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Morning Spew

Eric Adams Says Welcome to Fear City

The mayor is Getting Stuff Done (blaming the threat of massive budget cuts on asylum seekers).

Eric Adams and Anna Wintour

New York City Mayor Eric Adams Ralph Lauren Showcase During New York Fashion Week at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Friday, September 8, 2023. (Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

Can you threaten to decimate New York City's basic services with severe budget cuts and place the blame for those cuts squarely on migrants, without also giving credence to the disgusting, anti-immigrant politics that are threatening to dominate the 2024 election cycle? Mayor Eric Adams is asking you to trust that he can. 

Over the weekend, Adams announced that every City agency would need to cut their budgets by five percent—and then by another five percent, and another five percent, so that by the start of fiscal year 2024 on July 1, 2024, they would see their total budgets slashed by 15 percent. This would happen through hiring freezes, eliminating expenses like travel, and cutting overtime for uniformed agencies. The mayor promised to "minimize disruption" to basic services—in other words, do more with less!

While the mayor and his budget director, Jacques Jihan, paid lip service to New York City's history as a safe haven for immigrants in their announcements, they placed all the blame for these cuts on migrants. (The Citizens Budget Commission noted in a statement that less than half of the City's $13 billion projected deficit is due to unexpected spending on asylum seekers, but having to acknowledge that freshly-negotiated union contracts and pension contributions are a huge part of the shortfall complicates the mayor's narrative.)

Asked directly if this isn't just a ploy to pressure the federal government to fork over more cash (as an unnamed official assured Politico that it was), Adams denied it.

"No, not at all," the mayor told MSNBC on Sunday. He then quickly pivoted to complaints about how his recent incendiary comments ("This issue will destroy New York City," as he put it last week) have been distorted as anti-immigrant. "The Trump Republicans are trying to use it as such, which is not true; and then, even the far left is trying to use it as anti-immigrant," Adams said.

Adams's strategy is reminiscent of the City's fiscal crisis of the 1970s, when police unions tried to scare up federal rescue money by distributing a fearmongering pamphlet to tourists entitled "Welcome to Fear City." The gambit didn't really work, and the City went through a period of painful austerity measures with its reputation forever changed by the same people who swore they were just trying to help.

What if Adams is right, and all this pressure works, and New York City gets a few extra billion dollars from Washington—won't it have been worth it? 

Sure, immigration is shaping up to be the Republicans' most effective cudgel in the 2024 elections, but won't it have been worth it?

And maybe Adams's rhetoric has been embraced by both garden-variety batshit reactionaries and full blown neo-Nazis, but won't it have been worth it?

These links have been cut by 15 percent thanks to—you guessed it—asylum seekers.

:eyes emoji:

And finally:

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