Whats the real tale of two cities? Five days before voting time, last nights debate revealed the divide. Its not the rich versus the poor. Its the political class against the citys middle class.
The final debate didnt change many minds. Democrat Bill de Blasio, the frontrunner by a 65-to-26 percent margin, didnt make mistakes. Republican Joe Lhota didnt land game-changers.
Its all the same as it was last week.
If you want someone whos run a big organization before, youll vote for Lhota. He was Rudy Giulianis right-hand man in the 90s and ran the MTA during Superstorm Sandy.
Lhotas experience showedyesterday. He talked about “reinvigorating the Office of Emergency Management” so that the city could beat private charities to the scene of a disaster like Superstorm Sandy.
“Re-shifting [the offices] focus back in 2002 I think was a huge mistake,” he mused, almost to himself, leaving even the policy wonks in the audience in the dark.
He also talked about merging the citys five major pension systems, a good idea thats hardly a vote-getter.
Still, its probably good to have a mayor who knows what these things mean. If you want someone who can balance the budget, youll vote for Lhota.
Both candidates reiterated their vow not to negotiate nearly half a decades worth of expired labor contracts in public. But Lhota seized on the fact that de Blasios first solution to the budget is to raise taxes. Lhota noted that de Blasio “has shown no propensity to cut spending.”
But voting for Lhota and budget sanity is also based on the publics desire for labor peace. Labor unions dont expect much from Lhota. But theyre supporting de Blasio — and so they expect to be paid.
Public workers whove been told a story by their leaders — that Bloomberg, not lack of money, is the problem — may be disappointed.
De Blasio said last night that “we would look at retroactive raises only if we can find cost savings.” But cost savings are for future raises. Unless he can build a time machine, disappointed public workers will be angry public workers.
If youre worried about crime, youll vote for Lhota. Sure, de Blasio has inched toward the middle since his primary victory night, and he stayed there yesterday. He said “there should be stop and frisk” to root out illegal guns “as constitutionally appropriate in specific instances.”
Here, again, its de Blasio whod end up either disappointing activists come January, when his actions dont match his primary-season rhetoric. (Or, he can watch gun seizures go down and gun violence rise.)
Education? If you want to see more charter schools to give poorer mothers a choice, youll vote for Lhota. “I want to double the number of charter schools” from 200, he said. De Blasio dismisses charter schools, noting that “95 percent of our kids go to traditional public schools.” (He ignored the fact that for tens of thousands of mothers, thats because they couldnt get their kid into a charter school.)
None of this is news.
The only interesting question of the night was when a debate moderator asked each candidate to define the middle class.
De Blasio was stuck. After hemming and hawing, he settled on “begin[ning] at 50 or 60 thousand” a year.
Lhota raised him. He determined that “about $75,000 is the very very bottom of the middle class.”
Both men are wrong. Median household income in New York between 2007 and 2011 was $51,270. Eighty percent of tax filers made below $68,146 in 2009.
People making $50,000 to $75,000 are in the middle class, yes. But they are in the middle of the middle class.
Its easy to see why both candidates are so out of touch.
Lhota made big money working for Cablevision and Madison Square Garden after his tenure in the Giuliani administration. De Blasio, if he wins next Tuesday, would likely do similarly after hes out of office. (In the meantime, hes borrowed more than a million from his two Brooklyn houses.)
In New York, government “service” is the way to get rich, or richer.
That explains why neither candidate was enthusiastic about shrinking the government last night, whether it was de Blasio defending higher pre-K spending or Lhota defending corporate tax breaks.
A big, generous government and its private-sector hangers-on are good to New York politicians.
That makes it hard for politicians to understand what its like — or even what it means — to be middle class. Thats not going to change once the billionaire is out of office.
Original Source: http://washingtonexaminer.com/vehicle-mileage-taxes-could-help-states-take-over-road-building-from-washington/article/2538132