NY-22 Minute: Tenney Talks Trump, Media, Healthcare, & Education Over Coffee By Luke Perry
On Tuesday I attended a scheduled session of “Coffee with Claudia” in the New Hartford district office. The last NY-22 Minute shared the main topics discussed and compared recent comments by Ms. Tenney to past ones. This piece will similarly share perspectives that emerged during the final ten minutes of the session in disjointed fashion after being informed time was running out.
On the Media: Ms. Tenney was asked if she thought she was fairly treated by the media. “It depends on the media,” she responded, though in some ways “absolutely not.” She referenced her previous work in the industry and believes some in the media have made a concerted effort to prevent her from getting elected. In doing so, Ms. Tenney commented that she may be the only person in the House not endorsed by her party’s county committees. Tenney also lamented a “lost sense of real investigative journalism”
On Democrats and President Trump: Tenney stated that House Democrats want to work with her, but their leadership won’t let them. She then referenced Donald Trump: “The President is a lifelong Democrat until recently. Whatever he is, he is a transactional kind of person. His daughter is a Democrat.” President Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 through 2008, but before (1987 to 1998) and after (2009 to present) was a registered Republican (with a short stint of being unaffiliated between 2011 and 2012).
On Education: Ms. Tenney expressed her disagreement with current education policy under the Trump administration and her desire to have Betsy Devos come to the district. She believes Utica is different and the Secretary of Education needs to understand that.
Tenney has previously criticized aspects of the budget proposed by President Trump, including the proposed elimination of the 21st Century Community Learning Program operated by The Department of Education. The program “supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.”
On Healthcare: One constituent shared her view that the GOP healthcare bill was a “disaster” and that people will die if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. This person explained that she had a serious health issue that was addressed because her insurance made it possible to be detected early enough for effective treatment. Others without insurance would end up in the emergency room when it would be too late.
Ms. Tenney acknowledged that the American Healthcare Act (AHCA) “won’t solve the problem.” Tenney shared that she has friends who make too much money for Medicaid and have to pay for their own healthcare.
“Most of the people here today were very helpful,” Tenney stated during one of the more personal moments of the discussion. Ms. Tenney shared that she was a single mom, raised by a mother who was an alcoholic, and both her parents experienced serious health challenges. “I know how hard it is,” Tenney said, sharing that she did all the jobs of her employees (as a small business owner) when they got sick.
After passage of the AHCA, Tenney celebrated the bill (as seen above), which she voted for and passed by just four votes in the House. Tenney also wrote an op-ed publicly defending it, which stated that “while I don’t think it’s perfect,” the AHCA “is a step in the right direction,” because “it opens the individual insurance market to more choice while maintaining the consumer protections Americans have come to demand.” “Most importantly,” the op-ed concluded, “it keeps the promise I made to my constituents to repeal Obamacare and replace it with an alternative that increases access to quality care at a price that is truly affordable.”
As of this month, data from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at Cornell University shows that the American Healthcare Act is the least popular bill in 30 years.
The next Coffee with Claudia will be tomorrow at Congresswoman Tenney’s district office in Binghamton (49 Court Street, Metro Center, Suite 210) from 11:00am to 1:00pm.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
Read the NY-22 Minute for timely and comprehensive analysis of the campaign.