Governor Cuomo woos rich New York City residents to return, Mayor de Blasio says they should be taxed more
Days after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo begged the creme de la creme of New York City’s population to return to the city and contribute to see the city’s faltering finances recover, Big Apple Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the city’s rich residents as “fairweather friends” and said their tax returns should be raised. Several wealthy residents of New York have left the city after lockdown started in March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has hit it worst.
More than 4.8 million people in the US have been affected by Covid-19, while 160,000-plus lives have been lost. New York itself has seen more than 32,000 deaths. Those who have left the city have delayed their return despite the authorities reopening it and making efforts to lure them back. The absence of people in several apartments and commercial properties that have remained vacant has also seen crimes soaring alarmingly. Posh areas are witnessing regular criminal activities and civic services like garbage disposal have been hit by slashing of budgets for essential services.
'Come over, I'll cook': Cuomo to New Yorkers
Earlier this week, a desperate Cuomo, 62, said in a news conference that he was ready to even cook while urging the residents to return. “I literally talk to people all day long who are now in their Hamptons house who also lived here, or in their Hudson Valley house, or in their Connecticut weekend house, and I say, ‘You got to come back! We’ll go to dinner! I’ll buy you a drink! Come over, I’ll cook!’” he said. “They’re not coming back right now. And you know what else they’re thinking? ‘If I stay there, I’ll pay a lower income tax,’ because they don’t pay the New York City surcharge,” Cuomo said, noting the wealthiest one percent of NY's population bears almost 50 percent of the state’s tax burden.
But just a few days later, Cuomo’s fellow Democrat, de Blasio, seemed to have nullified the former’s effort to woo people. On Thursday, August 6, he called in a press briefing from the City Hall for an increased tax for the wealthiest, which could deal a blow to the chances of them returning to the Big Apple. “It’s time to look it in the face and say you know what? Wealthy New Yorkers can afford to pay a little bit more so that everyone else can make it through this crisis,” the 59-year-old mayor said. “To the point of the folks out in the Hamptons... we don’t make decisions based on a wealthy few. I was troubled to hear this concept,” de Blasio added when asked about the people who have left the city.
“There's a lot of New Yorkers who are wealthy who are true believers in New York City and will stand and fight with us, and some may be fair-weathered friends, but they will be replaced by others,” he said. De Blasio also advised the residents of New York to not buy cars saying they are the past. “...future is mass transit, biking, hiking. Going forward I will never buy a car again,” he said.
Cuomo and de Blasio have history of differences
It is not the first time that Cuomo and de Blasio have failed to reach a consensus in the public. Their differences peaked during the pandemic and anti-police protests, reminding all that they have not been best of friends. Throughout the pandemic, Cuomo repeatedly reminded de Blasio that decisions on the lockdown needed to be taken on a statewide level.
On the question of reopening public schools, de Blasio said in April that they would remain closed for the remaining part of the school year but the governor said what de Blasio said was just an “opinion” and indicated that no final decision had been taken yet. Last month, Cuomo targeted de Blasio and the city council over slashing the New York Police Department’s budget amid the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, saying he had no idea “what it means”.
On the question of raising taxes on the wealth to make up for the city’s financial shortfalls worth $30 billion, Cuomo has resisted the idea saying it would only discourage the wealthy residents from returning. The mayor himself has earned $9k a month from three rental properties even as cash-strapped New Yorkers found it difficult to pay rent. On the question of the city’s deteriorating law and order situation, de Blasio, who has backed defunding its police, said things were being brought under control and they would not stop people from returning to NYC in the long term.