Michael Bloomberg Thinks He Can Buy Your Freedom
Michael Bloomberg is the Grinch of modern American politics. Bloomberg lives a separate, elitist lifestyle guarded by men with guns. His snowy Mount Crumpit is, in sum, his many mansions and estates; including the Beaux-Arts limestone mansion in the Upper East Side of Manhattan that quickly became his presidential campaign headquarters last November.
Bloomberg looks down from his lofty offices and homes over Whoville (basically, everything between New York City and Hollywood) and hatches schemes about taking things away from all the residents (yes, you and me). When he was mayor of New York City, he banned sodas over 16 ounces, loud headphones, all sorts of tobacco products, trans fats, black roofs … and, of course, he has spent the last few decades—and enough money to bankrupt a small country—trying to take away your guns.
Now he is trying to buy the presidency.
Just after it began, Bloomberg’s campaign quickly began setting spending records. In the first few weeks after Bloomberg announced his run for our nation’s highest office, he spent or reserved about $60 million in television and radio ads. In comparison, “the top four polling Democrats in the race—former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sanders and Warren—have spent about $28 million on similar ads all year,” reported the Washington Post.
This is pocket change to Bloomberg. Forbes estimated that his net worth was about $55 billion. Before he entered this race, the firm Advertising Analytics expected about $2.7 billion on media ads to be spent by all the candidates running in this election cycle. If Bloomberg were to spend $2.7 billion on media ads all by himself, it would still amount to much less than the interest earned on his fortune.
Still, it’s his money. Other Democratic candidates, such as U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have criticized Bloomberg’s attempt to buy his way up in the polls. But it has always been the case that money can be turned into speech in this free country, which is as it should be. We simply note the Scrooge McDuck fortune Bloomberg has amassed to point out that his money alone makes him a formidable foe to your freedom as he tries to buy his way in very late in the political game.
Bloomberg, regardless of his fortune, has long been an opportunistic politician. Though a lifelong Democrat, he conveniently ran as a Republican for mayor of New York City when it benefitted him. He later switched back. Bloomberg also supported a two-term limit for New York City mayor, but then successfully changed the law to win a third term, only to later support re-imposing the two-term limit after he was set to leave office. He also once announced that he would not return to running his company, Bloomberg L.P., when he left City Hall, but then went back on his word and did.
Bloomberg has been just as changeable with his decision to run, or not to run, for the presidency.
“What chance does a five-foot-seven billionaire Jew who’s divorced really have of becoming president?” Bloomberg reportedly responded when asked by New York Magazine whether he’d consider a race for the White House in October of 2007.
A month later, the cover story in Newsweek touted Bloomberg’s presidential chances. By December of that year, The New York Times reported that Bloomberg was “enchanted” with the idea of an “independent presidential bid.” Bloomberg again toyed with the idea of running for president in 2012, but eventually endorsed President Barack Obama’s re-election bid against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney just days before the election. Rumors of Bloomberg’s interest in the presidency in 2016 were floated once again, with the same result: an op-ed from the former mayor explaining that America had not yet come to its senses about the potential glories of a Michael Bloomberg presidency. In a move that surprised no one, he endorsed the Democrat, Hillary Clinton.
The predictable Bloomberg presidential campaign spin cycle kicked into gear right on time during the primary for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but this time with a major twist: on November 24, he officially announced his candidacy for the presidency (back in March, Bloomberg had regretfully announced, via yet another rueful op-ed, that he couldn’t possibly run this time).
Unlike candidates with natural bases of support and enthusiastic donors eager to bankroll their political futures, Bloomberg’s candidacy is solely powered by his massive wealth. Bloomberg made his fortune building a data platform for Wall Street traders. His computer terminals, and the instant financial markets data they provide, became a staple on every trading floor and behind every bond quant’s desk. The data services and terminals provided by Bloomberg are to financial information what Kleenex is to facial tissue and Google is to search. The brand and market power of the product is now the standard by which all other services are judged.
After graduating with an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, Bloomberg began his career in 1966 working on Wall Street for Salomon Brothers, the investment bank. He became a full partner at the firm in 1973 and was eventually tapped to head the bank’s equity trading desk. But Bloomberg’s star eventually began to fade, and he was slowly pushed out of the firm.
