News & Politics

Barrett: All Bloomie’s Rich Friends

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Mayor Mogul stepped on his own tongue yesterday while explaining away the Grand Poobah confab he attended with buddies Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, the Rockefellers and Oprah, revealed in the Times today.

“All my friends are philanthropic, or they probably wouldn’t be my friends,” he said, The Super Rich Come to NYC), by way of explaining his attendance at what the Times headline called “A Quiet Meeting of America’s Richest.” The agenda for the Rockefeller Institute session was to talk about charitable giving, and few in America are better at that than the mayor, who is a record-setting New York donor to nonprofits and other causes.
   
If “all” of Bloomberg’s friends are big-time donors, then all of them must be rich, right? It’s possible, of course, that the mayor meant to say all of his rich friends are philanthropic. But to Mike, that’s one and the same thing…

In 2004, the mayor was asked at a private dinner who his best friends
were and, according to a source who was present, he ticked off five
names, everyone of whom was a billionaire (some wound up at the poobah
party).

   

“We love the rich,” Bloomberg announced a couple of months ago,
countering what he called “all the yelling and screaming about the
rich.” He was arguing against taxing the rich more, a reversal of the
income tax hikes he adopted himself in the aftermath of 9/11. “The rich
are the ones that go to the expensive restaurants,” he said, “where the
staff is unionized,” adopting his own blue-plate special of big-tip,
trickle-down economics.

   

Of course, more recently he’d defended Richard Fuld, the face of Lehman
Brothers, the bonus-babies and top executive of AIG, and other class
comrades.

On the other hand, Bill Thompson, Bloomberg’s likely Democratic
opponent, used his shareholder power, as the manager of the city’s
pension investments, to push back at Costco yesterday, which has been
blessed with $55 million in Bloomberg subsidies to open an East Harlem
store but is refusing to allow shoppers to pay with food stamps. Thompson, all of whose friends are not philanthropic, pointed out in the Times, that “it isn’t just poor people who are using food stamps,” it’s the working poor squeezed in the meltdown.