Beyond Bloomberg

While the crowd of presidential candidates for 2020 continues to grow, former New York City Mayor of Michael Bloomberg will not be one of them.

Bloomberg, as he explained, made a sober assessment of his chances of winning the Democratic nomination (he recently registered in the party after years as an independent) and concluded they were unrealistically small and that he could accomplish more to advance his policy goals as a non-candidate.

He intends to be a participant, not an observer, in 2020. Bloomberg invested more than $100 million to help Democrats in the 2018 midterm election, and the billionaire politician planned to invest similarly (likely more lavishly) on his own presidential bid. The money that would have been spent on himself will instead be used to help Democrats defeat President Donald Trump, according to The Associated Press. He will no doubt have his say in how that money is spent.

Which means that while we’ve gone beyond Bloomberg for president, we haven’t gone beyond Bloomberg himself.

Indeed, although the 77-year-old Bloomberg has given up on his dream of becoming commander-in-chief, his role as bankroller-in-chief will provide him with a strong claim on a cabinet post if a Democrat manages to win the Oval Office, perhaps as secretary of the Treasury, or State or Defense.

In view of his achievements in helping to make New York into a financially viable entity, Bloomberg might seek to cap his career with a senior position in Washington. Few question his executive abilities, which are impressive and significant.

That does not, however, mean that the policies he seeks to promote are good for America.

As he pushes for his favorite policies — climate change, gun control, healthcare —the pros and cons of Michael Bloomberg will have to be reckoned with.

Bloomberg left a sizable mayoral footprint on New York City, and many credit him with the fact that the economy of the city flourished. But for many New Yorkers, the long arm of Michael Bloomberg reached too far. During his three terms in office, he advanced no fewer than 32 different bans on items ranging from smoking in restaurants to transfats, styrofoam, black roofs and sugary drinks over 16 ounces.

The general tendency to want to decide for people what is best for them and outlaw what is bad for them earned him a controversial reputation as a strong exponent of nanny government.

This desire to regulate all life on the planet will be writ larger in the next 18 months, as Bloomberg pursues a program that he calls Beyond Carbon, which sets as its goal an economy that runs on 100 percent clean energy. Details have not been released yet, but reportedly it will be more moderate than the Green New Deal put forth by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).

Any reflection on Bloomberg’s record must include the words and actions that caused so much offense to the Jewish community.

In a painful twist to history, it was Bloomberg who implemented — for the first time in American history — a government regulation interfering with a fundamental tenet of Judaism. His regulation of bris milah dealt a terrible blow to religious rights, and was a bitter betrayal of a community who had supported him.

We recall with repugnance his notorious remark boasting that he did not give in to the “10,000 guys in black hats” when they beseeched him not to regulate metzitzah b’peh.

During his administration, parents of children with special needs who sought to send their children to culturally appropriate schools felt that they had no choice but to take the city to court to get approval to do so.

Another sore point is the sense that the mayor who won over Jewish voters during the 2009 election through ads touting his efforts to save Priority 7, later broke his word in regard to the afterschool voucher program that was of particular importance to Orthodox parents.

We can only hope that as he putters around on the national stage he will focus his energy and considerable fortune on matters that do not threaten our religious liberties and way of life.

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