New York mayor Bill de Blasio tells CNN’s John Berman that President Trump is politicizing the coronavirus pandemic by discussing ‘red states’ and ‘blue states’ when it comes to funding and stimulus money to help fight Covid-19.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NEW YORK CITY): And then there’s also the crucial question, how are we going to even afford to restart our city if right now we are literally out of money, $7.4 billion in the hole because we’ve lost so much revenue, it’s only going to get worse. How are we going to pay for all the basic services we need, all the people who have been the heroes of the crisis, police, fire, EMT, paramedic, healthcare workers, educators? There’s no money. So how are we going to restart our city, provide services and actually recover without it? That’s where the federal stimulus is the key. And, boy, are we getting mixed messages, John, especially from the president. Last night, he started talking about, well, he is more interested in giving rich people a break on the capital gains tax than helping New York and other cities and states back on their feet. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. And so we have no guarantees that the federal government is going to help us. That’s only place we can turn for help. And right now, that’s a pretty murky situation. BERMAN: You’re talking about what would be a fourth stimulus plan, direct federal funding to states and cities. And to that, as you said, the president has sent mixed messages. But one of the things he said is, I don’t think Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are or have been mismanaged over a long period of time. DE BLASIO: Yes. John, it’s astounding that he even introduces the question of red states and blue states. He’s saying it out loud. He is politicizing a pandemic, not being patriotic, not talking about all Americans and how to bring us back together. We’re all connected. This is the largest city in the country. We help lead the national economy for everyone. We send a huge amount of money to Washington, much more than we get back. And this is a city that has been succeeding. We’ve had record low unemployment before the crisis. We’re the safest big city in America, crime levels down to where they were in the 1950s, thriving economy. We’ve been succeeding here. A lot of cities have been succeeding and helping the American economy. And now the president is turning his back because of partisan affiliation. Who does that, John? What kind of president in the middle of a crisis says, well, I’m going to help you but I’m not going to help you because of what’s on your voter registration card? No. What we need here is a stimulus that puts us all back on our feet so we can succeed together. If it doesn’t happen, I guarantee you there’s no recovery. And I hate saying that. But, John, it’s the truth. If there is not a strong fourth stimulus for cities and states, there will not be a national economic recovery, period. BERMAN: Well, what do you need? How much do you need and when and what happens if it doesn’t come, because there’s no action in Washington this week on it. DE BLASIO: John, what I’m staring down the barrel of and cities and states all over the country, people are either acting on furloughs and layoffs or preparing for furloughs and layoffs of the exact people who have been the heroes in this crisis who we should be celebrating and supporting, the first responders, the healthcare workers, the educators. How are we going support these people who we need if we don’t have any money? I’ve lost $7.4 billion already and my economy can’t come back until I get that stimulus and get back to normal and provide those basic services. It’s a real catch-22, no stimulus, no recovery, no revenue. It only gets worse. So, to me, what the federal government needs to do is make cities and states whole. We didn’t ask for coronavirus. We’ve been dealing with it, often alone, bluntly, without the federal help, like the testing. But once it happened to us, we had no choice but to confront it. And then when we had no more money, what are we going to do? The only place that prints money, the only place that can provide the help to get us out of this mess is the federal government. If they don’t, we’re on our own and there’s no recovery. BERMAN: What happens when you say this to the president? Can’t you just play the New York card, say, hey, you’re from New York, right? Don’t you want to help out your city? What happens when you present that argument? DE BLASIO: I have, John. I presented it to him in private conversations, I’ve said it publicly. I don’t know what happened to him, how he forgot where he comes from. Because at times, he has expressed sympathy to me and publicly for what’s happened to the people of New York and other cities, the heroism of the first responders and the healthcare workers. And then he goes silent when it comes to actually helping them out, absolutely silent, except to talk now about how he can maybe get into this bill a relief program for rich people. When he starts talking about capital gains tax, that’s him wanting to help his rich buddies, not helping firefighters or EMTs or paramedics or healthcare workers. You can’t make it up, John. But the bottom line is, if the president is silent, then he’s helping Mitch McConnell and the Senate to ignore their responsibility. The president said today we need a fourth stimulus, we need to give those cities and states the ability to get back on their feet, just like he did. He gave $58 billion to the airline industry. He was in favor of that bailout. How about helping cities and states move forward? If he said out loud we need to do that, the Senate would fall in line instantly.