Bloomberg in Memphis: A Good Start

In general, the multi-billionaire Mayor from New York came across as a very serious presidential candidate indeed.



He came, he was seen, and, if he didn’t conquer right away,
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg
  • New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg
New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, whose widely seen TV advertising had already given him a good head start on the attention of Memphians, may yet have a decent chance to finish the job.

Because his plane was delayed, Bloomberg’s hastily arranged speech in Memphis got started late, but a sizable crowd of flash-mob dimensions was on hand to greet him at the Benjamin Hooks Public Library on Poplar. Among them were several young aides, like state Representative London Lamar, part of a campaign structure that, like Bloomberg’s campaign itself, seems to have materialized virtually overnight.

Another young Memphian, Elijah Tyler of Rhodes College, spoke of the hardships visited upon his family by unexpected medical emergencies and introduced the Mayor as “someone who has experience in business, government and doing good that prepares him to lead.” That set up Bloomberg for his "subject of the day,” and he spent the entirety of his speaking time on his plan for an intensified version of former President Obama’s Affordable Care Plan.

Not that Bloomerg overlooked such other subjects as the unsuitability of Donald J. Trump to remain as President of the United States, the job Bloomberg now seeks. Early in his remarks, not long after paying homage to Memphis’ reputation for good barbecue, Bloomberg said, “Back in 2016 I warned that ifTrump ran our country like he ran his companies, we'd be in a whole lot of trouble. And I'm sorry to say that's exactly what has happened.” He added, “And the House I think has done its constitutional duty by impeaching him yesterday.”

Other criticisms of the incumbent President were employed in tandem with further grace notes paid to his local hosts. Bloomberg concluded one barrage against Trump by noting, “A famous resident of Memphis of my generation reportedly once said, truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for time, but it ain't going away. Elvis, just in case you don’t remember.” And he recalled that another Memphis Hero, Penny Hardaway of the Memphis Tigers, once played for the Memphis Tigers by saying, “It was only in my second term back then and Donald Trump was only on his fifth bankruptcy.”

The mega-billionaire candidate, owner of a media empire and a company whose employees possess a hefty benefits package, raised the specter that Trump, if reelected, would keep on trying to purge the ACA without offering anything in its place, especially for those Americans with prior, potentially disqualifying health conditions.

In embracing the Affordable Care Act, Bloomberg cautioned against pursuing “‘Medicare for All’ proposals that are more likely to reelect Donald Trump than to expand coverage,” and he proposed some significant improvements in the ACA, including a guarantee of universal medical coverage, including, where necessary or desirable, via a public option offered by the government. He suggested tax credits as an aid to those who remained on private insurance, ceilings on medical charges keyed to Medicare normas, and automatic eligibility for enhanced Medicaid services, regardless of the attitudes of state governments.

Apropos his bona fides, Bloomberg said, “ I don't take a penny from any company that has any connection with any health care whatsoever. You know how certain I am with this? Because I don't take a penny from anybody.”

In fact, Bloomberg’s virtually unlimited wealth, and his willingness to spend it on his campaign, are clearly part of his appeal to various Democrats, hopeful of defeating Trump and, like Bloomberg himself, not altogether sure that other Democrats running can guarantee such an outcome.

Not everybody who heard Bloomberg’s remarks at the Hooks Library was converted to the idea of supporting the Mayor as a candidate, but at a Christmas party later on at the funeral home of former Congressman Harold Ford, one heavily attended by people in the political game, respect for Bloomberg’s potential was much more obvious.

And, given the fact that the New York Mayor only scratched the surface of his issue repertory while in Memphis, there is obviously more to come, and Bloomberg just as obviously is going to make sure that people have a chance to be exposed to it.

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