Senator Mitch McConnell's hardline stance against federal aid for states wrestling with economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic drew a heavy rebuke from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
McConnell laid out his objections to issuing "Blue State Bailouts" in a news release Wednesday and told radio host Hugh Hewitt that there wouldn't be "any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations."
Gov. Cuomo lashed out at the Senate Majority leader in his strongest riposte yet to partisanship during the pandemic.
At his daily press briefing Thursday, Cuomo characterized McConnell's suggestion that cash-strapped states should declare bankruptcy as "one of the really dumb ideas of all-time."
The governor accused McConnell of resorting to "vicious," "ugly" partisanship, specifically directed at states like New York, New Jersey, Michigan and California, during a global crisis. Cuomo noted that state budgets fund essential services like police departments, fire departments and schools.
"Don't help New York State because it is a democratic state?" the governor said. "How ugly a thought. 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 scoffed at the notion that multiple states declaring bankruptcy would accomplish anything but crater the nation's economy and assailed McConnell's notion that the hardest-hit states are undeserving of aid.
"When it comes to fairness, New York States puts much more money into the federal pot than it takes out," Cuomo continued. "At the end of the year, we put in to that federal pot $116 billion more than we take out."
He added that McConnell's state, Kentucky, reaps the benefits of that money, reaping $148 billion more in federal aid than it contributes.
"Sen. McConnell, who's getting bailed out here?" Cuomo asked. "It's your state that is living on the money that we generate. Your state is getting bailed out [every year], not my state."
As he has numerous times over the past several weeks, Cuomo emphasized that federal aid for states operating in deficits is a bipartisan issue among governors with widespread support from the National Governors Association, chaired by republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland.
While some southern states have begun relaxing restrictions on social distancing, more densely populated states continue to wrestle with the worst of the pandemic.
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