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More from: Bob McManus Expect more lies, bullying and pandering from a wounded Cuomo Expect Gov. Cuomo to take revenge on AG Letitia James for uncovering truth about nursing-home deaths The push to decriminalize ‘streetwalking’ follows a deadly run of NYC ‘reforms’ Here are the odious factions that will likely choose NYCs next mayor Political violence must be denounced by the right — and the left

The last thing New York City needs is another shutdown.

But the worst mayor in America just tried to kick kids off a couple of Central Park ice rinks.

The rinks, you see, are run by the Trump Organization, and because Orange Man Bad, they had to go — and to hell with the kids. To hell with the city.

Sure, Mayor de Blasio changed his mind, and so there are kids on the ice again. Anyway, given the weight bearing down on New York right now, maybe the Wollman and Lasker rinks don’t count for much. Right? But hold on a minute. They matter a lot, because normalcy matters — and because normalcy won’t return by itself.

Gotham is one of the world’s greatest cities, but it is also an idea. It has always been a dare — you make it here, you can make it anywhere, right? — and so now the challenge is as much moral as it is structural: Can we measure up? Can we regain the swagger we all took for granted a year ago?

Crises come, and crises go, but the Big Apple over time has been blessed with leaders who understood that making the wheels turn takes smarts, but also spirit. In the 1970s, as the city struggled with the necessary retrenchments of near-bankruptcy, there was the always-ebullient Ed Koch to help the bitter medicine go down. He asked, “How’m I doin’?” but you mostly knew that he was doin’ just fine, thank you.

After 9/11, Rudy Giuliani was everywhere, stoic and defiant. His presence at every firefighter’s funeral offered eloquent testimony to empathetic, but emphatic, leadership. Then came Mike Bloomberg, to guide the city through post-9/11 recovery and the Great Recession. He brought stern competence, a touch of sly humor and abiding self-confidence.

If ever mayors were made for their moments, those guys were. They understood that what matters most about leadership is to be seen leading.

But de Blasio — clueless, pinched and blinkered by ideology — wanted to kick kids off the ice. You begin to see the degree of difficulty here.

Not that the news is all bad. Gov. Cuomo, bless his bitter soul, says movie theaters can begin to reopen; indoor dining, in a manner of speaking, is coming back again, and pretty soon there might be baseball.

Little steps for little feet, for sure, but don’t knock it, because the enormity of the challenge now facing New York dwarfs every crisis the city has weathered since the British chased George Washington off Brooklyn Heights in 1776.

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New York City needs leaders to save it from economic disaster COVID and the lockdowns have kneecapped the city economy. Gotham’s...

“Come visit us down in the financial district, all six of us,” said a friend the other day. “Nobody lives here anymore.”

Nobody drives very much on Fifth Avenue south of 59th Street anymore, either, at least mid-morning. And those sidewalk-clogging Midtown crowds are a memory. Sure, you can almost always get a cab, if you have somewhere to go, but if you get there a little early, having passed all the vacant retail space along the way, good luck finding a coffee shop to kill a few moments.

These are anecdotes, of course. But 8-plus million people live here (or maybe it’s 8-minus now?), and their daily impressions can pretty quickly add up to morale-crushing received wisdom: Subway slashings aren’t common, but everybody knows they happen, and that demented vagrants are everywhere. Who’s willing to chance it?

Only those with no choice. Thus, so much for New York’s critical transit arteries — and eventually, as things add up, maybe for the city itself.

This newspaper has been cataloguing New York’s big-picture challenges all week, each one daunting in its own right. Do they comprise a city-killing perfect storm?  This seems inconceivable, but then again, who would have thought that New York would ever have elected a soulless husk like de Blasio?

Now comes another mayoral election year. The stakes are higher, infinitely so, but will the voters be wiser? Or will the city truly become America’s Ghost Town?

It’s up to you, New York, New York. Don’t blow it.

Twitter: @RLMac2

Filed under bill de blasio ,  de blasio administration ,  ghost town ,  michael bloomberg ,  rudy giuliani ,  2/23/21

News Source: New York Post

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Fighting Biden virus aid, GOP rekindles Obama-era strategy

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After marathon session, and Manchin antics, Senate ready to pass American Rescue Plan

Sen. Ted Cruz's racist amendment to keep immigrant children from receiving assistance was defeated.

