Disastrous Leadership

Do Cuomo and De Blasio secretly despise New York City? Are they trying to kill it? If you look closely, it kinda, sorta looks that way. Well before the current calamitous events, the combined effects of their profligacy had the ships of state and city and headed straight for the rocks.

Let’s begin with taxes: combined city and state sales taxes now total over 8% on most purchases, and income taxes (for prosperous city residents) clock in at over 12%, second highest in the nation.

I know, I know: many will respond: not to worry – New York is full of rich people, it’s one of the richest states! Well, actually no. Measured by median household income, it’s not even in the top ten (https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/101015/10-wealthiest-states-united-states.asp) – and median household income is the wrong measure. That income doesn’t belong to the state or the city, it belongs to the taxpayers, who can leave…

Oh, and for the wealthy, New York also has an estate tax of as much as 16%. It’s almost like they’re telling their older (and richer) taxpayers: leave now if you love your beneficiaries. Message received: New York State and City lead the country in net population declines, with those who can decamping to less fiscally punishing places.

But as is customary with progressive governance, even all those tax revenues don’t come close to paying for what Cuomo and De Blasio spend.

By early 2019, New York City’s liabilities exceeded its assets by about $185 billion – or about $63,100 per taxpayer (https://www.forbes.com/sites/mayrarodriguezvalladares/2019/01/29/americas-largest-cities-are-practically-broke/#54ee6ef42ebb) – by far the highest for any US city. Not to be outdone, New York State has run up the second largest debts of any state in the nation, but not to worry: when measured against state GDP, the state is number one, too, at 23.5%. These fellows really know how to spend money.

Taxes and debt burdens rising, tax base leaving. Great. And that was the status quo before the current catastrophes.  

In spite of the spin you may have read or watched in your favorite progressive media, there are reasons that New York is the epicenter of this nation’s CCP virus deaths that are directly traceable to disastrous leadership. Cuomo sending the sickened elderly to nursing homes – where they inevitably passed the virus to others. De Blasio disastrously playing down the virus’s dangers well into March (https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/blame-bill-de-blasio/). Yes, New York was the most vulnerable US city because of its population density and reliance on public transportation, but these two made a bad situation much, much worse than it had to be.

And what did they do when it became clear that they had underplayed their hands at the beginning of the Covid crisis? Overplay their hands at the end, with lockdown restrictions that are strangling most of the city’s mid-sized and smaller businesses. The very life of the city is on hold: will the public schools even open in the fall? Nobody knows, and Cuomo and De Blasio have been arguing over who gets to make the call. Parents of young children have had enough: those who can move to the ‘burbs, or farther, are fleeing en masse. Many will never return. A whole new exodus of desperately needed taxpayers.        

Finally, Cuomo and De Blasio have utterly mismanaged the protests/riots following the death of George Floyd. Protests are one thing – fully justified by the horror of what happened at the hands of the Minneapolis police – looting and anarchist insurrection, quite others.  It’s evident – to me, at least – that all three activities have been taking place in scale, essentially unimpeded, whereas only the first should have. Gangs of highly-organized looters have been using the cover of legitimate protests to tear apart many of the city’s finest shops, while “Antifa” has been doing its well-organized, pre-planned best to foment an actual insurrection. Cuomo and De Blasio have done little to distinguish among these activities and stop the latter groups – except blame Trump for, … everything bad in the world.

And check this out: New York City’s cops have had to release almost all the rioters they had arrested because of the new “bail reform” law (https://www.nationalreview.com/news/george-floyd-protests-arrested-looters-in-new-york-city-are-immediately-released-due-to-bail-reform-law/). Insanity.

Cuomo, at least, has recently shown the good sense of knowing that he has to lay blame closer to home, so he has again turned on De Blasio: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/the-nypd-and-the-mayor-did-not-do-their-job-cuomo-slams-nyc-response-to-riots/.

The next step – already well underway – is for these men to beg for a federal bailout or, failing that, the legal right to declare bankruptcy. But why should the more prudent taxpayers of the other 49 states (or bondholders) bail out New York City, which even before the virus hit had “set aside only $4.7 billion to fund the $100.6 billion of promised retiree health care benefit.” (from the 2019 Forbes article linked above).They shouldn’t, and they won’t unless the Democrats make a clean sweep of the election this fall.*

The damage that has been and is being done by these two men, and others who share their more-progressive-than-thou political outlook, to the state that has been my home for forty years, and to the city where I worked for almost as long, is incalculable. A 1970’s-like reckoning for the city’s finances is all-but-sure to follow the current crises. And this time the state’s too broke to help – indeed, its troubles are as great as the city’s, though slower-moving.

If Antifa had been smarter about how to destroy New York, maybe they should’ve just kept it legal and volunteered in these guys’ campaigns.

M.H. Johnston

*Speaking of which, I’ve decided to contribute to two campaigns in the hope of keeping the Senate Republican (which the betting markets have as about a 50/50 possibility); should Trump lose – it’s a very unpredictable year – and the Senate flip, … yikes. I will contribute to Martha McSally and Susan Collins, both of whom find themselves in exceedingly tight races. Just sayin’.   

3 comments to Disastrous Leadership

  • Dennis Paine  says:

    Excellent post, Mark. Thank you!

    BTW, I love the A-10 Warthog and I love Martha McSally. Have been a regulat contributor to her campaign.

  • Anonymous  says:

    …if a federal bailout is needed, then why not support Democratic sweep? If you get your way for Republican Senate how does that help NYC? Billions for NYC from the Feds to help the city, as part of the trillions going out?

    • M Johnston  says:

      A federal bailout of NYC would set a terrible precedent – that state and city officeholders can spend with abandon, knowing that they’ll be bailed out. In addition, it would be deeply unfair to more prudently managed cities and states. The fundamental problem is that Cuomo and De Blasio have given away the store to their core constituencies – unionized government workers and those who are dependent on government largess.

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