bail industry bonds and an alternative form of bail such as an unsecured or partially secured bond. Additionally, in limited cases such as domestic violence offenses, cases involving serious violence, or when a defendant commits a new crime while out on pretrial release, a judge could order, after due process, a defendant to be held in jail pretrial without bail if they find the defendant poses a significant flight risk or if there is a current threat to a reasonably identifiable person’s physical safety.
  • Expand the Discovery Process: Under Governor Cuomo’s proposal, prosecutors and the defense will have to share information in a multi-stage time frame before a trial takes place. This will include disclosure of evidence and information favorable to the defense; intended exhibits; expert opinion evidence; witnesses’ criminal history information; and search warrant information will be made available to defendants in a timely and consistent manner. Doing so ensures attorneys have the tools necessary to adequately represent their clients. Additionally, along with an accelerated disclosure of witness information, this plan will provide numerous special procedures to ensure the safety of those witnesses and the integrity of the judicial process.
  • Improve Access to a Speedy Trial: At the Governor’s direction, new legislation being advanced will guarantee that criminal cases proceed to trial without undue delay and that people are not held in jail for unreasonable periods of time. The legislation will reduce unnecessary delays and adjournments in court proceedings, requiring that people held in custody – not just their attorneys – consent to a speedy trial waiver that must be approved by a judge. These waivers include a deadline so that the defendant, defense attorneys, prosecutors, and judges understand when the trial is scheduled and will only be granted after the defendant has made an appearance before a judge. Courts will also conduct periodic reviews of cases where defendants are held in detention, to assess the prosecutor’s statement of readiness, reconsider bail status if appropriate, and schedule a pre-trial conference. A motion to dismiss must also now be made at least 20 days before the trial begins and it must include sworn factual allegations specifying the time periods that are being charged against the prosecution.
  • Transform Civil Asset Forfeiture: New legislation will ban all asset seizures, unless an arrest is made. In cases where people are acquitted or the case is otherwise dismissed, they would get their money and valuables returned. Additionally, the State Division of Criminal Justice Services will expand reporting requirements to include additional information, such as demographic and geographic data, to better understand how civil asset forfeiture is used in New York State. Once a more comprehensive data set is created, New York will then evaluate the asset forfeiture system and make the appropriate changes to fix the identified issues.
  • Improve the Re-Entry Process: The Governor is proposing to remove outdated statutory bans on occupational licensing for professions outside of law enforcement and instead, applicants will be assessed on an individual basis. The mandatory suspension of driver’s licenses following a drug conviction will also be removed to allow people to travel to work and attend drug treatment, as long as the crimes did not involve driving. Additionally, the Governor will safely widen release opportunities for people who have shown rehabilitation by expanding the type and variety of programs provided in state prisons to make those individuals eligible for merit release and limited credit time allowances. Under the proposal, the Parole Board will examine cases under a new “geriatric parole” provision in which the Board can balance any public safety risk posed by these individuals with their need for age-appropriate treatment in the community. The reforms will also speed returning citizens’ reintegration to society by reducing their financial burdens after release, including removing the current parole supervision fee and having local child support enforcement offices review child support orders for people incarcerated over six months.  Finally, the Governor has ordered a comprehensive review of parole revocation guidelines and practices to determine appropriate alternatives to incarceration for those who violate technical parole conditions but pose no risk to public safety.
  • Reduce New York’s Use of Solitary Confinement: In 2016, Governor Cuomo began implementing a historic agreement reached between the New York Civil Liberties Union and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to reduce the frequency and duration of solitary confinement and to improve conditions within state prisons. This year, the State intends to continue this massive overhaul by having the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision close over 1,200 solitary housing unit beds throughout New York State’s prisons.
  • Protect the Rights and Safety of New Yorkers in Local Jails: To address deficiencies in all local jails, the Governor proposes an immediate enforcement strategy from the State Commission of Correction. The Commission—which is statutorily authorized to oversee all correctional facilities—will undertake a comprehensive review of facilities throughout New York that have repeatedly and egregiously failed to meet well-established standards of safety, security, and service. This review will include an analysis of reportable incidents, deaths in custody, and physical facility conditions. Upon the Commission’s determination, local jails with persistent, pervasive problems will be required to create and adhere to a corrective action plan to either improve their facilities—or close them in an expedited manner—to ensure the safety for both staff and incarcerated individuals.
  • Support the Child Victims Act: The Governor seeks to eliminate statutes of limitation for all sexually-related criminal cases when committed against a person who is less than 18 years of age. Further, the Governor seeks to extend the statute of limitations for civil claims from three years from a victim’s 18th birthday to 50 years from the date of the offense. This would give many victims the opportunity to have their day in court. For any victim who is still unable to bring a lawsuit, the Governor would open a one-year window in which these victims are able to commence their claims. Finally, the Governor will eliminate the need to file a notice of claim with a public entity before being able to bring a lawsuit against that entity.

Launching A Comprehensive Plan to Attack Homelessness 

The Governor is committed to implementing innovative solutions to address the multi-faceted problem of homelessness, including expanding access to affordable housing across the state. In 2016, the Governor launched a landmark $20 billion, five-year plan to combat homelessness and advance the construction of affordable housing in New York State, which included $10 billion to end the homelessness crisis and support housing programs, rental subsidies and other shelter costs in New York City and across the state. The state’s new comprehensive plan to attack homelessness will build on the progress achieved to date.

  • Increase Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: To strengthen shelter services for homeless individuals living with mental illness in existing homeless shelters, Governor Cuomo will direct the Office of Mental Health and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to work together to ensure that Assertive Community Treatment teams are connected to existing shelters, so that individuals with mental illness can access needed treatment. In addition, the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services will make on-site peer-delivered substance abuse treatment services available in 14 existing shelters across the state. These on-site services will assist approximately 200 homeless individuals with substance use disorder by providing services in shelters that are located in areas that have seen the biggest increases in substance use.
  • Require Outreach and a Comprehensive Homeless Services Plan from Each Local Social Services District: Homelessness is on the rise and street homelessness is the most difficult problem to solve. Governor Cuomo will require that local governments have an effective outreach program to address street homelessness as a condition of receiving state funding for homelessness services. He is also directing that the MTA, the Port Authority, Centro, Capital District Transportation Authority, the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority do the same. The Governor will direct the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to require social services districts to engage in planning activities related to street outreach, homelessness prevention activities, rapid rehousing, and ongoing housing stability for the formerly homeless. The State will also require social service districts to engage with the State’s ongoing efforts, set reasonable goals that are data-driven and uniquely tailored to the needs of its communities, and to report regularly on progress made. The State will provide technical assistance throughout the planning process by releasing guidance related to best practices and policies that can facilitate success.

We Are All New Yorkers – Immigrants’ Rights 

New York State and this nation were founded on the premise that we are all created equal. While this promise may be threatened by acts of hate and intolerance, we must remember that we are stronger than that – we are one New York and we are all immigrants. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will continue our legacy of protecting the rights and freedoms of all New Yorkers so that they have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to our state’s cultural and economic strength.

  • Continue the First-In-the-Nation Liberty Defense Project to Provide Critical Legal Representation to Immigrants: Last year, Governor Cuomo successfully launched the Liberty Defense Project, a first-in-the nation, state-led, public-private legal defense fund to ensure that all immigrants, regardless of status, have access to high quality legal counsel. In partnership with leading nonprofit legal service providers, the project has significantly expanded the availability of immigration attorneys statewide. As misguided immigration policy at the federal level continues to threaten New York’s immigrant families, Governor Cuomo will work to ensure that the Liberty Defense Project continue to sustain and grow the network of legal service providers providing these critical service in defense of our immigrant communities.
  • Pass the DREAM Act: Since 2002, undocumented students qualify for in-state tuition at SUNY and CUNY if they graduated from a New York high school or received a GED in the state. Yet, each year, many talented students who graduate from New York high schools remain unable to fulfill their potential simply because they cannot afford the tuition and lack access to tuition assistance to help pay for school. We can do better. Governor Cuomo will press for the passage of the DREAM Act to finally open the doors of higher education to thousands of New Yorkers. The DREAM Act will give undocumented students access to the Tuition Assistance Program, as well as state-administered scholarships. An investment in young immigrants’ futures is an investment in New York’s future. 

Protecting the Rights of Workers

New York has a long and proud tradition of fighting for union workers’ rights.  At a time of stagnant wages, evaporating pensions, and swelling household debt, unions offer a pathway to the middle class and create economic growth that reaches all Americans.

  • Examine Eliminating the Minimum Wage Tip Credit to Strengthen Economic Justice in New York State: Governor Cuomo is directing the Commissioner of Labor to schedule public hearings to evaluate the possibility of ending minimum wage tip credits in New York State. The Department of Labor will hold public hearings to solicit input from workers, businesses and others to ensure New York continues to protect economic justice for all New Yorkers.
  • Stand with Labor Unions Facing Uncertainty from the Supreme Court: Public-sector labor unions are under attack on the national level, facing legal challenges to their very core.  The United States Supreme Court will soon hear Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees which seeks to effectively end public labor unions.  The Court will determine whether fee arrangements like those permissible under the Taylor Law violate the First Amendment. As the nation waits for a decision in the Janus case, Governor Cuomo stands beside public labor unions in their fight for survival and will do everything in his power to preserve workers’ rights and protect the right to organize and collectively bargain.

Serving Our Veterans 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has championed programs to make New York State the most veteran-friendly state in the nation. The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs continues to strengthen its ties with the approximately 775,000 Veterans living in New York State.

  • Prevent Financial Exploitation of Veterans and Their Families: Veterans who fight to protect our state and nation should never have to continue fighting enemies when they return home. Far too often, deceitful businesses target veterans who are elderly and/or disabled, promising to help veterans and their family members obtain federal benefits in exchange for an often-substantial fee. Governor Cuomo proposes to enact the nation’s strongest legislation against pension poaching to eliminate this predatory conduct. This law will implement new disclosure requirements for businesses that advertise their fee-based services of filing claims and appeals for VA benefits, and will enable the prosecution of businesses that violate these standards.
  • Properly Designate New York State’s Veterans Service Agency: The New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs is commonly mistaken for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. To avoid this confusion, the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs will now become the New York State Division of Veterans’ Services.  This new name accurately defines the core mission of this agency—serving veterans and their families the rest of the way—and clearly distinguishes the Division from the federal VA, avoiding any unnecessary mistakes and confusion moving forward.
  • Expand Programs for Veterans Behind Bars: Through the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS), the Governor implemented three Veterans Residential Therapeutic Programs at Medium Security Correctional Facilities that identify each veteran’s individual needs and provide them with corresponding services. Under this new proposal, the Governor will provide resources to expand the programs available and offer the programs in Maximum Security Facilities for the first time.
  • Deliver Access to Justice for Veterans through Law School Partnerships: Building on the success of New York’s Justice for Heroes grants, Governor Cuomo will expand the program to offer participating schools the chance to renew their grants for the next two years. By providing law schools with a total of up to $150,000, each participating school will be able to improve the sustainability of its new legal services initiatives, ensuring that free legal services for veterans and their families will be provided by faculty and students at these schools for many years to come.

EXPANDING EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL

The Importance of Early Education 

Governor Cuomo has championed early childhood and family health to ensure that all children are healthy and thriving in New York State. The Governor recognizes that it is essential we reach our children in the critical development window while they are young. Early childhood support and education is the basis of a quality education and can significantly improve the long-term prospects of our young people. Building on the progress of recent years, Governor Cuomo will make critical investments to strengthen early childhood programming and expand access to more New Yorkers. 

  • Invest When It Matters Most – The First 1,000 Days of Life: In August of 2017, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to create a First 1,000 Days on Medicaid working group to identify and recommend ways to improve outcomes and opportunities for young children and their families through access to childhood health services, and expansion of other health and early childhood system coordination and family supports. Based on the recommendations of the working group, Governor Cuomo will begin implementation of the comprehensive First 1,000 Days Plan to:
    • Develop a clear, standardized model of pediatric primary care to ensure that growth and development are on track and establish a uniform measurement tool for providers and educators to assess child development upon Kindergarten entry.
    • Facilitate group-based models of prenatal care to support pregnant women living in neighborhoods with the poorest birth outcomes in the state, including high incidence of preterm births and low birth weights.
    • Enhance home visiting services in three high risk communities using a targeted approach to match families to a home visiting program that best fits their needs and eligibility.
    • Launch peer-family navigator services in non-healthcare community settings, such as family homeless shelters and drug treatment centers, to facilitate effective warm handoffs from the provider diagnosing the child to the treatment provider allowing continuity of care in services for at risk families.
    • Provide parents of young children with improved access to evidence based parent-child therapy models.
  • Expand Pre-Kindergarten for 3- and 4-Year-Olds in High-Need Schools Across the State: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the State has more than doubled its commitment to pre-kindergarten from $385 million to more than $800 million. In addition, since Governor Cuomo introduced three-year-old pre-kindergarten in 2015, more than $30 million is now dedicated to high-need three-year-olds alone. Governor Cuomo will continue to invest in pre-kindergarten by investing an additional $15 million create 3,000 new slots for three and four-year-olds in high-need schools around the state.
  • Establish the Child Care Availability Taskforce: To build on the state’s investments in child care and the development of safe, accessible, and affordable child care, the Governor is establishing a new Child Care Availability Taskforce. This taskforce, which will include representatives from the child care provider community, the advocacy community, representatives of the business community, unions that represent child care providers, representatives from several state agencies and local departments of social services, will be responsible for examining access to affordable child care; availability of child care for those with non-traditional work hours; statutory and regulatory changes that could promote or enhance access to child care; business incentives to increase child care access; and the impact on tax credits and deductions relating to child care.

Five Point Plan to Ensure No Student Goes Hungry 

The Governor’s No Student Goes Hungry Program includes investments to expand the Farm to School program, legislation to expand access to free breakfast and put an end to lunch shaming, and policy changes to ensure students in kindergarten through college receive access to farm-fresh foods in a quality learning environment.

  • Ban Lunch Shaming Statewide: Lunch shaming is a disgraceful practice in some schools where children are publicly humiliated in front of their peers by adults for not having money for lunch. The Governor will propose a law that when passed, would immediately end the practice of lunch shaming of any kind.
  • Require Breakfast After the Bell: In order to expand access to breakfast and prevent students from going hungry during morning classes, Governor Cuomo will propose requiring schools with more than 70 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch to provide breakfast after the school day has begun for the next school year. In successful breakfast after the bell programs, schools can either serve breakfast in the classroom, or offer nutritious vending machines options to ensure that students have access to breakfast as they start their day. To ease the transition, the state will provide technical assistance and capital funds for equipment such as coolers and vending machines to support breakfast after the bell.
  • Expand Farm to School: New York will double the state’s investment in the Farm to School program to support the use of healthy, local, New York foods in school districts across the state. The Farm to School program was created to connect schools with local farmers and offers technical assistance and capacity in the school to source products locally to help schools provide students with nutritious meals from food produced by local farms.
  • Increase the Use of Farm-Fresh, Locally Grown Foods at School: Lack of healthy, nutritious food can impair a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school. It is also often linked to higher levels of behavioral and emotional problems for children in preschool through adolescence. To incentivize school districts to use more local farm-fresh products, Governor Cuomo will propose an increase in the reimbursement schools receive for lunches from the current 5.9 cents per meal to 25 cents per meal for any district that purchases at least 30 percent of its ingredients from New York farms.
  • Require Food Pantries on All SUNY and CUNY Campuses: To ensure consistent healthy food options are available to young adults on college campuses, the Governor will require all SUNY and CUNY schools to either provide physical food pantries on campus, or enable students to receive food through a separate arrangement that is stigma-free. The Governor proposes a $1 million state investment for schools to implement the program.

Expanding High Quality Educational Programming For All 

Governor Cuomo has secured record investments in K-12 education to support all students in the State, recognizing that no investment is more important than the future of our young people. The State’s investment in education has continued to increase under the Governor’s leadership. This year, Governor Cuomo will continue to expand education programming and set young people on path to success.

  • Launch An Additional Round of the Empire State After-School Program: Last year, Governor Cuomo created the Empire State After-School program, which provided $35 million to create 22,000 after-school spots in high-need communities. This year, the Governor proposes an additional $10 million to support the creation of 6,250 new slots in communities with high rates of student homelessness, or designated as in need of a safe place for students to go after the school day ends. High-quality after school programs are associated with a return of $3 for every dollar spent.
  • Expand Successful Early College High School Program by Growing the Network of Schools Throughout the State: During the Governor’s administration, New York has spent $47 million to support Early College High Schools, an innovative program where students can earn college credits leading to an associate’s degree while earning their high school diploma. In order to expand the Early College High School program model to students across the State, the Governor is proposing an additional $9 million to support the creation of at least 15 Early College High Schools, where schools will partner with a college or university and industry partner to create opportunities for every student in the school to graduate with some college credit.
  • Expand Computer Science Education to All Elementary, Middle, and High Schools:Technology is among the fastest growing employment sectors, and New York students need to be prepared for the jobs for tomorrow. In order to ensure that New York schools are able to offer coursework in computer science, the Governor proposes a $6 million annual commitment to provide teacher support and development in computer science and engineering. In addition, the Governor will call on the State Education Department to work with industry leaders to develop model computer science standards.

