At a mayoral press conference in the Bronx earlier today to announce new construction of affordable housing, I asked Michael Bloomberg how he would rate the response of Barack Obama and John McCain to the government bailout.
"I have my views," said Bloomberg. "They have their views. I’m not running for president. They are."
Then he went on, "I think that we have a crisis of confidence that has to be addressed in the very short term. And we have systemic problems in our country that Congress has been unwilling to address, but has to start realizing that there are real-world consequences."
In response to another question, Bloomberg later said the legislation being drafted now should be completed slowly and publicly. "It’s just not good policy to write it in the middle of the night with everybody pushing for their own thing," he said. "These things should take time and should be negotiated out and have hearings, lots of input."
(On Meet the Press this weekend, Bloomberg seemed somewhat less concerned about the “lots of input” part of the equation, saying that Congress needed to do something “quickly,” and though there needed to be much more debate about long-term structural improvements to the financial system, “I don’t know that there’s time for a lot of the debate now.”)
On limiting executive pay, which many Democrats and some Republicans would like to write into the legislation, Bloomberg said he is opposed. "When you start to decide how much you’re going to pay someone, in a competitive world, in a competitive marketplace, the one danger is the interest of good politics and good theater, we don’t access the best and the brightest."
Referring to the multi-billion dollar entity that will buy the bad mortgages, Bloomberg said, "What are you going to pay for somebody—you’re going to say ‘were only going to hire somebody for fifty grand to manage your portfolio?’ These are very complicated things and people demand a lot of money and I want the best and the brightest. And being penny-wise and pound foolish would really be as dumb a thing as we could do and that’s exactly what they did before.”