You can feel the excitement! Cynthia Nixon has announced that she is running for Governor of New York! I assume you have heard of her, but if you haven't, she's one of the actresses from Sex and the City. Could there be a more perfect candidate to represent the super-progressive wing of the progressive New York Democratic Party? She's famous! She's gay! She's beautiful! She's won more awards than you can count -- Tonys and Grammys and Emmys and Golden Globes and even a Golden Raspberry ("worst actress") for one of the Sex and the City movies! She has great name recognition! And she doesn't dissent on a single official position of New York progressive orthodoxy!
Nixon will run against incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo in the primary in September. And, given her "qualifications" (see above) she might even give him a pretty good run for his money.
So shall we take a look at some of her positions on policy issues? Here's my summary: Nixon is a total airhead who does little more than parrot the talking points of the special interests, mainly public employee unions, who have captured New York State government. Go for it, New York progressives!
Let's start with what appears to be Nixon's signature issue: public school funding. Her current barebones website doesn't say a lot about the subject ("We could fully fund our public schools — all of our schools."); but then, she is known as the spokeswoman for something called Alliance for Quality Education. Haven't heard of them? They are the teachers' union-backed shills who issue endless demands for more money to support the education status quo, while resisting meaningful reform of any kind. When Cuomo put out his proposed education budget in January, here is the statement that Nixon put out in response on behalf of AQE. Excerpt:
New York currently ranks 49th in the nation on equity in education spending; under Governor Cuomo’s leadership 48 states have more equitable funding than New York State. This is because in his eight years in office, the Governor has consistently failed to fund the Foundation Aid formula and fulfill the State’s obligations under the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. “Governor Cuomo had a chance today to put the next generation of New Yorkers first,” said actor and AQE spokesperson Cynthia Nixon. “Instead, he proposed yet another budget that will keep New York at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to educational equity and justice. Governor Cuomo claims he has provided record increases in education funding, but in reality, he has created a record spending gap between the wealthiest and poorest school districts. Ever since he took office, Governor Cuomo has found excuse after excuse for why he can’t prioritize education for Black, Brown, immigrant and low income students. . . .
What does that business about "equity" and "justice" in education spending even mean? Try going to Nixon's link (to something called urban.org) and see if you can get any more useful information. You can't. Here's what I know: New York is number one out of 51 states plus DC in per student education funding. According to information here at governing.com, New York per student education expenses in 2015 (most recent year available) were $21,206, more than any other jurisdiction, and about double the average. Super-progressive California? $10,467 -- less than half. Other big states include Texas at $8861, and Florida at $8881. For Nixon and the teachers union progressives, spending double what the other big states spend while achieving nothing isn't good enough, and the obvious solution is to spend still more.
Although I can't find any definition of what is meant by "educational equity and justice" either in Nixon's materials or at her link, I'm inferring that those terms must somehow relate to the relative spending between the very highest and lowest spending school districts in the state. It could be true that there is a relatively large spread in New York between the highest-spending wealthy suburban districts (e.g., Scarsdale) and the very lowest-spending district in some poor small town. However, in New York, New York City is all one big district, and includes the majority of all black and Hispanic students in the entire state. New York City's annual school budget is running about $30.8 billion, for about 1.1 million students. That's about $28,000 per student!
In other words, the Nixon/AQE line about lack of "equity" and "justice" in New York education funding is complete baloney targeted to an audience of the uninformed. But then, everything AQE does is designed to get more money for the education status quo and the teachers union so that the schools can keep failing at ever greater expense and never have to face any pressure for reform.
The second issue for which Nixon has gotten some recent press is sexual harassment. That should help her to catch the wave of the #MeToo! movement! On Monday, Nixon held a press conference in Albany as part of her campaign launch, and used the occasion to accuse Cuomo of "mansplaining" the sexual harassment issue:
“I have seen Andrew Cuomo mansplaining and lecturing women on sexual harassment,” Nixon said at a press conference in Albany. “I have read about him lecturing [state Sen.] Andrea Stewart-Cousins that [state Sen.] Jeff Klein is more qualified in understanding suburban voters, better than she does, despite her being a Senator who oversees the suburbs of Westchester. . . . At a time when millions of women are making their voices heard, why should we settle for sexual-harassment policies that are being discussed behind closed doors without a single woman present?” Nixon said at the Albany Hilton.
Well, we know that Nixon is an expert on the subject. We know that because last time we saw her in public was last November, when she was the host at the National Book Award ceremonies, where one of the presenters was none other than Bill Clinton. Somehow, it was just fine with this supposed champion of victims of sexual harassment to share the stage with Bill Clinton.
I'll give you just a couple of more examples of the positions from Nixon's website. How about income inequality? Nixon: "New York has become the single most unequal state in the country." That might depend on what exact measure of inequality you use, but assume it's true. Hasn't New York long had the most generous collection of redistribution and anti-poverty programs in the country, all designed to address this issue? How could it be that, despite those programs, New York has not only failed to become less unequal than other states, but is instead "the single most unequal state in the country"? Could it be, Cynthia, that these "anti-poverty" programs actually have the opposite of their supposedly intended effects? I highly recommend that you read some of the archives of the Manhattan Contrarian on this issue. Perhaps start with my August 3, 2015 post, "Do Progressive Policies Cause Income Inequality?" Excerpt:
The jurisdictions in the U.S. with the most progressive state and local governments -- and the most public housing, the highest Medicaid and food stamp usage, and the premium minimum wages -- are the jurisdictions with the highest Gini coefficients, indicating the greatest income inequality. As the article points out, Bloomberg Rankings did a study last year that ranked all Congressional Districts by Gini coefficient, and the results were eye-opening. Of the top (most unequal) 25 Congressional districts, 23 were represented by Democrats, and they included literally all the most progressive districts in the country: all five Manhattan districts, plus districts covering downtown Chicago, Cambridge, Berkeley, Santa Monica, and of course Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district. The very highest Gini coefficient of all is found in the New York 10 Congressional district, covering the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Greenwich Village, and the Financial District. Bill de Blasio's office (City Hall) is in this district.
And finally, you won't be surprised to learn that Nixon believes in magical energy as the solution to "climate change":
We could make a bold commitment to invest in renewable energy, one that will get us off fossil fuels completely and provide tens of thousands of new jobs — especially in the communities most impacted by pollution and climate change.
Yup, that's "bold" Cynthia! We will all freeze in the dark with non-existent energy that doesn't work and requires billions in subsidies.
Lots and lots of the seemingly educated Manhattan and Brooklyn elites will be voting for this airhead.