U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, D-Huntington, discussed the recent budget battle, taxes and foreign policy during a visit to hosted by the College Democrats on Thursday.
Speaking about the United Sates budget, Israel said that the budget “slashes Medicare” and “cuts Pell Grants,” and suggested that tax increases on wealthier Americans could prevent cuts like these.
In addition to suggesting returning to Clinton-era tax rates, Israel said he supports increased investment in infrastructure and education to redevelop the nation and move it out of the recession. Using the example of the development of Route 110 prior and after World War II, Israel illustrated how investment in education and infrastructure led to the creation of one of the most prosperous industrial centers in the United States.
After speaking for 15 minutes, Israel opened the floor to questions from students. In response to a question about the situation in Afghanistan, Israel said that a change in thinking might be in order in the Middle Eastern nation. Quoting military generals, he said that "we can’t bomb our way out of Afghanistan” and stressed the need for “organic community development.”
He then added that the National Solidarity Program, a World Bank orchestrated program that provides direct investment to communities within battered nations, could help achieve this. Israel said that in communities where the program has provided grants, the amount of violence has decreased dramatically.
The Congressman also expressed frustration in the Q&A session over what he called the “increased attack on unions,” saying that “most [worker] benefits came through union negotiations,” and that the “war on unions will hurt the Republicans."
News organizations were not allowed to pose questions to the Congressman.
Israel represents the second congressional District in New York, which encompasses much of western Suffolk County and small parts of eastern Nassau County. He represents East Farmingdale (where Farmingdale State College is located) and part of the Village of Farmingdale. Other parts of Farmingdale are represented by Rep. Peter King, R-Seaford.