Expanding Access to Higher Education 

Governor Cuomo has led the nation in expanding access to a quality and affordable college education and provide our young people with the tools they need in the 21st century economy. Since he took office, the Governor has taken action to reduce the financial barriers to college, including implementing a rational tuition plan that limits SUNY and CUNY tuition increases, creating the Get On Your Feet Student Loan Forgiveness Program, launching the groundbreaking Excelsior Scholarship to provide tuition-free college for middle class families, and investing $8 million to help reduce the costs of textbooks through innovations like the Open Educational Resources at SUNY and CUNY.

Building on these historic accomplishments, Governor Cuomo will continue to fight to ensure all New Yorkers can go to college and achieve their dreams.

  • Launch the Second Phase of the Excelsior Free Tuition Program: Last year, Governor Cuomo created the historic Excelsior Scholarship, the first-in-the-nation program to provide free tuition at New York’s public colleges and universities for middle class families. Along with other sources of tuition assistance, including the generous New York State Tuition Assistance Program, the Excelsior Scholarship allows approximately 53 percent of full-time SUNY and CUNY in-state students, or more than 210,000 New York residents, to attend school tuition-free.  In FY 2019, the Excelsior Scholarship will enter year two of a three-year phase-in. Starting in the 2018-19 academic year, the Excelsior Scholarship income eligibility threshold will increase, allowing New Yorkers with household incomes up to $110,000 to be eligible. To continue this landmark program, the Governor is proposing $118 million to support 27,000 students in the Excelsior Scholarship program.
  • Combat Exploding Student Debt: Increasing access to an affordable higher education is critical and New York State has led the way. The Governor will advance a comprehensive plan to further reduce student debt that includes creating a Student Loan Ombudsman at the Department of Financial Services; requiring all colleges annually provide students with estimated amounts incurred for student loans, such as the amount of student loans incurred to date, a range of the total payoff amount including principal and interest, and the monthly repayment amount that the student may incur for the loan to date; enacting sweeping protections for students including ensuring that no student loan servicers or debt consultants can mislead a borrower or engage in any predatory act or practice, misapply payments, provide credit reporting agencies with inaccurate information, or any other practices that may harm the borrower; and prohibiting the suspension of professional licenses of individuals behind or in default on their student loans.

NY WORKS

Preparing the Workforce of Today & Tomorrow 

Governor Cuomo has overseen a remarkable resurgence of New York’s economy. Since he took office, New York’s economy has created more than 1 million private sector jobs, and the State’s unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3 percent to 4.7 percent. But in the midst of this economic growth today, Governor Cuomo recognizes the urgent necessity of preparing New Yorkers for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. On average, there will be nearly 362,000 job openings each year in New York over the next ten years, and Governor Cuomo is committed to ensuring that New Yorkers are equipped to fill them.

  • Establish a new, $175 million Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments through the Regional Economic Development Councils, targeted in emerging fields: Establishing the Consolidated Funding Application for economic development funds is one of the Governor’s signature economic development achievements — a bottom-up approach that brings together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their region. The State has invested more than $5.4 billion through the REDCs that have funded more than 6,300 projects and supports more than 220,000 jobs across the state. Building on the success of this bottom-up model, establishing a new Consolidated Funding Application for workforce investments would support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, expand apprenticeships, and address the long-term needs of expanding industries—with a particular focus on emerging fields with growing demand for jobs like clean energy and technology. Funds would also support efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth, and other populations that face significant barriers to career advancement. The funding for the workforce CFA will consist both of $150 million in new, flexible resources and $25 million in existing streams of workforce funding.
  • Expand the New York Youth Works Program: To build on the success of the Youth Jobs Program, Governor Cuomo proposes to increase the maximum credit available to certified New York employers by 50 percent—raising the maximum tax credit from $5,000 to $7,500 for certified youth employed full-time and from $2,500 to $3,750 for those employed part-time.  In addition, to help participants better-develop the skills needed to advance from an entry-level position toward a chosen career, the Governor will direct the Department of Labor to align and connect employers and youth participating in the Youth Jobs Program with regional workforce development efforts of SUNY, CUNY and New York’s BOCES. This alignment will leverage State workforce investments and augment skills development that employers are able to provide on-site with additional workforce support in the classroom and online.
  • Create New Office of Workforce Development: Currently, there are dozens of programs available in various agencies, but if we are to maximize our capacity to meet the state’s workforce needs, the state needs to better integrate this fragmented process. The Office of Workforce Development will serve as a focal point of accountability and coordination for all workforce training programs for the state, including the new CFA program. Headed by a new Director of Workforce Development, the Office will establish standards for program performance and ensure alignment with the economic development goals of the state and the individual regions. The Director will serve on the State Workforce Investment Board, the Strategic Implementation Assessment Team (which reviews proposals submitted by the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils), and the Regional Community College Councils.

Continue the Bottom Up Regional Economic Development Strategy 

Governor Cuomo knows that the American Dream centers on economic security and mobility. He has fought to remove barriers to opportunity, strengthen the middle class, and build pathways to help give every New Yorker a chance to succeed and build a better life for themselves and their family. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has transformed its approach to economic development and adopted a bottom-up strategy that empowers local communities all across the state.

  • Invest $750 Million for Round Eight of the Regional Economic Development Councils: Governor Cuomo created the Regional Economic Development Council competition in 2011 to develop regional economic development plans through a bottom-up approach that brought together higher education, industry and government leaders to plan the future of their region.  The State has invested more than $5.4 billion through the REDCs that has funded more than 6,300 projects and supports more than 220,000 jobs across the state.  To build on the success of the REDC program, the Governor proposes continuing this regional economic development approach with an eighth round of the REDC awards with $750 million to fund regional priority projects.
  • Launch Round Three of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative: To give communities the tools they need to select and fuel targeted revitalization strategies, and build on the Governor’s proven track record in energizing the state economy, New York State will expand its already-successful Downtown Revitalization Initiative with an additional $100 million, providing up to $10 million for awards in each region. Together, these investments will ensure that communities have the tools they need to boost their local economies and transform downtown neighborhoods.

Building 21st Century Infrastructure 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York is moving forward with a $100 billion infrastructure program, the most aggressive and ambitious building program in the country. From investing in rehabilitating roads and bridges and rebuilding airports for the 21st century, New York is moving forward with bold projects across the state: a new Moynihan Train Hall to serve as the world-class transit hub that New York deserves; a 1.2 million square foot expansion of the Javits Convention Center; a new Kosciuszko Bridge, the first major new bridge in New York City in more than 50 years; new train stations in Niagara Falls, Rochester and Schenectady; a $6.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Railroad; and a record MTA Capital Plan to bring New York City’s subway system into the 21st century.

  • Broadband for All: New NY Broadband Program Round III Awards: In 2015, the Governor created the New NY Broadband program, the largest and most ambitious state investment in broadband with the goal of ensuring all New Yorkers have access to high speed broadband. Since its launch, the program has reached 2.3 million homes and extended broadband access to over 98 percent of New Yorkers. This year, the Governor will advance Round III of New NY Broadband program awards to address the remaining two percent of New Yorkers, connecting an additional 120,000 locations. Round III will catalyze more than $360 million in total investment, including $225 million in State funding. With Round III, the Governor is proud to announce that New York has invested $1 billion in this effort and 99.9 percent of New Yorkers have commitments for high-speed broadband access, with all but one percent having access to 100 mbps service or better.
  • Expand Cashless Tolling to the Entire New York State Thruway and Port Authority Crossings: By eliminating the need to stop at a toll, this technology improves the driving experiences, expedites traffic flow and benefits those who live near tollbooths by reducing congestion-related emissions. The Governor championed the implementation of cashless tolling at MTA bridges and tunnels, which was completed in 2017, and also announced that same year the expansion of cashless tolling to the Thruway’s Harriman and Grand Island toll facilities. To expand these benefits across the state, Governor Cuomo plans to implement cashless tolling technology on all toll collection points along the Thruway. Additionally, the Governor has also urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to study the possibility of installing cashless toll collection on all PANYNJ operated Bridges and Tunnels. When complete, users of the Thruway, from New York City to Buffalo, will experience reductions in traffic congestion and improvements in travel times. The project will utilize Design-Build construction to reduce costs and accelerate the construction schedule. Cashless tolling throughout the Thruway system will be operational in 2020.
  • Invest in New Mass Transit, New Roads and Bridges: In 2018, New York State will continue its landmark infrastructure program by investing $11.7 billion to transform the state’s transportation infrastructure. The State Department of Transportation will pave 2,000 miles of road and repair or rehabilitate 500 bridges, and the New York State Thruway Authority will renew an additional 170 lane miles, repair or rehabilitate 25 bridges and complete the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo bridge in 2018.
  • Redevelop and Rebrand Stewart International: The Governor is calling on the Port Authority to approve this $34 million investment, which would increase access to world-class destinations and attractions throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley by supporting the construction of a permanent U.S. Customs and Border Protection federal inspection station. The new FIS will allow the airport to handle both domestic and international flights, while providing an improved passenger experience for all travelers. Additionally, as part of this modernization effort and to improve its name recognition, the airport will be rebranded as New York International at Stewart Field.
  • Build a New Metro North Station at Woodbury Common: Woodbury Common attracts approximately 13 million visitors a year, causing significant congestion in the community, yet there is no rail option to provide visitors an alternative to driving. By spearheading the accelerated transformation of the Route 32 corridor at Woodbury Common, Governor Cuomo has already taken action to ease the congestion in the area. Building on this effort, Governor Cuomo will support a review of the potential for a public-private partnership to bring a new Metro North Station to Woodbury Common.
  • Build the AirTrain to Create Train-to-Plane Access to LaGuardia Airport: LaGuardia Airport remains the only major East Coast airport without a direct rail link. To address this problem, Governor Cuomo is calling upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to expeditiously authorize the development of an AirTrain connection between LaGuardia and Willets Point in Queens, creating access to both the number 7 subway line and the Long Island Rail Road, which offer service to Grand Central, Penn Station and all of Long Island. The project is expected to be developed through a public-private partnership. The Port Authority will begin the environmental review process as soon as possible, with the goal of starting construction in 2019.
  • Take Steps to Revitalize Red Hook: Red Hook, Brooklyn and its surrounding communities are emerging as a hub of possibility and opportunity. Governor Cuomo is calling on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to explore options for improving and consolidating maritime operations by relocating activities in Red Hook to South Brooklyn. In addition, the Governor is also calling on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study options for improving transportation access to the Red Hook area and surrounding communities, including the potential extension of subway service from lower Manhattan to a new station in Red Hook through an underwater tunnel.  Once a plan for how to modernize and potentially consolidate maritime activities becomes clear and the MTA study is completed, a community-based planning process with key participation by elected representatives and interested stakeholders would be expected to recommend the appropriate redevelopment alternatives for any Port Authority land no longer needed for maritime needs.
  • Construct an Inland Port in Central New York to Improve Regional Trade: Building on Governor Cuomo’s historic investments in modernizing our infrastructure, New York will construct an inland port in the Town of DeWitt that will facilitate the movement of containerized freight by rail as opposed to truck. This initiative will improve the economic competitiveness of import/export businesses in Central New York while leveraging the privately-funded rail infrastructure serving the region. The inland port will serve to reduce the transportation costs of moving containerized freight between the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Central New York region by as much as $500 per container; retain and create freight-related jobs; reduce vehicle emissions; and remove large trucks from both the New York metropolitan area and from Interstate 81.
  • Move I-81 Forward with Expanded Environmental Impact Statement: Governor Cuomo has been a strong advocate for revitalizing the I-81 viaduct and has pushed to carefully explore every option and alternative for this aging artery. In 2017, the Governor directed the New York State Department of Transportation to initiate an independent study of tunnel and depressed highway alternatives for the I-81 corridor, which concluded that while a tunnel is the most expensive option, it is technically feasible and could be studied in the Environmental Impact Statement. Governor Cuomo is now directing DOT to add the tunnel alternative to the current EIS for further review and consideration, which will ensure public and advisory agencies can provide comments on all three feasible alternatives—the viaduct replacement, community grid, and tunnel alternative—and the detailed engineering, social, economic and environmental studies performed for each.
  • Advance the Transformative Long Island Tunnel Proposal: In 2015, the Governor directed $5 million to the Department of Transportation to examine the feasibility of a tunnel connecting Long Island to Westchester County or Connecticut. This year, the Governor has directed that New York State should continue to pursue such a tunnel, a project which DOT has determined is feasible as a way of reducing traffic on the congested Long Island Expressway.

Fueling Clean Energy Jobs 

New York State is committed to developing a vibrant clean energy economy, and job growth in this emerging industry is booming across the state – with more than 150,000 New Yorkers working in the clean energy industry. In 2014, the Governor launched Reforming the Energy Vision to establish a new framework for clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers. In 2016, the Governor established the Clean Energy Standard, requiring 50 percent of New York’s electric supply come from renewable energy sources by 2030. The Governor also supported the creation of a 10-year, $5 billion Clean Energy Fund designed to leverage private sector investment, fuel clean energy markets and deliver energy savings across the state. The Fund is expected to save New Yorkers $39 billion in energy costs over the next 10 years while dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Increase Transmission of Clean and Renewable Energy By Investing $200 Million to Meet Unprecedented Energy Storage Target of 1,500 Megawatts by 2025: As renewable energy sources produce a larger share of New York’s electricity, New York must also address the intermittency of clean resources like wind and solar that are not continuously available. To address these energy challenges and further New York’s climate and clean energy goals, the Governor is launching an initiative to deploy 1,500 megawatts of energy storage – representing the largest commitment per capita by any state – by 2025 and employ 30,000 New Yorkers in this industry. To achieve this goal, Governor Cuomo is directing state agencies and authorities to work together during 2018 to generate a pipeline of storage projects through utility procurements, to advance regulatory changes in utility rates and wholesale energy markets, to incorporate storage into criteria for large scale renewable procurements and to reduce regulatory barriers. The Governor is also announcing a commitment of at least $200 million from the NY Green Bank for storage-related investments to help drive down costs and to strategically deploy energy storage to where the grid needs it most, Finally, the Governor is also directing NYSERDA to invest at least $60 million through storage pilots and activities to reduce barriers to deploying energy storage.
  • Solicit Proposals for Offshore Wind: To position New York as the leading offshore wind market in the United States and to drive competition, reduce costs and create jobs in this emerging industry, Governor Cuomo is calling for the state to procure at least 800 megawatts of offshore wind power between two solicitations to be issued in 2018 and 2019, resulting in enough clean, renewable energy to power 400,000 New York households. The Governor is also directing NYSERDA to invest $15 million in clean energy workforce development and infrastructure advancement to train workers for jobs in this industry, including offshore wind construction, installation, operation, maintenance, design and associated infrastructure. To attract private investment in port infrastructure and supply chain activities, Governor Cuomo is also directing NYSERDA to work with Empire State Development and other State agencies to determine the most promising public and private offshore wind port infrastructure investments.
  • Divest the New York Common Fund from Fossil Fuel Investments: New York State has taken major steps to reduce its carbon footprint and cut back on the use of fossil fuels as an energy source, yet the New York Common Fund remains heavily invested in fossil fuels. The Governor is calling on the Fund to divest from significant fossil fuel investments and to cease all new investments with entities with significant fossil fuel-related activities. Additionally, the Governor will work with the State Comptroller to create an advisory committee of financial, economic, scientific, business and workforce representatives as a resource for the Common Fund to develop a de-carbonization roadmap to invest in opportunities to combat climate change and support the clean tech economy while assessing financial risks and protecting the Fund. Finally, the Governor calls on the Fund to dedicate a meaningful portion of the Fund’s portfolio to investments that directly promote clean energy—which makes economic and environmental sense. 

A CLEANER, GREENER, AND HEALTHIER NEW YORK: THE WELLNESS AGENDA  

New York State is committed to expanding access to quality and affordable health care for all New Yorkers. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has taken a holistic approach to health care, promoting healthy lifestyles and taking steps to ensure a clean environment. From redesigning Medicaid to reduce costs and improve care to embracing the Affordable Care Act and enrolling nearly one in five New Yorkers through the state’s marketplace, Governor Cuomo has transformed health care in New York State. This year, New York will continue to expand access to affordable and quality health care while addressing the major health challenges facing the state’s communities today.

  • Reverse the Opioid Epidemic: At Governor Cuomo’s direction, New York has taken bold steps in confronting the local effects of a nationwide crisis of deadly addiction to opioids, with significant increases in treatment capacity, strong support services, the removal of barriers to accessing high quality treatment, and public awareness and education activities. However, despite this progress, far too many New Yorkers continue to suffer at the hands of addiction. To address this public health crisis, Governor Cuomo is proposing a comprehensive plan to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for perpetuating the epidemic; strengthen protections against addiction stemming from prescription opioids; take steps to eliminate insurance barriers to addiction treatment and recovery services; direct state agencies to implement regulatory and policy reforms that increase access to substance use disorder services; and advance legislation to add 11 fentanyl analogs to Schedule I of the controlled substance schedules of New York State Public Health Law.
  • Enforce Lead Testing: Limiting lead exposure is critical to safeguarding the health and safety of children across New York State. Governor Cuomo is directing the State Department of Health, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, and other state partners to develop a system to ensure all housing authorities and all private landlords in the state protect children from this hazard. This proposal comes following the New York City Housing Authority’s unacceptable revelation of its failure to abate lead paint and notify tenants of the danger.

Expanding Access to Open Space 

New York State is home to some of the most pristine natural resources in the nation and Governor Cuomo has continued to demonstrate his commitment to protecting and improving access to New York’s open spaces.

