In their exchange of insults Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell were inadvertently helping make a positive point.
The majority leader got under Cuomo’s skin when he suggested that the federal government shouldn’t provide stimulus money to offset the losses absorbed by states as a result of a decline in tax revenue due to the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, McConnell said, states should consider filing for bankruptcy, a ludicrous and harmful alternative.
The Republican leader then threw political gasoline on the fire by calling aid to states “blue state bailouts,” in reference high-spending states that lean Democratic.
Our feisty governor responded by using the national platform of his daily covid briefings to blast McConnell for being “irresponsible and reckless,” calling the bankruptcy idea “one of the dumbest ideas of all time.”
To spotlight McConnell’s hypocrisy, Cuomo noted that New York contributes $116 billion more to the federal government than it receives back in aid, while McConnell’s home state of Kentucky receives $148 billion more back from the federal government than it puts in.
Since New York is subsidizing McConnell’s state, how, then, could McConnell justifiably deny New York and other blue states help in the coronavirus outbreak?
Throughout the crisis, Cuomo has regularly opined about the need for a collective response to the crisis. He’s called on the federal government to manage the supply chain for ventilators, safety equipment and testing, while urging states and regions within states to help out when another is in need.
But it’s hard to stand behind that concept when at the same time he gets up in arms over a relatively wealthy state like New York helping out a poor state like Kentucky, which suffers from one of the highest poverty rates in America.
Is he saying that it’s OK to share during the virus outbreak, but not when another state’s poor citizens need our help?
But McConnell wasn’t totally wrong here.
To his point, why should the federal government and other states subsidize states that spend more excessively than others?
New York ranks among the highest in the country in state spending, education spending and overall local property tax burden. In fact, New York was facing a $6 billion budget deficit even before the coronavirus hit, in large part due to an overgenerous Medicaid system and excessive state spending in other areas. We’ve criticized it ourselves.
In essence, they both made valid points, while both being hypocritical.
In the end, though, the exchange turned out to be worthwhile, in that it served as a reminder of how we all benefit when we share resources and work together.