Between the mayor and the governor-not to mention the MTA-New Yorkers are about to pay the price for political profligacy and malfeasance. As the NY Post editorialized yesterday: "Gov. Paterson is touting 137 new taxes and fees, the MTA wants to jack up fares 23% - and the City Council and Mayor Bloomberg just passed a 7% property-tax hit. Moreover, Bloomberg on Friday took to the radio and snarled that councilmembers who voted against the higher levies are "cowards" - and said that more local tax hikes are in the works. Hmm."
This comes from someone with a very limited view of the possibilities of government reinvention; and also someone who has spent seven years posturing as a leaders who is able to make the tough decisions because he's unencumbered by special interests. All of this is, of course, fraudulent.
All of us like toughness, but when it isn't accompanied by any political or fiscal acuity, what do we really have? As the Post points out: "Yeah, we know: The pols face a monster "budget crunch." But, c'mon - in all frankness, it's in no small way a "crunch" of their own creation. After all, when prudent folks realize they're going to be short of cash, the first thing they do is stop spending so much. Not New York pols. Their solution is simply to pick the public's pocket - through endless tax and fee hikes."
And Mike Bloomberg is certainly no exception-having squandered any opportunity to govern sensibly when the city was flush with Wall Street cash. And David Paterson appears ready to jettison his tough talk and, what else, try to knee jerk his way out of this mess with more taxes as well. As the NY Times pointed out, income tax hikes may be following his record number of fee and nuisance tax proposals: "Gov. David A. Paterson rolled out 137 proposed tax and fee increases last week on items including iTunes downloads and soft drinks, but there could very well be another big one to come."
It won't be long before that personal income tax hike is dragged out; all in the name of "fairness." As the Times tells us: "Increasing income taxes on the richest residents of New York is still a last resort, Mr. Paterson said in an interview, but one that may become necessary as a result of the state’s precarious financial condition. For now, the governor has avoided broad-based income tax increases even as he has proposed $4 billion worth of new or increased taxes and fees to help close a $15.4 billion budget deficit, the largest in state history."
Where are the dramatic cost reductions? The streamlining and consolidation? Instead the governor appears ready to concede defeat to the groups who depend on government largess: "Increasing income taxes on the richest residents of New York is still a last resort, Mr. Paterson said in an interview, but one that may become necessary as a result of the state’s precarious financial condition. For now, the governor has avoided broad-based income tax increases even as he has proposed $4 billion worth of new or increased taxes and fees to help close a $15.4 billion budget deficit, the largest in state history."
Newsday also believes that the cave-in is inevitable: "Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed budget for 2009-10 may not be dead-on-arrival in the legislature, but it is on life-support, experts said..."He very much faces an uphill battle because the constituencies putting pressure on the legislature not to adopt his budget are so powerful," said Elizabeth Lynam of the nonpartisan Citizens Budget Commission."
Let's face it, Paterson simply doesn't have the mandate-or the political courage-to stand strong for fiscal sanity; and for the state's beleaguered tax payers. And now he's even gone about belittling those who complain about his record number of fees. Here's how the NY Daily News reported this scorning: " Gov. Paterson doesn't understand all the fuss about the $4 billion in new taxes and fees he has proposed to help close a $15.4 billion budget gap. "We found a lot of little taxes that are optional," Paterson said on WOR radio. "In other words, people can stay away from these items and don't have to pay the tax."
Kinda like a, "Let them eat cake," moment; a tone deafness to the struggles that New Yorkers are going through in these tough times: "Later, in a conference call with reporters, Paterson warned of fiscal calamity if the state does not begin addressing its massive budget problems.
"I am uncomfortable with [the fiscal] reality, but I'm very comfortable with this budget," Paterson said. "I feel we have assessed responsibility very equally." The governor said he opted for the new fees and taxes after trimming $9.5 billion in education, health care and other spending. "We didn't think we could cut beyond where we did," Paterson said. "That's when we had to look at taxation."
And yet this budget is $1,4 billion larger than the last! How prudent is this approach? The Post strikes the right note here: "But both the city and the state have got to keep their eyes on the ball: Tax and fee hikes will only throttle an already badly battered economy - and hurt struggling residents, to boot. They've got to keep digging for more savings. And, really: With $180 billion in total passing through City Hall and Albany, how hard should it be to find them?"