Congressman Joseph Crowley treated the Queens Chamber of Commerce and various business owners to a town hall-style meeting at the Chamber headquarters at the Bulova Center in Astoria on July 11.
The discussion focused mainly on the debt ceiling and how it might impact small businesses and Queens as a whole. Crowley, who is also the Democratic Chairman in Queens, said that many programs will stall if congress and the president cannot reach an agreement on the debt ceiling.
“The problems we have today didn’t happen overnight and I don’t think we can get out of it overnight,” he said. “The president spoke about a shared sacrifice – we need to spread out the sacrifice among all rungs, not just the lower rung.”
Crowley suggested there should be modest cuts to entitlement programs and these cuts should be felt by institutions, not individuals. If they spread out the cuts, the effect will not be as devastating. He also urged that the market cannot be ignored – as any major shift in spending could send shockwaves through Wall Street, causing even more hardship down the line and into the future.
“The rich will always have police, healthcare, firefighters, etc … it’s the little guy who won’t get these services,” he said. “It’s a vicious cycle that effects the poorest among us. What it comes down to is that the cuts have to be done in a shared way.”
Crowley said that the problems with the debt ceiling could turn out to be worse than the economic downturn of 2008. According to the congressmember, the current problems with the national debt could leave a lasting impression – with ramifications across the globe.
“When you get a black eye you remember being in a fight, but the black eye goes away. With the debt ceiling, we face a similar crisis,” he said. “But it’s more like an ax in the middle of our forehead, leaving a scar that we will see every day.”
The representative said that social security and Medicare will end up paying the biggest price if a fair agreement cannot be reached between congress and the president. He went on to say that the people who most need those benefits have seen hard times before and they might see hard times again.
“The whole world sees it and that scar will be very damaging to the integrity of the U.S.,” he said. “We have a history of paying our bills.”
Another issue raised was the recently published report that stated the congressmember does not live in his Queens district. In order to combat this accusation, Crowley said that when he’s not in Washington with his family, he’s back in Queens. As a family man, Crowley believes that it is important to be an active participant in his family’s life.
“I like to be around family and I like to have them around me. It gives the kids a more fulfilling life,” he said. “I want to be with my kids as much as possible. If being a good dad is not a prerequisite to being a good congressman, then so be it.”