OSWEGO — More than 20 local residents gathered in Franklin Square (West) Park today (May 24) to urge Congressman John Katko to vote against President Trump’s and Congressional Republicans’ plan to make draconian cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program in order to pay for the $1.5 trillion tax break for the wealthy, which was passed in December.
Following a brief program, the group marched to City Hall, where Katko’s local office is located. Neither the Congressman nor any of his staff were present.
“We appreciate everybody coming out,” said Tom Drumm, an Oswego County Legislator who is also a local organizer with Speak Out CNY.
The “horrible” tax plan would “really hurt people in the 24th Congressional District,” he said. “Today, we’re here to talk about the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the proposed cuts to it.”
“First, they handed out a $1.5 trillion tax break to their rich friends and campaign donors. Now Republicans like Congressman Katko want to pay for it by cutting critical programs that serve the neediest families in the country,” said Ursula Rozum, an area resident and former CHIP recipient. “CHIP insures almost 9 million children, including more than 21,000 here in Katko’s own district. This is a callous and heartless maneuver which wouldn’t even be on the table if Congressman Katko and his party hadn’t rushed through a tax scam that rewards the richest fraction of the country on the backs of working families.”
CHIP connects children with life-saving health care and offers the only access for their families to the care they need to manage their pre-existing or chronic conditions, Drumm said.
“This is just the same old play out of the Republican playbook,” he said. “Simply just going after our most vulnerable; whether it’s the elderly or whether it’s our kids, it’s something in my opinion, and I’ve said this multiple times, it’s completely out of touch with the people in the 24th Congressional District. So, we’re here today to say, ‘Hands off!’”
If the GOP wants to create a deficit, they should go after the wasteful spending some of the other larger programs – “Let’s not go after children’s health insurance,” he added. “It’s a critical program, for people that are sometimes ‘working poor’ that can’t afford those high premium health insurances.”
CHIP has helped reduce the number of uninsured children in the country to a record low of just five percent.
Without adequate federal funding, states will face critical financial shortfalls, costing children their health care, Rozum said.
Fred Ringwald, of We the People of Oswego Indivisible, said the group is nonpartisan and focuses on issues that matter to residents of Oswego County.
What kind of society do you want to live in? he asked rhetorically.
“For me, this issue regarding the (possible cuts to CHIP) that’s not the kind of society I want to live in. And I’m going to speak out for us and asking for the kind of society that we want to live in,” he said.
Last year, Katko voted to renew the CHIP program, Rozum said.
It was “a sneaky” vote, she said, adding that by supporting the TrumpTax, which cuts $1.5 trillion from the budget by giving tax breaks to his rich friends “it puts the choice before Congress of – how are you going to balance the budget?”
Congressman Katko voted to pass the TrumpTax in December, claiming it would create jobs and boost wages.
Of course, the exact opposite has happened, Rozum said. Corporations are spending their savings on stock buybacks to reward executives and shareholders at 64 times the rate they’re spending it on worker raises and bonuses.
Only 4.2 percent of workers have gotten a raise or bonus as a result of the TrumpTax, while their employers rake in billions in savings.
Now, Congressman Katko and the rest of the Congressional Republicans are considering clawing back $15 billion in already-approved federal spending to justify letting their massive tax break for the wealthy continue, Rozum said.
“I utilized CHIP all through my childhood. My mom worked sometimes for six days a week, 12-hour days, on weekends. It’s kind of sad because I remember how hard she worked. And, I didn’t really see her that much,” Rozum said. “She was really happy when CHIP was implemented because it was such a major relief. I feel I have a personal connection to this program.”
It’s shameful instead of caring about us, John Katko cares about millionaires and his donors,” she said. “I think it’s really great that we’re here to stand up for the 21,000 children in this district … that rely on CHIP.”
About Speak Out Central New York
Speak Out CNY is dedicated to educating and empowering Central New Yorkers through grassroots organizing, digital advocacy, and community partnerships. By advocating for policies that help working families make ends meet, we aim to encourage our members of Congress to protect our health care and work to expand economic opportunity.