Archive for the ‘Andrew Cuomo’ category

The Tragedy of Andrew Cuomo – By George J. Marlin

August 20, 2021

This article I wrote appeared on the Newsmax.com web site on Friday, August 20, 2021.

New York’s Silly Season has arrived – By George J. Marlin

June 1, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, May 31, 2021 on The Island Now’s website: 

New York’s political silly season has begun and as always there’s quite a cast of characters.

First, there’s the revelation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is receiving advances and/or guarantees from Crown Publishing exceeding $5 million for his book, “American Crisis.” That’s an extraordinary amount considering his previous book, “All Things Possible,” sold only 3,500 copies.

It so happens I have experience with publishers, having had 14 books brought out by various houses, including Doubleday and Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.

Typically, an author of non-fiction gets a modest advance—unless the writer is of the stature of David McCullough or Robert Caro.

After the publisher recoups the advance, an author earns, on average, a 10 percent to 15 percent royalty off the cover price of every book sold.

Now Cuomo’s book has a cover price of $30 and sold 50,000 copies.

Assuming a 15 percent royalty, that translates into $4.50 per book. Based on the math, 50,000 times $4.50 equals $225,000 in royalties—a far cry from $5 million.

The argument that Crown Publishing made a bad call and overpaid doesn’t fly, in my judgment. Publishers are not that dumb. Let’s face it, Cuomo is no Barack Obama, who commands large advances because of who he is and his past publishing successes.

Frankly, the Cuomo book deal smells fishy to me.

I’m reminded of the observation of the early 20th century Tammany Hall stalwart and longtime member of the state Legislature, George Washington Plunkit. The cynical pol championed “honest graft” and is best remembered for saying “I’ve seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”

As for Cuomo finding the time to write the book: My latest work, “Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man,” took three years to complete. A year and a half spent researching and a year and a half writing approximately 150,000 words.

I do all my own research and no matter what anyone tells you, at best one can write about 1,500 words a day. Then there’s the time-consuming jobs of revising, proofreading, fact-checking and footnote assembling.

On top of that, I have a day job.

And so does Gov. Cuomo.

For him to research and write an 85,000-word book in six months, he had to have plenty of outside help. The question is: Were his helpers state employees performing book work on government time?

Next, there are the follies of the Democratic candidates for mayor of NYC who live far removed from reality in ideological cocoons or high-rise penthouses.

When candidates were asked the median price for a home in Brooklyn, former Obama Housing Secretary and Bloomberg Commissioner of Housing Shaun Donovan said $80,000.

Candidate Ray McGuire, a wealthy investment banker, guessed between $80,000 and $100,000.

The correct answer: $900,000.

Ronald Reagan was president when the median price was between $80,000 and $100,000.

Then there’s Andrew Giuliani’s surprise announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for governor.

I find his candidacy incredulous.

His only mark on the political landscape: in 1994, as an 8-year-old, Andrew’s obnoxious behavior during his father’s delivery of his inaugural address at City Hall stole the show.

As a college student, Giuliani’s ambition was to become a professional golfer. Would-be golf pros, I have observed, have ne’er-do-well tendencies and are generally unemployable.

That may help explain why the best Giuliani could get was a political patronage job in the Trump administration as associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison—whatever that is.

Since the Biden administration did not keep him on, perhaps Giuliani’s campaign slogan will be, “Please elect me, I need a job.”

Another Republican gubernatorial wannabee is Rob Astorino. He happens to be very bright and an articulate spokesman for the conservative principles I hold.

However, Astorino lost to Cuomo in 2014, failed to win election to a third term as Westchester’s county executive and last year lost a state Senate race in his home county. If you can’t win in your political backyard, you can’t win statewide. And for a Republican to be elected governor, carrying Westchester County is the “sine qua non.”

Well, folks, the political Silly Season is in full swing and it’s only June. There will be more to come between now and Election Day and I’ll pen regular updates.

