Michael Rubens Bloomberg KBE (born February 14, 1942) is an American business magnate, politician, and philanthropist. He served as the 108th Mayor of New York City, holding office for three consecutive terms beginning with his first election in 2001. With a net worth of $41 billion, he is the 7th-richest person in the United States and the 13th-wealthiest in the world.
He is the founder, CEO, and owner of Bloomberg L.P., the global financial data and media company that bears his name and is notable for its Bloomberg Terminal, which is widely used by investment professionals around the world.
Bloomberg began his career at the securities brokerage Salomon Brothers before forming his own company in 1981 and spending the next twenty years as its chairman and CEO. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees at his alma mater Johns Hopkins University from 1996 to 2002. A Democrat before seeking elective office, Bloomberg switched his party registration in 2001 to run for mayor as a Republican. He defeated opponent Mark Green in a close election held just weeks after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Bloomberg won a second term in 2005 and left the Republican Party two years later. He campaigned to change the city’s term limits law and was elected to his third term in 2009 as an independent candidate on the Republican ballot line.
He was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. presidential elections in 2008 and 2012, as well as for Governor of New York in 2010. He declined to seek either office, instead opting to continue serving as the mayor of New York City. On January 1, 2014, Bill de Blasio succeeded Bloomberg as the mayor of New York City. On September 3, 2014, after a brief stint as a full-time philanthropist, it was announced that Bloomberg would return to Bloomberg L.P. and re-assume the position of CEO at the end of 2014.
Bloomberg is considering running for the office of President of the United States in the 2016 election.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Business career
- 2.1 Wealth
- 3 Mayoralty
- 3.1 Elections
- 3.1.1 2001 election
- 3.1.2 2005 election
- 3.1.3 2009 election
- 3.1.4 2013 election endorsements
- 3.2 Political stance
- 3.2.1 Social issues
- 3.2.2 Crime and punishment
- 3.2.3 Education
- 3.2.4 Environmental issues
- 3.2.5 Immigration
- 3.2.6 Health regulations
- 3.2.7 Response to 9/11
- 3.2.8 Economic issues
- 3.2.9 Foreign policy
- 3.2.10 Preservation and development issues
- 3.3 Political running
- 3.3.1 2008 presidential campaign speculation
- 3.3.2 Rumored gubernatorial campaign
- 3.3.3 2012 presidential campaign speculation and role
- 3.3.4 2016 presidential campaign speculation and role
- 3.1 Elections
- 4 Philanthropy
- 4.1 Environmental advocacy
- 4.2 Other causes
- 5 Personal life
- 6 Awards and honors
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 8.1 Notes
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Michael Bloomberg was born at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in the Brighton neighborhood of Boston, on February 14, 1942. His family is Jewish. His father, William Henry Bloomberg (1906–1963), was a real estate agent and the son of Alexander “Elick” Bloomberg, an immigrant from Russia. His mother, Charlotte (Rubens) Bloomberg (January 2, 1909 – June 19, 2011), was a native of Jersey City, New Jersey. His maternal grandfather, Max Rubens, was an immigrant from present-day Belarus, then also part of Russia.
The family lived in Allston, Massachusetts, until Bloomberg was two years old. They moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, for the next two years, finally settling in Medford, a Boston suburb, where he lived until after he graduated from college. Bloomberg is an Eagle Scout.
Bloomberg attended Johns Hopkins University, where he joined the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. In 1962, as a sophomore, he constructed the school’s mascot, the blue jay. He graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. In 1966 he graduated from Harvard Business School with a Master of Business Administration.
In 1973, Bloomberg became a general partner at Salomon Brothers, a bulge-bracket Wall Street investment bank, where he headed equity trading and, later, systems development. In 1981, Salomon Brothers was bought by Phibro Corporation, and Bloomberg was laid off from the investment bank and given a $10 million severance package. Using this money, Bloomberg went on to set up a company named Innovative Market Systems. His business plan was based on the realization that Wall Street (and the financial community generally) was willing to pay for high-quality business information, delivered as quickly as possible and in as many usable forms possible, via technology (e.g., graphs of highly specific trends). In 1982, Merrill Lynch became the new company’s first customer, installing 22 of the company’s Market Master terminals and investing $30 million in the company. The company was renamed Bloomberg L.P. in 1987. By 1990, it had installed 8,000 terminals. Over the years, ancillary products including Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Message, and Bloomberg Tradebook were launched.
As of 2012, the company had more than 310,000 terminals worldwide. His company also has a radio network which currently has its flagship station as 1130 WBBR AM in New York City. He left the position of CEO to pursue a political career as the mayor of New York City. Bloomberg was replaced as CEO by Lex Fenwick. During Bloomberg’s three mayoral terms, the company was led by president Daniel L. Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor under Bloomberg.
After completing his final term as the mayor of New York City, Bloomberg spent his first eight months out of office as a full-time philanthropist. In the fall of 2014, he announced that he would return to Bloomberg L.P. as CEO at the end of 2014, succeeding Doctoroff, who had led the company since retiring from the Bloomberg administration in February 2008.
