New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday gave a mixed but decidedly negative review of President Obama’s economic policies, saying that the reason for joblessness is uncertainty in the private sector caused by government and that the president is uninterested in business.
Bloomberg, speaking at the Atlantic Washington Ideas Forum, also said he favored extending the Bush tax cuts for all brackets for at least two years, and implied that Obama’s desire to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year is a step toward class warfare.
“What I don’t like about the tax cuts is creating a class society,” Bloomberg said of the president’s stated solution. “If you’re going to do something for somebody, you should do it for everybody.”
The mayor, one of the richest Americans who owns one of the world’s largest media companies, Bloomberg L.P., said he agreed with Obama’s former budget director, Peter Orszag, who wrote in the New York Times immediately upon leaving the White House that the tax cuts should be extended for two years for all brackets.
But it was within Bloomberg’s call to support Obama that his most barbed criticism of the president was veiled. Bloomberg said that it was unfair for critics to say Obama hid his true nature from voters during the 2008 campaign.
“Obama never said he would be anything other than what he is now. He is a liberal guy, very pro-union, not particularly interested in business. He said this,” Bloomberg said. “And everybody said, ‘Oh, he’ll change when he gets in there.’ I have more respect for him for not changing. This is what the public wanted and I think we should all pull behind the president and help him as much as we can.”
Bloomberg also blamed the nation’s unemployment rate and sustained joblessness on uncertainty in the private sector.
“The real problem here is a lack of confidence. There’s no question here there is plenty of money in the banks. Nobody’s making a loan, nobody’s willing to make an investment, nobody’s willing to hire people because they’re not sure of the future,” Bloomberg said.
This is the most prominent complaint from business leaders, many of whom blame it on Obama’s policies, particularly the massive but still unknown amount of regulation in the health law and the financial regulation legislation.
Bloomberg did not mention those things by name, saying only obliquely that the problem was “both sides of the aisle and it’s both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“Government,” he said.
Note: The article originally stated that Obama was described as being disinterested in business, and was changed with a nod to Gordon Wood.