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April 14, 2020, 9:47 a.m. EDT

Cuomo fires back at Trump’s ‘ultimate authority’ comments: ‘The Constitution says we don’t have a king. We didn’t have King George Washington’

‘The only way this really horrendous situation could get worse is if you now see a war between the federal government and the states,’ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said

By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch


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Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, and President Trump are at loggerheads over who has the ‘ultimate authority’ to reopen the economy.

‘The Constitution says we don’t have a king.’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

The war of words between President Donald Trump and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is heating up.

At his press briefing on Monday, President Trump said that he had “ultimate authority” on when to open the economy, but Cuomo fired back at the president for his comments, and said such decisions were up to the states. He told MSNBC (NAS:CMCSA) , “The Constitution says we don’t have a king. To say, ‘I have total authority over the country because I’m the president, it’s absolute,’ that is a king.” He added, “We didn’t have King George Washington, we had President George Washington.”

Cuomo, a Democrat, said a war over policy between federal government and the states would only make matters worse. “The only way this really horrendous situation could get worse is if you now see a war between the federal government and the states.” He added, “It’s not legal. It’s a total abrogation of the Constitution. [The] 10th Amendment specifically says power to the states.” The governor also told CNN on Monday evening that Trump’s words were “hostile” and “aggressive.”

President Trump has repeatedly warned that efforts to stem the rapid spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2, are spiraling the U.S. economy into another Great Recession; the impact has already sent the Dow Jones Industrial Index (DOW:DJIA) ricocheting wildly in recent weeks, with shares plummeting before recovering and then disappointing again. Trump said he will decide when to reopen the economy. “When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total,” he said Monday.

‘When somebody is president of the United States, the authority is total.’

President Trump

Meanwhile, coronavirus numbers keep climbing, with New York at the epicenter. Some 10,056 of the 23,608 U.S. fatalities were in New York State as of Tuesday morning; 7,349 of those fatalities were in New York City. More than 195,000 of the 582,594 confirmed cases in the U.S. were in New York State. The number of confirmed cases worldwide is edging closer to 2 million, with 120,863 deaths recorded from the virus.

Also Monday, Cuomo appealed to the federal government for more testing, but he said that there were signs of flattening the curve of new cases, helped by people wearing masks and gloves. “Let’s learn from those lessons,” he said at this daily press briefing. “You can now go back and look at Wuhan province and look at Italy and look at South Korea, and see what worked and didn’t work.” He added, “We did everything we could to the best of our ability.”

Cuomo said reopening businesses is both an economic question and a public health question, and said he won't choose between lives and dollars. He called for more testing and more precautions when the valve of economic activity is slowly turned on, but he said you can’t turn on the economy without turning on the transportation system and school system. “Open the valve slowly, advised by experts,” he added. “If you see that infection rate start ticking up, then you know you’ve opened the valve too fast. That’s the delicate balance we have to work through.”

‘My mother’s not expendable.’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Neel Kashkari, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, told CBS (NAS:VIAC)   (NAS:VIACA)  Sunday that the U.S. is looking at an 18-month road of rolling shutdowns. “This could be a long, hard road that we have ahead of us until we get to either an effective therapy or a vaccine. It’s hard for me to see a V-shaped recovery under that scenario,” he said. “We could have these waves of flare-ups, controls, flare-ups and controls, until we actually get a therapy or a vaccine.”

Also Sunday, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for more than three decades and one of the leading experts in the U.S. on infectious diseases, told CNN (NYS:T) , “If you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives.” He added, “Obviously, if we had, right from the very beginning, shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of push back about shutting things down.”

Cuomo has resisted calls to restart the economy and open up businesses. “My mother’s not expendable,” he tweeted last month (NYS:TWTR) , “If it’s public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health. You cannot put a value on human life. You do the right thing.” He recalled his father Mario Cuomo’s definition of government: “The idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings.”

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