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Bloomberg Takes Aim at Economy
Wall Street Journal
Michael Howard Saul

December 9, 2010
View the Original Article

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly denies that he harbors any ambition of seeking the White House in 2012, but an economic speech Wednesday appeared aimed at the national stage.

Mr. Bloomberg, the 68-year-old billionaire businessman who has served as the chief executive of the nation's largest city for nearly nine years, chastised Washington for failing to do enough to stimulate the economy and help more people return to work.

The mayor gently chided both Democrats and Republicans, bolstering his carefully crafted image as an independent, moderate, no-nonsense leader who rejects ideology and champions practical solutions.

"Put simply: When it comes to creating jobs, government hasn't gotten the job done," Mr. Bloomberg said.

"The central defining issue of the day is jobs, and that's what government at all levels must be focused on," he 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."

Government officials, Mr. Bloomberg insisted, need "to stop demagoguing and start delivering."

While the mayor didn't take any direct shots at President Barack Obama, he suggests the current administration and others in Washington have done little to foster innovation in the American economy. The mayor recently said he believes Mr. Obama would stand to benefit from better advisers, specifically aides with a business background.

"Unfortunately, very little of the stimulus package passed in Washington promotes innovation. Very little of the health care bill passed in Washington promotes innovation," he said. "And the Obama administration will have to be very careful to make sure that the financial services bill passed this year doesn't hinder innovation."

The mayor praised the White House and the Republicans in Congress for brokering a deal to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits. The agreement is "proof that bipartisanship really is possible" in Washington, he said.

"But this can't be the end of bipartisanship—it must be the beginning," he said.

Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson said it would be wrong for the public to interpret the speech as a reflection of the mayor's perceived interest in the Oval Office. "One can influence the national debate without harboring presidential ambitions," Mr. Wolfson said.

Dan Morris, a spokesman for a coalition advocating for a living wage bill, said the mayor focused on "courting the national political and business elite" while "squandering an opportunity to offer a real economic vision for struggling New Yorkers."

Allan Fishman, chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, praised the mayor's remarks. "He's a big thinker and he's thinking broadly."