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Response to article: Hanna: Every day… you get to help someone

The following letter has been submitted as a Letter to the Editor of the Binghamton Press & Sun, Norwich Evening Sun, and Utica Observer-Dispatch. This is a verbatim copy.

On May 21st Rep. Richard Hanna spoke with the editorial board of the Utica Observer-Dispatch, about the objectives of his second term. While there may have been far more detail in that conversation than was reported, what was stated leaves questions that demand clarification from Rep. Hanna.

First and foremost is the question about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs. While there has been a push by Rep. Hanna to promote this, his position has been unclear.

As has been widely reported, Rep. Hanna supports promoting immigration reform that would allow foreigners to gain these jobs – clarified as a “temporary” stopgap measure until more Americans are available for those jobs. His support has been so strong that he failed to appear at a Joint Economic Committee meeting [April 24, 2013 - Lawmaker Unemployment Hearing Attended By Single Member of Congress At Opening] on resolving long-term unemployment. Instead, on that same day he provided a written support of immigration reform [April 24, 2013 - Help Wanted: The STEM workforce shortage] specifically targeting increasing H1-B Visas. Yet, in a Joint Economic Committee meeting that he did subsequently appear in [May 10, 2013 - Here’s the economic advice Congress is getting on immigration], Rep. Hanna apparently voiced concern over the competition that an increase of the immigrant workforce would naturally create.

Politics may allow for claiming both sides of an argument, but Representatives should be clear when speaking with constituents about which side they actually stand on. Further, what exactly is “temporary”?

If a greater focus on STEM education were to be enacted tomorrow, does that mean that foreigners (under the position Rep. Hanna promotes) should be favored for these jobs for the next 4 years – until current college students graduate, or 8 years – when current high school students could graduate college, or 12 years – when those high school students graduate college with advanced degrees?

Most importantly, on this issue, shouldn’t the Representative be direct enough to clarify that regardless of the path taken, the reality is that STEM jobs – which are a fraction of the jobs available in New York State and the nation – will take a long time to occur and will not effectively help the current above national average unemployment besieging constituents of the NY 22nd Congressional District.

Perhaps another question that should be asked is how this focus on STEM jobs will benefit the constituents of NY when – as stated by Rep. Hanna on January 29, 2013 [Hanna shares political beliefs and concerns at annual meeting] – “Especially in Upstate New York, where agriculture affects about 80 percent of our economy.

Rather, given the fact that New York State is consistently viewed as the most business unfriendly State in the nation (a race to the bottom in many reports versus current progressive ‘capital’ California – which Gov. Cuomo in his 2013 State of the State Address seeks to surpass), and that America as a nation is one of the least competitive due to our corporate tax rate of 39.1% [April 13, 2013 - Yes, Sen. Sanders, We Really Do Have the Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World], wouldn’t a focus on forcing Congress and President Obama (who made a big deal of reducing the corporate rate during his 2012 election campaign) to lower the corporate rate be the best short- and long-term solution? A solution that can promote small business growth, creating a greater demand for STEM jobs in Upstate New York and the nation – which would motivate students to not only seek these fields, but to decide to stay in NY once they have gained that degree. A solution that also helps improve the national economy and long-term unemployment.

I have been speaking with many Americans across the NY-22 as part of my exploration on a run for the District, and have been following for a long time the national desire to lower the corporate rate. The benefit seems clear and generally bi-partisan (excluding the desire by some to emphasize increased taxes as a solution – that has as yet to provide the boost the nation continues to seek). Why is the focus not on this solution that can be a broad based benefit?

The answer could be the appeal of gaining part of the potential 11 million new voters that current proposals on immigration reform may provide. Understandably, from a political power standpoint, that is an issue that must be addressed. But to focus on that political ambition, via obfuscation on the more pervasive and imminent problem of unemployment and economic health, is a disservice to the constituents and nation.

If we want to truly promote STEM jobs and education, and motivate small business growth, for New York State and the nation, then a “temporary” fix will not do. We need to address the core problem, and corporate tax rates are part of that core problem. More direct discussion and action on that will do better to provide the end result than foreign immigrants and HB-1 visas.

Sincerely

Michael Vasquez

Note – Michael Vasquez has formed an exploratory committee to determine a potential run in the 2014 NY election for the 22nd Congressional District, which Rep. Richard Hanna represents. The exploratory site can be found at http://exploratory.electmichaelvasquez.com

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