Republican U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik criticized Democratic challenger Tedra Cobb last week for a lack of substantive proposals on the issues.
“My opponent does not have a single policy that she has introduced,” Stefanik said on Wednesday during a phone call, following a hearing in Washington, D.C. on millennial retirement security.
Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said the one policy statement she has heard from Cobb is when she was quoted at a candidates’ forum saying that soap operas have helped with population control in Brazil.
“It’s because people have access to watching TV and they’re watching soap operas and women are educated and are having fewer children on the soap operas,” Cobb said at the April 30 forum at SUNY Adirondack.
Cobb added that women are able to work and gain access to birth control and health to make the choice not to have as many children.
The Stefanik campaign distributed a video containing the soap opera comments, which got picked up in a New York Post story dated Sept. 6.
When asked for comment, the Cobb campaign put out a statement that said: “Elise Stefanik cannot run on her voting record. We understand. Twisting Tedra’s words is a better talking point for Elise Stefanik than talking about her own policies. Her policy position on health care is to make those with pre-existing conditions, like pregnant women, suffer from higher premiums and deductibles.”
More debate debating
Stefanik continued her criticism of Cobb for not agreeing to attend the forum in Albany organized by Spectrum News.
Stefanik said that is going to be the most widely viewed forum.
The Cobb campaign said she plans to attend the Spectrum debate.
The Cobb campaign has criticized Stefanik, because the debates are all in television studios without an audience of constituents present. The date for the Spectrum forum has not been set. The other two are on Oct. 23 at Mountain Lake PBS in Plattsburgh and WWNY in Watertown on Oct. 30.
Cobb and Green Party candidate Lynn Kahn also are attending a forum organized by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County, tentatively set for Oct. 18.
Stefanik has not committed to that debate.
“We have so many events that are booked in October,” she said.
Millennial retirement security
Stefanik said she believes more financial literacy should be taught in high school. Studies have shown that more than 50 percent of millennials do not have basic financial literacy.
Stefanik serves as chairwoman of the House Republican Policy Committee’s Millennial Task Force and hosted a hearing last week to talk about millennial retirement security.
She has stressed the importance of college students receiving student loan counseling to inform them of their rights and what to do if they have a change in their financial circumstances, including a job change, health care need or unexpected car repair.
Stefanik said she has sponsored a bill on making it easier to roll over funds from 401-k accounts when people leave jobs.
Among those testifying was certified financial planner James Lee of Queensbury, who serves as chairman of the legislative and regulatory issues committee for the Financial Planning Association.
He said a lot of millennials have student loan debt, which makes it difficult to save for retirement, and they frequently change jobs.
“They’re not able to accumulate retirement savings because they don’t have access to an employer-sponsored plan,” he said.
On the topic of student loan debt, Cobb sent a tweet criticizing Stefanik for sponsoring the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success and Prosperity through Education Reform act, which would streamline student loan programs by eliminating all but the Pell Grant, according to the fact sheet on the issue.
Cobb claimed it would slash federal funding by $15 billion.
“She’s driving students into the arms of predatory lenders and for-profit institutions,” Cobb wrote.
The campaign stated in a follow-up email that Cobb supports eliminating unsubsidized loans because she believes student loans should be capped at a reasonable interest rate.
More negative ads
The Stefanik campaign continued its negative ads against Cobb with the release of a new radio commercial last week, criticizing the Democrat for supporting single-payer health care, which it said would increase taxes by over a trillion dollars.
Stefanik also touted her record on health care, including securing $27 million in funding for rural hospitals, funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program and fixing Obamacare and protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
The Cobb campaign issued a statement saying that Stefanik is trying to deflect attention from her vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would the Healthcare Association of New York state said would have caused 3 million New Yorkers to lose coverage, raised costs for seniors and lower income families and eliminated the protection against people being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
“Elise Stefanik took hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug companies, insurance companies and lobbyists, and they got their way. Now they are funding attack ads against Tedra Cobb because they know what we know: Tedra Cobb’s votes are not for sale,” the statement said.
Stefanik has co-sponsored two pieces of legislation — The Violence Against Women Act and the Preserve America’s Battlefields Act.
The current VAWA is set to expire on Sept. 30. The legislation provides funding to support survivors, increase prevention efforts and provide education on domestic violence and sexual assault and implement training programs, according to a news release. In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, the sponsors cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men experience some type of sexual violence during their lifetime.
Stefanik is also co-sponsoring the Preserve America’s Battlefields Act, which reauthorizes and increases funding for the Federal Battlefield Land Acquisitions Grants program.
Stefanik also picked up the endorsement of 53 elected leaders in Saratoga County, including Moreau Supervisor Todd Kusnierz and Hadley Supervisor Arthur “Mo” Wright.
Stefanik in town
Stefanik and U.S. Senate candidate Chele Farley will be in town Tuesday at the Upstate Conservative Coalition’s meeting at 7 p.m. in the Milton Community Center in Ballston Spa.