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Reed and Robertson spar over health care

By Jerry Zremski

    WASHINGTON -- The Democratic candidate who's challenging Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, favored a single-payer health care plan before Congress passed Obamacare, and Reed is making an issue of it.

    Days after a YouTube site called "Legal Insurrection" aired a compilation of years-old videos in which Martha Robertson endorsed a health system run entirely by the federal government, Reed on Monday said that's a stance that should worry voters.

    "In my opinion, that's government-controlled, government-run health care, and I think that's the wrong policy for America," Reed told reporters on his weekly conference call.  "It's problematic and it's something the voters should be aware of. If you put her position on single payer health care out to the American people as well as the voters of the 23rd congressional district, it would be resoundingly rejected."

    The video shows Robertson saying that the American health care system "needs to be single payer." She also portrayed Obamacare as a path to a government-run health plan, saying: "We'll get to single payer soon."

    Asked about those comments on Monday, Robertson said she now favors "fixing the Affordable Care Act" rather than replacing it with a single-payer plan.

    "The American people want their government to solve problems and not to have the same arguments over and over again," said Robertson, who chairs the Tompkins County Legislature. "This is the law of the land. It's been in place for three years already with people getting insurance who haven't been able to get it before, people keeping insurance that they couldn't keep before, seniors paying less for their prescription drugs. That's already in place. Tom Reed would turn that back, would take that away from his neighbors."

Jerry Zremski's The Week in Washington

News Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Zremski expects a busy week ahead as he wraps up a project on fracking and plans more coverage of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Monday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- Politico brings us today's top read, which details what could go wrong next on Obamacare.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post examines Washington's new wealth.

And The New York Times delves deep into the Cheney family's split over gay marriage.

Christie more popular than Cuomo in New York

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – Ouch.

We’ll let the numbers speak.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, yes from the Garden State, has a higher favorability rating in New York than the Empire State’s own Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In the latest Siena College poll out this morning, Christie has a 63 percent favorability rating in New York compared to 61 percent for Cuomo.

Other numbers show continued problems but also some good news for Cuomo.

On the problem side, 56 percent give his job performance a negative rating, his worst since taking office in January 2011. Forty-four percent give him a positive rating. Upstate, the numbers are gloomy: 65 percent say they don’t like the job Cuomo is doing in office.

Fifty-one percent of New Yorkers say they would vote to re-elect Cuomo -– down from 62 percent last December -- with 41 percent saying they would like someone else in the governor’s office.

But New Yorkers, at least right now, aren’t impressed by the possible opponents Cuomo might face next year. The Siena poll shows Cuomo beating Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox and Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino by as much as 41 points.

As for the 2016 presidential election, more New Yorkers -– 47 percent to 42 percent –- would vote for Christie than Cuomo. But 56 percent said they would vote for Hillary Clinton, compared to the 40 percent of New Yorkers who would vote for Christie.

Video: Paladino's possible governor bid spurs statewide attention

Paladino's vow to run for governor on the Conservative line if Republicans don't find an acceptable candidate has garnered attention beyond Western New York. The News' Bob McCarthy talks with Brian Meyer about the developer's comments:



Friday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- Not surprisingly, today's top reads are all about Obamacare.

First and foremost, The New York Times likens President Obama's recent performance to that of former President George W. Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post's Dan Balz notes that Obama now faces his toughest campaign.

And Politico details Obama's messy break with the insurance industry.

Back-and-forth on Brand-On

By Jill Terreri

The disagreement between the city and Brand-On Services over what the company owes under its contract to operate the Erie Basin Marina continues, and a deadline is looming. 

Tomorrow is the deadline for Brand-On to pay its invoice with the city, for $343,245. The company, run by the Wolasz family, has disputed that amount, and said it only owes $27,412. A meeting last week between the parties did not resolve the matter. 

The Common Council has urged that a compromise be reached, but that has not happened yet. Legal action by the city to recover the funds is possible. 

Continue reading "Back-and-forth on Brand-On" »

Cuomo says hundreds of companies interested in START-UP

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – As his economic development agency Wednesday proposed emergency rules to implement his START-UP NY program, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said hundreds of companies have expressed an interest in getting tax-free benefits in return for locating start-up businesses on college campuses.

“It will sell itself,’’ Cuomo said of the tax-free program that was approved earlier this year. At an event on Long Island, he added, “I wish I could do zero taxes for the entire state. Unfortunately, I can’t. It’s impossible.’’

Cuomo did not identify any of the companies interested, nor is it certain how serious their interest might be or whether they would even qualify under the law’s provisions that restricts the kinds of companies eligible.

The governor believes the program will lure companies and workers to New York with the promise of no taxation, including for employee wages for 10 years. The companies would be located on public or private colleges, or nearby. Critics call the program a corporate giveaway that only rewards a select few companies while taxes still remain high for other businesses struggling to remain in places like upstate.

The Department of Economic Development Wednesday published in the New York State Register its emergency and proposed rulemaking for the START-UP program. It lists various provisions of the program, including that Cuomo and legislative leaders will be the ones choosing -- through their own handpicked board -- what companies get to locate tax-free at private colleges while those going to state university campuses will need final approval by Cuomo’s economic development commissioner.

The rules note a company must guarantee job creation in the first year and that it “not be engaged in the same line of business that it conducted at any time within the last five years in New York without the approval of the commissioner. Companies must also certify that they “would not compete with another business in the same community but outside the tax-free area.’’

The emergency rulemaking document also shows the governor’s economic development office does not believe it has to conduct an analysis of various effects the tax-free program might have on such things as job creation and impact of lost property tax revenues for localities. Such cost analysis work is often performed by agencies when proposing new rules.

“Because it is evident from the nature of the proposed rule that it will have a net positive impact on small businesses and local government, no further affirmative steps were needed to ascertain that fact and none were taken. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis for small business and local government is not required and one has not been prepared,’’ the rules state.

As for a “job impact statement,’’ the rules state none is needed because the program “will have either no impact or a positive impact on job and employment opportunities.’’

The new rulemaking notice also includes this paragraph: “Cost to the state government: none.’’ Cuomo’s budget office earlier this year projected the program will cost the state $323 million by 2017. 



Wednesday's must-reads from Washington

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- The bad news just keeps piling up for Obamacare.

For example, in today's top read, The Washington Post tells us that is unlikely to be fixed this month after all.

Meantime, The New York Times notes that some state health care exchanges are having problems, too.

And Politico notes that the expansion of Medicaid is in trouble as well.

Cuomo fundraiser back at the Hyatt

   By Robert J. McCarthy

   It's back to the Hyatt Regency Buffalo for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's big fundraiser on Nov. 19.

   Cuomo supporters had originally slated an event aiming to raise several hundred thousand dollars for Cuomo 2014 on Nov. 6 at the Hyatt. But that event was suddenly switched to Templeton Landing, a move skeptical leaders of the Independent Oil and Gas Association say stemmed from their meeting slated for the same night on the same Hyatt floor.

   “It may or may not be a coincidence; maybe he was not comfortable with us right across the hall,” said Brad Gill, IOGA’s executive directo, in early November. “I certainly find it ironic.”

   But in another twist of irony, sources close to Cuomo say the event rescheduled for Nov. 19 is now back at the Hyatt -- presumably with no pro-fracking groups right across the hall.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |