Andrew Cuomo's Division Agenda

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is presiding over the Empire State's ultimate decline.

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo presents his 2014-15 executive budget proposal at the Hart Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, in Albany, N.Y.

Isn't it sad when bullies whine?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was recently overheard telling a radio interviewer that people who were pro-life, pro Second Amendment or anti gay marriage and Republican should get out the state, is now whining that his remarks were taken out of context.

Claiming to have been misunderstood is the last line of defense for those who have uttered the indefensible. Cuomo now joins those ranks, precisely because his remarks were understood in the context he meant them.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the Democratic Party.]

"If they are extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York," Cuomo said in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom radio program. Leaving aside the fact that there are many Democrats in New York who still ascribe to those views, and that many of them are Catholic, Cuomo's politics of exclusion are in fact a clever diversion from the problems facing the state.

He is presiding over the Empire State's ultimate decline. Following through on the agenda set by his father, former three-term governor Mario Cuomo, the younger Cuomo is leading New York straight down the road to bankruptcy. High taxes, some of the highest in the nation, and an overwhelming regulatory burden are chasing people and businesses out of the state faster than new New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka can rifle one past an opposing batter.

"New York leads the nation in chasing away its own citizens because of extraordinarily high taxes and the worst business climate in America," said Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Cuomo's likely GOP opponent in the upcoming election. "Does Cuomo now want to bully millions more away? The real extreme here is the governor's stridency."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Astorino's right. Cuomo has no agenda for economic growth, no plan to bring businesses back to the state, or to revive the all-but-vanished manufacturing sector that was once the life blood upstate. He's an emphatic opponent of hydraulic fracturing, which would generate both jobs and energy where they are very badly needed, and he refuses to do anything about the cesspool of corruption that is the New York State Assembly – anything, that is, but talk lovingly about "women's rights" at fundraisers within earshot of assembly speaker and fellow Democrat Sheldon Silver.

In short, Cuomo has nothing positive to offer the voters in making the case he should be given a second term. So he's offering instead the politics of division, which proved so helpful to President Barack Obama in 2012. By defining the "acceptable" positions as support for legal abortion and restrictions on gun rights and acceptance of same-sex marriage, the governor is attempting to divide the electorate 10 months before the election. He's trying to force a choice rather than unite all New Yorkers under a banner of moving forward together. In provoking this controversy, if he has done it intentionally, Cuomo is trying to get people to talk about issues favorable to him – according to the polls – in ways that are favorable to him and hazardous to any potential opponent. It's a selfish strategy because, while it may be good for the governor and his political cronies in Albany and the public employee unions that are still looting the state despite any alleged reforms, it's bad for the rest of the state. It doesn't help bring jobs back to Rochester or help a small businessman in West Islip keep his doors open while trying to comply with the onerous burden that is Obamacare or help a developer in Greene County find people willing to buy the homes he'd like to build.

His presidential ambitions for the moment checked by fellow New Yorker – by way of Illinois, Arkansas, and Washington. D.C. – Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cuomo is looking for a strategy that will keep his national profile up, appeal to the national Democratic base, and allow him to stay in Albany for as long as he might like or need to. Republicans should look on that as an opportunity to propose bold solutions to pressing problems and to try new ways to help people get back to work. For Cuomo, the only path to re-election is to divide the electorate on issues that don't really matter a whit to most people, like being the one to decide who should stay in New York and who should go. Rather than worry about getting the pro-lifers out, Cuomo should be concentrating on how to get the job creators in to New York to stay.

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