In late December 2012, congressional Republicans took enormous heat in the media for daring to reduce the size of the Hurricane Sandy aid package. New York governor Andrew Cuomo said the move was “insensitive at best.”
Cuomo later issued a joint statement with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, proclaiming that “the people of our states can no longer afford to wait while politicians in Washington play games.”
After the public shaming, Senate and House Republicans relented and passed a $50.5 billion relief bill despite overwhelmingly credible claims the bill was stuffed with pork.
Nearly eight months after the disaster, that money has surely been wisely spent, right?
With thousands in New York still homeless from the storm, the New York Times reports:
The Cuomo administration has set aside nearly $140 million for an advertising campaign called “New York State Open for Business,” with the money drawn largely from a state authority created to lower electricity bills and from federal disaster aid, records show. . . . A coming phase of the campaign will use $40 million from the federal government to promote businesses and tourism in the areas struck by Hurricane Sandy.
The advertisements are set to the music of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” and are voiced by Robert De Niro, who intones: “There’s a new New York State, one that’s working to attract businesses and create jobs.”
The Scrapbook submits that bullying Congress to pay for promotional ads doesn’t qualify as actually “working” to attract businesses, though it does create jobs for Madison Avenue types, not to mention Messrs. De Niro and Jay-Z.
If anything, the campaign underscores New York’s reputation for being antimarket and prone to cronyism. Indeed, using taxpayer funds intended for lower electricity bills and disaster relief to air primetime commercials will strike many as “insensitive at best,” to use Cuomo’s phrase.
The Scrapbook is happy to provide New York with some advice at a cost of $140 million less than it’s paying for the new advertising campaign: If you spend disaster relief monies on disaster relief and don’t raid funds intended to provide aid to the needy to fund useless television commercials, your state might be viewed as a more attractive place to do business.