The longest vote in Senate history finally ended Friday night at 10:53, ET having started at 11:03 AM. That vote was on Sen. Bernie Sanders' minimum wage hike to $15/hour, but the delay wasn't about the minimum wage. The vote was held open for 12 hours while Sen. Joe Manchin preened, forcing all of Senate leadership to court him as he held up an agreement on helping unemployed people. He got what he apparently wanted: a phone call from President Joe Biden.

Manchin was threatening to support a Republican amendment that would have dramatically restricted assistance to the unemployed, reducing the weekly emergency pandemic boost of $400 in the House bill to their checks to $300, and would have ended the program in mid-July. Republicans courted Manchin all afternoon while Democrats scrambled to get him on board with a last-minute agreement they'd come to with the White House. In the end, Manchin voted for both the Republican and Democratic amendments, with the Democratic one prevailing. What he got in forcing the Senate to a standstill for a day was shaving one month off the expiration date for the program.

The Democratic amendment from Sen. Ron Wyden gives unemployed people the $300/week federal boost to their regular checks through September 6. The agreement that he had secured with leadership and the White House would have added another month onto that, ending in the first week of October. Critically, though, Wyden prevailed on making sure that the first $10,200 in UI received in 2020 will be tax-free, meaning people won't be hit with surprise tax bills. Manchin did secure means testing on that—it will only apply to people with less than $150,000 in income for 2020. Importantly, though, even with the reduction in weekly benefits, the official poverty rate drops from 12.3% to 8.3% under Democratic plan, according to poverty experts.

Sen. Rob Portman was the Republican luring Manchin into the fold, and his efforts revealed exactly what Republicans really think about tax cuts. Namely, they should only go to the wealthy. "Suddenly, if you're on unemployment insurance you don't have to pay taxes. But if you're working, you do have to pay taxes. How does that work?" Portman said during the debate on the Democrats' amendment. This is the only tax cut Republicans will ever oppose, the one that actually helps working Americans, Wyden pointed out in response. "The party that claims to want to help workers on their taxes," he rejoins, "won't lift a finger."

That issue finally worked out, the Senate got to work on a variety of Republican poisoned pill amendments, after rejecting a bid by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to adjourn the Senate for the night. Republicans are short one vote in this process, as Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan had to fly home for a family emergency. That gives Vice President Kamala Harris a break, she has not been needed to break ties on any amendments.

Out of the nearly 600 Republican amendments, only a fraction were brought to the floor and most were defeated. Sen. Susan Collins tried to replace the entire bill with her $650 billion proposal and failed, though oddly Sen Josh Hawley voted with Democrats on that one.  Sen. Marco Rubio tried to tie funding to schools to reopening for in-person instruction, and failed. An alternative amendment from Democrat Maggie Hassan was adopted, requiring that elementary and secondary schools that receive aid release their plans for a "safe return to in-person instruction" within 30 days of receiving the funds.

The worst poison came from freshman Republican Tommy Tuberville, an anti-trans effort that would have stripped federal funding to "States, local educational agencies, and institutions of higher education that permit any student whose biological sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity designed for women or girls." It required 60 votes, but failed on party lines anyway. With two exceptions: Manchin voted for it, Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski against. Another attempt from Sen. Ted Cruz to bar undocumented immigrants from getting the survival checks failed, with Democrats holding together against him.

Those survival checks, by the way, have not been altered from the last agreement Democrats came to: $1,400 one-time payment to everyone, adults and children including adult dependents; people making up to $75,000/annually, $150,000 for couple filing jointly, receive the full payments, cutting off at $80,000 for single people, $160,000 for couples. That is based on 2019 income for those who have not filed their 2020 returns yet, so if you had a big loss of income in 2020, get your taxes filed.

The Senate is rumored to be looking at a 12:30 ET timeline for wrapping votes up Saturday, at which point the bill will have to go back to the House for another vote, as it has been changed pretty substantially from that version.

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