Congressional candidate and law professor Zephyr Teachout launched a new initiative that addresses the economic distress felt in much of the sprawling 20th Congressional District. In her presentation in Kingston today, she offers a multi-point program directed to small farms and firms that are typical of rural Upstate.
The success of our independent business owners is essential. Dollars spent at local businesses recirculate at a higher rate in the local economy. Locally owned businesses invest more in their employees, with higher income growth and more employees per unit of sales than big-box corporations. And local businesses are the soul of their communities, with greater civic participation and social capital in areas with strong, independent economies.
Her main points are: 1 – make big banks loan to small businesses; 2. Buy American- Buy local. 3. Cut red tape and unfair fees; 4. Reduce property taxes; 5. Reduce health care costs; 6. Revive Antitrust enforcement; 7. Invest in infrastructure. She elaborates on these points in a White Paper released at the Kingston press event.
On credit, Teachout claims banks have cut exposure to small business. She does not say whether she favors incentives or mandates to get big banks to increase their allocation of credit to small business and entrepreneurs.
On trade and buy-local, she says
The Hudson Valley and Catskill region is blessed with the country’s most fertile farmland, yet so much of it goes unused despite billions of dollars in unmet demand for local and organic produce. We need local produce for local schools. Instead, we subsidize giant agriculture corporations out West, and import dairy protein from New Zealand and China. We ship our hides to Mexico to be processed, only to be shipped back here to be sold in our stores. We need common sense trade deals that protect local manufacturing and processing, and we must reject the TPP.
Teachout’s comments on reducing health care costs for small businesses steals a page from the Republican playbook. The health care cost for small businesses was a key part of the Republican charges against the Obama health care plan. Teachout picks up on it, but her suggestion that cutting the cost of pharmaceuticals will be an effective way of reducing the premiums paid by employers may be illusory. She links an increase in funds spent by drug companies on lobbying with a 12 percent rise in health care costs.
She pinpoints the burden of Medicare on property owners as the key to reducing property taxes. She calls for a “fair tax policy” without saying how she would fix the unfairness. She suggests it is a state issue.
On the anti-trust issue, she says
Big companies push out smaller competitors by shutting them out of key markets, crushing innovation, and violating antitrust principles. But with armies of lobbyists, they get away without punishment. We must demand that the FTC investigate unfair business practices and punish wrongdoers. By actually enforcing existing laws, and expanding our antitrust tools, we can take on the modern monopoly powers.
On infrastructure, she says
Access to high quality, affordable Internet service is essential to compete in the 21st Century economy. Yet the services we now have are woefully inadequate. 70% of upstate New Yorkers cannot access high-speed broadband at 100Mbps, including thirty-two counties with no access at all to broadband at that speed. In Montgomery County, as of March 2014, 17% of households have no access to broadband.
Teachout’s White Paper is the first such paper released in this year’s Congressional election campaign. It is the first substantive suggestion of a legislative agenda. That she has one is becoming evident.