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Cuomo fires back at a critical Trump: 'We need financial support'

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo fired back at President Trump on Friday over the Covid-19 crisis after the president tweeted that "Cuomo should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining.' "

Cuomo said that two of the major challenges for New York State, and all states, entering the next phase of the coronavirus pandemic are testing and finances.

He strongly urged Washington to provide assistance with both.

"The next frontier is going to be testing," Cuomo said during a daily briefing from Albany on the state's response to coronavirus. "We don’t have a testing system that can do this volume or can be ramped up to do this volume."

Cuomo, throughout the briefing, expounded on the importance of testing and stabilizing New York State's finances.

Cuomo drew parallels to how the testing capacity needed to be increased much in the same way the state hospital system had to have its capacity increased to handle the heavy influx of Covid-19 patients.

He issued an executive order "directing all public and private labs in New York to coordinate with the State Department of Health to ensure prioritizing diagnostic testing for public health and restarting the economy."

But Cuomo was adamant that states need federal leadership in this effort.

"The federal government cannot wipe their hands of this and say the states are responsible for testing," Cuomo said. " ... I’m willing to do what I can do and more, but I don’t do China relations, I don’t do international supply chains."

Cuomo said that the states would be in the same "bizarre situation" in which states would be competing against each other, as well as competing with the federal government, as they attempt to purchase necessary testing supplies from China.

"This is mayhem," Cuomo said. "We need a coordinated approach with the federal government and the states."

In terms of finances, Cuomo said that the federal government has passed three bills during the coronavirus crisis, which included "zero unrestricted funding for states."

"The states should do this, the states should do this," said Cuomo, echoing what he said has been expressed at Trump's daily briefings. "But how much have they given the states? None.

"OK, it’s up to the states. It's up to the governors, it's up to the governors. But don’t give them this massive undertaking and not give them any resources to do it. This is not how this is going to work.

"How is that plausible as as a strategy? It doesn’t work. We need financial support."

In the latter part of Cuomo's coronavirus session, a reporter read aloud a tweet that President Trump wrote while Cuomo was conducting the live news conference, saying: "Governor Cuomo should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining.' Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking!"

Cuomo responded to the president's comments, offering sarcastically, "Thank you for having the federal government participate in a federal emergency."

"By the way, it was always up to the states," the governor said, referring to the decisions on the states reopening. "I don’t need the president of the United States to tell me that I'm governor, and I didn't need the president of the United States to tell me the powers of the state. ... I don't need the president of the United States to read the Constitution for me.

"Maybe he should have read the Constitution before he said he had the power to open the states ... from which he did a very graceful 180," referring to Trump's comments earlier this week in which he said he had "absolute authority."

"If it's up to the governors, if it's up to the states," Cuomo said, "then provide the funding."

Asked why the president's tweet was so bothersome, Cuomo returned to the points of emphasis he had made throughout the session.

"This is an important moment," Cuomo said. "He's saying he doesn't want to provide funding to the states, and he doesn't want to help on testing. And I can tell you the states can't do it otherwise. And if this testing doesn't work, that's a serious problem.

"I'm not going to go through the chaos that was created last time," referring to medical personnel not having access to personal protective equipment "because there was a lack of coordination."

Cuomo said that the rebuilding of the economy out of the coronavirus crisis provides an opportunity for the state and the country to go through a "transformation."

"Yes, society took a terrible blow," he said. "But now you have an opportunity in this window to really make changes and reforms and improve things in a way you haven’t.

"If you went through this pain, and aggravation, and suffering, and you didn’t learn, then shame on us, because there are so many lessons to learn. Then you come back better than you have ever been."

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