NY21 Dem candidate Aaron Woolf has some surprising proposals

Aaron Woolf. Photo: Woolf Campaign, via Facebook

Aaron Woolf. Photo: Woolf Campaign, via Facebook

So after Republican Matt Doheny’s defeat last night at the hands of Elise Stefanik, we’re moving into the “general election” phase of the New York 21st Congressional District race. Democratic candidate Aaron Woolf has come straight out with some interesting proposals. In a press release, Woolf says he’s looking to “bring the North Country to Washington, D.C.” Here’s more from that press release.

With the public satisfaction in Congress at an all-time low, it is no surprise that turnout in the most recent Republican primary election hovered around 15% of eligible Republican voters.  As someone who has spent his career chronicling the consequences of Congressional short-sighted policies, Aaron understands and recognizes firsthand the frustration so many feel about Congress.  This is a primary motivator for Aaron’s entry into the race—the need for citizen representatives unencumbered by the special interests in Washington, D.C. and untainted by the toxic partisanship in the U.S. House of Representatives. With widespread frustration surrounding the government shutdown and reckless brinksmanship over the debt limit, Aaron has introduced five bold proposals – all of which he has pledged to abide by if elected – that will bring Members of Congress closer to their constituents.

Five Steps to Change Congress:

-No budget, no pay for Congress – for real

-No funding for, nor use of, a taxpayer-funded gym or salon and barber shop by members of Congress on the public dime.  It is unconscionable that numerous individuals in the -House of Representatives took advantage of these perks during the shutdown of the government while federal employees could not get paid.

-No funding for, nor use of, taxpayer money to pay for the rent or lease of vehicles.

-No funding for, nor use of, health care “perks” that are not available to the general public.  Numerous lawmakers that have voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act have voted for themselves taxpayer-funded lifetime health care plans.

-No travel under the “charter jet” loophole allowing members of Congress to use political campaign funds to upgrade a privately-funded flight to first class travel.

As [Woolf] explained, “I am running for Congress to represent New York’s 21st District and bring the region’s spirit of independence, practicality, and hard work to Washington.  Washington needs our bipartisan, cooperative spirit—we do not need more of Washington’s divisive attitudes determining how we live here. I plan to adopt these common sense reforms to demonstrate that what is fair in the North Country, like personally paying for personal benefits that we utilize, is also fair in Washington. We should be directing hard-earned taxpayer money towards creating jobs, investing in our region, and growing our economy, not for plush congressional benefits. As a Congressman, I will live by the same rules that apply to my fellow New York 21 residents.”

So what do you think? Are these proposals a good idea? Do you believe Woolf (or other legislators, for that matter) would adhere to them?

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58 Comments on “NY21 Dem candidate Aaron Woolf has some surprising proposals”

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  1. Pete Klein says:

    His suggestions are good but will have as much success as Stef saying she will get rid of Obama Care.
    Neither the Senate nor the Congress will vote for anything that takes away anything from them.

  2. Paul says:

    This guy looks pretty good. I see that his wife in on the faculty at Mt. Sinai, how does that work?

  3. Jim Bullard says:

    Those would be a good start. Add to that removing the requirement that the USPS fund its retiree health care 75 years in advance and remove congress’ oversight of every little change the Postal Service makes. They don’t want to fund it an they say it is separate from the government, fine. Let it act independently from congress, not have to request permission for rate increases or adding services that could make it profitable.

    How about lifting the cap on Social Security taxes so that the fund will fully solvent for the next 75+ years instead of the next 20? How about closing the loophole that lets corporations shift earnings offshore and then lobby for a “tax holiday” that lets them bring the money back to the US tax free? I could go on, and on, and on but unless the culture changes in DC not much is likely to change with the election of one representative no matter how well intentioned he/she might be.

  4. By press release? Does he ever meet with journalists? With ordinary voters of the district?

    These proposals are all fine, but they’re penny ante. Designed to pretend to be a populist but with negligible savings and with zero impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.

    By contrast, the ideas suggested by Jim Bullard above would have an impact on ordinary citizens.

  5. Peter says:

    All trivial issues in the bigger picture. Views like these = in effectiveness

  6. Paul says:

    Do we really need a postal service it is 2014? Seems like having a proposal to try and save the buggy whip service?

  7. Paul says:

    It sounds like his wife has had to go outside the district to find a good job. That is something that many folks up here can relate to.

