NYC Mayoral Election 2021
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Mayoral contender Andrew Yang on Thursday complained in broad terms about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “irresponsible” budget spending — but offered no specifics about how the city can rein it in.
“I think it’s irresponsible what Bill de Blasio is doing with our budget. He’s setting us up to fail,” Yang said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” when asked about his preferred method of balancing the Big Apple’s budget.
“Any common-sense manager would be looking at the situation and would be trying to say, ‘We should smooth that out and reduce that deficit in 2023.’”
Yang went on to tick off terms like “cost-saving efficiencies,” “bloat” and “find the fat” and said city agencies should “tighten their belts” like other organizations in the five boroughs — without identifying any potential budget cuts.
The 46-year-old former test prep company executive presented himself as the only candidate in the race concerned with the city’s fiscal health, which critics say could decline due to the mayor spending stimulus money “like a drunken sailor.”
“We should be raising the alarm! Who the heck wants to inherit a $5.3 billion deficit two and a half years from now? And I am blown away that other candidates on the stage are also not raising a stink about this.”
Show panelist Susan Del Percio was skeptical.
“How do you think the best way to meet that challenge is, specifically? How do you get there?” the political strategist asked.
“Bill de Blasio has, again, let agencies run amok,” Yang said vaguely. “The reality is that we’re going to have to do more with the resources that we have. We can’t just rely on business as usual.
“You’re going to have to find the fat first, and there’s a lot of fat in our government and you want to try to avoid the muscle and the bone, but it’s going to involve some difficult choices ahead.”
But despite being asked for specifics, Yang didn’t list what the essential “muscle and bone” is or what the wasteful “fat” is.
A de Blasio spokesman defended the term-limited Democrat’s spending record.
“When COVID hit, the mayor found savings to keep the budget balanced. When we got the stimulus, we invested that money in working families,” said spokesman Bill Neidhardt.
“So what does Andrew Yang want to cut exactly? Pre-K? Trash pickup? That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton was similarly skeptical of Yang’s know-how.
Sharpton — who is slated to soon make an endorsement in the race and sat in as another panelist on the MSNBC show — asked, “How can you change something that you don’t know?” after noting that Yang has never voted for mayor or otherwise been involved in local politics.
“If I want a guy to fix my car, I want a guy that knows how the car runs. He can’t just stand outside the car and say that it’s not working, you need change. You got to have a guy that knows the difference between the tires and the steering wheel,” said Sharpton.
Yang picked up on the automotive metaphor, and said he was the outsider and agent of change whom the city needs.
“The car is never going to get where it needs to go, if someone’s in that driver’s seat saying we’re just going to keep on going the same way we’ve gone,” said Yang.
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