Even In A Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo Is Not Your Friend. (ESPECIALLY In A Pandemic)

Even in a pandemic, Cuomo is fighting to protect the rich and impose austerity, including devastating Medicaid cuts, on everyone else.

[Editor’s Note: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been getting a lot of press for his calm, forceful press conferences. But there is another side to Coumo, a side that has contributed to the health emergency in his state and will make things even worse. Sorry to say, but Cuomo is just another Wall Street stroking neoliberal Democan; part of the problem, not the solution. — Mark L. Taylor]

By Akash Mehta
Jacobin (3/27/20)

Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conferences have made him the Democratic Party’s “most prominent voice in a time of crisis,” as certified by the New York Times. Cuomo projects the competent and candid tell-it-like-it-is tough guy persona that millions of New Yorkers and Americans crave in a time of panic and uncertainty.

He gives particular reassurance to those unnerved by the daily chaos of Trump’s press conferences, a contrast he carefully cultivates: “I try to present unbiased facts. I try to present numbers because people need information. When you get anxious, when you get fearful, when you don’t get the information or you doubt the information, or you think people do not know what they are talking about, or you think you are getting lied to … so I present facts.”

The message is clear. #PresidentCuomo, as a trending hashtag dubbed him, will give you the real facts where President Trump gives ‘alternative” ones; is even-keeled and trustworthy where Trump is mercurial and self-interested; knows what he’s talking about where Trump spouts misinformation and lies.

Governor 1 percent never fails to live up to his moniker, even in a pandemic. What makes these cuts a new low even for him, though, is that he indicates he’ll go forward with them even at the cost of the $6.7 billion in federal aid.

It’s an effective public relations campaign — so effective that you could almost forget that this is Andrew Cuomo we’re talking about.

The man who summarily disbanded the corruption commission he’d ran on creating when it began to investigate his allies. The man who made a host of videotaped promises in exchange for the Working Families Party’s endorsement only to turn around and break them all. The man who secretly worked for years to ensure Republican control of the State Senate, protecting himself from the flak that would come with having to veto progressive legislation.

Taking an ax to medicaid and emergency aid

And lest you thought he had turned a new leaf, Governor 1 percent is insisting on taking an ax to the state Medicaid budget even at the cost of $6.7 billion in emergency federal aid — and lying about it. In the most unequal state in the nation, he is fighting to protect the rich and impose austerity on everyone else. Make no mistake: even in a pandemic, Andrew Cuomo is not your friend.

ach of the half-dozen organizers and legislators I interviewed for this article acknowledged that aspects of Cuomo’s response to the crisis have been competent. But what’s lost in the rush to praise Cuomo is that he and his coronavirus task force (headed by former high-ups at MacAndrews and Forbes and the notorious Blackstone Group, whose corporate ties would have barred them from government service had Cuomo not used his emergency powers to lift revolving-door laws) have shown callous indifference to needs of New York’s working-class and most vulnerable citizens.

When asked how average New Yorkers can be expected to make rent amid coronavirus’s economic devastation, Cuomo claims he “took care of the rent issue” — but he ignores rent-cancellation legislation that is currently supported by dozens of legislators. He uses the pandemic as cover to roll back last year’s bail reform laws that have reduced the state’s prison population by thousands. He not only uses $2/hour prison labor to rebottle hand sanitizer, but also refuses to release elderly and sick inmates from filthy, crowded jails like Rikers Island.

And perhaps most scandalously of all, he continues to push to meet a budget shortfall by enacting deep Medicaid cuts rather than passing wildly popular tax increases on the 0.01 percent — even though this would require him to turn down billions in federal coronavirus aid to the state.

Last week, even as New York became a global epicenter of the pandemic, Cuomo’s “Medicaid Redesign Team” (MRT) released its proposals to cut $2.5 billion from the state Medicaid budget, including $400 million to hospitals as they battle coronavirus in the next year. …

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