An Alternative to Bloomberg’s Presidential Bid

Bloomberg

I’ve caught glimpses of it all over the place for months, and this week in The New Yorker David Remnick confirms it: Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, is seriously considering a presidential candidacy on a third party ticket.  I’m here to say, Mr. Mayor, I love you, but please stop.

I’m a big fan of Bloomberg.  I love that he’s stinking rich such that money from lobbyists or special interest groups can’t faze him and if I were to register for his campaign web site I would never get an email asking me to donate.  I love the way he told the Republican Party to go F itself after he used them to win the mayoralty a la Radiohead’s rejection of the major music labels.  I love that he’s a true independent because all of his self-interest has been fulfilled, so he’d likely be making decisions in the interest of the people.   I love that one of his goals is to donate $400 million per year of his personal fortune.

But, I also love Barack Obama and everything he can do for this country.  I can’t vote for both of them, and I don’t think my desire to do so would be unique among Americans.  This means that Bloomberg might steal some of Obama’s votes.  Sure, he’d steal some of the Republican candidate’s votes too, but with his progressive social values, it’s unlikely he’d get more Republican votes than Democrat.  Bloomberg’s bid has Democratic vote-splitting written all over it.

Here’s my alternate plan that would avoid the risk of getting a Republican president:

Instead of running for president, Bloomberg takes that $400 million he’d like to give away each year and gives it directly to a line item of his choice on the federal budget.  Say in 2010 the federal education budget is running $50 million in the hole.  Bloomberg gives his $400 million to education only and not only is the budget breaking even, but it’s running at a surplus of $350 million, enough to start a new initiative or complete a project that has been chronically underfunded.  In this way, he might actually get to have more direct influence than he would as president.  There would be no congress checking him on how he delegates funds, and he wouldn’t be bogged down with the day to day decisions that would distract him from his primary goals.

Essentially, Bloomberg has three chief strengths: great ideas, unparalleled managerial skills, and the net worth of a small country.  If he were president, we’d get the direct benefit of the first two traits and only ancillary benefits from his money (a lack of self-interest and subsequent lack of susceptibility to corruption).  If Bloomberg follows my plan, we would still get two of three benefits: his money and his ideas.  We’d miss his managerial skills.  So, the American people would at least break even in terms of what we get from Bloomberg, and then if you add Obama to the mix we win (presuming that we would gain less from Obama as senator than Obama as president).  Bloomberg himself would win on two counts.  First of all, it can’t be nearly as much fun to be responsible for managing the behemoth American government as it would be to offer advice from the sidelines where you’re not held accountable.  Second of all, he would save a billion dollars by not having to fund a campaign.  He could put this money towards his goal of $400 million per year in philanthropy.

If Bloomberg doesn’t run, then Obama wins, the American people win, and Bloomberg himself wins.  Bloomberg just needs to follow my plan and step aside for Obama.  And Obama just needs to lend his ear to Bloomberg once he becomes president.

Might I also add that by the rules of the playground, Bloomberg can’t run.  He’s too late.  Obama already called it.

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~ by jaredran on January 8, 2008.

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