Any erstwhile liberal New Yorkers thinking of supporting Mike Bloomberg’s bid for a third term should read the New York Times carefully. The city hasn’t been spared the ravages of the recession. As of December, unemployment stood at 7.4 percent, and experts predict almost 300,000 more jobs will be gone by the summer of 2010. Homeless rates are at record highs; the city’s overstretched shelters now take in an average of 36,000 people each night. The city’s already beleagured middle-class is in full flight. According to a recent study by the Center for an Urban Future, over 150,000 middle income residents left New York City in 2006, driven away by the highest rent, food, child care and utilities bills in the country. Meanwhile, Manhattan has been thoroughly rezoned–thanks to Rudy Giuliani’s quality of life campaign and plush subsidies for developers–as the almost exclusive playground of the rich.
If Mayor Mike gets reelected, it will stay this way–or get worse. As the NYT reported on February 17, Bloomberg is refusing to accept extra food stamp money from Obama’s stimulus package:
"The provision overturns a 1996 rule limiting able-bodied adults who have no dependents to three months of food stamps in a three-year period. But the Bloomberg administration said on Tuesday that nothing had changed and that it was not obligated to extend benefits to anyone not enrolled in the Work Experience Program, a workfare program that provides temporary jobs, usually in city agencies."
In this climate, Bloomberg’s decision is an act of cruel sadism, withholding food (food!) from thousands of hungry mouths to make an ideological point about work (at fake jobs that don’t exist). It’s also straight from the playbook of the most reactionary Republican governors like Sarah Palin, Mark Sanford and Bobby Jindal, who are threatening to return stimulus money to prove just how much better free markets are than government (South Carolina, check back with me in a year to see how well that plan’s going, okay?).