Following-up on the response of Mayor Matt Ryan on debt ceiling and Binghamton NY

On Monday July 18th, the office of Mayor Matt Ryan responded to our questions on the potential consequences for Binghamton, NY of a failure to raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd. As we stated then, we thank the Mayor for his timely response on a matter that directly affects the residents of Binghamton, but also is a massive concern for Americans across the country.

Due to exact statements made, our original questions, and the nature of the potential crisis we sought to interview Mayor Ryan to follow-up and further clarify his thoughts. We were informed today that due to the unknown factors of how President Obama and Congress will act, and in what timeframe, Mayor Ryan declined our request.

We respect the response from Mayor Ryan. In the past he has given us ample time for our questions and impromptu interviews. Given the many questions surrounding the debt ceiling talks, and the limited ability of Mayor Ryan to influence even the Senators and Congressman that represent the area, we accept that response.

But that does not mean we do not have further questions.

We asked Mayor Ryan (and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Senator Kirsten Gilligbrand, and Senator Charles Schumer) how this may potentially affect constituents.

The response from Mayor Ryan’s office was that it could cause a problem in bond funding for the City of Binghamton. As we understand this, that is a rather intermediate to long-term issue. The City of Binghamton does not issue bonds on a daily basis. The payments on the bonds are not due on a daily basis, nor in excess of the revenues generated by the City. Nor does the failure, short-term, to raise funds at attractive rates via bonds impede the ability of the City to operate its essential operations.

In fact, the City has bonds that are already in place and funding road and bridge repais, improvements to infrastructure, and other activities. Until those funds are exhausted, and the need for further funding is required, new bonds are not required.

Which brings us to our question of how will this impact Binghamton residents. From the statement made, it appears that there is no immediate impact to essential services. Thus the direct statement,

“In the end, a federal default will put the breaks on a great deal of important municipal business in our state and nationwide, and that’s why we’re urging our federal leaders to avoid a default without hurting working families, the poor, the elderly, the sick and others who are most vulnerable.”

Seems more inline with fear than fact – on a short-term and intermediate basis. If this is incorrect, we again request that the Mayor correct our assumptions, which we will publish VERBATIM, as always.

To our question of what is being done to prepare for a failure to pass the debt ceiling, the response made no indication. Whether this was an oversight, an acknowledgement that there was no short-term challenge to the operation of the City, or that there is no option available is unknown.

To our question if Mayor Ryan has spoken with Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who represents Binghamton and the surrounding area, we have no answer. The same can be said of contact with either Senator for New York (Schumer and Gillibrand). Equally absent of response was whether or not discussion has occurred with NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Whether this is because public comment cannot be made, or that the elected officials failed to respond to attempts to speak on this matter is unknown.

Instead, the office of Mayor Ryan pointed to a position on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Such positions are popular and inline with Mayor Ryan’s views. But neither war is the source of the problems with the debt ceiling, nor the massive national debt – though both do contribute. Removal of those war efforts tomorrow, will NOT end the need to raise the debt ceiling, nor enable repayment of the national debt. It does not rein in the spending by the Government, nor balance the national budget. While it will reduce, somewhat, the increase in debt it does not fix that actual problem.

But we respect that this is an important position for many. Yet we must also ask why the office of Mayor Ryan blatantly avoided mentioning the costs and actions in Libya? That too drains funds from national coffers. That too requires our soldiers to be in harms way (not every bomb and flight is with an unmanned drone). Is Mayor Ryan also opposed to the operations in Libya? Will the Mayor publicly denounce those operations, that are highly debatable as an overreaching of the powers of the President, just has he does in Libya and Afghanistan?

But lets not be distracted, as the statement from Mayor Ryan’s office leads us to be. The question is the debt ceiling and how it impacts Binghamton as well as the State of New York and the nation.

The statement by the office of Mayor Ryan also advocates an increase in taxation on the “rich”. This is a party-line view.

New York State has increase taxes for years. The result was an increased deficit. Increases of taxes did not increase the jobs created, nor decrease the loss of population from New York (as Census records prove). New York State is one of the most highly taxed, highly regulated States in the nation. We also are one of the leading States in debt, and the potential for default. IF only increasing taxes does not work here, how will that improve the national debt, or remove the continued reliance on debt ceiling increases?

We also take deference to another part of the statement

“The US has the widest wealth gap of all industrialized nations, the bottom 90-99% of earners are paying the price…”

. That’s not exactly true.

Just recently (2009) 51% of people in the nation either paid no taxes or received a refund. 49%, overwhelmingly those that are in the top portion of wealth, paid all the tax revenues. Of that proportion, the top 10% paid for roughly 70%. Which says nothing of the fact that the United States has one of, if not the, leading qualities of life in the world. Estimates are such that even the poor in America have a quality of life that exceeds almost exponetially that of 3rd world nations.

Thus the focus on pay disparity, which is large (approx 263x from CEO’s of the Fortune 500 vs their average employees as of 2010), is painting an inaccurate picture.

But we are lead to this question, how much personal income – after paying taxes – have members of elected Government (and private citizens) voluntarily given to the IRS? The average citizen in Binghamton makes roughly $25,000 (2000 Census and just $2,500 over the poverty line of 2011). Rep. Maurice Hinchey makes $175,000 just from his position (not including his pensions or investments). That’s about 7x the average, and more than 7.7x those making at the poverty line or less (roughly 24% of all residents in Binghamton). How much should Rep. Hinchey be donating to the IRS? How much more should he pay in taxes?

To our knowledge and research, not one dime of income was donated by elected officals to the IRS, not even from the politicians that demand that the “rich” (which a 7x disparity can easily be called) pay more.

But again, this is a distraction from the issue at hand.

If the debt ceiling is not passed, what will happen to Binghamton in the short-term? Intermeidate? Long-term? We still have no idea, and we expect neither does any resident in New York State.

We understand that there is a great deal that is unknown. We understand that there is a great deal in the hands of the Obama Administration (in case of failing to raise the debt ceiling). We understand that elected officials outside of Washington DC have little influence, and possibly even less information.

But we sought to understand what is underway. How residents may best be prepared and to remain confident that elected leaders are investigating plans to ensure their way of life. We continue to seek that. To that end we are still open to hear from, and provide VERBATIM, the comments from all the elected officials we have sent letters to and mentioned herein.


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About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

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