Friday, August 12, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg on debt crisis: Don't just tax the rich, tax everyone!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't think the rich should be singled out for tax hikes.
Andrew Savulich/News
Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't think the rich should be singled out for tax hikes.

If Mayor Bloomberg were president, he'd tax 'em all - not just the rich.

"If you want to raise taxes, don't pick one class of people and say, 'I think they have too much money' or 'I don't think they have enough money' or whatever," the mayor said Friday on his weekly radio show.

"Raise everbody's taxes 1 or 2 percent or whatever."

Bloomberg was responding to a question from a caller named Thomas who asked how hizzoner would have handled the nation's recent debt debate.

The mayor - a Democrat turned Republican turned Independent - had spent much of his hour-long radio show with John Gambling on WOR trashing both parties and President Obama for operating a "dysfunctional" government and offering a "text book" example for how to destroy a nation's reputation around the world.

The caller wondered what Bloomberg - a former White House aspirant - would have done differently.

"I think the president should literally go out there and say, 'This is what I propose - A, B, C and D.' And I think that should be a combination of revenue enhancements and expense cuts," Bloomberg said.

The fairest and most practical way to do this, he said, is to spread the pain so that everyone pays something, either by accepting cuts to cherished programs like Medicaid or Medicare or by paying more in taxes.

"Everybody says 'not me,'" the mayor said.

Bloomberg was drawing a contrast between himself and both parties - the Republicans who insist they want no tax increase of any kind and Democrats, including President Obama, who wanted to raise money by closing tax loopholes that benefit oil companies and other corporations.

The mayor also used his weekly radio platform to plug some of his recent policy initiatives - including a move to expand sex ed in schools - and to defend controversial proposed toll hikes on Port Authority bridges.

* On the toll hikes, the mayor, who largely avoided taking a stand on the issue this week, suggested Friday hikes of some kind were necessary. He didn't specify an appropriate increase, but the PA proposed last week a $4 toll hike for its crossings.

"You want a service, you gotta pay for it," the mayor said, adding that if drivers don't pay higher tolls, taxpayers would have to pick up the slack with higher taxes.

"I don't know what the right balance between ... the driver and the taxpayer is - you can argue about that," Bloomberg said. "But the total has got to add up to a very minimum the ongoing expenses." He added that the Port Authority needs to upgrade its bridges before they become even more expensive to fix.

"If you don't invest in the future, you're not going to have a future," he said.

* On his sex-ed initiative, Bloomberg said beefing up instruction on avoiding pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is necessary, especially in broken families.

"What do you do when kids don't have the support at home and there's nobody to teach them?" Bloomberg asked.

"That's one of the things that we've tried to address ... We have to address these young kids who either get pregnant or father kids and then walk away from their responsibilities."

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