Friday, November 21, 2008

Rebate Debate

It appears that Scrooge McBloomberg is having second thoughts about his tax rebate decision-or maybe it's an attitude adjustment. As the NY Times reports: "A day after defiantly asserting that the city could not afford to send out $400 rebate checks to homeowners, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg struck a far softer tone on Thursday, saying he would cooperate with the City Council, which has been urging him to release the checks. "There’s nobody who would like to send a check to every homeowner in this city more than me,” the mayor told reporters at a news conference after appearing at a luncheon on Staten Island."

Maybe someone got to Hizzoner about how the folks are really hurting-and it is, after all, their money that's being returned:“It’s not easy to stand up and say: ‘Look, we just don’t have the money,’ or ‘We’re not really sure that we have the money,’ ” he said." Than why does it seem that Mike Bloomberg really doesn't have any great difficulty telling people to just suck it up?

As for the NY Post editorialists; can you say schizophrenic? The paper just loves to whack the city council-but in this case the mayor's tax and spend behavior complicates the attack: "Hizzoner wants to keep the city's books in balance - in accordance with the law. Imagine that.
And absent a way to cover the checks, he says he won't just pop them in the mail - notwithstanding council diktats. "We have no money," Mayor Mike said Wednesday. "This is not a legal issue; this is a fiscal issue." But of course he has money. City Hall will haul in some $60 billion this year. That, in fact, is a lot of money. It's just a matter of how it'll all be spent."

Exactly so; and as the Post has pointed out in the past-see Heather McDonald's piece on the $433 million a year cost of housing unwed mothers-there's a lot in the $60 billion that can avoid the euphemistic label, "essential services." The Post goes on today to challenge the council; but it is the mayor who calls the shots here: "Make no mistake: The property-tax rebates were meant to soften the blow of an 18½ percent hike that Bloomberg never should have imposed in the first place. And though the rebates are a pittance, compared to that hike, the more money returned to taxpayers, the better. But if they are to go out - and the budget is to remain in balance - then something's got to give. What does the council suggest? Don't hold your breath waiting to hear."

In our view, it is Third Term Mike that should be setting the tax cutting and budget reduction table. After giving little credence to the seriousness of the city council over the years, the Post shouldn't all of a sudden ask the body to do what apparently the mayor doesn't have either the inclination or the chops to do.