TrumpWatch, Day 105: House Narrowly Votes To Repeal ObamaCare

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories about the major local news of 2017. Today, we look at politics.

The year in national politics has hotly debated the decisions of President Donald Trump, whose first week in office indicated turbulence ahead for the new administration.

Between 3 million and 5 million people turned out in protest marches across the country on Jan. 21, the day after Trump's inauguration, with nearly half a million descending on the capital at the Women's March on Washington. It was the largest single-day protest in U.S. history, with hundreds of international marches coinciding.

An Oneonta mother, Betsy Bloom, and her grown children joined more than 100,000 marching in New York City.

Jackson Maloney, 24, told The Daily Star afterward that he was glad “people are so energized to be engaged in their civic responsibilities, and also that they're not engaged in a flat-out rejection of Trump, rather a commitment to be more politically involved.”

The president's immigration order to bar citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and indefinitely for Syrians and refugees came a week later, and caused confusion and mass protests at airports across the nation. The order was subsequently blocked by federal judges.

GOP officials speaking in Walton in late January expressed optimism about the new presidential administration and criticisms of the proposed state budget.

Commenting on a lack of economic development in the New York City watershed region, state Sen. John Bonacic, who represents part of Delaware County in the 42nd Senate District, said environmental departments were a challenge to work with.

“The DEP (New York City Department of Environmental Protection) is a 900-pound gorilla that sees this region as their water supply,” he told The Daily Star. “They aim to protect it. It's frustrating, but we keep pushing the bureaucracy to make headway and bring change.”

Local officials described a business-oriented energy crisis upstate and eroding confidence in New York State Electric and Gas Corp.

A nine-county coalition including groups from Otsego, Delaware, Chenango and Schoharie was formed in March to challenge NYSEG business practices and request help from the Public Service Commission.

“Companies will not grow or locate here in our part of the state if there is no guarantee that their power needs will be met,” Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said in a media release.

In a late March post of The Daily Star's Street Talk, area residents didn't mince words when asked if their opinion of Trump had changed since he took office. Most said it hadn't, but opinions were split between staunch support and disapproval.

The Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act spanned the year. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, both Democrats, blasted the proposed American Health Care Act as a “broken promise” to Americans.

Cuomo shared an analysis by the state Department of Health that 13 hospitals in the 19th Congressional District would lose $13.7 million in funding if the health care repeal passed, crippling their ability to provide critical health services for local residents and jeopardizing hundreds of jobs.

Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, voted in support of the GOP's plan in July, which drew him criticism from protestors outside of a meeting with the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce in Roxbury.

Republicans narrowly failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July and again in September, but their newly passed tax legislation includes a provision getting rid of Obamacare's mandate requiring that Americans buy insurance.

The tax reform remains contentious. Independent analysts widely predict that it will increase the national deficit, opening the door to spending cuts on Medicare, Social Security and other programs. Most of the anticipated increase would stem from tax cuts for those making more than $100,000 a year. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said the typical family of four will see a tax cut of $2,059.

In this fall's local elections, Democrats gained positions in the area and across the country.

The Otsego County Board of Representatives race raised discussions about hiring a full-time county executive to increase oversight of department heads and Otsego's $105 million budget. Republican and Democratic candidates expressed support.

Democrats Adrienne Martini and Lizabeth Shannon won seats representing the city of Oneonta.

“Like a lot of women after the election of 2016, I thought I couldn't just be a passive observer of democracy,” Martini said, echoing Shannon in her reasons for deciding to run.

Erin Jerome, staff writer, may be reached at (607) 441-7221, or at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @DS_ErinJ .

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