Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bloomberg's Glass House

Picking up on our own post yesterday, Wayne Barret chimes in on the hypocrisy of Mike Bloomberg accusing anyone of flip-flopping on taxes: "What neither Mike, nor the Mike media want you to know, is that first step of the Thompson rate increase in the city personal income tax (PIT) -- from 3.65 percent to 4.3 percent for people making from $500,000 to a million -- is less than the one Bloomberg himself imposed in 2003. Bloomberg imposed a three-year surcharge on everyone earning more than $500,000, elevating the bracket to 4.45 percent, more than Thompson urges now."

But that was then-and this is now: "The Bloomberg ad also quotes Thompson's argument against a millionaire's tax, namely that "we don't want to drive people out of New York," which happens to have become Bloomberg's 2009 mantra. A Bloomberg campaign spokeswoman explained their own ad by saying "Mike Bloomberg opposes the millionaire's tax because it would drive residents out of New York, the same position Thompson had before he flip-flopped."

What unmitigated gall! Mike Bloomberg went back on his own 2001 no tax pledge-remember his attacks on Mark Green as a tax and spend liberal?-and instituted one of the largest tax hikes in NYC history. One conservative critic nails him: "In his 2002 inaugural address, Bloomberg declared: "We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. We cannot drive people and business out of New York. We cannot raise taxes." But Bloomberg proceeded to hike the city's cigarette tax rate from 8 cents to $1.50 per pack, increase property taxes 18 percent, and raise income and sales taxes."

And it is because of these actions that NYC is in such dire fiscal condition today-with small businesses sucking wind, and store vacancies at record levels. The mayor has been as unfrugal a manager as possible, and in the process has exacerbated the city's already poor business climate. Hardly an advertisement for an additional term.

As Steve Malanga also noted, a few years later: "The mayor has emerged as a guardian of the local status quo, the defender of big government and the municipal workforce. Proclaiming that forces beyond his control are compelling him, he has instituted the largest tax increase in the city’s history, apologized for even the smallest cuts in government services, declared that everything New York City’s massive government does is vitally necessary, and confidently announced that tax increases won’t drive out citizens or businesses."

But, as Gilda Radner's character on SNL would say; "Never mind." Bloomberg has enough money to re-write history, as long as he has a lazy and compliant media to cover for him. As Barrett reminds us: "But it's actually not hard to figure out who the leading New York politician was who convinced us in 2003 that a PIT hike wouldn't drive the rich out of New York, as unlikely as it is that the dailies will discover it in their own clips. "I don't think anyone's going to leave," Mike said then, "because no matter where they go, every state, every city is facing a similar situation." If Bloomberg thought that about New York in the aftermath of 9/11, wouldn't it go double now? But all Bloomberg says now is that "the first rule of taxation is -- you can't tax too much those that can move."

But did Mike learn this from his own foray into tax hiking? No way: "If you're thinking that this might be a lesson he learned from the hikes of 2003, think again. A study released in 2005 by none other than Bill Thompson revealed that the people least likely to leave the city in the early Bloomberg years, when the PIT hikes and the largest property tax boost in history were imposed, were those making $250,000 or more."

The folks who did leave were middle income homeowners who were so much refuse to be discarded by the patrician mayor when he proposed his 25% property tax hike, a raise that was later reduced to only 18% by the city council. So, given this lamentable record on taxes, anyone else would have had the grace to remain silent-and not try to go off on an opponent who changed his mind, something that our own Mr. Consistent Mayor has thankfully never done himself-at least on any important policy issue.