Maurice Hinchey was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1992. From January 1993 through December 1998, he was a member of the House Committee on Banking and Financial Services and the House Committee on Natural Resources. He was then elected by his colleagues to the House Appropriations Committee and serves on its subcommittees on Agriculture and the Interior. The congressman is also one of 20 members on the bicameral and bipartisan Joint Economic Committee. Additionally, Hinchey serves on the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Early in his first year in Congress, Hinchey initiated and led the successful effort to preserve Sterling Forest, the last significant area of open space in the New York
Hinchey was born on Manhattan's Lower West Side in 1938 and raised there and in Saugerties, New York. He is the father of three children. He and his wife, Allison Lee, make their home in Hurley, New York.
Hinchey has varied professional experience, including:
Seaman Third Class, United States Navy, 1956-1959
Analyst, New York State Department of Education
Toll Collector, New York State Thruway
Teacher, State University of New York at New Paltz.
Member, National Conference of State Legislators
National Guard & Reserve Components Congressional Members Organization
Member, Board of Directors, Ulster-Greene ARC
Member, Board of Directors, WAMU Public Radio
New York State Council of Governments.
Now serving in his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hinchey is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which allocates funds in the federal budget. On that panel, he serves on the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and the Subcommittee on Defense. Hinchey is also a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, serving on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands. Additionally, the congressman is one of only 20 members on the bicameral Joint Economic Committee. The congressman also serves on the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Prior to coming to Congress in January 1993, Hinchey served 18 years in the New York State Assembly, including 14 years as Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Conservation.
Hinchey was the first Democrat elected to the state legislature from Ulster County since 1912, and only the second since the Civil War. He became Chairman of the Environmental Conservation Committee in 1979. Under his leadership, the committee conducted a successful investigation into the causes of "Love Canal," the nation's first major toxic dumpsite, and developed landmark environmental legislation including the nation's first law to control acid rain. Between 1982 and 1992, Hinchey led an investigation into organized crime's control of the waste-hauling industry that led to the conviction of more than 20 criminal figures. He successfully led the fight --first in Albany and later in Washington-- to force the cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson
Hinchey enrolled in the State University of New York at New Paltz and put himself through college working as a night-shift toll collector on the New York State Thruway. He went on to earn a master's degree at SUNY New Paltz and did advanced graduate work in public administration and economics at the State University of New York at Albany.
Hinchey enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school graduation, serving in the Pacific on the destroyer U.S.S. Marshall.
I opposed going to war against Iraq and voted against giving President Bush the authority to wage war on Iraq. It is now clear that the administration overstated the threat presented by Iraq, as no weapons of mass destruction have been found. It is also clear that President Bush was not prepared for the aftermath of the war. U.S. soldiers are now mired in a dangerous and deadly situation. They are subject to nearly 20 attacks a day and we are now losing almost 7 young soldiers each week. While I firmly support our troops, I voted against the additional $87 billion President Bush requested for Iraq. I did so because it continues a failing policy and unfairly burdens American taxpayers for the cost of rebuilding Iraq at a time of record
Candidate Website (10/04/2008)
Human Rights/Latin America
As a member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, I have been working to condemn and combat human rights abuses around the world. I have been particularly active in Latin America, where numerous countries have been plagued by massive human rights abuses. As the western hemisphere's dominant power, the U.S. has supported numerous regimes in Latin America that were responsible to widespread abuses. During the last century, this support was part of the U.S. larger efforts to combat communism. It is critical for our government to be open about the role the U.S. played during this period.
I succeeded in passing legislation that required the CIA to report to Congress on its involvement in the 1973 coup of Chile's democratically
President Bush's House-of-Cards Recovery
The current recovery has been characterized by unprecedented, and seemingly contradictory, economic indicators. It has also been accompanied by a fiscal policy that is radically different from that of the 1990's. In order to judge whether our economic recovery can be sustained, it is necessary to examine what has transpired on the economic landscape since President George W. Bush took office.
When George Bush assumed the presidency in January of 2001 he inherited a slowing, yet fiscally sound American economy. The federal government, for the fourth consecutive year, was running an annual budget surplus. The publicly held federal debt was being paid down and budget forecasters predicted federal surpluses
Today, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' survey of households, 8.2 million Americans are unemployed --2.2 million jobs have been lost since the beginning of the Bush Administration. This is the first time since the Great Depression that jobs have disappeared over the course of one presidential term and the first time in over 70 years that there has not been a net job gain at this point in the business cycle.