Bloomberg is a member of Kappa Beta Phi.
Bloomberg wrote an autobiography, with help from Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler, called Bloomberg by Bloomberg.
In September 2013, Forbes reported Bloomberg’s wealth as $33 billion and ranked him as the 13th richest person in the world. In March 2012, Forbes reported Bloomberg’s wealth at $22 billion, ranking him 20th in the world and 11th in the United States. In March 2009, Forbes reported Bloomberg’s wealth at $16 billion, a gain of $4.5 billion over the previous year, enjoying the world’s biggest increase in wealth in 2009. At that time, there were only four fortunes in the U.S. that were larger (although the Wal-Mart family fortune is split among four people). He moved from 142nd to 17th in the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires in only two years (March 2007 – March 2009).
Main article: Mayoralty of Michael Bloomberg
Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), Ray Mabus with Bloomberg
Bloomberg assumed office as the 108th Mayor of New York City on January 1, 2002. He won re-election in 2005 and again in 2009. As mayor, Bloomberg initially struggled to gain high approval levels from the
public; however, he subsequently developed and maintained high approval ratings.
Bloomberg’s re-election meant the Republicans had won the previous four mayoral elections (although Bloomberg’s decision to leave the Republican Party and be declared an independent on June 19, 2007, resulted in the Republican Party’s losing the mayor’s seat prior to the expiration of his second term). Bloomberg joined Rudy Giuliani and Fiorello La Guardia as re-elected Republican mayors in the mostly Democratic city. (John Lindsay was also elected mayor of New York City twice while a registered Republican; however, Lindsay did not receive the Republican Party nomination during his 1969 campaign for re-election but ran successfully on the Liberal ticket and joined the Democratic Party during his second term.)
Bloomberg said that he wanted public education reform to be the legacy of his first term and addressing poverty to be the legacy of his second. Some[who?] have alleged that he made certain decisions regarding the closure of 17 day-care centers across the city for political reasons. According to the National Assessment of Educational Performance, fourth-grade reading scores from 2002 through 2009 rose nationally by 11 points. However, on May 10, 2010, The New York Times reported:
According to the test [NAEP], New York City eighth graders have shown no significant improvement [in math or reading] since they began taking it in 2003, mirroring the largely flat performance of American eighth graders as a whole during that period. In the city, the lack of improvement held true across ethnic groups and also among lower-income students.
Some[who?] have seen this approach to the New York education system as largely unsuccessful because of skewed numbers. Under the reformed approach, a school must do better than the previous year to receive funding. Because of this requirement, many successful schools were closed for being “unsuccessful” because of their inability to raise test scores, even though they were the top performing schools, while many unsuccessful schools received the bulk of funding for simply raising their scores slightly.
Bloomberg has chosen to apply a statistical, results-based approach to city management, appointing city commissioners based on their expertise and granting them wide autonomy in their decision-making. Breaking with 190 years of tradition, he implemented what New York Times political reporter Adam Nagourney called a “bullpen” open office plan, similar to a Wall Street trading floor, in which dozens of aides and managerial staff are seated together in a large chamber. The design is intended to promote accountability and accessibility.
In efforts to create “cutbacks” in the New York City Spending Bracket, Bloomberg declined to receive a city salary. He accepted a remuneration of $1 annually for his services. He maintains a public listing in the New York City phone directory, and during his term as mayor, he lived not in Gracie Mansion – the official mayoral residence – but instead at his own home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He owns additional homes in London, Bermuda and Vail, Colorado.
Bloomberg stated that during his mayoralty, he rode the New York City Subway on a daily basis, particularly in the commute from his 79th Street home to his office at City Hall. An August 2007 story in The New York Times asserted that he was often seen chauffeured by two New York Police Department-owned SUVs to an express train station to avoid having to change from the local to the express trains on the IRT Lexington Avenue Line. He also supported the construction of the 7 Subway Extension and the Second Avenue Subway; on December 20, 2013, Bloomberg took a ceremonial ride on a train to the new 34th Street station to celebrate a part of his legacy as mayor.
Main article: New York City mayoral election, 2001
In 2001, the incumbent mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, was ineligible for re-election, as the city limited the mayoralty to two consecutive terms. Several well-known New York City politicians aspired to succeed him. Bloomberg, a lifelong member of the Democratic Party, decided to run for mayor as a member of the Republican Party ticket.
Voting in the primary began on the morning of September 11, 2001. The primary was postponed later that day. In the rescheduled primary, Bloomberg defeated Herman Badillo, a former Congressman, to become the Republican nominee. Meanwhile, the Democratic primary did not produce a first-round winner. After a runoff, the Democratic nomination went to New York City Public Advocate Mark J. Green.
In the general election, Bloomberg received Giuliani’s endorsement. He also had a huge spending advantage. Although New York City’s campaign finance law restricts the amount of contributions which a candidate can accept, Bloomberg chose not to use public campaign funds and therefore his campaign was not subject to these restrictions. He spent $73 million of his own money on his campaign, outspending Green five to one. One of the major themes of his campaign was that, with the city’s economy suffering from the effects of the World Trade Center attacks, it needed a mayor with business experience.
