Our billionaire mayor assumed a populist tone during a radio address this morning when discussing his proposed congestion tax that would charge drivers $8 for the privelege of using Manhattan's most crowded streets. Bloomberg asserted that people who drive to the city tend to be the people who can afford the additional charges and that the money would be well spent on mass transit infrastructure in long-neglected areas, like the outer boroughs. The New York Times has excerpts of his remarks:
We have programs for people who aren’t as lucky as you and I to help them afford to be able to buy food and clothing. And in this day and age it sounds like a lot of money, but you go to a movie and it’s 12 bucks. So let’s put some of this stuff in perspective here. The cost of parking here in the city, people who drive into the city generally — you have to be careful not
to say everybody — but if you look at the statistics, it tends to be people who can afford it because otherwise they’ll take mass transit.
And we have to do a much better job of providing mass transit in parts of the city where the city never invested in the past, and now we’re paying for that. Places way out in Queens, places Staten Island, Brooklyn, there are lots of places in the city that aren’t served by subways. The city lost the courage to keep investing in subways back in World War II…
If you were to charge — and I’ll let you know on Sunday at 12:30 — but if you were to charge, you’d take the money and invest in mass transit.
The Mayor also defined capitalism as the government's use of taxes and subsidies to influence citizens' behavior. We're not sure how many of Bloomberg's fellow Republicans would agree with that characterization, something he may want to consider if he plans on running for President on that party's ticket. One can listen to the Mayor's remarks online or download them as an MP3 file.
(NYPD Traffic Bureau 3 Wheel vehicle, by Triborough at flickr)