Rush Transcript: Governor Cuomo is Guest on the Capitol Connection with Alan Chartock
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was a guest on The Capitol Connection with Alan Chartock on WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
A rush transcript of the Governor's interview is available below:
Alan Chartock: Welcome to the Capitol Connection, I'm Alan Chartock. Joining us today is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who was elected overwhelmingly to his third term this week. Governor Cuomo, congratulations.
Governor Cuomo: Thank you, thank you very much. And it's a pleasure to be on your show, Alan.
Alan Chartock: And it's terrific to have. Okay let's start with the whole idea with the election results in New York State. Give us an overview, it's an astounding result and I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Governor Cuomo: It is an astounding result. I think, I'm still trying to digest what happened overall. First, across the country, it's a very varied picture, right?
Alan Chartock: Sure.
Governor Cuomo: We're in the fall and all the beautiful leaves are turning colors, and you have this myriad of colors, you have a myriad of colors across the country right now, which is a larger problem—the polarization of this country. But in New York, the President's message of division, of hate, which is what it comes down to at the end of the day, his repugnant position to our values, a women's right to choose, gun safety, et cetera, his direct attack on the State of New York with the tax treatment under SALT, the assault of SALT; this was the dominant message for me for the past year and New Yorkers got it, they responded, they understood it, not just because I was saying it and the campaign was saying it, but they turned on the news and they, I believe, just were repulsed and frightened by what they saw. So, you had a "Blue Wave," but I don't think it was just a Blue Wave. If you look at the numbers Alan, it wasn't just democrats, you had significant numbers of Independents, Republicans. I got more votes than have ever been cast for a Governor in history. So it's not just partisan, the Blue Wave; it was New Yorkers voting New Yorkers' values, in my opinion.
Alan Chartock: Some people say, Governor, that you were running against President Trump and not against Marc Molinaro. Is that a fair observation?
Governor Cuomo: I was running against the issues, or running on the issues, and they are, I think you have a Republican party now that has taken extreme, conservative positions which were reflective of Trump but they were also reflective of just the extreme conservative movement in this State for the Republican party. There is no George Pataki, Rockefeller Republican moderate. George Pataki was pro-choice, pro-gun safety; that's gone. Trump, Molinaro, Astorino all of them are against a women's right to choose, they're against gun safety—NRA do or die. So those are the issues and they were carbon copies on the issues. And, by the way, the reason I worked so hard and am so excited about a Democratic State Senate, the Senate Republicans have the same positions. They are against a women's right to choose, I got one gun bill passed but they wouldn't do anything else on gun safety. So it's the issues, not the personalities and the issues are transcendent right across the board for them.
Alan Chartock: Yeah, but to be fair Governor, you hardly mentioned Molinaro's name. Now, of course I know you and your father very well, certainly not as well as you do, but he would've done the same thing. He knew when he was in a fight and he knew when to avoid a fight.
Governor Cuomo: Molinaro had the same positions as Trump. I ran in favor of a women's right to choose, Molinaro and Trump are against it. I ran for gun safety, Molinaro and Trump are against it. On those issues they are the same people, and by the way, I ran on those same issues helping Senate Democrats get elected. If you want ethics reform and voting reform and a women's right to choose protected, and you want gun safety, vote Democratic. I don't care if it was a Republican Senator or Trump or Molinaro, they're all the same. It's the issues not the personalities.
Alan Chartock: Governor, let's move, thank you for that. Let me move with you to specific things that I think New Yorkers are really concerned about, notthe least of which is idea that the State Senate is now going to be Democratic, and that you're saying, well we can get some stuff done here that we've never been able to get done because of the obstruction of State Senate. Could you go through those with us?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, look, personally I, this is going to be a great period of liberation for me, you know. In some ways, Alan, I have been damned by my own success, you know. The Governor got marriage equality passed and got gun safety and got $15, he can get whatever he wants passed so anything that's not passed, I get blamed for. But the Republican Senate blocked a significant number of measures that were just nonstarters no matter how much I pushed and cajoled and charmed, believe it or not, like voting reforms, early voting, no excuse absentees, et cetera. The Republicans just did not want people voting because they know there are more Democrats in this State than Republicans. Bail reform, war on gun safety, Reproductive Health Act, protecting a woman's right to choose, Child Victims Act, where the Republican Senate would not pass it, period. Congestion pricing
Alan Chartock: Governor, remind everybody what that act was.
Governor Cuomo: Child Victims Act, in effect, in simple terms, waives the statute of limitations to bring sexual abuse cases. It is primarily an issue for religious organizations, the Catholic Church, where victims of sexual abuse when they were children would now have a right to bring a claim. So these types of issues, the Republicans just would not pass no matter what.
Alan Chartock: How come?
