Cuomo slams ‘taker’ McConnell’s ‘blue state bailout’ remark as un-American

Food distribution for needy residents in Brooklyn during outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York
As New Yorkers line up for food amid the coronavirus pandemic, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell continues to block aid to the state government, slamming it as a “blue state bailout.” (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

For the second consecutive day, Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo lit into Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for continuing to block every attempt at providing New York with financial relief from the coronavirus pandemic.

During his daily coronavirus briefing on Friday morning, Cuomo raged over McConnell’s previous statements that New York and other financially troubled states during the pandemic should resort to filing for bankruptcy instead of securing federal financial aid. McConnell’s office, on Wednesday, sent out a document titled, “Stopping Blue State Bailouts,” in support of the majority leader’s position.

On Friday, Cuomo publicly dared McConnell to draft and pass legislation that would permit states to file for bankruptcy, and get President Trump to sign it. The governor said states currently do not have the power to file for bankruptcy — and suggested that if the federal government provided such authority, it would cause further economic turmoil.

“You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? You want to send an international message that the economy is in turmoil?” Cuomo said. “Do that. It’ll be the first time in our nation’s history that that happened. And then we’ll see how many states take you up on it — I know I wouldn’t.”

New York state’s economic health was fine before the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo told reporters. But the outbreak led to a virtual shutdown of New York’s economy, blowing a projected $13.3 billion hole into the state budget.

For weeks, Cuomo has sought federal funding for New York and other states to deal with financial losses caused by coronavirus. Though three federal relief bills provided help to private industries across the country, little aid was directed to state governments.

“How can you have a federal government that doesn’t provide funding to local governments? When you don’t fund state and local, you don’t fund police, fire, school teachers, school officials,” the governor said. What was the possible theory of funding large corporations but not firefighters, police, health care workers? All they said was don’t worry, we’ll do it in the next bill.”

The next bill came this week with a nearly $500 billion in relief across the country, including $1.7 billion that McConnell earmarked for Kentucky’s coronavirus response

But as for New York’s response — and the response of other states that happen to vote Democratic — McConnell doesn’t seem to care, Cuomo said. 

The governor called McConnell’s “blue state bailout” suggestion “the most un-American, uncharitable statement of all times.” He also slammed the Senate majority leader as “a taker, not a giver,” reminding that New York state perennially sends more tax dollars to Washington than any other state in the Union — whilst Kentucky “is the number three state in taking from the federal pot.”

“New York is a state of givers. We put more money into the federal pot every year, number one,” Cuomo said. “And now he wants to look at New York and say, ‘You’re bailing us out?’ Just give me my money back, Senator! It’s just ridiculous.”

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