Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a withering attack on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during his Thursday morning press conference, calling the Kentucky Republican’s ideas “vicious” and “dumb,” and dubbing the man himself a “self-proclaimed grim reaper.”
Over the last few weeks, Cuomo has repeatedly railed against Congress’ stimulus packages for failing to provide state and local governments with enough aid to combat the coronavirus pandemic. A fourth package is expected to pass the House of Representatives Thursday.
McConnell has responded to that type of criticism by suggesting states crushed by COVID-19 can simply apply for bankruptcy.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” McConnell said in a Wednesday radio interview. “It saves some cities. And there’s no good reason for it not to be available.”
That possibility, Cuomo said on Thursday, was “one of the really dumb ideas of all time.”
“That’s how you’re going to bring this national economy back? By states declaring bankruptcy?” Cuomo asked. “You want to see that market fall through the cellar? Let New York state declare bankruptcy. Let Michigan declare bankruptcy. Let Illinois declare bankruptcy. Let California declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of this national economy.”
“So. Just. Dumb,” said Cuomo, who also pointed out that state governments fund essential workers like firefighters and police.
But the governor wasn’t finished. He then took aim at a heading on a McConnell press release circulated by the senator’s office on Wednesday that read, “Stopping Blue State Bailouts.”
“How ugly a thought. I mean, just think of what he’s saying,” Cuomo said. “People died. ‘Fifteen thousand people died in New York, but they were predominantly Democrats, so why should we help them?’ 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.”
Though Cuomo has waged the occasional skirmish with President Donald Trump in media interviews and in his daily press briefings, the Democratic governor has consistently called for politicians to put aside their partisan bias to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. And McConnell’s comments apparently drove Cuomo to the edge: He also attacked McConnell on CNN Wednesday, calling the senator’s comments “politically repugnant.”
“If there was ever a time to stop your political, obsessive political bias and anger — which is what it’s morphed into, just a political anger — now is the time,” Cuomo said on Thursday. “You want to politically divide this nation now, with all that’s going on? How irresponsible and how reckless.”
His tirade seemingly concluded, Cuomo asked reporters for questions. But just one question later, Cuomo said he needed to talk more about the “self-proclaimed grim reaper Sen. McConnell.” He couldn’t let the “bailout” accusation go — not when Kentucky depends far more on federal aid than New York, Cuomo said.
“New York puts in more money to the federal pot than it takes out,” Cuomo said. “His state takes out more than it puts in. Sen. McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here? It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out, not my state.”
About 15,500 people have died of COVID-19 complications in New York state, as of Thursday, though Cuomo and other officials have cautioned that the death toll is likely to rise as more at-home deaths are counted. The rate of hospitalizations in New York has remained flat or in decline for several days, which signals that the spread of the infection is slowing there.
However, preliminary data released Thursday indicates that as many as 21% of people in New York City, and nearly 14% of people statewide in New York, have coronavirus antibodies — meaning that they at one point developed and recovered from COVID-19.
Cover: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) speaking at a press Conference at the State Capitol reporting on the latest development of the Covid-19 Coronavirus situation. (Photo: Michael Brochstein / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)