Akash Mehta is a writer and organizer from New York. He is a member of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America and helped organize UChicago for Bernie. Akash recently wrote a great article for Jacobin called Even in a Pandemic, Andrew Cuomo Is Not Your Friend. Governor Cuomo has received a lot of good press for his handling of the coronavirus crisis in New York, but his past and present decisions have made the state less prepared for this ongoing calamity. We discuss those decisions in great detail as well as:
Why Cuomo is popular and trusted right now, how his "get things done" brand obscures real ideological differences between him and the Left, why ideology does influence the response to the coronavirus, Milton Friedman's keen understanding of the politics of crises, the links between Biden and Cuomo, how Cuomo empowered Republicans in New York to kneecap progressives in his own party, his plan to cut Medicaid by billions due to his unwillingness to increase taxes on the wealthy, how he blames private hospitals for not having enough ICU beds, even though he played a substantial role in cutting 20k beds in the state, why we should provide free healthcare for all conditions, not just the coronavirus, Cuomo's prioritization of homeowners over renters, the choice we face between prioritizing the needs of the market over the needs of people, a call to join political membership groups like the DSA or the Sunrise movement, what you can do to influence the New York State budget, a plan for a left news site devoted to New York City politics, and my thoughts on the intersection between Effective Altruism and the Left.
As we discuss near the end of the episode, the changes Cuomo is pushing are part of a state budget that is due on March 31st. Cuomo has responded to public pressure by releasing people incarcerated for technical parole violations and may cave to pressure to reject these cuts. You can contact his office using this form and/or calling at 1-518-474-8390.
If you live in New York, you can find your state senator and assembly member here: https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Calls to their offices opposing these cuts and supporting the proposals in #makebillionairespay could help influence billions of dollars in funding to people in great need. The site for #makebillionairespay also has guidance on how to effectively pressure your representatives: https://makebillionairespay.info/take-virtual-action
You can reach out to Akash at akvmehta [at] gmail [dot] com. As always, you can find me on Twitter @GarrisonLovely and reach out to the show at mostinterestingpeople27 [at] gmail [dot] com
- Milton Friedman’s quote: “Only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around. That, I believe, is our basic function: to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.”
- How Obama Failed: On every level, the Obama administration couldn't break with neoliberalism. We're living with its failures today.
- Everything Has Changed Overnight: The Democratic primary is no longer over. This is a historic crisis requiring nothing less than FDR-style ambition and leadership. We’ve got just the guy.
- Lancet Medicare for All Study analysis (link to original study is dead…)
- Andrew Cuomo’s Treatment of Prisoners Reveals He’s Leaving Some At-Risk New Yorkers Behind
- Cuomo orders 1,100 parole violators released from jails over coronavirus concerns
- Effective Altruism survey
- The NYC DSA’s excellent weekly email newsletter The Thorn