STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A federal tax bill that's getting closer to becoming law would affect different people differently, not just based on what you earn, but also on where you live. The measure takes away a federal tax deduction for paying state and local income taxes. If you live in a city and state with no income taxes, you're not affected. But you are affected if you live in a state that has them, like New York state, where Andrew Cuomo is the Democratic governor - who is on the line on this day, his 60th birthday. Governor, happy birthday.
ANDREW CUOMO: Thank you very much, Steve. Six-oh - it's serious now, Steve.
INSKEEP: It's pretty serious. But why - well, let's talk about this tax bill. Why is this - losing this deduction so bad?
CUOMO: Well, it cripples, economically, the states that are affected. Now, it's New York. It's California. It's 12 other states. They all happen to be blue states, Democratic states with no representation in the Senate and very little in the House. And what this is doing is basically hurting the economies of those states to finance the tax cut in other states. New York, California - Finance threw away property tax and then income tax. Right now, that is deductible from your federal taxations. When they eliminate that deduction, they, in essence, raise your income tax and property tax by 20, 25 percent, which puts...
INSKEEP: But let me just ask you - and I should clarify, when you say that your states have no representation, what you mean is no Republican representation that was relevant, since Republicans are doing all the business here.
CUOMO: Yes, yes.
INSKEEP: But doesn't this - doesn't what you're saying just underline that New York is a high-tax state? Maybe you should be a lower-tax state.
CUOMO: New York is a high-tax state, yes. And this is a Republican, conservative Congress that for many years argued states' rights, argued against redistribution. But yes, California, New York are high-tax states. We have governments. We believe in providing social services and free college tuition, et cetera. And that's a decision our states have made, and we balance that economically.
I understand the competitiveness, and we've lowered taxes in New York while I've been governor because we compete with Florida and Texas, et cetera, but that is how we finance our government. Other states also raise revenue. They do it in different ways - value-added tax, real estate tax. We happen to have a property tax and then income tax. New York and California also, as a matter of equity, Steve, happen to be the largest donor states in the nation.
CUOMO: New York is the single largest donor state. We put in $48 billion more every year than we get back from Washington.
INSKEEP: Goes to other states.
CUOMO: So we are all...
INSKEEP: I want to follow up on one thing about...
CUOMO: Yeah, we are already subsidizing every other state.
INSKEEP: Yeah, that's true. I want to follow up on one detail of this, though. The state and local tax deduction goes away, but at the same time, the standard deduction that a lot of people take goes up. And when analysts make the calculation, it seems that somebody who's on the lower end of the income scale - a New York City bus driver, cop, any number of people - they're actually going to be better off. It's really only the well-off people, people making over a couple hundred thousand dollars a year who are going to be paying more in taxes. Should we be that concerned?
CUOMO: Well, you have to - your opening statement was right, Steve. First of all, this is a tax bill that doesn't treat everyone equally. In this tax bill, there are going to be differences by states, which is just another divisive tactic, in my opinion. This is a Congress that has consistently sought to divide the American people. In New York, where property taxes and income taxes will go up, in effect, 20, 25 percent, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a winner. And they're cutting the numbers many different ways, Steve. Just remember this. Nationwide, 50 percent of the benefit goes to the top 1 percent - 50 percent to the top 1 percent. This is the classic conservative theory - cut the taxes on the rich and the corporations, and the benefits will trickle down to the workers.
CUOMO: This is not what they said during the campaign.
INSKEEP: Governor, one other thing - we've got about 40 seconds here. People who closely follow your career will know something distinctive about you, that you have mostly avoided national interviews like this one. You stay really focused on New York state issues and work with New York state Republicans as well as Democrats. But here you are doing a national interview, which we're happy about, but it makes me curious. You going to be speaking out more?
CUOMO: My state is now faced with national issues. As you know, Steve, I spent eight years in Washington during the Clinton administration. And getting involved in national issues brings a different facet to the governor's position, and I've focused on my state, but my state is now virtually locked with national issues. This tax reform bill will be transformative in a negative way. New York, California, the 12 Democratic states are going to pay the highest price.
INSKEEP: Governor, thanks very much, pleasure talking with you.
CUOMO: Thank you, Steve.
INSKEEP: Andrew Cuomo is the governor of New York State.
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