After facing a primary challenge in June and defeating two challengers in 2016, veteran Congressman Gregory Meeks, a Democrat, now running for his 11th two-year term, is unopposed on this year’s ballot in the 5th Congressional District.
The district encompasses southwest Queens, Elmont, Inwood and Valley Stream. The Herald asked Meeks questions on important issues to his constituents.
Herald: What change or changes would you make to the Trump tax plan?
Gregory Meeks: Although many provisions in Trump’s tax law are misguided, I would first repeal the Trump administration’s SALT cap, which was rubber stamped by the GOP. The cap on deductions for state and local taxes negatively impacts states like New York with high property taxes and disproportionately punishes states that didn’t support Trump in the 2016 election.
I would also support a complete overhaul of the tax code to reverse negative effects of Trump’s law, which has proven to drive inequality. Recent studies have demonstrated that Trump’s law would overwhelmingly benefit wealthy individuals at the expense of households of color, lower income households and those in the already disappearing middle class. I would push for true tax reform as opposed to a mere tax cut for the most well-to-do Americans.
Herald: How can the interests of national security be balanced with the country’s history of allowing immigrants to become U.S. citizens?
Meeks: At the core of America’s ethos has been the concept of a society open to those facing persecution or lack of economic opportunity abroad. I support immigration policies that further America’s global role as a beacon of light that others can aspire towards. I believe our law enforcement officials have been good stewards of our national security and should continue to receive financial and moral support from Congress. However, support for a robust national security community and policies that are welcoming to hardworking immigrants are not mutually exclusive.
Herald: What should be done to help ensure health care is more affordable and available for everyone?
Meeks: First, we must restore, preserve and shore up the policies passed by Democrats under the Affordable Care Act. However, in addition to protecting the ACA, we must seriously consider policies that further reduce health care costs and pharmaceutical drug prices, while increasing research funds for terminal illnesses like cancer.
Herald: How can the federal government do more to identify the environmental factors that contribute to Long Island’s higher than average cancer rates?
Meeks: Currently, research is being conducted to determine the cause of elevated cancer levels in Long Island, including studies on demographic, socioeconomic and environmental factors. As those important studies continue, there are things we can do today to protect our environment from toxins.
For example, I am a co-sponsor of the “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act,” which transitions away from fossil fuel energy sources to clean energy, including renewables. The legislation is backed by groups like Breast Cancer Action, National Nurses United and the Center for Environmental Health because of the link between dangerous fuels and heightened health risks, including cancer susceptibility. While this bill won’t cure cancer, it would help reduce air pollution that we know can be a contributing factor to cancer diagnosis.