  8. Michael Greer says:

    I’m ready to hear more from this guy. What will he propose to save us from the disaster of climate change? How will he protect us from the staggering costs of Eisenhower’s “Military/Industrial Complex”? What new direction will lead to peaceful coexistence with N.Korea, Iran, Russia and China? How about the growing Muslim world? How can we re-shape the Affordable Care Act into something with more doctors, and fewer lawyers and insurance folks on payroll?

  9. Michael Greer: Matt Funiciello has already elaborated quite extensively on most of your questions. Check out his website.

  10. Skippy says:

    Wow, incredible, so he is going to take away their barber shop privileges? Obama must be shaking in his boots.

    What about amnesty?

    What about fracking?

    What about the illegal immigration mass invasion on the border?

  11. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, the Postal Service is essential to my business. I use it every day. I also use UPS several times a week, FedEx on occasion, and even truck freight services several times a year. The Postal Service is absolutely the best and most economical for many of my business and personal needs.

  12. Duffer says:

    This proposal not unlike like Ms Stefanik ‘s , while intended to be red meat for party faithful , is in fact strictly an actualization of just how little each of them understand about HOW a freshman MOC is received , and managed by the party leadership once they arrive on the Hill. Freshmen members are herded , coached and brought along for the experience early on by leadership of their party.

    The notion of getting leadership to appoint them to select committees and for either. Of them to be SERIOUS IMPACT players upon arrival is naive at best. That said i favor neither of them at present, but will decide when i see specifics , IF i see them .

    Mr Wolff some of your ideas are fine as ideas others are frankly SMALL ball. As Bill Clinton was advised during his heyday ” It is the economy STUPID “. Ms Stefanik needs to be very Specific . At present her ideas are platitudes at best .

    i am open minded to that individual who will best ARTICULATE a specific set of action strategies . Party line BS is a turn off

  13. Peter Hahn says:

    this race is shaping up- as humble citizen-activist wants to go to Washington vs. bright young professional Washington political operative wants to run for high office in the boonies.

  14. Paul says:

    Knuck, I use the postal service also but most of what I use it for could be done a different way and probably should. It isn’t dead yet but it is in the rear view mirror.

  15. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “The buggy whip analogy is “an obscurity sitting on an anachronism,” said Daniel M. G. Raff, an associate professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.”

    “Westfield, Mass., still known as “Whip City,” once had more than 40 businesses that made whips, tools and carriage parts. Today, only Westfield Whip Manufacturing, founded in 1884, remains. Although it produces buggy whips — now called carriage whips — most of its whips and crops, called “bats,” are for equestrian activities like dressage and jumping.”


  16. Jonathon Dough says:

    This is what the late Senator Patrick Moynihan would call “boob bait for Bubbas”. It is classic liberal “symbolism over substance”. These things he advocates for would have little real impact on the insanity currently ongoing in congress. One must remember that most of those now serving in congress are already “well off” and the loss of their congressional pay for a few months would be little inconvenience. Further – all of the “perks” he would do away with amount to the pimple on the elephant’s butt in regards to the wasteful spending that is now currently taking place. Come back when you have some REAL suggestions and not just some “symbolic” ones.

  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I say, if we have successful buggy whip manufacturers in our region we should support them and work to expand their market rather than chase the same technologies that other places which are in hard competition.

    A good example might be Rockhill Bakehouse, the business owned (but not founded) by Matt Funiciello. At a time when the bread business was dominated by giant corporate bakers Mr. and Mrs. London saw a market developing for high quality bread baked in the old “buggy whip” fashion, a market based not on the idea that everyone wants cheaper crap but that many people will pay more money for a product that is of better quality. Today Rockhill buys much of it’s wheat from North Country farmers.

    This is not a political plug for Matt, but it is a plug for his bread. I believe that Aaron Woolf also subscribes to the idea that we need focus our efforts to develop our own local businesses rather than look elsewhere for an economic savior.

    And complaining about the Postal Service sounds to me like the same sort of thinking that has kept our area from thriving as it should.

  18. Steve Perry says:

    Such radical, intelligent, common sense proposals will NEVER be accepted by the present House of Representatives as it is constituted.

  19. Mervel says:

    What do any of those issues have to do with bringing industry and jobs to the North Country and reducing poverty here?

    Not impressed.

  20. bob cratchit says:

    With all the millionaires and billionaires in congress…will they really care?

  21. Paul says:

    Never should have made that whip comment. Perhaps the typewriter or scroll analogy would have been better. Sure people want quality stuff and that is a great way to find a market. And it is good to focus on one that is huge like bread! It is like that Danny DeVito comment in “other peoples money” where he talked about the company that last fell being the one that made the “best GD buggy whip”. It sounds like they are still in business!

