Editorial: Town & Village endorses de Blasio for mayor, Garodnick for Council

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio

Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio

In September, Town & Village endorsed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for mayor, because we believed out of all the candidates in that cluttered ballot, he was the best hope for the middle class in this city, in particular the city’s tenant population, because he would be the most effective fighter. At this time, with de Blasio set to face off against Joe Lhota, we still believe that to be true.

We do not however believe the fear mongering arguments by Lhota that if de Blasio is elected, New York City will return to the bad old days of muggers and squeegee men ruling the streets. This is simply the kind of mud slinging that reads as desperate as Lhota’s numbers in the polls continue to show that the residents of this city are in deed ready for change after 12 years of the same Republican mayor. We also don’t buy Lhota’s blasting of de Blasio’s “tale of two cities” shtick as being divisive, because that kind of division doesn’t need to be manufactured; it’s long been felt by people who have for some time been living in fear of being priced out of this city as the mayor has taken a mostly hands-off approach to matters like disappearing rent regulated housing and salaries that just haven’t kept pace with rising housing costs, including the yearly increases approved by the Rent Guidelines Board.

While Lhota has said he was committed to building new housing by offering tax incentives, de Blasio has been a lot more specific in his promises to build more of the affordable kind of housing and in protecting the existing stock of it by having City Hall work with (or put pressure on) the governor to get results in Albany on local housing laws. In an op-ed in this newspaper, he discussed the community of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village in particular, noting that, “It’s the responsibility of the city to ensure that these homes and other affordability housing are never beyond the reach of middle class New Yorkers.”

Lhota believes de Blasio to be an all-talk-and-no-action kind of candidate, but as with any election, all voters can do, whether they support de Blasio or Lhota, is decide whether their campaigns seem credible. In Lhota’s case, his platform is built around admittedly worthy goals of job creation in fields like bio-tech and science and also helping the economy by encouraging more tourism. However, when it comes to affordable housing, his only real plan is to review how taxes are charged to property owners. This won’t necessarily lead to lower costs for owners or tenants.

Interestingly, although de Blasio’s accepted plenty of real estate campaign cash (as Lhota’s been quick to correctly point out) the Democratic candidate still won the primary. This was in all likelihood based on the big promises he has made to the middle class and voters will be watching to see if and how he intends to make good on those promises if he can pull it off again and win the general election on November 5. That said, we hope he does. De Blasio has our endorsement for mayor.

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Oct. 31, Letters to the Editor

Obamacare by the numbers

To the Editor:

In his letter, “How the Affordable Health Care Act Works,” Floyd Smith was kind enough to clarify my “Who Does What for Whom?”  Mr. Smith contrasts a 20-year-old and a 70-year-old within an individual private health insurance plan, a group private insurance plan, and lastly, within the Affordable Health Care Act. The chief difficulty I have with Mr. Smith’s clarification is his framing. He freezes our focus on claims, cost and payments, then infers correctly that (his) 20-year-old subsidizes (his) 70-year-old, but leaves out other considerations that bear more fully on the question, “Do 20-year-olds subsidize 70-year-olds?”

According to Mr. Smith, since the 20-year-old belongs to a group that will, on average, make fewer claims than on average for 70-year-olds,the price for a 20-year-old who purchases health care for himself/herself from the “free enterprise insurance market” will be less than the price for a 70-year-old.

Fair enough! (Though I should add “All things being equal.”)

Second, however, when the 20-year-old, as a member of an employer’s group, purchases from the same market, his/her payments become based on the risk presented, on average, by the people in that group, but now includes higher costing 70-year-olds. When costs here are averaged over the population in the group, the premium level of 20-year-olds will be higher than when he/she bought private insurance. Thirdly, when the 20-year-old finds himself/herself part of a huge nation-wide group, she/he is again subject to higher premiums because this group includes those that make greater claims. So, again, the question: Do 20-year-olds subsidize 70-year-olds?

Grant for a moment that a 20-year-old who purchases a private individual health policy pays less than a 70-year-old who purchases the same insurance, but let’s look into the (actual) life of the 20-year-old and ask:

1. What in fact did the 20 year-old-pay when the 20-year-old paid as a private individual in the free enterprise health insurance market policy?

2. What does he/she pay when he/she pays into a free market group policy?

3. How do these private market policies for the 20-year-old compare with premiums within the government/private Affordable Health Care Act?

4. What happens within each if the individual cannot pay the premium?

5. What are the costs of drugs within each policy type?

Do we just assume throughout, along with Mr. Smith, that because a group contains 70-year-olds, the pristine 20-year-old paid more as a member of that group than he/she would have paid as a single buyer winging it on his/her own? That strikes me as too narrow a focus, and grants too much.

Within my knowledge, a 20-year-old going it alone will find health care exceedingly expensive, indeed, perhaps too expensive and often problematic.

John Giannone, ST

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