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The Voters Deserve More Choices

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Posted: Friday, November 29, 2019 2:30 pm

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is jumping into the race for the Democrat presidential nomination. He is a welcome addition because none of the other Democrat aspirants to the most powerful office on earth really should be trusted with this economy. They have little to offer the American people except greatly expanded government, much higher taxes, a spiraling national debt and a likely end to the economic growth achieved during the first three years of President Donald Trump’s term. Their main goal, moreover, seems to be the impeachment of the president, apparently because they lack, for good reason, sufficient confidence in their ability to defeat him at the polls in eleven months.

Mr. Bloomberg apparently agrees, as this was surely one of his reasons for entering the race. As the former three-term mayor of America’s largest city and the financial capital of the world, Mayor Mike has better credentials than Mayor Pete Buttigieg. The Big Apple has a population of over eight and one-half million, more that the population of 40 of our 50 states and is home to 1 out of every 38 people in the country. It has more people than some countries and a police force larger than some armies. Mayor Pete, on the other hand, presides over a mid-sized city of just over 100 thousand, known mainly as the home of the University of Notre Dame and he isn’t wildly popular among minorities there. He has also witnessed a spiraling crime rate during his watch.

Mayor Bloomberg has been described as a sane liberal but he’s actually more of a fiscal conservative, if something of a social liberal, and has identified at times as an Independent and a Republican. As mayor, he turned his city’s budget deficit into a surplus, no mean accomplishment these days. He was hard on crime, supported the police and continued to support the “stop and frisk“ policy of his predecessor, Rudy Giuliani, which tamed the city’s street violence. Although the policy drastically reduced crime in minority neighborhoods, it was never popular among blacks and Hispanics and liberals who opposed profiling. Unfortunately Bloomberg has already pandered to them by apologizing, in true Joe Biden fashion, for his previous support of the policy. Ah, well; nobody’s perfect. At 77, Bloomberg is about as old as Biden but seems and acts much younger.

As the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib recently noted, mayors spend a lot more time actually governing than most national office-holders and successful mayors would bring a lot of hands-on experience to the job of president. Unlike the federal government, cities actually have to live within their means and get budgets approved on time. Mayors are much closer to the problems they face and more visible and accessible to their constituents, even more so than governors.

Bloomberg is very rich; reportedly the world’s 14th richest, and this, of course, makes him part of the problem in the minds of the progressives. “Just what we need,” said one, sarcastically; “another billionaire!” But affluent Democrats seem to be getting nervous about plans by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to pay for their giveaways by soaking the rich who already pay most of the taxes. They should be attracted to a Bloomberg campaign.

Surveying the other Democrat contenders, I just can’t imagine trusting the country to any of them. I get why young people are attracted to Sanders and Warren. They promise them everything except some realistic means to pay for these things without destroying the economy. But young voters seem principally concerned with the ecological future of the planet, not so much with the country’s economic survival. Taxing the rich to pay for free stuff is, unfortunately, a good enough answer for the financially naive. But the wealth tax that Ms. Warren proposes would not just affect the wealthiest Americans. It would raise havoc with the securities markets and other investments which is where the wealthy keep their wealth. Moreover, these types of assets are also owned by millions of Americans in their retirement plans and by educational, medical and charitable institutions. And new taxes tend historically to only grow and apply to more taxpayers, notwithstanding the promises of candidates.

Bloomberg will join Mayor Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and former Vice-president Joe Biden as the voices of reason among the remaining viable candidates. But Ms. Klobuchar can’t seem to gain enough traction, Mr. Biden is a weak candidate and Mr. Buttigieg’s experience cannot compare with Mr. Bloomberg’s as mayor of what former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel characterized as one of the “nation cities”. If Democrats fail to nominate him, he can always run as an Independent. A choice next November between, say, Warren, Trump or Bloomberg would offer voters something closer to the range of choices they deserve.

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