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Andrew Cuomo hasn’t been shy about showing his contempt for Republicans in Washington, D.C., during the coronavirus pandemic, and he kept it coming in his Wednesday briefing.
The New York governor added Florida Sen. Rick Scott to his list of GOP targets this time. Scott told reporters earlier in the week that it’s “not fair to the taxpayers of Florida” to hand money over to states whose economies have been crippled by the social distancing measures used to fight the spread of COVID-19.
“On the facts, it’s not even close to right,” Cuomo shot back during his daily press conference. “And why they would even go down this road, when the facts damn everything they’re saying?”
Over the last week, Cuomo has repeatedly attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose office circulated a press release with the header “Stopping Blue State Bailouts.” Cuomo denounced McConnell again on Wednesday and accused him of making the pandemic “blatantly political.” He also literally dared the Kentucky senator to convince President Donald Trump to let states declare bankruptcy.
Cuomo wanted to know, once again: Which states, exactly, are bailing out the others?
“How dare they? How dare they, even those are the facts? How long are you gonna play the American people and assume they’re stupid?” Cuomo said of politicians like McConnell and Scott. “They are not, and they can add.”
As he’s done before, the governor used his trusty, stat-packed slideshow to back up his claims. He flashed statistics about the fact that New York state pours about $29 billion more into the federal government than it receives annually. Florida and Kentucky, by comparison, receive billions more every year from the federal government than they pay into it, according to Cuomo’s slides.
Cuomo’s press conference eventually evolved into a full-on populist speech, as he went on to denounce congressional politicians and their “the Washington double-speak” for wanting to fund “corporate America” and enormous industries like hotels, restaurants, and airlines. Over the past few weeks, the governor has repeatedly demanded that Congress include more money to state and local governments in its stimulus packages.
“Bailout? Us, them? No, it’s just theater,” Cuomo said. “It’s just smoke and mirrors, to avoid the American people seeing the reality, which is whose pocket they want to put money in versus — whose pocket state and local governments want to fund.”
Cuomo went on an extended riff about the true spirit of the American people, who are, according to the governor, far kinder and more generous than their elected officials. (Of course, Cuomo made sure to mention the elderly Kansas farmer who mailed New York an N95 mask, even though the farmer’s wife has just one lung.) He even unveiled a wall of masks that he said had been sent to New York state from all over the country.
Cuomo said the wall of masks was a “self-portrait of America” that “spells love.” It’s unclear if those masks can still be used for shielding people from COVID-19, now that they’ve been used to spell love.
Cover: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks with reporters after the Senate approved a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid bill, Tuesday, April 21, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)