In addition to serving as the Republican nominee, Bloomberg had the ballot line of the controversial Independence Party, in which “Social Therapy” leaders Fred Newman and Lenora Fulani exert strong influence. Some say that endorsement was important, as Bloomberg’s votes on that line exceeded his margin of victory over Green. (Under New York’s fusion rules, a candidate can run on more than one party’s line and combine all the votes received on all lines. Green, the Democrat, also had the ballot line of the Working Families Party. He also created an independent line called Students First whose votes were combined with those on the Independence line). Another factor was the vote in Staten Island, which has traditionally been far friendlier to Republicans than the rest of the city. Bloomberg handily beat Green in that borough, taking 75 percent of the vote there. Overall, Bloomberg won 50 percent to 48 percent.
Bloomberg’s election marked the first time in New York City history that two different Republicans had been elected mayor consecutively. New York City has not been won by a Republican in a presidential election since Calvin Coolidge won in 1924. Bloomberg is considered a social liberal, who is pro-choice, in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage and an advocate for stricter gun control laws.
Despite the fact that 68 percent of New York City’s registered voters are Democrats, Bloomberg decided the city should host the 2004 Republican National Convention. The Convention drew thousands of protesters, many of them local residents angry over the Iraq war and other issues. The New York Police Department arrested approximately 1,800 protesters, but according to The New York Times, more than 90 percent of the cases were later dismissed or dropped for lack of evidence.
Main article: New York City mayoral election, 2005
Bloomberg was re-elected mayor in November 2005 by a margin of 20 percent, the widest margin ever for a Republican mayor of New York City.
Bloomberg spent almost $78 million on his campaign, exceeding the record of $74 million he spent on the previous election. In late 2004 or early 2005, Bloomberg gave the Independence Party of New York $250,000 to fund a phone bank seeking to recruit volunteers for his re-election campaign.
Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer won the Democratic nomination to oppose Bloomberg in the general election. Thomas Ognibene sought to run against Bloomberg in the Republican Party’s primary election. Bloomberg’s campaign successfully challenged enough of the signatures Ognibene had submitted to the Board of El
ections to prevent Ognibene from appearing on ballots for the Republican primary. Instead, Ognibene ran only on the Conservative Party ticket. Ognibene accused Bloomberg of betraying Republican Party ideals, a feeling echoed by others.
Bloomberg opposed the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States. Though a Republican at the time, Bloomberg is a staunch supporter of abortion rights and did not believe that Roberts was committed to maintaining Roe v. Wade.
In addition to receiving Republican support, Bloomberg obtained the endorsements of several prominent Democrats: former Democratic Mayor Ed Koch; former Democratic governor Hugh Carey; former Democratic City Council Speaker Peter Vallone, and his son, Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.; former Democratic Congressman Floyd Flake (who had previously endorsed Bloomberg in 2001), and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Main article: New York City mayoral election, 2009
On October 2, 2008, Bloomberg announced he would seek to extend the city’s term limits law and run for a third mayoral term in 2009, arguing a leader of his field was needed following the financial crisis of 2007–08. “Handling this financial crisis while strengthening essential services… is a challenge I want to take on,” Bloomberg said at a news conference. “So should the City Council vote to amend term limits, I plan to ask New Yorkers to look at my record of independent leadership and then decide if I have earned another term.” Ronald Lauder, who wrote New York City’s term limits in 1993 and spent over 4 million dollars of his own money to limit the maximum years a mayor could serve to 8 years, in exchange, was promised a seat on an influential board by Michael Bloomberg. He agreed to stay out of future legality issues and sided with Bloomberg in running for a third term. Some people and organizations objected and NYPIRG filed a complaint with the City Conflict of Interest Board. On October 23, 2008, the City Council voted 29–22 in favor of extending the term limit to three consecutive four-year terms, thus allowing Bloomberg to run for office again. After two days of public hearings, Bloomberg signed the bill into law on November 3.
Bloomberg’s bid for a third term generated some controversy. Civil libertarians such as former New York Civil Liberties Union Director Norman Siegel and New York Civil Rights Coalition Executive Director Michael Meyers joined with local politicians such as New York State Senator Eric Adams to protest the term limits extension.
Bloomberg’s opponent was Democratic and Working Families Party nominee Bill Thompson, who had been New York City Comptroller for the past eight years and before that, President of the New York City Board of Education. Bloomberg defeated Thompson by a vote of 51% to 46%.
After the release of Independence Party campaign filings in January 2010, it was reported that Bloomberg had made two $600,000 contributions from his personal account to the Independence Party on October 30 and November 2, 2009. The Independence Party then paid $750,000 of that money to Republican Party political operative John Haggerty Jr.
This prompted an investigation beginning in February 2010 by the office of New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. into possible improprieties. The Independence Party later questioned how Haggerty spent the money, which was to go to poll-watchers. Former New York State Senator Martin Connor contended that because the Bloomberg donations were made to an Independence Party housekeeping account rather than to an account meant for current campaigns, this was a violation of campaign finance laws. Haggerty also spent money from a separate $200,000 donation from Bloomberg on office space.