  22. dbw says:

    Mervel, sad to say “business as usual” where the economy grows at 3-4% is probably gone for a good long time, except for an occasional quarter here and there. An economy that thrives on cheap energy is gagging on the more expensive energy we are getting now. Bringing that closer to home, in 2008 when heating oil was at $4.50 a gallon, an $35.000,000 a year would be drained out of the St. Lawrence Country economy. Less discretionary income, less economic activity. The other thing is that low population, geographic isolation, and the resulting anemic market forces are hardwired into the economy in areas like the North Country, Northern Vt. and Northern NH. These are tough issues. If someone had an answer to them the would have offered it by now. Expecting our NY-21 congressional representative to really address these issues is probably delusional. Our economic developers are well meaning but it is tough to lure those manufacturing jobs when 10,000 other communities across the country would like to do the same thing. Finally, that feeds into our North Country tendency to look to someone or something big to save us. There are no saviors in economic development, just lots of hardwork.

  23. Eyepublius says:

    Mr. Woolf is playing this like another of his documentary productions. In most of his speeches he says that’s the way he would serve in congress, too. Um … so, a slick promotion, lots of neat fancy PR fluff and stuff, market the product with costly Ads and flyers and commercials. Where have we heard that below? Oh yeah, in Congress right now.

    His ideas have little or no substance – they sound good, but that’s about it. His views on major domestic and international issues just like Ms. Stefanik, sorely lack details or substance. Keep in mind those are critical issues they will likely have to cast a vote for. You things like going to war again; closing Gitmo and legal ways to handle detainees; NSA domestic snooping w/o a proper warrant; drones in your backyard and the usual stuff in DC.

    Right now they both rank right in the middle of the current congress with their 7% job approval rating (JAR) – some choice, right? Oops as Rick Perry might say. Our choice IMHO is no choice per se. — Dan Francis

  24. Peter Hahn says:

    Actually, there is a pretty big choice. Miss Stefanik wants to reduce social security and medicare benefits for future generations. Mr Woolf wants to preserve them. Miss Stafanik wants to repeal Obamacare and throw the millions of new health insurance beneficiaries off their insurance. Mr Woolf wants to fix Obamacare and make it work better. Miss Stefanik waffles on raising the minimum wage, Mr Woolf is strongly in favor of raising it. etc.

  25. Travis says:

    Much like the rest of you, what the heck are these ridiculous and meaningless issues going to do? Give me a break. I could even deal with some of this garbage, even though it isn’t ethical, it’s kinda like a cop getting free coffee. Not ethical, but whatever, it’s a personal choice.

    Where is he on the big issues?

    Can someone who has never been in Watertown until he decided to run actually voice our concerns? No. Am I unaware of the large scale opinion polls or numerous Town Hall Meetings that have been happening in my area where we could actually talk about stuff? Or is he the typical politician that is so removed from “the everyday person” that he has no clue? It’s all about what other people tell him through the grapevine.

    Why don’t we have any locals that can heed our call for representation?

  26. Mervel says:

    Well DBW, I know it is hard, and there is no silver bullet for our long term issues.

    However there are certain things I am looking for; Dairy policy, what is his stand?, Fort Drum-needs to be protected what is his plan for that, his stance on environmental issues impacting the Park and other areas up here including looking at toxic chemicals and oil being trained through, his take on promoting wind power, or for that matter fighting wind power, his stand on expanding things like HEAP, etc, that does greatly help us in the winter, what about the rooftop highway, where does he stand on that? I guess this would go for all of the candidates not just him. I just hope this campaign is a real one and not fought out on sound bite issues between Liberals and Conservatives.

    So I think there are things that matter things that he could directly work on in Washington for us that are not pie in the ski.

  27. Peter Hahn says:

    Mervel – I think you will find that his strength is agriculture.

  28. Paul says:

    Peter, you should be getting paid! Just kidding. But I agree it sounds like he has interest in agricultural issues. Hopefully he is not all small farms and anti-industrial agriculture or vice versa since we need both. Some folks tend to take one side or the other these days. Both large and small farmers can be helped by the right policies. It isn’t all or nothing.

  29. Paul says:

    I do agree that this list isn’t really a platform but more of a beef. One that I share but a beef none the less.

  30. The Original Larry says:

    “Miss Stefanik wants to reduce social security and medicare benefits for future generations. Mr Woolf wants to preserve them.”

    I must have missed this one. Can you cite the source, please?

