All we get is politics all the time. One election ends and the next immediately begins, with endless email requests for money to support both Democratic and Republican candidates. Is that all these people do? The folks in Washington do little for the common man. They certainly do not represent me, or people like me. I frequently write my Democrat representatives – Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez and recently elected Congressman Antonio Delgado – and I hear nothing back.
Meanwhile I get requests for financial support from Democrats beyond New York, and have given money to many, but when it comes to assisting taxpaying citizens and donors to do something for the broad public interest, these folks report I am not a “constituent” and therefore they will not help me, not even listen to or read my letters or emails. How can they expect to get non-constituents to support their election efforts?
Two years ago, I was trying to get members of the Congressional committees on health care to oppose Trump’s attempts to kill medical tax deductions. No one, not even my own representatives, would pay attention to my emails, phone calls and letters. I finally wrote an article titled “Will Donald Trump force me to kill my wife?,” which was published in The Daily Beast. My wife suffers from Parkinson’s and dementia, costing me $150,000 a year to keep her safe and comfortable—most of that expense is still tax deductible, though Trump and Republicans sought otherwise with their proposed end to medical tax deductions, which would have ruined me financially. I have no idea if my article, copies of which were sent to Congress, had any effect. Medical tax deductions, thank goodness, remain in force.
My most recent letter to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez praising her position on taxes and the attention she is paying to global warming garnered no response. I know that she is new in office and is probably understaffed. Still, she seems to be continuing the same behavior as all other electeds, ignoring her constituents.
I wrote Ocasio-Cortez as follows on January 7 of this year:
I am writing in support of your proposed 70% federal income tax on the very rich and a redistribution of these resources to the middle class and the poor. I support Medicare for all, college finance for those who qualify, a real program to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and more.
But I would go further. We need to eliminate the $135,000 limit on the 11% Social Security and Medicare tax. There should be no limit. This is the only way to avoid the collapse of Social Security when more of us have retired and need SS to survive. A bank president who takes home $20 million a year should contribute $2.2 million to Social Security – not $13,750.
You represent the South Bronx District 14, near the Hunts Point area where nearly three decades ago, as a traffic engineer and environmental activist, I assisted in forcing New York city and state officials to divert heavy trucks from the streets of the mostly Hispanic residential community. The trucks on these local streets were running over children, maiming and killing them. After a six-month study in which I got considerable community assistance (I worked with a 60-year-old woman who did not speak English – and I do not speak Spanish), I produced a traffic report that convinced government officials to reroute the trucks and save lives.
I am now 80 years old and spend most of my time caring for my wife who is dying from Parkinson’s and dementia. Together, Carolyn and I devoted 65,000 hours of our professional time providing pro-bono engineering services to New York City communities over the course of 50 years, while running two engineering companies.
I hope this letter actually gets to your attention. For the last decade I have been writing similar letters to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congresswomen Velasquez with little response and no action. I hope that this new year, with your fantastic win in District 14, will change all this. You are our hope for the future.
Well, it has been three months since I mailed that letter – and no response from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. True, what I wrote her is nothing earth-shattering and could be easily ignored – although failure to respond to taxpaying constituents is part of what’s killing our democracy.
Brian Ketcham is a retired traffic engineer and environmental activist in Brooklyn. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.