Only recently have we witnessed any discernable job creation, but our current unemployment rate --5.7 percent-- remains 1.5 percent higher than when President Bush took office.
Using the unemployment figure alone is insufficient if we want a true picture of the current state of the labor market under the
In many ways the Bush economy is similar to the Reagan economy: economic expansion, combined with massive federal deficits. But while the consequences of Reagan's irresponsible fiscal policies were remedied, in part by the first President Bush and further when Bill Clinton took office, the same solutions will not work today.
When President Clinton and we Democrats in Congress passed an economic recovery package in 1993 and laid the groundwork for the sustained economic expansion of the 1990s, most of the baby boomer generation was still 20 years from retirement. Now, retirement is less than nine years away for most of that generation. Instead of preparing for that eventuality, President Bush and congressional Republicans are digging us deeper
When George Bush assumed the presidency in January of 2001 he inherited a slowing, yet fiscally sound American economy. The federal government, for the fourth consecutive year, was running an annual budget surplus. The publicly held federal debt was being paid down and budget forecasters predicted federal surpluses for nearly as far as the eye could see --10 years into the future.
The country's fiscal situation was so strong, that during the previous year's presidential campaign, Governor Bush called for two trillion dollars worth of tax cuts, most of which would go to the wealthiest Americans because otherwise we in Washington would spend the surplus on needless things like education and health care.
As it became clear that the economy was
Interest payments on the national debt are the most obligatory item in the federal budget. As the national debt increases, American taxpayers are required to pay increasing interest payments. This effectively creates a debt tax. If each American family is assumed to pay the same share of debt service, or interest on that national debt, then this year a family of four is paying a $2,109 debt tax. This amounts to 58.7 percent of the income tax liability for a median-income family of four. By 2008, under the same assumptions, the debt tax rises to $3,705 or 71.1 percent of the typical family's tax liability.
Of course each family doesn't pay the same share of debt service, but the point remains valid: the debt tax is a significant cost to taxpayers. Worse, it's money that is going solely to pay our debt interest - not to education, health care, medical research or any other vital services.
Democrats on the House Education and Workforce Committee have been working with states and the higher education community to formulate a policy that will benefit the students and not unfairly penalize the higher education institutions. My goal is to make college more affordable and accessible, without placing penalties on higher education institutions or students. It is important that the federal government make it easier for students to attend and pay for college, and not make it more difficult for institutions to provide that necessary education.
Federal Funding of Public Education
I support a substantial increase in federal funding of public education. The current system relies heavily on state and local funding, with
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the massive education reform bill, required local schools to comply with new national testing standards. The president, however, did not live up to his commitment to provide adequate funding to improve schools. Under-funding federal education mandates creates a domino effect that ultimately ends at the local property owner's doorstep. Since the federal government won't pay for the programs it requires schools to implement, the cost of NCLB has been passed down to the states. The states in turn pass the burden of education funding down to the local communities and school districts, resulting in both increased property taxes and decreased or diminished school programs. We pay more to get less.
Using public funds to support private schools is bad for our educational system. While many public schools have fundamental problems that need to be fixed, a voucher system would create a whole new set of problems while only helping some students. Vouchers would give some students opportunities to attend better schools, but unless the voucher paid the full cost of tuition, it would not help the poorest kids. Those who would have to remain in public schools because they couldn't make up the remainder of the cost of tuition would suffer under worse conditions than they do now. By implementing such a system nationwide, we would be ensuring that young people would not have equal access to education. That is why I have opposed every effort to divert federal funds to private school vouchers. Instead, I believe very strongly that the government should commit itself to improving all public schools so that every student can have access to a quality education.
I support a substantial increase in federal funding of public education. The current system relies heavily on state and local funding, with local property taxes providing the bulk of it. This leads to good schools in wealthier communities and poor schools in less affluent neighborhoods. To fix this inequality, the federal government should increase its investment in all public schools so that all children have an equal opportunity to learn. Increased federal funding could be used to improve teachers' salaries, finance school construction and modernization, make art and music education available to all students, encourage diverse and creative curricula, provide before- and after-school programming, and encourage a smaller student-to-teacher ratio in our classrooms.
Congress has never adequately funded education for children with disabilities, leaving state and local governments to pick up the slack. That's why I have always fought for increased funding for IDEA and other crucial education programs. Over twenty-five years ago, Congress pledged to meet 40 percent of average per pupil expenditures to help students with disabilities, but it has fallen short of that level every year. I assure you of my continued support for increasing the federal investment in IDEA and in our public schools.
