• Trump said it wouldn’t be fair to Republicans if the federal government bailed out blue states.
  • “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they’re run by Democrats in every case,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Post.
  • However, experts say that state finances are threatened regardless of their political leadership.
  • The president’s comments led to strong criticism from state and municipal leaders like New York City Bill de Blasio.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Trump threw cold water on the idea of an emergency federal lifeline to states weathering plummeting tax revenues during the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he argued that Democratic-led states had brought it on themselves.

“It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they’re run by Democrats in every case. Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt,” Trump told The New York Post in an interview published Tuesday.

The president singled out Illinois, New York, and California and said those states had “tremendous debt,” apparently referring to their pension obligations.

“I don’t think the Republicans want to be in a position where they bail out states that are, that have been mismanaged over a long period of time,” Trump said.

The president also said he believed there wouldn’t be a significant appetite for a massive infusion of cash to states, though that’s significant Democratic priority for the next so-called “Phase 4” economic rescue package.

“I think Congress is inclined to do a lot of things but I don’t think they’re inclined to do bailouts,” he said. “A bailout is different than, you know, reimbursing for the plague.”

The comments echoed the opposition from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Kentucky Republican said late last month that states should be allowed to declare bankruptcy, though he later softened his tone on the issue.

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Trump’s remarks quickly incensed some state and municipal leaders. Experts say that state finances are imperiled by the pandemic regardless of their political stripes — and large public sector layoffs and severe cuts to public services are imminent absent further federal aid.

New York City Bill de Blasio assailed the president early on Monday, saying he appeared more interested in dividing people instead of governing.

“Who cares who run the states?” de Blasio said at a Tuesday press conference, where he held up the front page of the Post. “The people need help. They’re Americans who need help right now.”

—CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2020

“He’s not inclined to do bailouts,” the mayor said. “That means he’s not inclined to help firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, police officers, doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, teachers, sanitation workers — all the people who are depending on the federal government to step up and making New York City and so many other cities and states whole.”

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Emergency federal aid to states is quickly emerging as a flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans in the next economic relief legislation that’s expected to top $1 trillion. Republicans, though, are wary of backing another massive federal spending initiative.

States are confronting a significant cash crunch as their safety nets come under extraordinary strain and struggle to respond to the pandemic.

Congress budgeted $150 billion in state and local aid as part of the Cares Act approved in March, though much of the money was mandated for only coronavirus-related spending. They can’t use the funding to shrink revenue gaps.

Democrats say they’ll be pushing for $1 trillion in federal aid for states for Phase 4 legislation.

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