Issues

  • Jobs & The Economy

    Zephyr Teachout believes that the beating heart of the Hudson Valley and Catskills has always been independent businesses and small to mid-scale farms.

    Rebuilding a new, 21st Century economy is possible. But it means directly confronting decades of failed policy, driven by big business lobbyists and misguided regulation. Zephyr will fight to bring jobs home and make things in America again, and has a 7-point plan to support independent businesses and grow a thriving local economy. 

    In Congress, Zephyr will protect jobs and grow our economy by:

    • Reducing out-of-control property taxes and providing relief for homeowners. The tax burden on families and independent business owners is simply too high. Because New York requires counties to take on Medicaid reimbursement costs, property taxes have skyrocketed. Zephyr supports property tax relief for middle-class homeowners and targeted tax help for households struggling with family needs like child care and job training.
       
    • Making big banks lend to independent businesses. Access to affordable credit is the lifeblood of independent business – both for start-up and continuing operations. But the big banks are choking our economic recovery. We must demand that they serve the independent businesses that are the backbone of our private-sector workforce.
       
    • Supporting "Buy American, Buy Local" and stopping disastrous trade deals. Trade deals like NAFTA and the proposed TPP are the work of lobbyists for big foreign monopolies, and they are devastating for our communities. We need common sense trade deals that protect local manufacturing and processing, and we must reject the TPP.
       
    • Cutting red tape and unfair fees. Big companies hire lobbyists to get tax loopholes in closed-door negotiations, while small companies have excess paperwork and none of the tax benefits. We must demand that when any regulation is evaluated, we consider the effect on local communities and independent businesses.
       
    • Controlling healthcare costs. Independent business owners are being squeezed by health insurance costs, where coverage for themselves and their employees is simply too expensive. We must reduce insurance costs by fighting the outrageous behavior of big pharmaceutical corporations that set arbitrary and abusive prices.
       
    • Taking on modern monopolies. As industry after industry has consolidated, our economy has become one where giant corporations corner markets, while independent businesses struggle to compete. By actually enforcing existing laws, and expanding our antitrust tools, we can take on the modern monopoly powers.
       
    • Ensuring access to universal competitive broadband and cell phone service to provide local business owners with the necessary tools they need to run a successful businesses and provide for their families. Access to high quality, affordable Internet and cell phone service is essential to compete in the 21st Century economy. Yet the services we now have are woefully inadequate.  We need to provide broadband service to every corner of the Hudson Valley and Catskills, and to boost our independent business economy to its thriving potential.
  • Campaign Finance & Corruption

    Zephyr Teachout is a nationally recognized leader in the fight against corruption in government. She’s stood up to powerful interests and raised up the voices of those left behind by our broken political system.

    Recent water contamination crises in local communities like Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh are an urgent reminder that the chemical industry’s domination of federal policy, at the expense of water quality, has put the safety of our drinking water at risk. She’ll bring that fight to Congress by:

    • Fighting for public financing of elections.
    • Working every day to overturn Citizens United.
    • Closing the “revolving door,” in which elected representatives and senior staff sell off their legislative power for high-paying lobbying jobs. Stop them from negotiating jobs while in office, and once they leave, bar them from all lobbying activity for several years.
  • Protecting Clean Water

    Zephyr Teachout will fight to protect our water from the greed of big polluters and the corruption of our political system. She will strengthen laws that prevent big corporations from poisoning our water supply, make sure that polluters pay to clean up the mess they made, and fight to ensure that affected families get the resources they need.

    When it comes to protecting our water in New York, Zephyr’s track record couldn’t be stronger: she has worked with community leaders to pass a statewide ban on fracking, has been an advocate for the people of Hoosick Falls and Newburgh who have had their water poisoned, and has been outspoken in her opposition to the proposed anchorages that would turn the Hudson River into a parking lot for oil barges.

    In Congress, Zephyr will continue to be a fierce protector of clean water by:

    • Forcing corporate polluters to clean up the mess they made. In Congress, Zephyr will make sure companies like General Electric can’t walk away from still-polluted waterways like the Hudson River.
       
