BEHIND THE NEWS: Budgets and babies

January 30, 2009 1:49:17 PM PST
It's a heck of a way to launch his re-election campaign.

Mayor Bloomberg today filled with not-so-good news: an hour-long presentation, that, with apologies to Arlo Guthrie, was complete with charts and graphs and all sorts of mean nasty things, standing there in the Blue Room of City Hall.

A $4 billion budget gap probably sounds a lot different to a guy worth $10 billion than it does to the rest of us. Or maybe it doesn't.

But I keep visualizing that the gap, if it came out of Bloomberg's fortune, would still leave him with more than half of what he has.

For the rest of us, it means 23,000 jobs lost, and services cut -- jobs and services that affect public safety -- and hikes in the sales tax - from 8.375 percent, already the highest in the nation, to 8.625 percent, which, if my math is correct from all these high-falutin' numbers, would still be the highest in the country.

Clearly the Mayor is trying to brace the citizenry for rougher economic times. He didn't make all that money by being unintelligent about money.

But just as clearly, the Mayor is campaigning for more than just another term. He's also campaigning for financial aid - from the state, the federal economic stimulus plan, from wherever he can get it. If a bake sale could bring in revenue, one gets the idea Mr. Bloomberg would be making cookies at his gazillion-dollar Upper East Side townhouse. (What's the term for a gazillion-dollar home that's devalued by at least 20% because of this market?)

The sales tax may not be the most progressive way to raise revenue. In fact, it may be one of the least progressive ways.

City Comptroller Bill Thompson, who very much wants Mr. Bloomberg's job, says the Mayor is trying to raise money and "balance the budget on the backs of working people." Thompson criticized the Mayor for relying "too heavily on a sales tax increase at a time when the city's hardworking families and small businesses are suffering." Instead, Thompson suggests, the City's personal income tax should be hiked for people earning more than $500,000 a year. The tax increase could be scaled back once the recession is over, he says.

We'll have the latest on the Mayor's cuts and hikes, and the latest on the economic crisis, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, he is one of the most successful managers in baseball history, and he turned the Yankees -- the big, bad Yankees -- into a real team, not just a collection of individual jocks.

But now former Yankees manager Joe Torre has written a new book that takes some of those athletes to task - for their egos and for their selfishness. Torre is speaking tonight for the first time on CNN's Larry King Live show. We'll have the highlights.

And we'll have the new developments in what is arguably the talker story of the day: The woman in Southern California who gave birth to octuplets this week. Turns out, she already has six children, is a single mom, and lives with her parents.

The woman reportedly refused to reduce the number of embryos she was carrying when she went to a fertility clinic. It raises all sorts of fascinating ethical questions. Of course, a person is and should be allowed to have as many children as she wants. But what about the ethics of fertility doctors? What is their responsibility? The wire story on this says that "doctors say they are not in the business of regulating family size. But they try everything to avoid higher-order pregnancies to prevent health problems for mothers and infants. National guidelines suggest that doctors limit the number of embryos implanted to avoid multiple births. Women are also counseled not to go through with attempting pregnancy if too many eggs have budded when they're taking fertility drugs."

Clearly, if this woman had been advised against this, she ignored that advice. We'd love to hear what you think about all this. If you have an opinion, CLICK HERE and I'll include some of your comments in Monday's Behind The News.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, including the election of the first African American chair of the Republican National Committee - plus Jeff Smith's AccuWeather forecast (Lee Goldberg is still under the weather), and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.

BILL RITTER


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