FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Forget About Christie, Worry About Cuomo

Watching Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie battle off emerging details about the closing of the George Washington Bridge is well-needed schadenfreude for progressives who feared that this teacher union basher could be on his way for a presidential run. But more critical attention should be paid to his counterpart on the other side of the Hudson River, Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo is a virtual lock for reelection this year, and won handily in 2010 against a Tea Party fanatic who ran in a blue state. While Hillary Clinton is spoken as the presumptive presidential candidate for 2016, analysts have always seen Cuomo as someone who seeks to outrank his father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, whose faded presidential and Supreme Court dreams are now the stuff of political nerd trivia.

In this light Cuomo the Younger has made himself a national figure, drawing the ire of Fox News host Sean Hannity when he suggested that anti-gay conservatives had no place in the state, hitting a social touchstone but a political non-issue since the question of legalizing gay marriage was answered by the state in the summer of 2011. Yet, on the economic end, the political forum that actually matters, he has established himself as a champion for austerity.

E.J. McMahon, one of the most aggressive anti-union voices in the state, is trumpeting Cuomo’s proposal to reform the estate tax, which is levied primarily on higher earners. It has also been reported that Cuomo wants Republicans to maintain control of the state senate in order to make it easier for him to reduce taxes and spending on services. His negotiations with state workers yielded wage freezes. And now his battle with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has exposed that Cuomo is fundamentally opposed to any social program that calls for redistributive measures. Indeed, he once likened his opposition to extended the millionaires’ tax to his father’s opposition to the death penalty.

This isn’t just the result of his, what some would call, centrist ideology, but rather of the support he’s enjoyed from the Committee to Save New York, a pro-business coalition who has sought to curtail union power in the state. Frederick Floss, executive director of the union backed Fiscal Policy Institute, notes that Cuomo’s push for estate tax reform is a way of giving back money to the rich after he caved into popular pressure to extend the millionaire’s tax he once likened to an execution.

More importantly, this is not just an issue for New Yorkers but for the whole notion of what liberalism stands for. Christie and Cuomo, in a way, have worked in tandem to create an acceptable political middle ground that rids the air of distracting and polarizing social issues and keeps politics focused on business needs. Democrats often bemoan the decline of “Rockefeller Republicans,” the type who hates taxes but doesn’t care about abortion or prayer in school. Well, they got one in Christie, and he was seen as someone who could save the Republican Party from descending into Tea Party quackery. Likewise, Cuomo represents the banality of the current Democratic Party: divorced from working class interests and organized labor and in the direct service of those same Rockefeller Republican corporate leaders. These two have in the course of their terms in executive power attempted to reassert northeastern dominance in a country that has handed much of the discourse to the South and the Heartland.

The mockery of Christie, in forums like MSNBC, is entertaining to be sure, but it distracts from the fact that anti-union politics and tax schemes that favor the wealthy are just as much a problem coming from Democrats as they are from Republicans. That doesn’t give working people many political options in a two party system, and the state labor movement, as of yet, hasn’t indicated that it will field an independent opposition candidate. And Cuomo doesn’t appear to have a bridge scandal or something like that to unravel his plans for austerity. His fight with de Blasio over imposing a more redistributive tax structure, however, could enliven actual economic progressivism in a state and nation discourses that badly needs it.

Ari Paul is a contributor to Free Speech Radio News and the Indypendent. His articles have also appeared in The NationThe GuardianZ Magazine and The American Prospect.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail