POLITICAL ROUNDUP

A prediction from some financial analysts have New Yorkers on the economic edge. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is heading back to court tomorrow. We have a preview of the upcoming proceedings and potential political fallout. State University of New York swimmers and divers are heading to the prestigious NCAA Division III national championship meet in North Carolina, but can’t stay in state. We’ll tell you why.

Aired on March 12, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS,' I'M JACK FORD.

IS NEW YORK CITY GOING BROKE AGAIN?

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 40 YEARS, THE CITY IS CLOSE TO BANKRUPTCY WITH LONG-TERM DEBT PER HOUSEHOLD WELL ABOVE $80,000, AND MAYOR De BLASIO SPENDING $3 BILLION MORE IN THIS YEAR'S BUDGET, THE CITY IS RUNNING A DEFICIT.

EXPERTS WARN THAT WE COULD BE IN A BAD SITUATION IF WE HAVE A SETBACK LIKE A RECESSION.

HERE WITH SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ALL OF THIS AND MUCH MORE IS AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR AND COLUMNIST AND OUR GOOD FRIEND ELLIS HENNIKEN.

ALWAYS GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

LET'S START WITH THIS NOTION OF THE POTENTIAL FISCAL DISASTER FOR NEW YORK CITY.

I GUESS MY FIRST QUESTION IS, IS THAT NEW?

SO, BEGINNING WITH THE OBVIOUS, BILL De BLASIO IS NOT MIKE BLOOMBERG.

FOR 12 YEARS IN THE CITY WE HAD A REAL FISCAL MANAGER IN CITY HALL.

AND YOU KNOW, WE CAN QUIBBLE ABOUT VARIOUS POLICY DECISIONS, BUT A GUY WHO IS CLEARLY WELL VERSED, HAD GREAT RELATIONSHIPS, LOTS OF HISTORY, AND BACK TO YOU HOW TO PLAY THE GAME.

OH, AND BY THE WAY, IF THINGS GOT TOUGH, COULD WRITE A PERSONAL CHECK TO SOLVE SOME OF THE PROBLEMS.

WE DO NOT HAVE THAT ANYMORE.

SO YES, THERE ARE UNDERLYING PRESSURES WORTH PAYING ATTENTION TO.

PROBABLY THE BIGGEST AND LEAST EASY TO DEAL WITH ARE THESE PENSION OBLIGATIONS THAT HAVE GROWN UP OVER THE DECADES, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES GETTING OLDER, DESERVING LIFETIME PENSIONS.

BOY, THAT STUFF GETS EXPENSIVE.

ADD ONE OTHER ELEMENT WHICH IS THE CHANGES IN THE TAX LAW TAXES HERE.

IF YOU DON'T DEDUCT THEM ON FEDERAL INCOME TAX, IT MAKES LIVING IN NEW YORK MORE EXPENSIVE.

ALL OF THAT HAS COME TOGETHER TO ADD PRESSURES THAT WE SHOULD BE PAYING ATTENTION TO.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE TAX CONSEQUENCES IF YOU WILL.

WE'RE ALSO TOLD AS YOU MENTIONED, NOW THE DEDUCTIONS THAT PEOPLE USED TO HAVE AND USED TO COUNT ON AND THEY USED TO BE ABLE TO USE IT TO JUSTIFY, YOU KNOW, BUYING UP.

WE'RE TOLD RECENTLY THAT NEW YORK CITY AND NEW YORK STATE, NUMBER ONE IN TERMS OF THE TAX BURDEN.

AND MY GUESS IS YOU'RE NOT GOING TO SEE ANY REDUCTION IN THAT SOON.

DOES THAT SUGGEST TO YOU THAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE SOMETIME SOON IS MORE OF AN EXODUS?

WELL, THERE'S A LITTLE BIT OF THAT.

THE NUMBERS HAVE CREPT UP, BUT PARTICULARLY WEALTHY PEOPLE LIKE LIVING IN PLACES LIKE THIS.

THERE'S A LOT OF GOOD STUFF ABOUT LIVING IN THE TRI-STATE AREA, NEW YORK PARTICULARLY TIS WOULD SAY.

