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Ackerman: Holiday Values, Political Values

“We Are Our Brother’s Keeper!”

Hosting his annual holiday party at the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, recently re-elected Congressman Gary Ackerman addressed the large crowd of local government officials, reminding one and all that “We are our brother’s keeper.” Focusing on President Barack Obama’s proposed tax cuts and the strong objections of many Democrats, including the congressman, Rep. Ackerman said that the issue is not about Democrats and Republicans, but about values, about the future.

Rep. Ackerman stated that though he feels “strongly about the separation of church and state,” it is certainly right to bring political values to holiday celebrations. It was “not religious beliefs” that ran through the congressman’s words, but “values … values that go back to all houses of worship … values to fight for …” The congressman explained that he was speaking of the values of affording shelter, food, and clothing for all.

“Some of us have put up a battle in Washington,” he said, as he discussed “fighting for what the people believe in.” Rep. Ackerman broached the subject of “the haves and the have nots,” and he noted how those with so little are often the ones who do not object to tax cuts for the rich. “People of modest means fight for the rich,” he said.

Rep. Ackerman went on to say that “the rich care about the economy getting better … but they do not want higher taxes.” At that point he again stated: “We are our brother’s keeper.” This, he said, is “a holiday message and a political message.”

And then he told the story of flying in to New York, with President George W. Bush, on a helicopter headed for graduation at the USMMA. “This was the first time a president had come to the Academy,” the congressman explained. He told how President Bush said he could not believe that this wealthy community actually supported Gary Ackerman, a Democrat, and voted for him time after time. Responding, Rep. Ackerman told President Bush: “That’s Great Neck. These people live right and think left.”

Continuing, Rep. Ackerman touched on the “huge shift of wealth … to so few.” And he said how hard it is now “to climb up the ladder (of success and wealth) … with rungs in the middle missing.”

Returning to the tax cut proposals in Washington, Rep. Ackerman spoke of how “the President cut a deal without the leadership.” He stated that that “there must be a compromise … not total capitulation … we must be more generous with veterans and soldiers and seniors …” Stating that “there is no money for those in need,” the congressman asked, “How do we find a way to help?” His answer was: “We take from someone else.”

Rep. Ackerman said that “we should work with our president … they (the Republicans) can’t get what they want unless we’re on board.” And he emphasized, “If my constituents pay me all this money … I will fight for them … you just have to stand up and fight.”

Gary Ackerman said that he will “fight for extended unemployment payments.”

Again Congressman Ackerman stated: “We are our brother’s keeper.” And he said that we must “take care of everyone … even if we have to help the rich a little …”  This was Gary Ackerman’s holiday message … and his political message.