A GOP win on Election Day could spell doom for New York and all its porkBy MICHAEL MCAULIFF
October 24, 2010
WASHINGTON - New Yorkers don't like playing second fiddle to anyone, but they'll be lucky to be a backup kazoo if Republicans take over Congress.
The Empire State lives up to its name in the House of Representatives now, with four members chairing committees - and eight leading subcommittees.
And it's not about bragging rights - it's about steering billions of dollars home.
If Republicans win 39 seats in the Nov. 2 election to take control of the House, "We'd get creamed," said Baruch College's Doug Muzzio. "All the goodies, all the earmarks - New York can get that because we have representatives in positions of power. We're talking millions and probably billions of dollars."
Billions is right.
The 9/11 health bill alone is worth $7.4 billion, which will go to help thousands of 9/11 responders - more than half of them in New York. "If Republicans were in the majority, there's no way that bill would have even got to the House floor," said Bronx Rep. Eliot Engel.
The Senate's version of the health reform law would have saddled New York with more than $1.5 billion a year in new Medicaid costs.
Influential New Yorkers in the House, including embattled Rep. Charles Rangel, rewrote funding formulas in the bill - and the state ended up getting an extra $2 billion a year from the feds.
When the White House tried to kill New York's anti-nuke program last year, and the Senate passed just $10 million for it, the House saved it. Reps. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) and Nita Lowey (D-Westchester) - subcommittee honchos on the vital Appropriations Committee - were able to jack funding back up to $20 million.
The problem for New York is that over the last four years, the state has lost all but two Republican legislators, giving it a powerful presence in the Democratic caucus, but nearly none in the GOP.
At least its lone GOP veteran - Long Island Rep. Pete King - would become unusually powerful, ascending to the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee and the No. 2 spot on Financial Services - two bodies vital to New York.
King would hold the influence of a de facto third senator.
"Actually, I like that," King told The News, arguing that Republicans will be better for the nation and state. "It gives me the opportunity to use power effectively for New York .... It'll be up to me to deliver as much as I can."
Still, King admitted New York's Democrats "did a good job" for the state, and that it will be hard going forward. "We're going to have tough economic times and tough political times over the next several years," King said.
Analysts said as powerful as King may become, he doesn't equal the clout of 27 New York Democrats in the majority.
"He can't move votes in a conference. He can't walk into a room and say, 'Look, there's 20 of us, and we're the margin [of victory]'," said Gerald Benjamin, dean at SUNY New Paltz. "Where does the New York leverage come from with just two votes?"