Mayor Bloomberg Has a Few Thoughts He Would Like to Share

monopoly man

I was about to lay down my quill and stop up the ink jar when I came across Mayor Bloomberg’s piece in the Noo Yak Times. I want to reproduce it in full, but first, I want to lay out four reasons why the mayor, despite his flaws and his baggage, should be a formidable, formidable candidate.

One, he’s an actual rich person who would be going up against Mr. Fake It Till You Make It. There are a non-trivial number of people out there who really care about such things. They are probably not the kind of people you will be inviting to your next barbeque. But, trust me on this, there are enough folks who worship rich people to make a difference.

Two, unlike some wet-behind-the-ears whippersnappers from Indiana, he has an actual, serious record of accomplishments.

Three, although he is probably not that familiar with the Gospel of Luke, he acts on the principle that, where much is given, much is required.

Four, on at least two vital issues of our time, climate change and income inequality, he is right on the money.

And now, Mayor Bloomberg would like to share these thoughts:

Every Democrat running for president agrees that income inequality is one of the great problems of our time. And we all agree that the wealthy should pay more in taxes.

But only one of us has actually raised taxes on the wealthy by persuading a Republican legislature to vote for them: Me.

When I was elected mayor of New York City, seven weeks after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, we faced a budget crisis and a recession. I had a choice: slash budgets and conduct mass layoffs, which would especially hurt the young, the elderly and low-income communities — or raise taxes.

So I took the politically difficult step of proposing tax increases, including one on those making more than $500,000 a year (about $700,000 in today’s dollars). I persuaded a Republican-led State Senate and a Democratic-led State Assembly to pass the bill, and a Republican governor to sign it. The extra revenue — roughly $400 million per year — allowed us to invest in our future and create jobs and opportunity in the neighborhoods where they were needed most.

That is what leadership is all about: bringing people in both parties together to get results. Over my 12 years as mayor, I also helped persuade Republicans in Albany to pass marriage equality, increase funding for public schools and enact juvenile justice reforms that helped lower the number of teenagers in confinement.

I’m committed to helping Democrats win control of Congress this year, regardless of the fate of my own campaign. And if, for whatever reasons, our party falls short of controlling both chambers of Congress, the next Democratic president will have to reach across the aisle to end the Republican obstructionism that has gripped Washington for so long. That’s not something that most of my fellow Democratic candidates talk much about.

Some of them prefer to shake their fists and point fingers, particularly when it comes to taxing the wealthy. I agree with the goal of making the system fairer and more progressive, including by increasing taxes on wealthy people like me. But I have a different approach, informed by my experience in both government and business.

Unlike President Trump, I didn’t inherit my wealth, and Igenuinely support causes I am passionate about: gun safety, climate change, women’s rights, universal health care, education and yes, electing Democrats — including those in 2018 who helped create a majority in the House of Representatives, which laid the groundwork for holding this president accountable.

I believe America should always be a country where a middle-class kid like me can start a business and succeed beyond her or his wildest dreams. But just as important, America must always be a place where the middle class grows bigger and stronger. Right now that’s not happening, because the rewards of the economy are far too concentrated at the top.

Part of the problem is global and macroeconomic. In nearly every industry, wages are mostly flat. Changing that will require major new investments in our public schools to make sure that all high school students graduate with the skills they need to enter college or start a career. I’ll make that a top priority as president, as I did as mayor.

The tax code is also worsening inequality. We tax income from stocks and bonds at a much lower rate than income from work. We allow great wealth to pass from generation to generation with little or no tax due. And we provide countless loopholes that corporations and the rich exploit to reduce their taxes even more.

The tax plan I released on Saturday confronts these issues head-on. It reverses the Republican tax cuts for high-income individuals. It adds a 5 percent surtax on income over $5 million a year, bringing the top tax rate to 44.6 percent. It raises the corporate tax rate to 28 percent, from 21 percent, which is still competitive with other developed countries. It strengthens the minimum corporate tax on foreign income, to stop companies from moving profits overseas. And it closes loopholes that companies and individuals exploit to avoid paying taxes.

