President Trump, like Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has opposed any additional funding to blue states, which includes New York, beyond reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses.
Trump explained, “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they’re run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt…You look at Illinois, you look at New York, look at California, you know, those three, there’s tremendous debt there, and many others…I don’t think the Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are, that have been mismanaged over a long period of time.” The irony is that New York gives more funds to the Federal government than it receives, while Kentucky, McConnell’s state, is the exact opposite. In other words, in Trump’s mind, if your state did not vote for him, he does not care what happens to its citizens. That even includes the Trumpians, who are branded with the scarlet letter B because they live in a blue state such as New York. So Trumpians, if you want federal money to help keep essential services, you need to turn to the Democrats and moderate Republicans such as Mitt Romney for help, or move to a red state.
Trump’s comments reminded me of what happened in October 1975 as memorialized in the Daily News front page cover, “Ford To City: Drop Dead.” President Ford indicated that he would veto any Federal bailout to New York City to prevent New York City from going into default (bankruptcy). He blamed New York City for its situation. Ford later backed down and later signed the New York City Seasonal Financing Act of 1975, a Congressional bill that extended $2.3 billion worth of federal loans to the city for three years. Nevertheless, many New Yorkers did not forgive Ford for his initial opposition to the bailout, resulting in New York State going to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election. If New York had gone to Ford, he would have won the election. In 1972, 1980, and 1984, New York State voted for the Republican presidential candidate.
Ford had good reason to believe that New York City’s fiscal mismanagement had created the mess and could argue that it was solely New York’s responsibility to fix it.
New York City in 1975 was a place that many people wanted to escape from. It was a decaying city. I remember driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway seeing burnt out buildings with pictures of curtains painted on wooden boards that replaced the broken windows to pretend that people were still there. The mayor in 1975 was Abe Beame, who had previously been the City’s comptroller. One of the reasons why he was elected mayor was that people thought since he had been comptroller, he would have the financial experience to help the City navigate the difficult times it was going through. After he became mayor, it was clear that he was totally incompetent and that, as comptroller, he had misled the people of New York City concerning the extent of the financial crisis. I believe that he was the worst mayor of New York in my lifetime.
Trump cannot make that same argument. New York State’s budget shortfall is due to COVID-19, which it is not to blame for its coming to New York and having the devastating death and economic toll on the state.
Now for my Trump quote of the week. Trump explained why the United States has the most COVID-19 cases and deaths. “It could be the testings, frankly, overrated? Maybe it is overrated… We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing…When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we did not do any testing, we would have very few cases.” I guess it is the testing that is causing people to get the virus and many to die. We do not need a vaccine. We only must stop testing for COVID-19.
The numbers of deaths and hospitalizations in New York State including New York City have been going down. It is not yet the time to declare victory. Listen to the scientists and continue with wearing masks and social distancing and abiding by other rules. It is clearly working.