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Salting the pot

Sen. Chuck Schumer says he is fighting hard

Sen. Chuck Schumer says he is fighting hard to get rid of the SALT cap. Credit: Craig Ruttle

Daily Point

Take it with a grain

Ignore the flurry of reports that the Biden administration is ditching the effort by blue-state Democrats to get rid of the Trump administration’s cap on the deduction for state and local taxes from federal returns, known as SALT.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, in a call to The Point, re-upped his pledge that removing the $10,000 limit on the deduction of property taxes and state and city income taxes, a significant pocketbook issue for Long Islanders, will still happen in the budget reconciliation bill. The cap went into effect for 2018 tax returns.

"I am fighting very hard and am optimistic that we will get rid of the cap," Schumer said.

The kerfuffle began Tuesday when President Joe Biden met with moderate House Democrats and said SALT was off the table in the negotiations. It startled those in the room and as soon as the meeting was over, House moderates including Rep. Tom Suozzi took to the microphones saying they would stop the $2 trillion package unless it was restored.

Schumer later called top Biden aides who reaffirmed to him that Biden misspoke and that the White House was not tossing SALT relief from the bill. While Biden may be back on board with restoring the full deduction, if it was ever off, moderate Democrats still have to struggle with House progressives who want to capture the billion dollars of tax revenue the SALT cap generates to offset the cost of their favorite social spending programs.

But even that obstacle may not stop New York’s representatives from restoring the full deduction, as the Congressional Budget Office is now scoring a new SALT proposal, according to a source who said eliminating the cap is likely to be found "financially favorable" in the budget calculations.

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli

Talking Point

The money game

October quarterly filings are posted for Long Island’s congressional delegation and hopefuls, with plenty of take-aways for the state of campaigns to come:

  • Rep. Tom Suozzi led the pack with $1,049,776.19 in total receipts. Suozzi has been in the thick of things in D.C. lately as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, but he raised approximately half the latest sum in the same quarters of 2020 and 2019, when he was already on board. Perhaps this time around donors might think he’s interested in higher state office.
  • Kara Hahn and Bridget Fleming are both juggling their Suffolk County Legislature day jobs and reelection campaigns for that gig, the pressures of which might be reflected a bit in their hauls for CD1: $200,000 and $170,000, respectively. Compare that with the sum brought in by Andrew Garbarino, the freshman Republican who represents relatively competitive CD2 and took in over $400,000, nearly $190,000 of which came from political committees including the PACs for Cigna, Delta, and Home Depot. All of the above, however, was more than the $73,439 brought in by Rep. Kathleen Rice, who has recently been coasting to victory in her CD4 races.
  • Garbarino’s predecessor, Pete King, who is deep into the various opportunities of congressional retirement, has been spending down his old campaign account, as reflected in the quarterly filings. That includes the usual donations to Nassau Republican groups and also a big $15,000 to GOP district attorney candidate Anne Donnelly’s campaign, far more than the $500 he gave to Elaine Phillips, the GOP standard-bearer for Nassau comptroller, a job he once held.

Given the pandemic and vacation-heavy summer months, The Point wondered whether some of the candidates found it more difficult than usual to fundraise? Garbarino, despite having his best fundraising quarter of the year, suggested it’s always uphill.

"Every three months it starts over again," he said. "It’s like the movie ‘Groundhog Day.’"

— Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Employers struggle

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Final Point

De Blasio’s politically puzzling retiree trim

In a move that outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio says could save New York City up to $600 million a year, retirees from city service are facing a complex choice — letting officials enroll them in a new federally supported health plan called Medicare Advantage Plus, or keeping their current plan, but at a cost of $191 per month or more in added payments.

The Municipal Labor Committee, consisting of union leaders, agreed to the change, sparking a backlash and a lawsuit from such quarters as the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees Inc., founded over the summer by a retired FDNY/EMS employee and longtime Babylon resident Marianne Pizzitola. She’s among those calling it a breach of law, contract and decades of promises to those affected.

And her organization won a round in court Thursday when state Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank, on a lawyer’s request, voided the city’s Oct. 31 deadline for the changeover based on arguments over city statutes and collective bargaining agreements.

The political timing of this action draws interest if only because, with de Blasio departing City Hall at year’s end, his successor — more likely Democrat Eric Adams and less likely Republican Curtis Sliwa — would reap the fiscal benefits and face the anger stirred by this deal when one of them inherits it next year.

So far Adams is saying some, not all, of what those trying to derail the change wish to hear.

"I have to really look at it and see what are my powers, if I’m fortunate to be the mayor, of reversing, or seeing how we don’t destabilize retirees. Nothing is more frightening to a retiree that are starting to go through health care crises," Adams told WCBS-TV this week.

But Pizzitola, who says her group has been unable to reach Adams on the issue, says his powers should be clear to him by now, since the Office of Labor Relations, the target of a retirees’ lawsuit for executing the changeover, comes under the mayor’s control. For his part, Sliwa called the benefits shift a "bait-and-switch" and a broken promise.

Imposing a giveback for people who may have retired many years ago — to help fund pay raises de Blasio granted to employees now on the job — puts the departing mayor in an interesting position.

If he’s serious about running for governor, he might well plan on running into angry city retirees who vote in Queens, on Long Island, in the northern suburbs and even upstate, all carrying a serious fresh grudge against him.

"It’s completely out of character for someone who would be considered a Democratic progressive who’s pro-labor," Pizzitola said.

— Dan Janison @Danjanison

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