New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday rebuked President Donald Trump’s complaint that it’s unfair for Republicans to provide “bailouts” to Democrat-led states suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo, a Democrat whose state is the U.S. epicenter for the outbreak, sharply criticized the partisan rhetoric from Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who both say they are opposed to sending federal emergency aid to states.
“It’s not red or blue, it’s red, white and blue. This coronavirus doesn’t pick Democrats or Republicans. It doesn’t kill Democrats or Republicans, it kills Americans,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing. “If we don’t get the money from Washington, we can’t fund schools at the rate we want to fund them. We are in dire financial need.”
In an interview with the New York Post published Tuesday morning, Trump echoed McConnell’s stance opposing federal aid to so-called blue state governments, saying that Congress is not inclined to do bailouts.
Trump said that doing so would be unfair to Republican-led states because the states that need financial help are “run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt.” Texas and Florida both have Republican governors.
Cuomo said that he wouldn’t call financial assistance from the federal government a bailout, saying it was a “rhetorical, hyperbolic” word.
“There’s no bailout. Because of the coronavirus this nation has been impacted, and states have been impacted because the states make up the nation, and we need financial help because of the coronavirus situation,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo said New York and other Democratic-led states have paid more in federal taxes than they’ve received. He said New York pays $29 billion more in taxes to the federal government than it receives every year, and California pays nearly $6 billion more than it gets back. Meanwhile, Republican-led states Kentucky and Florida receive $37 billion more and $30 billion more, respectively, in federal funding than they send to the federal government.
Cuomo warned Trump that playing politics “is a bad road to go down” and could derail future efforts to push legislation through a divided Congress. The House and Senate have scrambled amid the pandemic to approve numerous economic stimulus bills, appropriating trillions of dollars toward the nation’s response efforts.
Members of both parties suggest another phase of relief is likely to be needed.
“You go down this path of partisanship and politics, you will never pass a bill,” Cuomo said. “And if you never pass legislation, you’ll never get this economy back on its feet. So you go down this path of division, you will defeat all of us, because we’re all in the same boat.”
Cuomo said he doesn’t believe Trump started “this fight” on funding for states, saying it was the Republicans in the Senate who first articulated the idea of preventing payments to states left cash-strapped from the coronavirus crisis.
“If he’s adopting that theory that he also believes we shouldn’t help Democratic states deal with the coronavirus fallout, I think it is partisan, it is divisive and it is self-defeating,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo previously criticized McConnell’s support for letting states declare bankruptcy, calling it “one of the really dumb ideas of all time.”
The state is grappling with a $13.3 billion shortfall in revenue compared with its original forecast, a 14% decline in the state’s projected drop in tax receipts. New York state is forecasting $61 billion in total lost revenue between fiscal years 2021 and 2024, Cuomo said.
Earlier on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also rejected Trump’s comments to the Post, calling him a “pure hypocrite” given how much relief funding he’s provided the airline industry and other corporations.