Hurt continues for middle-class

I’m running for Congress because our economy has staggered through years of poor growth. We need leadership to turn it around. My opponent, Congressman Tom Reed, has failed to create jobs and has failed to invest in the things that will put our families back to work.

Congressman Reed believes we need more tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and largest corporations, and presto the economy will expand. That’s who he’s working for, and that’s how he’s voted.

But according to the Small Business Administration, nearly two-thirds of all jobs are created by small businesses not large corporations and only 3 percent of these small businesses are owned by millionaires, according to the Treasury Department. So when my opponent votes to give big corporations and millionaires like him new tax cuts, raising middle-class taxes by $2,000 to pay for them, it doesn’t work because that’s not where the new jobs come from.

Small businesses are the job engines of our economy. I literally grew up working in a small business our home was right next to my parents’ flower shop and nursery, and all five of us kids pitched in so I have a deep respect for entrepreneurs who take the risks to create something new.

Congressman Reed has also voted for “free” trade agreements that have encouraged exporting American jobs, instead of exporting American-made manufactured products. Giving tax breaks to companies that ship our jobs overseas, as he does in the Republican budget, only makes things worse.

As Western New York reels from closings such as the Carriage House operations in Dunkirk and Fredonia, it is clear that we need a leader who will help rebuild our economy not vote for policies that send even more jobs away.

As chair of the Tompkins County Legislature, I’ve forged partnerships with the private sector, invested in our infrastructure – and in our people – to create the lowest unemployment rate of any county in all of New York state. My advocacy for affordable housing helped stimulate a building boom. During my tenure on our Industrial Development Agency, we’ve brought in $453 million in new investments and created more than 700 high-quality jobs. That’s the kind of on-the-ground know how I’ll bring with me to Congress.

I will work to make substantial improvements in three main areas: infrastructure improvements, investment in our children’s education, and cutting taxes for middle-class families.

The antiquated roads and bridges all over Western New York aren’t getting better by themselves. And yet Tom Reed has voted for the Republican budget, which cuts $52 billion in infrastructure investments. Investing in our transportation system will create jobs immediately, and help businesses grow as they move their products and professionals to markets. We also need to expand access to broadband Internet, the new infrastructure that our economy desperately needs, especially in rural regions like ours.

Our local businesses need skilled workers to help them compete globally. That means investing in universal pre-K, adequately supporting public schools, and making college more affordable for hardworking students. For those for whom college is not the right path, and for older workers looking for new opportunities, we need accessible, quality job training and apprenticeship programs that match the openings that exist.

Our tax policies must support entrepreneurs and small businesses, and middle class families, rather than favor large corporations that ship jobs overseas. Tom Reed voted for a “territorial tax system” that would make it even more profitable for U.S. corporations to invest and book profits overseas rather than at home. Is that what we want?

Congressman Tom Reed has the wrong priorities; they just don’t work for our economy. I will bring my pragmatic, proven approach to Congress, to get things moving again and build an economy that benefits the entire 23rd District from Chautauqua to Tompkins County.

For the sake of the Carriage House employees I’ve met, for young people trying to get a start, and for middle class families trying to make ends meet, I hope you will join me in the fight to create an economy that includes everyone.

Martha Robertson is a candidate for New York’s 23rd Congressional District, which includes Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.