Today, the Club for Growth released its fourth presidential white paper on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s economic record. These white papers are extensively researched and seek to provide readers with a thorough analysis of the candidates’ economic records during their time in public office.
Over the past couple of months, critics and supporters alike have cherry-picked one or two issues out of Rudy Giuliani’s extensive record to bolster their pro or con stance.
However, any exploration of a candidate’s record must take into account the larger picture and the unique context in which that record is achieved. In New York City, Rudy Giuliani governed a locality dominated by liberal Democrats; public-sector labor unions; social-welfare activists; and a powerful local news media actively hostile to a limited-government philosophy. In the face of such tremendous headwind, Giuliani’s economic accomplishments are remarkable.
Elected in 1993, on the heels of the largest annual tax increase in the city’s history, Giuliani inherited a city crippled by high taxes, ballooning deficits, and stalled job growth. Despite these obstacles, Mayor Giuliani wasted no time in calling for $1 billion in tax cuts over the next four years, slashing city jobs, and cutting city-funded spending in real terms by more than $340 million. Over the rest of his eight years at Gotham’s helm, Giuliani reduced a slew of other taxes and kept spending at an all-time low.
Giuliani is often criticized for large spending increases during the surplus years, but it is instructive to compare his spending record with that of his predecessors and successor. Over the 1980’s, city spending increased by an average of 7.11 percent, while 1991-1994 saw an average spending increase of 4.68 percent. In contrast, city spending during Giuliani’s eight years increased just barely, by an average of 2.84 percent — a remarkable number given the 2.9 percent population-plus-inflation benchmark. In addition, city spending as a percentage of GCP (gross city product) decreased from 10.9 percent to 9.3 percent — meaning, the size of government as a percentage of the economy actually decreased under Giuliani’s tenure. Mayor Giuliani’s relative spending restraint is all the more impressive compared with the 10.01 percent average increase in spending under Mayor Bloomberg’s first term.