by Chris Richert and Casey Johnson
For weeks Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney have been fighting over who is the more fiscally conservative. These arguments seem to stem from a debate in Michigan on October 9th when the former Mayor and the Governor entered into a battle of statistics. During this conversation, Mayor Giuliani touted the fact that he had reduced taxes:
“I brought taxes [in New York City] down 17 percent…”Despite some questions raised about this claim by his opponents, most of the evidence seems to support Giuliani’s contention. A compilation of statistics of New York City by National Review contributing Editor Deroy Murdock shows that between 1993 and 2001 (Giuliani’s tenure as mayor), the overall tax burden in the city did go down by 17%.
While the 17% claim sounds good, let’s put it in context. Yes, the overall drop was 17%. But what did this reduction mean to the average person? In 1993, the average New Yorker spent $8.80 out of every $100 on city taxes. In 2001, that number only dropped to $7.30 out of every $100. Put into perspective, the 17% drop is less impressive, equaling a $1.50 tax cut on every $100 that New Yorkers earned.
What about the 23 tax cuts cited by Giuliani? The 17% reduction consisted mainly of 23 tax cuts Giuliani pushed through the city council during his time in office. Of the 23, however, eight were initiated by the state, not the city. So it is not fully accurate for him to take credit for these tax cuts. Second, the Mayor actually fought hard to keep one major tax (the non-resident income tax) when other officials s sought to repeal it. The tax cut was eventually approved, but only because Giuliani backed down.
Lesson: Rudy Giuliani’s claim that he reduced taxes while mayor of New York is basically supported by the evidence, but he simplifies the context to take as much personal credit as possible for these cuts.