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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/7/20

Of Course Bloomberg's an Oligarch -- and He's Coming For Your Social Security

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Bloomberg has close ties with organizations that have long campaigned for deficit reduction and against Social Security and Medicare. His only recorded complaint against past bipartisan budget-cutting proposals, in fact, was that they didn't go far enough -- a statement that won him praise from the anti-entitlement "Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget." The Fiscal Times quoted Bloomberg as saying Democrats "have to face the reality that we need more spending cuts, including reasonable entitlement reform."

(Bloomberg's "class warfare" screed was posted on his website, but has since been removed.)

The text of his "this deal doesn't cut spending enough" speech has also been removed from the CRFB website (apparently there's a lot of that going around.)

There are other reasons to worry about Candidate Bloomberg.

Given his virtually unlimited resources, Bloomberg could theoretically win both the nomination and the presidency. By my calculation, Bloomberg could pay the same "unit price" he paid to make himself mayor of New York -- $88 per voter -- and make himself president for $12 billion. He'd even have $50 billion set aside for a rainy day.

The nomination would presumably cost less than the presidency, so he has a better shot at that. But it would be a bad look for the Democrats to become the first party in modern history whose candidate openly bought the nomination. But then, Bloomberg's used to getting the rules changed just for him. When he wanted to run for a third term as mayor, Bloomberg used all the tools at his disposal (one of which led to an ethics complaint) to change the city's rules. Once he got what he wanted, Bloomberg then pushed to change the rules back. It seems that some privileges should be labeled, "for oligarchs only."

Democrats should also be troubled by Bloomberg's authoritarian streak. As mayor, Bloomberg had a history of suppressing peaceful demonstrations, sometimes with brute force. His police spied on Muslim gatherings and engaged in racially-biased "stop and frisk" tactics that expanded sevenfold under his leadership. He took advantage of privatized public spaces, including Zuccotti Park, to suspend basic liberties within them, while renting out his police force to the banks the movement was protesting. His unconstitutional suppression of Occupy even included the needless destruction of the movement's library.

As Conor Friedensdorf writes in The Atlantic, comparing Bloomberg to Trump:

"Had Trump spent years sending armed agents of the state to frisk people of color, 90 percent of them innocent, would you forgive him? How about if Trump sent undercover cops to spy on Muslims with no basis for the targeting other than the mere fact of their religious identity? What if he thwarted the ability of anti-war protesters to march in New York City?"

But it's okay to take his money, right?

If he doesn't win the nomination, Bloomberg will once again play the role of billionaire donor. After lamely arguing that Bernie Sanders is a "rich guy" -- as if a million or two means anything to billionaires -- Prof. Johnson objected to calling Bloomberg an "oligarch" because it might make him decide to close his checkbook. Johnson said:

"It's the kind of thing that blows up in your face if you become the nominee and you have to work with Bloomberg three or four months from now. That's the issue that Sanders's people never seem to want to remember."

Johnson didn't seem to realize that his argument -- "Politicians shouldn't make the billionaire mad or he won't give them his money" -- is a textbook example of oligarchy in action.

Maybe Sanders' people do remember. Maybe they just don't care.

Bloomberg says he'll unconditionally offer financial support to any Democratic nominee, including Sanders and Warren. That sounds good. But "unconditional" isn't Bloomberg's usual M.O. As the New York Times reported in 2018, when he donated heavily to Democrats running for Congress (and one or two Republicans):

"Bloomberg] has indicated to aides that he only wants to support candidates who share his relatively moderate political orientation, avoiding nominees hailing from the populist left."

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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