Death and taxes
The death of cable TV host and consummate questioner Larry King on Saturday has prompted a stream of reminiscences, including this New York politics connection: The first guest on CNN’s "Larry King Live" was Gov. Mario Cuomo.
The show premiered on June 3, 1985, and Cuomo was on hand to talk about the topic of the day: Ronald Reagan’s proposal to eliminate the federal deduction for state and local taxes. We’ll spare you the French cliche, but in politics some issues never change. Nor do Democratic New York governors’ concerns about Republican presidents messing with the deduction. Donald Trump and a Republican Congress, of course, capped the deduction in 2017.
Cuomo told King that if the deduction, now popularly known as SALT, ended, high-tax states like New York would have to reduce taxes or cut services.
"We have to tax our people, because I'll tell you why," Cuomo said, according to an Associated Press story at the time. "We have more poor people. We have enormous numbers of welfare people. They're not all ours. They come from all over the nation. We have a high tax not because we're luxuriating in New York but because we have to pay for things."
Cuomo’s appearance for the show’s debut was important for King. It "set the tone for a serious political talk-show," The Guardian noted this weekend. The New York governor was a rising Democratic star at the time, fresh off his 1984 "Tale of Two Cities" Democratic convention speech.
The two native New Yorkers were also fond of each other, something former Cuomo associates remembered in the days after King’s death in the Facebook group "I Worked for Mario Cuomo," a collection of "MMC" appointees.
Another thing that one member of the group remembered: how often Cuomo went on King’s show after that 1985 debut.
"I felt like it was every week," said Mary Ann Crotty in a Monday phone call with The Point. Crotty, a former director of state operations, remembers sitting in meetings thinking, "How come we're doing Larry King again?"
She acknowledges it probably wasn’t every week.
But eventually, it occurred to her that Cuomo liked King because King’s show gave him more of a forum to give longer, in-depth answers to questions. "He loved to talk for a very long time," Crotty said. "It was like everyone was at a trial or something."
King’s feelings about Cuomo were apparently mutual. Cuomo was "one of his all-time favorite guests," according to a 2015 New York Times Magazine piece, which also noted that King planned to have Cuomo speak at his funeral.
It was not to be, as the elder Cuomo died just over six years too early.
—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano
Some things never change: Part II
With the settlement agreement between the Long Island Power Authority and the Town of Huntington over the tax challenge on the Northport Power Plant inked last year, it seemed the Nassau County deal couldn’t be far behind.
But LIPA has always been about political power as much as electrical power, and the cast of characters exerting influence on the negotiations, from school boards to county politicos to former U.S. senator and longtime lobbyist Alfonse D’Amato, is making closing the circuit on this deal a highly-charged endeavor.
The Town of Brookhaven already came to terms with LIPA over taxes on the Port Jefferson plant in 2018. Indeed, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and LIPA came to terms in 2019, but the Republican majority in the county legislature balked on approving the agreement, waiting to see what happened in Huntington.
So with Huntington settled and Nassau in line to get a deal patterned after Huntington’s, why isn’t the Nassau pact a fait accompli?
It depends on who you ask, but it’s clear the obstacles are real and the issue is the Nassau school districts affected. Read more.
—Lane Filler @lanefiller
Getting to work
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- President Joe Biden has taken up the Obama-era move to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Harriet Tubman, the abolition movement icon. The drive was stalled by former President Donald Trump, who called the attempted switch from a slave owner to a former slave "pure political correctness." Others might call it honoring a woman who sought justice.
- If former President Donald Trump’s impeachment defense is that he did not incite supporters to attack the Capitol, he could be contradicted by many of those supporters who are defending themselves by saying they were only following Trump’s orders. Guess you really can’t always get what you want.
- New York State might legalize marijuana and sports betting. Then New York sports fans would be able to lose money betting on a team they can’t watch in person and dull the pain with a joint, all courtesy of the state.
- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has tested positive for COVID-19. Given that he rarely wears a mask and downplays the pandemic in a country ravaged by it, the question to ask is: What did he expect?
- As Democrats and Republicans haggle over a power-sharing agreement in a 50-50 Senate, Sen. Mazie Hirono joined other Democrats in rejecting now-Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s demand that the filibuster be preserved, saying, "There will be some kind of resolution that does not involve Mitch McConnell getting what he wants." That would be a first.
- President Joe Biden’s goal of delivering 1 million doses of vaccine a day in his first 100 days is fine. But with the nation averaging 970,000 shots a day now, a couple of times breaking the million mark, can he and his administration stop pretending it’s such a leap?
- The small groups of left-wing anarchists who vandalized Oregon Democratic Party headquarters in Portland and broke windows in a Seattle Starbucks show extremism is a problem for both Republicans and Democrats. A basis for unity?
- Former President Donald Trump is threatening to start a third party to stop Republican senators worried about being primaried from voting to convict him in the impeachment trial – making a third party a win for Trump but not for Republicans. Not that we haven’t seen that before.
- Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says she is running for Arkansas governor. If you take her at her word, which you couldn’t when she was press secretary.
- The newest James Bond film has been postponed yet again, this time until October. Are you getting the feeling "No Time to Die" would be better titled "No Time to Open"?
- He talked and talked and talked and talked, better than most and longer than anyone. RIP, Larry King.
—Michael Dobie @mwdobie