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The Post-Standard - Commentary: Dan Maffei Shares his Vision for Getting Central New York and the Nation Back on Track


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By Dan Maffei

Last week, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle said that she and I have competing visions for the future of our country and applauded Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, calling it "a good move." Ryan, a Republican who represents a Wisconsin district, is the architect of the Ryan Budget, which replaces Medicare with a privatized voucher program that will raise costs on seniors by $6,400 a year. At the same time, it will give huge new tax breaks to billionaires, and it doesn't even balance the budget for almost 30 years. The fact that Buerkle shares that vision is very disappointing.

Here in Central New York we need a strong middle class, a first-rate education for our children and secure retirements for our seniors. In the Buerkle-Ryan vision, fewer resources are available to educate our children, the middle class pays higher taxes and can't rely on Medicare, and women don't have access to lifesaving health care. That difference in vision extends to how we think the economy can get back on track, and how we ensure that Central New Yorkers get the opportunity they deserve.

In recent years,the middle class in America has been squeezed to the point that the very idea of the American Dream is at risk. Here in Central New York we have seen manufacturers with good jobs close up shop or move to Mexico or China just as a college education has gotten harder for our children to afford. It is time to move our country back to growing our middle class, and return the American Dream to every Central New Yorker.

That means we need to balance our budget the right way, not on the backs of the middle class and seniors. We must cut waste and fraud, but it's also time we ask those making more than $1 million a year to return to their Clinton-era tax rates. In the 24th Congressional District, that would affect only one-tenth of 1 percent of all taxpayers. It's also well past time that we end tax breaks for big oil and for companies that ship jobs overseas. Finally, we need to stop nation-building and bring our troops home as quickly and safely as possible. If we can make these common-sense adjustments, then we can pay down our debt and focus our resources on smart investments in education and infrastructure that will help our economy grow for everyone.

In order for our local businesses to grow and hire new workers, we need to give them the infrastructure they need to move their products and people to new markets. That means improving our airport, attracting at least one other low-cost airline, repairing our crumbling roads and bridges and making rail a real transportation option for people and freight by improving reliability and speed.

Our children deserve the best education we can give them. From pre-K through college or trade school, we need an education system that prepares our children to compete in the world economy. For too long we've been giving new college graduates a mortgage with no house. It's time to work together with our great colleges and universities to control costs so that college is reasonable for middle-class families.

Central New York is the best place in the world to raise a family, but we need to put ourselves back on the map so that it stays that way for generations to come. We can't do that under the Buerkle-Ryan vision. But if we have the right priorities, I know we can get it done because we've done it before. It's why I'll never give up on Central New York. I know we can rebuild the middle class. All we need is a fair shot.

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