There’s a lot of misinformation out there. At the end of the day I am 100 percent convinced that when we get through tax reform, hard-working people will benefit.–Rep. Tom Reed
Reed Town Hall, November 20, 2017
Minutes by Arthur Ahrens
I have a hearing disability, corrected somewhat by hearing aids. The hall was a large hall with many different inputs. Sometimes questioners and Reed would speak without the mic, and sometimes questioners used the mic in a way that the mic was ineffective. Then there were periodic outbursts. Also things moved along pretty quickly. All of this made note taking difficult. I did the best I could, and hope that this record is of some use.
The town hall was held in the American Legion Hall in Horseheads. There were 300 – 350 attendees. The majority were codgers (like myself) with a few middle agers and some young people also. There were three (3) video cameras on the right side with at least one attended by a professional looking crew of 3.
Reed arrived promptly at 6:06 (he lives in Corning!), spent a couple of minutes greeting the ex-mayor of Corning, who was seated on the right side a few rows in front of me, and then started his monologue.
Very short. Talked about tax reform and how it was his intent to correct all the misinformation about it.
He started taking questions at about 6:10.
The first questioner was a self-employed woman who was concerned about how the removal of the mandate would affect her. She was concerned that her insurance costs would rise. Reed gave a generic answer that wasn’t really an answer.
The second questioner was a senior citizen male with concerns about corporate tax breaks. Reed responded that the tax cuts were needed to jump start the economy. The questioner was not satisfied.
The third question came from a woman who had 40 years in tax preparation questioning the fairness of the tax cuts. Reed asked her personal questions about her tax situation that proved that she herself would be getting a break. He managed to make it appear that she did not know what she was talking about. He also escaped from her as quickly as possible.
The fourth questioner was an older woman with a degree from Cornell. Her two part question involved grad students who receive stipends that would now be taxable and endowments to middle class people. I didn’t hear much of the reply to the first. In answer to the second part, Reed mentioned the salaries of endowment managers at Harvard and Notre Dame being in the millions of dollars and said he was not happy with that. He wants that money to be disbursed to poor and middle class candidates.
The fifth questioner was a well-spoken Reed supporter who was upset that his Social Security benefits were being taxed, and wanted Reed to do something about it. He was also upset that Reed’s priority seemed to be corporations. Reed went to boilerplate that corporate tax reform will lead to job creation. The guy was not happy, tried to talk some more, but Reed moved on….
It was now 6:45 and time for the second monologue.
Tom talked about how tax reform has been discussed in each and every town hall for the last 11 years (hope I got that number right). He’s been interested in tax reform since he went to Washington, and is well versed in the existing tax code and KNOWS that the reforms will be good for us.
Then Tom segued into SALT reform. He stated in so many words that property taxes are regressive. He also stated that the credits being issued to offset SALT removal will benefit 99.7% of the NY23 taxpayers, which he feels is a good deal.
He also spoke about NY being a tax donor state, where our tax dollars flow to Mississippi and conflated that with Democratic values of the well to do taking care of the poor.
He also spoke of low taxes being used to jump start the economy and compared it with Cuomo’s efforts to jump start local economies by giving tax breaks.
He also said that opposition to the tax bill is based on emotion, not facts, and as long as that is the case, we will continue to disagree.
6:55 – another questioner asked why Reed never seems to differ from Trump or the Republicans. Why is it so necessary to ram this bill through? And isn’t Reed aware that the majority of people at the meeting were very anxious about the bill? Reed responded yet again about the generational opportunity to give tax relief to the middle class.
Another questioner – What corporate loopholes have been closed. Reed was ready and rattled off 5, and I have no idea what they were.
He returned to Cuomo and tax initiatives. Stated that if you are comfortable with lower taxes creating jobs for Cuomo, you should love Rebpublicans creating jobs by lowering taxes.
The deficit created by this bill will be offset by economic growth.
Written questions submitted before the meeting.
CHIP – Tom says that the program is being considered under the new budget.
Russia—Tom says Russia has been interfering in US politics for a much longer while than just this last election. And we should get to the bottom of it. Also mentioned that the US has interfered in other countries’ elections.
Tom took the opportunity for a closing statemtent. He stated that although there appeared to be 300 people at this meeting opposing the tax reform bill, he is convinced that his constituents are in favor of it.
Last speaker was a gentleman in a AARP vest, representing the AARP. He stated that we should be looking for a compromise. He also handed Tom some paperwork while stating that AARP was unhappy with the removal of the medical deduction and the AARP does NOT support the tax plan.
Meeting ended ~ 7:10
Several candidates for Tom’s seat were waiting to give presentations. I did not hang around.
There was only 1 guy in a Trump hat at the meeting.
Several questioners identified as Reed supporters. They were not in favor of the tax reform bill. Nobody spoke in favor of the bill.
Some memorable Reed statements–
- It’s a bean counter thing
- Budget office estimates are wrong.
- Deficit will be offset by growth
- Is it in the Senate bill or the House bill.
- At some point in time (forgive me) Reed asked everyone if they would like higher taxes. Quite a few people said YES. Reed appeared to be genuinely surprised.
————————-End Of Objective Report——————————————————-
- 1 hour is not nearly enough for a real discussion on tax reform.Tom is going through the motions. He had no interest in hearing opposing opinions.
- Tom doesn’t give a hoot about what he hears.
- Tom is not afraid to say he disagrees with someone, and he said it a lot.
- Tom’s new line, when pressed on numbers, is: ‘It’s a bean counter thing’.
- Tom’s new line, when pressed on hardships created, is: ’Let’s look at the facts’
- Tom attitude is condescending to everyone. He knows best.
- Tom didn’t care much about getting across how caring he is.
- Tom was using a handheld mic. that he freely handed off to questioners.
- There was no police presence.
- It was surreal to hear Reed talking about Cuomo’s push for low taxes to justify Reed’s push for low taxes.
These town halls are now Kabuki theater.
- Reed is not at all interested in what anyone thinks. He is going to do what he wants.
- Why aren’t more young people at these meetings?