How to Beat President Trump in New York

Roll back. Repeal. Revoke.

It’s the new, bombs-away language that seems to rain down from Washington D.C. every day. Obliterating practical reform is the goal. Rolling back decades of progress — on everything from workers’ rights, to commonsense financial regulation, to immigrant protections, and a woman’s right to make her own healthcare choices — is the mission.

As the directives from Washington grow more and more offensive, major cities and states will have to stand as a bulwark against the backwards and regressive policies coming from the White House.

That’s why every New York policymaker — at all levels of government — must ask themselves what our city and state can do to protect our residents and provide a progressive and inclusive contrast to Trump’s reactionary agenda.

We need a concerted effort to push back against the relentless attacks on our core values through both direct action and policy. As we take to the streets to make our voices heard, we need to be armed with a plan for real reform.

We need to take the fight to the White House — with words, legislation, and action.

And in New York, we can do just that by enacting concrete, forward-thinking laws that protect the progress we’ve won, even as President Trump’s White House tries to move us in the other direction.

Taxes

It’s no secret that the wealth gap in our country is growing dramatically — and that President Trump will only make it worse with new tax cuts that benefit the wealthy.

Here in New York, we can focus our attention at the other end of the economic spectrum — supporting our lowest-income residents. We can resist Trump’s tax cuts by lifting up those he’s leaving behind.

The way to do that is by expanding New York State’s and City’s earned income tax credit (EITC). This program has been praised for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike as one of the nation’s most effective anti-poverty initiatives — it’s a tax cut for the people who need it most. Right now there is legislation in Albany that would raise the state’s match of the federal tax break from 30% to 35%, and another bill sponsored by Assemblyman Francisco Moya and Senator Jose Serrano that would triple the City’s match to 15%.

My office found that changing just the City’s EITC contribution would put hundreds of dollars extra a year directly into the pockets of low-income working families. We can send a real message by passing these bills on Tax Day and then joining rallies across New York demanding President Trump release his returns.

Choice

With just more than a month under his belt, President Trump has already nominated an ultra-conservative justice to the Supreme Court, and he’s made no secret of his desire to take away a woman’s right to make important healthcare decisions.

The White House might want to make it harder for Americans to safely access abortions and contraceptives, but we don’t have to stand for that in New York. Both chambers in Albany need to pass the Reproductive Healthcare Act, which would forever codify the protections of Roe v. Wade in state law. If the Federal government isn’t going to protect this right, New York must.

And we can’t sit idly by as President Trump prepares to scrap the Affordable Care Act. Albany must pass the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, which — like the ACA — would require insurance companies to provide cost-free coverage for at least one version of all FDA-approved contraception methods.

Financial Regulation

We also have to make sure President Trump doesn’t let his friends on Wall Street take advantage of Main Street.

The President is looking to stymie an Obama-era reform that required all financial advisors to follow something called the “fiduciary standard.” That means they — legally — had to put their client’s interest above their own when advising on retirement investments. But now, thanks to President Trump, that basic consumer protection is under threat.

Consider this. Right now, many brokers are legally allowed push investments that reward them with high fees, but provide low returns for their unsuspecting clients. It’s lunacy.

We should make deceptive practices like this all but impossible in New York by requiring every investment advisor to state — in plain language — whether they follow the fiduciary standard or not. That’s why I worked with Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz on legislation that would make every broker who doesn’t follow the fiduciary standard look their clients in the eye and tell them their retirement isn’t as important as the broker’s profit.

Immigration

President Trump has done so much damage to our nation’s proud immigrant history so quickly, it’s hard to know where to start. He’s tried to ban refugees and green card holders. He’s announced the creation of deportation task forces. And he’s promised to build a wall on our southern border. All of these plans are offensive to our values as New Yorkers and Americans.

It will take a lot of work to turn back this tide of anti-immigrant policies, but across the country, those efforts have already begun. After President Trump signed his “Muslim ban” Executive Order, Americans stood up to speak out. From LAX to JFK to Kansas City International Airport to Battery Park City and Brooklyn Borough Hall, we made our voices heard.

These rallies sent a powerful message. So can our laws.

One meaningful way New York can step up is by giving undocumented immigrants the right to driver’s licenses. This isn’t a radical proposal — a dozen states already do it, and New York is falling behind. This plan works — largely because it’s a commonsense reform.

My office released a report — in collaboration with the New York Immigration Coalition and the Fiscal Policy Institute — which estimates issuing these licenses would raise more than $50 million in revenues for the state, cities, and counties. At the same time, it would lower insurance premiums for all drivers and expand job opportunities for immigrants.

With the Trump Administration stalling progress on the national level, it’s time to hit the gas in New York and support Assemblyman Francisco Moya’s bill to provide these licenses.

Retirement Security

Last week, Republican leaders in Congress began the formal process of repealing two Obama Administration rules that allowed states and cities to help private sector workers who don’t have access to retirement savings plans through their jobs.

Last year, I put forward a proposal that would take advantage of President Obama’s reforms and give every New Yorker the ability to save for retirement. But Congressional Republicans want to stop this work in its tracks. The GOP would rather side with Wall Street than give millions of New Yorkers the chance to build their retirement savings.

It simply doesn’t make sense — and New Yorkers should make sure President Trump understands that. He must veto these repeal bills, and give state and local governments across the country the flexibility they need to help their residents grow their nest eggs.

We’ve all seen the chaos President Trump can create with the stroke of a pen — or the turmoil that follows each of his tweets. Cast against the upheaval the President can cause, these are admittedly limited steps.

But when you take these reforms together — taxes, choice, regulation, immigration, and retirement — they have the potential to impact the lives of millions of New Yorkers in real and measurable ways. Beyond the direct impact, these programs would loudly and boldly say that we are going to stand strong in the face of an intolerant, extremist White House.

We’re New Yorkers — and this is how we resist.

Scott M. Stringer is the Comptroller of the City of New York