PREBLE — Ivanka Trump stressed the plight of working mothers on her visit Monday morning to Suit-Kote Corp.’s Preble headquarters.
President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, herself a mother of three, sat at the roundtable discussion — which focused on the local business climate — with Cortland County business leaders, Suit-Kote owner Frank Suits Jr., and two other working mothers, Emily Finn and Emily Kissel.
Colleen Kattau holds a sign during Monday morning’s protest of a visit by Rep. Claudia Tenney and Ivanka Trump to Suit-Kote. Kattau was joined by about 30 other protesters, and a couple of Trump supporters, each waving a sign.
The visit, which included a tour of the facility and demonstrations, was a show of support for U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford), who is up for re-election in November in a highly watched race against Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Suits is a supporter of and contributor to President Trump and Tenney, according to Federal Election Commission data. In June 2016, Suits donated $2,700 to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign and in 2017 he and Theresa Suits, his wife, gave more than $10,000 to Claudia Tenney for Congress campaign fund.
Finn and Kissel told the audience of about 150 about the challenges of being working mothers — between the cost of child care and the need to balance work and home life.
Takes on Trump’s visit
• Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul issued an open letter to Ivanka Trump condemning the federal government’s stance on women’s issues.
“So why do you not speak out against the President’s anti-women agenda? Your silence is deafening,” Hochul stated. “Your administration has attacked Planned Parenthood and taken action to deny women contraceptive coverage and health services, reshaped Title X, the federal program for affordable birth control, to focus on abstinence education, and imposed an outrageous gag rule to prevent health care providers across the country from referring their patients for safe, legal abortion.”
• Assembly Member Anthony Brindisi, Rep. Claudia Tenney’s Democratic challenger in the November race for the 22nd Congressional District, faulted Tenney’s opposition to paid family leave.
“Ivanka Trump and I both know that people shouldn’t fear losing their job when caring for a newborn, sick loved one, or a family member serving overseas,” he said. “I was proud to vote for New York’s paid family leave plan, and disappointed when Claudia Tenney voted against it. Claudia Tenney is again out of step with the needs of middleclass families in Upstate New York.”
Juggling the competing interests of motherhood and work is difficult, Trump said.
“It’s always challenging becoming a parent for the first time and managing the competing demands of work and family,” she said. One component of the tax reform bill adopted in December was a twoyear credit for employers that offer paid family leave — which Trump said was a good first step toward a national paid family leave plan.
She also said doubling the child tax credit helps working families. The credit goes to $2,000 this year from $1,000 in 2017 for each child claimed as a dependent. However, other changes to income tax law eliminate personal exemptions, yet double the standard deduction, which the National Partnership for Women and Families has said would give larger families less of a break.
Still, Trump said the child care system needs an overhaul. “It’s become too expensive and too difficult to locate, we need to figure out a way how we can fix the system,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, left, Ivanka Trump, center, and Suit-Kote President Frank Suits Jr. tour Suit-Kote’s paving main garage Monday in Preble.
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce Director Bob Haight, also part of the roundtable discussion, said access to affordable, quality child care is a struggle many local families face.
“If parents don’t have that high quality education-based center where they can take children, studies show that their work is impacted negatively because of that,” Haight said.
A measure in a recently passed omnibus bill increases funding for the child care block grant that goes through the state to child care centers, Trump said.
“An expansion of the child care development block grants for the states went from $2.8 billion to $5.2 billion,” Trump said. “That goes directly to states to offset costs of child care for working parents.”
However, that’s not quite accurate, child care officials said. Block grants help low-income families, Head Start programs and child-care referral agencies, but not the middle class, said Elin Pantas, deputy director of Cortland Child Development Center.
A bigger problem for centers is that middle-income families struggle to keep up with the cost of rising tuition caused by a rising minimum wage, Pantas said.
Trump ended her roundtable discussion with a story that got the crowd laughing. She told how her father can’t tolerate poor asphalt jobs and always points out cracks in the asphalt to his grandson.
This stuck with the child. One day, on a walk in New York City, her son spotted a crack.
“He stops, points at it and looks at me, and said, ‘Mom, grandpa would not like that,’ “ Trump said. “To which I agreed.”
Then, turning to Suits, Trump said, “I have a feeling your asphalt jobs are better than the ones I’m accustomed to seeing.”
Hearing the story, Suits said he and her father have more than one thing in common.