Friday, October 31, 2008

Paterson's Promise and WFP Peril

In this morning's NY Post, the paper heaps editorial praise on Governor Paterson for his sober budgeting: "New Yorkers might want to get this in writing: "We have agreed that any taxation right now would only exacerbate the problem. If anything, we need to lower taxes." That's what Gov. Paterson told Congress on Wednesday - even as he asked plaintively for federal funds to make up for state tax revenue lost in the Wall Street meltdown. "We have to put our own house in order," Paterson conceded. And he all but took tax hikes off the table."

The stance of the governor sharply contrasts with that of our city leaders-particularly on the correlation of lower taxes with job creation: "We need to lower taxes for some of our businesses [in order to] create jobs," he said, "so that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers don't leave the state, as they do every year, for other areas where the life quality is better." Paterson hit it on the head: Tax hikes will drive away the very folks who can revive the economy - and regenerate depleted tax dollars."

What's the city response to the meltdown?-a whole laundry list of cockamamie programs of assistance; something that we questioned earlier. As the NY Daily News tells us: "Warning that the recession "won't end quickly or painlessly," Mayor Bloomberg outlined an 18-point plan Thursday to ease New Yorkers' burden in tough times."We have an increased obligation to New Yorkers who face harsh, short-term problems," said Bloomberg."

Of course, there's not a hint of a tax relief plan, instead: "Next week Bloomberg will unveil a modified budget that reflects a 2.5% reduction in across-agency spending. He has also hinted that he may raise property taxes to plug pending budget holes."

Some contrast between the supposedly savvy businessman, and the career politician. Do you think that the Post wants to re-evaluate its third term support for Mr. Indispensable? Which brings us to the Working Families Party and its rising influence.

As the NY Times reports: "In just 10 years, the tiny Working Families Party has built a reputation for pulling off upset victories in low-turnout primaries and special elections, one or two at a time. Now, however, in a presidential election year, and with the Senate’s Republican majority endangered for the first time in decades, the party is putting its record on the line in half a dozen races from Ronkonkoma to Rochester. Democrats in the Senate have effectively outsourced their entire ground game to the unassuming army of Working Families canvassers at a price of about $700,000. On any given day, about 200 of its people are in the field."

There's no question that the party has gained great leverage, but the question that remains is just how that newly gained power will be influenced. Will the WFP aggressively promote its tax raising, no service cutting agenda? And, if it does, will it find itself at odds with the frugal attitude of New York's governor? As the Times points out: "Victory would mean a chance to demand that newly empowered — and deeply indebted — Democratic lawmakers press the party’s liberal agenda on issues like taxation, rent control and health care. A monumental achievement for any third party, let alone one so young."

And then there's Kruger and the three amigos, whose "independent caucus," could control an upcoming senate leadership battle even if Democrats do take over with WFP help. An Obama-like political agenda on taxes would thrust WFP right into the eye of the political storm; with the state's first African American governor as its adversary.