2013 election endorsements
Main article: New York City mayoral election, 2013
On September 13, 2013, Bloomberg announced that he would not endorse any of then current candidates to succeed him. On his radio show, he stated, “I don’t want to do anything that complicates it for the next mayor. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve decided I’m just not going to make an endorsement in the race.” He added, “I want to make sure that person is ready to succeed, to take what we’ve done and build on that.”
Prior to the announcement in an interview in New York magazine, Bloomberg praised the New York Times for its endorsement of Christine Quinn and Joe Lhota as their favorite candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Quinn came in third in the Democratic primary and Lhota won the Republican primary.
Earlier in the month, Bloomberg was chastised in the press for his remarks regarding Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s campaign methods. Bloomberg said initially in the New York magazine interview that he considered de Blasio’s campaign “racist” and when asked about his comment, Bloomberg explained what he meant by his remark.
Well, no, no, I mean he’s making an appeal using his family to gain support. I think it’s pretty obvious to anyone watching what he’s been doing. I do not think he himself is racist. It’s comparable to me pointing out I’m Jewish in attracting the Jewish vote. You tailor messages to your audiences and address issues you think your audience cares about.
Some of the policies Bloomberg advocates parallel those of either the Democratic or the Republican party platform. He is socially liberal or progressive, supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, strict gun control measures, and citizenship for illegal immigrants, for example. On economics, foreign, and domestic issues, Bloomberg tends to be conservative. He opposed a timeline for withdrawal from the Iraq War, and criticized those who favored one. Economically, he supports government involvement in issues such as public welfare, while being strongly in favor of free trade, pro-business, and describing himself as a fiscal conservative because he balanced the city’s budget. He is concerned about climate change and has touted his mayoral efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses. Bloomberg has been cited for not allowing many emergency officials who responded to the September 11, 2001, attacks to attend the tenth anniversary observation of that day. He also is at odds with many around the United States for not inviting any clergy to the ceremony marking the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Bloomberg supports abortion rights, stating, “Reproductive choice is a fundamental human right and we can never take it for granted. On this issue, you’re either with us or against us.” He has criticized pro-choice politicians who support pro-life candidates.
Bloomberg supports governmental funding for embryonic stem cell research, calling the Republican position on the issue “insanity”. He also supports same-sex marriage with the rationale that “government shouldn’t tell you whom to marry.”
Bloomberg supports the strict drug laws of New York City. He has stated that he smoked marijuana in the past, and was quoted in a 2001 interview as saying “You bet I did. I enjoyed it.” This led to a reported $500,000 advertising campaign by NORML, featuring his image and the quote. Bloomberg stated in a 2002 interview that he regrets the remark and does not believe that marijuana should be decriminalized.
Crime and punishment
In April 2006, along with Boston mayor Thomas Menino, Bloomberg co-founded Mayors Against Illegal Guns. A December 2013 press release by the group said the bipartisan coalition includ
ed over 1,000 mayors.
As mayor, Bloomberg increased the mandatory minimum sentence for illegal possession of a loaded handgun, saying: “Illegal guns don’t belong on our streets and we’re sending that message loud and clear. We’re determined to see that gun dealers who break the law are held accountable, and that criminals who carry illegal loaded guns serve serious time behind bars.” He opposes the death penalty, saying he would “rather lock somebody up and throw away the key and put them in hard labor.”
Bloomberg replaced the school board set up by the state with direct mayoral control over public education. He raised the salaries of teachers by fifteen percent while the test scores of students in the city and the graduation rate rose as well. He is opposed to social promotion, stating that students should be promoted only when they are adequately prepared for the next grade level. He favors after-school programs to help students who are behind. As mayor, Bloomberg strengthened the cell-phone ban in schools.
During his second term as the mayor of New York City, Bloomberg unveiled PlaNYC: A Greener, Greater New York on April 22, 2007 to fight global warming, protect the environment and prepare for the projected 1 million additional people expected to be living in the city by the year 2030. Under PlaNYC, in just 6 years New York City reduced citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 19% since 2005 and was on track to achieve a 30% reduction ahead of the PlaNYC 2030 goal. In October 2007 as part of PlaNYC, Bloomberg launched the Million Trees NYC initiative, which aimed to plant and care for one million trees throughout the city in the next decade. In November 2015, New York City planted its one millionth tree, two years ahead of the original 10-year schedule.
In 2008, Bloomberg convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), an effort to prepare the city for climate change. In 2012, Travel + Leisure readers voted New York City the “Dirtiest American City,” for having the most extant litter. Bloomberg has been involved in motivating other cities to make changes and has spoken about reducing carbon dioxide emissions, using cleaner and more efficient fuels, using congestion pricing in New York City, and encouraging public transportation.
Bloomberg unveiled the Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) in June 2013, after the city was affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The $20 billion initiative laid out extensive plans to protect New York City against the impacts of climate change in the future. On September 26, 2013, Bloomberg announced that his administration’s air pollution reduction efforts had resulted in the best air quality in New York City in more than 50 years. The majority of the air quality improvement was attributed to the phasing out of heavy polluting heating oils through New York’s “Clean Heat” program. As a result of the improved air quality, the average life expectancy of New Yorkers had increased three years during Bloomberg’s tenure, compared to 1.8 years in the rest of the country.
