Mayor Michael Bloomberg heavily addressed the country’s stagnating job situation during his weekly radio show with John Gambling this morning, and he argued again and again that both the Democratic and Republican parties are big on talk and weak on reality when it comes to dealing with the economy.
“I’m going to give a speech at the Economic Club in Washington on Wednesday next week, talking about what we’ve done here to create jobs and what both the presidential candidates should do,” he said. “They both say, ‘I’m going to create jobs.’ But then they don’t give any specifics, ‘We’re going to have infrastructure, let’s build infrastructure.’ But the average person is not going to be a construction worker; it’s just not going to happen.”
Mr. Bloomberg argued that certain policies, like those that increase educational performance, could help improve the structural system and pointed to his city as an example.
“You can do some things, there are more people working in New York City today than ever before in history,” he said. “We’ve got back something like 200% of the jobs we lost in the recession. The rest of the country has got back 40% or something like that. People say, ‘Well, your unemployment rate is 10%.’ Yes, but that’s because people come here, because they think that they can get a job here. Or people who weren’t looking for a job say, ‘Yeah, the economy’s getting better so I’ll go back.’”
He then added, before news of this month’s jobs report had arrived, “Unemployment is not a very good measure of the jobs situation. It’s the number of jobs, the number of people working that really is what makes the difference.”
Subsequent to that comment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indeed reported that unemployment went down despite a fairly low total number of jobs being added, causing Mr. Bloomberg to react with understandable disappointment.
“Not good, not good,” he said. “The unemployment rate going down means people are dropping out of the work force. They certainly aren’t getting jobs. … The numbers just wouldn’t add up. There’s always new people coming into the workforce and you can do that calculation.”
The nonpartisan mayor, as he is often wont to do, next accused partisans on both sides of overly simplifying the discussion.
“What the Republicans blame the Democrats, or the Democrats say, ‘Well we inherited a bad situation,’” he said. “The federal government tries, it’s fascinating. The Democrats believe in more public sector jobs. The Republicans scream about that. The government shouldn’t be paying people to work. We should have a more efficient government, deliver the services necessary but do it with fewer people if you can possibly do it because that would lower the taxes.”
“But the Republicans do exactly the same thing, but they just couch it differently,” he pivoted. “The defense budget is a jobs program. You can’t possibly argue that we need a defense budget that’s bigger than the next ten countries around the world combined. The Air Force keeps saying we don’t want any more C-17′s, and we keep building them! … The Democrats, their strategy is hire people to work for the government, pay them. The Republicans are, ‘Let’s take the tax dollars, let’s give it to private industry and let them hire the people,’ and it’s sort of make-work jobs. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to hire some stuff for defense. Defense workers work very hard, as do public sector workers. But they’re both doing the same thing. The way Congress and the federal government works, is they take money and money’s the answer to everything.”
The mayor argued that instead of Mr. Obama’s stated plan of simply taxing upper income earners–which Mr. Bloomberg said wouldn’t raise a tangible amount of money–the President should instead raise taxes on everyone, and use that negotiating position to get spending cuts out of the Republicans.
However, Mr. Bloomberg did sympathize with why candidates for office need to avoid painful specifics.
“This is all politics. In all fairness to the politicians, it’s very hard to take everything and reduce it to a soundbite,” he said. “How are you going to cure cancer? It’s got to be in 140 letters or less? One quick sentence, just tell me how you’re going to fix the economy and I won’t write down more than 30 seconds. 30 seconds’ time to pay attention, I’ve got other things to do. I’ve got to go to the refrigerator and get a beer.”