Before Title IX was enacted, schools at all levels limited the participation of women and girls in the classroom and on the playing field. Since the enactment of Title IX in 1972, much has been accomplished in expanding our country's definition of equality. Despite this progress, barriers still remain for girls and women in our schools and more must be done to make Title IX the vehicle for equity that it was intended to be.
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
The centerpiece of the Bush Administration's energy plan is to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This move would simply be a gift to the oil companies that would do little, if anything, to affect our energy prices or security. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the amount of oil that could be recovered from the Arctic Refuge would amount to less than a six-month supply for American consumers. It will take 7 to 10 years for any oil from the Arctic Refuge to make it to market - and it wouldn't even help our region. None of it is shipped east of the Rocky Mountains and no Alaska oil is refined into home heating oil. At no time would oil from the refuge be expected to meet more than
The centerpiece of the Bush Administration's energy plan is to drill for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This move would simply be a gift to the oil companies that would do little, if anything, to affect our energy prices or security. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the amount of oil that could be recovered from the Arctic Refuge would amount to less than a six-month supply for American consumers. It will take 7 to 10 years for any oil from the Arctic Refuge to make it to market - and it wouldn't even help our region. None of it is shipped east of the Rocky Mountains and no Alaska oil is refined into home heating oil. At no time would oil from the refuge be expected to meet more than 2 percent of U.S. demand. The Arctic Refuge is one of our national treasures and it deserves to be protected as wilderness, not despoiled for a few months worth of oil.
I am committed to ending the terrorist attacks on Israel and ensuring Israel's security. I also support the Palestinian peoples' aspirations for a state of their own and for the improvement of humanitarian conditions. Like everyone, I am deeply saddened by the terrorism that has plagued Israel for nearly three years. I condemn all acts of terrorism against Israel unequivocally. The murder of innocent Israelis must stop. Those who would perpetrate these senseless and vicious acts of terror should understand that they prevent the realization of the Palestinian people's goal of a state of their own.
Most importantly I am dedicated to the peace process because it is the only way to ensure the long-term security of a Jewish state of Israel and achieve
I am dedicated to the peace process because it is the only way to ensure the long-term security of a Jewish state of Israel and achieve the Palestinians' long sought goal of statehood.
On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, we witnessed the greatest assault on the United States in our history. Almost 3000 innocent civilians were murdered. No one will ever forget the tragic images and tremendous losses we witnessed that day.
I supported the war against al Qaeda and removing the ruling Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was clear that the al Qaeda terrorist network based in Afghanistan was behind the 9/11 attacks. We needed to take action to dismantle that terrorist network, destroy its bases, and remove the Taliban regime that permitted al Qaeda to operate freely. The men and women in our armed forces did an outstanding job. The terrorist bases have been destroyed and the tyrannical Taliban regime no longer runs Afghanistan.
Now that the U.S. has removed Saddam Hussein's government, we must recognize that our actions in post-war Iraq are as important, if not more important, than our actions during the war. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has refused to recognize that its unilateral strategy is not working. Abandoning Iraq now that we removed its prior government is not an option. The U.S. must do more to bring in allies and international organizations to the reconstruction of Iraq. Our recent efforts to seek greater U.N. involvement are a start, but a comprehensive and genuine effort to enlist others to share the burden in Iraq is required.
It is now clear that the administration overstated the threat presented by Iraq, as no weapons of mass destruction have been found. This was a war of choice, billed as a war of necessity. President Bush and his advisors and staff regularly overstated the threat presented by Iraq and the certainty of the evidence of that threat. While it certainly seemed likely that Saddam Hussein had some weapons of mass destruction, we clearly did not have evidence of any immediate threat to our national security from Iraq. Rather than apprising the American people of the facts, they used spin and deception to win support for this unnecessary war.
It is now clear that the administration overstated the threat presented by Iraq, as no weapons of mass destruction have been found. President Bush and his advisors and staff regularly overstated the threat presented by Iraq and the certainty of the evidence of that threat. While it certainly seemed likely that Saddam Hussein had some weapons of mass destruction, we clearly did not have evidence of any immediate threat to our national security from Iraq.
