In a radio interview Friday on WAMC, a public radio station in Albany, Cuomo said, “What happened is the greatest tragedy that I have seen since I have been in government,” referring to the company’s cancellation of a deal to set up a corporate campus in New York.
A Cuomo spokesperson later said that the governor meant “the greatest economic development opportunity loss.”
Last week Amazon announced that it was scrapping its plans to build an additional headquarters in New York City. The company said it wasn’t willing to work with state and local politicians who opposed the plan.
The governor, one of the biggest supporters of the deal, once joked that he would change his name to Amazon Cuomo if the city won the bid for the headquarters.
Critics had denounced a bidding process among cities to host the company’s offices as essentially offering the corporation perks on taxpayers’ dime. In New York, the promise of 25,000 jobs came in exchange for $1.7 billion in incentives from the state and $1.3 billion from the city.
In Friday’s interview, Cuomo repeated his frequent calls for people to focus not on the $3 billion in subsidies the company would get but rather on the estimated $27 billion in tax revenue it would generate for the city and state over the next two decades.
“Math is still math in this crazy world. One plus one still equals two. States still have to compete for businesses,” he said. “The finances were as simple as this: Instead of paying us $30 billion in taxes over 20 years, pay us $27 billion. ... They get a $3 billion reduction. We get $27 billion. ... This is crucial. What the opposition says is, ‘We gave them $3 billion.’ No, they gave us $27 billion. Now them leaving, we get nothing.”
“We’re paying a terrible price in this state now for the loss of Amazon,” he added.
After news broke that Amazon pulled out of the deal, progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who had long opposed it, celebrated the outcome on Twitter.
“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” tweeted the congresswoman, whose district is near the Long Island City neighborhood where the headquarters had been planned.
Asked whether he blamed Ocasio-Cortez for the deal going sour, Cuomo said that she had “no governmental role in this” and that it was the state Senate that “made a mistake.”
In response to a question about the 2020 presidential bid by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Cuomo said that he had no comment and would look at the “full field” for the Democratic nomination and that “my tolerance runs thin for abstract conceptual ideas that have no bearing in reality.”
“‘We gave them $3 billion.’ How ignorant a statement. How ignorant. And yet it caught political appeal that we’re giving Amazon $3 billion. They were giving us $27 billion,” he continued.
“Nobody understands what it takes to really make change in a governmental process, how you really run an economy,” Cuomo said. “‘I want more education, I want more health care’ ― and where do the revenues come from?”
A spokesperson for the governor said he was “clearly referring to what the Democratic field should be focusing on, delivering results for the American people.”