Rudy's Mixed Fiscal Record

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jun 20, 2007 4:52 PM

As part of his recently unveiled “12 Commitments,” Rudy Giuliani said, “I will restore fiscal discipline and cut wasteful Washington spending.”

But writing for Newsday back in 2002, Manhattan Institute's E.J. McMahon wrote this about Rudy’s spending habits:

City spending rose by 26 percent from fiscal 1997 to 2001, well more than double the rate of inflation. Rudolph Giuliani's final budget, adopted last June, effectively incorporated a $2-billion operating deficit, which the former mayor patched over with surplus funds accumulated in prior years. (Emphasis added)

In fairness, McMahon includes in his numbers, I believe, federal and state grants to the NYC budget. It’s hard to assign credit or blame to Rudy for this. When one focuses on city-funded spending (which the Club for Growth's white paper on Giuliani did), his record looks much better.

The Citizens Budget Commission also took note of Giuliani’s expansion of municipal government, an increase of $4 billion from 1998-2001, during his second term as mayor, squandering a surplus accumulated through the 1990s economic boom.

... Another one of his “12 Commitments” is wishing to “cut taxes and reform the tax code.”

However, while Mayor of New York, Giuliani extended income tax surcharges and famously opposed Gov. George Pataki’s candidacy—breaking with the Republican Party—because Pataki favored tax cuts.

I’m less concerned by his slap at Pataki, primarily because after Pataki was elected, Rudy supported the tax cut.  But the surcharge extension is a prime example of Rudy’s not being the perfect fiscal conservative.

Rudy Giuliani has always been presented as a foe to conservatives on social issues, but a friend on fiscal issues.  A closer examination of his record shows that while his fiscal record is certainly more conservative than his social record, it is not a slam dunk, either.