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BETHEL, NY — Congressman Antonio Delgado addressed more than 100 constituents at a town hall meeting at the Catskill Distillery on July 31. He said it was his 19th such gathering since being sworn in at the beginning of the year.
Before opening the floor to questions, he detailed the issues he has been addressing through congressional legislation. He said he has introduced 14 bills to this point, and 10 of them had bipartisan support.
He has worked on farming issues, rural broadband, healthcare and other issues that directly impact his constituents in the NY 19th Congressional District, which includes all or parts of 11 counties, including all of Ulster, Sullivan and Delaware.
Delgado said connecting with voters and taking their concerns to Washington D.C. was the “first order of business.”
When he opened the floor to questions, he returned a couple of times to the economic inequality that exists in the country today. When a constituent suggested that tax incentives should be created to get companies to invest in rural broadband, he agreed but said that was not enough.
“There are a host of different ways using tax policy to incentivize investment in the area, no doubt, but I would take it one step further,” Delgado said. “There has to be a commitment, in terms of priorities when it comes to folks in Washington leadership, on this issue. There has to be a sense of how critically important it is, particularly to rural communities. How do we make it so people understand that nobody in this country should be without it?”
Delgado then touched on the role that he said greed too often plays in setting the public agenda. “Now, I believe in capitalism. It has a critical role to play in incentivizing investment, ingenuity, innovation, no question about it,” he said. “But when capitalism, or the pursuit of profit sucks the life out of democracy and equal opportunity, and creates grotesque levels of inequality where 80% of folks in the country share 20% of the wealth, and wage-earning is stagnant for 40-plus years while the economy doubles in size, that’s all a symptom of a system that is no longer putting people before profits. And we in rural parts of the country get hit the hardest.”
He returned to that theme again in response to a question about healthcare. “Upward mobility is what makes this country special,” he said. “People from all over the world come here for that opportunity, and something has gone wrong over the last 40 years or so, and a lot of that can to be tied to the ways in which we’ve allowed the corporate mentality to go search for wealth and cheap labor beyond our shores, and do whatever they can for the bottom line at the expense of everyday Americans. And on top of that we have a system that more and more and more is consumed and polluted by the almighty dollar.”