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.
Passage of the GOP tax plan led to chaos at year’s end, 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.
Several large companies have offered their employees bonuses following the passing of the tax plan, although some are skeptical. “It’s all smoke and mirrors,” said Lawrence resident Michael Katz. “It’s them saying here’s a few pennies now and a lot of pain latter when [Trump] won’t be around.”
Area Republicans are much more optimistic, John Felden, president of the Lynbrook Republican club cites new stock market highs and an increasing gross domestic product, or collective monetary value of all goods and services produced.
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.
As congressional Democrats fight to save DACA, deffered action for childhood arrivals, Charles Kovit, leader of the Hewlett Republican club said that making a deal on immigration would be the first time the president has disappointed him so far.
While his supporters worry about Trump capitulating on one of his earliest campaign promises, critics accuse him of stoking the country’s racial animus. “I think he made racism more prevalent,” said Joshua Matthew, a Far Rockaway resident. “Not that [racism] ever went away.”
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.
According to the DEC:
• Long Island and New York City have experienced at least a foot of sea-level rise since 1900, largely due to the expansion of warming ocean water. (Water gets bigger as it heats up.)
• By 2100, scientists project New York could see a foot and a half to four feet of sea-level rise, if the current global-warming pattern continues.
• New York’s coastal marine counties are home to more than half of New York state’s 19 million residents.
• Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of New Yorkers who live along the coast could be displaced by the end of the 21st century because of rising ocean waters.
President Trump has also relied on Twitter to get his message out. Kovit is a fan of this direct approach, “I understand the political class criticizes it, but it’s because he’s not going through their approved channels,” he said. “Trump speaks off the cuff.”
On the other hand, the president’s use of Twitter is unsettling for Katz. “It’s a miracle something catastrophic hasn’t happened yet,” he said, adding he’s hoping for good candidates in the 2018 and 2020 races. “I think lots of people around here felt there weren’t good choices [in 2016].”
Despite major wins by Democrats in both the Virginia governor race in November, and in Alabama’s senate race in December local Republicans are still confident going into this year’s midterm. “The Lynbrook Republican Club believes that 2018 will be a good year for Republicans both locally and on the federal level,” Felden said.
Additional reporting by Melissa Koenig.