  31. Glenn Pearsall says:

    Would like to believe that such proposals would make a difference, but frankly they are little more than a gimmick. When we will get a chance to vote for someone thoughtful who have some real ideas that will make a difference?

  32. dave says:

    Everyone always complains about the hypocrisy and double standards of politicians… and then when someone who is running for office proposes changes to address some of those double standards, and pledges to abide by those proposals if elected…. everyone calls it meaningless, and gimmicky, and questions his motives.

    Tough crowd.

  33. Peter Hahn says:

    From syracuse.com ” But she said she “would not touch entitlements for people in or near retirement.” She defined that as people age 50 or older.”

  34. Peter Hahn says:

    From her debates I remember her saying she wouldn’t reduce social security for anyone over 55.

  35. The Original Larry says:

    Peter Hahn,
    Sounds more like what you think than what they said. In fact, you have no source at all for what you wish Woolf had said. It’s this type of misinformation that polarizes people. By the way, what’s wrong with changing Social Security, as long as it is done prospectively? The concept of benefits being written in stone has bankrupted many a school district, for example.

  36. Peter Hahn says:

    No Larry – its actually what they said. From his literature “It’s as simple as this: No cuts to Medicare, no cuts to Social Security. Congress can get its fiscal house in order without balancing the budget on the backs of retirees.”

  37. Peter Hahn says:

    And Larry – when you say “By the way, what’s wrong with changing Social Security, as long as it is done prospectively? ” that has the exact same meaning as ““ reduce social security and medicare benefits for future generations.”

  38. C Florence says:

    OK Aaron, The whole point of congress is to provide a deliberative forum that prevents one view or opinion from dominating other views or opinions. That’s why our government was created with a bicameral legislature and three branches of government.
    When a liberal says bipartisanship what they usually mean is “my way or the highway” as demonstrated by the passage of the highly flawed Affordable Care Act.

  39. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    C Flo., so demonstrably untrue it is laughable. The stated purpose of the Republican Party since Obama was elected has been to prevent him from being re-elected and passing meaningful legislation.

  40. C Florence says:


    I’d like to ask why you think social security shouldn’t be changed? Why do we have a system that takes your money and parks it in a program that provides terrible returns. Why do we have a system that promotes the thousands of lawyers working to get social security disability benifets for people below the retirement age? Why do we have a system that allows states to pay lawyers to convert people from unemployment benefits to social security disability benefits?
    Why don’t we have a 401k style program that allows the owner of the money to manage it and keep it out of the governments hands?

  41. Mervel says:

    Well social security is not going to be changed, it might be strengthened by changing some of the formulas, but there is no going back now, we need it. The same goes for medicare. The fact is the vast majority of the medical care for those over 65 in this country would not happen without medicare, very very few people could afford it and private insurance would be beyond the reach of those over 65. So really those two programs need to be tweaked and strengthened, but it’s a technical issue NOT a political issue. So beyond that its grandstanding.

    I hope Mr. Wolf supports are large scale dairy farms who are the ones producing economic returns. We do need smaller organic farms and so forth, but lets face it we have been talking about that since the 1960’s, you know its a nich market they just don’t produce the $ necessary to make much of a difference in a community up here. The same goes for energy, ok fine we can be against oil and gas production in nys, but what about wind power? I would hope mr wolf comes out strongly in favor of building large new wind farms up here. So there are a range of real economic issues. We need jobs with benefits and large employers. That used to be the state of NY, but that is going away, the prison industry is still large but lets face it the future is dim.

    I don’t really see either one of these candidates in tune with the real north country. I think the republican wants to build her resume and will just parrot Republican talking points that have no meaning for the North Country and I think the Democrat is a good guy who cares; but who does seem to be a little in lala land on what we need, its not small organic farms surrounded by communities of craft makers who live in nice little cabins working remotely with their high speed internet.

  42. Peter Hahn says:

    C Florence – say what you mean. e.g. “why don’t you think social security benefits for seniors should be reduced?” The answer is, obviously, that it makes retired people poorer. Can we afford it? yes. It’s insurance not a savings account. Not everyone will be able to put $1,000,000 in a 401k.

  43. Peter Hahn says:

    Mervel – he says he strongly supports the large dairy farms. “From dairy farms to apple orchards to maple tapping across the district, the importance of agriculture in the region cannot be overstated.

    Aaron’s work taught him how federal policies on agriculture can have an influence on family farms. Aaron will work hard to give those farmers the tools they need to thrive, whether that means investing in transportation infrastructure so that farms can get their products to market, providing low-interest loans for young farmers trying to purchase land, supporting Farm-To-School programs so our region’s children have access to healthy, local options in school, or working to reform America’s visa program so that farmers have access to a reliable labor force during harvest season.

