Building Bridges: Trump and Cuomo Talk Infrastructure

A Pair of New Yorkers Meet in Washington

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo met with President Donald Trump yesterday to pitch a COVID-19 response plan. Governor Cuomo announced the meeting during remarks made after he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange for its first day of live trading since it shuttered in March due to coronavirus.

The Empire State is dealing with billions of dollars of lost revenue. Cuomo’s plan to put the economy back in gear involves large-scale infrastructure projects in New York, including building more subway tunnels, renovating Penn Station, and developing renewable energy initiatives upstate.

“The time to fix the hole in the roof, as we would say in Queens, is when the sun is shining,” Cuomo said . “The time to do this work is now when you need the jobs, and the volume is low, and New York will lead the way.”

Polling Public Support

New York is not alone in hoping for infrastructure funding. Plans for a large-scale infrastructure bill have been debated on Capitol Hill for years. However, the Federal Government just spent $2 trillion on the CARES Act, so money for infrastructure projects, including Governor Cuomo’s plans, is currently on the back-burner.

Public support for this type of infrastructure project depends on where the money comes from. For example, in a recent poll, 70% of Americans said they would support a $1 trillion infrastructure package paid for by a wealth tax. On the other hand, only 32% said they would support such a plan if it was paid for with a gas tax.

Finding Common Ground

President Trump has expressed support for a massive infrastructure initiative. In late March, four days after signing the $2 trillion relief bill, Trump tweeted , “With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill.” Given Trump’s prior remarks about infrastructure and Gov. Andrew Cuomo—who he doesn’t always see eye to eye with—both political and financial analysts were intrigued by the meeting to see if the two leaders could find common ground.

What’s also being watched is encouraging comments from Congressional leaders. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have voiced support for an infrastructure bill recently. That being said, the Republican-controlled Senate might be more cautious about spending trillions more dollars on infrastructure in the wake of the historically expensive CARES Act.

President Trump’s talks with Governor Cuomo, as well as meetings with other leaders across the country, will likely guide the government’s next steps. Lawmakers are in talks about a “phase 4” coronavirus relief bill, and according to the US Chamber of Commerce, it could be ready as soon as July 4.

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