Andrew Cuomo executes a skillful course-correction on taxes, if not an ‘absolutely transparent’ one

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Andrew Cuomo. (Azi Paybarah via flickr)
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Andrew Cuomo wanted to get a deal done, and he did. It will most likely serve him very well, politically: By shifting some of the state tax burden from the middle class to top earners, the governor put himself back on the right side of public opinion, as measured by his own public-opinion guru, Andrew Zambelli. 

And notwithstanding the editorial-and-opinion operation of the Post, whose campaign to embarrass Cuomo into upholding his millionaire's-tax promise now pretty much obliges them to follow through today by highlighting his reversal, the governor did an effective job of preempting criticism on anti-tax grounds. As the Post's Fred Dicker put it today, "Cuomo’s plan appeared to be going over well, with endorsements from the New York City Partnership, the Business Council, the New York Farm Bureau, and Unshackle Upstate, normally anti-tax business groups, while other anti-tax organizations remained conspicuously quiet."

What Cuomo didn't want was a prolonged public debate about the state's tax code. That would have invited trouble for Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, who would have had to entertain extensive feedback from their members before signing off on the whole thing. It also would have exposed him up to sustained public lobbying not only from the anti-tax right but from some unions and liberal officials, who would have wanted his tax overhaul to do more to make up for the revenue lost by the expiration of the existing "millionaire's tax" surcharge at the end of the year. 

He needed the debate to be over before it started, in other words. He got his wish.

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"[E]ven by Albany standards," wrote Jimmy Vielkind of the Times Union, "there has been essentially no debate or input" on Cuomo's deal, which is expected to be approved shortly by the full legislature.

Common Cause, the New York Public Interest Research Group (whose former head was attacked by a Cuomo spokesman last year) and the state's League of Women Voters all complained about how secretively Cuomo went about forming his deal with the legislative leaders.

His methodology here certainly ran counter to his efforts to cast himself as a transparency pioneer, as when he proactively released a version of his daily schedule.

Lt. Governor Robert Duffy once said about him: "We have a governor who is absolutely transparent in everything that he does."

Clearly, not everything.

Some links:

Governor Andrew Cuomo's office is declining to respond to a reporter's questions about "why on earth ... the process of creating an ethics watchdog [has] been cloaked in secrecy." [David King]

The whole deal was hatched in secret. [Jimmy Vielkind]

Cuomo polled public reaction to a prospective tax hike ahead of time. [Jacob Gershman]

Cuomo's emphasis on action over ideology helps position him for a presidential run. [Jimmy Vielkind]

Cuomo had to make a deal to allow Republican state senators to make the case that they had stuck by their promise to oppose higher taxes. [Fred Dicker]

Cuomo is trying to "spin" the deal as a tax cut for everyone because it was reached before the current, and temporary, surcharge on high-income earners expired. [Erik Kriss]

A conservative editorial page that was friendly to Cuomo when he opposed the millionaire's tax says he doesn't have the "courage" to control state spending. [New York Post]

"[P]erhaps this is Mr. Cuomo's first left turn in his campaign for the Democratic Party's 2016 nomination." [Wall Street Journal]

Republican state senator Marty Golden and Democratic assemblyman Peter Abbate held fund-raisers in Puerto Rico, where union officials are on a junket. [Carl Campanile and Dan Mangan]

The Bloomberg administration is hiding cost overruns at Hudson Yards. [Juan Gonzalez]

The company responsible for the scandal-ridden CityTime project may repay more money than the city initially asked for. [Josh Margolin]

Jurors in Councilman Larry Seabrook's trial met for six hours and didn't reach a verdict. [Robert Gearty]

Comments by Seabrook's lawyer were criticized for possibly interfering with the juror's deliberations. [Benjamin Weiser]

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly declined interview requests by reporters wanting his response to racist comments posted online, allegedly, by city cops. [William Glaberson and Al Baker]

The school bus driver's union says there are no plans to strike, but say Bloomberg's plan could jeopardize the safety of students. [Erin Evans]

A writer questions whether the union may hold off striking until after the holidays, in order to collect "Christmas bonus pay." [Jill Colvin]

"Some of the challenges in Somalia were the same as they are at the Transportation Department, he said." [John Leland]

The Staten Island borough president "has instructed his staff to add a "Buy American" message to all constituent correspondence." [Eddie DAnna]