Democrat Tracy Mitrano says President Donald Trump is holding the country hostage to his detailed ideas about securing the border, and people are beginning to suffer.
Mitrano, who is making a second run to represent New York’s 23rd congressional district in 2020 said that the USDA is among the agencies that have been shuttered. That means farmers can’t apply for credit or turn to the agency for counseling. It also could mean added hunger in our region if the shutdown continues past January, because the USDA runs the food stamp program.
“If food stamps aren’t issued, it affects rural as well as urban residents,” Mitrano points out. “It demonstrates how senseless and callous this approach is. The President does not care about them, or the hundreds of thousands of families of federal workers who are already living paycheck to paycheck and cannot now make ends meet.
“I’ve never heard of a president who believes he is in charge of the details,” Mitrano adds. “A president should set policy—’We need border security’—then let Congress work out the details. All Trump’s talk about concrete walls versus fencing shows a total lack of understanding about responsible governance.”
Her criticism extends to Republican incumbent Tom Reed, who supported Trump’s refusal to end the shutdown until Congress approves $5.7 billion for a wall on the Mexican border. “To have a representative who is in lockstep with the president isn’t just contrary to needs of our district, it is also wasteful, ineffective politics,” says Mitrano. “It inevitably divides people, and it doesn’t help the people being hurt.”
Mitrano did not spare fellow Democrats, either. “They are all about the functionality of government. What we should be talking about is immigration policy. The debate over the wall is a diversion.”
“If Trump wants to update immigration laws and policies, I couldn’t be more in favor of that,” she says. “But let’s consult immigration experts in the pursuit of legislation that makes sense. We cannot allow Trump to dictate policy according to his emotional mood swings or his popularity with his political base. We need to understand history, the asylum process, and ask if we have enough people processing requests. We need expert input and we need real nonpartisan back and forth, as is our country’s tradition when resolving large policy conflicts. All of that is missing in this discussion of concrete versus steel. If we play this childish game, we confine ourselves to it.”
Mitrano was critical of Rep. Reed, who she says has failed the district. “He supports the president for his own benefit, without regard for farmers who need credit and advice from the USDA, the people who may go hungry without food stamps, and the federal workers and their families who are already strapped financially. Reed does not show the leadership we need for this district or the country.”