  • Complete the Hudson River Park: Encompassing more than 500 acres and stretching 4.5 miles along Manhattan’s West Side, the Hudson River Park is the borough’s second largest park after Central Park. Under Governor Cuomo, the State’s investment in the Hudson River Park has remained strong, facilitating the redevelopment of Pier 26, Pier 57 and key infrastructure repairs after the damage inflicted by Superstorm Sandy, among other important projects. However, despite these commitments the park is still only 77 percent complete and the original 2005 deadline envisioned for completing the park is long past due. This year, Governor Cuomo is committing to fulfill his father’s nation-leading vision. The Governor will work with the city to make the phased and matched investments necessary to get the job done.  In addition, the State will continue to facilitate public-private partnerships, while ensuring the Estuary Management Plan is complete and the marine sanctuary is protected.

Protecting Our Clean Water

Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has taken aggressive action to protect and preserve clean drinking water in New York to ensure that current and future generations of New Yorkers have access to clean water. In 2016, the Governor launched the Water Quality Rapid Response Team to swiftly identify and address drinking water quality issues across the state and in 2017, Governor Cuomo signed the Clean Water Infrastructure Act – a $2.5 billion investment in drinking water infrastructure and water quality protection across New York. Additionally, the Governor enacted the $400 million Water Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2015, secured a record $300 million investment for the Environmental Protection Fund, and provided $11 billion in Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Fund financing.

  • Fast-Track Containment and Treatment of the Grumman Plume: In Nassau County, industrial practices at the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman Aerospace Bethpage facilities in the Town of Oyster Bay have left a legacy of pollution in the form of a massive contaminated groundwater plume that has affected the surrounding community since the 1930s. At the Governor’s direction, the State Department of Environmental Conservation launched an engineering investigation to assess expedited cleanup options, including full containment of the plume, in order to ensure the contamination does not threaten additional drinking water wells. This year, the state will fast-track construction of a new, state-of-the-art well system to fully contain and treat the plume of contamination and protect the quality of drinking water on Long Island and will use all legal tools at its disposal to hold the U.S. Navy and Northrop Grumman accountable for the construction and operation of the containment and treatment system.
  • Sue the EPA to Complete the Hudson River Cleanup: Governor Cuomo, in partnership with Attorney General Schneiderman, has committed to immediately take necessary steps to sue the EPA if the agency accepts the Upper Hudson River cleanup of polychlorinated biphenyls as complete. In light of the overwhelming evidence and data that the remedy is not protective of human health and the environment, the EPA’s decision to certify the PCB remedy for the Upper Hudson River as complete is indefensible.  As the EPA continues to abdicate its responsibility, Governor Cuomo will fight to protect the river and the surrounding communities. New York is also prepared to withdraw from the 2002 Record of Decision, signed under a previous administration, which guided the cleanup and removal of millions of tons of PCB-contaminated sediment from the Upper Hudson River.
  • Attack Harmful Algal Blooms in New York’s Waters: Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the state has taken comprehensive steps to address the growing threat of harmful algal blooms in New York’s waterbodies. This year, the Governor will implement a $65 million initiative to aggressively combat harmful algal blooms in Upstate New York, focusing on 12 priority lakes that are especially vulnerable to HABs.
  • Require Expedited Corrective Actions at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility: Following visible releases of dark water discharges from the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility, Governor Cuomo directed the State Department of Environmental Conservation to hold the Niagara Falls Water Board accountable and to take actions to protect water quality at this iconic tourist attraction. To ensure that the Niagara Falls wastewater facility’s problems are resolved in a comprehensive fashion, Governor Cuomo will invest over $20 million to launch Phase One of the wastewater system overhaul to complete comprehensive infrastructure and operational improvements at the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Facility. The Governor’s proposal also provides $500,000 to expedite two engineering studies to evaluate both the plant’s discharges and treatment systems, which are required by the new consent order with the Niagara Falls Water Board. 

LEADING THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE 

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has successfully established some of the nation’s strongest and most aggressive climate change policies. From Reforming the Energy Vision to setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets of 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050, New York is leading the charge in the fight against climate change. In June 2017, Governor Cuomo formed the U.S. Climate Alliance with the Governors of California and Washington State to ensure that willing partners across the country continue to meet or exceed the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change. While the federal government abdicates its responsibility to lead on climate change, New York State will continue to step up to protect our environment, our health, and the future of our children.

  • Expand Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Reduce Emissions Equitably from the Highest-Polluting, High Demand “Peaker” Power Plants: In 2013, Governor Cuomo led the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states in reducing the cap on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants 50 percent by 2020. In August 2017, the other RGGI states agreed to Governor Cuomo’s 2017 State of the State call to reduce the cap another 30 percent by 2030.  In addition, Governor Cuomo has committed to phasing out the use of coal in the state’s power plants by 2020. In 2018, Governor Cuomo looks forward to working with the other RGGI states and potential new partners in Virginia and New Jersey to ensure a smooth transition to a broader, more cost-efficient GHG market that maintains the initiative’s ambitious reductions in climate pollution. The Department of Environmental Conservation will also undertake a rulemaking in 2018 to implement the 30 percent cap reduction announced by the RGGI states in August 2017, including revisions to strengthen RGGI by grouping together and thereby covering peaking units that collectively exceed RGGI’s capacity threshold of 25 megawatts, including revisions to strengthen RGGI by grouping together and thereby covering peaking units that collectively exceed RGGI’s capacity threshold of 25 megawatts. This year, DEC will also propose complementary reforms to reduce emissions of smog-forming pollutants from peaking units and will adopt regulations ending the use of coal in the state’s power plants by 2020.
  • Reconvene Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change Disbanded by the Federal Government: After announcing its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the federal government took another misguided step by disbanding the Federal Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, a group of leading scientists and stakeholders tasked with providing recommendations to the federal government to support state and local governments, communities and the private sector in planning for the effects of climate change. Therefore, Governor Cuomo, as co-chair of the U.S. Climate Alliance and in collaboration with partners, will reconvene the Advisory Committee to develop recommendations to navigate the challenges of climate change. As a result, the Advisory Committee will continue its critical work without political interference and provide the guidance needed to adapt to a changing climate.
  • Launch Resilient NY to Dramatically Enhance Community Resiliency in the Face of Extreme Weather: Following dozens of extreme weather events in New York State, Governor Cuomo has taken bold and aggressive action to ensure that communities affected by extreme weather not only recover, but build back better than before. This year, the Governor proposes to develop a comprehensive program to adapt to and prepare for extreme weather associated with climate change. This plan will address resiliency guidelines and will provide state financial support for state-of-the-art local resiliency plans to help protect communities from flooding.
  • Invest Nearly $130 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Proceeds in Clean Transportation Projects: At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the Department of Environmental Conservation is working with other state agencies and stakeholders to develop a plan to invest the $127.7 million available to New York from the settlement of Volkswagen’s violation of the Clean Air Act. All categories of investment will prioritize replacement of diesel vehicles with emission-free electric vehicles, stimulating the transformation to a low-carbon transportation system. With this strategic, comprehensive plan, New York State will seek to invest all of the Volkswagen settlement funds over the next three years.

ADVANCING THE DEMOCRACY AGENDA 

Protecting the Sanctity of Our Elections 

As proven in the 2016 election, social media is a highly utilized tool for placing and viewing political advertisements, yet political advertisements on social media platforms are not regulated in the same way as advertisements on traditional media platforms. This has created new opportunities for unscrupulous and disruptive actors to improperly influence our political process. This year, Governor Cuomo proposes the strongest and most comprehensive policy to ensure that elections in New York State remain fair and transparent and that online political ads are archived for all to see.

  • Increase Transparency in Digital Political Ads: To ensure the fairness and transparency of New York elections, Governor Cuomo is putting forth a three-pronged strategy to:
  • Expand New York State’s definition of political communication to include paid internet and digital advertisements: This proposal will update the definition of “political communication” to include paid internet and digital advertisements, and require that all advertisers include a disclosure in their election-related ads, such as “paid for by.”
  • Require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political advertisements purchased by a person or group for publication on the platform: Governor Cuomo proposes to require digital platforms to maintain a public file of all political communications purchased by a person or group on their platform related to New York State elections. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.  This archive will ensure that political ads do not disappear, and that they are viewable, and able to be fact-checked, by a larger portion of the electorate.
  • Require online platforms to make reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate: Governor Cuomo proposes to amend state law so that paid internet or digital advertisements are included in the definition of political communications. This will help ensure that foreign entities are unable to covertly purchase and distribute political advertising related to state elections through social media or other outlets. Under the new law digital ad buyers will be required to register as an independent expenditure committee, just as they would if they were purchasing time on television. Foreign entities will be prohibited from forming an independent committee and, as a result, would be unable to purchase and publish political advertising online. Violations of these requirements would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each instance.
  • Institute Early Voting: Currently, New York is one of only 13 states where early voting is not available and an excuse is required to request an absentee ballot. To make it easier for New Yorkers to vote, Governor Cuomo proposes instituting early voting in the state, requiring every county to offer residents access to at least one early voting poll site during the 12 days leading up to Election Day. Counties must have one early voting poll site for every 50,000 residents, and voters will have at least eight hours on weekdays and five hours on weekends to cast early ballots.
  • Adopt Automatic Voter Registration: To modernize the voter registration process, Governor Cuomo proposes adopting a system that implements automatic voter registration, streamlining state services by automatically sending voters’ information from relevant agencies directly to the County Board of Elections.
  • Allow Same-Day Voter Registration: New York does not currently allow voters to register to vote on Election Day. Governor Cuomo proposes to allow New Yorkers to register and vote on the same day so that onerous registration deadlines do not prevent New Yorkers from having the opportunity to participate in the electoral process.
  • Enhance Statewide Election Cyber Security Resilience and Defend Against Election Disruption: This year, the Governor proposes taking action to secure our democracy through bold steps to protect the state’s elections:
  • Create the Election Support Center: This will provide technical expertise and trainers to assist the State Board of Elections with developing regulations to enhance the cyber security of elections infrastructure; train county Boards of Elections members in cyber security best practices; and ensure that relevant threat intelligence is quickly distributed to local stakeholders.
  • Create and Deploy the Elections Cyber Security Support Toolkit: The toolkit includes a new suite of threat mitigation tools to ensure election security at the state and local levels. This will include log-in and network monitoring software and hardware services, Distributed Denial of Service defense, and change-detection software to ensure that all changes to voter databases are logged and monitored, and any discrepancies are identified, investigated and corrected in a timely manner. 

Increasing Transparency and Continuing Ethics Reform 

Since his first day in office, Governor Cuomo has fought aggressively for comprehensive ethics reform. Governor Cuomo’s advocacy began with the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 to increase transparency and accountability throughout State government. The Governor’s relentless efforts culminated with an historic agreement in 2016 with the Legislature to further advance critical election, lobbying, and enforcement reforms. This year, Governor Cuomo proposes a two-fold approach to ethics and good government reforms. His proposals will reiterate the continued need to address unresolved problems, shed sunlight on our political process and those who fund aspects of it, and will also identify new solutions to rebuild the trust and confidence that New Yorkers should have in their elected representatives.

  • Advance Constitutional Amendment Limiting Outside Income and Creating a Full-time Legislature: The Legislature’s part-time structure allows professionals from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to serve the public. Yet concerns have been raised about potential conflicts of interests that may arise from income legislators derive from other employment. To strike the right balance between public service and private ventures, the Governor proposes a constitutional amendment to be put before the voters that would limit outside income for legislators to 15 percent of their base salary. This 15 percent limit is the same limit our federal government places on federal legislators’ outside income.
  • Advance Constitutional Amendment Imposing Term Limits for Elected Officials:Current term limits require members of the Legislature to seek re-election every two years, yet there are no limits on the number of terms they may seek. The Governor proposes a constitutional amendment to create 4-year legislative terms for members of the Senate and the Assembly. The proposed constitutional amendment would also impose 8-year term limits for new members, and impose term limits for statewide officials.
  • Require Members of the Legislature Seeking Outside Income to Obtain an Advisory Opinion Before Earning Outside Income: Currently legislators may earn income from private ventures without being required to obtain any analysis or approval regarding whether the outside income presents conflicts of interest with their duties to the public. As such, the Governor proposes legislation which would require all legislators to seek an advisory opinion from the legislative ethics commission before earning outside income. To further support in their deliberations and discussions regarding outside income and conflicts of interest and reinforce the public’s trust in the process, a designee from the Office of Court Administration would serve on the commission. By examining compensation from non-state activities on a case by case basis, this measure would help guide our elected representatives, prevent conflicts of interest, and increase the public’s trust in all their elected officials.
  • Close the LLC Loophole: To preserve open, free, and fair elections that are not captured by wealthy public interests, state law limits the amounts that both corporations and individuals may donate directly to state candidates. However, because of a quirk in the way that present election law is interpreted, wealthy individuals and corporations can use Limited Liability Companies (“LLCs”) to avoid New York’s campaign donation limits. This “LLC Loophole” in campaign finance law has allowed special interests to circumvent both contribution limits and disclosure requirements. The Governor proposes closing the LLC Loophole for all elected officials. It is our responsibility to even the playing field so that rich and poor New Yorkers alike have their voices heard in our political process.
  • Subject Local Elected Officials to Financial Disclosure Requirements: The Governor proposes that any local elected official who earns more than $50,000 per year in a government salary, as well as all county executives, county managers, and all chairs of county board of supervisors file the same financial disclosure statements that state employees file with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or a similar form to be approved by the state. This means that municipal employees would provide the same information in their financial disclosure statements as state employees, including his or her spouse’s or partner’s income. Sunlight, in this instance, goes a long way towards assuring the public that those entrusted with government service are fulfilling their duty to the public.
  • Institute Public Financing and Enact Additional Campaign Finance Reforms: Every day, ordinary New Yorkers struggle to make their voices heard in our political system. No matter the issue, candidates are incentivized to focus on large donations over small ones. The only way to truly fix this problem is to institute a public financing system for political campaigns that matches funds from small donations. Governor Cuomo proposes to do just that by instituting a voluntary public financing system that matches small donations with public funds. New York law also continues to allow unlimited contributions to party “housekeeping” accounts by individuals and corporations. These accounts are designed to support non-campaign party activities, but instead provide another mechanism for big donors to impact political campaigns. New York also still allows a campaign’s intermediary, known as a “bundler”, to pass large groupings of individual contributions to a single campaign without disclosing the bundler’s identify. The Governor proposes to address both issues by placing a $25,000 contribution limit on housekeeping accounts and requiring all “bundlers” to disclose their identities.
  • Promote Increased Transparency through Comprehensive Reforms to FOIL: The New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) governs the public’s right to access government records and provides transparency for citizens into the workings of state government. The Governor proposes a comprehensive reform of FOIL to improve transparency and promote openness in state government, including requiring proactive disclosure of certain records. But transparency cannot just be limited to the Executive—everyone must be held to the same standard. The Governor therefore proposes that FOIL apply equally to the Legislature. Additionally, the Governor proposes that both FOIL and the state’s Open Meetings Law apply to both JCOPE as well as the Legislative Ethics Commission to further ensure transparency, accountability, and increase public confidence in all aspects of state government.
  • Expand the Authority of the State Inspector General: The Governor proposes increasing the Inspector General’s jurisdiction to include oversight of nonprofit organizations and foundations that are created for the benefit of, or controlled by SUNY or CUNY. The Inspector General would be authorized to investigate complaints of corruption, fraud, criminal activity, conflicts of interest or abuse within each university and its affiliates, and to refer potential criminal findings within these entities for prosecution. The Governor also proposes broadening the Inspector General’s authority to include all state-related procurement and the implementation and enforcement of financial control policies at SUNY and CUNY. This would allow the Inspector General to oversee the policies of any affiliated nonprofit organization and foundation of each respective university.
  • Enact Procurement Reforms: Despite existing legal safeguards, conflicts of interest and unlawful conduct may jeopardize the impartiality and objectivity of the current procurement process. This risk is further heightened by the significant amount of dollars spent by state and local public agencies, which exceeds tens of billions of dollars annually. The Governor therefore proposes creating a Chief Procurement Officer to oversee the integrity and uniformity of procurement practices across the state and ensure state procurement staff are prepared and positioned to conduct effective and ethical procurements. To achieve these ends, the Chief Procurement Officer will spearhead a comprehensive review of current procurement practices across all state entities and relevant affiliates with the intent of establishing best practices and implementing uniform policies and procedures. Additionally, the Governor proposes new measures which would prohibit individuals, organizations or business entities that submit bids, quotes, or responses to state contract offers from making campaign contributions to any officeholder in the branch of government awarding the contract while the decision is pending, and for six months following the contract award.  Finally, under current practice, the Office of the State Comptroller, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Office of General Services either undertake reviews and audits or process payments of contract vendors and/or grantees that have multiple projects with the State. However, they lack a single system to track payments and audits of these entities and fail to coordinate their efforts on a routine basis. This should change. The Governor proposes legislation that will direct these entities, along with the Chief Procurement Officer and the Office of Information Technology, to collaborate on a study and make recommendations regarding initiatives to better enable the public to track state contracts and audits.

BUILDING A STRONGER, SAFER NEW YORK 

Governor Cuomo has consistently taken decisive action to ensure public safety for all New Yorkers. This past year, New Yorkers faced the devastating consequences of extreme weather and New York’s emergency response extended beyond our borders to support our neighbors. This year, the Governor proposes a public safety package that will build on the Governor’s legacy of fighting for the safety all of New Yorkers.

