I looked at the numbers to check whether this was a fair allocation of funds and how the CARES funds were allocated in the first place.
|CARES $$||Population||Total COVID cases*||COVID cases/100K*|
|USA||150,000,000,000 (100%)||328,200,000 (100%)||1,030,487 (100%)||314|
|Suffolk||257,670,000 (1.72%)||1,477,000 (0.45%)||32,724 (3.2%)||2209|
|Nassau||236,790,000 (1.57%)||1,357,000 (0.41%)||35,085 (3.4%)||2584|
* based on reports from end of April
First, although Suffolk and Nassau counties are flashpoints of the current COVID-19 outbreak with few other counties anywhere in the USA rivaling the numbers of cases per 100K population, neither county is getting the dollar amount reflecting that. Going by total COVID cases, they should be getting about 3.2-3.4% of the CARES dollars, but they are actually only getting about half of that.
So why is Lee Zeldin bragging about this? Is he perhaps suggesting that as the president’s friend and big supporter, he has procured a special deal for us? The numbers tell a different story: Long Island is getting squeezed.
Second, part of the problem is the method by which allocation was calculated:
“Allocation is by population, … each state is guaranteed at least $1.25 billion even if its population share would otherwise indicate a lesser amount.” https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-aid-to-states-under-cares-act/
This obviously skews the money allocation to the less populous states which are mainly red states.
“Local governments with populations of 500,000 or more (like Suffolk and Nassau) are also eligible for aid, a provision responsible for much of the confusion. Localities are permitted to claim 45 percent of the amount allocated for their population, while the state retains the other 55 percent as it also serves that population. The state also retains 100 percent of the amount allocated to populations not within a locality of 500,000 or more.” https://taxfoundation.org/federal-coronavirus-aid-to-states-under-cares-act/
The executive branch and the US Treasury Dep., in particular, are running this show. And allocations are determined by their formula. It is unclear to me how Lee Zeldin can claim any bragging rights for the money allocated to Suffolk county.
Should we not insist on having a congressional representative who actually fights for his constituents? Instead, we have a Trump imitator who all too often uses tragedy to promote himself and his political campaign.
What goes much further in my book is when credit is received from others and in particular from Democratic leaders. Here is an example from the East Hampton Star:
Mr. Steve Bellone, the Suffolk County Executive (a democrat) explained that The Municipal Liquidity Facility gives counties the ability to do short-term borrowing to address cash flow issues caused by revenue almost completely drying up because of the wholesale shutdown of certain parts of our economy. Previously, a county must have had at least two million residents, which Suffolk county does not, to qualify for the Municipal Liquidity Facility. So Bellone wrote a letter to Steve Mnuchin.
Mr. Bellone credited Senator Charles Schumer and Rep. Lee Zeldin with persuasive advocacy for Suffolk. Mr. Schumer “literally walked the letter into Steven Mnuchin’s office,” he said of his letter to the Treasury Secretary and spoke with Jerome Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve. Mr. Zeldin lobbied President Trump and Mr. Mnuchin, Mr. Bellone said, “and the congressman put me on the phone, set up a call with the Treasury secretary and himself so I could make the case directly about why Suffolk County needs this and why this is so important.”