Friday, February 05, 2010

Still Not Knuckling Under

Adam Brodsky has an incisive look at the little mayor man behind the curtain and reveals that the Great Oz is an extravagant fraud, and certainly not someone that elites should have been drooling over in order to promote a third term that promises to deliver more of the same uninspiring polenta: "Mayor Bloomberg is sued a stern warning to state lawmakers last month: Gov. Paterson's budget cuts would meet stiff resistance in the Big Apple. "Let me tell you," Hizzoner huffed, "the cuts the state's fiscal mess will cause us to make will not sit well with New York City residents." Well, maybe not. But it sure is good to see something forcing the city to rein in spending -- since Bloomberg would never do it on his own."

The city's fiscal crisis has to be viewed in the context of the Bloomberg governing philosophy-and if any municipality could use a tea party infusion it's the Big Apple. As Brodsky points out: "Indeed, if City Hall can't roll back spending now -- at a time when the economy is said to be the worst since the Great Depression and the city and state fiscal predicament more precarious than in decades -- then, let's be honest, it's never going to contain the budget. Which would be a shame. Because New York City shells out far too much money. This year's bottom line: $63 billion."

Well, Mike's been at the helm for eight years and, arguing against the evidence, asked the voters to return him to office for the third time charm in order for him to we able to successfully grapple with the city's recession. Lost in all of the recycled bogus borough economic plans that relentlessly polluted local airwaves, was the culpability of the incumbent-and his policy perspectives-in exacerbating the current mess that we find ourselves in.

The result? We get a third term mayor who would have, if he were Dave Dinkins, retired the Knucklehead Award that the Daily News gives out to boneheaded elected officials. Listen to Brodsky: "That massive spending fuels a corrosive tax burden, among the heaviest in the nation -- which, in turn, drags down the economy, driving out businesses and jobs."

But Mike Bloomberg has never subscribed to the reduce the size of government philosophy: "It's up to Mayor Mike and other officials to pick sensible priorities. But any city leader who truly cared about lightening New York City's onerous tax burden would have moved to roll back spending drastically -- long ago. Instead, New York's mayors let spending soar nearly 450 percent between 1980 and 2009. (It's up 47 percent just since 2002, according to the city's Independent Budget Office.) So when the city proposes a budget that climbs "just" 1 percent, as Bloomberg did last week, the logical question is: Why is it growing at all -- after all those increases, and at a time like this?"

But one reason that Bloomberg gets such a pass from real critical scrutiny, is the political culture that he operates in-and it is in this culture that a Mike Bloomberg can somehow come off as a fiscally responsible centrist. One of the variables that drives the political culture is the sway of public sector unions and their Working Families Part arm.

In this morning's NY Daily News the WFP's Dan Cantor lays out his party's goals with remarkable candor-and reading Cantor along side of Brodsky is to get a profound sense of the political divide that is driving the city off of the left side of the cliff: "The last few months have not been promising for progressives across the country - the GOP has won major victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts. In New York the story is different. After a decade of pushing progressive causes, the Working Families Party starts the year with increased standing in Albany and at City Hall, thanks to victories by candidates we were proud to support, including new public advocate Bill de Blasio and new city controller John Liu."

Cantor should be reminded of Lou Carneseca's observation as he preens over his political gains: "Peacock today, feather duster tomorrow." Nowhere in his narrative does Cantor seek to address the reasons why the last few months haven't "been promising" for his governing philosophy-and because he doesn't address these trends, he fails to see just how the revolt of the real working families (what Chalres Krauthammer calls the, "peasant revolt") of this country lies in wait for him.

So Cantor, waste deep in the big red ink muddy, wants to push on-tax the bonuses, soak the rich, don't cut the budget, blah, blah blah-until the well runs dry and the compassion that he champions no longer has willing paymasters. Cantor talks of wanting to achieve "real progress" for the city and state, but fails to understand that even the free lunch program has to have folks willing to pay for it.

And the Post highlights this with a small piece on the New Jersey exodus: "Wealthy New Jersey residents -- hit with some of the highest taxes in the country -- are flooring it out of state. The Garden State lost $70 billion from 2004 to 2008 thanks to a moneyed exodus in both directions of the turnpike, according to a study by the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College. The drop was a stark contrast to the preceding period, from 1999 to 2003, when, according to the study, the state had an influx of $98 billion. "The tax structure changed in the mid-2000s. There was a high personal income tax put on wealthy individuals," said Dennis Bone, chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. "With surcharges, you're paying 10 percent of your taxable income."

This is the consequence of pursuing policies that are animated by a philosophy of economic justice; and the irony here is that Mike Bloomberg has played right into the hands of these folks, so that when he does finally say, "enough," it has no credibility-even more so since he only says enough when the attack is on the real estate and financial sectors that he holds so dear.

So we have a knucklehead mayor, parading around in all of his sartorial nakedness, posturing as a sensible fellow-and aided quite well in the task by the actions and policy initiatives of the WFP lemmings. But it's the supposed grown up Bloomberg who should know better.

Brodsky's analysis demonstrates that he simply doesn't: "Bloomberg himself has said that he believes the public always "wants and deserves" more city services. No wonder taxes and fees climbed early in his first term and never fell back to pre-Mike levels. No wonder he's groaning about Paterson's planned cuts in city funding."

So while the Daily News continues to pursue isolated political penny larceny miscreants-and amusingly goes after the lulu brigade at the city council today (in an editorial that is headlined,"picking the public pocket")-they stand muted, like Lot's wife, over the real fleecing that has transpired over the past eight years; and the role of their BFF in this theft.

But, as budgets continue to bloat, and more of the tax paying classes flee to less hostile political climates, NYC and NY State will find themselves-like California-on the verge of not only bankruptcy, but insurrection. In the process, the compassionate WFP feather dusters will be left to fight over the crumbs of an increasingly shrinking pie. That will be the Bloomberg legacy.