Mort Zuckerman Wins -- Because He's On Both Sides of Every Issue!

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Mort was for cutting government programs before he was against it.
If real estate titan Mort Zuckerman gets into the senate race against Kirsten Gillibrand, we'll finally have a vigorous debate about the big-ticket issues troubling Americans. All we have to do is listen to Mort and we'll get both sides of the key economic questions.

The lead story in the Times today, for example, is a bell ringer about the "dangerous heights" the deficit is reaching and the "fear of a debt crisis." Zuckerman has been sounding the same alarm. He went on Fox Business on January 21 to declare that the "government is on a debt binge."

In his own magazine, U.S. News & World Report, the publisher penned a treatise on the deficit the same day, deriding Obama for being out of step with Americans who now "understand in the most personal terms that excessive debt has real consequences."

He wrote, "this is what the president seems to be getting us in to," concluding that "Obama's lowest approval ratings come from his mishandling of the present and future deficit." The president has "misjudged the public's appetite for taxpayer-funded solutions."

Of course, the big argument against the deficit hawks is that when the economy goes bust, government has to accelerate smart spending to get it going again. Count Mort in that corner as well.

On NBC's Meet the Press on January 31, Zuckerman said that Obama "had to concentrate his political capital on a whole series of programs to improve the economy and jobs," conceding that "we can't do much about the fiscal thing at this point."

"We have got to have government programs," he declared.

State and local governments and schools are going to be cutting budgets by $200 billion, he calculated, denouncing such slashes as "completely countercyclical" and warning it could "wide out the stimulus program." He called for "a major industrial program to improve manufacturing," obviously a costly government initiative.

The Daily News publisher has been just as eloquent on the question of Wall Street. With the president both blaming and vowing to tax the banks, Zuckerman seemed to agree partly, writing that "a good number of Americans are likely to remain furious at the spectacle of the financial world doing well while so many ordinary folks lose their jobs and their savings." But the same day that story appeared, Fox asked him what he thought of Obama's attacks on Wall Street "salaries and bonuses" and Mort rallied to the cause: "I don't think it's right to demonize these people. You just don't diminish them and beat them over the heads and shoulders for political reasons. And that's what it's about."

It isn't really my job to be giving you little peeks into Mort's world. I have filed a missing persons report for Chuck Schumer. When Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney winked about running, the Schumer machine crushed her, just as it did Steve Israel, whose phone calls from the White House were wired through the Schumer switchboard. Before Harold Ford Jr. even acknowledged that he was interested in saying he was interested, he was assaulted on multiple Schumer-and-Gillibrand-generated-fronts. So far, and it's been several days since the Times served up Zuckerman, Schumer has been silent, as has Gilly herself, and all the groups they pulled into the trenches against the fading fast Ford.

I am sure Chuck will soon be back on the barricades, at least as soon as Mort sells the Daily News, and I will turn over this job to the professionals.


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