On January 1, 2014 Michael Bloomberg will no longer be mayor of New York City, but he will continue to pick at the threads of the nation’s social safety net in indirect and almost untraceable ways.
The question is whether Bloomberg does it deliberately or not. Clearly he is working against elected Democrats in red states and thereby he assists Republicans who are not friendly to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits or gun regulation.
In 2006 Bloomberg co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and became its largest funder. Its admirable mission is to promote public safety by cracking down on illegal firearms. Spurred by horrific homicides in the intervening years, the group has grown from an initial 15 to one thousand mayors in 46 states, including four in Arkansas, a state that increasingly leans toward Republicans.
Trouble began when, with Bloomberg-like gusto, this group took shotgun aim at those who did not rally to their dictates. These included moderate politicians in red states who declined to support unpopular legislation to restrict gun ownership, including background checks. This story unfolded around the nation throughout 2013, but the N.Y. Times just reported that Bloomberg’s aides were warned that they are endangering Democrats’ political chances. If Democrats lose, Republicans win, and their platform is not friendly to gun restrictions.
Former President Bill Clinton phoned Howard Wolfson, Bloomberg’s Deputy Mayor for Government Affairs and Communications, to request that the Bloomberg group drop its ads against Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, a beleaguered Democrat facing re-election in Clinton’s native state. Request denied. The ads ran. Pryor may have scored points with his constituents with his retort that he did not take orders from Bloomberg or New York City. We will find out next November when Arkansans either let him keep his Senate seat or award it to a Republican. I am betting that Pryor’s opponent won’t back gun restrictions either. Does Bloomberg think that far? He would if he truly cared about this issue or if he cared enough to hire people who could think effectively. Is Bloomberg aiming for gun restrictions or for a Republican majority? No one should count on his being a straight shooter, even with a $31 billion fortune in ammo. The people of New York City and the nation are not rid of him by a long shot.