Taxing the rich is ‘about as dumb a policy as I can think of,’ Bloomberg says

Quinn and de Blasio in 2008. (Azi Paybarah via Flickr)
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Mayor Michael Bloomberg today said he doesn't understand why the candidates vying to replace him are proposing tax hikes on the city's highest-earning residents.

"It is about as dumb a policy as I can think of," he said, during a press conference before the Columbus Day Parade.

In today's New York Post, E.J. McMahon, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Manhattan Institute, pointed out that, as of last week, when Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for the wealthy to pay more to underwrite early childhood education programs, all of the probable candidates for mayor have publicly called for higher taxes on the well-to-do.

Last week, the mayor said that de Blasio's proposal was symptomatic of a governing attitude that would "drive everybody out of the city."

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De Blasio responded, via Twitter, that the mayor hadn't always felt so strongly that higher taxes would actually cause people to leave.

Today, a reporter asked Bloomberg for his thoughts on the fact that every candidate has now called for some sort of income tax hike for the better-off.

"Well if you want to drive out the 1 percent of the people that pay roughly 50 percent of the taxes, or the 10 percent of the people that pay 70-odd percent of the taxes, that's as good a strategy as I know," he responded. "That's exactly the ways to do it, and then our revenue would go away, and we wouldn't be able to have cops to keep us safe, firefighters to rescue us, teachers to educate our kids."

Unrelated, the mayor defended his administration's use of red-light cameras to crack down on bad drivers.

Today, the Post ran a story, based on a AAA New York study, finding that "intersections with cameras have yellow lights that are shorter by as much as 15 percent compared to the city standard."

AAA New York, which advocates on behalf of motorists, argues that the shorter yellow lights enable the city to issue more tickets, and pump up revenue.

AAA, it should be noted, is also fiercely opposed to the city's bid to install speed cameras and more red-light cameras.

Today, the mayor argued the story was baseless.

"My understanding from reading the article is that you found four out of 12,000 that were off a couple of tenths of a second," he said. "If that's the biggest story you can find, I don't know what else to talk about. Keep in mind, there is no regulation. It's totally up to the Department of Transportation. And the whole idea here is to prevent you from running red lights. So maybe if you think there's less time, you won't try to do it. I'm not sure why we give you any time at all. Running red lights kills people."