Flack from the Right

The Manhattan Institute released a pair of studies today, which illustrate a central weirdness about this election: the most coherent attacks on Mike come from the right, but conservatives don’t really have a candidate.

One piece, by Nicole Gelinas, takes on “The Limits of Pragmatism” and basically argues that New York needs a revolution, not just competent management. Crunching the numbers, she says that Mike has actually kept spending growth below inflation for most what he can control (education is the exception) but argues that without major changes — like closing public hospitals and convincing the state to cut health benefits for the poor — all he’s doing is tinkering at the margins.

E.J. McMahon, meanwhile, has another round of tallying the size of New York City’s tax burden, which he rates the highest of any city in the nation. One thing that I always quibble with in pieces like this is the attempt to tie job-losses, say in the early 1990s, entirely to tax increases, rather than to broader economic forces. But McMahon is extremely convincing on one thing: that the city’s tax structure is utterly “Byzantine,” particularly when it comes to property taxation.

Both writers seem to think that more tax hikes are basically inevitable.

McMahon also opens reminding readers of a quote that is, depending on whom you ask, Mike’s most revealing, perceptive, or wrong-headed: his assertion to a group of corporate executives that New York City is a “luxury product.”