October 1, 2007
In Britain, Bloomberg Turns Up Criticism of U.S. Conservatives
By DIANE CARDWELL
BLACKPOOL, England, Sept. 30 Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has
been more openly criticizing President Bush's policies in recent
months, lashed out on Sunday at American conservatives who he said
engaged in the "lunacy" of creating deficits for future generations to
Portraying himself as a fiscal conservative despite having increased
spending more than any other New York mayor in almost 30 years, Mr.
Bloomberg sought to define his own political ideology, telling
delegates at the Conservative Party conference here that the key to
success was balancing budgets, avoiding deficits, delivering services
more efficiently and staying away from politics.
"The Conservative Party in the U.K. is much more fiscally conservative
than many American politicians who call themselves conservative," he
told the crowd at a ballroom at the Winter Gardens. "Too many of our
conservatives in the United States want to run up enormous deficits
and hope that some way, somehow, someone else will pay for it. That's
not conservatism, that's alchemy at best, or if you like, lunacy."
The president, Mr. Bloomberg said after the speech, has, "I think,
never vetoed a budget." He added, "On the other hand, Congress has
passed a lot of very big budgets that we can't afford."
Mr. Bloomberg has often been criticized by right-leaning policy
experts for increasing spending and raising taxes during his
administration. But in laying out his theory of good government, he
defended his fiscal record, arguing that tax increases were sometimes
necessary and that he had been prudent with the city's money, saving
surplus revenue for future costs like employee health care.
At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg said, it was important to spend money
to improve quality of life and to create the conditions that attract
private-sector investments to diversify and boost the economy.
Mr. Bloomberg has been intensifying his criticism of the Bush
administration, mainly for what he calls a go-it-alone approach to the
Iraq war that he says has severely damaged the United States'
A White House spokesman, Blair Jones, said on Sunday that the
president had threatened vetoes on spending bills, but did not have to
use them when "he had the cooperation of a Republican Congress to hold
the line on spending."
In the last three years, "the deficit has declined $200 billion and
we're on a path to balance the budget within five years," Mr. Jones
said. "We're accomplishing all this while keeping taxes low and
protecting our nation."
Mr. Bloomberg appeared at this downtrodden seaside resort at the
invitation of David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, and
the mayor's remarks went over well, including several jokes. "In
preparing for this speech, my biggest dilemma was not what to say, but
what to wear," Mr. Bloomberg said near the start, adding that he
decided to go with "a conservative blue suit, appropriately enough."
He added: "I decided to leave my pink suit home just in case I'm ever
invited to No. 10," a reference to the media stir Margaret Thatcher
created on a visit to the prime minister, Gordon Brown, at 10 Downing
Street. She wore pink, which was seen as too close to the Labor Party
red rather than the Conservative Party blue.
Mr. Bloomberg's presence, part of a four-day swing through France and
England, fueled interest in his presidential aspirations, which he
denied having, as usual.