On issues of domestic and homeland security, Bloomberg has attacked social conservatives on immigration, calling their stance unrealistic: “We’re not going to deport 12 million people, so let’s stop this fiction. Let’s give them permanent status.” He supports a federal ID database that uses DNA and fingerprint technology to keep track of all citizens and to verify their legal status. Bloomberg has held that illegal immigrants should be offered legalization and supported the congressional efforts of John McCain and the late Ted Kennedy in their attempt at immigration reform in 2007. Regarding border security, he compared it to the tide, stating, “It’s as if we expect border control agents to do what a century of communism could not: defeat the natural market forces of supply and demand… and defeat the natural human desire for freedom and opportunity. You might as well as sit in your beach chair and tell the tide not to come in. As long as America remains a nation dedicated to the proposition that ‘all Men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’, people from near and far will continue to seek entry into our country.” In 2006, Bloomberg stated on his weekly WABC radio show that illegal immigration does not strain the financial resources of New York City, since many immigrants are hard working and “do not avail themselves of services until their situation is dire”.
In January 2011, city schools began a pilot program which allows girls over 14 years old to be provided with Plan B emergency contraception without parental consent, unless parents opt out in writing. Beginning with five schools, the pilot had been expanded to thirteen schools by September 2012.
In September 2012, the city passed a law limiting the practice of circumcision among orthodox Jews. The legislation requires that at each event, the circumciser receives signed consent forms from the parents, acknowledging that they were notified of health risks associated with cleaning the wound by sucking blood from the male baby’s organ. This regulation caused an outcry among the orthodox communities on the infringement of their religious freedom, and the matter was taken to federal court.
During the same month, the NYC Board of Health approved Bloomberg’s proposal to ban the sale of many sweetened drinks more than 16 ounces (473 ml.) in volume. The limit would have applied to businesses such as restaurants and movie theaters, but did not apply to grocery stores, including 7-Eleven. Diet varieties of sweetened drinks were unaffected. On March 12, 2013, hours before the ban was scheduled to take effect, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling struck it down, ruling that the Board of Health lacked the jurisdiction to enforce it and that the rule was “arbitrary and capricious”. The city appealed the decision. On July 30, the Appellate Division upheld the lower court’s ruling, stating the Board of Health “failed to act within the bounds of its lawfully delegated authority” and the ban was a violation of the separation of powers doctrine, which reserves legislative power to the legislature and does not allow the board to “exercise sweeping power to create whatever rule they deem necessary”. Bloomberg announced that the city would appeal the decision.
Bloomberg has been criticized for some of his policies which have been described by many as facilitating the creation of a nanny state. Comedian Bill Maher, while on Jimmy Kimmel Live, said that Bloomberg’s soda ban “gives liberals a bad name”. Also in response to the soda ban, The Center for Consumer Freedom ran a full-page ad in The New York Times featuring an image of Bloomberg’s face superimposed on an elderly female body wearing a dress and scarf, with the title “The Nanny”, and the tagline “New Yorkers Need a Mayor, Not a Nanny.” Others have pointed out the fact that the smoking rate has dropped quickly during Bloomberg’s time in office (which has involved the banning of smoking in certain areas).
Criticism of Bloomberg’s attempt to ban the sale of large soft drinks was picked up, mostly by Republican and libertarian commentators and politicians, as a line of attack in political campaigns around the United States. In one example, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul brought Big Gulps to a joint appearance for Cuccinelli’s ultimately unsuccessful 2013 gubernatori
al campaign to symbolize Bloomberg’s efforts to restrict soft drink sales, criticizing the mayor for wanting “to buy the governor’s office down here”, a reference to pro-gun control advertisements his political action committee was running in the state. Republican legislators in Wisconsin reacted to the ban by inserting language to prohibit communities from restricting the sale of large soft drinks throughout the state in a 2013 budget bill.
Response to 9/11
Bloomberg believes that the September 11, 2001 attacks were not intended to be solitary events. When he assumed office, he set up a Counterterrorism Bureau which works along with the NYPD intelligence division to gather information about terrorism affecting New York worldwide. He believes that funding for Homeland Security by the federal government should be distributed by risk, where cities that are considered to have the highest threat for a terrorist attack would get the most money. Bloomberg is also a supporter of the USA PATRIOT Act.
After the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, Bloomberg expressed the view that terrorism threats may require a reconsideration of civil liberties, saying “the people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry, but we live in a complex world where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will… our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
Bloomberg characterizes himself as a fiscal conservative for turning the city’s $6 billion deficit into a $3 billion surplus; however, conservative PAC Club for Growth has criticized him because he increased property taxes and spending while doing so.
Being a fiscal conservative is not about slashing programs that help the poor, or improve health care, or ensure a social safety net. It’s about insisting services are provided efficiently, get to only the people that need them, and achieve the desired results. Fiscal conservatives have hearts too – but we also insist on using our brains, and that means demanding results and holding government accountable for producing them.
