Now that The New York Times has finally noticed that the city economy — and public finances — is in rapid freefall, maybe Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio will, too.
Tuesday, the Gray Lady warned that COVID is “pushing New York into a financial abyss.” The city “will face an extended financial crisis, the likes of which has not been seen since the 1970s,” it said.
Ha! We’ve been flagging that for months.
Because City Hall spends so much per resident (more than every one of the nation’s largest 100 cities, except DC and San Francisco), it’s critically reliant on tax revenue spun off by the economy — much of which remains shut more than six months after COVID broke out.
The state still has a million fewer jobs than before the virus, the Utica Observer-Dispatch reports, making it the second-slowest to recover. In the city, joblessness is twice as high as elsewhere.
“This is price you pay” for extra COVID restrictions, notes SUNY economics chairman Adrian Masters. Those restrictions have the hotel and restaurant sectors, which account for a quarter of the lost jobs, still running far below capacity.
Monday, city restaurants staged a “wake” to protest: “We’re the walking dead” if we don’t get relief, one owner said. In all, Bloomberg reports, 6,000 businesses have closed; bankruptcies are up 40 percent.
Yet Cuomo and de Blasio focus solely on holding down COVID cases. They think they can let the economy die and their own finances flounder (the city faces a $9 billion hole; the state, $14.5 billion) — and then just blame President Trump for not saving them. Indeed, both are now hinting of new restrictions.
Yet to spare public workers the pain private ones face, they refuse to curb spending on anything like the needed scale.
Everyone’s hoping for a vaccine to solve everything. But until one proves safe and effective, people need to work, and the government needs to balance its books.
If the Times can see that, even the politicians should be able to recognize it.
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