Recently the president signed free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Chile and Singapore. His administration is currently negotiating a "Free Trade Agreement of the Americas" that would expand NAFTA to the entire western hemisphere. These agreements fail to protect American jobs from unfair foreign competition. Because they hold our trading partners to much lower standards than are required in the United States, FTAs cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs and erode the bargaining power of our workers.
Under President Bush our country went from record budget surpluses to record budget deficits. In fiscal year 2001, we had a $127 billion budget surplus. Three years later that surplus has been turned instead into a $500 billion deficit. The $5.6 trillion ten-year surplus that was predicted three years ago has been turned into a $2.9 trillion deficit projection. Most of this turn-around is due to the president's nearly $3 trillion in tax cuts, which required the federal government to borrow tremendous sums of money from foreign lenders.
The growing annual federal deficit and resulting debt will "crowd out" funds for private investment, as the government is forced to borrow more to cover its operating expenses. The International Monetary Fund
Health Care Coverage for All Americans
I am deeply concerned about the cost of health care and its accessibility to a large segment of the population. I strongly support the establishment of a national health care system. It is the best way that we can ensure that every single American has affordable, quality health care. More than 43 million Americans have no health insurance today, and millions more have inadequate insurance. Employers who have long provided quality coverage for their employees are cutting back benefits and raising workers' out-of-pocket expenses to deal with the rising cost of health premiums.
A single-payer health care system would not only be the smart and humane thing to do, it would save money in the long run. Today,
A single-payer health care system would not only be the smart and humane thing to do, it would save money in the long run. Today, almost 30 percent of the money spent on health care in America -- billions of dollars -- is spent on administration, advertising and overhead by health insurance companies. That's more than enough to cover the cost of providing insurance to people who don't have coverage now. By contrast, the administrative costs of Medicare, our universal health care system for seniors, make up only two percent of the program's spending.
Prescription Drug Benefit for Seniors
As pharmaceutical companies post record profits, millions of Americans are struggling to pay for the medications they need. This is a particularly serious
A single-payer health care system would not only be the smart and humane thing to do, it would save money in the long run. Today, almost 30 percent of the money spent on
Early detection, research and education are key components of understanding and treating breast cancer. I have cosponsored numerous bills that would provide medical coverage for hospital stays and secondary consultations. I have also supported legislation that would permit states to use Medicaid funding to pay for breast cancer treatment.
Patients shouldn't have to fight with their Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) or other managed care plans in order to get coverage for medical treatment that their physicians say they need. It's a persistent problem, and one that has needed the urgent attention of Congress for a long time.
Since 1996, I have been an original cosponsor of legislation, known as the Patients' Bill of Rights, which would restrain the abuses of these insurance companies. The bill would guarantee access to specialists and emergency care, would prohibit discrimination based on genetic information, would allow women to designate an OB-GYN as their primary care providers, and would hold insurance companies accountable for the decisions they make.
I, like millions of Americans, view abortion as an issue of choice. I believe the decision of whether to have an abortion should be left up to the woman herself, and not be placed in the hands of government.
The Right to Choose
I believe the government should protect each woman's health, and respect whatever decision she makes about the care she wants. I, like millions of Americans, view abortion as an issue of choice. I believe the decision of whether to have an abortion should be left up to the woman herself, and not be placed in the hands of government.
Family Planning and Contraceptives
Family planning is important, and I strongly support both domestic and international family planning programs. Federally funded family planning programs have been an integral part of our nation's health care system, providing high-quality contraceptive services and other preventative health care to millions of Americans, most of whom would otherwise lack access
National Energy Policy
The continuing problem of high fuel costs in the Northeast and elsewhere, the growing need for power in the changing economy, and our increasing dependence on foreign oil, should be a wakeup call to the United States government. It is inconceivable that we do not have a coherent national energy policy. Establishing such a policy should be an urgent priority of the Congress and the Bush Administration. But the residents of New York's 22nd Congressional District will not benefit from this national plan unless it focuses on reducing the demand for oil and promoting technologies for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Reducing the Demand for Oil is the Key
Any serious energy plan must focus our efforts on reducing our
By promoting renewable energy technologies and gains in energy efficiency, the United States can become a global energy leader and strengthen our economy instead of spending tens of billions of dollars on foreign oil every year. Increased funding and incentives for renewable energy technologies could create millions of high-wage jobs, while saving energy, reducing pollution, cleaning up the environment, and ending our addiction for foreign oil. Unless President Bush and Congress act to take the lead in developing these technologies, the United States risks losing out on this enormous global market. In Congress, I am supporting numerous bills that should be part of any comprehensive energy package. These bills would provide:
tax credits for
Congress must act to raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, particularly for light trucks and SUVs. This is the single most effective way to promote our energy independence in the short-term. Current standards save more than three million barrels of oil a day. But instead of continuing this progress, the Republicans have prevented the Department of Transportation from even examining the need to raise CAFE standards for the past five years.
