Mayor Bloomberg wore a striped tie this morning–equal parts red and blue–and with ship cranes glistening over the Brooklyn Navy Yard behind him, offered a stinging critique of Republican and Democratic leaders, urging both parties to come together behind a package of pro-business policies.
“We need our federal and state governments to chart a middle way between a government that would wash its hands of the problem and one that seeks to supplant the private sector, between a government that would stand on the sidelines and one that would take over the game,” he said at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York.
It was the mayor’s most stump-like speech in recent memory, and if the White House is inclined to agonize over Bloomberg’s presidential posturing, this morning’s breakfast is likely to provoke considerable heartburn in the West Wing.
While the president openly struggles to contain the nation’s unemployment’s numbers, the mayor began his remarks by touting his own success in creating jobs, saying the city’s economy has “grown twice as fast as the country’s” over the past 12 months.
When Bloomberg mentioned President Obama by name, it was for gentle praise–for the president’s trip to India, and for a trade deal with Korea–but there was plenty of implied criticism for the failures of the last few years.
“As families struggle to get by, they have seen little but partisan gridlock, political pandering and legislative influence-peddling, finger-pointing, blame games, and endless attacks,” the mayor said. “Washington and Albany are not working, and as a result, too many Americans are out of work, out of savings and out of patience.”
If the White House is looking for ways to mollify the mayor–which some officials have signaled is a priority for the administration–Bloomberg offered a few places where they might start.
“The Obama administration will have to be very careful to make sure that the financial services bill passed this year doesn’t hinder innovation,” said the mayor, after offering that the stimulus and health care bills did “very little” to spur innovation. He cautioned that the regulations being written now should try to solve the uncertainy surrounding derivates and other financial instruments.
The mayor said the proposed compromise over the Bush tax cuts was “very encouraging,” but called for even lower taxes on businesses.
And he suggested the government to lower the barriers for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start businesses in the U.S. “Allowing companies to far more easily hire and keep the best and the brightest and the hardest-working would be perhaps the most powerful economic stimulus package Congress could create,” he said. “It would not cost a nickel, and most importantly, it would help businesses expand and hire more unemployed Americans.”
The mayor’s remarks can only further rumors of a 2012 bid, but for now Bloomberg remains content to position himself as simply a voice of common sense rising above the partisan pitch.
“It’s time to take a step back and ask ourselves, when did success become a bad word in America? When did cooperation in government become treason?” the mayor said. “The new ‘politics as usual’ is making a mockery of our democracy and a mess of our country.”
The crowd–comprised mostly of business leaders–gave him a standing ovation.