    • Supporting health and monitoring programs for local communities. In the ongoing water crisis in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh, companies like St. Gobain and Honeywell must pay for medical monitoring programs and health funds for impacted communities.
       
    • Reforming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to close the revolving door between government regulators and the oil and gas industry. FERC must prevent conflicts of interest that incentivize approval of dangerous projects like the Constitution and NED pipelines that threaten our drinking water.
       
    • Investing in crucial infrastructure needed to protect our water systems. 95% of the submitted improvement projects to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program remain unfunded due to the overwhelming demand.
       
    • Opposing efforts to build anchorages for oil barges on the Hudson River by joining with colleagues to pass Congressman Maloney’s “Hudson River Protection Act.”
       
    • Fighting to stop fracking and the dangers it poses to our drinking water -- and advocating for clean, renewable energy that can create millions of jobs in our country. 
  • Taxes

    Zephyr Teachout believes that we need to lower property taxes for working families and reform the broken tax system that lets wealthy individuals and big corporations avoid paying their fair share.

    New York State has the highest property taxes in the country, and the resulting burden is crushing the middle class. At the same time, giant corporations and Wall Street bankers are raking in record profits while paying next to nothing taxes -- and sticking everyday Americans with the bill.

    In Congress, Zephyr will fight for a fair tax system by:

    • Working to reduce out-of-control property taxes and provide relief for homeowners. Because New York requires counties (instead of the state) to take on Medicaid reimbursement costs, property taxes have skyrocketed -- and the resulting burden on working families is unacceptable. In Congress, Zephyr will work to address the root causes of high property taxes in New York by making Albany pay its fair share.
       
    • Advocating for stronger targeted tax help for middle-class households. To provide immediate relief for New York homeowners, Zephyr supports the “circuit-breaker”, a bipartisan solution that provides a tax credit to families who pay an unfair amount of property taxes as a share of their income.  
       
    • Fighting for targeted tax help for households struggling with family needs like child care and job training. By providing relief for families that need it most, Zephyr will work to ensure the wellbeing of children and create opportunities for new careers in emerging sectors of our economy.
       
    • Closing the “carried interest loophole” that billionaire hedge fund managers exploit to pay a lower tax rate than the rest of us. Closing this loophole isn’t just fair, it could generate billions of dollars for vital programs and reduce the drastic income inequality in our country.
       
    • Ending taxpayer funded giveaways to oil and gas companies. Every year, everyday Americans are stuck with the bill for tens of billions in tax breaks for fossil fuel companies  -- companies that are making record profits while fueling climate change and polluting our water and air. Repealing these tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas companies could save taxpayers billions of dollars while reducing the deficit.
       
    • Making corporations pay taxes on the profits they currently shelter in offshore havens. If every Fortune 500 Company was forced to take all their money stashed in offshore accounts and pay taxes on it, our country would get $717.8 billion. Reforming the tax code to force corporations to pay their fair share could generate billions of dollars every year in tax revenue, instead of forcing working families to foot the bill.
  • Energy & The Environment

    Protecting our air and our water is a public health imperative, a national security imperative, an economic imperative and a moral imperative.

    The catastrophic risks posed by climate change are real, and unless we take immediate steps to steer ourselves onto a different course, we will keep exposing ourselves – and our most vulnerable citizens – to immense harm. Recent water contamination crises in local communities like Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh are an urgent reminder that the federal government has a central role to play in protecting safe drinking water.

    Zephyr Teachout has worked alongside community leaders throughout the Catskills and Hudson Valley to organize successfully for the state ban against fracking, and is a vocal advocate for renewable energy investments. In Congress, she'll keep on fighting for:

    • Adopting clean sources of energy by ending the intricate system of public subsidies that keeps dirty sources of energy artificially cheap, and instead promote renewable sources: solar, wind, and hydro.
       
    • Protecting our waterways and drinking supply by reducing the risk of contamination, giving residents better information about existing risks and ensure that when contamination is found, the responsible parties are held accountable.
  • National Security

    Zephyr Teachout will be a voice for common sense, realism, and balance in the realm of foreign policy — and will keep us safe from terrorism and protect our nation's security.

