An op-ed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on the importance of Republicans to govern in partnership with Democrats in Washington as the agenda shifts from healthcare to tax reform and the federal budget.
Republicans must get smart or they’ll lose again
Learn the lesson of last week for the good of the nation.
There is much for Washington Republicans to learn from their health care debacle. There is a drastic difference between being an opposition party and success as a governing party. History is replete with examples of political parties failing to understand how to make this transition.
For eight years, the Republicans’ bread and butter was either the political bashing of President (Barack) Obama or obstructionism. “Just saying no” is a lot easier than “getting to yes.”
My father coined the phrase “We campaign in poetry, but we govern in prose.” The 2017 Republican version is “We campaigned in rhetoric, but we need wisdom to govern.”
Zealots can’t govern. You will need Democrats and moderates to succeed and you will need policies that actually work for the country. Policies that produce extreme winners and losers will, and should, fail.
And you need to change course now. The Republican agenda already foreshadows failure as the current frame of tax reform and federal budget debate promise the same mistakes.
It’s clear to me that the ultraconservatives are targeting “big states” that have inclusive social policies and progressive ideals.
Ultraconservatives hope to advance a proposal to end the deduction of state and local taxes. That would be a direct attack on New York, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts, among others.
The topic of “deductibility” initially sounds confusing, but its effect is simple and devastating. It has been tried several times before, which polarized Congress and ultimately failed. Ending the current deductions for tax payments to states and local governments means a person’s taxable income is effectively increased for tax purposes by the amount they pay to their state and local governments.
States that collect more in taxes to fund infrastructure, social services, education and health care are the target of these attacks. Ending this deduction would effectively increase state and local taxes by 20% to 44%, depending on a person’s tax bracket. It is not an economic policy, it is political vindictiveness.
States that prioritize spending on societal goods are prominently Democratic and this would directly reduce those states’ ability to compete with other states. Proposing this measure will galvanize Democratic opposition to an even greater extent than the Affordable Care Act debate. Senators and congressmen from New York to California could not return home if this proposal passed.
In addition to tax reform, the new federal budget will soon be debated. Political polarization is also likely if, as promised, the budget includes tax cuts for the rich and massive increases in defense spending while cutting funding for urban areas and poor rural regions. Funding for the environment, infrastructure and other basic priorities including medical research, after-school programs and home heating assistance are being slashed.
The Housing and Urban Development budget is once again under attack. As a former HUD secretary, I fully understand how the ultraconservatives like to attack HUD as a symbol of Democratic values and urban programs. In the past, they have even threatened to close HUD entirely. We estimate the proposed cuts so far would cost New York State over $1.2 billion a year.
Attacking states like New York will not succeed. We will not go quietly into the good night. We will fight back. Washington’s havoc has already taken a toll on states. It is all but impossible for us to complete a budget with the array of possible contingencies from pending federal actions.
In sum, the lesson is simple: It’s time to end political polarization and find common ground with Democrats. We must advance policies that don’t make some Americans winners at the expense of making other Americans losers. Lift all boats without sinking any. Change course now because the ship is headed for the rocks — again.