Rarely has Long Island felt Washington’s political reverberations as strongly as it has during the first year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency.
In November and December, Trump spearheaded the Republican effort to overhaul the federal tax system, reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to the low 20s, while also offering what Trump called middle-class tax relief.
The plan is projected to add $1 trillion to the national debt over the next decade. It also limits state and local property tax deductions to $10,000 annually. Such reductions could impact Long Islanders who have depended on them to balance their books in the coming years, according to many, including U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican from Seaford, and Tom Suozzi, a Democrat from Glen Cove.
Nevertheless, citizens of Glen Cove are, for the most part, relatively unconcerned. The majority of those surveyed on Trump’s performance to date had no opinion.
“I don’t really follow any of that,” said one, who declined to give her name – another common response in Glen Cove. She had no opinion on his tax plan, the continuing two-front war the U.S. has been engaged in since 2003, or his sometimes intemperate remarks.
Passage of the GOP tax plan led to chaos at the end of 2017 as thousands of Long Islanders scrambled to pay part of their 2018 property-tax bills ahead of time and possibly lower their federal tax burden.
Glen Head residents, on the other hand, were far from indifferent.
“There isn’t anyone on Long Island that will benefit from the tax bill,” said George Pombar, president of the Glen Head-Glenwood Landing Civic Association. “We’ve raised such expenditures in the school system that it has become unaffordable for people to take advantage of the tax benefits.”
On the other hand, “It doesn’t really affect me,” said Joe, of Glen Cove, who adamantly refused to give his last name. A small business owner who might be expected to care about taxes, he said, “I’ve done the math. I don’t think I’ll pay much more – if any. And Trump isn’t doing anything besides what he said he’d do. I’m something of a fan.”
“We [the country] have always been in favor of having a businessman in charge,” said Pombar. Fellow Glen Head resident Arnold Sabino appeared to share that sentiment. “I think he’s done a bit well as far as finances are concerned. Wall Street is getting better.”
Trump visited Long Island in July, and described it as a “blood-stained killing field,” suggesting that the El Salvadoran gang MS-13 had taken over.
In Suffolk County, the number of crimes, however, dropped from 21,076 in 2015 to 19,877 the next year — a 5.7 percent decline. That was the smallest number of crimes committed in a single year since 1975, when Suffolk started recording such data, according to The Wall Street Journal. Violent crimes, including murder, robbery and aggravated assault, dropped by nearly 11 percent.
Meanwhile, crime in Nassau County fell to its lowest level in 50 years in 2016, when 26,153 crimes were recorded. Violent crimes fell 9 percent.
Nassau police estimated that there are about 700 gang members in the county — roughly 350 are active. Nassau has 1.4 million residents.
“I like that he speaks his mind,” said Joe, “because he’s not a politician. He’s made it on his own, and he doesn’t owe anybody.”
Sabino disagreed. “What I dislike is his ever-changing mouth,” he said. “He basically says one thing at 8 in the morning and changes that statement at 8 at night.”
Agatha Nadel, another Glen Head resident concurred. “If he would just learn to zip his mouth and stay focused on the issues, I think more people would like him, and more would get done at the end of his four years,” she said. “He puts up barricades. There are certain ways to say things.”
“I pray for his mind, his footsteps, his actions to be guided,” said a concerned Kathy, as she prepared to march in a parade in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. “His job is to help the poor,” she added emphatically, “not just the rich.”
In June, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. His retreat came at a time when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released data describing how global warming could affect the state over the long term.
“America has always been a shining light,” said Kathy. “He brings it down. It’s a shame to have him sit with other world leaders. I can’t imagine what they must think of him — and of us.”
Pombar felt the same way. “I personally don’t think he has the charisma that a president needs,” he said. “He doesn’t sound presidential; he argues and challenges people too much, and that mentality doesn’t create team-building, which is what you need in the position to get things done.”
Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story.