    Zephyr has a history of good judgement. She opposed the war in Iraq when it was unpopular to do so, and she was right -- the war in Iraq has compromised our national security, and created a power-vacuum that enabled the rise of ISIS. She disagreed with President Obama on the intervention in Libya, and has been a consistent voice for restraint against getting entangled in open-ended conflicts without an exit strategy.

    In Congress, Zephyr Teachout will be an advocate for a sensible approach to national security by:

    • Acting as a voice of restraint against reckless wars in the Middle East and around the world.

    • Advocating for international alliances to prevent dictators from obtaining nuclear weapons, and working in coalition to prevent the root causes of radicalization and terror that have given rise to ISIS and al-Qaeda.

    • Working to provide law enforcement with the tools and training to prevent attacks before they happen.

    • Improving the accuracy of the terrorist watch list and banning the sale of deadly weapons to any terrorist suspects.

  • Healthcare

    Every American has the right to quality, affordable healthcare. 

    In Congress, Zephyr will fight to make sure health care is available to everyone by:

    • Taking on the big drug and insurance companies.  Medicare, which pays more medicine than any other entity in the economy, should be able to use its full negotiating power to get the best prices for our tax dollars.

    • Closing the dental care gap.  Untreated oral health issues have spiraling consequences, from pain and tooth loss to chronic health conditions and sometimes job loss. 

    • Fighting efforts to privatize Medicare and working to expand access to this vital program and ensure that it remains accessible and affordable. 

    • Protecting women’s reproductive health care by defending Planned Parenthood and fighting for the right of every woman to have access to preventive care, affordable contraception and safe, legal abortion.

  • Protecting Public Education

    Zephyr Teachout will be a champion for a better public education system where power and decision-making is pushed down to the local level. 

    Zephyr Teachout grew up in a small town and went to a great public elementary school and high school. Her teachers were demanding. But they were also attentive, because they had the time and support to see each child and teach us not only the basics, but also about creativity and the responsibilities that all people have to each other. The teachers themselves, along with the parents, had a real say in defining and measuring our progress.

    After college, Zephyr worked as a special education teacher’s aide in a rural public school, and saw the hurdles to learning posed by emotional challenges at home. A top-down, highly regimented testing regime like Common Core, would not have worked for all those children, in large part because it would have straight-jacketed teachers, instead of allowing them to respond to particular needs. Zephyr believes we need to strengthen our local public schools and push resources and decision making down to the principals, teachers, and parents who know how to educate their children best. 

    In Congress, Zephyr will work for better public schools by:

    • Stopping government overreach on local public education and demand that federal officials stop dictating how we educate our own children here in the Hudson Valley.
    • Fighting against Common Core curriculum and oppressive high stakes testing.
    • Ensuring parents and teachers are involved in the decisions affecting our children.
  • The Opioid and Heroin Crisis

    Opioid addiction is a serious crisis that is afflicting communities and families throughout New York. Within the counties of the 19th District alone, there were 268 opioid-related deaths in 2014—an all-time high.

    In Congress, Zephyr will work with community leaders and first responders to address the heroin and opioid crisis through a comprehensive and compassionate approach to drug addiction and treatment, which includes:

    • Rehabilitation, not incarceration, for those suffering from opioid addiction. Simply locking up people with opioid addictions doesn’t stop crime, and it doesn’t heal addiction. Zephyr believes in a compassionate approach that keeps nonviolent drug offenders out of the criminal justice system and gives them opportunities to heal.

    • Listening to the communities and families most affected. Zephyr believes that we need to learn from the people who are struggling with the impacts of this epidemic, and listen directly to their concerns and ideas.

    • Working to raise up the voices of local leaders. In the 19th District, there are pioneering organizations like Friends of Recovery and innovative treatment programs like those practiced by the police department in Chatham. The examples of leadership and common-sense at the local level in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills should be a model for the whole country to follow.

  • Protecting Social Security

    Zephyr Teachout will fight to expand — never cut — Social Security benefits, to ensure that we can all live and retire in dignity.