  • Establish the Strongest Counter Terrorism Program in the Nation: Governor Cuomo has taken significant action to fight terrorism and keep New Yorkers safe from new and emerging threats. In 2015, he launched the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, making New York the only state with the ability to report unusual behavior via text message. In 2016, the Governor directed the State Office of Counter Terrorism to test more than 600 businesses annually to determine if and how these organizations report suspicious activity.  In response to these new and evolving threats, the Governor recently announced a partnership with renowned counter terrorism experts to review the state’s security and issue recommendations for improvement. These recommendations will help New York State establish the strongest counter terrorism program in the nation, allowing the state to be better prepared to meet modern threats posed by terrorism. Further, they will provide recommendations to better protect our bridges, tunnels, trains, buses and airports, as well as our transit hubs at Penn Station and Grand Central Station. In the interim, Governor Cuomo is taking action to restrict terrorists’ capabilities and make it easier for New Yorkers to report suspicious activity. These actions will improve statewide security and strengthen counter terrorism policies, procedures, and tactics. Governor Cuomo will take additional actions to further secure the state, including:
    • Expand Vehicle Rental Regulations: Governor Cuomo will advance legislation to require any person attempting to rent a vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds to present a valid driver’s license and an additional form of identification to the company in order to obtain the keys. This will ensure that individuals attempting to rent a vehicle are who they say they are and will help prevent any attempted deception to conceal a renter’s identity for malicious purposes.
      • Launch a Terrorism Tip Line: Building off the “See Something, Say Something” campaign, New York will work with the Public Service Commission to establish a first of its kind three-digit tip line dedicated to reporting terrorist threats and suspicious activity. This three-digit line will make it easier for New Yorkers to recall the event they witness and encourage further reporting to prevent a potential terrorist act.
      • Develop a School Safety Response System to Ensure First Responders Have Real-Time Access to the Blueprints of Every School in New York State: Governor Cuomo has led the charge to protect New Yorkers from gun violence and acts of terror. In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the Governor championed the toughest and smartest gun legislation in the nation, and he has pushed to strengthen security measures across the state. This year, for example, the Governor announced a $25 million grant program for critical hardening of infrastructure for non-profits, non-public schools, day care centers, and cultural centers to increase security, and last year, the Governor provided $10 million to local law enforcement agencies for equipment purchases to improve police officer safety and response capabilities. Still, the threat of mass violence and shootings continues to plague the country. In the coming year, the State will explore new technology options for a school safety response system that may include real-time “blue team” GPS tracking and direct lines of communication for all response personnel. The State will also ensure that all schools in New York State are mapped both internally and externally so first responders can enter with greater certainty about where they are going, where threats may exist, and where victims may be hiding.  This information will enable them to operate around new and unfamiliar locations with certainty and speed to rapidly save as many lives as possible.

 

NYS Governor Cuomo Outlines 2018 Agenda Aimed at Realizing Promise of Progressive Government

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo delivers the 2018 State of the State with an expansive progressive agenda of specific proposals for social, economic, environmental and political justice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany. The Governor’s far-reaching 2018 agenda proposes to deliver on the promise of progressive government by advancing a slate of critical social and economic policies which Cuomo said would improve the lives of New Yorkers. The bold agenda, articulated with specifics rather than rhetorical flourishes, includes a full package of legislative reforms, robust investments in infrastructure, the environment and renewable energy, and targeted actions – from a comprehensive women’s rights agenda to a first-in-the-nation plan to fight the federal tax assault to nation-leading criminal justice reforms – that will increase opportunity for New Yorkers and ensure the Empire State continues to serve as a beacon of equality, unity and fairness for the nation.

However, Cuomo warned of the challenges the state faces in realizing these policies because of a $4 billion shortfall in the budget, combined with an additional $2 billion loss in federal aid, and on top of that, the Republican tax plan which severely curtails the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT), effectively cutting New Yorkers’ incomes by a further 20-25%, likely putting downward pressure on housing costs, and discouraging businesses from locating here – in effect, overturning the progress the Governor has made in lowering taxes and promoting economic development and business in the state. Indeed, the state has seen a record 1 million new jobs in the past six years, the highest level of jobs. He challenged federal actions – both threatening legal challenge to the double-taxation on state and local taxes, and threatening law suit against the Environmental Protection Agency should it pronounce the clean-up of the Hudson River by General Electric to be complete.

Highlights of the Governor’s 2018 Agenda include:

  • Keeping New York Economically Competitive
  • Upholding the New York Promise
  • Expanding Educational Opportunity for All
  • Continuing Economic Opportunity and Growth Under NY Works
  • Providing A Cleaner, Greener and Healthier New York: The Wellness Agenda 
  • Leading the Fight Against Climate Change
  • Advancing the Democracy Agenda
  • Building a Stronger, Safer New York

 The Governor’s 2018 Policy Book is available here. More information is available here.

AUDIO of Governor Cuomo’s remarks is available here.

Here is a highlighted transcript of the Governor’s remarks: — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Thank you very, very much. Welcome to Albany. Happy New Year to all. It may be a great one for all of us. First, to the Reverend and the Rabbi, who I thought they were just extraordinary in their blessings and in their invocation, let’s give them a round of applause.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge my partners in government, we start with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, let’s give her a round of applause. New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Speaker Carl Heastie. Leader Klein. Leader Stewart Cousins. Leader Kolb. We have with us today our Court of Appeals judges and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, let’s give them a round of applause. It’s not that they are unhappy, the judges, it’s just by protocol they don’t applaud for anything. I didn’t realize that the first couple of years, but now I got it. Let’s give them another round of applause for not applauding for anything.

My friends, looking back, 2017 was a tough year by any measure, but New Yorkers once again rose to the occasion. We had frightening incidents of terrorism in New York City. As Mayor Bill de Blasio well knows. But we have the best police and first responders in the country and some of them are here today. Let’s give them a round of applause. Let’s see you stand please.

We also had anti-Semitic threats to Jewish Community Centers across the state. The state stood with them, we were supportive, but the operators were heroic and they refused to yield to intimidation. And they’re here with us today. Let them know that we stand with them in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters around the state and we applaud their heroism. Please stand.

Mother Nature has tested us it seems time and time and time again. 2017, we saw flooding on Lake Ontario like we had never seen before. We saw flooding along the St. Lawrence River, we saw it in the Mohawk Valley, we had wind storms in Rochester, and we had frigid temperatures all across the state. Once again, our state employees were there for us, and we have some of them here today – the Department of Transportation, Office of General Services, the Thruway Authority and our first responders. Let’s give them a round of applause and thank them.

They’re forecasting another possible snowstorm on Thursday on Long Island, which will once again see County Executive Bellone and now our new County Executive Laura Curran out there. And I can promise you County Executive, all of the glamour of the inauguration will be gone at the first snowstorm. My advice, gloves and boots, gloves and boots. Let’s give the new County Executive a round of applause.

And my friends, Mother Nature saved her worst fury not for New York, but for Puerto Rico. I’m proud of the help that New Yorkers offered to the people of Puerto Rico. It was bipartisan, it was all across the state of New York. We asked for donations, the outpouring was incredible. Tons of materials were donated from New Yorkers. We asked for volunteers and they came in every possible way. We had the National Guard, we had health care workers from 1199, from the Greater New York Hospital Association, from the New York State Nurses Association. We had utility workers from all across the state. I went down on one visit – 500 utility workers. More utility workers from New York than from any other place, literally getting the power back on. We had the New York Power Authority that did a great job, UNICEF did a great job, they all came together, but we want the people of Puerto Rico to know, who are still suffering today, 60 percent still without power today. We want the people of Puerto Rico to know that New York will stand by them through their recovery every step along this journey. We are their friends. We are their brothers and sisters. Somos uno, somos uno, somos uno – we will be there for Puerto Rico.

Today marks the eight time that I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the State of the State. Serving as your Governor has been the privilege of my life. Especially as I have had the good fortune to serve with legislatures who have the political will and the talent to tackle the great issues – and we have. The history books will show that thanks to the actions of the officials assembled here today, our state has made unprecedented progress. Our economy is stronger today and we are once again the nation’s beacon for social progress. As Governor Al Smith used to say, “let’s look at the record.” Well the record says that crime is down statewide, we have a cleaner environment, we have a fairer criminal justice system, we have more high school graduates who are attending colleges, we have preserved more land than ever before, enacted a more progressive tax code, launched the most ambitious building program in the country. We have also made historic investments in education, health care and economic development. Upstate New York is no longer treated as the forgotten stepchild of Albany, the way it was for so many years. And my friends, state government is back. It is reengaged as a vital partner in progress in every region of the state of New York. And, they got ahead of me – we ended the drought in Buffalo, returning to the playoffs for the first time since 1999, “Go Bills! Go Bills! Go Bills!”

We have honored the tax payer and achieved historic fiscal discipline. For the first time in 50 years, thanks to the Assembly and the Senate, we passed seven timely, responsible budgets. Just think about that. With our 2 percent fiscal discipline, we actually did more with less and it’s working. Every New Yorker’s tax rate is lower today than when I took office. We have the highest credit rating in 40 years, unemployment is down from 8.3 percent to 4.7 percent and down in every single region of the state of New York. Because my friends the greatest success is shared success, and today, New York State has 8.1 million private sector jobs – the highest number of jobs in history of the state of New York, period.

In fact, our record is even better. Listen to this: you will be pleased and proud to know that we have created more jobs than any administration in 75 years. Look at this chart from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics – we created 1 million new jobs in 6 plus years. Since Governor Dewey was elected in 1942, no state administration has created more jobs – or a higher percentage of jobs or created jobs faster.

Congratulations. That is your economic record and that is truly a record to be proud of.

Now, you’ll notice on the chart that Governor Mario Cuomo’s numbers are redacted. There is no constitutional or legal or regulatory reason that would justify that redaction. However, I did that for a couple of reasons: First, because my mother is here, and if I ever compared myself to my father and said I had a better set of numbers, I could never go home again. It would be that simple. You don’t know my mother. It would be no meatballs for Andrew. That would be it. God forbid Chris became the favorite son, that would really be terrible. Even I don’t think she could go that far. Second, because if I compared myself with my father, you would see a lightning bolt strike me dead where I am. And also I didn’t include his numbers because in my opinion there is no comparison of any Governor to Governor Mario Matthew Cuomo.

Besides all of these fiscal accomplishments and more jobs than ever before, we have also accomplished something else. We have vindicated the promise of progressive government. Because progressive government requires citizen confidence and management competence. Progressive leaders must be dreamers and doers; visionaries and achievers. We followed FDR’s progressive philosophy. Real change for real people in real time.

My father’s philosophy: he called himself a “pragmatic progressive” – restoring confidence in government by actually delivering practical accomplishments: people need food, people need housing, people need education, people need justice – they don’t need theoretical progressive politics, they need practical politics, actual politics, that makes a difference in their lives because they’re suffering today and they need life made better for them.

And that my friends, is what we have done – marriage equality, paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, free college tuition, gun safety, the climate coalition, and MWBE. No other state has done what we have done – we are once again the nation’s vanguard for social progress and you should feel good and proud about that accomplishment.

My friends, you should feel confident in our ability as a government to do what many believe can’t be done. Because you have done it over and over and over again. And we have been told over and over again, we can’t do it, it’s too hard. But we did it. And we will need that confidence, because 2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history. And the job you’re going to have to do may be the job the hardest job done by any legislative body to sit in modern political history. We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level. And with these challenges at this moment, requires stark candor and bold action. We are facing a three front war.

First, we have the old challenges of discrimination and sexism that have plagued society for years but have recently been exposed for their prevalence and virulence. Society has rightly expressed its outrage. But outrage is not enough. Enlightened government must seize the moment to attack these social diseases that are long institutionalized and culturalized and end them once and for all. Women and minorities still face abuse and prejudice. We must acknowledge it, we must stamp it out, and we must stamp it out here and now.

Second, we face new challenges threatening our safety and quality of life: terrorism, climate change, environmental threats including to our drinking water, and the growing opioid epidemic, a scourge across our state, that claimed more than 3,000 lives just last year.

And lastly, we have federal and economic challenges never experienced before. They threaten the essence of our economy. Short term: a $4 billion deficit and $2 billion in cuts in federal aid. Even more challenging – long term – our federal government has hurt our state’s economic position: both nationally and internationally by taxing our state and local taxes, they made us less competitive and they are helping other states at our expense. They are continuing their divisive politics and evolving into even more divisive governing.

Just think about it, while we here in this state together have been working on economic and social progress, our federal government is working to roll back so much of what we have done.

They’re trying to roll back New York’s position as an economic leader. They’re trying to roll back a woman’s right to choose. They’re trying to roll back environmental protection. They’re trying to roll back healthcare for the poor, to roll back access to college loans, to roll back LGBTQ rights, to roll back labor’s right to organize, to roll back our historic tax cuts that we have done over these past seven years and with DACA, to roll back an immigrant child’s opportunity to be an American. We cannot, we must not let those things happen in the great State of New York.

Thank you. Let us start our agenda by addressing the first challenge first. The old, ugly, persistent problems of sexism, racism and homelessness. The most important element of New York’s social process agenda is equality. It is guaranteed by the constitution and our belief in human rights. Our country is finally taking a long look in the mirror as to how we treat women, and we are disgusted with what we see. We should be. Our challenge is to now turn society’s revulsion into reform. Carpe diem, to seize the day. To learn, to grow, to change. That’s what we did with gun violence after Sandy Hook, that’s what we did with sexual assault on college campuses, that’s what we should do now after the exposure of the abuse of the women in this society. New York should lead the way once again. And we will.

I begin, again, by proposing that no taxpayer funds should be used to pay for any public official’s sexual harassment or misconduct – period. It is the bad act of the individual, let the individual pay. I propose that no state or local government enter into a secret nondisclosure agreement. We can protect a victim’s identity and privacy but the taxpayers have a right to know that that agreement exists and that their funds were used to pay for that agreement. I propose that any companies that do business with the state disclose the number of sexual harassment adjudications they have had and the number of nondisclosure agreements they have executed. I propose that the State of New York pension funds only be invested in companies that the Comptroller determines have adequate female and minority representation in management or on the board of directors to constitute good corporate leadership. Personally, I believe a company cannot have good management by definition if it effectively excludes women and minorities. I propose the legislature enact the contraceptive care act and finally, finally, finally pass Roe v. Wade. I propose the legislature pass a government-wide independent and anonymous whistle blower process so victims are free to communicate complaints without fear of retaliation. I propose that we really seize the opportunity. That New York enact a strict, new, uniform code of sexual harassment policies binding on all state employees and in all branches, in all authorities, all agencies, and on all local governments and set a new national standard of respect for women — and we set the bar high.

Let New York State stand and say we are not the state of denial – we acknowledge the longstanding bias and abuse against women – and New York says it stops, it stops now, and we will show you the way forward for other governments and industry to follow and that is the New York way.

The truth is racism and discrimination still exist. When I was in HUD, I sued the Ku Klux Klan for televised racist assaults – men with hoods – spewing venom. Today it is often more insidious. Discrimination is marbleized throughout our society and government.

As a starting point, we must ensure the people of our state that our democratic foundation – which is our justice system – is in fact, just. I spoke to this in my father’s eulogy and promised him we would improve the failings in our justice system and we will. We have made many reforms over the past few years, no doubt, but we have more to do. Let’s be painfully honest. The truth is that our Lady Justice is still not color blind and her scales are still not balanced. Our bail system is biased against the poor, too many jails are cruel and inhumane, and our court system is too slow. That is the painful truth.

To begin, our jails are filled with people who should not be incarcerated. Punishment is supposed to be imposed when one is found guilty. Incredibly 75 percent of the people in New York City jails have not been convicted of any crime. A similar story exists in other jails across the state. The blunt ugly reality is that too often, if you can make bail you are set free and if you are too poor to make bail you are punished. We must reform our bail system so a person is only held if a judge finds either a significant flight risk or a real threat to public safety. If so, they should be held in preventive detention whether they are rich or poor, black or white – but if not, they should be released on their own recognizance whether they are rich or poor, black or white. That is only fair. Race and wealth should not be factors in our justice system. It’s that clear.

We also need discovery reform and speedy trial reform. We need to move cases faster. We have people sitting in jails for years waiting to be heard. Trial parts must operate from 9 to 5 – no more half days – and a judge’s performance must be an essential criterion in advancement. Judicial vacancies must be filled on a timely basis. The backlog must be cleared and we must address it in this year’s budget. Because it just takes too long to try a case now. To compound this injustice, people are held in facilities and under conditions that we would condemn as human rights violations if they were occurring in another country. Our tolerance for the ongoing injustice is repugnant to our position as a progressive government. Some jails in our state have long records of violations that continue for years. We have been too complacent about the suffering of the powerless and voiceless. That is the truth.

A gentleman named Kalief Browder, an African American, spent three years in Rikers waiting for his day in court to be heard on his charge for allegedly stealing a backpack. Three years waiting to be heard for the charge of stealing a backpack. He was 16 years old. His abuse while jailed was so traumatic Kalief Browder ultimately determined taking his life was the only way to stop his continuing pain. Akeem Browder, Kalief’s brother, is here with us today, and I would ask him to stand. Akeem, I want you to know that your brother did not die in vain. Sometimes the Lord works in strange ways – but he opened our eyes to the urgent need for real reform. The state correction law authorizes the State to regulate local jails. We must act with a new urgency to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers – New Yorkers who have been too long neglected. It is a state-wide problem and we will address it. It’s a statewide problem and we will address it and you have my word on that. I am directing the State Corrections Commission to develop legally binding corrective action plans or closure orders on jails that are out of compliance because enough is enough, we will not continue to endure this abuse. Thank you for being here. Thank you. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, justice too long delayed is justice denied and that is not our New York. Thank you for being here Akeem and we will make it right. Give Akeem a big round of applause.