To me, fiscal conservatism means balancing budgets – not running deficits that the next generation can’t afford. It means improving the efficiency of delivering services by finding innovative ways to do more with less. It means cutting taxes when possible and prudent to do so, raising them overall only when necessary to balance the budget, and only in combination with spending cuts. It means when you run a surplus, you save it; you don’t squander it. And most importantly, being a fiscal conservative means preparing for the inevitable economic downturns – and by all indications, we’ve got one coming.
— Michael Bloomberg, speech to UK Conservative Party, September 30, 2007
Bloomberg has expressed a distaste of taxes, stating, “Taxes are not good things, but if you want services, somebody’s got to pay for them, so they’re a necessary evil.” As mayor, he did raise property taxes to fund budget projects; however, in January 2007 he proposed cuts in property taxes by five percent and cuts in sales taxes, including the elimination of taxes on clothing and footwear. Bloomberg pointed to the Wall Street profits and the real estate market as evidence that the city’s economy is booming and could handle a tax break.
Bloomberg’s self-described fiscal conservatism also led him to eliminate the existing $6-billion deficit when he assumed office. Bloomberg balanced the budget of New York City by raising property taxes and making cuts to city agencies.
Bloomberg is in favor of providing tax breaks to big corporations for the good of the whole community. As mayor, Bloomberg lobbied the CEO of Goldman Sachs to establish its headquarters across from Ground Zero by promising $1.65 billion in tax breaks. Regarding this deal, Bloomberg stated, “This [New York City] is where the best want to live and work. So I told him [CEO of Goldman Sachs], ‘We can help with minimizing taxes. Minimizing your rent. Improving security. But in the end, this is about people.'”
Bloomberg has had a less cordial relationship with unions as mayor. In 2002, when New York City’s transit workers threatened to strike, Bloomberg responded by riding a mountain bike through the city to show how the city could deal with the transit strike by finding alternate means of transportation and not pandering to the unions. Three years later, a clash between Bloomberg and the New York City Transit Authority over wages and union benefits led to a full blown strike that lasted three days. Negotiations led to the end of the strike in December 2005, but controversy exists over Bloomberg’s handling of the situation.
Bloomberg is a staunch advocate of free trade and is strongly opposed to protectionism, stating, “The things that we have to worry about is this protectionist movement that has reared its head again in this country….” He worries about the growth of China and fears the lessening gap between the United States and other countries: “The rest of the world is catching up, and, there are people that say, surpassing us. I hope they are wrong. I hope those who think we are still in good shape are right. But nevertheless, the time to address these issues is right now.”
Bloomberg has placed a strong emphasis on public health and welfare, adopting many liberal policies. As the mayor he made HIV, diabetes, and hypertension all top priorities. He extended the city’s smoking ban to all commercial establishments and implemented a trans fat ban in restaurants. Bloomberg has been a strong supporter of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation – the largest urban healthcare agency in the United States – serving over 1.3 million New Yorkers, and has touted its use of information technology and Electronic Health Records to increase efficiency and enhance patient care. He launched a program called Opportunity NYC which is the nation’s first-ever conditional cash transfer pilot program designed to help New Yorkers break the cycle of poverty in the city. He instituted a $7.5 billion municipal affordable housing plan, the largest in the nation, that is supposed to provide 500,000 New Yorkers with housing.
Bloomberg has expressed concern about poverty and growing class divisions stating, “This society cannot go forward, the way we have been going forward, where the gap between the rich and the poor keeps growing.”
As mayor, Bloomberg made trips to Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Israel in the first four months of 2007. In late 2007 he conducted an Asia trip that brought him to China, where he called for greater freedom of information to promote innovation. He attended the United Nations Climate Conference in Bali.
Initially, Bloomberg strongly supported the war in Iraq and the rationale for going in. He stated, “Don’t forget that the war started not very many blocks from here,” alluding to Ground Zero. In regard to the global War on Terrorism including Iraq he said, “It’s not only to protect Americans. It’s America’s responsibility to protect people around the world who want to be free.” During the 2004 presidential election campaign, New York City hosted the Republican National Convention at which Bloomberg endorsed President George W. Bush for President of the United States.
His enthusiasm seemed to have lessened somewhat over the course of the war. In August 2005 he said, “I think everybody has very mixed emotions about the war that was started to find weapons of mass destruction and then they were not found.” Bloomberg expressed criticism of Democrats in Congress who wanted to set a timetable for withdrawal from
Iraq, calling them “irresponsible”.
Preservation and development issues
Bloomberg delivering a speech
Bloomberg is a proponent of large-scale development. He has repeatedly come down in favor of projects such as the Atlantic Yards mega-development, the Hudson Yards redevelopment, and the Harlem rezoning proposal. On smaller-scale issues, Bloomberg usually takes the side of development as well. He favors the demolition of Admiral’s Row in order to build a supermarket parking lot. However, Bloomberg has occasionally come down on the side of preservation, most notably in vetoing landmark revocation for the Austin Nichols warehouse. This move was widely applauded by architectural historians. The City Council overruled the veto shortly thereafter, however.
