WASHINGTON — President Trump continues to have a blunt message for upstate New York residents who are worried about the region’s economy: Get out.
Meeting with reporters from regional news outlets from around the country Wednesday, Trump offered detailed comments in response to questions about his August 2017 statement that upstate residents should consider leaving.
"If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job,” Trump said Wednesday.
At the same time, Trump said he has a special fondness for upstate New York, given that he overwhelmingly won the region’s rural counties in his 2016 campaign for president against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
"I love those people," Trump said of upstate residents. "Those people are my voters. They’ve been treated very badly."
Trump portrayed New York residents as victims of their state government.
"The problem is that states that have been really well run and don’t have debt, those states have a big advantage over states that have been poorly run, like New York and others, and have a tremendous amount of debt," he said.
Trump's comments came as many New Yorkers are preparing their federal tax returns for the first time since a Trump-backed Republican tax overhaul capped the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000. That move has a dramatic impact on homeowners in high-tax states such as New York — an impact that Trump seemed to underestimate.
"That shouldn’t be affecting upstate New York very much, right? It affects wealthy people," he said.
Told that the limit on the state and local tax deduction hurt upstate voters as well, Trump said he's open to revisiting the issue.
"There are some people talking to me about this," he said. "I’m open to thinking about that."
Trump made those comments in the same week that New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and fiscal officials revealed that the state income receipts are $2.3 billion below projections — a shortfall that they attributed to the partial loss of the state and local tax deduction.
"We did everything right from a tax point of view," Cuomo said earlier this week. "We cut taxes across the board. We are at historic lows, 1947 low for middle class taxes. Manufacturing tax is zero. We’ve cut taxes, property tax cap at 2 percent — first in history."
That being the case, Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, didn't take kindly to Trump's comments Wednesday.
"Let's be real: Trump started an economic civil war between blue states and red states in order to give tax cuts to millionaires and corporations in Republican states," Azzopardi said. "The man who spoke about unity last night is the great divider in chief — no one will forget the utter contempt he has shown for his fellow New Yorkers, nor will they believe his empty rhetoric to help fix what he broke."