Since the election, once I got through my 5 stages of grief, I have decided to try to resist changes that I think will be harmful to “we the people” because they are actually designed to line the pockets of those who are already rich and add to the power of those who are already powerful. I have been writing to my representative in the House, John Katko, because, although he does not represent one thing I believe in, I thought that he might have some wiggle room in his Republican psyche; he might not have been totally bought and paid for by Republican super PACs or the Kochs. I thought perhaps he had some compassion for those in his district who have special needs at the very least. He spends a lot of time in the rural parts of his district and he has taken opioid addiction as one of his causes.
When, recently, the Congress and DT were attempting to replace the Affordable Care Act with the poorly designed American Health Care Act I wrote a letter to Rep. John Katko in which I tried to connect with any moderate impulses he might still harbor.
Rep. John Katko:
Although I am sorry to write such a long letter I hope you will indulge me and read it in its entirety.
I am thinking that you are not thrilled by everything that is happening in Washington. I know that you are an earnest man who has a serious interest in serving the people in your district, which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural cultures with diverse needs that few other representatives have to deal with. I suspect that you are a Catholic man, or at least a man of faith. I know that your unshakeable Conservative values include a firm pro-life stance and probably an economic view that fits with the one usually held on the right, one of fewer regulations and possibly even tax breaks to help employers take greater risks.
I don’t believe that someone with your inflexible position on women’s reproductive rights should be in government at all, but there are obviously many people in this district who do not agree with me. So I will leave this issue aside except to say that if you have your way in this matter it will make women’s lives far more difficult and will reset the clock on women’s rights back to my grandmothers’ days.
However, what seems most doubtful to me is that you want to “deconstruct” the American administration as the President’s men and women seem to want to do. It seems doubtful to me that you want to invite Vladimir Putin in to influence American politics. I find it hard to believe that you would like to vote in lower taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the poor and middle class people you represent. You just don’t seem like a person who wants to see our schools with insecure funding which could have profound effects on the quality of education in America and make opportunities unequal across the states.
I also find it hard to fathom why you might want to support the American Health Care Act when so many in your district would lose health insurance and so many seniors would be negatively affected. You don’t seem that extreme to me. I would guess that you are more moderate than some of your colleagues. But I do not know how ambitious you are. I do not know what you owe to the national party and the super PACs and other Conservative organizations. I do not know how courageously you would fight the very powerful pressure brought to bear on Conservatives in Washington by the base and the upper echelons of the party and by big money people.
Well I guess we, as your constituents, will see how extreme you are or how courageous you can be. Will you fight for the needs of your constituents the way a parent fights to meet the needs of their children. Every day I awake to see what new actions of this administration have weakened the foundations of our democracy and every day I am more and more shocked and distressed about what I see. Yet every day I feel more and more helpless to have any way to stop this administration from undoing every single thing I think any modern culture should try to do for the people it governs.
I have enclosed my latest article about the flaws in the AHCA for you to look over and consider but I hope that you will look into your conscience and that you will not need to be prodded at each turn to do what is right.
Yesterday, 4/13/2017, I received this disappointing, but not surprising, response from Mr. Katko.
(I have no faith at all that the Republicans can devise a comprehensive health plan that covers all Americans and keeps prices under control and yet relies on free market principles. There is no way to devise such an animal.) Here is my final answer, what would you say?
Rep. John Katko:
Thank you for your response letter. It shows me that trying to reason with you is a waste of time. On the bright side your extreme right wing views actually should help shorten your career in Washington. If you showed mercy I would have more trouble watching you lose your seat in the House.
The Affordable Care Act may not work well in places that did not agree to the individual mandate or the Medicaid expansion but the plan works very well in our state. When your voters lose their health insurance, especially those with preexisting conditions, you will lose your job.
I will not reach out to you personally on any issue again, at least with a plea to your better nature as one of your constituents. I see that you are unable to compromise and you will only vote to impose your will upon all of us, as if you have an absolute mandate. But I continue to believe that you are wrong about the Affordable Care Act and on many other issues. Clearly you are exactly the mean and narrow-minded pseudo-Christian I took you for.
I do appreciate your honesty about your stand on the issues as expressed in your response to my last letter, and that you show me the errors in my thinking that suggested that there is room for compromise. In the future I will choose whatever avenues are open to me to oppose you and I will hope your voters soon feel that buyer’s remorse that taking away their health care should engender.
Now I see that you are a hard and judgmental man and I know that Republicans agree that this is the way to handle us “peons.” But I will continue to see each of your constituents as part of “we the people,” even if some are down on their luck. I do appreciate that you are trying to tackle the opioid addiction problem but I also think that it is short-sighted to be unable to see how great health care could help implement the treatments needed (which is not what your mislabeled “patient-centered” health care will turn out to be if you pass it). Your colleagues in Congress either never had to struggle financially, or they have forgotten what that was like. They have enriched themselves with our money and now they want to wash their hands of us. You are obviously no different and I am sorry for that.
I feel the need to answer this letter with this one final statement of my own. I am not trying to get in the last word. This man can never represent me so he leaves me unrepresented in this term of the current administration, but I don’t want him to think that I will passively accept that my side lost and that there is nothing I can do. I also want to make this correspondence public because otherwise there is no accountability for Katko’s actions in the US House of Representatives beyond the public record which few people ever check.
Here is John Katko’s letter to me about border security:
24th District, New York
1620 Longworth House Office Bldg
440 South Warren Street
House Transportation and
House Homeland Security Committee
Thank you for contacting me regarding American border security. It is good to hear from you.
Having served as a federal prosecutor for over 20 years, I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of the rule of law. I believe that we must properly enforce our nation’s immigration laws, while working towards commonsense immigration reform coupled with strengthened enforcement along our borders.
I am committed to fighting for fiscally responsible legislation that will secure our borders. Last Congress, I cosponsored the Secure Our Borders First Act, which was the toughest border security bill placed before the 114th Congress. This legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to achieve complete operational control – the prevention of all unlawful entries into the United States – of high traffic areas of the southwest border in two years and operational control along the entire southern border in five years. The legislation provides the necessary technology, data analysis, fencing and infrastructure, and Border Patrol authority to realize complete operational control of the border. The bill includes my amendment which provides the same types of technology to the northern border as it does the southern border.
In addition, I introduced H.R. 455, the Northern Border Security Review Act, last Congress. This legislation would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to assess potential security gaps in our northern border. This legislation passed the House but was not taken up by the Senate.
As you know, several proposals to secure the border have been discussed. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support meaningful, cost-effective legislation to secure our borders and strengthen our national security. As legislation related to this issue come before the House for a vote, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me on this important matter. I hope that you will continue to keep me informed of the issues important to you and your family, as your input helps me to better serve you as your Representative in Congress. If you would like to stay informed of the latest issues coming out of Washington, you can visit http://www.katko.house.gov to sign up for my e-newsletter.