2008 presidential campaign speculation
See also: Draft Bloomberg movement
On February 27, 2008, Bloomberg announced that he would not run for president in 2008, and that he would endorse a candidate who takes an independent and non-partisan approach. He had also stated unequivocally, live on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, December 31, 2007, that he was not going to run for president in 2008. Despite prior public statements by Bloomberg denying plans for a presidential run, many pundits believed Bloomberg would announce a campaign at a later date. On January 7, 2008, he met at the University of Oklahoma with a bipartisan group, including (now former) Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn, both of whom had been frequently mentioned as possible running mates – to pressure the major party candidates to promote national unity and reduce partisan gridlock. Speculation that Bloomberg would choose this forum to announce his candidacy proved to be unfounded.
In summer 2006, he met with Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group, to talk about the logistics of a possible run. After a conversation with Bloomberg, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska suggested that he and Bloomberg could run on a shared independent ticket for the presidency.
On This Week on June 10, 2007, anchor George Stephanopoulos included panelist Jay Carney, who mentioned a conversation between Bloomberg and top staffers where he heard Bloomberg ask approximately how much a presidential campaign would cost. Carney said that one staffer replied, “Around $500 million.” According to a Washington Post article, a $500 million budget would allow Bloomberg to circumvent many of the common obstacles faced by third party candidates seeking the White House. On June 19, 2007, Bloomberg left the Republican Party, filing as an independent after a speech criticizing the current political climate in Washington. On August 9, 2007, in an interview with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather that aired on August 21, Bloomberg categorically stated that he was not running for President, that he would not be running, and that there were no circumstances in which he would, saying, “If somebody asks me where I stand, I tell them. And that’s not a way to get elected, generally. Nobody’s going to elect me president of the United States. What I’d like to do is to be able to influence the dialogue. I’m a citizen.”
Despite continued denials, a possible Bloomberg candidacy continued to be the subject of media attention, including a November Newsweek cover story. During a private reception in December 2007, Bloomberg conducted a version of bingo in which guests were to guess the meaning of the numbers on a printed card. When Bloomberg asked the significance of 271, one guest answered correctly: the number of electoral votes received by George W. Bush in 2000. In January 2008, CNN reported that a source close to Bloomberg said that the mayor had launched a research effort to assess his chances of winning a potential presidential bid. According to the report, the unidentified source also stated that Bloomberg had set early March as a timetable for making a decision as to whether or not to run. On January 16, 2008, it was reported that Bloomberg’s business interests were placed in “a sort of blind trust” because of his possible run for the presidency. His interests were put under the management of Quadrangle Group, co-founded by reported Bloomberg friend Steven Rattner, though Bloomberg would “continue to have control of and access to certain investment decisions”.
On January 18, 2008, the Associated Press reported that Bloomberg had a meeting in Austin, Texas, with Clay Mulford, a ballot-access expert and campaign manager for Ross Perot’s third party presidential campaigns. Bloomberg denied that the meeting concerned a possible presidential campaign by him, stating “I’m not a candidate – it couldn’t be clearer. Which of the words do you not understand?” On February 28, 2008, Bloomberg stated “I am not – and will not be – a candidate for president.” He added that he is “hopeful that the current campaigns can rise to the challenge by offering truly independent leadership. The most productive role that I can serve is to push them forward, by using the means at my disposal to promote a real and honest debate.
At the same time that the presidential run was being considered, there was also some speculation that Bloomberg could be a candidate for the vice presidency in 2008. In a blog posting of June 21, 2007, The Politico’s Ben Smith asked the question of whether a vice-presidential candidate can self-finance an entire presidential ticket. Many believed that Bloomberg would in fact be legally permitted to self-finance a campaign as the vice-presidential candidate.
Adding more fuel to the speculation that Bloomberg might consider a VP slot were a series of meetings he had in mid-August 2007 with former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn and later with Barack Obama on November 30, 2007. A May 17, 2008, breakfast meeting with John McCain led to speculation that Bloomberg might be on McCain’s short list of possible VP candidates.
Rumored gubernatorial campaign
On November 6, 2007, the New York Post detailed efforts by New York State Republicans to recruit Bloomberg to oppose then-incumbent Governor Eliot Spitzer in the State’s 2010 election. Early polls indicated Bloomberg would defeat Spitzer in a landslide. (The potential 2010 match-up became moot when Spitzer resigned on March 17, 2008.) A March 20, 2008, poll of New York State voters had the Mayor topping newly ascended Governor David Paterson and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the 2010 gubernatorial election. Bloomberg denied plans to run for the governorship in 2010, and did not seek the nomination.
2012 presidential campaign speculation and role
In March 2010, Bloomberg’s top political strategist Kevin Sheekey resigned from his mayoral advisory position and returned to Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg’s company. It was speculated that the move would allow Sheekey to begin preliminary efforts for a Bloomberg presidential campaign in the 2012 election. An individual close to Bloomberg said, “the idea of continuing onward is not far from his [Bloomberg’s] mind”.
