Mayor Bloomberg appeared on Meet The Press this morning. He said he had projected city tax revenues to fall “by 12 percent in this fiscal year, and I think that’s not being too conservative,” due to the Wall Street crisis. He also suggested that taxes, in New York and in the U.S., would have to remain stable, at least, if the city and the nation are to “have a future.”
“I think everybody understands we like to have lower taxes,” he said, “But if we want services, we’re going to have to pay for them.”
“Taxpayers are going to have to decide, do they want to have a future or not?” said the Mayor. “If they don’t want to have a future, then they’re not going to have to pay as much now, but if they want to leave a better world for their kids, they’re going to have to pay the bills up front.”
Bloomberg said “we’re not going to walk away from our city” in terms of post-crash spending and development — “That’s the prescription for disaster” — though “we may have to stretch out some construction projects, we may have to ask people to do more with less.”
Bloomberg praised Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s immediate interventions in the market — “Nobody knows exactly what they should do, but anything is better than nothing.” He said it was good that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out — to do otherwise “would have destroyed homes for people throughout this country” — and approved also the purchase of AIG, whose fall would have “destabilized the whole system.”
Nonetheless, when interviewer Tom Brokaw asked what “a viewer out there in Lubbock, Texas, for example” would think of these bailouts, Bloomberg said he was personally “pleased” when “the top management got fired, and the stockholders basically had all of their value wiped out,” presumably because that would show Americans that there was some accountability.
For the longer term Bloomberg prescribed “more regulation,” specifically “more disclosure visibility. The problem is that nobody knows what any institution owns and what the terms of the securities they own are and what they’re worth.”
When Brokaw, clearly impressed, asked if Bloomberg would take a job at the federal level to advise on economic matters, the Mayor said “I think that there are other people who have plenty of qualifications.” In general Bloomberg said he was “planning for the worst and hoping for the best.”