HUGE NUMBERS -- HERE'S WHAT I WOULD BE CONCERNED ABOUT -- IF THE NATIONAL ECONOMY SLIPS INTO RECESSION, IF WALL STREET TUM BELTS IN A BIG WAY, WE MIGHT HAVE -- TUMBLES IN A BIG WAY, WE MIGHT HAVE PROBLEMS.

THE TAX BURDENS ARE TOUGHER, SO MUCH OF THE ECONOMIC ENGINE IS PRODUCED BY THAT PART OF THE ECONO ECONOMY -- IF IT GETS IN TROUBLE, THAT HAPPENED 40 YEARS AGO, WE'RE IN TROUBLE, TOO.

50% OF THE TAX REVENUES COME FROM THE TOP 1%.

THANK GOD FOR THEM.

YEAH --

THANK GOD FOR THEM.

WHICH WE CAN SAY THE WALL STREET, THE FINANCIAL GROUP THAT YOU MENTIONED HERE BEFORE.

YEAH.

ALL THE PEOPLE WE LOVE TO HATE.

UNTIL THEY WRITE THE CHECKS.

KEEP WRITING THE CHECKS, PLEASE.

EXACTLY.

HOW ABOUT THE IDEA OF MAYOR De BLASIO, HE'S ANNOUNCED HIMSELF AS A PROGRESSIVE.

HE'S BACKED THAT UP WITH AN INCREASE IN THE BUDGET OF OVER 30% OVER THE TIME HE'S WENT IN OFFICE --

A LOT OF HIRING, TOO.

THERE'S SPENDING GOING ON THAT TIES IN TO THE NOTION OF I'M A PROGRESSIVE, AND I'M GOING TO INVEST IN THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT.

HE'S ATTEMPTING THAT, PROJECTING THAT IMAGE NATIONWIDE.

SO WHAT DOES THAT SUGGEST IN TERMS OF ANY POTENTIAL FOR SAYING, ALL RIGHT, WE'LL PULL BACK THE REINS ON SPENDING HERE IF THESE NUMBERS ARE AS DIRE AS THEY ARE SUGGESTED.

WELL, YOU GOT TO REMEMBER WHO ELECTED HIM, RIGHT.

TO SOME EXTENT THE ELECTION OF De BLASIO WAS A RESPONSE TO BLOOMBERG, RIGHT.

THE NOTION THAT HE WAS TOO FOCUSED ON THE CREATION OF MONEY, HE WAS MANHATTAN CENTRIC, AND SO De BLASIO CREATED A POLITICAL COALITION OUT OF BORROWS, LABOR PEOPLE, MORE ETHNICALLY AND RACIALLY DIVERSE COALITION.

AND YOU KNOW, HE NEEDS TO TAKE CARE OF THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT HIM HERE.

NO, IT'S PRETTY HARD TO IMAGINE THEY'D VOLUNTARILY -- THAT HE WOULD DO MAJOR CUTTING IN THOSE AREAS.

LET ME SHIFT THE FOCUS AND TALK ABOUT SOME NATIONAL STORIES HERE.

SURE.

PAUL MANAFORT, NATIONAL BUT A CONNECTION CERTAINLY TO THE NEW YORK AREA.

PAUL MANAFORT GETS SENTENCED, AND TO MANY PEOPLE, IT WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY SURPRISE BECAUSE THE SENTENCING GUIDELINES SUGGESTED SOMEWHERE IN THE RANGE OF MAYBE 20, MORE THAN 20 YEARS.

HE GETS A LITTLE BIT LESS THAN FOUR YEARS.

YEAH.

HOW SURPRISED WERE YOU BY THAT?

I WAS SURPRISED BY IT.

BECAUSE USUALLY WHEN WE TRY TO PREDICT SENTENCING, WHICH IS ALWAYS A MISTAKE WITH LIFETIME APPOINTED U.S. DISTRICT JUDGES, THAT'S AT LEAST KIND OF WHERE YOU THINK IS THE JUDGE GOING TO DEPART UPWARD, DOWNWARD, PROBABLY IN THE RANGE, THAT'S WHAT THE LAWYERS ON BOTH SIDES TEND TO EXPECT.

THE FACT THAT JUDGE ELLIOTT DOWN IN VIRGINIA CAME IN SO MUCH LOWER THAN THAT, YEAH, I WAS SURPRISED.

