Andrew “Amazon” Cuomo appears to have fully embraced the anger phase of his process of grieving the loss of Amazon’s would-be HQ2 headquarters in Queens.
Speaking with WAMC’s Alan Chartock on The Roundtable on Friday, the New York governor called the incident “the greatest tragedy that I have seen since I have been in government,” a comment that did not exactly resonate well with New Yorkers given Cuomo’s been in government for decades. (The Democrat and Chronicle reported Friday that Cuomo’s “office later clarified he was referring to government failure, not human tragedies.”)
Cuomo—who once claimed he would change his name to Amazon to secure the deal—spent much of his nearly 30 minutes on the show discussing the ways in which the deal would have, in his opinion, been a resounding success. He also defended the roughly $3 billion in incentives that Amazon would have received in the deal, adding that New York’s bid was “much, much less than other states.” He called claims that New York was forking over billions “ignorant,” insisting that “they were giving us $27 billion.”
“We have gotten superficial. We have gotten anecdotal,” he said. “Nobody understands what it takes to really make change in a governmental process, how you really run an economy. ‘I want more education, I want more healthcare.’ And where do the revenues come from?”
His comments on WAMC were among the first he’s made on the deal since Amazon pulled the plug on Valentine’s Day, at which time Cuomo released a statement claiming its opponents “put their own narrow political interests above their community.”
Cuomo’s response to the failed deal was markedly different from that of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who in the wake of Amazon’s decision against a Queens headquarters flipped on the company. The mayor slammed the company’s move as “the 1 percent dictating to everyone else even though we gave them a fair deal,” an eyebrow-raising response that, as the New York Times noted, comes as de Blasio may be considering a run for president.
Several politicians celebrated Amazon’s departure, among them vocal critic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In addition, State Senator Michael Gianaris—who represents the district in which HQ2 was to be built and who was nominated to the Public Authorities Control Board that would’ve had to approve the HQ2 deal—notably referred to the company as “Scamazon.”
“Today’s behavior by Amazon shows why they would have been a bad partner for New York in any event,” Gianaris said in a statement after Amazon announced it was pulling out. “Rather than seriously engage with the community they proposed to profoundly change, Amazon continued its effort to shakedown governments to get its way. It is time for a national dialogue about the perils of these types of corporate subsidies.”