On Nov. 24, Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City, announced that he would be joining the 2020 presidential race. Running as a Democrat, his main strategy is to gain voters that seem to be taking an anti-Trump stance. He stated on his campaign website that Trump has “…harmed Americans and weakened our country.” Bloomberg’s platform includes stricter gun laws, an improved public-school system and enforcing the importance of conserving our environment by fighting climate change. Though he agrees with many of his Democratic presidential opponents, on issues like these, he differs from the other candidates on two points, opposing wealth taxes and supporting Israel.
Bloomberg was elected mayor of New York City a few months after the 9/11 attacks occurred. He won this race with pledges to create new jobs, lower crime and a promise to help lift middle and lower-class New Yorkers out of poverty. Serving as New York City’s Mayor for three consecutive terms, his campaign website boasts how these promises were fulfilled. “He drove down crime to record lows…spurred economic growth that led to the creation of 400,000 new jobs,” and, “introduced new anti-poverty programs that became national models.”
However, many have criticized his past political work. According to an article in the New York Times, crime did drop under Bloomberg, but that was a leftover effect from the previous administration of Rudolph W. Giuliani. And, one of his only promoted policies to fight crime gave police officers the ability to stop, interrogate and frisk people that they suspected were engaging in criminal activity. This plan was very controversial, as many people feel this policy was mainly inflicted on minorities.
He also claims to have spurred economic growth, created new jobs and worked to close the gap between classes. But in an article from the Wall Street Journal, it cites a series of protests from 2011 called the “Occupy Wall Street Movement.” These protests were spurred because of a lack of mobilization to help the lower and middle classes. Bloomberg was heavily criticized during these protests for vetoing bills that could have raised wages for workers or provided sick leave, saying such measures would cause major job loss in the affected industries. Yetta Kurland, a lawyer who represented the movement stated, “There was a real insensitivity to the normal rank-and-file citizens of the city of New York.”
In an article from City Limits, current New York City mayor Bill de Blasio criticizes Bloomberg’s models and plans to fight poverty by saying that the Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) founded by Bloomberg had low, slow paced, expectations; the results were limited considering the amount of work claiming to be done by “CEO.” Under de Blasio, the program has been absorbed into the Mayor’s Office of Operations, and in 2017, it was renamed Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity where it continues and evolves to research and fight poverty.
Since serving as mayor, Bloomberg has spent a great amount of time and money lobbying against the NRA for stricter gun laws. And, through Bloomberg Philanthropies, he has made many charitable donations to hospitals, pro-Israel organizations and started funds that allow low and middle class students to attend top colleges.
While Bloomberg checks off many boxes of a modern Democrat, he expressed conservative views on issues such as the wealth tax and healthcare. He has adamantly expressed criticism over Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax citing “such a thing as unconstitutional.” And unlike many of this year’s democratic candidates, he opposes “Medicare For All,” saying this type of large-scale plan is not feasible, rather he does support giving healthcare to those that are uninsured due to a lack of income.
Raised in a Jewish household in Boston, he says that from an early age his parents instilled in him a love for Israel. In 2014, Hamas launched a rocket that landed near Ben-Gurion Airport. As a result, U.S. domestic airlines were told by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) they could not fly to Israel since it wasn’t safe. So, Mike Bloomberg went to the airport and got on an El Al flight to Israel. When he was later asked why he felt the need to make the trip, he responded, “To express solidarity with the Israeli people and show the world that Israel’s airports remain open and safe,” adding, “Hamas would like nothing more than to close down Ben-Gurion, isolating Israel from the international community and seriously damaging its economy. By prohibiting U.S. carriers from flying into Ben-Gurion, the FAA handed Hamas a significant victory – one that the group will undoubtedly attempt to repeat. The FAA has, regrettably, succeeded only in emboldening Hamas.”
His support for Israel could be a double-edged sword. Many fear that his strong connections to Judaism and Israel will be used to fuel the argument of dual loyalty. Dual loyalty is, in this case, the issue of putting Israel’s needs ahead of the needs of the United States. For a long time, this argument has been used to prevent Jews from holding political office. It also raises concerns of anti-Semitism since it primarily questions Jewish loyalty to the United States.
For now, we will have to wait and see if Bloomberg, the second Jewish candidate in the race for President of the United States, will be able to overcome his challengers.