On Wednesday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he blocked additional state and local aid in the latest relief package, which passed the Senate Tuesday and is set for a vote today in the House.
Although the Senate passed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package which provided billion dollar bailouts for large businesses, and left gaping holes in small business relief which was exploited by big businesses, McConnell stated that it would be fiscally irresponsible to provide aid to states for their essential workers such as health workers and other first responders.
McConnell was interviewed on various conservative shows and discussed his desire to force states into bankruptcy.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route,” he said Wednesday in response to a question on the syndicated Hugh Hewitt radio show. “It’s saved some cities, and there’s no good reason for it not to be available.”
“You raised yourself the important issue of what states have done, many of them have done to themselves with their pension programs,” he said. “There’s not going to be any desire on the Republican side to bail out state pensions by borrowing money from future generations.
“I said yesterday we’re going to push the pause button here, because I think this whole business of additional assistance for state and local governments needs to be thoroughly evaluated,” McConnell added.
Later, on Fox News, McConnell said, “We’re not interested in solving their pension problems for [states] . . . We’re not interested in rescuing them from bad decisions they’ve made in the past. We’re not going to let them take advantage of this pandemic to solve a lot of problems that they created for themselves with bad decisions in the past.”
Today, during his daily press conference, New York Governor Cuomo expressed outrage at Senator McConnell’s desire to bankrupt states, labeling McConnell “the grim reaper.”
“Let me go back to my self-proclaimed grim reaper, Senator McConnell,” Cuomo said at the outset of the Q&A portion of the press conference.
“You want to see that market fall through the cellar? Let [New York, Michigan, Illinois, California] declare bankruptcy. You will see a collapse of this national economy,” Cuomo said. “Vicious is saying – what Senator McConnel said – that this is a blue state bailout… New York puts in more money to the federal pot than it takes out. His state takes out more than it puts in. Senator McConnell, who’s getting bailed out here? It’s your state that is living on the money that we generate.”
Cuomo explained that New York provided up to 10% of the nation’s total GDP as well as contributing $116 billion in annual federal funds as opposed to McConnell’s state, Kentucky, which receives far more federal funds than it contributes back.
McConnell’s remarks also drew a criticism from other state and local officials.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, said he was stunned by McConnell’s comments, which he called “completely and utterly irresponsible.”
“He’s dead wrong. You have my word we won’t go bankrupt,” he said. Without cash to states, Murphy said, governors will be forced to “gut the living daylights out of every state of America,” slashing budgets and eliminating the services people need.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, also a Democrat, tweeted that McConnell “wants police officers to lose their jobs. He wants firefighters to go broke. He wants hospitals to close and sick people thrown out on the street.”