SARANAC LAKE - U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is proud of her record.
The Democrat from New York and one-time congresswoman from New York's 20th Congressional District was in Saranac Lake on Friday to tour the new offices of Myriad RBM. She's up for re-election this fall and faces two challengers: Republican Wendy Long and Libertarian Party candidate Chris Edes.
Long has criticized Gillibrand for being too liberal, especially since she was viewed as a moderate when she served in the House. Gillibrand cautioned against using labels to describe her.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters outside of Myriad RBM on Friday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
"One of the publications that determines where I am on the political spectrum, they have labeled fighting for insurance for our farmers, fighting for disaster relief, as liberal," she said. "I don't think that's liberal or conservative. I don't think it's Democratic or Republican. You have to fight for our farmers.
"I fight for what I believe in, the values I have. My values have not changed. My priorities have not changed. And we move forward trying to fight for the whole state, not just my old congressional district. I'm now fighting on many more issues that weren't as high a priority for our old district than it is for the whole state. I stand on my record, I stand on what I support and my values."
2012 Farm Bill
Gillibrand said the House's inaction on the 2012 Farm Bill is "disappointing." The Senate passed its version of the bill in June, but so far House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has declined to bring it to the floor for a vote.
The senator said the bill has some "strong changes" in it, including measures to create greater transparency for milk prices, a shift away from direct payments to commodity crops in favor of an insurance plan and disaster relief for fruit and vegetable producers. Gillibrand said she's disappointed that funding for food stamps has been cut, although some lawmakers have argued food stamps shouldn't be attached to the farm bill.
"(In) New York state, 300,000 families are going to receive less money every month, and it's going to be about $90 less a month, which is the whole grocery bill for the last week of the month," she said. "So you're talking about hungry kids, hungry (veterans), hungry seniors - that's not who we are as a nation."
Gillibrand said there's enormous volatility in the price of gasoline in New York state and across the country. She said normally, gas prices should reflect supply and demand.
"But there's many people who view them not being reflective of supply and demand," Gillibrand said. "There hasn't been a massive increase in demand that makes prices go up, so many people believe that it's more due to speculation in the market. So people who are just buying and selling to make money, but not actually receiving the oil that they buy."
The senator also said there's concern that the market for gasoline is being manipulated.
"So what I would like to see is much more transparency and accountability to make sure that there's not this kind of manipulation in the market by industry players that are just trying to make money," Gillibrand said.