Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo charged today that a new scam is unfolding in which some corporations will use the COVID-19 pandemic to enrich themselves.
At a news conference today in Binghamton, Cuomo explained what he believes is afoot. He likened the current situation to the time during the 2008 financial crisis when he as New York State attorney general went after banks that used taxpayer bailout money to enrich their executives.
“The new scam is going to be these corporations are going to use this pandemic to lay off workers. That is what they are going to do,” Cuomo said. “They do these analyst calls where they tell the analysts why their stock value is going to go up and what they’re saying is we’re not going to rehire the same amount of workers. We’re going to rehire fewer workers, our profit margin goes up, our dividend goes up, our stock value goes up. Yeah, except the American workers are left on the beach.”
Cuomo said that as a preemptive measure he has proposed a law to be called “Americans First” that would require any corporation wanting a bailout to rehire the same number of employees it had at the beginning of the pandemic.
“If you do not rehire the same number of employees, no government gift and bailout for you,” Cuomo said. “I’ve spoken to a number of members of the congressional delegation for New York. They’re going to propose the ‘Americans First’ law. No bailout boondoggle.”
Cuomo referred to what happened with the 2008 bailout as a betrayal of the American people and said it must not happen again. Back then, Cuomo had said the banks diverted $32.6 billion into executive bonuses.
“I went through the 2008 bailout, which was the bailout for the banks after the mortgage crisis,” Cuomo said.
“I went though that and they bailed-out the banks and do you know what the banks did? They gave it to their employees. And they got rich. And you know who paid the bill? The American taxpayer paid the bill. And the homeowner paid the bill when the equity in their home disappeared overnight. And everybody said, ‘Oh we can’t let the banks fail. We can’t let the banks fail.’ So the taxpayers had to bail out the banks. And the banks turned around and gave bonuses to their executives. I know because I was the attorney general of New York at the time. I had to try to clean up the mess. I had to go after the banks for the bailout that Washington gave them that they were giving in multimillion-dollar bonuses to their executives, the same executives who had created the mortgage scams in the first place.”
Cuomo said that part of the economic recovery from COVID-19 should be to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. He said it been talked about for years by various Washington administrations, including the current one and he seemed to be calling President Trump’s bluff on the subject.
“Now is the time to do it and if not now when? If you can’t agree on a stimulus for the economy to rebuild this country today when are you ever going to do it?” Cuomo asked. He said the country can and should invest in public health infrastructure, mass transit, bridges and airports among other things.
Cuomo criticized the first COVID-19 bailout bill for helping millionaires and big businesses that actually did not need the help and said any new legislation must be responsive to working families and include renter and landlord assistance, payroll protection, funeral costs and a repeal of the provision that was in the Republican tax overhaul that eliminated full deductibility of state and local taxes from federal returns, known as SALT.
Cuomo said that the state Department of Health is currently investigating approximately 100 cases of the COVID-19-related illness that has been observed in primarily in children and produced symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic-shock syndrome.
“It’s an inflammation of the blood vessels and can affect the heart,” Cuomo said. “We’ve lost three children: a 5-year-old boy; a 7-year-old boy; an 18-year old girl.”
A breakdown showed 5% of the cases affected patients less than 1 year old. The age group 1 through 4 accounted for 18%; 29% were 5 through 9 years old while 28% were ages 10 through 14. There were 16% in the 15 through 19 age bracket and 4% were 20 to 21.
He directed that hospitals prioritize testing of children who display symptoms that might be COVID-19 or look similar to Kawasaki disease.
Cuomo again stated his belief that it is important to only reopen to levels that real-time data show are sensible and referred to testimony given today before a U.S. Senate committee by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The real risk is that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control, which, in fact, paradoxically, will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided but could even set you back on the road to try to get economic recovery,” Fauci testified.
Cuomo announced that effective today the state is maintaining a new website that will be updated daily to track where the various regions of the state stand with respect to reopening. The internet address is forward.ny.gov/regional-monitoring-dashboard. This afternoon the website showed that the Mid-Hudson Region, which includes Westchester, had met five of the seven criteria required in order to begin the four-phase reopening process.
Statewide there have been a total of 21,845 COVID-19 deaths according to statistics obtained this afternoon from the state Department of Health. Yesterday, there were 205 deaths in the state. There have been a total of 1,360 deaths in Westchester. Rockland saw 460 of its residents fall victim to the virus. There were no new deaths yesterday in Putnam, with the number holding at 58. The virus has killed 325 Orange County residents. There were 111 deaths in Dutchess.
New York has had 338,485 people test positive for the virus. There were 31,472 cases identified in Westchester, 12,504 in Rockland, 1,098 in Putnam, which was unchanged from yesterday, 9,632 in Orange and 3,399 in Dutchess.