Here is a full and accurate account in the NY Post, by a former local Journal News reporter, about the gross mishandling of a personnel matter by the Chairwoman Catherine Borgia of our County Board of Legislators. All other members of the Board, with additional egregious facts presented to us this week, have joined my demand that she resign as Chair. She has refused to do so. Accordingly, we scheduled a special meeting of the full Board the day before yesterday to vote on a resolution to remove her as our Chair, as we were the ones who elected her to facilitate the efficient operation of our legislative body. But Ms. Borgia hired lawyers to run to court to enjoin and postpone our meeting until 4pm today. Keep in mind that whether Legislator Borgia remains as a Legislator is a dialog to be had between her and the constituents of County Legislative District 9 who elected her to that office.
And you can see me commenting on News 12.
Every Spring the County Executive and leadership of the BOL draft a sorta “wish list” of what we like our federal legislators (US Senators and Members of the US House of Representatives) to spend money on and pass new laws about. We call it our “Federal Package.” I criticized it sharply, in writing and orally in committee and on the floor in our 4/17/23 full Board meeting, because it fails to live up to Democratic party campaign platform or the Presidential agenda of Joe Biden.
For you policy wonks out there, the full Package can be found here https://westchestercountyny.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=11900642&GUID=E1687E1A-9C59-440E-A14B-E6858C254D76, my 4.5 minutes of commentary to the Board is at 1:05:00 of this video
https://westchestercountyny.granicus.com/player/clip/1940?view_id=1&redirect=true&h=199d2728abaa46ff5deec6ed2a77d11d, and this is my written response:
It is disappointing that the proposed elimination of the SALT deduction is the lead-off item in our Federal Package again. Among many others who have written on the topic, scholars at the Brookings Institute, hardly a hotbed of socialist dogma, think repeal is a really bad idea. They have, however, proposed a short-term strategy that looks realistically at the current political climate, doubling the current cap from $10,000 to $20,000, then phasing it out in a manner that gives taxpayers and housing markets time to digest the change. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2021/10/02/how-dems-can-get-out-of-the-salt-mess-and-save-1-trillion-dollars/
Before proposing that apparently more politically palatable compromise, the authors quite convincingly frame the issue of the SALT deduction versus progressivity in tax policy [go to the article to see or use its many links, which were removed here]:
“Repealing the SALT cap for two years would cost about $85 billion per year. As we and others have pointed out multiple times, this represents a massive windfall to the rich and affluent. Despite what the SALT Caucus claims, SALT cap repeal is no middle-class tax cut. Ninety-six percent of the benefit would flow to the top 20 percent of the income distribution with the top 0.1 percent getting a tax cut of $154,000 per year, on average. To be fair, the middle class does get something. The middle 60 percent of the income distribution would receive, on average, a tax cut of $37 per year. Even in high-tax states, the middle class gets little. In New York, the top 1 percent would get a tax cut of about $103,000, on average. For those in the middle class, the benefit is just $90, on average. So repealing the cap is regressive and delivers little to no social benefit. As the Democrats wrangling over the budget know, there are dozens of better ways for the federal government to spend $85 billion, for example:
- An array of social polices. We can’t put it any better than Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “For the annual cost of the SALT cap repeal, policymakers could enact the President’s plans to offer universal pre-K, free community college, paid family leave, affordable child care, and an Earned Income Tax Credit expansion. Not just one of these policies, but all of them together.”
- A year of the expanded child tax credit (CTC). As part of the American Rescue Plan, the CTC was expanded and made fully refundable—meaning low-income families can receive the full benefit—for one year. The annual cost for this expansion is about $100 billion relative to the previous law. From June to July, the expanded CTC slashed monthly child poverty by 25 percent. The expanded CTC is also likely to boost social mobility in the long run, as we have argued previously.
- Doubling (or even tripling) Pell grants. Pell grants help students from low-income families pay for college. On our own pages, Philip Levine finds that doubling the maximum Pell grant amount is a rare win-win for policy: it promotes economic efficiency and social equity. Matthew Chingos of the Urban Institute estimates that this would cost about $35 billion per year, roughly doubling the current cost. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the maximum amount could even be tripled (with money left over) for the same price tag as SALT cap repeal.
- Universal baby bonds. The racial wealth gap and the Black-white gap in multigenerational poverty are alarming. Racist policies have helped to create these gaps, and intentional public policy is needed to ameliorate them. One option is baby bonds. Effectively a trust fund for children that will provide the most help to those from low-wealth families, this proposal would, on average, especially benefit Black beneficiaries. The government would seed money into accounts for children at birth, which would grow over time from continued government contributions and returns on safe investments. Upon turning 18, beneficiaries access these funds to pay for college or a down payment on a home, for example. With many potential structures, baby bonds would cost around $82 billion annually.
THINGS MISSING FROM OUR FEDERAL PACKAGE
1. See items 1, 3 and 4 of the Brookings report above.
2. A response to the housing crisis by, for example: codifying and funding implementation of the President’s Tenant Bill of Rights; fully funding Housing Choice Vouchers (“Section 8”); funding to incentivize municipalities in our region to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing; increasing social and financial equity opportunities for minority and/or low-income home seekers. See generally https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/briefing-room/2023/03/09/fact-sheet-president-bidens-budget-lowers-housing-costs-and-expands-access-to-affordable-rent-and-home-ownership/
3. National Infrastructure Bank
4. Public/Postal Banking. See https://rooseveltinstitute.org/2022/06/30/banking-for-all/
5. George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and/or conditioning federal COPS and Byrne/JAG funding on compliance with a national standard of civilian oversight of law enforcement. See, for example, this discussion.