Archive for April 2021

Reckless Best Describes DeBlasio’s COVID Policies – By George J. Marlin

April 29, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Thursday, April 29, 2021.

Gov. Cuomo surrenders to radical left – By George J. Marlin

April 23, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, April 19, 2021 on The Island Now’s website: 

After Congress passed the COVID-19 relief bill, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced that New York would receive $12.6 billion and would not have to raise taxes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed and added that proposed cuts in spending could be eliminated from his proposed budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

These declarations, however, did not impress Democrats in the state Legislature. Spending $194 billion was just not enough. Proposals floating around Albany called for a 22 percent increase in spending — 10 times the inflation rate.

In ordinary times, calls for preposterous and unsustainable spending would not be an issue for Cuomo.


Because the budget process in New York is very different from the federal government’s process. In Washington, the president proposes a budget plan, but Congress is free to do whatever it wants with it. In New York, the state Constitution gives the governor responsibility for drafting the budget.

Under this system, the governor deals from his budgetary deck of cards and the Legislature must play the hand dealt to it. The Legislature has the power to “take action,” which means that it can accept the governor’s budget as is or it can reduce spending, eliminate spending or add to a spending measure. However, the governor can exercise his veto power to reject any of these spending changes.

Hence, Cuomo has the upper hand in negotiations with legislative leaders.

An additional power the governor possesses: He can fire the friends, relatives and political cronies of assemblymen and senators who are employed in the inner sanctums of the state government.

In past years, Cuomo, like many of his predecessors, was not afraid to use his budgetary and political power to convince recalcitrant legislators to fall into line.

But this year has been different. For the first time in 11 years, the governor has surrendered to the fiscally reckless demands of Democrat legislators.

The $212 billion budget he agreed to increases spending by $18 billion—a 10 percent hike—and increases taxes by $4 billion:

• For New York’s highest earners, the state income tax will rise to 10.9 percent.

• The capital gains tax will add on a 1 percent surtax.

• Estate taxes will jump from 16 percent to 20 percent for estates valued over $10.1

• The corporate franchise tax will be 7.25 percent, up from 6.5 percent.

Analyzing the tax hikes, E.J. McMahon of The Empire Center for Public Policy, concluded: “The financial incentive for high earners to move themselves and their businesses from New York to states with low or no income taxes has never ever been higher than it already is.”

As for spending, there’s plenty of pork:

• $385 million appropriated for the State and Municipal Facilities Program. These funds, The Empire Center reports, “can be used to underwrite almost any capital construction or equipment purchase a state or local politician can think of, including the vast category of privately sponsored ‘economic development’ projects.” In other words, corporate welfare for favored constituents;

• $2.1 billion for undocumented immigrants without jobs;

• $23 million for local community “restorative justice” programs;

• $300 million for farmland preservation and botanical gardens and zoos;

• $4.6 million for “the retention of professional football in Western New York”;

• $125 thousand to promote N.Y. grown Christmas trees;

• $50 thousand for N.Y. hop growers to promote hops;

• $108 million to develop the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx;

• $43 million for the N.Y. Council of the Arts and $1 million for “arts stabilization grants”—whatever that is.

And as tens of thousands of New Yorkers—who lost their jobs due to Cuomo shutting down the state’s economy—search for employment, the budget provides $175 million in raises for those who suffered least financially—state workers.

During his first 10 years in office, the fiscally prudent governor kept the growth of budgetary spending to an average of 2 percent annually.

So why did he sign on to a 10 percent increase?

Answer: He’s politically weak thanks to scandals haunting his administration.

Hence, Cuomo may believe giving into the radicals may slow down the Legislature’s investigation into his behavior and may thwart impeachment proceedings.

To save his political hide, the governor agreed to fund cockamamie legislative proposals and to throw overburdened taxpayers “under the bus.”

Andrew Cuomo—a profile in courage?

I think not.

Congressman Jerry Nadler’s ‘Will’ vs. God’s ‘Will’ – By George J. Marlin

April 15, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Thursday, April 15, 2021.

