Your current web browser is outdated. For best viewing experience, please consider upgrading to the latest version.

Donation - Other Level

Please use the quantity box to donate any amount you wish. Sign Up to Donate


Send a question or comment using the form below. This message may be routed through support staff.

Email Article

Password Reset Request


Add a topic or expert to your feed.


Follow Experts & Topics

Stay on top of our work by selecting topics and experts of interest.

On The Ground
Main Error Mesage Here
More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed
Main Error Mesage Here
More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed

Manhattan Institute

Close Nav

Mayor Bloomberg & The Limits of Pragmatism


Mayor Bloomberg & The Limits of Pragmatism

November 1, 2005

Four years ago, Michael R. Bloomberg ran for the mayoralty of New York based on his experience as a successful entrepreneur and as the manager of his own company. Since he assumed office, the mayor has effectively managed the fiscal status-quo: He has navigated New York through successive multi-billion-dollar budget deficits, including a significant post-9/11 deficit, without cutting back extensively on basic services. But as a strategy for the city’s continued long-term success, pragmatic management, even when executed by an expert pragmatic manager, has its limits. Even with his managerial skills, abetted by record tax hikes, the mayor has failed to remedy the city’s persistent budget deficits – and no projection shows the persistent gaps closing in the future.

The city can no longer afford a purely managerial approach to its finances. Out-of-control spending has become the city’s most pressing problem in need of a radical fix since former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani controlled crime. Competent management of the city’s day-to-day finances only masks the problem, and postpones an inevitably necessary resolution.

The mayor argues that the persistent deficit is caused by growth in four areas: Pension & benefits for city workers, Medicaid for low-income New Yorkers, and debt service on capital spending. He has labeled these costs “uncontrollable” because they are directed or influenced by parties outside of direct city control, including the governor and the State Legislature (pensions and Medicaid), city labor unions (benefits for city workers), and decisions made by past mayors (debt levels).

But these costs are uncontrollable only because the city has chosen not to control them. To assert control over these costs would require re-thinking the size, scope and functions of New York’s government.

If New York does not start to think differently during the next mayoral term, its fiscal woes threaten to erode much of the progress achieved in other aspects of New York’s governance over the past 12 years.