Cuomo’s State of the State was all about 2020

Cuomo’s State of the State was all about 2020

Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State Address removed any lingering doubts: His 2020 presidential campaign is on.

The gov spent much of his 92-minute speech accusing Washington of an “attack” on New York. He again railed against the federal tax-cut law, which means pain for high-end earners in high-tax states like New York — and so threatens the golden geese that liberal pols love to fleece.

But that wasn’t all. Cuomo also blamed Washington for looking to cut everything a good progressive cherishes: women’s rights, government-funded health care, equality, environmental protections . . .

“Our federal government is working to roll back so much of what we have done,” he charged. He even accused the feds of “furthering division” among Americans, calling that a “cancer on the body politic.”

And Cuomo spelled out who he blames for the misery: The flag behind President Trump’s desk contains the words “e pluribus unum” (out of many, one), he noted before chiding, “To find the way forward, the president only needs to turn around.”

Never fear, though; it’s Capt. Cuomo to the rescue: “In the immortal words of John Paul Jones, we have not yet begun to fight.”

Of course, it’s easier to point fingers at Trump & Co. than to deal with Albany’s own problems — a $4 billion (at least) deficit in the coming budget, broken subways that lack funds for “emergency” repairs, the nation’s heaviest tax burden . . .

Not to mention how upstate’s become an economic wasteland.

Fiscal woes left Cuomo with only a few small-ball, feel-good bromides to toss out: expanding his free-tuition program, “investing” in health care, passing a state Dream Act.

But New Yorkers want real things: better schools, lower taxes, trains that run. Too bad their governor has his eyes on “higher” goals.

Your Pension Isn’t Safe From NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

Your Pension Isn’t Safe From NY Governor Andrew Cuomo

Perceptive conservatives will have noticed by now that the self-righteousness of the left increasingly knows no bounds.  To put it another way, there are very few people, companies, institutions, bureaucracies, or governments left that liberals have not excoriated, picketed, boycotted, or sued, all in an effort to extirpate from this planet whomever and whatever has the audacity to contradict them.  Amusingly, this tendency towards perfectionism/sanctimony often pits leftists against one another.  In the end, though, the damage that this epidemic of intolerance does to the fabric of American society is serious and lasting.

Recently, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal that would take his fellow New Yorkers, i.e. his dutiful subjects, as he seems to think of us, deeper down the rabbit hole of leftist self-congratulation.  He has voiced support for divesting the New York State Common Retirement Fund, directly affecting more than one million New Yorkers, from companies “with significant fossil fuel-related activities.”  Presumably this means energy companies, although no one knows for sure how extensive the governor’s environmentalist dragnet might prove to be.

The putative goal of such a divestment strategy would be to undercut the operations of some of the primary contributors to climate change.  The truth, however, is that Gov. Cuomo is positioning himself for a run for president in 2020, and to that end he must appear to be the purest of the pure in terms of his commitment to leftist ideals.  He must therefore demonstrate a level of scorn for non-leftists that exceeds anything else that a Democratic politician has ever conceived.  He is well on his way to achieving that objective, since even commonsense Democrats regard his recent proposal as half-baked extremism.

First, there is the obvious problem that the purpose of New York’s pension system is not to trumpet the political virtuosity of the state’s governor.  It is rather to support New York’s retired civil servants, police officers, and firefighters in their retirement years by investing the state’s pension funds in a way that achieves diversification and a high rate of return.  This maintains the solvency of the system, and it eliminates the need for the state to step in and spend taxpayer dollars to make up any shortfall.

Studies have shown that Governor Cuomo’s proposed divestment from fossil fuel producers would harm New York’s pension system by depriving it of access to the high returns that such companies commonly yield.  For example, New York’s Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees commissioned a report that found that the Common Retirement Fund would lose $2.8 billion over 20 years if it pursued divestment.  Cuomo is thus endangering not only the financial futures of New York retirees, and prospective retirees, but also the fiscal health of New York State and numerous local governments, which are ultimately responsible for meeting all pension obligations.

Second, there is no reason to suspect that a divestment of New York’s pension fund from major energy companies would have the slightest impact on their operations or on the pace of climate change.  Divestment may give leftists a warm glow of self-satisfaction, but it would not obviate the reliance of the American economy on fossil fuels.  On the contrary, it is much more likely that such an action would be counterproductive, insofar as the involvement of state pension funds in the energy sector as major stockholders puts pressure on the industry to pursue a gradual transition to renewable energy sources.  Indeed, the managers of the New York State Common Retirement Fund have notched notable successes in encouraging energy companies to prioritize countermeasures to the threat posed by climate change.  According to New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who has authority over the Common Retirement Fund, “We believe that we can actively engage with companies in building a cleaner, sustainable global economy.” Cuomo would thoughtlessly throw away this leverage in order to pontificate and grandstand.