Akeem, I want you to know that your brother did not die in vain. Sometimes the lord works in strange ways, but he opened our eyes to the urgent need for real reform. The state correction law authorizes the state to regulate local jails. We must act with a new urgency to safeguard the rights of all New Yorkers, New Yorkers who have been too long neglected. It’s a state wide problem, and we will address it and you have my word on that. I am directing the State Corrections Commission to develop legally binding corrective action plans for closure orders on jails that are out of compliance because enough is enough. We will not continue to endure this abuse. Thank you for being here, thank you. As Martin Luther King Jr said, “Justice too long delayed is justice denied” and that is not our New York. Thank you for being here Akeem, and we will make it right. You just watch. Give Akeem a big round of applause.

While nationwide minority and women owned businesses lag behind the norm, here in New York our MWBE program is a model for the nation. However, our local governments have not been as progressive, no local government in the state has even approached our NWBE performance. Let’s extend our MWBE goals to follow with all state funding dollars’ direct state spending and spending through local governments, make our goals a reality, and bring economic justice to all.

Our minority youth voucher program provides private employment training subsidies, it works. Unemployment among our young minority men and women has decreased 8 percent from 25 percent – 17 percent. That is great news. Go to the Bronx and let our Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. show you the 8,000 young people minority men and women who are now employed, earning their own way, and off the streets. Let him also buy your lunch while you’re there. Let’s expand it this year to serve 8,000 more young people and fund my Brother’s Keeper to make opportunity and hope a reality for all.

Homelessness is on the rise in our cities and worse than ever before, it pains me personally to acknowledge this reality. I began my public work at 26 running a not-for-profit to help homeless families. East New York that’s where I was. It became the largest in the nation. My sister Maria is with us here today who runs it now. In 1992 Mayor David Dinkins’ Homelessness Commission. When I was HUD Secretary we completed President Bill Clinton’s plan to solve homelessness. We always believed that this was a momentary problem. That it was just an anomaly, that this could not go on, and in many places in the country and in New York there was much progress, but now the problem has come back with a vengeance. The homeless numbers are at record highs. And looking forward with the Federal Government threatening to cut funding for homeless programs, it will only get worse, we must act. The most difficult issue is homeless people on the streets. The ultimate need we know is affordable housing and supporting housing and our budget has historic state commitment in these areas. But it is also an issue for our philosophy and expectations. We have grown too accepting. I’m old enough to remember that at one time there were no homeless people on the streets, it doesn’t have to be that way. What does it say about us as a society? That we now pass men and women lying on the streets with the same ease that we pass light poles and mailboxes. It has become a part of our new normal but it is abnormal and it is wrong. We must remember that while we aggressively protect the individual’s civil liberties, we believe in helping people in need. Leaving a sick person to fend for themselves in not progressive, charitable, ethical, or legal.

We should hold ourselves to a higher standard. It is our obligation as a caring people, a compassionate society, to reach out and provide whatever social services or address whatever needs the individuals presents. That is our job. New York State will ensure that every local government is effectively reaching out to homeless people or they will not receive state funding. Period. I’m also directing the MTA and Port Authority, Centro, CDTA, the RGRTA, the NFTA and all our cities to do the same. We must do more and we must do better. Yes, we have outreach programs that currently exist, but the numbers are going up, which means the job we’re doing isn’t good enough.

Now, some jurisdictions can say case law prevents them from helping mentally ill street homeless. If that is their excuse, they should tell us what law stops from helping sick homeless people and we will change the law this session. But let’s end this sad, societal failure. Let’s show our children this is not who we are as a society. This is not how we treat human beings. We are better than this, we are stronger than this, we are smarter than this and we are more compassionate than this. Let’s end this nightmare once and for all and let’s do it this year.

With all we have to do as a government, it is more important than ever that we have the public’s trust. I know the legislature feels that we have done much on ethics reform and they are right. I k now they feel that whatever we do, it will never be enough in this political atmosphere and they may be right, but we must do more anyway. The single best ethics reform is to ban outside income, remove any possibility for conflict and let legislators say ‘I work for the public. Period. And there are no possible conflicts presented.

Step two in our agenda is to focus on the new problems – rise in terrorism, environmental change, the opioid crisis, the federal threat to the labor movement and the distortion and manipulation of our elections by big donors, foreign money and social media advertising and the alienation of our citizens. We start with protecting the environment and recognizing the growing threats to our drinking water. The growing concentration of chemicals and pollution in some areas is literally poisoning the water. In upstate New York, in the beautiful lakes of upstate New York, we now have a toxic algae that is spreading and is literally endangering the drinking water. On Long Island, there’s something they call the Grumman Plume which is the discharge from the old Grumman factory that carries 30 years of industrial stains and contaminants and it’s literally moving to the south shore of Long Island where it will poison thousands of homes. We must attack these growing health threats now because we will not poison our children. We’ve been talking about them for years. No more procrastination, let’s resolve these issues and let’s do it this year.

We call an end to any investment in fossil fuel related activities in the pension fund and we’re going to work with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli because the future of the environment, the future of the economy and the future of our children is all in clean technology and we should put our money where our mouth is. Let’s give the Comptroller a big round of applause and thank him for his great work.

Last year, we announced one of the largest offshore wind projects in the nation. This year, I’m proud to announce that we will be putting out two RFPs for at least 800 megawatts in offshore wind power. Enough wind power to power 400,000 New York State households with clean energy. That is a great and clean step forward. We’re excited about it. I hope you are too.

The Hudson River is one of our greatest and most scenic waterways in the nation. For many years, General Electric polluted the river with PCBs. There has been progress made in cleaning it up, but the job is not done. So if the federal government releases GE saying the cleanup is complete. I’ll tell you what this State is going to do. We’re going to sue the federal government to stop it because we will not end our efforts until our future generations can once again fully enjoy the beautiful Hudson River.

Nationwide we are witnessing a shocking phenomenon. We are dying younger. Last year, life expectancy for Americans declined for the second year in a row, the first time that has happened in 50 years. The reason? A staggering 21 percent increase in drug overdoses. For Americans under 50 years old, drug overdoses, mostly opioid-related, are the leading cause of death. We must face it head on. We are committed to a comprehensive solution: more prevention, more education, more enforcement, more treatment. But we also want to advance a new approach this year, the ultimate follow the supply chain strategy. Big corporations may own Washington, but they don’t own New York.

The opioid crisis was manufactured, literally and figuratively. Unscrupulous distributors developed a $400 billion industry selling opioids, and they were conveniently blind to the consequences of their actions. They pumped these pills into society. And they created addictions. Like the tobacco industry, they killed thousands, and they did it without warning. We will make them pay for their illegal and reprehensible conduct. We will sue them, and we will stop the spread of opioids because too many innocent lives have been lost and the time for action is now before we lose another single life.

A case before Washington’s Supreme Court seeks to effectively end public labor unions. We will await the decision in the Janus case, but we must do all in our power to protect collective bargaining, the right to organize, and preserve workers’ rights.

We believe labor unions have built the middle class and we are proud that New York State has the highest percentage of union workers in the country. Today let us all pledge that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our union brothers and sisters in this fight and we will not give up and we will protect union workers in the State of New York. We stand in solidarity and we will not lose.

Thank you.

At this time of citizen alienation and outrage, the best thing we can do is let people know that their voice is heard, that they matter and that they can and they should vote. And we should make voting easier, not harder, with same day registration, no fault absentee ballots and early voting.

We should increase trust by closing the LLC loophole and open up the electoral process with public financing, but not our current public financing system that has public financing but private loopholes. I mean a true public financing system in which the exception does not swallow the rule. That’s what we need to do to regain the trust of the citizens in this state and across this nation.

Social media has revolutionized our elections. While we respect the freedom of the internet, it cannot subvert the law. Foreign countries like Russia and big anonymous donors cannot jeopardize our democracy. Social media must disclose who or what pays for political advertising because sunlight is still the best disinfectant.

Disclosure must apply to social media the same way that it applies to a newspaper ad or a TV ad or a radio ad. Anything else is a scam and a perversion of the law and an affront to democracy. Let’s stop this abuse, and while Washington talks about it and dithers, let New York lead the way and address this challenge and let’s do it this session.

Terrorism is morphing in unpredictable ways. The internet now provides easy access to ISIS instruction manuals, and lone wolves are a new threat. It is getting worse not better. The internet companies must search their hearts and minds to determine their obligation to public safety when they know who is visiting terrorist sites, and they know who is learning to kill Americans. That is their issue. In the meantime, our issue is to protect ourselves. Now the state owns many of the places of potential vulnerability, our bridges, tunnels, trains, buses and airports, our transit hubs like Penn Station and Grand Central.

Our transportation system must be better protected, and we must do it now. We have had warning. The past incidents shook everyone to the bone. We don’t need to understand anymore. We will do just that. In this year’s budget, we will do just that with more and better trained police and more state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, because government’s number one job is to protect its people, and we will do exactly that.

Penn Station is especially vulnerable. The most heavily traveled transit hub in the hemisphere. More people go through Penn Station every year than go through Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Airports combined. On top of the volume, the architecture and configuration of Penn is substandard. I call it the seven levels of catacombs. They don’t like when I say that, but it’s true. I have directed ESD, the MTA, and the Port Authority to work on a redevelopment plan with the neighboring private building owners so that we can restructure and rebuild Penn Station. They are cooperative and understand our needs and support our goal. We are now constructing a new Penn Station Farley Moynihan Train Hall right across the street. As that becomes operational, that will give us a flexibility to move operations from the old Penn to the new Farley. So we’re going to be coordinating with Amtrak, federal government, city officials to accelerate this comprehensive redevelopment project, which will improve the operation, the aesthetics and the security systems in Penn. The threat of terrorism is real. I take it very seriously as one of my prime responsibilities as Governor of this state. There is no time for politics, bureaucracy or delay. The State has the power of eminent domain for just such a purpose. We must make Penn better. We must make it safer. We must coordinate with all our partners, but we must do it now. There is no time for politics. There is no time for politics. No time for delay. We must fix Penn and we must fix it now.

Cashless tolling has been a great success at our downstate bridges and tunnels. It’s not just faster for the commuter and better for the environment. It’s also more secure. The new electronic toll structures are designed with state-of-the-art homeland security devices. They also have license plate readers. Police are on site and are electronically notified in three seconds of a violation or a suspicious plate from the license plate reader. It’s in place. It works. It works very well. Today we call on the Port Authority to do the same and install cashless tolling and security equipment on their crossings – the George Washington Bridge, the Outerbridge, Bayonne and Goethals Bridges, Holland, and Lincoln Tunnels. Let’s have the same cleaner environment, faster commute and more security on those Port Authority passings. And let the world know that they may consider New York a premier target but it is also the best protected state on the globe.

That’s the fact. We must improve the New York City subway system. We’ve failed to maintain an engineering marvel that was a gift from our forefathers. Our 100-year-old system needs an overhaul. We have 40-year-old subway cars and 80-year-old electric signals. Hurricane Sandy accelerated the decline because salt water and electric currents are a corrosive cocktail. Now, there is no mystery, we have to fix the system. We know how to fix the system. It’s a question of funding. We need short-term funding this year to do emergency repairs and to install the new technology for a long-term solution. We also need long-term funding that is fair to all and also addresses the growing traffic and population problems. The Fix New York Panel will shortly present a report that will have several options for the legislature to consider. We will have new technology installed which will offer a variety of alternatives, defining an exclusive zone in Manhattan where additional charges could be paid. These are difficult choices, but difficult choices do not get easier by ignoring them. They only get harder. And in the meantime, cheap political slogans are just that—cheap political slogans. It’s not a real policy or policy discussion. And that’s what we need. Santa Claus did not visit the State Capitol this year. I was watching. Funding must be provided in a very tight budget and funding must be provided this session because the riders have suffered for too long, politics has gone on for too long, and we can’t leave our riders stranded anymore—period.

Our third challenge is in many ways the greatest. The budgetary and economic challenges we face short-term and long-term compounded by the federal assault on New York. This is literally going to define the future of this state. President Ford may have metaphorically told New York to drop dead in 1975—but this federal government is the most hostile and aggressive toward New York in history. It has shot an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart. We must start this year with a $4 billion deficit compounded by a $2 billion cut primarily from the federal government and health care.

Even worse, the federal tax bill reshapes the nation’s economy. Their plan is trickle down on steroids. It didn’t work in the 80’s and it won’t work now. The rich will no doubt get richer, but if the federal government really wanted to help workers, which is what they said all along, that they wanted to help workers, they wanted to help the middle class, if that’s what they wanted to do, then the law they passed would have mandated that the corporations tax cut windfall go to pay workers higher wages or go to create jobs. That’s what they would have done. When you write a law, you write a law to do what you want it to do. They didn’t include any of that in their tax ball, and the omission speaks volumes. This tax cut handed rich corporations a blank check. And now even federal Republican senators are criticizing this. All this will do is increase income inequality, and the pain and the frustration and the anger of our middle class, and our poor.

And at the same time, Washington has launched an all-out direct attack on New York state’s economic future by eliminating full deductibility of state and local taxes. What this is going to do, is this effectively raises middle class and working family’s property tax 20 to 25 percent all across the state. It raises their state income tax 20 to 25 percent all across the state. There is no conceivable justification. New York is already the number one donor state in the nation. We pay $48 billion more to Washington than we get back. No state contributes more to the federal government and gets back less than New York State. On top of that injustice, Washington’s tax plan now uses New York and California as piggy banks to finance tax cuts for Republican states. New York will pay an additional $14 billion on top of the $48 billion that we currently pay. Remember the old adage robbing Peter to pay Paul. Well they changed it. You’re now robbing the blue states to pay for the red states.

It is crass, it is ugly, it is divisive, it is partisan legislating, it is an economic civil war. And make no mistake, they are aiming to hurt us. This could cause people to leave the state of New York. And it could reduce our ability to attract business. We must take dramatic action to save ourselves and preserve our state’s economy. We have a three-point strategy to address the federal assault. 

First—we believe it is illegal, and we will challenge it in court as unconstitutional.

Thank you, thank you.

We will challenge it in court as unconstitutional, the first federal double taxation in history, violative of state’s rights and the principle of equal protection. And let’s thank the Attorney General and give him a round of applause for his good work in representing us.

Second—we will lead the resistance to this injustice and start our own repeal and replace effort. Launching a tax fairness for all campaign. We begin today and we will not stop until economic justice is restored for every state and every taxpayer in the state of New York. In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, “we have not yet begun to fight,” my friends.

Third – as Washington has shot an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart, the best plan is to get out of the way before it hits. So we are exploring the feasibility of a major shift. Different states have different tax structures. Some use a gross receipts tax. Some have a severance tax. We are developing a plan to restructure our tax code to reduce reliance on our current income tax system and adopt a statewide payroll tax system. Now, payroll taxes are legal, the federal government currently has a payroll tax system. We’re also exploring creating additional charitable organizations so that contributions to those charitable organizations would be tax deductible. And we’re also addressing the Wall Street giveaway called the carried interest loophole, which is another device to give away revenue to people who don’t need it.

We are working with our legislative partners and with our local government partners, we’re discussing this restructuring and you’ll hear more about it in our budget presentation. It is complicated, it is difficult, but it is clear that we must protect New York taxpayers from this assault. And it is clear that we must not allow big corporations to enjoy a windfall at the expense of our middle class and our working families.

It’s not going to be easy, it is going to be complicated, but I believe working together we will get it done because working together we must get it done to represent in good faith, the people of our great state. And I look forward to making it a reality with all of us, together. Because life is options, and on this one it’s simple: we have no choice. If we do not fix this problem, it is a question of the State of New York’s economic viability in the long term. It’s a question of our competitiveness, long term. And preserving the strength of New York State and New York State’s economy at a time when we have a federal government that is giving other states a structural competitive advantage against us. We’re not going to let that happen. We are New York State, we have faced challenges internationally, domestically, and the threat from this federal government is not going to derail the great State of New York, that I promise you.

And it’s important as we face this next year, which is going to be a tough year, it’s important that you remember that we are up to the challenge. We forget all the good work that we have done. We forget all the times we’ve been told, no you can’t and we show that we can. We’re going to do the same thing this year. In the meantime, we need to do a fiscal plan for this year in this budget. And the best way forward is to continue the same path that we have been on. Our philosophy rests on two pillars: economic growth and social progress. And we must maintain those New York priorities. We must continue our historic investment in public education and expand three and four-year-old pre-K and after school and computer sciences because our greatest asset is our young people and everything we do is for their future. We must address education funding inequities and dedicate more of our state school aid to poorer districts. This year, we should even take it a step further and make sure that the local education districts that we’re giving the grants to are distributing the aid to their poorer schools because that’s the point. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, nor does trickle-down education funding. Local districts must give more funding to their poorer schools, period. That’s only right. And that’s only fair.

We must continue our investment in healthcare. We must preserve the Medicaid program and the CHP program, health insurance for poor children. Because in New York, healthcare is not just for the rich, it’s a human right. And we’re going to protect it. And we’re going to preserve it. And we’re going to keep our healthcare industry in New York strong, and vibrant, and the economic engine of public service that it is.

