Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get My Shawl

In Mame, the musical that the late David Lipsky had the privilege of doing the press for, there's a great line that Auntie Mame-wonderfully played by the recently deceased Bea Arthur-utters: "Get my shawl," she tells her nephew, "I feel the winds of change blowing." The line came to mind, while we were reading the Op-Ed from Rudy Giuliani in today's NY Times.

The editorial, signalling perhaps that the hapless incumbent governor should be looking over both of his shoulders, focuses directly at the dysfunction in Albany-calling for a constitutional convention to address the serious, and endemic, state problems: "NEW YORK STATE government is not working. This has been true for some time. But the paralysis and confusion that has overtaken the capital demonstrates the need to confront this dysfunction directly and take decisive steps to solve it once and for all. That’s why I’m calling on Albany to convene a state constitutional convention."

There's an old saying, that power abhors a vacuum, and the existence of a power vacuum in the state capitol is one of the most undeniable facts of political life in New York today. The more that this is made manifest, the more attractive the Rudy persona becomes-and some of his prescriptions for change will certainly resonate strongly among fed-up voters.

The economic focus of the former mayor is one that we are particularly enamored with: "There are more New Yorkers unemployed than at any time in 33 years, and the poverty rate is rising. Our combined state and local tax burden is the highest in the nation after New Jersey. Our business tax climate is rated the second worst in the country. And in the face of the worst recession in a quarter-century, the State Legislature decided to increase spending by 9 percent while increasing taxes and fees by $8 billion. No wonder a recent poll showed that more than 20 percent of New Yorkers are thinking of leaving the state in search of lower taxes and fewer government mandates."

We have been posting on this very theme for months now-and have watched with dismay as more taxes and fees have been added on; saddling New York business with the kind of burden that is simply intolerable in the current economic climate. That is why his call for a supermajority clause for any tax increase was music to our ears: "Too often increasing taxes is the first impulse for Albany legislators. Requiring a supermajority for tax increases would provide a powerful check on those who still think we can tax and spend our way out of economic problems. A supermajority would protect already over-burdened citizens and attract businesses, improving our long-term competitiveness."

The city and the state have been governed for too long by tax and spend forces that have grown the size of government, and made the state a very poor place to conduct business. We're certainly not ready to endorse the potential candidacy of someone whom we have fought some fierce battles with in the past; but we're happy that Rudy has laid out some agenda items that others would also be wise to adopt as we go into the next election cycle.