ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo Friday blasted two upstate Republican congressmen as “Benedict Arnolds” for voting for legislation that would eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes.
Cuomo, during a conference call with California Gov. Jerry Brown to denounce the House vote, singled out Reps. Chris Collins (R-Erie County) and Tom Reed (R-Corning) for being the only two of New York’s nine GOP House members to vote for the bill.
All 14 of California’s congressional delegation voted for the bill that will allow Republicans in Congress to try to enact tax reform with a simple majority.
“I think it’s modern treason against the state,” Cuomo said. “I think they are the Benedict Arnolds of today. They voted against the interests of the people in their districts. Period.”
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Cuomo accused Collins, who was the first congressional member to back President Trump, and Reed of being a “wholly owned subsidiary” of Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, respectively.
“They put their political interests ahead of the interest of the people in their district,” he said. “I think it’s repugnant to the oath they took and they do get the Benedict Arnold award and they’re not going to be able to justify it.”
Cuomo and Brown reiterated their arguments that eliminating the deductibility of state and local taxes amounts to double taxation, and is designed to hurt high tax states like New York and California that tend to be mostly Democratic.
Reed’s office had no immediate comment.
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Collins, appearing on an Albany radio show prior to the Cuomo and Brown conference call Friday morning, flipped the argument by accusing the New York governor of putting the interests of the wealthy ahead of those of the middle class.
He said ending the deductibility of local and state taxes would mostly impact the rich because the Republican tax reform plan will also include measures, such as the doubling of the standard deduction, which will offset the impact for the middle class.
After being branded a Benedict Arnold by Cuomo, Collins put out a statement accusing the governor of being a “modern-day King George who squanders our money and has never met a tax hike he didn’t like or hike.”
“Apparently Andrew Cuomo has forgotten that the American Revolution was fought over high imperial taxes,” Collins said. “It’s time for King Andrew to take a long hard look (at) this state’s spending and provide real tax relief…”
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Reed shot back that “in the end, Gov. Cuomo will be shown to be the true politician he is, a hypocrite who betrays the hardworking people of New York State.”
While Cuomo and state controller Thomas Dinapoli have said the elimination of the deductibility will cost the state billions of dollars, Reed argued that tax reform will help 99% of the people across the state.
“After declaring for years that the 1% needs to pay their fair share, it’s ironic the governor has changed his view,” he said. “Gov. Cuomo’s true intentions have been exposed. His top priority is standing with his millionaire and billionaire friends in New York City protecting those funding his presidential run at the expense of us upstate.
Chris Martin, a spokesman for the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, called Cuomo’s attack “desperate.”
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“Andrew Cuomo refuses to take responsibility for a fiscal crisis he created,” Martin said. “As New Yorkers of all income levels flee the state due to excessive state income and property taxes, Cuomo continues to blame others for his policy failures in Albany.”
Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi tweeted in response that Cuomo has cut taxes since taking office and included a chart showing state spending increased at the slowest rate in modern history.
“Their lies won’t change the fact that these (Republicans) sold out,” Azzopardi tweeted.
A number of congressional New York Republicans say they expect a compromise deal that will salvage at least a part of the deductibility of state and local taxes.
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Cuomo, though, argued that even if a deal only targets the wealthy, it could force them to leave high tax states like New York, which will only put more pressure on middle class taxpayers.
Brown said the many wealthy Americans will already see a tax break with a slashing of the corporate and business rates that the Republicans have proposed.
He said the Republicans are seeking to push a tax reform plan through in a hurry because they already failed at delivering on a promised repeal and replacement of Obamacare.
“They’re scared to death their entire reason for being in the majority will have no validation,” Brown said. “It’s a Hail Mary pass by Republicans that is wrong economically.”
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Cuomo, who has often been criticized for pushing through legislation in Albany without public input, blasted Congress for doing the same, calling it “repugnant to the concept of a democracy.”
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