We have been, we are, the nation’s leader in building infrastructure. And the infrastructure is growing our economy. We’re ahead of every other state in the nation in terms of infrastructure development. And we must increase our advantage this year and double-down on our investments.

We also must continue our groundbreaking social progress to advance equality and opportunity for all. Because we are all immigrants and we are all equal under the eyes of god and the laws of New York. We can and must achieve all these goals and we will.

On the economy, our economic focus is going to remain on helping working men and women by continuing our Middle Class Recovery Act. We start by giving them immediate relief, not with words, not with slogans, but with actions and cutting taxes for the middle class. From 6.45 to 5.5 for those making 40 to 150 and from 6.65 to 6 percent for those making 150 to 300. My friends, this is going to be the lowest middle class tax rate since 1947. That is so long ago that even I wasn’t alive then.

While the federal government is making college less affordable, we must expand our Excelsior Free College Program that helps children of our anxious middle class and tells every child in New York, their dreams can be realized and their future can be brighter. That if they get into college, they will not be denied because they can’t afford it because they are children of the Family of New York, rich or poor, we will pay their tuition.

And in the same spirit, we must include our young new immigrants and we must pass the Dream Act this year.

We must continue to attack the highest tax burden in the state. Not a state tax, but the cost of local government. Our local property tax. Railed against by FDR, repeatedly. Who actually prophesized the growing local property tax was going to be a major economic problem for the state. And it is. Property taxes now are nearly three times what the state income tax is. Our property taxes have long been an obstacle to growth but today, the federal SALT provision, it is an economic cancer. Property taxes have just been raised by the federal tax plan 20 to 25 percent. It will be an unbearable financial burden for many. Look at the response already. Last week we announced an emergency executive order on Long Island allowing people to prepay their property taxes. Thousands and thousands of New Yorkers stood on lines for hours in frigid temperatures to prepay next year’s property taxes so they could get the deduction. All across the state. That’s the level of fear, that people would go to that extent. That’s what we’re dealing with. We must increase the efforts by local governments to reduce costs. I know it’s politically difficult. I know in every town, in every village everyone has their own fiefdom, their own rights, their own obligations. But I also know it’s a matter of economic survival. We know it can be done. Last year for the first time we said to county executives, you bring all those local governments together and you put them in one room and you talk to each other and you come up with a plan to save funding. And you know what? They did it. They stepped up. 34 counties submitted plans that will lead to more than 200 million dollars in savings. But, we must do more. Because property taxes are now toxic to our economy and our stability. And that is going to be at the top of our agenda for this year. Working with local governments. Working with county executives. Finding ways to get those property taxes down so the federal increase does not derail the progress of the state of New York.

We must continue to attract and create the jobs of tomorrow. And we must do it today. Every president has told us the same thing: it’s about improving our infrastructure, the New York difference is we don’t promise it, or propose it or talk about it – we do it. Good government is about action. We must continue to exercise our New York muscle and imagination. The New York spirit that built the tallest buildings and the longest bridges that defy gravity, pessimism and the naysayers. We have proven we can do it and do it well. Now we must do more of it. We must accelerate the modernization of our airports in New York City and all across upstate. We must accelerate our air train to LaGuardia so that every major city in the world has a train to the plane. We must open our transportation deserts and have the Port Authority and the MTA consider relocating the Red Hook Marine Terminal and explore whether Red Hook has enough transportation alternatives, or if they should study the possibility of a new subway line to stimulate Red Hook’s community-based development the way we did on the west side of Manhattan and East side line. We should continue to peruse a tunnel from Long Island to Westchester or Connecticut. DOT has determined it’s feasible, it would be under water, it would be invisible, it would reduce traffic on the impossibly congested Long Island Expressway and would offer significant potential private investment. We will also accelerate the Long Island Railroad modernization, it’s long overdue but it’s critical to the economy.

In 2018 as part of our $6.6 billion LIRR transformation plan we’ll finish the double track on the Ronkonkoma Line and we will finish it 16 months ahead of schedule and we will then and we will then begin construction of the third track along the main line which carries 40 percent of the LIRR riders. We are also rebuilding 39 stations. All together 100 projects which will transform the Long Island Railroad and transform the quality of life on Long Island finally thanks to you. We also had really good news several weeks ago when it was announced that the New York Islanders are moving back home to Long Island. And they are going to build a $1 billion hockey stadium at Belmont Racetrack. That’s how much they believe in Long Island. We have with us the owners of the Islanders, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. Could you please stand? Let’s give them a round of applause for believing in New York. We also have defenseman Calvin De Haan and left-wing Nikolay Kulemin. Stand up and let’s give them a round of applause and thank you for being here. Welcome back to Long Island.

A new economy is growing Upstate and we can’t allow a federal tax plan to derail our progress there. The Regional Economic Development Councils have done a great jobs with 6,300 development projects underway. Every region has seen a drop in unemployment and underemployment. This year will we start by continuing the REDCs and also bring cashless tolling to the New York State thruway system because we should make it faster and cleaner the way it’s working so well in downstate New York. We have new projects like Rock the Riverway in Rochester which will transform the Genesee Waterfront into a destination center and make Joe Morelli very happy. In the Southern Tier our development of the hemp industry will continue by partnering on a new hemp processing facility. In Syracuse we will do a DEIS for Route 81 as a tunnel and or as a community grid so we can look at both options and we’re going to proceed on the Inland Port at DeWitt because they’ve been talking for too long and doing too little and we’re going to make it a reality. And we also have great news in Syracuse and I want to congratulate Syracuse in Central New York today. We’re proud to announce that the AAA New York Chiefs will soon be the AAA New York Mets playing in Syracuse for Central New York. They are here with us today. Mets Owner Jeff Wilpon please stand up, Jeff. Richard Brown Managing Partner of Sterling Equities, Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson. Yay Sandy. Mets Manager Mickey Callaway, Mets Infielder and the Bronx’s own T.J. Rivera. And Mets outfielder Brandan Nimmo. Thank you guys welcome to Central New York. Congratulations County Executive Mahoney. That is great news.

The I Love New York campaign has revealed the secret that we have kept for too long. The secret is the beauty and the history of our state. Since 2011, our $200 million tourism investment has seen tourism spending increase $18 billion. That’s an investment my friends. And we should continue new modernization investments in Bellayre, Gore, and Whiteface Mountains to make them first rate ski resorts. We’re proposing a new history trail leading to Elon in the Hudson Valley, expediting a new exposition center in Syracuse which will be the largest exposition center in the northeast to continue to continue to attract tourists. It’s about jobs, jobs and jobs and tourism means jobs in Upstate New York so let’s do it because that’s where we need the jobs.

While our federal government is deconstructing parks, we believe they are a national treasure. We are going to increase our commission to our state parks – $63 million investment in Upstate parks, we’re going to build a new state park in Brooklyn, New York, 407 acres on Jamaica Bay. It’s going to be the largest park in New York City. And we have the Hudson River Park in New York City which is on the Manhattan west side. It was started by my father and Mayor Dinkins. It was supposed to be finished in 2003. It was derailed by ongoing disputes. We now have settled the disputes. We now have a full completion plan that completes the park from Battery Park City to 59th Street. We should finalize this amazing finishing and complete Manhattan’s west side. Let’s do it this year.

Now ladies and gentlemen, I am a realist. I know that this an ambitious agenda and I know it is probably the most challenging agenda that I have ever put forth. But these are challenging times, and we have to rise to the challenge for the very survival of our state. $4 billion deficit economic challenges, social wrongs, and a federal assault. All at once. This small-minded and the naysayers are going to forecast gloom and doom. Negativity is the dominant feeling in today’s political environment. But this is New York, and that is not the New York way. The New York way is to make the seemingly impossible, possible. You tell us we can’t do it; you only get us excited to show you we can. And we have done it time and time again and we have the track record to prove it. I want you to remember and appreciate what you’ve done. So when you’re looking at these challenges and you’re thinking about these challenges this year and you’re saying well jeez I don’t know if we can get it done, remember what we are doing. Remember what we have overcome. You have done and you have accomplished more than any administration in modern history. Just think about it.

We’re building new airports at LaGuardia, JFK, Rochester, Syracuse, Plattsburgh, Elmira, Corning, and at Stewart. We’re building new train stations in Schenectady, Niagara Falls, Rochester, a new Moynihan train hall at Penn which is transforming the Long Island Railroad. We’re building the Exposition Center at the State Fair, a new Jacob Javits Convention Center, the new Albany Convention Center, cashless tolling all across the state, the Woodbury Transit Hub, the University of Buffalo Medical School, the Buffalo Children’s Hospital. We’re building a new Utica Hospital, we’re building a new Kosciuszko Bridge, a national comedy center in Jamestown, we’re building new Upstate tourism resorts—state of the art from the ground up. We have a Tesla Panasonic Plant that we built in Buffalo, a Legoland Theme Park in the Hudson Valley, the Rochester Data Consortium. We are revitalizing Jones Beach, updating Gore Whiteface in Belleayre, we’re expanding Alstom in the Southern Tier, we’re expanding GM in Western New York, we’re expanding Welsh Island in Skinny Atlas, we’re attracting XX in Rochester, we’re attracting DanFoss to Utica, we’re attracting Soft Defense Company to Syracuse, attracting the North Titanium Plant to Plattsburgh, we’re creating a new healthcare system in Brooklyn called Vital Brooklyn, and we’re building the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

So, don’t tell me we can’t do it, because we can. There is nothing that we have put our minds to that we haven’t accomplished. And it’s not just about the projects we have built. That’s great, and that’s great for the economy. But in some ways, what’s even more special to me, is the lives that we have changed, the civil rights that we have created, the dignity that we have given people, and we have some of them here today, and I would ask them to stand when they were acknowledged. Those we helped when we said love doesn’t discriminate and we passed marriage equality for all New Yorkers. Those we helped when we said we believe people deserve a fair wage for a fair day’s work, and you shouldn’t have to choose between paying rent and paying for food, and we passed the minimum wage – stand up. Those we helped when we said live your life in dignity and we passed paid family leave – stand up. Those we helped when we passed Raise the Age and gave them a second chance – stand up. Those we protected when we passed Enough is Enough and stopped sexual assault – stand up. Those we helped when we passed the Excelsior scholarship program – stand up. Those we helped when we passed the first special prosecutor in the nation against police violence and minorities – stand up. Let’s thank them all for being here today – give them a big round of applause.

Thank you. And we thank our legislators, our members of the Senate, our members of the Assembly – wait, let me tell you why. We thank our legislators because they understand that political extremism leads to polarization, paralysis and gridlock, and in gridlock everyone loses. And they understand that government is about doing good things for people, and moving the state forward. And they have the professionalism to remember that we may be democrats, we may be republicans, but we are New Yorkers first and that’s how we act. We find common ground and we move forward. Senate, Assembly – stand up, thank you for everything you’ve done. Thank you for all the laws you’ve passed. Thank you for passing the budgets on time. Thank you for 15 dollars. Thank you for all the lives you’ve changed.

So, in closing my friends, a few weeks ago I turned 60 years old. There is no good news about turning 60 years old. They say, “Well, 60 is the new 50.” 50 stinks too. There’s nothing, and there’s nothing even to look forward to. The only thing you can say now is it’s better than the alternative. Most days it is. But you turn 60, life gets a little simpler, and it gets a little clearer. You’re living in the world that we’re living in now that is frightening at times, that is challenging at times, and you start to think about what really matters, and what’s the best thing we can really be doing to help each other and to help this state. And I will tell you the God’s-honest truth. I’m not afraid about the economics and the federal assault and the four billion dollars and the six billion – that’s hard, but we know how to do that, and we will do that, and we’ve done it before. My greatest fear is the division that is spreading among our people. We have seen more anti-Semitism, more racial attacks, more religious tensions than in decades – all across the state.

Now, I understand the emotions: the country is searching its way through a challenging period and a confusing period. The economy is changing, there’s terrorism, Mother Nature’s constant bombardment, the unnerving constant pace of change in society. So anxiety is at a fever pitch. You feel it up around your neck. And now there’s a negative synergy, a sense that we are out of control, and that breeds a fear, and that fear breeds an anger, and that anger breeds a division, and that division makes us smaller and weaker. Our internal divisions are a cancer to our body politic. And our federal government is furthering the divisions. They govern by dividing. It’s winners versus losers, it’s rich versus middle class versus poor, it’s black versus white, it’s red states versus blue states, it’s documented versus undocumented, gay versus straight, Muslims versus Jews versus Christians. It’s always pitting one group against the other. It’s always conflict. It’s always either or, and much harm has been done. As the greatest Republican president Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” But our obligation as leaders is not just to say what we are against, but also what we support.

Our obligation as leaders is not just to criticize, but to offer an alternative – and we do. New York follows a different path. New York believes that there is no future through division, but only through unity. The New York Way is to believe diversity is not a liability; it is the exact opposite. Diversity is our greatest asset. We celebrate it. The New York Way is that tolerance is expected from all and inclusion is our operating principle, and forging community is our ultimate goal. 18 million New Yorkers from 190 countries, all immigrants, all newcomers, virtually all poor and in search of opportunity, all invited here by the same invitation extended by the great lady who stands in our harbor.

For Kathy Hochul and John Flanagan’s families from Ireland, for Carl Heastie family from the Bahamas, Tom DiNapoli’s family from Italy, Eric Schneiderman’s family from Russia – invited to forge one family: the family of New York. Gay and straight, white and black and brown, upstate and downstate – all working together, focusing on what unites us rather than divides us and then building on that commonality. Now, this is not a new principle. It’s not a democratic or republican idea, nor is it even uniquely New York.

It is an idea proven over 240 years. It is the nation’s founding premise and enduring promise. It is our Founding Fathers’ essential wisdom summed up in just three words: e pluribus unum. Out of many, one. So fundamental to the American idea that in 1782 they stitched the words on the great seal of the United States, and that seal and those words are on the flag that has hung in the Oval Office every day since. Right behind President Trump’s desk. To find the way forward, the president only needs to turn around.

That, my friends, is the true formula for what makes America great. That is the simple yet profound idea that made America the greatest country on the globe. And New York – New York was the laboratory for that idea. We proved that it worked in 1782, and we proved that it works today. This year, let us show what New York is at its best. Let us show this nation the New York lesson: that at times of trouble and anxiety, the premise that made America great still guides us. That we do not seek to raise ourselves by pulling another down, but rather believe we succeed by raising each other up. That is the New York Way. And the New York Way is true north. 

And our true north is to follow the credo on our great seal of the State of New York: always reach higher, always hear our better angels, always aspire to unify, and always point up. 

Excelsior! Thank you and God bless you.

 

Donald Trump Issues Statement Disavowing Steve Bannon

Protestors outnumbered supporters as Trump’s limousine rides down the Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural parade, Jan. 20, 2017 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald Trump issued this statement concerning Steve Bannon:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party.

Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base—he’s only in it for himself.

Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was. It is the only thing he does well. Steve was rarely in a one-on-one meeting with me and only pretends to have had influence to fool a few people with no access and no clue, whom he helped write phony books.

We have many great Republican members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

 

History is Made as Laura Curran Sworn in as Nassau County Executive

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo administers the oath of office to Laura Curran, Nassau County Executive, with her family, husband John and daughters Julie, Claire and Molly © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com County Executive

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Laura Curran made history when she was sworn in as Nassau County’s first woman County Executive. In her inaugural speech, delivered on the steps of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building in bone-chilling cold, she reaffirmed her commitment to restoring trust and respect for government.

Governor Andrew Cuomo did the honors of administering the oath of office, noting that since his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, passed away on January 1 two years ago, just a short time after seeing his son give his second inaugural speech, he has preferred to mark the day quietly, but could not resist being part of Curran’s inauguration. “Because this is a special day, and these are no ordinary times and Laura Curran is no ordinary person.”

Governor Cuomo says of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran: “Laura has the strength, the courage, the leadership, that we need to make a difference and go forward.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“On a selfish level,” he said, “I am excited to have a great partner as county executive. We’re doing a lot of great things in Nassau. We’re rebuilding the Long Island Railroad finally, finally, finally. Six-billion-dollar project. We are cleaning up the groundwater with the Grumman plume, we’re going to make that happen this year. We’re fixing our parks. We’re doing a lot together, to have a good partner.

“And we are under assault by a federal government that is very good at doing bad things to the state of New York. Their tax reform plan can really unsettle this state. It’s a real challenge for Nassau with the deductibility of state and local taxes, it’s going to make the finances worse. We’re going to need a leader with real courage, real energy and a leader who understands there is no simple solution.

“I am excited that Laura is not a typical politician because there are no typical solutions to what we’re going through. Laura has the strength, the courage, the leadership, that we need to make a difference and go forward. We are honored and blessed to have her.”

Laura Curran in her inaugural speech as Nassau County Executive: “We can meet these challenges if we recognize these are not partisan issues, they are Nassau issues.” © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Curran, in her inaugural speech, acknowledged what Cuomo is doing including the Long Island Railroad third track and bringing back the Islanders to Nassau, with the $1 billion Belmont project.

But she emphasized the overarching challenge to her administration: restoring trust and respect for government.

She said that no county official would hold an office in a political party and staff would be barred from donating or participating in fundraising for her campaign.

“We face serious challenges – getting our financial house in order and firing NIFA; making assessments fair; dynamic economic development to grow the tax base, attract good jobs at good wages and keep our young people.”