Governor Cuomo: Well either they were ideologically against it or it was not in their best interest. Early voting was not in their political best interest. Closing the LLC loophole was not politically in their best interest. They are very close to the Catholic Church, and I'm a Catholic, but the Child Victims Act is opposed by the Catholic Church. Roe v. Wade, they are pro-life, period. I mean it is what it is, they are pro-life. Molinaro is pro-life, Trump is now pro-life, and they wouldn't pass it. So, either it was a genuine philosophical difference or a political difference, but these were significant issues they would not pass for years, Alan.
Alan Chartock: No, it's true.
Governor Cuomo: And for me, it is the, this State is the most progressive state in the nation and no state has done what we have done. But, this is many ways, these issues, I think will totally complete that progressive mantle.
Alan Chartock: So I wanted to ask you a question. I often wonder about this. I know that the Assembly has passed many of the bills you're talking about. The Senate says no. You push the Assembly, the Assembly passes them, the Senate says no. Are you completely sure that now that you have a Democratic Senate that people, for example on ethics reform, in the Assembly will be willing to challenge their own tenure by passing progressive ethics reform knowing that the Senate might have to do the same?
Governor Cuomo: Well, we're going to find out. That is a $64,000 question. You know, it's not, I'm not suggesting that it's a manipulation but when you know something's not going to happen anyway, it's easier to be supportive of it, right?
Alan Chartock: Sure, sure.
Governor Cuomo: You really don't want to go to dinner with someone, but you know they can't make it to dinner on Friday night, so you say, sure, I'll go Friday night. It's human nature. I believe the Assembly will pass the measures we're talking about. And I believe the senators will pass it. Now, the Senate has a different issue, whereas, there's more ideological symmetry in the Assembly. There's going to be less ideological symmetry in the Senate, because the Senate in many ways is a more diverse body and represents—now that they're in the majority—the complexity of the state. You have some democrats who are representing marginal, areas. You have some democrats who are in majority republican areas, if not by enrollment, by voting behavior. So they have a real ideological spectrum and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, I have a great respect for her political skill. She gets the breadth of the spectrum. She's from a suburban community, so she understands the balance between New York City where you can't be left than us, you know, the further to the left in New York City the better, but you're going to have marginals who are going to be very concerned about their electoral sustainability and they have to run in two years, so that's what they're going to have to balance. But from my point of view, I am excited by all of it.
Alan Chartock: Ok so let me ask you a question because it's down in the weeds, but we all know, you and I especially know, that the republicans have gerrymandered like crazy to win. In other words, they go to the great computer, say, great computer, show me districts where we can't lose. And then finally the great computer looked back at them and said, you know, I haven't got enough stuff to move around for you, Mr. Leader. So the republicans—will the democrats be able, now that they've captured the senate, to redraw those lines.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah, it's going to be a question of the legal timing of it. They will not be able to redraw them for the next two years, so the next election cycle they have to be concerned about with these dynamics.
Alan Chartock: They've got to win where they are.
Governor Cuomo: Yeah and this was—this is a high water mark for democrats, right? We had a tremendous campaign effort. I mean I, frankly spent a lot of time, a lot of resources, that we'll almost never be able to duplicate. So I think in many ways this is the high water mark and that's—this is going to be the reality for two years from now. But look, we're talking more micro-level here. The macro-level for the state—winning back the democratic Congress was key—was key. First of all, it's going to be a break on this president, who, if he had the Supreme Court and the Senate and the House, people would start applying for passports and let's just move. So having a democratic Congress I think will be a significant break and stop him or slow him and hopefully reverse him. The largest threat this state faces, in my opinion, is what they did in tax reform and SALT. People haven't felt it yet, but next year your tax bill goes up 30 percent. It puts this state at a long-term structural disadvantage with every other state. And you will see the economy hurt and you will see home values come down. And hopefully—and what I'm going to be pushing our congressional delegation to do is, you have to reverse SALT. Don't pass a bill for the Senate until they reverse SALT. SALT was disgusting. They took the money from the 12 democratic states to pay for their tax cut for the rich. That's what they did. And they took it from democratic states because you don't have any republican senators in democratic states on the federal level. When President Reagan tried to do this, you and I are old enough to remember—when he tried to end state and local deductibility, Senator D'Amato was key in stopping it. there are no republican senators in democratic states anymore, and that's why the Senate was so free to give a tax cut for the rich paid for by the middle class of the democratic states. So reversing SALT, having an Appropriations Chair from New York, Congress Nita Lowey, God bless her, that's very important because we need transportation money. We need public safety money, anti-terrorism money. So for me, those are the big issues that really moved forward in this election. And plus, then you have the local issues that you've been talking about.
Alan Chartock: Somebody is yelling at the radio, I'm sure, right now. Ask him how he's getting along with President Trump.
