The daily briefings that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo offered for the past three months on the novel coronavirus pandemic gave him a national platform.
While the statistics Mr. Cuomo discussed pertained to New York, many people across the country found his command of information on this problem comforting. His briefings contrasted sharply with the news conferences held by President Donald Trump, which sometimes resulted in his spreading falsehoods and picking unnecessary fights with journalists.
When the governor appeared on her talk show in April, Ellen DeGeneres gushed that she is among a growing number of Americans who consider themselves Cuomosexuals. We certainly understand the confidence that people placed in Mr. Cuomo, but employing this phrase is taking things a bit too far.
Mr. Cuomo delivered his final daily briefing Friday. He said he will continue to offer briefings as needed, but the daily routine has run its course.
It’s understandable that the millions of viewers who tuned into the governor’s presentations found much more credible than Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Cuomo certainly showed that he grasped the meaning of the information on infection rates as well as hospitalizations and what it means for New Yorkers.
However, many people didn’t focus on the heavy hand that Mr. Cuomo has used to govern the state during this health care crisis.
The state Legislature gave him sweeping authority over the budget as well as residents, organizations and businesses. Lawmakers permitted him to decide what in the annual spending plan should be cut as the need arises. This was disturbing as such a process is done through negotiations by our elected representatives. Are they saying they’re simply not up to their jobs?
In late March, Mr. Cuomo admitted that he would approach the stay-at-home orders differently for the various regions if he had time to think about them. The threat of infection and disease is very serious, and no one should take it lightly.
But some regions were going to be substantially less problematic than others, and Mr. Cuomo should have crafted lockdown requirements accordingly. He needlessly harmed numerous people’s livelihoods, and many will never recover.
The governor has correctly pointed out how the Trump administration has failed the American people on multiple levels throughout this crisis. Mr. Cuomo, though, has a difficult time acknowledging his own shortfalls. He failed to enact precautionary measures in New York City’s airports and subway system when the outbreak began. And his mandate that nursing homes accept coronavirus-infected patients resulted in about a quarter of all fatalities in the state from COVID-19.
Mr. Cuomo also refused to exempt out-of-state health care workers who came here to treat COVID-19 patients from New York’s income tax. This was a time to show graciousness to these individuals, but he chose not to.
Sadly, Mr. Cuomo usually bristles when people remind him of when his decisions went horribly wrong.
As more regions advance in their reopening plans, it’s time for legislators to reassert themselves in the governing process. This period of rule by executive order must come to an end. We elected these people for a reason, and that’s so they represent us in Albany. The democratic process is meaningless if they abdicate their responsibilities. It’s bad enough when most major state decisions are made by Three Men in a Room — now we’re supposed to tolerate One Man in a Room?
We have much to learn about how to move forward as a society in a pandemic. But we cannot abandon the legislative procedures that ensure we all have a voice. Lawmakers need to take back at least some of the powers they ceded to Mr. Cuomo to restore an appropriate balance of authority.