U.S cities hold the promise of transforming the nation’s economy, while facing the challenge of restraining costs of benefits to their workers, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg said in remarks prepared for a speech today.
Bloomberg, 71, in what his staff billed as his farewell address after 12 years leading the nation’s largest metropolis, told an audience of hundreds assembled by the Economic Club that he envisioned an “urban renaissance” while warning of the risk of politicians who pander to union demands for generous pensions and free lifetime health care.
“It is one of the biggest threats facing cities, because it is forcing government into a fiscal straitjacket that severely limits its ability to provide an effective social service net,” he said. “The costs of today’s benefits cannot be sustained for another generation.”
The mayor, who leaves office Dec. 31, has seen yearly pension costs rise to about $8 billion from $1.5 billion since 2001, the result of what he described as a “labor-electoral complex,” an allusion to President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1960 warning to the American people to beware a military-industrial complex.
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