Some guys have all the luck. Bill de Blasio has run a lazy mayoral race based on stale ideas — but he floated to front-runner status because his primary opponents were weaker. General-election challenger Joe Lhota is New Yorks last chance for a real race — or to at least make de Blasio say something interesting and new. But Lhota didnt rise to the occasion in Tuesday nights debate.
De Blasio, the citys public advocate, was a weak performer. He coasted on his one main idea: hiking taxes on the wealthy to pay for pre-K, and thus magically make our "tale of two cities" into one.
De Blasio repeatedly called this trope "big and bold." Lhota should have said: Spending yet more money on education is the oldest vote-getter in the book. Thats how New York ended up with a $24.6 billion education budget, or $22,364 per student.
Sure, de Blasio said a few other things.
He wants to force private developers to build 200,000 "affordable" apartments. Small businesses are the "backbone" of the city. Hes for charter schools and against them: Charter schools that have money should pay rent to the city, but those that dont, shouldnt.
But mainly, de Blasio stuck to bromides. As in: "We have enough luxury condos in New York City."
When remotely challenged, he fell back on standbys. He attacked Mayor Bloomberg, insisting that "we need a clean break from the Bloomberg years." He absurdly said that Bloomberg is an example of "Republican ideology," although the mayor has hiked education spending and affordable housing subsidies, just as de Blasio wants to do.
And, when in extreme doubt, de Blasio fell back on Washington, boasting that hes "won the endorsement of President Obama and President Clinton." Duh: Hes a Democrat.
Mostly, though, he painted Lhota as a big, bad Republican — a tool of "Republican trickle-down economics or Tea Party extremism."
This profoundly lazy attack has no bearing on what happens in New York City. No one should coast to City Hall because Washingtons supposed conservatives are having a crackup.
Lhota made no gaffes and made some solid points. He pointed out that felonies have fallen by 73 percent over 20 years — something de Blasio refused to acknowledge.
But he wasted too much time defending himself — twice telling de Blasio not to "lump me in with the national Republicans."
And on critical topics, Lhota punted.
On policing, the moderator lobbed him a softball: "Is New York City going to be less safe with him?"
Lhota shouldve said yes. Instead, he paused before settling on: "It might be less safe with him."
He then went on to criticize Bloomberg as well as Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for not communicating with minority communities about the need for stop, question and frisk.
"We need to change our policing because it needs to be dynamic," Lhota said, without explaining why its not dynamic and what that would mean.
He could have said, say, that he wants to build on what Bloomberg and Kelly have done, by using technology so that moms can click on online maps with times and dates (but with names erased) to find out why exactly the police had to stop their child.
Instead, Lhota seemed to want things both ways — criticizing Bloomberg but wanting to continue the mayors policies.
De Blasio seized on this opportunity, noting that it was silly for Lhota to criticize Kelly and then say he wants to keep him on as commissioner.
Elsewhere, Lhota failed to differentiate himself.
The budget? He didnt criticize de Blasio for being irresponsible in raising workers expectations of retroactive raises when theres no money for such raises. (Theyd total $7.8 billion; the city faces a multibillion-dollar deficit next year.)
Instead, Lhota declared that "the workers of the city of New York need a raise."
Corporate giveaways? Rather than disavow special tax breaks, Lhota said that its OK and even advisable to give companies like FreshDirect special tax breaks when they threaten to move to New Jersey. He shouldve said that hed kill these crony-capitalism specials in favor of fairer taxes for all businesss.
Affordable housing? Lhota should have pointed out that de Blasios plan to force developers to set aside units for poorer people raises the cost of housing for everyone else — including middle-class people struggling to rent or buy units in the very same building.
Instead, he, too, wants to make developers build "affordable" housing.
Yes, Lhota landed a couple of blows. He said that charter schools are public schools and thus shouldnt pay rent to the city, as de Blasio (mostly) wants.
Lhota didnt get a chance to explain his own fiscal ideas, but thats probably just as well — New Yorkers are hardly likely to embrace a cut in the hotel tax, and theyre not going to understand his abstract business-tax cuts.
Lhota still has time to do better. He needs to come up with some fresh — and simple — ideas, to show how stale de Blasios one idea is. In addition to a better police Web site, maybe a sales-tax cut — after all, everyone, including the poor, pays the sales tax.
If de Blasio doesnt have to earn the mayoralty, its not only Lhota wholl lose. The city will, too.
Original Source: http://nypost.com/2013/10/16/de-blasio-getting-away-with-lameness/