New York Bent On Self-Destruction

Tomorrow is our day to dodge the bullet of Bill de Blasio, and in the best New York tradition we're not going to do it.  The good news is that even the worst left-wing policies do not lead to immediate economic collapse, but rather to slow gradual decline.  It took decades of Rockefeller/Wagner/Lindsay overtaxing and overspending before New York City lost 10% of its population in the 1970s, and that one proved possible to correct.  Still, you would think we had learned those lessons. 

To prove that the New York mind is incapable of learning, the Daily News serves up one of the most preposterous editorials imaginable, endorsing de Blasio for mayor.  The gist of the editorial is that they are against every specific policy proposal that de Blasio has put forward, yet they support him because, I guess, he can't really mean it and he seems like a bright guy and we hope that he will wise up once in office.  They characterize his expensive and vapid educational agenda ("after-school programs!", "parental involvement!", "teacher retention!") as "wishful thinking."  They point out that Bloomberg had educational reforms that actually worked (charter schools, closing failing schools), but at the demand of the teachers union de Blasio opposes continuing with them.  Well, he'll just have to "be a fast learner."  They characterize his approach to security (a federal monitor for the Police Department!) as "display[ing] a frightening ideological bent."  Massive retroactive raises for the workforce (the unions are demanding $7.8 billion)?  de Blasio has refused to rule them out, even though "the right response is zero."  No mention in this editorial of the actual main issues confronting the city government, overspending on education and on pensions and retiree healthcare.  From all indications de Blasio has never heard of these issues.  It would be way too impolite to point such things out to him.  He's too busy crusading to "save" a hospital in Brooklyn that is way beyond saving.  And by the way, there are four more behind it in deep financial trouble and not a chance the city can or will divert money from other needs to save any, let alone all of them.        

Conclusion: "De Blasio's potential to rise to that challenge is the critical factor for an endorsement extended with trepidation.  Great good luck to all."  Well, I've got news for them: de Blasio is a true believer in his rhetoric.   You make your own luck, and we're making ours here, but not the good kind.

Also not mentioned by the Daily News is another of de Blasio's favorite causes, "affordable housing."  The Wall Street Journal surprises over the weekend with some information on how much this game costs.   I previously estimated the cost of "affordable housing" in Manhattan at $40,000 to $80,000 per beneficiary family per year, based solely on the differential between the subsidized rents and market rents for similar apartments in the same buildings.  But of course the direct and indirect subsidies are far greater even than this, although very difficult to find and quantify.  But the WSJ got hold of Housing Finance Authority board materials for a meeting in October that approved financing for a project on Sixth Avenue with 375 apartments, 75 of them "affordable."

Board materials show that the 80-20 program would allocate $2.5 million in tax-exempt financing, plus $18,573 in federal annual tax credits for 10 years, for each of 75 affordable units.

Assuming a 2% interest rate differential between the tax-exempt financing and what would be available in private financing, that's $50,000 per subsidized apartment, plus the $18,573 makes $68,573.  And did I mention that in return for making 20% "affordable" apartments they get to pay no real estate taxes on the whole building for at least 10 years?  That could easily be $2 million per year, or another $27,000 per "affordable" apartment.  Seems like the total comes pretty close to $100,000 per year per apartment.  And the beneficiaries are not even poor!

Can someone here in New York possibly notice?  Yes.  Here in the WSJ article, we have Benjamin Dulchin of the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, referring to this 80-20 program in Manhattan, saying "It is about the most inefficient way from the taxpayer's point of view to provide affordable housing."    This is actual real progress, since ANHD is basically a coalition of "affordable housing" promoters.

But don't worry:  de Blasio will not notice.