Political commentator James Carville once remarked that “the economy, stupid” is what matters most to voters, and Republican congressional candidate Dan DeBono agrees. Despite a strong economy, he said that jobs on Long Island aren’t paying well enough.
“I would help raise wages and increase employment by doing four things… I would increase competition [for labor], strike better trade treaties, deregulate and help small businesses,” the first-time candidate and former Navy SEAL said in a sit-down interview with Blank Slate Media on Monday.
DeBono is challenging Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) for the Third Congressional District, which covers the northern parts of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Improving the Long Island economy also informed his view on immigration. DeBono said that the influx of immigrants has pushed wages down, a view that some economists support but others disagree with.
DeBono said he supports a wall on the border. As for immigrants already in the United States illegally, he suggested deporting some of them — perhaps those in the country for less than seven years, although he said the time period would be up for debate — while those who have been here longer could get a path to permanent residence. Those wanting to become citizens, though, would have to go through the citizenship process that legal immigrants are subject to.
“I don’t think that people should be able to jump the line,” he said, noting his wife emigrated legally to the United States.
On the recent tax cut pushed by President Donald Trump, DeBono said he had mixed feelings.
“I support tax cuts in general … but this tax bill was flawed,” he said. DeBono said he would have found a way to not cap state and local tax deductions, which has driven up the cost of living in New York. He said he would have gotten on the Ways and Means Committee and that it “would have been a better bill.” He would not say if he would have supported the tax cuts as is.
“The average person is better off because of this tax bill,” he said. “But … it was too skewed to big money [like corporations].”
As for the increase in the national debt caused by the tax cuts, DeBono said it was worth it to stimulate the economy, and debt obligations would be serviced through growth.
DeBono also had a bone to pick with the Federal Reserve.
“The Fed’s mission right now is to maintain a stable currency and maximize employment, and they failed at both missions,” he said. He wanted to remove the mission to maximize employment, which he called a “pipe dream.” He said the Fed should focus on a stable dollar since the low value of the currency has hurt Long Island residents.
A discussion on the Affordable Care Act — which DeBono wants to repeal — brought up one of the major points of his campaign. DeBono said that Republicans have been too willing to do the bidding of big corporations, which he said has hurt competition and wage growth.
He said that certain industries have become too concentrated within a handful of companies and that he would push for the enforcement of anti-trust laws to break up oligopolies.
“I would do it with financial, I would do it with health insurance … but the first step would be to stop further concentration,” he said, adding he would work to prevent the sale of Aetna to CVS.
On international issues, DeBono said the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election has gone on long enough and should be ended, echoing Trump in calling it a “witch hunt.” Instead of Russia, he said the United States should be more worried about China over the stealing of weapons technology.
He supported leaving the nuclear deal with Iran and said there should be consequences for Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. He said that NATO was “great” but added, “we shouldn’t be the only ones paying.”
When asked about abortion rights, DeBono said that if Roe v. Wade is overturned the issue should be left to the states, but did say that he was “pro-life.”
DeBono finished by discussing the issue of campaign financing. He said he did not accept donations from corporate political action committees.
“A corporate PAC is a legal bribe,” he said.
Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.