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A CNBC guest was caught on air calling Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks’ explanation of why a deal with Amazon to move a headquarters to New York City fell through a “crock of s—.”
“Squawk Box” co-host Becky Quick appeared to place some responsibility on Meeks during Wednesday’s program, saying a deal was on the table, but the New York congressman wanted to renegotiate it.
“What I wanted to do was to make sure when we talked about inclusion,” Meeks said. “I wanted to make sure that minorities and women, etc., would be included in the deal.”
The lawmaker said that he was for the deal overall, but “a few people made a lot of noise and (Amazon) pulled away from the deal as a result of that.”
Protests against Amazon opening its headquarters — which would have created 25,000 permanent jobs and 11,000 construction jobs — were led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, USA Today reported.
The freshman Democratic legislator balked at the $3 billion in tax incentives and subsidies promised by the state, saying the money could be better spent on things like hiring more teachers and infrastructure projects.
Ocasio-Cortez seemingly did not understand the tax breaks did not mean the state was literally writing a check to Amazon but merely lowering the company’s initial tax burden to the government to encourage the move.
New York Democratic Mayor Bill De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo corrected Ocasio-Cortez saying the $2.8 billion in tax breaks and incentives would have resulted in $27 billion in tax revenue, due to the new jobs and business activity, Fox News reported.
While Meeks sought to put the blame on others, “Squawk Box” guest host Sam Zell — a billionaire business investor — held the congressman partly to blame for Amazon’s decision, saying the company thought it had a deal, but Meeks and others were making new demands.
“I think this deal with Amazon is going to go down in history as one of the great mistakes that politicians made in their own interests and disregarded the interests of the state of New York,” Zell said.
“From Amazon’s point of view, there was never an end to the negotiations. They thought they had a deal,” he added. “I do deals for a living. Certainty is the most important issue in any transaction. That’s what builds confidence.”
Meeks again said he was for Amazon coming to New York and he is working to get the deal back on the table.
“I do believe we have to be inclusive in any deals though,” Meeks said.
Zell responded, “Same here.”
— Matt Martland (@mmartland) March 6, 2019
As CNBC co-host Melissa Lee was transitioning to commercial, Zell, whose microphone was still apparently on, could be heard saying, “What a crock of s—,” apparently in response to Meeks’ comments.
Lee joked about the hot mic, proclaiming, “‘Squawk Box,’ where anything can happen.”
Later in the day, Meeks tweeted, “Sam Zell should explain what about minority inclusion in economic development is a ‘crock of s—‘, and why city’s (sic) like NY and Chicago shouldn’t bake those requirements into tax incentives.”
“This is what women and people of color deal with in the corporate boardrooms daily @CNBC.”