    Here in New York’s 19th district, almost one in four people rely on Social Security benefits. Social Security is the bedrock of America’s social compact. But Social Security doesn't just support the elderly in retirement. When a breadwinner can no longer work due to disability or death, Social Security ensures that a worker's family is not left to suffer in poverty.

    But Social Security is under attack — corporate executives and Wall Street bankers want to cheat workers out of their pensions and gamble away their savings.

    In Congress, Zephyr Teachout will be fearless protector of Social Security by:

    • Advocating for the wealthy to pay the same rate into the Social Security system as the rest of us, so we can expand earned benefits for seniors and extend them for decades.

    • Fighting the efforts to privatize Social Security and turn it over to the ups and downs of the stock market.

    • Campaigning to stop discriminatory proposals to raise the retirement age that would force workers to put in more hours for fewer benefits.

  • Honoring Our Veterans

    Zephyr Teachout will honor our veterans and active service members with a respect that is worthy of their bravery and sacrifice.

    As of 2014, there are 52,300 veterans living here in the 19th District. In a rural region, it’s already hard for many veterans to get to VA facilities. Instead of closing facilities, we should be looking at ways to improve and expand service. Throughout the district, Zephyr has heard from veterans about troubling issues with the Choice Program that demand immediate attention.

    We must adopt the goal of zero unemployment for veterans who seek employment and create opportunities for post-9/11 veterans through education and training. We also must work to ensure the financial security of veterans and their families.  

    In Congress, Zephyr Teachout will honor our commitment to America’s veterans by:

    • Fighting for a fully funded VA, ensuring timely, accessible health care of the highest quality.

    • Committing to a strong GI Bill, so that veterans are afforded education and training opportunities to successfully transition into the civilian workforce.

    • Promoting legislation and securing funding to protect veterans and their families from predatory lending and foreclosure abuses.

  • Fighting Lyme Disease

    Zephyr Teachout will be a champion for the prevention and treatment of Lyme disease.

    Here in New York’s 19th District, we live at ground zero in the fight against Lyme, and Lyme disease incidents are rising nationally.  In 2015, the CDC reported a 320% increase in Lyme disease cases over the past twenty years — and many scientists think that is a low-end estimate.

    Lyme threatens to destabilize the bedrock of New York’s economy: the health and well-being of its people. According to the New York State Department of Health, there is a 22% statewide disability rate.  Many of the listed disabilities are known or believed to be associated with Lyme. Yet, because of insufficient diagnostic tools, we do not know how many of these people suffer from – or how much of our disability payments are a result of – tick-borne disease.  

    Too many of us have a loved one who lives with Lyme disease. The effects of chronic Lyme are wide-ranging and heart-breaking, and can cause serious problems with the brain and nervous system, muscles and joints, heart and circulation, digestion, reproductive system, and skin.

    In Congress, Zephyr will be a strong fighter against this invisible epidemic by:

    • Advocating for the swift enactment of the bill introduced by our current Representative, Chris Gibson, the “Tick-Borne Disease Research Transparency and Accountability Act.”

    • Raising awareness of this critical issue in Congress and throughout the 19th District and supporting the creation of a high profile “Lyme Awareness Month” in April.

    • Uniting with other members of Congress to make a strong economic case for the need for increased research into diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of Lyme.  

  • Public Safety

    Zephyr Teachout has a balanced approach to gun safety that protects 2nd amendment rights while addressing very real problem of gun violence in America.

    Zephyr grew up in in a gun-owning household, and understands that the vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens who use and store their firearms responsibly. But far too many guns wind up in the hands of those who should not have them—as evidenced by the 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year. She has been a consistent critic of the SAFE Act, and believes that sensible gun reforms would greatly improve public safety.

    In Congress, Zephyr would be a voice for cooperation and common sense on gun safety by:

    • Creating an open dialogue about gun safety with constituents in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills.

    • Advocating for stronger Universal Background Checks and closing the Gun Show Loophole.

    • Working to close the “Terror Gap” that enables domestic terror suspects to legally purchase firearms in America.

    • Improving mental health services to address of the root causes of mass shootings and protect innocent American lives.

    • Removing the ban that prevents the CDC from researching gun-violence we we can understand the root causes of this public health epidemic.