My mom used to accuse me of being like England giving away France’s colonies. She meant that I was giving away what was not mine to give. Recently, Governor Andrew Cuomo has engendered a certain amount of controversy by using a lot of New York State resources to help Puerto Rico recover from the extraordinary double whammy that it faced as a result of a series of hurricanes. I was speaking with a newsman the other day. He thought that considering what New Yorkers potentially stand to lose as a result of the new Trump/Republican tax revision, including the loss of deductibility of state and local taxes, it was unwise to be spending large amounts of money to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet.
I couldn’t disagree more. There are several reasons why I think that the governor’s generosity is justified. The first of these is that in many ways, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has no real political representation. It is not hard to think of the island as a part of New York City and state. As a child of the forties and fifties, I lived in New York at a time when Puerto Rican in-migration was at its peak. From West Side Story to a massive general jolt to our culture, Puerto Rico and its culture has had a huge impact on New Yorkers. Our businesses and economy depend on Puerto Rican input. It should not be surprising that Region Two of the Environmental Protection agency include Puerto Rico along with New York. Not surprisingly, Puerto Rican politicians have added protecting the interests of Puerto Rico even though they live in New York.
Then too, there is the question as to why Governor Cuomo is doing what he is doing. It is no secret that the man is running for president, no matter how many times he denies it. There is a huge Hispanic vote in the United States and with the proper cultivation, these voters might provide enough extra votes to bring a politician over the top electorally. Then, too, there is the question as to who his opponent for the presidency might be if he actually wins the nomination. Right now, that looks like Donald Trump. To put it mildly, Trump has really messed up the Puerto Rican reconstruction. A lightweight firm that probably couldn’t do the job was originally selected to reconstruct the electrical grid which is in extreme need of redesign and reconstruction. Then there is the famous incident of tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd, an act that could be characterized as condescending, if not downright hostile.
We all know that the likelihood of a large Hispanic vote for Trump is at best unlikely. Right from the start, Trump has demonized the poor, the immigrants and people of color in order to activate his now famous base and he will continue to do that. Trump has made it clear that he can’t be continuing to support Puerto Rico into the future. For his part, Cuomo has been answering Trump, measure for measure.
Cuomo undoubtedly figures that he really has to pour on the coal to get the Hispanic community so keyed up that they will vote. Let’s remember that the guy has to run for governor in 2018 and he knows that the Hispanic vote may make the difference in that race, too.
There will always be some people who think that Cuomo doesn’t do anything without some political motivation but frankly, I don’t care. As long as he is doing the right thing, and the reconstruction of Puerto Rico is the right thing, who cares what his motivation is. Hey, you can look at Trump’s appalling reaction or you can look at Cuomo’s actions. I’ll take the Cuomo approach anytime. I mean, can you really show me any politician who isn’t playing the odds?