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PEP Jan. 2003
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Media Beat
A new New Deal for New York?

In “A New Deal for New York,” the prize-winning historian Mike Wallace focuses on the crisis precipitated by 9/11. He argues that the disaster allows us to correct long-standing imbalances that have made our economy especially vulnerable.

Over the past generation, New York City has become dependent on the financial services sector. When Wall Street catches a cold, the city economy and the governmental budget get pneumonia.

Mr. Wallace outlines how public policy contributed to the decline of a once thriving manufacturing sector and how transportation policy contributed to the decline of the seaport. He convincingly argues that understanding this past is key to understanding our current dilemma and outlines ways government can aid in building a different kind of infrastructure to support a more diverse economy.

Mr. Wallace is also concerned about the kinds of jobs the city has cultivated, even in boom years. The 1990s boom generated only high-paying and low-paying jobs in abundance. He calls for minimum wage and living wage legislation, laws making it easier to unionize, Depression-era New Deal type programs like the Works Progress Administration — which created useful work for the unemployed — and programs to build affordable housing.

Mr. Wallace also looks to the more recent past for solutions. If the tax give-aways of the 1990s caused much of today’s budget gap, then more progessive taxation and restoring the stock transfer tax could help rebuild our economy.

But while New York City is in crisis, the rest of the country is also suffering, and federal action is needed. Mr. Wallace argues that the country needs a new New Deal, building on the best of the 1930s efforts. The place to begin is here in New York City, where so many of the ideas of the original New Deal bubbled up and were implemented.

This is a program and an agenda that could excite not only Democrats but even some moderate Republicans in other states that are also hurting from the recession.

Mr. Wallace is a fountain of new ideas based on the best of the progressive tradition. To find out more, read this short manifesto for change and log onto his Web site at www.gothamcenter.org

— Ken Nash, DC 37 Education Fund Library, Room 211







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