Third, Cuomo’s proposal suffers from the same logical flaw as every other assault on energy companies: it makes no sense to persecute energy producers, but to ignore energy consumers.  To put it another way, if using fossil fuels is a crime against nature, as leftists seem to believe, then the simple truth is that it is a crime of which all of us are guilty, including liberal politicians.  Thus, until Cuomo ends his own personal use of electrical power, automobiles, jet aircraft, and all the other accoutrements of modern civilization, he has no right to condemn the energy companies that supply the lifeblood on which these technologies run.  Indeed, he is a hypocrite for doing so.        

Make no mistake: the career politician Andrew Cuomo wouldn’t know a sound investment strategy from a hole in the wall, but he can spot an opportunity for self-aggrandizement a mile away.  His latest flight of fancy should be seen for what it is: 100 percent political bunkum, which in the end could do serious harm to the people of New York.

New Yorkers should reject Gov. Cuomo’s divestment scheme, which will profit Planet Earth not one iota, but which will surely threaten the profits from investments on which New York’s retirees and ultimately its taxpayers depend.

Churchill: Is Cuomo’s State of the State over yet?

Churchill: Is Cuomo’s State of the State over yet?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his 2018 State of the State Address at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center Tuesday Jan. 3, 2018 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D’Annibale / Times Union)


The governor’s State of the State was, in a word, exhausting.

Andrew Cuomo spoke for 92 minutes. Now there’s a guy who thrills at the sound of his own voice.

The rest of us? Not so much.

There were, to be fair, some fine and even moving moments of substance during Wednesday’s little chat, which I promise to mention in a moment. But let’s start by addressing what was clearly the biggest thing in the room.

No, not the gubernatorial ego, wiseguy (although that’s a good guess). I’m talking about the podium.

We first got a look at the towering edifice during Cuomo’s State of the State two years ago, and boy, is it massive. President Donald Trump may have a gloriously large nuclear button, but I’ll bet he has no podium that compares to the governor’s.

Not yet, anyway.

The Podium of the Gods is supposed to convey Mao-like strength and power, but in reality it makes the governor look like an immigrant from the isle of Lilliput.

It dwarfs him. It would dwarf Kristaps Porzingis.

But substance. I promised not to ignore the substance of the governor’s speech. When somebody, anybody, speaks for 92 minutes, some good things are bound to be said, as was the case on Wednesday.

Cashless tolls!

That’s right. We’re getting cashless tolls on the Thruway, which means those wasteful paper cards will be a thing of the past. Oh, and the AAA baseball team in Syracuse is going to be renamed the Mets, the governor announced.

Wait a second — how is it that Syracuse, with a metro-area population of 650,000, has a AAA team while Albany and its metro population of nearly 900,000 has just a short-season A-league team? It’s outrageous.

But I’ve digressed.

Cuomo didn’t let the big issues of the moment pass unaddressed. He touted legislation that would ban secret sexual harassment settlements for elected officials’ misdeeds and would create a uniform code for state and local governments to follow.

The legislation will be called Karen’s Law — named for Karen DeWitt, the public-radio reporter who was verbally mauled by Cuomo last month for having the temerity to ask what he planned to do about sexual harassment in state government.

OK, that’s not true: The legislation won’t be called Karen’s Law. But it probably should be.

The best part of Cuomo’s speech was his mention of Kalief Browder as he called for an array of badly needed criminal justice reforms, including a ban on cash bail.

Browder’s story is like something out of Kafka: Unable to make bail after being accused of stealing a backpack, the teenager spent three years in Rikers, including two years in solitary confinement, waiting for a trial that never came. Two years after he was released, Browder jumped from a second-floor window in the Bronx with an air-conditioner cord wrapped around his neck.

“Your brother did not die in vain,” Cuomo said after asking Akeem Browder to stand. “He opened our eyes to the urgent need for real reform.”

Yes, he did. The tragedy of what happened to Kalief Browder shouldn’t be forgotten, and the governor deserves credit for keeping the memory alive.

Another State of the State high note came when Cuomo recognized the success of the long-hapless Buffalo Bills, who are about to make their first playoff appearance in 17 years.

“Go Bills! Go Bills! Go Bills!” the governor said to thunderous applause.

Yes, go Bills. On that, we can all agree. What New Yorker doesn’t want the Bills to win this weekend, even if they would certainly be humiliated by the Patriots the following weekend?

The Bills weren’t Cuomo’s only attempt at unity.

If fact, toward the end of the State of the State, he even channeled the blue state/red state speech that launched Barack Obama’s political career. Cuomo lamented the partisanship that is tearing the country apart.

“Division makes us smaller and weaker,” the governor said. “Our internal divisions are a cancer to our body politic.” Nice words, and certainly accurate, but also hypocritical from a governor who has been a leading political tribalist.

Wasn’t it just weeks ago when Cuomo was describing several of the state’s congressional Republicans as “modern-day Benedict Arnolds” who were attempting to “rape and pillage” the state? Isn’t he the fellow who described opponents of abortion and gun restrictions as extremists with “no place in the state of New York”?

But this was so late in the speech that it’s unlikely anybody was still paying close enough attention to notice the contradiction. After 92 minutes of verbiage, the audience was dazed and confused.

A warning to anyone attending a future Cuomo State of the State: Do not down a big glass of water before he steps up to that massive podium.