Ameer Benno (R-Bellmore) said he is running on the pillars of affordability, safety and the U.S. Constitution in a sitdown interview with Blank Slate Media on Friday afternoon, alleging his opponent Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) has only followed the Democratic party line.
Benno, a civil rights attorney involved in civic organizations, said he is “invested in the community,” not “dismissive of the Constitution,” and that Rice – seeking her third term as a U.S. representative for New York’s 4th congressional district – has put her party first, rather than steering money towards infrastructure and protecting the South Shore.
“We need somebody who is willing to step up,” Benno said.
New York’s 4th Congressional District includes much of southern and central Nassau, including Floral Park, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Westbury, Carle Place, Lynbrook, Freeport, Hempstead, Bellrose, Bellmore, and other areas.
Benno said one example of being “dismissive of the Constitution” is her calling all members of the National Rifle Association, which he said defends the Second Amendment right to bear arms, “domestic security threats” and doubling down on it.
Benno also called a lawsuit seeking to hit President Donald Trump on the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which Rice signed onto, as a “political stunt.”
“Her objective is not the Constitution,” Benno said. “Her objective is taking down the President.”
When asked about Trump’s behavior, he said it’s “totally fair criticism” to consider him as being divisive, but that the good has outweighed the bad.
Among the accomplishments, Benno linked to the Republican administration are a surging economy, record low unemployment, and creating a “more level playing field” for American workers through trade negotiations. He also said Trump has “nearly decimated” ISIS and shown greater support of Israel.
When asked about the improvement of the economy under President Barack Obama, where unemployment went from 10 percent to 4 percent and that there has been 72 months of straight economic gain, Benno said the growth “limped along” and there was “nowhere to go but up.”
Benno also expressed support for parts of the Republican tax bill, arguing it has spurred reinvestment and economic growth and benefited 80 percent of Americans.
He said that he did not agree with the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, however, and said he would have argued against it. Benno also said there should’ve been greater deductions for interest on student loans and provisions to benefit small businesses more.
“I will not put my party ahead of my district,” Benno said.
Asked about the deficits spawning from the tax bill, he said cost reductions are needed and “we have to reign in spending.”
Benno also subscribed to giving more power to the states, citing the 10th amendment’s provision that powers not delegated to the federal government belong to the states, in areas like Medicaid and environmental protections.
In the case of Medicaid, a joint federal and state medical program geared toward low-income and disabled Americans, Benno expressed support for block grants for state governments so they can do what’s best. He also said governments should not be forced to buy brand name drugs and that the state should be allowed to negotiate prices.
Regarding Medicare, he said there should be stronger enforcement against fraud and abuse, or false claims and medical professionals “upbilling” and said there should be income-adjusted vouchers, giving people an option to opt out in favor of private insurance.
As for Social Security, Benno said he’d want to retain the “status quo” for people nearing retirement, but get rid of the “retirement earning test” and tie the cost of living adjustments to the consumer price index for middle class residents.
Regarding the Mueller investigation, Benno said it should have been “a year tops,” asserted that Donald Trump is not the focus of the investigation and that the “Clintons always seem to skate out” of being prosecuted.
When indictments of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and other associates were raised, Benno said there is “no guilt by association” in the American legal system.
Benno also said he supported the decision to exit the Paris Accord, as well as pulling out of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, saying it favors anti-Zionistic and anti-Semitic viewpoints.
Additionally, Benno said he supports defunding “Sanctuary Cities,” erecting a wall on portions of the United States-Mexico border to try deterring fentanyl trafficking, and deporting illegal immigrants found to have gang affiliation.
Benno also said he supported the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court and defended his temperament, saying he was “accused in front of the world” of sexual assault – while his daughters were watching – and that he “wasn’t presiding over a case.”
“You don’t want a judge who’s a robot,” he said.