Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Brother, Here We Go Again"

Well, it certainly didn't take long for Mike Bloomberg to begin walking back his no tax pledge. As Liz reports: "Mayor Bloomberg today more or less stuck to his campaign pledge not to raise taxes through 2011, but left himself some wiggle room by reiterating that a lot depends on how Albany decides to address its own budget woes."

Mike may not be much of a dancer, but he's surely a great wiggler: "But at the moment, I do think, as long as Albany doesn’t take an enormous amount of monies that we’re counting on away from us, or raise taxes so much so that some of our tax base leaves, I do think we will get through it without a tax increase for 2011. Having said that, it is something between now and January that we’ll have to look at."

Translation: Hold on to your wallets, folks. The existence of a $5 billion deficit means that Bloomberg, who really has only one arrow in his deficit reducing policy quiver, will do what he is congenitally programmed to do: "Bloomberg stressed that the city is going to have to "spend less," but also repeated his usual mantra about being unwilling to cut key services."

But, maybe we're wrong, and a new and improved-fiscally prudent-Bloomberg model will emerge: "We made that mistake in the seventies," the mayor said. "(It) took us decades to recover from that and we really can't raise taxes anymore and drive small business owners out of the city, taking the jobs that we need with them or people who are going to stay here anyways but just are so up against it because of the down economy."

What's missing? The concept that the way the city can really become more economically viable is through a policy of tax reduction-an acknowledgement that it is way too expensive now for those small businesses to thrive in the current city economic environment.

That hope, however, may be a little too much to ask. And we would be happy with the status quo-but we're not gonna be betting that the mayor sticks to his words. A fundamental expansive government world view is not a garment that's thrown off easily; even if severe economic times would recommend just that.