“In 1979, my career at Salomon reversed its magical upward climb,” Bloomberg wrote in his autobiography. He was told by his boss that he would no longer be trading stocks or overseeing the company’s equity traders. Instead of being a hotshot finance whiz, Bloomberg was consigned to managing Salomon’s I.T. operations, a significant demotion in an industry where the only people who mattered were the ones trading securities or underwriting lucrative mergers and acquisitions. He was finally laid off in 1981. It could have been an ignominious end for a one-time Wall Street star, but Bloomberg was handed a golden parachute before he was pushed out. Salomon Brothers gave him a $10 million severance payout, money that he would later use to start the company that eventually made him a billionaire. Years later, Bloomberg said that getting fired was “the best thing that ever happened” to him.
By 2018, the small IT and data services company had become Bloomberg L.P., and reportedly earned $10 billion in revenue. Forbes estimates that Bloomberg still personally owns close to 90% of the firm’s equity. Bloomberg has used that fortune on more than international mansions and helicopters and private jets (though he has plenty of those). His vast reserves of cash have been put to use peddling propaganda for his pet political issues: gun control, global warming and social engineering. While his party registration may have changed throughout the years, Bloomberg’s love of nanny statism—the use of government coercion and force to change the behaviors of his subjects—has remained stubbornly consistent.
As mayor, Bloomberg banned sodas larger than 16 ounces from being served at any restaurants, claiming that the ban would be a key weapon in the fight against a global obesity epidemic. His own philanthropic foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, claimed that taxing “sugary beverages and junk food” would make the world skinnier by “reducing consumer demand for unhealthy foods and beverages.” The ban was eventually struck down as unconstitutional by New York courts, which ruled that Bloomberg’s soda ban was “arbitrary and capricious,” would create an “administrative Leviathan” and would grant the city’s health department “virtually limitless authority” over the state’s food industry.
Rather than changing course after the overwhelming rebuke from legal authorities, Bloomberg doubled down by using the same playbook in his war on the Second Amendment. In 2004, he announced that he would spend $50 million to push gun control and counter the influence of the NRA. That funding eventually led to the creation of Everytown for Gun Safety, a political-advocacy organization that combined the efforts of several other Bloomberg anti-gun groups. Bloomberg told The New York Times: “We’ve got to make [the NRA] afraid of us,” he said. “And we’re never going to stop.”
In 2016, Bloomberg reportedly spent $25 million on several Senate races and anti-gun ballot initiatives. With Bloomberg’s help, anti-gun groups outspent gun-rights activists, pouring nearly $40 million into federal, state and local races and ballot initiatives throughout the country. Bloomberg’s Everytown has supported nearly every radical gun-control proposal floated since it was created, from bans on so-called “assault weapons” to support for unconstitutional “red-flag” laws to the 16-ounce soda ban of the gun-control world, a ban on “high-capacity” rifle and pistol magazines.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s efforts to get his way have had a disturbing taste of evil genius in them. “A New York University School of Law program funded by billionaire Michael Bloomberg is placing lawyers in the offices of Democratic state attorneys general and paying them to prosecute energy companies and challenge Trump administration policies on energy and the environment,” RealClear Investigations reported in 2018. “Nine states and Washington, D.C., including New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania, are participating in the multimillion-dollar program funded by the media magnate and ex-New York City mayor[.]” Under the program, the Bloomberg-funded attorneys were given official government authority to “work solely to advance progressive environmental policy” on Bloomberg’s behalf.
“The fellows have played a role in filing at least 130 regulatory, legal and other challenges to federal environmental policies since 2017,” RealClear Investigations found. The attorneys then used attorney-client privilege to keep their work secret and to shield their advocacy work from public scrutiny and accountability via public records and freedom-of-inform-ation laws. It is not hard to imagine Bloomberg using this same tactic to curtail Americans’ right to keep and bear arms.
At a 2018 event with the head of the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg made his governing philosophy clear. He noted that the real purpose of taxation isn’t to raise money for the government to provide vital services to the populace, but to punish people for behaviors Bloomberg opposes. During his remarks, Bloomberg unashamedly extolled the virtue of regressive taxes—taxes that disproportionately target the poor—as a “good thing” because it’s easier to use taxation to alter the behavior of “people that don’t have a lot of money.”
“Some people say, well, taxes are regressive. But in this case, yes they are. That’s the good thing about them because the problem is in people that don’t have a lot of money,” Bloomberg said. “And so, higher taxes should have a bigger impact on their behavior and how they deal with themselves.”
Bloomberg might have hesitated to leap into the race for president because running nationwide, especially in states like Iowa and South Carolina, is different than running in New York City, where Hillary Clinton received 80% of the vote in 2016. But then, his positions on the Second Amendment and more are hardly to the left of the other Democrats running for our nation’s highest office.
Article by Sean Davis