Ed Koch was on CNBC today, where he was asked if he heard in the current Wall Street crisis “an echo of that era” when New York went broke and we all starting strutting around Times Square to Isaac Hayes music. Koch said no — “Then it was New York City… today it’s the world” — and then, as is his wont, began to offer solutions to the world’s problems.
Since the issue was one of credit, he said, the Fed should “issue an order to the banks that they have to lend as much as they lent in a certain prior period or be penalized” — though, he hastened to add, they should “not lend to punks.” Koch also said district attorneys should “find those who have been criminally liable” for the crisis “and figuratively hang them in the public square.”
Asked by the flustered young host, who had apparently never heard of such government intrusions before, how he thought the city would weather the crisis, Koch said “I don’t have the information from the city budget director, they don’t feed me that information any more,” but he thought we were in good hands with Bloomberg and he supported a third term. “My basic philosophy when I was mayor,” he said, “was ‘Get out of the way,'” which is pretty much how we remember it, too. “Government knows very little about how to make the private sector enrich itself.” But Koch did see a role for government regulation, which he believes was missed in this case.
The host speculated that the bust would leave a lot of “empty units” on the housing market, but Koch said, “We don’t have enough housing,” particularly “affordable housing… people simply cannot afford housing if they’re not super-rich in New York City unless they get subsidies.”
We don’t remember the Koch being that tenant-friendly before. Maybe in his old age he’s decided that there’s no point in trying to out-prick Giuliani.