Monday, October 12, 2009

Taxing Shamelessness

Having all the money in the world is always a challenge to good taste-and for Michael Bloomberg, it is a challenge that he has roundly flunked with his attack on the putative tax policies of Bill Thompson. We might even have used the old pot and kettle analogy to describe the Bloomberg gambit if there wasn't a good chance it would be wrongly misconstrued. Here's the NY Daily News' description of a new stealth Bloomberg web site: "Sure, it doesn't take a doctorate in political science to figure out that the campaign behind the ThompsonTaxHike site is that of one Mayor Bloomberg, who has lately stomped on Democratic rival Thompson for flip-flopping on the millionaires tax. But it's notable just how far you have to get into the whole presentation before you actually see Bloomberg's name: You have to click through the ad, get to the site and then actually hit "play" on the clip, which is one of Bloomberg's latest TV commercials."

Well, we do have a doctorate in political science, and we can figure out that this is as crass an attack as they come-especially given Bloomberg's own tax and spend record. Is this all simply a way to use more money to misdirect the tax paying voters away from the awareness that Mike Bloomberg has absconded with so much of their already-and will likely to continue to do so in spades if re-elected?

For those with senile dementia here's what Take a Tax Hike Mike did: "New York City (especially Manhattan) has often been criticized for its high taxes and high cost of living. In his first term as mayor (from 2002). Michael Bloomberg raised taxes, stating that he wouldn’t cut back on essential city services. In January 2003, Bloomberg was cited in the New York Times stating the following: “If New York City is a business, it isn’t Wal-Mart—it isn’t trying to be the lowest-priced product in the market,” a draft of the speech reads. “It’s a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product. New York offers tremendous value, but only for those companies able to capitalize on it.” The “New York is a luxury product” speech has been widely quoted. The “luxury product” idea is criticized by those who point out New York’s disappearing middle class."

And let's not forget that "Luxury Mike" also raised cigarette taxes by over 1800%-the largest proportional tax hike in the city's history. This tax, which we had labeled the, "bodega tax," at the time, diverted over $250 million a year from the city's small groceries to the black market-driven street sales; and continues to do so today with contraband flowing unabated from Indian retailers selling non taxed product. Needless to say, this is the kind of tax that impacts the less than luxurious among us.

So Bloomberg's attack tax ads on Thompson reek of hypocrisy-and he should be ashamed enough to admit it. In fact, this discussion of taxes is the only one that you'll hear from the mayor, whose campaign seems to have banned the word entirely from his farcical "five borough economic plan" missives. No, better to misdirect and mislead the voters by attacking someone else's-not record-but passed statements.

And we don't have to go back to 2002 to dramatize just how hypocritical this-can the folks remember the mayor's sales tax hike last spring, the one that was enacted in the middle of the deepest recession in 60 years? As we commented at the time: "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."

So just we remember that we warned you-the tax man cometh if Mike Bloomberg gets re-elected. He has, in his latest effort to disorient the voters, neglected to let us know just how bad the state and city's fiscal condition now is. As Michael; Goodwin reminded us yesterday: "Consider this: New York state is effectively bankrupt. Tax revenues are falling faster than autumn leaves and Albany will probably soon run out of cash."

We are going to be in for a rather rude awakening in January should the mayor get re-elected. Five borough euphoria will give way to the additional tax raises-this time, however, accompanied by the knife and scalpel to the city's budget. The folks are gonna wonder what happened, because if you listened to the full panoply of Bloomberg campaign ads, you would have heard not a single discouraging word. In our view, this fact alone-the sheer and monumental dishonesty and hypocritical disregard for speaking the truth when you are not beholden to the special interests-is ample cause for giving Mike his ticket to ride.