Joe Lhota

In a move better suited to a liberal rag than a legitimate conservative journal, Romney Advisor Cesar Conda recently undertook the strange tact of criticizing Rudy Giuliani for cutting taxes by $9 billion, while praising Romney, despite the Cato Institute’s analysis that he raised fees by over $500 million and proposed hundreds of millions more in business tax increases.

Here is the truth, Mr. Conda.

I would match Rudy Giuliani’s pro-growth record of cutting taxes, reducing city spending and creating private-sector jobs against that of Mitt Romney any day of the week. Rudy Giuliani cut New York City income tax rates by over 20%; he cut business taxes, sales taxes, property related taxes, and nuisance taxes. He is the most successful tax cutter in modern New York history. In fact, The Club for Growth wrote: “In a city long accustomed to high taxes and ballooning budgets, Rudy Giuliani successfully cut taxes; kept spending below the growth of inflation and population; instituted sweeping welfare reform; privatized and deregulated many aspects of the city's bulky bureaucracy; and fought aggressively for school choice."

For example, Rudy Giuliani cut the 12.5% Income Tax Surcharge. It was one of the first taxes he proposed eliminating when he came to office in 1994, and he succeeded in eliminating it as part of a budget deal. If you criticize Mr. Giuliani for doing so as part of a deal, then you criticize him for attempting to cut profligate spending proffered by the Democratic City Council; indeed, Rudy Giuliani supported the elimination of the 12.5% surcharge; he simply opposed a Democratic Budget that included increases in City Spending.

Criticizing Rudy Giuliani for comments relating to the Commuter Tax is unfounded. Rudy Giuliani’s fiscal year 2000 budget proposed tax cuts that would have saved New York City taxpayers an estimated $627 million by Fiscal Year 2003. These included income tax cuts, sales tax exemptions, property related tax cuts, small business tax cuts and business tax reform. The State however, proposed cutting the Commuter Tax. This tax cut would not have benefited a single New York City resident, unlike the tax cuts proposed by Rudy Giuliani. Even worse, it was proposed after Rudy Giuliani submitted his budget and tax cut proposals, and undermined his tax cut plan. So, if you criticize Rudy Giuliani for fighting with Albany over tax cuts, you criticize him for attempting to cut taxes even further in New York City. Mr. Conda may also want to distinguish between proposing tax cuts and achieving tax cuts. Arguing that Mr. Romney was unable to achieve success in cutting taxes because of Democratic resistance does not speak well of achieving bi-partisan success in the future. It should be noted that the New York City Council is composed of 51 members and during the Giuliani Administration, 45 were Democrats.

Ultimately, Rudy Giuliani changed the culture in New York City. Instead of a culture that monolithically opposed tax cuts; it grew into a culture that not only expected tax reductions, but began ask the question of which taxes to cut. Compare this to Massachusetts, which under Romney, became a culture that asked which fee it could hike.


Joe Lhota

Joe Lhota served as New York City’s deputy mayor for operations (1998 - 2001) and budget director (1995 – 1999) during the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

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