Despite the frigid cold, Laura Curran’s inauguration as Nassau County Executive was well attended © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

She focused on her vision for smart development of downtowns, finally moving forward with the transformation of the Hub to economic viability.

“We can meet these challenges if we recognize these are not partisan issues, they are Nassau issues.”

She thanked the County Legislature for voting unanimously to create the Office of Inspector General.

“We must protect our communities, our environment, our diverse population.

“I’m here to make the tough decisions. I have heard your call. Now it is time for action.”

US Senator Charles Schumer, with Laura Curran and Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray, notes that history has been made with Nassau County’s first woman executive © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Also on hand with congratulatory remarks were Senator Charles Schumer, who mercifully tore up his speech except to acknowledge Curran’s achievement as Nassau County’s first woman executive, in what has signs of being “The Year of the Woman.”

Also participating in the program were Mayor Francis Murray of the Village of Rockville Centre; Pastor Stephen Lewis of Bethel AME Church, Monsignor Steven R. Camp of the Church of St. Patrick, Imam Mufti Farhan of the Islamic Center of Long Island, and Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola.

Underscoring Nassau County’s diversity, participating in the swearing in ceremony of Laura Curran as Nassau County Executive were Monsignor Steven R. Camp of the Church of St. Patrick, Imam Mufti Farhan of the Islamic Center of Long Island, and Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola and Pastor Stephen Lewis of Bethel AME Church (not shown) © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Katherine Rice, NYS Assemblyman Tony D’Urso, Hempstead’s newly inaugurated Town Supervision Laura Gillen, Suffolk County Executive Steve Ballone, the incoming Comptroller Jack Schnirman and reelected County Clerk Maureen O’Connell, plus most of the County Legislators were in attendance.

In attendance: Laura Gillen, the new Hempstead Town Supervisor; Congressmembers Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice © 2018 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Curran was also supported by Congressman Tom Suozzi, who she acknowledged as having been a predecessor, along with Tom Gulotta, a Republican, who was in the audience. She acknowledged the help that outgoing County Executive Ed Mangano provided during the transition.

Despite the frigid cold (hand warmers were provided), the inauguration was well attended.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump/Sessions Anti-Immigrant Policy Requires Novel Theory of Constitution: Citizens Only

US Supreme Court Building, DC. The Trump/Sessions anti-immigration policy relies on a novel theory of the Constitution: that it does not apply to noncitizens © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

The question that came to my mind as I listened to Natanya Briendel, director of the Westchester Division at the Pace Women’s Justice Center, speak at the monthly meeting of Reach Out America, a Long Island-based activist group, was how Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ roundups of undocumented immigrants rests on a concept that the Constitution – specifically due process – does not apply to non-citizens. Technically, then, any foreigner in the United States could be picked up and denied habeas corpus – the right to appear speedily in front of a judge, hear the charges and put up a defense.

She described situations where people are being rounded up based on an accusation, and if they are undocumented, immediately incarcerated and deported.  No warrant. No reasonable cause to justify a search. No right to legal counsel or even a hearing before a judge.

Even people who are claiming asylum based on escaping violence in their home country, are treated as if they were criminals.

The result has been sheer terror for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Why so many? Because Republicans going back to Reagan have refused to establish a workable immigration program; during Obama’s Administration, the House Republicans literally shoved a Comprehensive Immigration bill in the desk and never voted on it. Employers have benefited from having a pool of people who are abused, cheated, and treated like indentured servants.

Here in Long Island, we have an instance where just being Hispanic renders a high school student vulnerable to accusations of membership in the dreaded M-13 gang based on what colors you wear to school.

Donald Trump in his national security speech (really a rehash of his dystopian inaugural address), equates all immigrants as terrorists, regardless if they have lived, worked and paid taxes in the United States for decades, describing the need to shut off refugees, cancel DACA, end the possibility of family members obtaining legal status. Even individuals currently serving in the military, who were promised citizenship at the end of their tour, will be subject to deportation.

Our strategy advances four vital national interests.  First, we must protect the American people, the homeland, and our great American way of life.  This strategy recognizes that we cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders.  So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.  It calls for the construction of a wall on our southern border; ending chain migration and the horrible visa and lottery programs; closing loopholes that undermine enforcement; and strongly supporting our Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, and Homeland Security personnel.”

The callousness, the stupidity, the sheer contradiction of American values, principles, and law.

Meanwhile, 12,762 DACA recipients – 122 a day – have lost their protected status since September 5, when President Trump rescinded the executive order that protected immigrants who arrived here as children from deportation, who were raised in the United States which is the only country they know. Trump gave a deadline of March, but the Republican Congress has shown it doesn’t actually care. Trump has reneged on the “deal” he appeared to make with Schumer and Pelosi; Democrats have threatened to use the only leverage they have – shutting down government by refusing to reauthorize a budget resolution – but that is unlikely.

Immigrants are no longer welcome. That is, unless the immigrant can buy a visa by investing $500,000 in a Trump family real estate venture,  or a migrant imported to work at Mar-a-Lago (when there are tens of thousands of Puerto Rican hotel workers who lost their jobs after Maria and have sought refuge in Florida – why is he not hiring them? Answer: because they can register to vote in Florida. After all, Puerto Ricans are American citizens.)

“Critics say that if passed, the reform [of the H-2A agricultural visa program] could lead to millions of virtually indentured workers,” writes Simon Davis-Cohen in Truthout. (“Republicans Push Bill to Strip Migrant Workers of Their Few Rights, Undercut US Workers”)

On the other hand, the way Trump and Sessions are inflicting their might, it means that undocumented individuals are no longer protected by law – they can be physically abused by a spouse, cheated by an employer of their wages, have their children taken from them without recourse to seek custody. They have no way of protecting their civil rights, their human rights, because the courthouse has become a locus for them to be snatched up by immigration officers. They are fearful to report crimes; certainly to warn officials of any terror threats.

Here on Long Island – the very place where Trump gave a speech suggesting that police officers don’t have to be “so nice” when they stuff someone into their patrol car, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office Monday, arguing that it lacks authority under state law to honor detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Detainers ask local officers to hold immigrants after they would otherwise be released from custody. This suit seeks the release of Susai Francis, a resident of Long Island for 21 years, where he has raised two sons, who should have been released after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct but instead was being held for ICE in a Suffolk County jail.

“Not only should local law enforcement reject the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, but state law is also clear that local law enforcement can’t violate people’s rights in order to do ICE’s bidding,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The role of local law enforcement is to protect and serve all New Yorkers, and that is incompatible with the unlawful detention of our neighbors and family members at the behest of the Trump deportation machine.”

The day before Trump gave his national security speech calling again for a border wall and shutting down immigration, and offering not a crumb of possibility of the comprehensive immigration reform that should have been in place for 30 years so that people can get some legal status and not live in the shadows where they can be exploited, was United Nations International Migrants Day. Not a peep from the White House. Instead, the United States announced it would end participation in the UN process to develop a Global Compact on Migration (GCM) based on the claim that it would undermine “sovereignty”.

With civil war, ethnic conflict, gang violence, drought, famine, floods, wildfires and climate disasters, there are the largest number of refugees and displaced people in numbers not seen since World War II: 40 8 million displaced people worldwide as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015; an estimated 64 million are impacted by climate.

(Trump, in his national security speech, dismissed climate change as a national security threat, suggesting instead that increasing American energy production would be the counter balance.)

Immigrants are lumped together.  “You think the countries are giving us their best people? No. What kind of a system is that?”Trump said at a press conference. “They give us their worst people, they put them in a bin, but in his hand when he’s picking them is really the worst of the worst.”

Trump’s view – big on a wall stretching along the southern border, a travel ban which shuts down access from six Muslim majority nations (none of which have been responsible for terrorism in the US), reducing the number of refugees who will be accepted to a trickle (45,000) while threatening to throw out others (Haitians, Nicaraguans) – is to pull up the drawbridge, much like the Soviet Union’s Iron Curtain or China’s Bamboo Curtain, and keep us equally isolated and ignorant, reciting the Trump mantra of America’s Greatness.

Combined with banning words and phrases at agencies, scrubbing reports and websites, spying on federal workers, Trump’s declaration is more ominous: “With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.

It is more: the disdain for civil rights for noncitizens within our borders means that the Trump Doctrine, which we now know is purely transactional, means that there is zero interest in upholding human rights.

“We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

Trump’s view, enabled by the Republican Congress, is so warped. But there is another way: reauthorize DACA with a path to citizenship; provide legal status (not citizenship) for people who came illegally but who have worked and made homes here and have no significant criminal record, particularly the parents of DACA recipients and American children; have vetting for travelers, but accept travelers; exercise moral responsibility in accepting refugees, helping resettle refugees, and contributing funds toward refugee communities. And participate in the world to reduce the causes for refugees, migrants and immigrants: help end the conflicts and violence that sets people on their precarious journey; address climate change that is resulting in communities being uninhabitable; and advance the quality of life in these countries.

None of these generators of the desperation that motivates people to uproot their lives and take a treacherous journey to a strange place are satisfied by Trump’s “national security strategy” which puts American First and to hell with the rest of the world.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Trump National Security Strategy: Up With the Wall, Down with Climate Action, Human Rights

Donald Trump outlines the Trump Doctrine in his National Security Strategy speech © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Donald Trump’s “National Security Strategy” speech which he delivered at the Reagan Building on Dec. 18 is a rehash of his inaugural address which painted a dystopian view of the nation (“carnage”) and the world. He suggests that he is the first president to care about national security: “So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.” Notably, Trump’s national security strategy ignores the biggest national security threat the nation faces: climate change. He uses the speech to further his anti-immigrant policy, to again call for a wall, to advance tax cuts, and a policy of “liberating” the economy by eliminating regulations.

Combined with banning words and phrases at agencies like the CDC, scrubbing reports and websites from the EPA, spying on federal workers, Trump’s declaration is more ominous: “With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride.”

While George W. Bush’s national security strategy boiled down to preemption, the Trump Doctrine is purely transactional, means that there is zero interest in upholding human rights.

“We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace.”

China blasted Trump’s national security strategy saying, “It is completely selfish for a country to claim that its own interests are superior to the interests of other countries and to the shared interests of the international community. This mentality will only lead to isolation,” the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.

“We call on the United States to abandon its outdated zero-sum thinking, and work together with China to seek common ground and engage in win-win cooperation,” the embassy said.

Here is a highlighted and annotated White House transcript:

December 18, 2017

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S

NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Washington, D.C.

2:03 P.M. EST

…We’re here today to discuss matters of vital importance to us all:  America’s security, prosperity, and standing in the world.  I want to talk about where we’ve been, where we are now, and, finally, our strategy for where we are going in the years ahead.

Over the past 11 months, I have traveled tens of thousands of miles to visit 13 countries.  I have met with more than 100 world leaders.  I have carried America’s message to a grand hall in Saudi Arabia, a great square in Warsaw, to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and to the seat of democracy on the Korean Peninsula.  Everywhere I traveled, it was my highest privilege and greatest honor to represent the American people.

Throughout our history, the American people have always been the true source of American greatness.  Our people have promoted our culture and promoted our values.  Americans have fought and sacrificed on the battlefields all over the world.  We have liberated captive nations, transformed former enemies into the best of friends, and lifted entire regions of the planet from poverty to prosperity.

Because of our people, America has been among the greatest forces for peace and justice in the history of the world.  The American people are generous.  You are determined, you are brave, you are strong, and you are wise.

When the American people speak, all of us should listen.  And just over one year ago, you spoke loud and you spoke clear.  On November 8, 2016, you voted to make America great again.  (Applause.)  You embraced new leadership and very new strategies, and also a glorious new hope.  That is why we are here today.

But to seize the opportunities of the future, we must first understand the failures of the past.  For many years, our citizens watched as Washington politicians presided over one disappointment after another.  To many of our leaders — so many who forgot whose voices they were to respect and whose interests they were supposed to defend — our leaders in Washington negotiated disastrous trade deals that brought massive profits to many foreign nations, but sent thousands of American factories, and millions of American jobs, to those other countries.

Our leaders engaged in nation-building abroad, while they failed to build up and replenish our nation at home.  They undercut and shortchanged our men and women in uniform with inadequate resources, unstable funding, and unclear missions.  They failed to insist that our often very wealthy allies pay their fair share for defense, putting a massive and unfair burden on the U.S. taxpayer and our great U.S. military.

They neglected a nuclear menace in North Korea; made a disastrous, weak, and incomprehensibly bad deal with Iran; and allowed terrorists such as ISIS to gain control of vast parts of territory all across the Middle East.

They put American energy under lock and key.  They imposed punishing regulations and crippling taxes.  They surrendered our sovereignty to foreign bureaucrats in faraway and distant capitals.

And over the profound objections of the American people, our politicians left our borders wide open.  Millions of immigrants entered illegally.  Millions more were admitted into our country without the proper vetting needed to protect our security and our economy.  Leaders in Washington imposed on the country an immigration policy that Americans never voted for, never asked for, and never approved — a policy where the wrong people are allowed into our country and the right people are rejected.  American citizens, as usual, have been left to bear the cost and to pick up the tab. 

On top of everything else, our leaders drifted from American principles.  They lost sight of America’s destiny.  And they lost their belief in American greatness.  As a result, our citizens lost something as well.  The people lost confidence in their government and, eventually, even lost confidence in their future.

But last year, all of that began to change.  The American people rejected the failures of the past.  You rediscovered your voice and reclaimed ownership of this nation and its destiny.

On January 20th, 2017, I stood on the steps of the Capitol to herald the day the people became the rulers of their nation again.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Now, less than one year later, I am proud to report that the entire world has heard the news and has already seen the signs.  America is coming back, and America is coming back strong.

Upon my inauguration, I announced that the United States would return to a simple principle:  The first duty of our government is to serve its citizens, many of whom have been forgotten.  But they are not forgotten anymore.  With every decision and every action, we are now putting America first.

We are rebuilding our nation, our confidence, and our standing in the world.  We have moved swiftly to confront our challenges, and we have confronted them head-on.

We are once again investing in our defense — almost $700 billion, a record, this coming year.  We are demanding extraordinary strength, which will hopefully lead to long and extraordinary peace.  We are giving our courageous military men and women the support they need and so dearly deserve.

We have withdrawn the United States from job-killing deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the very expensive and unfair Paris Climate Accord.  And on our trip to Asia last month, I announced that we will no longer tolerate trading abuse.

We have established strict new vetting procedures to keep terrorists out of the United States, and our vetting is getting tougher each month.

To counter Iran and block its path to a nuclear weapon, I sanctioned the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support of terrorism, and I declined to certify the Iran Deal to Congress.

Following my trip to the Middle East, the Gulf states and other Muslim-majority nations joined together to fight radical Islamist ideology and terrorist financing.  We have dealt ISIS one devastating defeat after another.  The coalition to defeat ISIS has now recaptured almost 100 percent of the land once held by these terrorists in Iraq and Syria.  Great job.  (Applause.)  Great job.  Really good.  Thank you.  Thank you.  We have a great military.  We’re now chasing them wherever they flee, and we will not let them into the United States.

In Afghanistan, our troops are no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies of our plans.  We are beginning to see results on the battlefield.  And we have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory.  And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan.  They have to help.

Our efforts to strengthen the NATO Alliance set the stage for significant increases in member contributions, with tens of billions of dollars more pouring in because I would not allow member states to be delinquent in the payment while we guarantee their safety and are willing to fight wars for them.  We have made clear that countries that are immensely wealthy should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them.  This is a major departure from the past, but a fair and necessary one — necessary for our country, necessary for our taxpayer, necessary for our own thought process.

Our campaign of maximum pressure on the North Korean regime has resulted in the toughest-ever sanctions.  We have united our allies in an unprecedented effort to isolate North Korea.  However, there is much more work to do.  America and its allies will take all necessary steps to achieve a denuclearization and ensure that this regime cannot threaten the world.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  This situation should have been taken care of long before I got into office, when it was much easier to handle.  But it will be taken care of.  We have no choice.

At home, we are keeping our promises and liberating the American economy.  We have created more than 2 million jobs since the election.  Unemployment is at a 17-year-low.  The stock market is at an all-time high and, just a little while ago, hit yet another all-time high — the 85th time since my election.  (Applause.)

We have cut 22 regulations for every one new regulation, the most in the history of our country.  We have unlocked America’s vast energy resources.

As the world watches — and the world is indeed watching — we are days away from passing historic tax cuts for American families and businesses.  It will be the biggest tax cut and tax reform in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

And we are seeing the response we fully expected.  Economic growth has topped 3 percent for two quarters in a row.  GDP growth, which is way ahead of schedule under my administration, will be one of America’s truly greatest weapons.

Optimism has surged.  Confidence has returned.  With this new confidence, we are also bringing back clarity to our thinking.  We are reasserting these fundamental truths:

A nation without borders is not a nation.  (Applause.)

A nation that does not protect prosperity at home cannot protect its interests abroad.

A nation that is not prepared to win a war is a nation not capable of preventing a war.

A nation that is not proud of its history cannot be confident in its future.

And a nation that is not certain of its values cannot summon the will to defend them.

Today, grounded in these truths, we are presenting to the world our new National Security Strategy.  Based on my direction, this document has been in development for over a year.  It has the endorsement of my entire Cabinet.

Our new strategy is based on a principled realism, guided by our vital national interests, and rooted in our timeless values.

