New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) excoriated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after the top Republican lawmaker suggested states hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic should consider filing for bankruptcy rather than seek financial aid from the federal government.
“This is one of the really dumb ideas of all time,” Cuomo said Thursday at a news conference. “I don’t believe they want to fund state and local governments, and not to fund state and local governments is incredibly shortsighted. They want to fund small business, fund the airlines. …
“I understand that, but state and local government funds police and fire and teachers and schools. How do you not fund police and fire and teachers and schools in the midst of this crisis?”
The governor’s comments came a day after McConnell said states around the nation should consider filing for bankruptcy amid budget shortfalls during the pandemic lockdowns, just hours after the Senate passed a $484 billion bill to support small businesses and hospitals. Democrats have called for the federal government to potentially extend billions of dollars in additional aid to some states as part of any future stimulus package, particularly those that have been subject to crushing outbreaks of the coronavirus, forcing the closure of vast sectors of their economies and resulting in historic levels of joblessness.
The bills would follow up on the landmark $2 trillion stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump last month.
“I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell said Wednesday during a radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.”
McConnell’s office later released a statement reinforcing his calls, titled “Stopping Blue State Bailouts.”
Cuomo said such comments were “vicious,” noting that New York has the largest outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. More than 263,000 people have been infected with the virus and more than 15,700 have died, although some scientific models have suggested rates of infection could be much higher.
“How ugly a thought,” Cuomo said. “I mean, just think of what he’s saying. People died. 15,000 people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democrats. So why should we help them?”
He added: “I mean, for crying out loud, if there was ever a time for you to put aside your pettiness and your partisanship and this political lens that you see the world through Democrat and Republican, and we help Republicans, but we don’t have Democrats. That’s not who we are.”