- President Donald Trump said it wouldn’t be fair to Republicans if the federal government bailed out blue states.
- “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help – they’re run by Democrats in every case,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Post published Tuesday.
- However, experts say that states’ finances are threatened regardless of their political leadership.
- The president’s comments led to strong criticism from state and municipal leaders like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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President Donald Trump threw cold water on the idea of an emergency federal lifeline to states weathering plummeting tax revenues during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he argued that Democratic-led states had brought it on themselves.
“It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help – they’re run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic – very little debt,” Trump told the New York Post in an interview published Tuesday.
The president singled out Illinois, New York, and California as states that had “tremendous debt,” apparently referring to their pension obligations.
“I don’t think the Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are, that have been mismanaged over a long period of time,” Trump said.
The president also said he believed there wouldn’t be a significant appetite for a massive infusion of cash to states, though that’s a significant Democratic priority for a “phase four” economic rescue package.
“I think Congress is inclined to do a lot of things but I don’t think they’re inclined to do bailouts,” he said. “A bailout is different than, you know, reimbursing for the plague.”
Trump’s comments echoed the opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said last month that states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy, though he softened his tone after significant backlash.
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Trump’s remarks incensed some state and municipal leaders. Experts have said that states’ finances are imperiled by the pandemic regardless of their political leadership – and large public-sector layoffs and severe cuts to public services are imminent absent further federal aid.
“Who cares who run the states?” de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference, where he held up the front page of the Post. “The people need help. They’re Americans who need help right now.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio begins his briefing railing against Pres. Trump:
"The president of the United States, a former New Yorker who seems to enjoy stabbing his hometown in the back, talking about 'no bailout' for New York" https://t.co/XDh4AXfEz8 pic.twitter.com/qKjnjDsYM7
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2020
“He’s not inclined to do bailouts,” the mayor said. “That means he’s not inclined to help firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, police officers, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, teachers, sanitation workers – all the people who are depending on the federal government to step up and making New York City and so many other cities and states whole.”
Emergency federal aid to states is quickly emerging as a flashpoint in the next economic-relief legislation, which is expected to top $US1 trillion. Republicans, though, are wary of backing another massive federal spending initiative.
States are confronting a significant cash crunch as their safety nets come under extraordinary strain and struggle to respond to the pandemic.
Congress budgeted $US150 billion in state and local aid as part of the stimulus law in March, though much of the money was mandated for only coronavirus-related spending and can’t be used to shrink revenue gaps.
Democrats have said they will push for $US1 trillion in federal aid for states in phase-four legislation.