Thursday, May 11, 2017

Down the Delaware

Delaware County, NY, immediately to my south, is Trump country. Clinton got 34% of the county's votes, to 61% for Trump. And Republican John Faso, who is also my House Member up here in Otsego County, won the open seat in NY-19 with 63% to 37% for Zephyr Teachout, the Democratic candidate.

The county is a bit on the poor side with lower per-capita income, median household income, and median family income than the U.S.
The poverty rate is slightly higher than the national average, at 15.3% to the national 14.7%.

The county is pretty white, at 92.6% of the population (same source as above).

It's also very rural, with 20% more land than Rhode Island but only 1/20th the people.

An important fact of life in Delaware is that most of the county is in the watershed of the upper Delaware River, which means it's part of the watershed for New York City's drinking water.

In the 1990's, the city faced a choice: meet new EPA standards for drinking water quality, or install a filtration system. The filtration would have been hugely expensive, and the city thought it could meet the EPA's standard more economically by reaching a deal with the counties upstate in the watershed.

The result was the 1997 Memorandum of Understanding. The basic idea is that the counties in the watershed would restrict land-disturbing economic activities, and the city would spend money promoting economic development that didn't impair the watershed's ability to provide clean water.

I won't get into whether the money the city spends is enough to make up for the economic restrictions, but as you can well imagine, there is a widespread perception in the watershed that they are little more than a resource colony of the pushy city that always gets its way.

All of which is to say, if you were looking for a place where somewhat poor rural whites are likely to feel taken advantage of by coastal elites, the statistical description of Delaware County suggests it would be a good place to look, and Trump's vote share there is consistent with one of the narratives about the Trump voter.

And that's why it's worth noting the resolution passed last night by the elected government of Delaware Country. The highlighting is mine. I just wanted to call your attention to the kind of statements being approved by the County Supervisors in an area that went strongly for Trump and for a Member of Congress who voted for Trumpcare.

The board is made up of 5 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 13 Republicans. And apparently they unanimously voted for this:

WHEREAS, the new President and Congress have indicated they plan to repeal and replace
the Affordable Care Act; and

WHEREAS, Congress is also considering capping federal Medicaid reimbursements to
states through a block grant or per capita cap; and

WHEREAS, the Affordable Care Act provides significant fiscal benefits to the state, counties and New York City through expanded Medicaid coverage and enhanced federal Medicaid matching rates; and

WHEREAS, counties and New York City are currently saving nearly $600 million annually from these enhanced federal Medicaid matching payments; and

WHEREAS, the Delaware County Board of Supervisors estimates that these savings will continue to grow over the next several years; and

WHEREAS, this federal fiscal relief, in conjunction with other state mandate relief initiatives and county actions to lower costs for taxpayers, has enabled more than half the counties to lower their property tax rates and nearly one-third to lower their property tax levies in recent years; and

WHEREAS, if these enhanced federal Medicaid matching funds are lost, every county in the state would experience significant increases in their annual Medicaid costs that would far outstrip their ability to maintain the state imposed property tax cap.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors calls on the Governor and State Legislature to hold local taxpayers fiscally harmless from any federal changes to the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid financing so we may preserve the gains that have been made so far due to the enhanced federal Medicaid matching rates available under the Affordable Care Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be sent to the Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and all others deemed necessary and proper.

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