Governor Cuomo: Look, President Trump, when he first was elected, I said I was ready to work with him. Because that's my job, right? And we need federal assistance. We get a lot of federal assistance. Federal Medicaid dollars, healthcare dollars, transportation dollars etcetera. So, you have to be able to work across the aisle. If you're unwilling to work across the aisle, you do a disservice to the people you serve. I believe that. Your job is to represent the people and get things done. When I am against him, I tell you I am against him. No one has been louder or clearer against President Trump than I have. On immigration, on what he did on SALT—SALT for me was the breaking point. Because that was a malicious, hostile, political retaliatory, first time since Lincoln passed the first federal income tax that they imposed a tax on a tax. But having said that, he's the President of the United States. I'm the Governor. I sent him a little video I produced a couple of weeks ago on the, what's called the Gateway Tunnel. It's the tunnel from New Jersey to New York where I had had a conversation with him and he said to me "how bad are the tunnels?" I said "they're terrible." And then went and took pictures of the decay of the tunnels myself and sent him the video. Because we need funding for those tunnels. So if it is helpful to the state, I will work with him. I believe you can have political differences and still work with someone. I did it with the republican Senate. I can do it with a republican President. When it comes to my state, I'm going to do it, Al.
Alan Chartock: So you, you're not going to tell us that you hate his guts or that he hates yours, right?
Governor Cuomo: Oh, he may hate my guts. This is my philosophy. He may say, he may have a very different philosophy. And I have been very outspoken and direct about my differences with him. So I would not be at all surprised if he had a deep resentment toward me. Very justified.
Alan Chartock: I have five minutes left and I want to ask you some quick questions, don't take more than a minute on any of them, ok? Here we go, first of all, how are you getting along with Bill de Blasio these days?
Governor Cuomo: Look, Bill de Blasio and I, we have a different, we have different positions, there are institutional differences between a Governor and a Mayor. We have different political perspectives on what it means to be a progressive and the role of government and on how we see democrats doing their jobs in many ways. And we went through that in the primary as you know. You had a different opinion in the primary also. I'm glad to see that the Democrats of the state agreed with me Alan as opposed to you and de Blasio. But—
Alan Chartock: I even forget what I said.
Governor Cuomo: So do I, but I just—
Alan Chartock: Ok so Governor that's a good answer and it's the end of your minute. Roe v. Wade, nothing is more important to me, this particular issue. I know it's terribly important to you. Will we see the codification of Roe v. wade in New York State law?
Governor Cuomo: I am going to do everything possible. I'm going to send up the bill as soon as the session starts. I hope to get it done in 30 days. I want to send a signal to New Yorkers and the nation, I believe they nominated and confirmed Kavanaugh to overturn Roe v. Wade. We don't have the protections in New York State. We don't have the health protections, so we need to pass that law. So hopefully it gets done in the first 30 days. I'm going to do everything humanly possible to make it happen.
Alan Chartock: Ok, that's a great answer. I really want to know about one thing, Governor. And that was that you had a great personal disappointment, you said so, when some of the people around you did bad things. Have you done anything to sort of make sure that doesn't happen again?
Governor Cuomo: We have done a ton of things. We hired the best private consultant in the midst of it, former U.S. attorney. He came in and redesigned the whole procurement process with checks and balances. We moved it from SUNY over to ESD. We'll pass more ethics reforms this year. But you know Alan you go back to my father's time and to Pataki's time. In life you will have people who shock you and do stupid, venial things or get into trouble for one reason or another. And it is a heartbreak, but yes we've done, we've put many reforms in place and we'll do more.
Alan Chartock: You mentioned before the LLC loophole. Many people still don't know what LLCs are. Can you give us one minute, because we're really running out of time here?
Governor Cuomo: Where are you going? Are you in a rush? You have a date?
Alan Chartock: No we have, it's a half an hour program.
Governor Cuomo: Oh. Just kidding. The LLC stands for limited liability company. In the real estate world primarily. And each building is set up as an LLC so liability is limited to that building. And right now under the law every LLC can give the maximum contribution. So it's a very big loophole in the campaign finance system.
Alan Chartock: Now to be fair you took LLC money, but you're saying I'm really willing to live without it in the future.
Governor Cuomo: Yes.
Alan Chartock: Not that we know that you're going to run another time. By the way, are you going to run for a fourth term and equal your father's you know attempts to get a fourth term.
Governor Cuomo: Would you endorse me if I did?
Alan Chartock: Come on, will you please. You didn't hear me endorsing Marc Molinaro, did you? Go ahead.
Governor Cuomo: When you endorse me, when you tell me if you'll endorse me, I'll answer the question.
Alan Chartock: Ok, last question. Are you running for President?
Governor Cuomo: Oh, in one minute?
Alan Chartock: Less.
Governor Cuomo: Less. I am working full time, I'm working full time on being the best governor I can.
Alan Chartock: And you said you would serve out your term. Does that still go?
Governor Cuomo: Yeah.
Alan Chartock: Our guest has been Andrew Cuomo. I can't tell you what this personally means to have you on the show, Governor Cuomo, and we really do thank you for joining us, it's been an extraordinary pleasure, and I do thank you for doing it.
Governor Cuomo: Same here. Thank you very much Alan. Pleasure.