BUT HOLD ON A SECOND.

WE'RE NOT DONE SENTENCING PAUL MANAFORT.

SO WHATEVER YOU THINK OF WHAT JUDGE T.S. ELLIS DID, AS YOU KNOW, THIS WEEK THERE'S ANOTHER JUDGE WITH A WHOLE DIFFERENT SET OF FACTORS TAKING ANOTHER CRACK AT IT.

THIS HAS A COUPLE OF CONSPIRACY COUNTS.

LOOKING AT POTENTIALLY ANOTHER TEN YEARS, AND THE BIG ISSUE IS WHATEVER THE NUMBERS ARE GOING TO BE, GOING TO BE CONSECUTIVE OR CONCURRENT.

AND AS YOU KNOW, IN THEORY, JUDGES DON'T LOOK OUT THE WINDOW.

THEY DON'T TRY TO CONSIDER THE POLITICS OF A SITUATION, WHAT SOME OF THE COURT HAS DONE.

WE KNOW THAT JUDGES, EVEN U.S.

DISTRICT JUDGES IN FEDERAL COURT ARE HUMAN BEINGS.

SO IT'S HARD NOT TO BE AFFECTED BY THAT.

I THINK THE LIKELIHOOD IS THAT JUDGE AMY BERMAN JACKSON, HANDLING THE SECOND SENTENCE, IS GOING TO COME IN A WHOLE LOT TOUGHER.

LAST QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU.

IN IS BAIT OF A CURE -- A BIT OF A CURE YAFT TAKING PLACE IN NEW YORK.

IN 2016 THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED WHAT'S CALLED THE BATHROOM BILL.

IT SAID THAT YOU HAVE TO USE THE BATHROOM THAT CORRESPONDS TO YOUR GENDER AT BIRTH.

THERE WAS EXTRAORDINARY PUSHBACK FROM A VARIETY OF GROUPS.

CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS TO THE NCAA.

IT MOVED THE NEEDLE, ALL THE SUDDEN THEY BACKED OFF.

IT WAS RESCINDED.

A NUMBER OF STATES INCLUDING NEW YORK WHEN THIS WAS ALL PLAYING OUT SAID, ALL RIGHT, WE'RE NOT GOING TO ALLOW OUR EMPLOYEES OR AGENTS OF NEW YORK TRAVEL TO NORTH CAROLINA.

SO THERE IS COMING UP NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS, AND THE SWIMMERS FROM THE NEW YORK STATE SYSTEM HAVE QUALIFIED.

THERE'S A QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER YOU CAN STAY THERE IN THE STATE.

SO THEY'D HAVE TO STAY IN VIRGINIA, COME IN, PARTICIPATE, COMPETE, AND THEN LEAVE THE STATE AFTERWARDS.

NOW, THIS IS BEING DONE EVEN THOUGH NORTH CAROLINA HAS RESCINDED ITS LAW.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE, AND WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE HAPPENING?

WELL, LISTEN -- IT'S A LITTLE HARD TO DEFEND AT THIS POINT HONESTLY.

WHEN YOU GET INTO THE GOVERNMENT OF DENUNCIATION, ONE STATE TELLING OTHER STATES THAT WE DON'T LIKE YOU SO WE'RE NOT GOING TO SEND OUR PEOPLE THERE OR LET US DO BUSINESS WITH YOU, THE REALITY IS THAT THERE ARE LOTS OF STATES THAT DO HORRIBLE THINGS.

AND WITHOUT DEFENDING FOR A SECOND THE STUPIDITY INVOLVING THE BATHROOMS IN NORTH CAROLINA.

YOU KNOW, WE COULD GO DOWN 49 OTHER STATES, AND I'LL BET THERE'S STUFF GOING ON AT ALL OF THOSE THAT WE THINK ARE DESERVING OF DENUNCIATION.

SO IN THE END, I THINK WHAT WE HAVE IS SOME CONVENIENT POLITICAL PANDERING THAT PLAYS TO A CONSTITUENCY OF THE GOVERNOR.

BUT I THINK IT MAY BE TIME TO MOVE ON.

WE'LL SEE HOW THAT CHANGES.

ELLIS, ALWAYS A PLEASURE.

FUN SEEING YOU, MAN.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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