PENN YAN—Yesterday, Democratic Congressional Nominee Tracy Mitrano (NY-23) spoke passionately about her vision for the district and took Representative Tom Reed to task for what she showed was a long pattern of votes against the interests of his constituents during the pair’s first debate, a closed session hosted by the Jamestown Post-Journal.

“It’s magical thinking to think that [Reed’s] record is not going to be part of what the people are going to be asking…What have you done to help people in this district in the last 8 years?” Mitrano said. “Let’s talk about real people and real circumstances.”

The Democratic nominee challenged her opponent on his support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which gave sweeping tax breaks to corporations and the richest Americans at the expense of the middle and working class people who make up the majority of his district. Reed has pointed to the legislation as an economic boon for the people of his district. On Wednesday night, Mitrano set the record straight.

“Mr. Reed continues to quote an incorrect number that I want to make really clear. If you’re in the 0 to 20 percent tax bracket, you’re going to take home $40 this year, extra,” Mitrano said. “If you’re at the 50-60, middle class, you’re going to take between $500 and $600. If you’re in the 1 percent, you’re going to take home $69,000. Mr. Reed’s number of $1600 that he’s peddled to his town halls and in all of his rhetoric is only the number you get if you average all those numbers, including the $69,000 that goes on average to the 1 percent. It is not what you take home as a middle class person.”

Reed responded to Mitrano’s comments on tax reform by calling her a redistributionist.

“[Mitrano] wants government to redistribute wealth to the lower incomes,” Reed said. “You talked about the estate tax; you talked about how the government needs to take from people to give to another group of people at the lower incomes… I do not subscribe to that theory.”

It’s true that Reed does not subscribe to a theory of government redistribution that takes from the wealthy to give to the less wealthy. Based on his support for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, among other stances, it would be more accurate to say that he subscribes to a theory in which government takes from the less wealthy—the working and middle classes—and gives it to the very wealthy, Mitrano said.

Mitrano’s criticism of Republican tax reform is not about redistribution but rather, about undoing redistribution the benefits the wealthy. In other words, it is about fairness.

“I believe in [the 1 percent] paying their fair share,” Mitrano said. “How about paying the same rate that a middle class person pays? So this again, is Mr. Reed’s approach: to exaggerate … to divert from the real issue that he has been voting in favor of his donors and the 1 percent to give them yet another big grab away that is going to hurt the working and middle class.”

Mitrano also spoke on her healthcare policy positions that will empower all Americans to receive affordable and accessible healthcare, while not prioritizing the interests of large insurance corporations like Reed does.

“70 percent of the country wants to have [healthcare for all], and it’s a way we can deal with the opioid crisis, and it’s a way we can bring the people of the United States what they deserve,” Mitrano said. “We are one of the wealthiest countries, but when I’m up in Cohocton, or almost anywhere else, I’m meeting people with no teeth. This is the number one issue without question—without question—I can meet a farmer or an urbanite and the number one issue is healthcare.”

Reed’s rebuttal of uplifting insurance providers, which are some of his largest campaign donors, was unconvincing.

“I think that going forward insurance reform will be safe and secure in our healthcare policy,” Reed said, offering no evidence to back up his statement.

On immigration and border security, Mitrano called out Reed’s poor voting record, saying, “I do not believe in open borders. There’s no developed country in the world that has open borders. Mr. Reed voted against comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. It’s magical thinking to think that his record is not going to be part of what the people are going to be asking Mr. Reed on this question and every other one: what have you done to help people in this district in the last 8 years?”

Standing up for NY-23 agriculture, Mitrano said, “A year ago, Mr. Reed was in my voting county, Yates County, and he spoke with some dairy farmers, and all they wanted was those basic visas, H2A visas. They wanted the annual, because cows don’t go to sleep in November and wake up in April, as well as the seasonal ones. All he spoke about on that occasion, because I spoke with the farmers who attended that meeting, was his marvelous 2017 tax plan he was teeing up. He never did anything to go get them those visas.”

The meeting, which was not publicly broadcast, is the first of three discussions planned between Reed and Mitrano. Next week, the pair will face off again in the live broadcast WETM New debate, which will be held on Tuesday, October 30 at 7 p.m. in the Corning Community College Gymnasium, and in the Olean Times Herald and League of Women Voters Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties debate, which will be held on Thursday, November 1 at 7 p.m. at Olean High School.

Mitrano is looking forward to continuing the conversation.

“People in this district deserve to know that their current representative says one thing to the people of this district but actually votes with his corporate donors in mind, and I think this debate proved that,” Mitrano said after the debate. “They deserve a representative who will for their interests. Reed hasn’t been that representative. I will be.”

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