Sunday, September 27, 2009

Middle Classless

The father and son duo of Fred and Harry Siegal have an excellent Op-ed piece today in the NY Daily News-one that recapitulates some of the arguments that we have been making about the fraudulent middle class makeover of Michael Bloomberg: "The candidate with working-class roots has been a ubiquitous figure this year, with ads touting a leader who attended public schools and is offering voters a "Middle Class Affordability Plan" and a "Five Borough Better Transit Tour."...Candidate Mike, friend of the middle class, emerges, groundhog-like, every four years - only to fade from view once the election is done, replaced by Mayor Mike, who raises property, sales and income taxes, tickets anything that moves, makes sweetheart deals with developers and touts his vision of a "luxury city."

This advertising re-make is little more than a dishonest attempt at misdirection. As the Daily News article on the impact of the recession in NYC underscores, jobless New Yorkers like Marie Spinoso are struggling: "With the city's unemployment rate at 10.3%, she's one of 420,100 jobless New Yorkers. "For me, the recession would be over when working people are no longer sweating how they're going to manage to pay their bills," said Tony Virardi of Bath Beach, Brooklyn, who's also unemployed and job hunting. "As you walk along the city streets, do you see fewer For Rent signs on closed businesses?" upper East Side pharmacist Glenn Jacobi asked. "Have the credit card companies started to charge less interest than the mob?"

To which we ask, just what is Mike Bloomberg gonna do for the plight of these folks when he himself as played an out sized role in the creation of the current economic calamity? As the Siegals point out: "Yes, this is the same Bloomberg who has given teachers 43% raises and gotten almost nothing in return. The same Bloomberg who has raised taxes and fees and let the burden on small businesses rise to crushing levels. Bloomberg's purportedly middle-class vision has always involved subsidies running ever-higher up the economic scale, paid out as a cut of Wall Street profits. But with much of the finance sector on federal life support, that would require ever higher taxes that in turn squeeze out the private sector middle class."

Unfortunately, Bloomberg's great wealth has allowed him to both buy and cow potential opposition. But that's not the only explanation for the current political cu-du-sac. Bloomberg is enabled to style as a faux defender of the middle class because the Democrats have abandoned that constituency as well-with the WFP emerging as a political power bolstered by a municipal labor force that depends on the high taxes and big government that Mayor Mike has obliged them with.

With leaves voters with a Hobson's choice: "So while the rise of a party to the Democrats' left presents the mayor with a convenient foil, the difference for voters is mostly cosmetic. The middle class is left with two choices, neither of which is attractive. The Working Families Party wants to hold the public sector harmless in this, the Great Recession, which means higher taxes on everyone else. Bloomberg, if we're to believe his campaign rhetoric about more middle-class subsidies, wants to continue buying support, which will also mean higher taxes."

And the inevitable result of this cosmetic choice-lipstick on a pig, anyone?-is that NYC is left as the little economic engine that couldn't-crippled by an anti-business (but especially small business) climate that is only going to get worse when Mike Bloomberg is likely re-elected and quickly throws off his campaign cardigan for his more comfortable governing tuxedo.

The future's not bright here; and we'll give the Siegels the last grim word: "New York, dependent on exceptionally high taxes, will lag behind the national recovery. And when the federal stimulus money dries up, the future will be rough for the middle class, never mind the deluge of campaign advertisements claiming otherwise."