Monday, August 03, 2009

Pot and Kettle

You just gotta love Mike Bloomberg's chutzpah. On his Friday radio show he lashed out at Albany for the legislatures pending-and perpetual-raid against the state's, and the city's, tax payers: "Mayor Bloomberg to New Yorkers: Hold onto your wallets now that Albany's crying poverty again. Hizzoner yesterday said the latest warnings about ballooning budget deficits and lackluster collections from Gov. Paterson will likely mean new taxes and fees for residents of the five boroughs. "They have been spending more than they're taking in for a long time," Bloomberg said of Albany on his weekly radio show."

This is, albeit unintentionally, because Mike ain't no comedian-hilarious: "And it's going to come home to roost, this coming year or the year after." "When it comes home to roost . . . they will try to raise taxes on New York City residents, because New York City pays most of it."

So here's what we think. In the World According to Mike, taxing the sh*t out of the folks is only OK if he's the one who gets to levy them-and levy them he does, taxing and spending in ways that remind us unmistakably of the wayward ways of John V. Lindsay. And the latest tax hike comes one day after his warning about the state's evil propensities.

As the NY Daily News reports: "It's only pennies for most purchases, but New Yorkers still felt the pinch of Saturday's sales tax hike.The rate went up half a percentage point - from 8.375% to 8.875% - which will cost consumers an extra 50 cents for every $100 they spend. It's the first permanent tax rise in more than 35 years and could generate as much as $950 million a year in revenue for the cash-strapped city."

Many of the New Yorkers fully understand what this kind of taxing policy means for an economy in deep recession-so much so, that you wonder why it escapes the ken of the nimble mayor: "Wow, that's irresponsible of me, I didn't even notice," said John Painz, 36, a graphic designer from Tribeca who was buying toiletries in a downtown Duane Reade. "It's just one more thing that's pricing New Yorkers out of New York." "What are you gonna do? The economy sucks right now so they're raising taxes," said attorney Yoev Griver, 42, who lives near Union Square. "I think it's unfortunate and it'll send people to New Jersey even more." New Jersey's rate is 7%."

So, when Bloomberg says that Albany has been, "...spending more than they're taking in for a long time," does he begin to see the ironic tone and implications of his remarks? The reality is that Albany balances its budget the same way that the city does-by raising taxes to cover the short fall; and damn the economic consequences to the state's businesses and tax payers. Heaven forbid that either entity reduce the size of the government's payroll so that the folks footing the bill can take a modest breathe.

The Bloomberg critique, then, is a manifestation of a man who has apparently lost his grip on reality-and believes that, with his vast fortune, he can spend enough dough to bamboozle enough suckers to accept that he is a fiscal steward worth retaining in office. What the people need to realize, however, is that with this latest sales tax hike, the mayor has transformed his vaunted five borough economic plan into an expanded campaign that now encompasses two states; and it is the Garden State and Paramus Park Malls that are now poised to reap the benefits of Bloomberg's beneficence.

The harsh reality is that the city and state are facing some drastic economic predicaments-and from what we've seen, neither David Paterson nor Mike Bloomberg is suited to the task of successfully addressing the situation so that New York can recover quickly from this meltdown. New leadership is needed on both the city and state levels.