Listen to wailing and gnashing of teeth:
They are startled and unsure how to react. "Terrifying," is how one banker put it.What do these people have their silk boxers in a twist? What's so terrifying? Well, de Blasio is proposing to fund universal full-day pre-kindergarten in New York by means of a tax increase on incomes over half a million dollars a year. How big a tax increase? A little more than half a percent -- .55%, to be exact.
Many in New York's business and financial elite, stung by the abrupt ascent of Bill de Blasio, an unapologetic tax-the-rich liberal, are fixated on a single question: What are we going to do?
The angst, emanating from charity galas and Park Avenue dinner tables, has created an unexpected political opening for Joseph J. Lhota, the Republican nominee, whose once-sleepy candidacy is now viewed by players in both parties as their last, best hope for salvaging the business-friendly government of the Bloomberg era.
... fear was palpable last Tuesday evening in the soaring Art Deco ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria, where wealthy patrons gathered at a dinner for the National September 11 Memorial, the season’s first big charity gala, were agape at Mr. de Blasio's ascent.
The evening's honoree was Mr. Bloomberg, who was celebrated in a video screened for the audience. "Mayor Bloomberg should be the mayor forever!" one guest called out, and the room erupted in applause.
Not quite a tumbrel, is it?
Oh, and the tax has to be approved at the state level, and many observers don't think that's likely. So the tax plan may be merely aspirational.
Of course, the rich aren't really "terrified." They're insulted. They've been the kings and queens of the last decade or two. They've come out of the economic downturn smelling like a rose; we now have levels of inequality not seen since the 1920s. And they feel entitled to more of the same. They think they deserve an exemption from criticism.
Salon's Blake Zeff says that's why Bloomberg lashed out at de Blasio in a New York magazine interview. I agree:
Michael Bloomberg is not enjoying de Blasio's campaign -- and there's a pretty good reason why: The Democrat's campaign represents one of the first sustained, publicly damaging attacks on his mayoralty that the billionaire has not been able to silence using an arsenal of personal relationships, political leverage and lots of money.This is the same sense of entitlement that leads rich people to lash out at President Obama for remarks about themselves that have an inappropriate "tone" -- Obama, they say, is "villainizing success" -- even as success continues to be the default mode for the rich under Obama. They really don't believe anything should ever make them uncomfortable ever again. They really believe being shielded from discomfort is their right.