Why does the Mayor of New York think New York is doomed?
The Mayor of New York City believes New York City, in the coming days or weeks or months or years, will be no more. “Let me tell you something New Yorkers, never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to—I don’t see an ending to this,” Adams said at a town hall on the Upper West Side this week. “This issue will destroy New York City.” He was talking, of course, about the migrant crisis, which has strained the city’s homeless shelter system and led to the creation of temporary facilities at Randalls Island. “Every community in this city is going to be impacted,” Adams added. “We have a $12 billion deficit that we’re going to have to cut — every service in this city is going to be impacted. All of us.”
There is no $12 billion budget deficit today. There is a projected $11.66 billion deficit, according to the city comptroller’s office, for the 2027 fiscal year. Budget gaps get closed with budget cuts. They also get closed with changing economic conditions and aid from elsewhere. Local Democrats have blamed the Biden administration for their lackluster response to the influx of migrants and it’s unlikely, with a Republican-run Congress, a tranche of federal aid will be forthcoming. State aid is more probable. Gov. Kathy Hochul, in much less strident terms, has blamed the federal government too. Albany alone can’t close this future budget gap, but it can help. The state budget is very large. The municipal budget, which surpasses $100 billion, is also very large. An ambitious mayor can find cost savings, paired with future aid, that does not lead to a fiscal disaster or the shredding of the social safety net. Reforming the city’s inefficient procurement process and reining in inflated infrastructure costs—park bathrooms, even in 2019, were costing almost $4 million a pop—could save a great deal of money without laying off schoolteachers and sanitation workers.
But that is all boring budget talk. Adams, a Democrat with Trumpian bombast, would rather traffic in absolutes. It’s now or never for New York. If the migrants keep coming, the city as we know it will cease to exist. Everywhere you walk, an ailing migrant from Venezuela or Africa, and there will be no public infrastructure left for them or us. New York might be a burnt-out shell city, maybe, or Rome on the eve of the Visigoth siege. Republicans love these visions. From Mike Pence on down, they’ve echoed and praised Adams. They’ve longed for a New York doom loop, spurred on by Fox News and the New York Post. Never in their most fevered dreams would they have thought a Democrat would be leading the charge, breaking through a right-wing media echo chamber to the liberals in the big city mainstream.
Is Adams wrong? Is there really no end in sight? Will the migrants destroy New York? The plain enough answer is that they won’t because New York is, by far, the largest and richest city in America. It has existed for hundreds of years and will, barring a nuclear apocalypse, outlast us all. It’s particularly strange Adams believes the migrant influx is the very first challenge he has never seen an “ending” to when Covid ravaged New York just three years ago, killing more than 40,000 people. Was he truly less dire about the future of the city in April 2020 than today? The answer to that will never be known because Adams frequently speaks in hyperbole and outright lies. He is as unreliable a narrator as you’ll find in political office. Adams might truly believe immigrants seeking asylum will bring New York to its knees in the way a pandemic, a superstorm, or a world-historical terrorist attack could not.
Either way, his posture is nonsensical.