For the unaware, Staten Island is a pretty conservative place. They voted for George Bush, twice, and for John McCain in 2008. The island had a pretty right-wing congressional representative until he got caught driving drunk to his mistress’ house – you can’t make this stuff up.
So when I went to Staten Island to talk about health care I expected the opposition viewpoint, concerns about ‘creeping socialism’ and all. But what surprised me was that business owners on the island are really hurting, and the skyrocketing health care costs are a huge part of the problem. Still, the fear about a government run insurance plan was widespread. Here are some of the concerns I heard:
“My husband has his own business and he pays $2,000 a month for insurance. We’re hurting but I do have three kids. I don’t know what I’m going to get (if reform passes).”
- Pat Siringo, clerk at Uniquely Yours
“It’s not the cheapest but at least I have insurance. I am concerned about the effect this plan will have on seniors. I don’t want any more change; I’ve had enough change.”
-Lorraine Graziano, owner of S I Quick Print.
“My wife had to get a job at (Staten Island University) Hospital so I could get health care. I went for two years without insurance. But, if you work 20 years to get to a certain point with your business why should you be penalized (with higher taxes). It’s not right, I hope it doesn’t pass.”
-Michael DiGuido, owner of The Animal Pantry.
“Financially it doesn’t make any sense. Staten Island is a conservative place in general. Staten Island can take care of itself.”
-Warren Crapo owner Crapo Realty
Staten Island’s new Rep. in Congress (the post-scandal democratic) will hold a town hall forum early next month at the Petride’s school in Sunnyside. He will likely address small businesses which he has cited as his major concern when it comes to the impact of the health care reform. If the political winds here are any indication, he will face stiff resistance from the island faithful and maybe a few Tea Party protesters.