Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been singing a very different tune since Bill de Blasio was elected his successor earlier this fall.
“It is about as dumb a policy as I can think of,” Mr. Bloomberg told reporters in October 2012, when asked about then-candidate Mr. de Blasio’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund universal pre-k and after-school programs.
“Well if you want to drive out the 1 percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes, that’s as good a strategy as I know,” he continued. “That’s exactly the ways to do it, and then our revenue would go away, and we wouldn’t be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids.”
A week before, Mr. Bloomberg accused Mr. de Blasio of wanting to raise taxes “on anything and everything.”
“He wants to drive everybody out of the city, but that’s OK.,” he kindly added. “He’s a good guy.”
Then came the attacks on Mr. de Blasio’s public safety agenda, which includes a vow to dramatically curtail stop-and-frisk and support for twin City Council bills aimed at creating an NYPD inspector general and allowing those who feel like they’ve been profiled to sue in state court.
In some of the harshest speeches of his tenure, Mr. Bloomberg railed against the bills, warning they’d “put the lives of New Yorkers and our police officers at risk” “We cannot afford to play election year politics with the safety of our city, and we cannot afford to roll back the progress of the past twenty years,” he said during one speech.
Mr. de Blasio also took heat from Mr. Bloomberg’s Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, who summed up the candidate’s platform in a seething tweet: “higher taxes, bigger govt, more biz mandates. A u-turn back to the 70s.”
“You know, I think we’ve had the best 12 years of the city’s history in the last 12 years and Bill de Blasio wants to undo that,” Mr. Wolfson later told NY1. “He wants to take the city back to a different style of governing, where we had higher taxes, where we had more regulation on business, where we had more permissive policing.”
And then, of course, came the infamous interview with New York magazine interview, in which Mr. Bloomberg called the then-Democratic candidate’s campaign “class warfare” and suggested he was using his family to pander to black voters in a “racist” fashion.
But ever since Mr. de Blasio secured the Democratic nomination, things have been very different. Beginning in October, Mr. Bloomberg began defending the mayor-elect, saying it was “unfair” to suggest that crime and taxes would spike under his tenure and predicting the city’s best days were to come.
Asked today about his apparent change-of-heart Mr. Bloomberg said he disagreed with the premise.
“I don’t think that I particularly criticized him,” he said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall, pointing to Mr. de Blasio’s mandate.
“Bill de Blasio was picked by a majority of the voters who exercised their franchise to vote and my job is to work with whoever wins the election. And incidentally, I’m going to live here the rest of my life. So I want to make sure the next administration does a good job in the city,” he said.
“There’s some things that I think … we fundamentally disagree on,” he added. “While circumstances change … we should look at all of the things that we’ve done, see whether or not they work, and then consider whether or not” they’re worth changing.