New York Mayor Bill de Blasio painted a grim landscape for his city should the massive cuts in President Trump's proposed budget materialize.
"President Trump's budget will have a highly negative impact in his hometown," a grim de Blasio told reporters at City Hall on Thursday. "New York City is in directly the crosshairs of this proposal."
De Blasio vowed to help lead a nationwide pushback.
The cuts would endanger public safety, education and affordable housing throughout the five boroughs, said de Blasio. The cuts pose a double whammy when paired with the president's proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he added.
Numerous department heads, some of whom talked doom-and-gloom scenarios, flanked the mayor in the packed Blue Room.
De Blasio promised to lobby in Washington with governors and mayors elsewhere. He also invited the president to visit the city where he grew up and built a business empire.
"Come here and talk to the people affected."
Overall, federal funding for the city amounts to roughly $7 billion, or 8% of revenue budgeted in de Blasio's fiscal 2018 preliminary spending plan.
Howard Cure, the director of municipal bond research for Evercore Wealth Management, said the city housing system could take the biggest hit.
"A lot of potential for cuts are there," said Cure. "Obviously the public housing system is not in very good shape to begin with. They have had to endure cuts over the years and this could make it worse."
According to de Blasio, cuts could imperil $150 million in operating funds and up to $220 million in capital funding for the New York City Housing Authority – beyond the proposed elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program. The mayor said 700,000 New Yorkers could lose access to the low-income energy assistance heating program.
NYCHA chief executive Shola Olatoye, whose agency has $17 billion in capital needs, said the cuts could impair the NextGeneration NYCHA 10-year strategic plan. About $400 million of Section 8 funds could disappear, she added.
Overall, said Cure, "the city has a lot of issues to worry about, although this is just the skinny budget."
Moody's Investors Service rates the city's general obligation bonds Aa2. Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings assign AA. All three have stable outlooks.
DeBlasio expects opposition to include Republicans in Congress whose districts include large cities, such as Dan Donovan from the city's Staten Island borough.
According to de Blasio, New York could also lose up to $190 million in antiterrorist funding from the Department of Homeland Security.
"I don't understand that logic one bit," he said. "We're the number one terrorism target in our country."
In addition, said de Blasio, $2 billion worth of cuts for mass transit could imperil further expansion of the Second Avenue subway line along Manhattan's East Side and the Gateway rail tunnel project connecting Manhattan with New Jersey under the Hudson River.
Ronnie Hakim, the interim executive director of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, said the agency, which operates city subways and buses, two regional commuter rail systems and several bridges and tunnels, would monitor the proposed budget.
"While we have serious concerns about its impact on the MTA, we remain committed to advancing all of the priorities and projects essential to our customers and the region's economy," she said.
Brian Murray, press secretary for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, said New Jersey and New York are committed to funding the Gateway project. "He will do all he can to fight any federal funding cut to this project of regional and national importance," said Murray.
Christie had scuttled the predecessor ARC project in 2010 over concerns about the cost for his state.
"This was the first time you've heard a comment from him that was critical about a program coming from the Trump administration," said Cure.
De Blasio sidestepped further questions about tweaks to the city budget, including possible withdrawals from rainy-day accounts or further aid to NYCHA. He told reporters he didn't want to get into hypotheticals.
"Here's my simple statement to all of those kinds of questions: This is the beginning of an almost six-month budget process, and guys, I'm gonna say this a couple of times and then if you ask it a hundred more times, I'm going to remind you I said it a couple of times, OK? Six-month budget process that will be exceedingly hard-fought and dramatic."
City Comptroller Scott Stringer accused the White House of "actively targeting our most vulnerable citizens."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called Trump's budget "dangerous, reckless, and contemptuous of American values," while state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli called on the president to spell out details as soon as possible "so New Yorkers and all Americans can have a clear understanding of the ramifications if these proposals become law."
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the cuts could endanger programs for housing and senior citizens.
"Here in Pennsylvania we have seen first-hand the consequences of budgets that indiscriminately cut programs," he said. "Our schools are still recovering from the cuts under the previous administration."
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Trump got it "terribly wrong." Wolf and Malloy are also Democrats.
James Spiotto, a managing director at Chapman Strategic Advisors in Chicago, said urban vibrancy is essential.
"We've got to keep it all in balance, but if we do not reinvest in our cities, it will not be to the benefit of the nation," he said. "Eighty-eight percent of the population is now living in urban areas.
"Looking back at the 1980s, they did away with the CETA [Comprehensive Employment and Training Act] program, revenue sharing and manpower programs. Maybe there were good budgetary reasons, but we've paid the price for not reinvesting. Unemployment in the 16 to 24 age category is far, far beyond what it should be."