We learned days ago that New York City's unemployment rate leaped last month to 10.3%, the highest level since 1993. Mayor Bloomberg, who is running as a Republican for a third term as Mayor, has had a year to begin a turn-around of the NYC economy, but he has instead dug a deeper hole.
False Claims of Success
Mayor Bloomberg called a press conference in May to announce how successful his leadership had been in revitalizing the NYC economy that Bloomberg's leadership had plunged into a deep recession. But, a reporter asked if the fact that the economy was in excellent shape suggested that Mayor Bloomberg's re-writing of the City Charter in order to extend his own tenure as Mayor was now unnecessary. Mayor Bloomberg responded by ending the press conference and calling the reporter "a disgrace." Perhaps the Mayor should be a harsher critic of himself.
The economy is not improving; it is getting worse because of poor leadership. Bloomberg rejected federal help in the form of food stamps, because he wants to continue to push work requirements on those receiving aid. The federal government recognized that New York City's job opportunities had diminished and offered additional food stamp dollars to those unable to find work. Bloomberg chose to send the aid back to Washington, DC and express his solidarity with those who do not wish to see low income New Yorkers without jobs benefit from federal support. Bloomberg raised taxes on low income New Yorkers through the regressive sales tax increases that he preferred over income tax increases that would have been progressive. Now, we are all suffering because of his failures.
In one year, New York City's unemployment rose from 5.9% to 10.3%, a stunning rise in a statistic that is often a good barometer of the state of the local economy. New York City's level of unemployment is higher than the national level and higher than the level of unemployment across the state of New York. While these stats stunned many observers, one could expect bad news to result of Mayor Bloomberg's poor policy-making.
Yet, Bloomberg Claims We Need Him
Mayor Bloomberg claims that we need him to dig us out of the crisis that he has intensified. He says that we need to re-write the election rules, ignore his race-based hiring practices at the Fire Department of New York and his race-based policing practices (and record pace of stop-and-frisk activity in communities of color), and ignore the raises he provided for his own senior staff members in the middle of this recession. We need to do all of this in order to have a stronger economy, according to the Mayor. But, the Mayor's policies have brought us a horrible economy.
Bill Thompson is running for Mayor with a progressive agenda, and a progressive agenda is what is needed in NYC at this time.
It seems that the best way to improve the local New York City economy is to remember Bloomberg's blunders and replace him with another leader when we all vote in November.