When Congress passed the CAFE law in 1975, it required stepped increases for cars, but not for light trucks, because they accounted for such a small percentage of the market. But light truck and SUV sales have exploded, and now SUVs and other light trucks guzzle 20% of the oil we use.
Veterans' Health Care
The veterans' health care system is in a state of crisis. Hundreds of thousands of enrolled veterans are currently being denied timely access to quality health care. An average of 200,000 veterans are waiting six months or more for appointments at VA hospitals. As a veteran myself, I believe that this restriction of care for the men and women who so proudly served our nation is a disgrace. Our government made a commitment to those who served and I for one believe that we ought to honor it by providing the best possible health care to every veteran who needs it.
The decline in the availability and quality of care is the direct result of inadequate funding by the Bush Administration and Congress. For nearly a decade, the
Because it does not account for regional differences in health care costs, the formula that allocates veterans health care funding across the country, the Veterans Equitable Resource Allocation (VERA), effectively penalizes veterans in the Northeast, particularly in the Hudson Valley region. Funds that used to come to the Northeast are now sent to the South and West. Due to these funding reductions, since 1995, the VA's Hudson Valley Health Care system has cut the number of employees by 34 percent and the number of beds by 52 percent. Meanwhile the number of patients has increased by 76 percent and the number of visits has risen by 84 percent. Congress's investigative arm, the General Accounting Office (GAO) conducted a study that confirmed
As pharmaceutical companies post record profits, millions of Americans are struggling to pay for the medications they need. This is a particularly serious problem for seniors because Medicare, the primary insurer for people over 65, does not provide coverage for prescription drugs. As a result, more than one-third of retirees have no insurance coverage for pharmaceutical drugs and must pay full price.
Medicare should provide a comprehensive, affordable prescription drug benefit for all seniors. The legislation I have cosponsored, the House Democratic proposal, would create a true Medicare drug benefit with monthly premiums of $24 and low co-payments that would be available to any senior who chooses to
Medicare should provide a comprehensive, affordable prescription drug benefit for all seniors. The legislation I have cosponsored, the House Democratic proposal, would create a true Medicare drug benefit with monthly premiums of $24 and low co-payments that would be available to any senior who chooses to enroll. It would also ensure that no retiree spends more than $2000 per year, and would allow seniors to get their prescriptions filled at any pharmacy they choose.
I strongly believe that we must restore these cuts before patient care suffers and facilities in our communities are forced to shut their doors. I support comprehensive Medicare reform that addresses the payment levels for all providers, instead of just singling out a few. I also believe that comprehensive reform must go hand-in-hand with the addition of a prescription drug benefit for seniors, our most important Medicare priority.
Hundreds of companies across the country, including IBM and other large employers in the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley regions, have converted their traditional defined benefit pension plans to cash-balance plans. While the switch to cash-balance pension plans is probably a good deal for younger workers who want flexibility and portability in their benefits, these plans are often structured in such a way that older workers lose a significant amount of their final benefits after conversion. In a traditional defined benefit plan, contributions rise exponentially the closer workers are to retirement, while under a cash-balance plan, the rate of accrual remains basically constant throughout an employee's tenure.
President Bush is scaring the American public into believing that there is an immediate crisis in Social Security. There is not. According to the Social Security trustees, Social Security can pay all benefits through 2042 and 70 percent of benefits after that. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Social Security can pay all benefits until 2052 and 80 percent of benefits after that. Social Security does face long-term challenges that need to be addressed, and these can be fixed with modest changes to the system.
The president has proposed a privatization plan for Social Security that would divert up to one-third of a worker's Social Security payroll taxes to a private account, leaving the rest in the Social Security Trust Fund. The president claims that workers would have a choice to stay in traditional Social Security or opt for a private account. But whichever they choose, their benefits will be cut, and once a worker opts into the private accounts, he or she can never opt out.
President Bush will replace a guaranteed benefit with a guaranteed benefit cut, leaving benefits in worse shape than if we did nothing at all to the system. Privatization will not fix the Social Security shortfall. It will not improve or address Social Security's finances,
Since IBM announced its intention