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Cuomo and coronavirus

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks to reporters at

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo speaks to reporters at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan last Tuesday. Credit: Getty Images / Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

Daily Point

For whom the Tangler tolls 

In his Monday news conference, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was asked whether he was unwilling to tangle with President Donald Trump, Cuomo asked the reporter, “How many years would you say you’ve known me? All right, 20 years. Have you ever known a time in the 20 years that I am unwilling to … I’m a tangler!”

As he went on to explain, Cuomo has at times gone easy on Trump, often praising the president for the aid the administration has extended the state and not personally demonizing him as Cuomo demands, cajoles, and pleads for more ventilators and other equipment from the federal government.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, has felt the full wrath of “The Tangler” (is that Marvel Universe or DC?), particularly during Cuomo’s Sunday news conference.

Cuomo is furious that a recently passed stimulus package that increases the state’s FMAP (federal reimbursement percentage for Medicaid) is conditioned upon it not changing any substantive Medicaid rules or regulations, and he’s blaming New York’s senior senator. 

The increase would bring New York about $6 billion extra per year, but will only extend as long as the emergency. And Cuomo, long before the coronavirus hit, was looking to make significant changes via a Medicaid Redesign Team to reform a legendarily generous program whose expenses have ballooned of late. Recent expansions covered by Albany have caused a ballooning of costs spurred by lax enrollment and spending oversight by New York City and counties for long-term care, home health care services and paid care provided by relatives and friends of Medicaid enrollees.

Cuomo says Schumer should have held out in this last huge stimulus bill for a wording change that delinks the FMAP money from a ban on reforms. And Sunday, after waxing nostalgic for familial Sunday afternoon feasts, Cuomo unloaded on Schumer, on the Medicaid funding, saying, “It would be nice if he passed a piece of legislation that actually helped the state of New York.”

Cuomo’s other razor-sharp comments included, “Why would you do that to the state of New York?” and “I don’t know what their (the New York delegation) political calculus was but that’s all it was, was a political calculus.”

Cuomo and his people say Schumer opposes the Medicaid redesign because his allies, most particularly the operators of hospitals, nursing homes and medical services companies, oppose it. Schumer himself has, uncharacteristically, refrained from returning much fire publicly on the issue. Instead, his staff has argued that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposes letting less-Medicaid-friendly states make cuts and still take the money, and issued tangential statements pointing out that New York can have the FMAP money right now as long as it does not reform Medicaid.

In the next few days, Cuomo must finalize, at least temporarily, a budget that either includes the new Medicaid rules or the new Medicaid money. He also wants the power to revise that budget throughout the year. 

And he's using his national TV platform to push so hard for wording in the “next” federal stimulus bill that would allow him to both take the FMAP money and reform Medicaid because that would be one of the biggest revisions he could hope for.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Talking Point

Still not a bestseller

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is getting some rave reviews for his coronavirus crisis performance on social media, cable news and beyond. There are even T-shirts and buttons being sold promoting “Cuomo for President,” despite the governor’s strong denials that he has any interest in the race. A Siena College poll shows wide approval among New Yorkers for Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic.

But the buzz doesn’t appear to be translating to huge sales of his memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life.”

The 2014 hardcover sold one copy last week and three copies total this year, as per publishing industry trend tool BookScan, which tracks sales data for much of the market. 

That doesn’t include ebooks, which you’d expect to be the format of choice for a socially distanced population. And the king of PowerPoint does appear to be selling some of those: his Amazon Kindle bestseller rank has fluctuated but was #43,597 Monday afternoon. 

Not bad, but not exactly world-beating. Slightly better was his Kindle ranking of 18th for the category “Political Leadership.” 

Don’t feel too bad, guv. Publishing sources tell The Point it’s a tough field out there these days, and coloring books are among the brighter spots for sales.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Pencil Point

Two types of disasters

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/cartoons

Quick Points

  • The $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress has Washington lobbyists seeing a boom in business as they work to help business clients land new government funding. There’s the one group with immunity from the coronavirus: The Swamp. Nothing can drain the swamp.
  • After announcing an extension of the White House’s social distancing guidelines, President Donald Trump said, “Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won.” He would know.
  • After North Korea fired two more ballistic missile tests, South Korean officials said it was “deeply inappropriate” at a time when the world is fighting the coronavirus. Which left open the question of which adverb South Korea would pair with “inappropriate” to describe missile tests at other times.
  • President Donald Trump floated the possibility of a quarantine for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, then decided against it, then denied he ever threatened a quarantine. In the era of coronavirus, some things do not change.
  • Some 500 people attended Sunday services at Life Tabernacle outside Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in violation of the state’s coronavirus ban on large gatherings. Not to mention in defiance of any semblance of common sense.
  • What to think about the Rochester bakery that’s making cupcakes whose top is the face of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s premier infectious disease expert and the man who provides the stark truth in words and facial grimaces about the coronavirus at daily presidential briefings? Go with the metaphor: They’re the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie

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