Bloomberg In D.C.,
But Not in Running
In his continuing non-campaign campaign for president, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg made his first trip to the city he purports not to want to run: Washington. In a speech at the National Press Club today and then a press conference afterward, Bloomberg laid out his proposals to reduce poverty, but also did the kind of things the declared presidential candidates are doing: lauding his own achievements and offering his views on all kinds of subjects.
Bloomberg, who has stoked speculation about a 2008 run by switching his party affiliation from Republican to independent and allowing his aides to quietly tout his prospects, said it was important in reforming health care to realize that "there is no free lunch," called for higher miles per gallon standards for cars, talked about the struggles of carmakers in Detroit ("you can't fight the marketplace") and said that while he wouldn't call for a nationwide ban on smoking in public places like he pushed through in New York, "it would be great if America did it." He was particularly exercised about immigration, not only calling anti-immigration rhetoric in the last few months "damaging," but said "the economic health of this country is based on a constant influx of immigrants."
The non-candidate seemed eager to talk. Not only did give an address of more than 20 minutes on poverty, but took close to a dozen questions at the press conference. He offered his thoughts on politics more generally, saying "progress is made in an evolutionary, not a revolutionary way," Sounding a bit sarcastic, he dubbed Washington the place "where all of the important decisions are made," then noted his work on problems like improving education, reducing crime and keeping streets clean. He was short on one topic, saying simply "I'm not running for my president, I plan to finish up my job" as mayor. He said speculation about a potential candidacy was driven by reporters who "have to fill inches and minutes," and then launched into a discussion about their roles in policing the proposals of the people running for president. "What you should do is try to hold them accountable," Bloomberg said.
On poverty, an issue that former North Carolina Senator John Edwards has made a focus, Bloomberg called for changing the earned income tax credit, which provides tax credits to low-income workers, by raising the ceiling by which workers can qualify for the credit from $12,000 a year to $18,000 a year. Edwards has called for increasing this credit as well.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
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