Sunday, March 28, 2010


Updated: Sun., Mar. 28, 2010, 4:25 AM
Obama vs. New York City

Here’s a headline that should never have appeared in any newspaper: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.”

Here’s one that should have: “Obama to City: Drop Dead.”

The first headline, which famously appeared on a 1975 front page of a now-irrelevant city paper, was right on the trees but completely wrong on the forest. Then-President Jerry Ford’s denial of a bailout to a hapless city then being held hostage by unions and criminals actually was a tremendous boost to Gotham in the long run.

Told by the bartender to hit the bricks as it begged to continue its drunken spending spree, New York was scared into sobering up (a little). The city avoided a catastrophic default on its debt. (Though Congress did help out by agreeing to guarantee New York City securities.)

Fast forward to 2010: Mayor Bloomberg isn’t asking for a lifeline. So Obama throws him an anvil.

The president continues to think that “boost the economy” means “rag on Wall Street.” But before the financial meltdown, taxation of Wall Street salaries and profits provided 20% of the state’s tax revenue and 9% of the city’s. Obama to Wall Street: Drop Dead.

Much of Obama’s anti-banking jawboning is meaningless drivel meant to excite the rubes, but his intermittent success in driving down the Street’s bonus packages is an anti-stimulus. Those checks trickle down through the luxury apartment sales and four-star meals all the way to catering firms, tailors, shoeshine boys.

Obama to Sandwich Makers: Drop Dead.

Administration policies are often meant to (clumsily) address nationwide or even global problems, but as Michael Keaton’s newspaper editor put it so aptly in the movie “The Paper,” “I don’t f - - - ing live in the f - - - ing world. I live in f - - - ing New York City.”

The real estate crash that led to Obama’s propping up the housing market took place mainly in places like Florida, Nevada and California, not here. Roughly 70% of New Yorkers rent, and many are hoping to buy if prices come down.

Obama to Tenants: Drop Dead.

New Yorkers don’t need ObamaCare because we already had much of it. Two of its central elements have been on the books in New York state since 1993. There’s a requirement that insurance companies have to offer coverage and there are limits on what they can charge based on your health history.

(Predictably, all this has bent the cost curve upward, leading to increases in both premiums and government payouts, but that’s another story.)

How does Obama plan to pay for it? With a few pennies from tanning-booth taxes? No, by shaking down “the rich” and taking a bite from the fruits of capital

But New Yorkers, and the tri-state area in general, have lots of high earners who aren’t necessarily rich. We also derive more of our income from dividends, interest and other so-called “unearned income” (as if you got this money from playing the slots).

New Yorkers will be out $5 billion paying for the new payroll and investment taxes, plus another $1.5 billion in “Cadillac taxes” on those with the best insurance.

About 10% of the country lives in the tri-state area and we earn about 14% of the national income — so naturally it’s completely fair to stick us with 20% of these new taxes by 2016. (These numbers are from a preliminary estimate by the Manhattan Institute.)

Obama has vowed to target his tax hikes at “rich” individuals making over $200,000 a year (and couples making $250,000 a year). That’s rich in Manhattan, Kansas. Here a couple earning $250K is middle class. Eleven of the 50 most expensive ZIP codes for real estate are in Manhattan and nine others are in the suburbs.

Moreover, if you run a small business you technically have a lot of income (if not a lot of profit). Many such business people file as individuals — yet are taxed as though they were Goldman Sachs veeps.

As for ObamaCare’s impact on employers, the Business Council of New York State notes that the law does nothing to control costs, places employers at risk for new taxes and fines and adds costs “by requiring much more reporting to the federal government on the value of their benefits to each employee and revising benefit plans to avoid both fines and excise taxes.”

Obama to Mom-and-Pop Bodega Owners: Drop Dead.

The new law also doesn’t make it any easier for illegal immigrants to get insurance, and these prototypical New Yorkers are a big factor in local health costs when they use E.R.s as their primary care physicians.

Obama to Illegal Immigrants and Those Who Pay Their Health Bills: Drop Dead.

Oh, you thought Obama was one of us, a Columbia grad and urban sophisticate? You’re like a dependent spouse. Every fresh bruise just proves how much he loves you.

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