A chicken in every pot
The city’s professor-in-chief delivered his final budget speech at City Hall today and made it clear that he’s rather happy with the job he’s done balancing the city’s books as he passes the baton.
“The news today is I think, reasonably good–as good as it’s been in a long time,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters of Read More
A group of sixth graders from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa has turned to the internet to save their school trip to the White House. The children were scheduled to tour the White House on March 16, but their visit was cancelled yesterday along with all other tours of the presidential residence due to “staffing reductions” caused by the so-called “sequester” budget cuts that took effect last Friday after lawmakers failed to make a deficit reduction deal. In an effort to muster support and salvage their trip, the school posted a brief video on Facebook featuring a plea from the children.
“The White House is our house, please let us visit!” the sixth graders say in the clip.
Let's Make a Deal
Three members of New York City’s congressional delegation have signed on to a letter vowing not to back any White House bargain to avoid the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts known as the sequester that includes cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Both parties have been at an impasse over the cuts with Democrats favoring debt reduction through tax increases and Republicans wanting spending cuts. President Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed a desire to make a deal ahead of the March 1 deadline that includes both tax increases and proposals to reduce the costs of social programs. Now, Congressmen Jerry Nadler, Jose Serrano and Nydia Velazquez have all signed the pledge promising not to back any deal including the compromises being called for by the White House.
“Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are the great bedrocks of our middle class society and, together, constitute an essential safety net for millions of Americans,” Mr. Nadler said. “I will fight like hell against any deficit plan that cuts these programs or fails to address our immediate jobs problem. It is unconscionable for Republicans to ask those who can least afford it – seniors, kids, our most vulnerable families – to sacrifice even more and shoulder a disproportionate burden. I do not support anydeal that cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits.”
New York City Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was quite pleased with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night, but she’s not optimistic about Congress heeding the president’s call to to avoid the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester” that are scheduled to go into effect March 1.
“I love his speech he came out swinging,” Ms. Maloney told Politicker about the president’s speech last night.
Bloom and Doom
Though he still has over 11 months left in office, term-limited Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented the final budget of his tenure today. In the process, Mr. Bloomberg drew some parting shots from the leading Democratic mayoral candidates hoping to succeed him.
Earlier today, Mayor Michael Bloomberg presented his last preliminary budget briefing and, well, the term-limited mayor reminisced a little about his last year in elected office.
“You know, there’s almost nothing that I have done, including–” Mr. Bloomberg began after a reporter asked if he was going to miss preliminary budget announcements, pivoting to change his thought. “Yesterday, somebody said to me, ‘Aren’t you glad that’s the last time you’re going to have to testify in Albany?’ No, I thought that was a unique opportunity to represent the city.”
Mr. Bloomberg then looked more broadly at his record, as well as the country, and reflected on the honor of public service.
Congressman Charlie Rangel sat down with a small group of reporters yesterday for a wide-ranging discussion at his office. One of the main topics was the brewing battle over the debt ceiling and Politicker asked the congressman for his take on the idea President Barack Obama can avoid a fight with congressional Republicans who won’t raise the debt cap by having the Treasury Department mint a $1 trillion coin.
“I’m working on the design, one for the president and one for me,” Mr. Rangel said with a smile.
We wondered whether that meant he wanted to see his portrait depicted on the coin.
“No, I want one of the coins,” the congressman responded as the assembled reporters laughed. “The president gets one, he puts it in the treasury. I get one, I keep it. Makes sense to me.”
Earlier in the conversation, Mr. Rangel criticized Republicans who have said they will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts because he said they are solely focused on slashing “so-called entitlements” that are social programs for “vulnerable” portions of the population.
Mayoral candidate and former comptroller Bill Thompson had harsh words for Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after a report from the Independent Budget Office highlighted issues with the city budget. The report noted “while projected budget gaps may currently appear modest—certainly when compared with gaps faced in some recent years—the next Mayor and City Council are likely to face significant budget challenges,” a situation Mr. Thompson described as Mr. Bloomberg and Ms. Quinn rather literally passing the buck.
“Today’s Independent Budget Office report once again confirms that Mayor Bloomberg and his partner in the budget, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, continue to kick the fiscal can down the road and push tough economic decisions into the next mayor’s term,” said Mr. Thompson in his statement.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, known for single-handedly protecting constituents from burning flames, blizzard obstructions and crime, is currently attempting to live on a limited budget to better understand how food stamp recipients live their day-to-day lives. It may be the so-called “super mayor’s” most difficult feat yet. Why? “Caffeine withdrawal.”
“You make tough choices,” Mr. Booker explained after his first day under the self-imposed budgetary restrictions. “The tough choice I have to live with this week is that I used my money to buy a lot of different things, but not caffeine. So I’m going to go this week without coffee, without Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, which is going to be the first week of my life I can ever actually remember doing that.”
In order to keep the city’s fiscal house in order in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled new cuts and streams of revenue over the weekend. Among the changes, school-lunch fees will increase from $1.50 to $2.50, while city libraries will see their funding axed to the tune of $8.3 million. Asked about it during a press conference today in the hard-hit Howard Beach neighborhood in Queens, Mr. Bloomberg defended the budgetary measures.
“It’s easy to say, ‘I don’t like A, B and C,’” he argued. “Well, what things would they like us to raise taxes [on]? The issue here is that we’re trying to find some balance so that everybody shares a little bit in the pain, everybody contributes; we’re all in this together. And do it such that people can afford [it]. It’s not asking a lot to go, in this day in age, from one price to another if it’s a relatively small price. But if a large number of people do it, it contributes significant revenues.”