With all the political distractions constantly bombarding us, it’s important to remember that our national economy continues to grow at a strong pace, creating new jobs and the lowest unemployment in years.
But some politicians in Washington and Albany are doing their level best to undo this progress and tip our economy backward. These radical leftists are showing just how dangerous some of their far-out positions can be. If they keep it up, the 2020 election will be a clear-cut referendum on stark choices for America and our state.
Let’s start with the so-called Green New Deal just unveiled by New York’s very own proud socialist Democrat, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. If enacted, this hodge-podge of extreme proposals would throw the U.S. into an economic tailspin. It would commit the U.S. to a wildly unrealistic goal of eliminating all fossil fuels by 2030, dictating a wrenching shift toward its preferred sources of wind and solar power.
Never mind that this unilateral U.S. shift would do nothing to stop other countries like China from continuing to rely on fossil fuels. It would also jeopardize the well-being of millions of American workers, wipe out the environmental benefits that have already been gained in the shift from coal to cleaner gas-powered power plants, and eliminate zero-emission nuclear power.
But this socialist manifesto doesn’t stop there. The FAQ sheet accompanying it loads in a pile of left-wing promises, including “guarantees to everyone” of a job, higher education and health care, and just for good measure, “economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” I’m assuming that last whopper was either a typo or maybe a Freudian slip, but here’s the actual FAQ from Ocasio-Cortez’s official web blog for you to peruse for yourself: https://web.archive.org/web/20190207191119/https:/ocasio-cortez.house.gov/media/blog-posts/green-new-deal-faq.
Not to be undone, some of our state and New York City politicians threw their collective weight against Amazon’s choice of Long Island City for a new headquarters that would have created 25,000 new jobs paying an average of $150,000 per year. Using the same anti-business rhetoric employed by their leftist Washington counterparts, these naysayers railed against what they claim would have been “negative effects” of an Amazon operation in Queens. They apparently believe New York already has enough good jobs, even as many of our young people continue to leave here to find those jobs elsewhere.
Unfortunately, this irrational opposition resulted in Amazon’s decision to withdraw the New York project. The appointment of Queens State Sen. Michael Gianaris — an outspoken opponent of the deal — to the critical Public Authorities Control Board, which must sign off on such projects, sent a particularly terrible signal to Amazon, and helped lead the company to conclude that the Long Island site wasn’t worth fighting for. This at the same time that Virginia — the other state chosen by Amazon for a headquarters — has welcomed the company there and signaled that it would gladly absorb the New York project as well.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio are right to be angry about this indefensible sabotage that will deny New Yorkers such a major economic boost. They did great work to help New York successfully compete with dozens of other states and cities around the country that were courting Amazon. For other elected officials to turn their backs on this opportunity for petty political and rigidly ideological reasons amounts to governmental misfeasance.
Unfortunately, there are other worrisome omens for New York’s economic health. A recent report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli noted a $2.8 billion decline in state income tax revenue, on top of a $1 billion decline in New York City revenue. Much of these drops are attributable to volatility on Wall Street, which provides a major source of funds for government. They underscore the vulnerability of relying too heavily on the financial sector to carry New York state and city finances.
The key to sustaining economic growth here, and across the country, is a strong, diversified private sector. Radical government dictates that would hobble our national economy won’t help American workers whose well-being should be at the heart of policy-making in Albany and Washington.
Our leaders should concentrate on building on our current prosperity, not stifling it. Far-out Green New Deals won’t help America. And barring the new generation of companies like Amazon from New York won’t help our state compete successfully for the jobs our people need.
I trust voters will remember this in the next election.
Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column? ADAmato@liherald.com.