Why I Still Love New York, Even During a Pandemic

On October 29 1975, Gerald Ford, then the president of the United States, gave a speech in which he said would he not support legislation that would have provided a federal bailout to New York City, which was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. The next morning, The New York Daily News summed up his statement with a memorable front-page headline that has lodged itself in the history books: “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.”

It’s now 45 years later, and New York still can’t find much love from Washington politicians, not even from one who was born and used to live here. One of them, of course, is the Kentucky senator Mitch McConnell, who recently floated the idea that states like New York, financially strapped by the coronavirus, should be allowed to enter into bankruptcy, a suggestion that immediately brought a fiery rebuke from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At his daily press conference he called the idea “really dumb” and then pointed out that McConnell’s own state, Kentucky, gets more money from the federal government than it pays in taxes each year. and that the reverse was true for New York. “Mitch McConnell is a taker, not a giver. New Yorkers are givers, Senator McConnell, you’re a taker,” Cuomo said. “Just give me my money back, senator.”

The other, more galling, is Donald Trump, who was raised in Queens, made his (questionable) fortune in Manhattan and who recently moved his permanent residency to the low-tax state of Florida. The president, who has publicly feuded off and on with Gov. Cuomo throughout the coronavirus crisis, recently tweeted his support of McConnell’s stance, saying: “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states?”

Republican politicians always long to snuff out the burning ember that is New York City, but they never can. If there’s anything we can learn from history, it’s that New York is a city that can be down but never out. (After all, it never did enter bankruptcy in 1975, and came roaring back to financial health over the next decade.)

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