New York State’s fiscal shell games – By George J. Marlin

May 18, 2021

The following appeared on Monday, May 17, 2021 on The Island Now’s website: 

In April, the New York State Legislature approved and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a record-breaking $212 billion spending plan for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

To fund the budget the state is dispersing the federal COVID relief windfall of $12.2 billion and has increased taxes to the tune of $4 billion.

Despite this huge influx of revenues, it appears that it is not enough to satisfy Albany’s ravenous spending appetite.

Hence, Albany utilized fiscal gimmicks to bury various expenses that are spelled out in state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s “Annual Review of the Enacted Budget.”

Here are his findings: First and foremost, the state, once again, deferred $3.5 billion in Medicaid payments owed to providers into the next fiscal year. That’s like skipping your credit card payment due in December. Your checkbook may have been balanced at year-end, but you are still in debt come January.

Instead of using one-shot Federal money judiciously to clean up the state’s financial ledgers, Albany is squandering the money on lard-laden projects like $300 million for farmlands, botanical gardens and zoos.

The state has also failed to make additional deposits into its “rainy day” funds.

“Although current law,” DiNapoli notes, “authorizes a balance of more than $6 billion, the state has just under $2.5 billion in rainy-day reserves. While the Department of Budget sets aside additional funds in the General Fund for various needs, including economic uncertainties for debt management, the sum of these resources is not high enough to ensure sufficient reserves for future economic downturns.”

Even though the state is flush with cash, the budget authorizes the governor to borrow up to $3 billion in short-term notes and up to $2 billion in letters of credit. “Although less than the $11 billion in short-term borrowing, enacted in SFY 2020-2021,” the authorizations are “unnecessary given the strength of the state’s cash position and revenue outlook,” the report concludes.

To permit even more spending, the budget excludes new borrowings from the provisions of the Debt Reform Act of 2000 that put a cap on debt. “Combined new debt to be excluded from debt caps and capital requirements could exceed $19 billion.”

Also, the budget includes questionable terms to circumvent accounting standards. If left unchecked those changes “could also artificially reduce the appearance of true liabilities and reported receipts and disbursements of the state.” In other words, “blue smoke and mirror” accounting practices.

Segments of the budget are far from transparent.

For example, there is a $25 billion appropriation whose description is so nebulous that the spending of those dollars will be at the sole discretion of the governor.

About $8 billion in emergency COVID spending is exempt from “the state comptroller’s oversight and waives competitive bidding procedures.”

Other oversight exceptions: The new Excluded Worker Fund, which will provide $2.1 billion in relief to undocumented workers without jobs, $130 million for the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, and over $100 million for various capital projects.

Evading “high standards of transparency, accountability and oversight,” the Comptroller rightly concludes, “undermine[s] the state’s responsibility to promote an accurate understanding of how public resources are generated and spent.”

It also opens the door to cronyism and corruption.

Finally, there is the issue of state spending sustainability.

A boatload of one-shot revenues from Washington finance existing programs for education and Medicaid.

When that money runs out next year, where will the revenue come from to maintain those programs? More taxes?

The radicals who control the Legislature will probably say “Sure! Why not?”

But what about the residents who are now paying the highest state and local taxes in the nation. Will they say “Why not?”

I doubt it.

About 40 percent of the personal income taxes are paid by the top 1 percent of earners.

“With the prospect of a high tax burden,” the Comptroller concedes, “high-income taxpayers may consider relocating … Since the financial plan will be even more dependent on high earning taxpayers, it will only require an additional small number of these taxpayers to relocate to adversely impact revenue projections.”

And since there has been a net migration of taxpayers for the past five years, it is unlikely that trend will change.

New York’s tax-and-spend ideology will not only drive out people from all walks of life seeking economic opportunities and lower taxes, it will drive the state into the fiscal abyss.

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.

Why?

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
million.

• 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.

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.