This strategy recognizes that, whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition.  We accept that vigorous military, economic, and political contests are now playing out all around the world.

We face rogue regimes that threaten the United States and our allies.  We face terrorist organizations, transnational criminal networks, and others who spread violence and evil around the globe.

We also face rival powers, Russia and China, that seek to challenge American influence, values, and wealth.  We will attempt to build a great partnership with those and other countries, but in a manner that always protects our national interest.

As an example, yesterday I received a call from President Putin of Russia thanking our country for the intelligence that our CIA was able to provide them concerning a major terrorist attack planned in St. Petersburg, where many people, perhaps in the thousands, could have been killed.  They were able to apprehend these terrorists before the event, with no loss of life.  And that’s a great thing, and the way it’s supposed to work.  That is the way it’s supposed to work.

But while we seek such opportunities of cooperation, we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

We know that American success is not a forgone conclusion.  It must be earned and it must be won.  Our rivals are tough, they’re tenacious, and committed to the long term.  But so are we. 

To succeed, we must integrate every dimension of our national strength, and we must compete with every instrument of our national power.

Under the Trump administration, America is gaining wealth, leading to enhanced power — faster than anyone thought — with $6 trillion more in the stock market alone since the election — $6 trillion.

With the strategy I am announcing today, we are declaring that America is in the game and America is going to win.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Our strategy advances four vital national interests.  First, we must protect the American people, the homeland, and our great American way of life.  This strategy recognizes that we cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders.  So for the first time ever, American strategy now includes a serious plan to defend our homeland.  It calls for the construction of a wall on our southern border; ending chain migration and the horrible visa and lottery programs; closing loopholes that undermine enforcement; and strongly supporting our Border Patrol agents, ICE officers, and Homeland Security personnel.  (Applause.)

In addition, our strategy calls for us to confront, discredit, and defeat radical Islamic terrorism and ideology and to prevent it from spreading into the United States.  And we will develop new ways to counter those who use new domains, such as cyber and social media, to attack our nation or threaten our society.

The second pillar of our strategy is to promote American prosperity.  For the first time, American strategy recognizes that economic security is national security.  Economic vitality, growth, and prosperity at home is absolutely necessary for American power and influence abroad.  Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both.

That is why this National Security Strategy emphasizes, more than any before, the critical steps we must take to ensure the prosperity of our nation for a long, long time to come.

It calls for cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations.  It calls for trade based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity.  It calls for firm action against unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft.  And it calls for new steps to protect our national security industrial and innovation base.

The strategy proposes a complete rebuilding of American infrastructure — our roads, bridges, airports, waterways, and communications infrastructure.  And it embraces a future of American energy dominance and self-sufficiency.

[Where is the money coming from? Where is the $300 billion to rebuild after 2017 climate disasters?] 

The third pillar of our strategy is to preserve peace through strength.  (Applause.)  We recognize that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unrivaled power is the most certain means of defense.  For this reason, our strategy breaks from the damaging defense sequester.  We’re going to get rid of that.  (Applause.)

It calls for a total modernization of our military, and reversing previous decisions to shrink our armed forces — even as threats to national security grew.  It calls for streamlining acquisition, eliminating bloated bureaucracy, and massively building up our military, which has the fundamental side benefit of creating millions and millions of jobs.

This strategy includes plans to counter modern threats, such as cyber and electromagnetic attacks.  It recognizes space as a competitive domain and calls for multi-layered missile defense.  (Applause.)  This strategy outlines important steps to address new forms of conflict such as economic and political aggression.

[He signaled his interest in militarizing space in his call to Americans in the international space station.]

And our strategy emphasizes strengthening alliances to cope with these threats.  It recognizes that our strength is magnified by allies who share principles — and our principles — and shoulder their fair share of responsibility for our common security.

Fourth and finally, our strategy is to advance American influence in the world, but this begins with building up our wealth and power at home.

America will lead again.  We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but we will champion the values without apology.  We want strong alliances and partnerships based on cooperation and reciprocity.  We will make new partnerships with those who share our goals, and make common interests into a common cause.  We will not allow inflexible ideology to become an obsolete and obstacle to peace. 

[America was leading just fine under Obama – ie. Paris Climate Agreement, Iran Nuclear Agreement, getting Syria to get rid of chemical weapons, TPP. Second: he is talking about purely transactional agreements, the US will no longer be bothered defending human rights.]

We will pursue the vision we have carried around the world over this past year — a vision of strong, sovereign, and independent nations that respect their citizens and respect their neighbors; nations that thrive in commerce and cooperation, rooted in their histories and branching out toward their destinies.

That is the future we wish for this world, and that is the future we seek in America.  (Applause.)

With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. 

[By that he means a return to McCarthyism.]

And we are returning to the wisdom of our founders.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  What we have built here in America is precious and unique.  In all of history, never before has freedom reigned, the rule of law prevailed, and the people thrived as we have here for nearly 250 years.

We must love and defend it.  We must guard it with vigilance and spirit, and, if necessary, like so many before us, with our very lives.  And we declare that our will is renewed, our future is regained, and our dreams are restored.

Every American has a role to play in this grand national effort.  And today, I invite every citizen to take their part in our vital mission.  Together, our task is to strengthen our families, to build up our communities, to serve our citizens, and to celebrate American greatness as a shining example to the world.

 [Jingoism] 

As long as we are proud — and very proud — of who we are, how we got here, and what we are fighting for to preserve, we will not fail.

If we do all of this, if we rediscover our resolve and commit ourselves to compete and win again, then together we will leave our children and our grandchildren a nation that is stronger, better, freer, prouder, and, yes, an America that is greater than ever before.

God Bless You.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END                 2:32 P.M. EST

White House Messagers Sugar Coat Trump/Republican Tax Plan, Invoking ‘American Dream’

The US Treasury building is literally next door to the White House. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us,” to prove that the Republican tax cuts would pay for themselves and benefit middle class families, but never produced the analysis, beyond a single-page of hopeful assumptions. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

During a press call previewing Donald Trump’s “closing message to the American people” about the glories of the Republican tax plan supported by less than 25% of Americans, Trump’s leading “messagers” – the people charged with making the deal palatable – had to “research” the American Dream, as if they had never heard of the concept before:

“At the president’s direction, we did research into the concept of American Dream,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Tony Sayegh. “It is interesting what we found, where the concept came from and what it meant. And part was that in the United States, you were not destined to die in the same income class you were born into, children were not destined to have same quality of life that you had, people had the ability to rise. This was unique thing in world history. Most of the world, most of history, born in a certain class and died in that class, children were born and died in same economic class. America [brought the] idea of economic opportunity for all.”

But now, he said with dubious accuracy because this same criticism has arisen since the Reagan “Revolution”, if he in fact bothered to research, “for first time in American history, parents no longer think their children will be better off. …We will bring back the American spirit, that’s what president likes to talk about it. Consumer confidence is at all time high. That kind of optimism is at the core of the message.”

He asserted, “We’re nearing a historic moment in which we will decide the economic future of the nation. We have the power to reject [the notion]  that 2% growth is the new normal and the majority of Americans for first time in history will lose faith that next generation will do better…[We want an] economy that works for all Americans, not just the wealthy and well connected….Ultimately message will be that middle class will no longer just be getting by, finally have the opportunity to get ahead, and that’s what will Make America Great Again.”

When asked about the scores of economists and experts who have challenged the theory that the tax cuts to the wealthiest and corporations will trickle down to working people, that the cumulative impact of the tax plan will hurt working class and middle class Americans, upset the very mechanisms that promote the American Dream (education, health care, home ownership), that it will result in $1.5 trillion added to the national debt which will result in cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and that large majority of Americans oppose the tax plan, White House message strategy director Cliff Sims went on the attack:

”I encourage you to spend a little less time reading [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer’s talking points, and more time reading the plan [which has yet to be finalized or scored]. This plan offers a lot for the middle class…. [The plan] substantially increased child tax credit, $1000 now to $1600 or $2000; nearly doubles standard deduction so a married couple can take $24,000 tax free and more if they itemize; it lowers the tax rate so more income is taxed at lower rates… Quite frankly anyone who says otherwise is purposefully disingenuous or taking a partisan line that doesn’t meet the reality.”

Sayegh  added, “Analysis and studies. The Council of Economic Advisors reported a month ago clearly demonstrates what we are doing on corporate side helps workers, because workers absorb the greatest burden when corporate taxes are high… We know that through analysis, the average worker gets anywhere $4000-$9000.. after policies implemented – because there is a more productive and investment-friendly environment when corporations can compete with significantly lower rate. It is a benefit to hardworking Americans, the American worker.”

Asked where was the analysis that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said  “over 100 people in Treasury are “working around the clock on running scenarios for us,,” Sims said that Treasury “in very rare instances will ever release analysis of a bill that has not already been voted on and passed because as anyone who has followed process understands, there are two bills – House, Senate –there are  differences between them and a final bill will be voted on.”

Sayegh also pushed back against polling which shows the vast majority of Americans believe the tax plan substantially favors the wealthy over working people, pointing to rolling back the estate tax and eliminating the AMT (Alternative Minimum Tax), by which Trump in 2005, in the only 2 pages of his tax returns revealed to the public, shows that he would have saved $30 million in tax payments but for the AMT.

“We’ve poured through this from a lot of angles, political strategy and public opinion. It is abundantly clear that almost every poll nationally cited – CBS, Quinnipiac, Marist – is deliberately trying to shake and manipulate public opinion and not accurately reflect it. Quinnipiac uses a methodology where only 20% of respondents are Republican, 33% are Democrats, 38% are independents –a  preposterous formula. Negative of 12% between Democrats and Republicans is not close to reality – so does not reflect public opinion.”

Sims added “The more people learn about specifics, the more they love it. 61% to 21% supported it after learning we are doubling the standard deduction from $12 to $24K, 54% support only 14% oppose the child tax credit, 54% support only 18% oppose after being informed of basic provisions. Does anyone on the planet not believe Americans don’t want lower taxes, a fairer corporate tax rate that will create more jobs and higher wages? When polls get into specifics…support goes through the roof. When you have polls that try to manipulate, push questions, you get numbers you can put in Chiron or story to manipulate public opinion, but not reflect what Americans feel.”

Except that polling only specific, popular provisions (who doesn’t want higher standard deduction), does not put the whole picture into view: the higher premiums likely to come when the individual mandate for the Affordable Care Act is eliminated; the personhood provision; drilling in the Arctic National Refuge; taxing graduate school fellowships as income; eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes and significantly limiting the mortgage interest deduction, and adding more than $1 trillion to the national debt, which will trigger cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, curtail investment and infrastructure spending.

And no one has asked where the $300 billion to pay for disaster relief just from the 2017 climate catastrophes will come from, or why the Republicans have refused to reauthorize CHIP, which provides access to health care for 9 million children and pregnant mothers.

Meanwhile, Paul Ryan and others have said that the tax plan – precisely because it adds more than $1 trillion to the national debt – will be followed next year by cuts to “entitlements.”

And Trump, in his tax speech in St. Louis said:

“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history; healthcare, phenomenal healthcare. I know you don’t want this — welfare reform. Does anybody want welfare reform? (Applause.) And infrastructure. But welfare reform — I see it and I’ve talked to people. I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform…”

See also:

Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ Is Vision of New Reality in Trump’s America Where Money is Entitlement

Republican Tax Scam: They Don’t Care 85% Oppose. Here’s Why

Republican Tax Plan is Attack on Blue States; Fight Back by Holding Money ‘in Escrow’

Ready the Revolution: GOP Tax Plan Decimates Middle-Class, Gives Rise to New American Aristocracy

Trump Selling Tax Plan in Missouri, the Show Me State: This is going to cost me a fortune, this thing — believe me.

Democrats Should Shut Down Government over Republican Tax Scam

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Trump, Republicans’ Dickens Vision of America: Where Money is Entitlement, ‘Please Sir, I’d Like Some More’

Long Islanders protesting for the 99% against foreclosures by banks too big to fail, bailed out by taxpayers. The Republican tax scam, combined with Trump deregulation and obliteration of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sets up an even greater Recession and foreclosures. Seniors on Long Island, facing the inability to deduct state and local taxes and the likelihood of Republican cuts to Social Security and Medicare, will be forced out of their homes. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

This is supposedly the season of “giving,” of “good will to all mankind.” Not with Donald Trump in the White House.

Trump is so giddy to take credit for displacing “Happy Holidays” with “Merry Christmas.” That’s all he cares about. But just as Trump, who makes money off of hotels but has no concept of “hospitality” and is more like the craven Snidely Whiplash than Barron Hilton, he has no clue and no care what “Christmas” means.

Indeed, this Christmas, 9 million children and pregnant women are losing access to health care and the ability to live a good life or realize their full potential. 13 million Americans don’t know if they will be able to afford or access health care.  800,000 Dreamers don’t know whether they will be thrown out of jobs, housing, and the nation, exiled to a country that is completely foreign to them. Seniors and retirees don’t know if they will be able to continue to afford living in their homes and whether their Medicare and Social Security benefits will be cut.

The Tax Scam rammed through by Republicans is just the beginning: they are giddy about how adding $1.5 trillion to the national debt, the same amount (coincidentally) that it redistributes from working people to the already obscenely rich and richest corporations sitting on $2 trillion in cash they refuse to use to raise wages will “justify” slashing the social safety net, cutting Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – you know the so-called “entitlements” that working people have paid into their entire working lives.

Trump made it clear, in his ignorant, short-hand way, what will come next, in his speech in St. Louis:

“Then we will have done tax cuts, the biggest in history…I know people, they work three jobs and they live next to somebody who doesn’t work at all. And the person who’s not working at all and has no intention of working at all is making more money and doing better than the person that’s working his and her ass off. And it’s not going to happen. Not going to happen. (Applause.) So we’re going to go into welfare reform.”

You only have to look at what is happening in every quarter of civic life which is shifting the balance to the wealthiest while cutting off upward mobility for anyone else. The Trump FCC’s plan to overturn net neutrality is exactly that: it cements the control that the internet oligopoly wields not only to keep out upstart competitors but control what information or culture gets wide viewing. What Pai wants is for money to rule both content and access (that’s what “free market” means). Don’t have money to keep an internet subscription so you can access news, information or jobs? Tough luck. But the FCC intends to couple this with more government surveillance of what goes up over the Internet – quite literally the worst of both worlds.

It is apparent also in how Trump is pawning off national monuments to commercial exploitation – Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Arctic Refuge and the Atlantic Marine Sanctuary – basically stealing what is our collective heritage and birthright to give to commercial interests. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has no compunction to waste taxpayer money for his own use, is even raising admission fees to the national parks, further putting what is owned by all Americans off limits for those who can’t pay the freight.

Money is the new “entitlement.” It determines who can afford to weigh the scales of justice in their favor, and, thanks to Citizens United, who runs for election and wins, and therefore what policy gets written and enacted, and even who has access to the voting booth. Billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins actually said that out loud: “But what I really think is, it should be like a corporation. You pay a million dollars in taxes, you get a million votes. How’s that?” Indeed.

This mentality is actually seeping down even into the disasters that have become all too common and catastrophic because of climate change: Freakonomics did a segment that a free market rather than anti-gouging laws should come into play after a disaster. A shopkeeper should be able to sell a bottle of water for $1000 to the father with a child dying of thirst if he wants to, because at $2 a bottle, someone will hoard. (The absurdity is that purchases are rationed for the rich and the poor.)

Another segment suggested that people should be able to pay their way (a premium) to jump a line – that’s okay for a themepark, but they are suggesting the same for access to life-saving organ donation.

Trump is the first president to dare do what the Republicans have been salivating over since the New Deal but dared not do. It’s not that the Republicans haven’t had their sights set on reversing every progressive policy since the 1860s. (Alabama Senate candidate, the defrocked judge Roy Moore, said that every Amendment after the 10th, the state’s rights one, should be abolished, including the 13th amendment ending slavery, 14th amendment giving due process, the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Meanwhile, the Republicans are about to cancel the 10th amendment’s State’s Rights provision in order to require New York State to accept Conceal Carry Reciprocity and overturn its own gun safety laws.)

You actually have Senator Chuck Grassley defending abolishing the estate tax which affects only a tiny fraction of the wealthiest families and was intended since the founding to prevent an institutionalized aristocracy, argue that the previous tax code favors poor and working-class Americans who were “just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Utah’s Orrin Hatch, justifying shifting $1.5 trillion in tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations and slashing the social safety net, declared, “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger, and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Merry Christmas? Bah humbug.

“And so how do we as Christians respond, who serve a God whose prophets call for welcoming immigrants (Deuteronomy, Leviticus), caring for the orphans and widows (Jeremiah, Ezekiel), establishing fair housing (Isaiah), seeking justice (Micah 6), and providing health care (Isaiah),” a twitter conversation between MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Susan Gilbert Zencka wrote.

“What you’re witnessing tonight in the United States Senate is the weaponization of pure, unmitigated greed,” Joy Reid wrote after the Senate’s adoption of its tax plan. “Lobbyists are writing the bill in pen at the last minute. And Republicans are no longer even pretending to care about anyone but the super rich,“ wrote Joy Reid.

The America that Trump and the Republicans envision is not one of an American Dream where anyone who has the ability and works hard enough can rise up, but one in which communities must beg billionaires for funding for a public school, a library, a hospital, and be very grateful for their charity.

Tell me how this is not a modern, nonfiction version of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist.”

“Please sir, I’d like some more.”

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