Listen to audio version of this article
Over the long weekend the news coverage about former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, 77, dispatching operatives to secure a place on the March 3 Alabama Democratic primary ballot was focused on whether or not he could win and if his billionaire brand would prove toxic to the left leaning Democratic base.
As a reporter for WNYC during the Bloomberg era I had near daily encounters with him, some more enjoyable than others.
There was the time he humiliated me in front of the entire City Hall press corps for not knowing the name of a high ranking Department of Education administrator who had come forward to offer a response to question at a press conference, so I asked her name and Mayor Mike let me have it.
The reporters were already sitting in elementary school student chairs, so as an Al Hirt scale guy, I already felt demeaned.
Yet, there was also the time, after stalking him all day and into the night during his run for a second term, he gave me a street interview that really made the story.
So far, his latest presidential trial balloon has seen his resume relegated to horse race analysis and not on the pros and cons of how Mr. Bloomberg track record might qualify, or disqualify him for the Presidency. It has been said American voters resist this kind of intellectual exercise, opting instead to vote with their gut when choosing the leader of the Free World.
Based on our national track record this methodology has produced mixed results. Could we try something new for 2020?
THE PROS FOR MAKING MIKE BLOOMBERG PRESIDENT
- Executive experience running a government: Based on Mr. Bloomberg’s twelve years as the Mayor of New York City, he has substantial on-the job experience having run a government for a polity larger than 37 states and with a larger annual budget than 200 of the planet’s nations.
- A grasp of the 21st global economy from the bottom to the top: Bloomberg, who worked his way through college parking cars, was fired at age 39 from the only post-college job he had ever known working at Salomon Brothers. However, as a partner he did not go away empty handed and parlayed the $10 million he got in 1981 at his termination into starting Bloomberg LP, a global news and financial information company that has made him, according to Forbes, the 17th richest man in the world worth in excess of $50 billion depending on the ranking.
- A Mayor’s view of the challenges posed by global warming and climate change: In June, after saying he wasn’t going to run for the White House, Mr. Bloomberg announced plans to spend a half-billion dollars on closing down all of the nation’s coal-fired plants, more than doubling down on a previous pledge of $100 million to support the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal drive.
- The courage to fight for improving public health: As Mayor, Mr. Bloomberg’s decision to press for a total ban on smoking in all public places won him boos and heckling when he testified at a City Council hearing in support of the measure, which opponents suggested would destroy the city’s bar and restaurant trade. A decade after implementation, the Restaurant and Tavern Association executive director Scott Wexler conceded “it did not have the impact the industry feared” and data showed the percentage of New Yorkers smoking declined as did hospital admissions for heart disease. According to the United Nations. During his tenure “life expectancy in New York City grew by more than 3 years and increased to 2.2 years longer than the national average.”
- Sufficient financial resources to insulate policy considerations from campaign donor pressures: In running for the GOP nomination Trump’s pledge to self-fund his own presidential bid as a gift to the nation resonated with primary voters, yet turned out to be a total fiction. By contrast, in his three successful runs for Mayor, Mr. Bloomberg spent over a quarter of a billion dollars of his own money: $74 million or $99 a vote in 2001; $85 million or $112 per vote in 2005; and $162 million or $174 per vote in 2009.
- Re-enforcement of the core principle that scientific research can improve the human condition and needs to be funded: In the three years of the Trump administration the White House has proposed cutting billions from the National Institute of Health and EPA’s scientific research programs focused on a wide array of areas from the cause of diseases to the effects of climate change. As a philanthropist, Mr. Bloomberg has been one of the world’s leading donors supporting scientific research. In 2001, Johns Hopkins named its world-famous School of Public Health for the former Mayor, who had given the school a record setting $107 million. Fifteen years later he helped found the Bloomberg-Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins University.
- A post-partisan approach to problem-solving: Over the arc of Mr. Bloomberg’s party affiliation trek he’s run the gamut setting himself to claim he’s really more ‘post-partisan’. He came on the political stage in New York City as a liberal pro-choice Republican, at a time when within the GOP such a pedigree defined him as a “rino”, Republican in name only. While he’s also fashioned himself as being anti-partisan, he’s demonstrated a pragmatic streak as he did in 2007, when he backed the incumbent New York State Senate Republicans in their bid to hold on to control of that body. By 2009, he ran for Mayor as an independent and in 2018 he took to Instagram to announce he was registering as a Democrat. People, irrespective of political parties, are apt to take his calls.
- A Bloomberg candidacy will help support TV, Radio and Newspapers: “One of the positives for a Bloomberg campaign is it would be an economic development stimulus for TV stations and print media all across the country because if he’s in the race he’s going to dump a billion dollars into the economy,” said Doug Muzzio, professor of Political Science at Baruch College, in a phone interview. In 2018, organizations linked to Mr. Bloomberg’s gave $41 million to Democrats in 24 House races, picking the winner in 21. “Overall spending by Mr. Bloomberg and his organizations in the 2018 elections topped $112 million, an amount that also includes donations to help Senate candidates and progressive organizations,” the Times
- Willingness to raise taxes if it’s required: While former Mayor Bloomberg has been positioning himself as the thinking capitalist’s counter measure to the Democratic Party’s Sanders, Warren, OCA left-wing tsunami, he did break with Republican orthodoxy and push for a double digit property tax hike in 2002 to balance the city’s books.
- A restoration of America’s multi-lateral global engagement: As Mayor, Mr. Bloomberg appointed his sister Marjorie Bloomberg Tiven, as the non-salaried NYC Commissioner of Consular Affairs for the United Nations. In years since he left office, he has continued his work as the driver behind the global C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an international group of mayors focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The global coalition networks 94 of the world’s major cities together in a cooperative effort to actualize the Paris Accords. In 2014 UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon named him as his special envoy for cities and global climate change.
- Next week: Ten Reasons Why Mike Bloomberg as President is a bad idea. (Read here)