New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has spent recent months field-testing his new slogan, “There’s plenty of money in this country; it’s just in the wrong hands,” on television, in speeches, and at sparsely attended candidate forums in New Hampshire and Iowa.
The motto may not launch him to national political stature, but it has already gotten a good workout in New York over the last five years, as applied to the city’s budget process. With a strong stock market, steady job growth, and robust real-estate valuations pumping revenue into the city’s fisc, de Blasio has never had to budget, in the householder’s sense: to choose between competing priorities or to cut back on luxuries.
New York City’s luckiest mayor has enjoyed a spending spree, eager to satisfy the whims of any constituent organization or voting base.
One of his first acts in office was to settle a longstanding lawsuit by the Central Park Five, whose 1990 convictions for rape, riot and assault, affirmed on appeal, were vacated in 2002. The mayor, fulfilling a campaign pledge, reversed the city’s decade-long refusal to settle, paying $41 million to the men whose taped confessions had satisfied two juries of their guilt.