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Jerry Kremer

The census, Obamacare and your right to vote


Have you ever had anything stolen from you? A car? Hubcaps? A laptop? A baseball glove? A bike? Those are minuscule compared to the things that President Trump is trying to steal from you behind your back.

Let’s start with the census. Every 10 years, by law, every state is required to conduct a survey of the number of people living there for purposes of determining how many representatives they will have in Congress. In addition, census figures are used to determine how many federal dollars will flow to the states for health, mass transit and public-safety programs.

No one in our nation’s history has ever tried to sabotage the census until this year. The fixed date for the census to be completed is Oct. 31. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross tried to end the census count earlier. This was his fifth attempt to disrupt the effort. Was it because the census workers were exhausted? No, it was to stop the count for pure political reasons.

When the count is ended early, it means that those states that have a high rate of response will receive a greater share of federal funds. Some of those states are Idaho, Mississippi, Montana and North and South Dakota. What they have in common is that they favor the Republican Party. More populous, Democratic-leaning states like New York have a lower response rate because we have many more people to count, and an earlier census halt would cost us billions of dollars in aid.

Another piece of the census puzzle is exactly how many members of Congress New York will get. At this point, it’s estimated that we will lose two representatives. If there’s an undercount in the census, the state could lose even more, and seats would go to places like Florida and North and South Carolina, where the population is rising.

There are multiple other ways that the president is taking dollars out of your pockets. The Affordable Care Act provides health insurance for over 20 million people. Approximately 6.3 million New Yorkers benefit from Obamacare. Many of them are your friends and neighbors who can’t get employer coverage. At this moment, Trump is asking the Supreme Court to throw out the ACA.

What happens if the act is invalidated? Those 6.3 million New Yorkers will lose their coverage, and you will be asked to pay for it. Will the anti-New York Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, rush to save us? Don’t hold your breath. And with Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, about to be confirmed by the Senate, it’s a good bet that Obamacare will be scrapped. That will likely mean no coverage for pre-existing conditions and the loss of many other current benefits.

The country is waiting with great anxiety for the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine for Covid-19. Numerous pharmaceutical companies are competing to be the first to have a vaccine approved. Congress promised to help us get free testing, and that was a failure. The president has assured us that the vaccine will be affordable, and has given companies billions of dollars to speed up their research. But you can expect to pay a hefty premium for your Covid shot.

The biggest presidential theft of all is Trump’s continuous efforts to keep you from voting on Nov. 3. Day after day, he has told voters that mail ballots are part of some fraudulent scheme. He has promoted lawsuits around the nation to stop voting by mail, despite the fact that there is no proof of any fraud in the system. In his latest scam, he asked his supporters to go to the polling places to “police” the voting process.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia and in Venezuela, Poland, Hungary and Syria, dictators have for countless years successfully poisoned the voting system to suit their political needs. Trump’s assault on the process is designed to steal your most priceless possession, the right to vote.

And I haven’t even touched on the plan to blow up the U.S. Postal Service, which you also pay for. Petty theft? No. Grand larceny by the White House.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.