Demonstrators gathered outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fundraiser and birthday bash in New York City on Wednesday night, demanding he increase taxes on billionaires to fund the Green New Deal and other progressive programs.
Cuomo, who turns 62 on Thursday, hosted the celebrity-studded event, reportedly charging guests $50,000 per plate to raise money for his re-election campaign. Video on social media showed a small group of protesters attempting to storm the reception room inside the Essex House hotel near Central Park to deliver a birthday cake for Cuomo with #MakeBillionairesPay written in frosting.
It was unclear if Cuomo or other attendees were present when the activists were ushered out by security. A larger crowd gathered outside on the street, demanding the Democratic governor tax the mega-rich, create a “Green New Deal” for New York, bring energy into public ownership, eliminate fossil fuels, ensure 100 percent renewable energy, guarantee homes for New York residents, fully fund public school and make college free.
“There has been an explosion in wealth and income at the very top,” Michael Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy For All Coalition, told the New York Daily News.
The Green New Deal, co-sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., failed to advance in Congress but has become a rallying cry for more progressive elements of the party. The more progressive presidential candidates -- Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders – have proposed taxing the mega-rich to fund Medicare-For-All federal health care plans.
“New York has more billionaires than anywhere else in the country. It’s time for them to pay, to contribute to the things that all New Yorkers need,” he continued. “We can address all of those needs and cover the budget gap by targeting billionaires and ultra-millionaires.”
A report released by the Public Accountability Initiative and Hedge Clippers on Wednesday -- to coincide with the organized protest -- slammed Cuomo for accepting more than $4 million in donations from 49 billionaires, worth a combined $280 billion, since 2002.
Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi responded to the report, brushing off the subsequent protest as “performance art.”
“Mike Kink’s ineffective and uninteresting special interest-funded performance art is not worth commenting on," Azzopardi told the Daily News. "Budget decisions are made on the merits, not on what some cog in the advocacy industrial complex rants about.”