Under my plan, the tax burden on the middle class won’t increase, but for those earning more than $1 million a year, capital gains will be taxed as ordinary income. This will end the unfairness of the wealthy paying far lower tax rates on investment income than working Americans pay on income from their jobs.

My plan also ends the carried interest loophole that allows money managers to categorize their ordinary income as capital gains. And it ends a huge loophole that allows the growth in the value of an estate to escape taxes at death, which benefits the wealthiest individuals.

Unlike other candidates’ plans that are likely to be rejected by Congress or the courts, mine is achievable — and I will get it done. After all, who better to make the argument for raising taxes on the wealthy than me?

Some who are wealthy will call me a traitor to my class. But that’s what they called Franklin and Theodore Roosevelt. Like them, I’ll wear the label as a badge of honor — and I’ll use the new tax revenue, an estimated $5 trillion over 10 years, to invest in America in ways that reduce inequality, strengthen the middle class and restore faith in the promise of the American dream.


unwashed masses

Paul Waldman, Joe Biden is still ahead. But Elizabeth Warren is closing in.

Jennifer Rubin, Who is being naïve here?

Park MacDougald, Is Tucker Carlson the Most Important Pundit in America?

First, a Gut Check, to Provide Context

I am among the 91 percent—I believe that’s the correct number—of Democratic primary voters who have not yet made up their minds. Right now, my instinct is that the safest, and therefore the wisest, course would be to nominate someone from the moderate center-left wing, get him or her elected, return the country back to something resembling normality, fix Obamacare, and then try to have something like a rational conversation on where we go from there.

But, in and of itself, knowledge about my gut is of no use to you. I mention it only to give some context to what I’ll say next.

Three Key Points about Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren may or may not be The One. See paragraphs immediately above. But let us, nevertheless, bite the bullet, grasp the nettle, and pay due attention to the various elephants in the room.

Yesterday, I saw some talking heads on the teevee bloviating about how Senator Warren is a “disrupter,” just like Donald Trump is a “disrupter,” and how the country needs someone who can let us all relax a little. The discussion made me angry, because “disrupter” is, IMHO, an extremely misleadingly incomplete description of Elizabeth Warren.

First of all, economic inequality is growing dramatically. And, when Elizabeth Warren says the system is rigged in favor of the plutocracy, she is saying no more and no less than the God’s honest truth.

And, before I move to my second point, please let me add this parenthetical observation. If you are an advocate you can definitely fool some of the people some of the time. That said, it is a marvel how much it helps if you are telling the truth–about a subject that’s important to your audience–while your adversary is trying to spin a fairy tale.

Second, growing inequality not only prejudices those of us who are not plutocrats, but it also poses, in the long run, a grave threat to the plutocrats themselves. Some of them, blinded by greed, don’t recognize their long-term risk. Some do recognize it.

Elizabeth Warren does not emphasize that she is, in fact, the plutocrats’ true friend—the one who offers them an opportunity to protect themselves from their own worst impulses. But though she chooses not to emphasize the point, it’s true, nonetheless.

Third, there are lots and lots of Trump voters who also understand that the plutocrats are not their friends, and are rigging the system against them. (See the piece by Park MacDougald, cited above.) These folks have an inherent predisposition to heed a key part of Warren’s message. And she has the personality and the potential to break through with some of the Trump base.

And, may I add, she is just the person to tell the unwashed masses what a con man Donald Trump is.

Electability: the Bottom Line

My bottom line: Keep on watching those polls matching Trump against various Democratic possibilities. If my “three key points” are borne out, it will show up in the polling.

And be guided by evidence and reason, not by gut instincts about how electable Elizabeth Warren will seem to a bunch of people who think very differently from you.