Bloomberg on Gloom-day or Doomsday?
A gloomy but spry and dignified Michael Bloomberg spoke to a group of about forty today at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, but took no questions afterward. The event was co-sponsored by the American Action Forum, self-described (on its webpage) as a "center-right" think tank, with whom CAP has been dialoguing and debating.
Why did the mayor come all the way here on taxpayers' money? Maybe it was his own, but he had a message for the president and his Congress: "Start making the right [my] decisions or it's down the tubes with the United Empire of America!" (I made up that quote, paraphrasing most of his message into a few words; now I'll get to the point. I do ask questions, bracketed throughout this article, since it was frustrating to have so many of them unanswered.]
Preceded by greetings from CAP president Neera Tanden, Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor in George Bush's cabinet, said that conversation is important; she believes in our entitlement programs and is concerned for future generations. Praises she heaped on the 108th New York City mayor were many: [in his homestate] he cut crime by 35 percent; and substantially improved public health programs, smoking laws, and the rate of high school graduation, as well as restored New York's employment figures to what they were before the recession.
Bloomberg himself continued by noting the twenty years his business, Bloomberg News, has thrived; he governs 8.4 million people, 40 percent of whom are immigrants he is deeply concerned about.
The promise of this country is not Obama and his Congress's "something for nothing" mentality that has swelled the deficit for so many years while taxes have been lowered. The promise of this country is to keep our "eyes on the stars and noses to the grindstone," he said. Our economy is built on ambitious but unfunded programs [Isn't there borrowing from Social Security, which is funded?]
Fourteen million Americans are unemployed and our national debt is now $10.3 trillion, growing by $4 billion each day [he can relate to that]. In ten years, each one of us will be $72,000 in debt. We are burdened with a deficit of $1.3 trillion. The District of Columbia (this is how he referred to Obama and his Congress) is gorging itself on debt; its expenditures far outweigh its revenues (he was speaking too quickly for me to take down all of the statistics he quoted).
Spending money we don't have will destroy our economy.
Our practice of deficit spending and tax cuts yields mixed results, he said, but at this point we're better off economically than Europe. But this policy does not foster job growth, and increased consumer spending is not the answer but rather a catalyst of increased credit card debt. Businesses are unwilling to take risks given this uncertain terrain.
Communication between business and government is not the best, he continued. Business has no confidence in government because its tax policies are uncertain. The dearth of job growth impedes economic growth and there is broader uncertainty about fiscal stability.
We need action now, asserted the mayor.
All of the CEOs with whom he has spoken agree that we need a real deficit reduction plan as was the case during Clinton's eight-year tenure, when there was more market certainty. Politicians must become more concerned with the private sector [as opposed to lobbyists? He didnt say.). The best economic stimulus is long-term deficit reduction. The deficit at this rate will rise to $1.3 trillion in ten years. Current solutions only scratch the surface.
The Supercommittee is in a gridlock. More harm was done in two months, when Congress couldn't agree to increase the debt limit, than in the last two years. Our credit rating tanked to AA+; the situation is worse than "deja vu all over again."