Editorial: Suozzi for Congress

The Island Now

We wish this was not quite so easy a call, but Tom Suozzi is our clear choice for the 3rd Congressional District.

As we said during primary season, Suozzi has the background in government as a four-term mayor of Glen Cove and two-term county executive in Nassau to understand the enormous challenges faced by local governments in Nassau, Queens and Suffolk as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to fix them.

And his two terms in Congress have provided him with knowledge in the ways of Washington and relationships with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to offer his constituents the best chance of getting that help.

He has also helped bring back billions of dollars of COVID aid, increased funding for Long Island Sound and additional federal funding to clean up the Navy Grumman plume. He has also worked to improve Northport’s VA Center and to repeal the $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes.

Contrast this with his opponent, Republican George Santos.

Santos, a financial professional from Whitestone, has no government experience and no prior political experience.

Combine that with views that we would generously call extreme – if not consistent with strong supporters of President Donald Trump. Santos himself says he draws his inspiration from Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican congressman who is Trump’s most ardent backer on Long Island.

Santos, who had COVID-19 earlier in the year, said in August he did not believe Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was “necessarily bad” and “he did the best he could with the tools he had.”

This is simply at odds with reality. Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been an epic failure with 215,000 Americans dead, nearly eight million infected and no end in sight.

Santos and reality also diverge on the Mueller report, which he called a “hoax” despite confirmation of Russian meddling from the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee and current intelligence agency heads appointed by Trump.

“I do not believe there was any Russian meddling,” Santos said.  “I do believe the Mueller report was very, very poorly executed. It was a large waste of taxpayer dollars, and I think we’ve had a lot of divisiveness and a lot of polarization in this country because of that hoax.”

As if Russians interfering in both the last election and the upcoming election does not matter.

This is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.

Santos even said he supported the Republicans’ $2 trillion tax cut legislation that overwhelmingly favored large corporations and the very wealthy, including the cap of $10,000 on deductions for state and local taxes – a measure particularly harmful to states with more generous benefits such as New York.

He did say that he was looking into the effects of the cap. That might have been a good idea before he decided to run for Congress from a district with many people hurt by the lid on deductions.

All of which raises questions about the Republican Party leaders in Queens, Nassau and Suffolk who all selected Santos as their candidate for the 3rd District.

We have questioned and continue to question Suozzi’s middle-of-the-road approach that includes his membership in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus and a less aggressive approach in confronting President Trump’s many transgressions.

Suozzi was recently sharply rebuked by the Democratic House leadership for joining with other members of the Problem Solvers for a coronavirus relief proposal the House leadership contended fell well short of what they said was needed to prevent “devastating state and local layoffs” and provide money to “prevent rising hunger and evictions. And it puts money in the pockets of working families so that we can overcome this crisis.”

Most economists and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell say the economy needs a large stimulus deal or the country faces long-term pain. This is provided in the House leadership’s $2.4 trillion plan.

Suozzi maintains that the Problem Solvers’ proposal provides needed funding for schools and state and local governments. He continued this approach this week in a series of national interviews.

“This bipartisan proposal helps people. blunts the advance of the virus, and provides the necessary funding for our schools, and our state and local governments,” Suozzi said.

We recognize the temptation to accept a lesser deal at a time when help is desperately needed by so many.

But, as the song goes, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” We think Suozzi and his fellow Democratic caucus members were folding them too soon.

Trump, as his wont, has been all over the map on the issue, one day calling for negotiations to a close and the next reversing course and tweeting “go big or go home,” an approach Senate Republicans have already rejected.

Suozzi correctly pointed out in one news release that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans “are more concerned with ramming through their Supreme Court nominee than doing what they are supposed to do which is to help the American people.”

He also acknowledged that McConnell is not in favor of aiding the states, which would result in cuts to programs and personnel across New York, including teachers, police and emergency medical technicians.

McConnell confirmed Suozzi’s assertion Tuesday when he announced that the Senate would vote on a $1.4 trillion Republican rescue plan that would not include money for states and local government.

So why negotiate a lesser plan in the House against the wishes of the Democratic leadership when the Republican Senate has shown no indication of compromising on the pandemic rescue plan or much else?

Suozzi’s opponent has given no indication that he would do anything but support McConnell in these negotiations. So even when we disagree with Suozzi we find him far superior to his opponent.

This serves as yet another reminder that we are living in a singularly dangerous time in our nation’s history and why making a vote for Suozzi is so important.

We give our strong endorsement to Suozzi and hope district voters send a strong message to Republican Party leaders with an overwhelmingly vote for him.

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