Rich targeted to fund Albany’s spending frenzy – By George J. Marlin

April 7, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, April 5, 2021 on The Island Now’s website:

Shortly after Gov. Andrew Cuomo closed down New York’s economy in March 2020, he whined that the state’s budget deficits in 2020 and 2021 could be $12 billion to $14 billion due to declining tax revenues.

Well, what did he expect? After all, hundreds of thousands of people were laid off, tens of thousands of small businesses closed (many forever) and tourism came to a halt.

Sales taxes from restaurants alone were down over $2 billion in 2020.

In addition, people fleeing New York City caused rental apartment vacancies to increase to 5 percent in January 2021 vs. 2 percent a year earlier.

As for commercial real estate, with huge numbers of white-collar workers operating remotely from home, scores of companies downsized their office space as leases expired. In Manhattan, new leases dropped 70 percent in 2020 and the vacancy rate hit 13 percent —the highest level in 24 years.

As a result, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported a 10 percent drop in billable assessed commercial property taxes. This phenomenon, DiNapoli noted, is the biggest decline in the recorded history of New York commercial real estate.

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio had to step out of his ideological bubble and recognize this growing problem. In his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2021, he has projected a $2.5 billion drop in commercial real estate tax collections. And that number is probably too low.

It should be noted, that Gov. Cuomo exaggerated when he claimed that deficits could hit $12 billion to $14 billion. Because Cuomo did not factor in $6 billion in reserves that could be tapped in extraordinary times, the deficits would be in the range of $6 billion to $7 billion.

No doubt Cuomo threw out inflated numbers to pressure the Feds for plenty of stimulus aid. (Getting north of $12 billion in one-shot dollars would balance the budget for the fiscal year that ended March 31 and the budget for the next fiscal year, which is coincidentally an election year.

In March, Cuomo lucked out. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was able to procure $12.6 billion in unrestricted funding, permitting Cuomo to announce there was no need for tax increases or spending cuts.

But that good news fell on deaf ears in Albany. Spending $177 billion in the 2020-2021 fiscal year — which is twice the expense budget of Florida, with 22.2 million people vs. our 19.3 million — is too little for the Legislature’s Democratic majority.

Leftists are calling for a 22 percent spending increase to be funded by higher taxes on the so-called rich that include: raising the millionaires tax to 9.85 percent for incomes over $1 million, growing to 11.85 percent for people earning more than $25 million annually; increasing the estate tax from 16.5 percent to 20 percent; a 1 percent capital gains tax on people earning more than $1 million annually; a tax on New York City second homes.

Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute has pointed out that these proposed taxes on “a single filer with $1 million in income would see a 23 percent state tax hike…. A filer making $10 million would see a 48 percent hike….”

Combined state and New York City income taxes for a millionaire would hit an astounding 15.75 percent. Adding the expected increase in federal income tax rates to 40 percent means a person’s total payout would be 55.75 percent.

Sadly, a letter to Albany officials signed by 250 business leaders that employ 1.5 million people warning that “ultimately these new taxes may trigger a major loss of economic activity and revenues as companies are pressured to relocate operations to where the talent wants to live and work” has been ignored.

And since the top 1 percent of taxpayers — about 60,000 filers — pay 43 percent of the state’s personal income tax, if only 5,000 move out, New York’s tax base could be wrecked.

As I write this column on Saturday, April 3, New York missed the March 31 deadline to pass a budget. Hence, the fiscal picture is very fluid. But Cuomo, weakened by the nursing home scandal, may surrender to the radicals to maintain his lease on the governor’s mansion.

If the “soak-the-rich” ideology prevails, New York will not be able to sustain its spending spree and will hit a state of fiscal despair once the one-shot federal stimulus money runs dry.

Survey Shows US Catholics’ Growing Concern About Global Persecution of Christians – By George J. Marlin

April 1, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the web site on Thursday, April 1, 2021.