    Limiting the growth of small farms limits the growth of the entire rural economy. In order to make sure we are building a farm-friendly regulatory environment, we must reduce regulation that hurts small farms and kills competition. This will be a top priority for Aaron in Congress.”

  44. The Original Larry says:

    “The stated purpose of the Republican Party since Obama was elected has been to prevent him from being re-elected and passing meaningful legislation.”

    I guess they got tired of the “blame it on Bush” rant and have adopted this as the second term excuse. Every President, with the possible exception of Washington, has faced some degree of political opposition but few have failed as miserably in dealing with it as Obama. Perhaps if he wasn’t so much the dictator manqué he might have done better.

  45. Mervel says:

    Thanks for the update Peter. I will take a hard look at him, philosophically I probably don’t agree with him on some of the hot topic issues; but as I said ,those issues are really not that important to us, he seems to care about the region which for me is priority number 1.

  46. Pat says:

    The postal service is in trouble because the medium has changed via the internet but the postal service isn’t allowed to change with it due to the government oversight. We don’t deliver milk door to door anymore and shouldn’t deliver mail there either but congress wants to see the usps fail. These jobs are the one of the last middle income jobs left in this country. The solution is to get government out of it, raise the cost of the stamps like all other countries did, streamline delivery service, etc and it will be fine.

  47. dave says:

    “Every President, with the possible exception of Washington, has faced some degree of political opposition but few have failed as miserably in dealing with it as Obama.”

    Presidents deal with opposition. Yes, of course.

    The opposition tries to push their own agenda while minimizing the President’s. This results in compromise legislation and a healthy balance of powers.

    But that is not what has been going on here.

    The agenda of the opposition this President has faced is to make sure nothing gets done. Literally. The goal is to make sure nothing happens. To grind the gears of government to a halt… even if that means shutting the government down when they can, which they have.

    This is the tactic they have chosen. They have openly stated it.

    Agree with that tactic if you want. But stop denying that it is going on.

  48. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Mervel: “We need jobs with benefits and large employers… what we need, its not small organic farms surrounded by communities of craft makers who live in nice little cabins working remotely with their high speed internet.”

    You threw a lot into that post but I want to focus on the ideas about our economy. I agree that we need businesses with high payscales and good benefits, but i believe the way or leaders have been chasing those types of jobs for the last few decades has been backwards. I believe that our leaders should be supporting local small entrepreneurs like the small organic farms and craft makers in their little cabins working remotely with their high speed internet. Those are the people using their own capital and their own sweat to build businesses.
    For too long we have had IDC’s and EDC’s by the score competing with other IDC’s and EDC’s all over the country to give away hard earned tax dollars to businesses from elsewhere. How much money has been spent and what has been the return on our investment?

    Meanwhile there are plumbers and electricians and carpenters and artists, and hair dressers, and barbers, painters, architects, engineers, small retailers, hardware store owners, motel owners, grocers, restauranteurs, furniture makers, jewelers, financial advisers, doctors, nurses, accountants…I could go on for a very long time…who live and work in our communities and pay their taxes and nobody gives them anything extra to live here. We should be supporting the ability of everyone in the community to succeed through investments in infrastructure, low interest loan funds for capital improvements and such. Our communities will be more successful if we grow from within and people from elsewhere decide to move here for the quality of life, the entrepreneurial spirit, the educated and reliable workforce, the low crime rate…

    And, by the way, I make a substantial portion of my income from sales off the internet. I know many others who do as well. Internet sales tend to be money moving into the community from elsewhere, not just circulating in the local economy. The old paradigms dont work any more. We need better infrastructure for our towns to thrive and that includes, broadband internet, cell phone service, and even the good old post office, which brings checks to my mailbox regularly.

  49. Paul says:

    “The agenda of the opposition this President has faced is to make sure nothing gets done. Literally. The goal is to make sure nothing happens.”

    Not really. There are areas of agreement. For example I supported the president on issues like lowering the corporate tax rate. Yet he doesn’t want to do it now for some reason. He said this was something he strongly supported but apparently unless tagged to other things. What up? Do what you want and can do? That will get the skids greased.

  50. Paul says:

    “The old paradigms dont work any more. We need better infrastructure for our towns to thrive and that includes, broadband internet, cell phone service, and even the good old post office, which brings checks to my mailbox regularly.” I am with you. If you need the USPS fine. Whatever you need I am for it.

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