Good afternoon and welcome to The Point! Today we’re analyzing President Trump’s long awaited infrastructure plan -- make sure to check our editorial on it later on newsday.com/opinion.
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From Trump’s budget, with love (or not)
President Donald Trump’s proposed 2019 budget, released Monday morning, is less a blueprint than a fantasy, but it is important to know what the most powerful man in the world is fantasizing about, and how it would affect New York and Long Island if it ever became reality.
First, the good news:
The budget proposes an $8.7 billion annual spending increase on veterans affairs to $83.1 billion annually. That would be an enormous boon to veterans across the state, with much of that money allotted to improve patient care. But it also would be especially beneficial to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northport, which reportedly faces a “staggering” backlog of maintenance projects among its 47 buildings, with fixes estimated to cost $279 million. Trump’s budget calls for $4.2 billion in improvements, much of it to “modernize and maintain infrastructure.”
Now, the bad news:
- Like last year’s proposal from the president, this budget eliminates the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that helps needy people stay warm in the winter. About 1.2 million of the program’s 7 million recipients are in New York, and many are senior citizens.
- Trump’s Health and Human Services budget includes an $18 billion, 21 percent reduction that would largely come from repealing the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion, which health care experts say would decimate New York’s patients and health care providers.
- A $7.1 billion decrease in federal education funding would cost New York City schools dearly, as well as poorer districts on Long Island that benefit from strong federal funding, like Hempstead, Roosevelt, Wyandanch, Freeport and Brentwood.
- An $8.8 billion, 18.3 percent cut to the Housing and Urban Development budget would come largely from massive reductions in federal rental assistance and the elimination of community development block grants and other local programs.
The 160-page document also outlines big spending increases for the military and Homeland Security, some of which might be felt in New York. But like the recently passed tax cuts, it is a very partisan document that takes a big whack at the federal spending that blue states like New York depend on and, in many cases, grants increases to programs that more rural and Republican states benefit from.
Time heals tax plan wounds?
New Yorkers are beginning to hate the federal tax law a little less, according to a Siena College poll released Monday.
The gap among registered suburban voters shrunk to 17 points on the question of whether New York State should sue the federal government over the loss of state and federal tax deduction, a k a SALT. This month, 54 percent wanted to sue the feds versus 37 percent who opposed the idea. Last month, the numbers were 59 percent favoring litigation, versus 32 percent.
Statewide figures reflected a similar shrinking gap: On the question of filing suit, last week, 49 percent said yes, while 39 percent said no. In January, 58 percent were in favor, and 32 percent against.
“I do think it’s significant,” pollster Steven Greenberg told The Point Monday. “I wouldn’t say there’s support for the tax law yet among New Yorkers, but I would say the opposition is weakening.”
In late January, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declared he would join the governors of Connecticut and New Jersey in challenging the constitutionality of the new tax law. Whether the new poll numbers will affect Cuomo’s stated intention to file suit is yet to be seen, but on Monday he revised his budget plan, giving companies the choice of collecting payroll taxes on workers to replace the state income tax. That would thwart the new $10,000 cap on state and local deductions.
- White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says she has no reason to doubt the credibility of the two ex-wives accusing former aide Rob Porter of domestic abuse. Neither does President Donald Trump, but that hasn’t stopped him from backing Porter.
- The growing sanctuary movement among Long Island churches for immigrants who fear the Trump administration leads to a question: Where’s the sanctuary for the rest of us?
- The 2016 Brexit vote in Britain to leave the European Union was considered a harbinger of Donald Trump’s presidential victory later that year. Now British officials are struggling to negotiate the exit, and support is building for a second vote to undo the first. Any chance of a parallel repeat?
- President Donald Trump’s complaint about the #MeToo movement, that men accused of sexual assault do not get due process, is interesting coming from a guy who does not typically do process.
- An online adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University failed a student after incorrectly telling her that Australia is not actually a country. The university told the adjunct he wasn’t actually a professor anymore.
- Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley is optimistic about passage of his criminal justice reform bill opposed by President Donald Trump, citing his Judiciary Committee’s confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and circuit court judges and saying, “I’ve carried a lot of water for the White House.” Um, Grassley does know that Trump’s conception of payback is more on the punitive side, right?
- The White House defended the lack of funding in President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan for a Hudson River rail tunnel or any part of the Gateway project by saying that 90 percent of the benefits would go to local transit riders. But the officials are OK with spending $50 billion for rural work, all of which would benefit local users. They just happen to be the right sort of locals.
- The latest argument for the reality of reincarnation: 17-year-old Olympic snowboard slopestyle champion Red Gerard and Jeff Spicoli of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.”