Watching New York Governor Cuomo’s daily briefings is now a daily must for me, and I live in Florida. His fact-based, straight-forward style is so refreshing compared to what we see from our Federal government. I haven’t even bothered to watch a briefing by the governor of my own state.
For the second day in a row, Governor Andrew Cuomo called out Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch McConnell for McConnell’s suggestion that states should declare bankruptcy. At one point, Governor Cuomo said, “Mitch McConnell is a taker, not a giver.“
You can watch the entire briefing here, but I have transcribed some interesting sections below.
Governor Cuomo started the briefing by reviewing the state’s numbers, and then discussed how we should learn from the experience. He explained how research says that strains of the coronavirus entered New York from Europe; not China.
I read that Trump watches Governor Cuomo’s briefings every day. At one point Governor Cuomo pointed said, “We closed the front door with the China travel ban … but we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban.” I wonder what Trump thought about that arrow shot at Trump’s claim that he did everything right by issuing the China travel ban when he did?
Last November, December, we knew that China had a virus outbreak. You could read about it in the newspapers, right? Everybody knew. January 26, we know we had the first confirmed case in Seattle, Washington, and California. February 2nd, the President ordered a travel ban from China. March 1st we have the first confirmed case in the state of New York. By March 19th, New York state is totally closed down. No state moved faster from first case to close down then the state of New York.
March 16th we have a full travel ban from Europe. Researchers now find and they report in some newspapers, the virus was spreading wildly in Italy in February and there was an outbreak, massive outbreak in Italy in February. Researchers now say there were likely 28,000 cases in the United States in February, including 10,000 cases in the state of New York and the coronavirus flu virus that came to New York, did not come from China. It came from Europe.
When you look at the number of flights that came from Europe to New York, the New York metropolitan area, New York and New Jersey during January, February, up to the close down, 13,000 flights bringing 2.2 million people. All right. So November, December you have the outbreak in China. Everybody knows.
January, February, flights are coming from Europe. People are also coming from China in January, until the China closed down and the flights continue to come from Europe until the Europe shutdown. 2.2 million people come to New York and come to New Jersey.
We acted two months after the China outbreak. When you look back, does anyone think the virus was still in China waiting for us to act two months later? We all talk about the global economy and how fast people move and how mobile we are. How can you expect that when you act two months after the outbreak in China, the virus was only in China waiting for us to act? The horse had already left the barn by the time we moved.
A researcher now says knowing the number of flights coming into New York from Italy, it was like watching a horrible train wreck in slow motion. Those are the flights that were coming from Italy and from Europe, January and February. We closed the front door with the China travel ban, which was right. Even in retrospect, it was right, but we left the back door open because the virus had left China by the time we did the China travel ban. That’s what the researchers are now saying with 28,000 cases in the United States, 10,000 in New York. So what is the lesson? An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere.
While discussing the New York state financial report, Governor Cuomo reported that there would be “roughly a $13.3 billion shortfall from our forecast.” He then went back to discussing McConnell’s idea that states should file for bankruptcy:
The consequence to the state is the revenue projections are way down. What do we do about it? Some people have suggested, “Well, states should declare bankruptcy.” I think, as I said yesterday, it’s a really dumb idea. People are trying to talk about bringing the economy back; reopen. We have to get the economy moving again, and then rather than provide financial aid to the states that got hit by this economic tsunami, through no fault of their own, suggestion was made, “States should declare bankruptcy.” Few problems with that premise.
Forget the morality of it, and the ethics of it, and the absurdity of it, and the meanness of it. Legally, a state can’t declare bankruptcy. You would need a Federal law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. So to the Senate that proposed it, I say pass a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. I dare you, and let the President sign that bill that says, “I give the states the legal ability to declare bankruptcy.”
It’s your suggestion, Senator McConnell. Pass the law. I dare you. And then go to the President and say, “Sign this bill allowing states to declare bankruptcy.” You want to send a signal to the markets that this nation is in real trouble? You want to send a international message that the economy is in turmoil? Do that. Allow states to declare bankruptcy legally, because you passed the bill. It’ll be the first time in our nation’s history that that happened. I dare you to do that, and then we’ll see how many states actually take you up on it. I know I wouldn’t, but if you believe what you said and you have the courage of conviction because you’re a man of your word, pass that bill, if you weren’t just playing politics. We’ll see how long it takes him to do it.
Later on, during the Q&A, Governor Cuomo was asked:
Governor, that revenue shortfall opens the door for you to institute a cut to local governments, to schools. Do you intend on invoking that power, and what kind of cuts should those entities expect?
The governor responded by once again calling out Moscow Mitch. (Most of this part of the briefing can be watched on a CNN video below):
We’re looking at that now, and we don’t have a decision now. But I’ll tell you the truth. I said to the Federal government… I’ve been talking about this for how long? Two months. Two months. I said, “How can you have a Federal government in a position where they’re not going to provide funding to state governments and local governments?” Small business, airlines, business program. Now some of these large corporations now apparently have been taking money from the government programs. And they’re not funding state and local.
When you don’t fund state and local, you know who you don’t fund? Police, fire, school teachers, school officials. What was the possible theory of funding large corporations, but not firefighters and not police and not healthcare workers? I mean, it boggles the mind.
All they said was, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry, we’re going to do it in the next bill. We’re going to do it in the next bill. We’re going to do it in the next bill.” I said to our congressional delegation, I said to our senators, Schumer and Gillibrand, “Don’t pass this past bill that they just did unless you have state and local funding, because they’re not going to do it.” Don’t worry. Don’t worry. They’re not going to do it.
As soon as the Senate acts, McConnell turns around and says, “I’m not going to do it. The state should declare bankruptcy. Bailout to the blue states.” Bailout to the blue states. Again, the most un-American, uncharitable, ugly statement of all times.
Yes, New York had more coronavirus cases than Kentucky. Do you know why? The flights from Europe land in New York. The flights were not landing in Kentucky. That’s why we have the coronavirus cases. That’s what the researchers now found two months later, that the virus went from China to Europe, got on a plane, and came here. And by the way, the virus probably got on a plane in China and came here, but China maybe landed in California. The European flights landed here. That’s why New York has the coronavirus cases.
Bail out New York? You’re not bailing out New York. New York has bailed you out. Every year, it’s bailed you out. Mitch McConnell is a taker, not a giver. New York is the state of givers. We put more money into the Federal pot every year. We’re the number one state in donating to the Federal pot, number one. Kentucky is the number three state in taking from the Federal pot. They take out more from the Federal pot than they put in every year. Every year. But this is America, states, one Federal pot. You put in what you can, and the states that need it take it.
Okay, so for every year New York was the number one donor state putting in more money than it took out. Putting in more money than anyone else, and taking out less; number one donor state. Kentucky every year was the number three state that took out more than they put in. So we were putting money into the pot, they were taking our dollars out of the pot and now he wants to look at New York and say, “We’re bailing you out.” You’re bailing us out? Just give me my money back, Senator. Just give me my money back. I mean, it’s just ridiculous. States shouldn’t declare bankruptcy.
Okay Senator, pass the bill that authorizes States to declare bankruptcy. Sign the bill, Mr. President. Economy’s coming back. We’re doing great. Pent up demand. Stock market wants to take off. Good. Pass a bill allowing states to be bankrupt and then let’s watch how the stock market takes off at that great news about our economic resilience.