In October 2010, The Committee to Draft Michael Bloomberg – which had attempted to recruit Bloomberg to run for the presidency in 2008 – announced it was relaunching its effort to persuade Bloomberg to wage a presidential campaign in 2012. The committee members insisted that they would persist in the ef
fort in spite of Bloomberg’s repeated denials of interest in seeking the presidency.
While on the December 12, 2010, episode of Meet the Press, Bloomberg ruled out a run for the Presidency in 2012, stating: “I’m not going to run for president,” further adding “I’m not looking at the possibility of running… no way, no how.” On July 24, 2011, in the midst of Democrats’ and Republicans’ inability to agree on a budget plan and thus an increase in the federal debt limit, the Washington Post published a blog post about groups organizing third party approaches. It focused on Bloomberg as the best hope for a serious third-party presidential candidacy in 2012.
During an appearance on The Daily Show in June 2012, London Mayor Boris Johnson told host Jon Stewart that he didn’t know why Bloomberg had ruled out a bid for the presidency in the upcoming election, declaring that he’d be “a great candidate”. Bloomberg had privately indicated he could not support Mitt Romney in 2012 because of Romney’s positions on social issues such as abortion and gun control. In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in November 2012, Bloomberg penned an op-ed officially endorsing Barack Obama for President, citing Obama’s policies on climate change.
2016 presidential campaign speculation and role
On January 23, 2016, it was reported that Bloomberg was again considering a presidential run as an independent candidate.
Bloomberg has advocated policy to fight climate change at least since he became the mayor of New York City. At the national level, Bloomberg has consistently pushed for transitioning the United States’ energy mix from fossil fuels to clean energy. In July 2011, Bloomberg donated $50 million through Bloomberg Philanthropies to Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, allowing the campaign to expand its efforts to shut down coal-fired power plants from 15 states to 45 states. On April 8, 2015, to build on the success of the Beyond Coal campaign, Bloomberg announced an additional Bloomberg Philanthropies investment of $30 million in the Beyond Coal initiative, matched with another $30 million by other donors, to help secure the retirement of half of America’s fleet of coal plants by 2017.
Bloomberg awarded a $6 million grant through Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Environmental Defense Fund in support of strict regulations on fracking in the 14 states with the heaviest natural gas production. In October 2013, Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the Risky Business initiative with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer. The joint effort worked to convince the business community of the need for more sustainable energy and development policies by quantifying and publicized the economic risks the United States faces from the impacts of climate change. In January 2015, Bloomberg led Bloomberg Philanthropies in a $48 million partnership with the Heising-Simons family to launch the Clean Energy Initiative. The initiative supports state based solutions aimed at ensuring America has a clean, reliable, and affordable energy system.
Since 2010, Bloomberg has taken an increasingly global role on environmental issues. From 2010 to 2013, he served as the chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, a network of the world’s biggest cities working together to reduce carbon emissions. During his tenure, Bloomberg worked with President Bill Clinton to merge C40 with the Clinton Climate Initiative, with the goal of amplifying their efforts in the global fight against climate change worldwide. Today, he serves as the President of the Board of C40 Cities. In January 2014, Bloomberg began a five-year commitment totaling $53 million through Bloomberg Philanthropies to the Vibrant Oceans Initiative. The initiative partners Bloomberg Philanthropies with Oceana, Rare, and Encourage Capital to help reform fisheries and increase sustainable populations worldwide.
On January 31, 2014, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bloomberg as his first Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change to help the United Nations work with cities to prevent climate change. In September 2014, Bloomberg convened with Ban and global leaders at the UN Climate Summit to announce definite actions to fight climate change in 2015. In late 2014, Bloomberg, Ban Ki-moon, and global city networks ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI), C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), with support from UN-Habitat, launched the Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of mayors and city officials pledging to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, enhance resilience to climate change, and track their progress transparently. To date, over 250 cities representing more than 300 million people worldwide and 4.1% of the total global population, have committed to the Compact of Mayors.
On June 30, 2015, Bloomberg and mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo jointly announced the creation of the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, which convened on December 4, 2015. During the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England and chair of the Financial Stability Board, announced that Bloomberg will lead a new global task force designed to help industry and financial markets understand the growing risks of climate change.
According to a profile of Bloomberg in Fast Company, his Bloomberg Philanthropies foundation has five areas of focus: public health, the arts, government innovation, the environment, and education. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bloomberg, through his Bloomberg Philanthropies Foundation, donated and/or pledged $240 million in 2005, $60 million in 2006, $47 million in 2007, $150 million in 2009, $332 million in 2010 and $311 million in 2011. 2011 recipients included the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; World Lung Foundation and the World Health Organization. In 2013 it was reported that Bloomberg had donated $109.24 million in 556 grants and 61 countries to campaigns against tobacco. According to The New York Times, Bloomberg was an “anonymous donor” to the Carnegie Corporation from 2001 to 2010, with gifts ranging from $5 million to $20 million each year. The Carnegie Corporation distributed these contributions to hundreds of New York City organizations, ranging from the Dance Theatre of Harlem to Gilda’s Club, a non-profit organization that provides support to people and families living with cancer. He continues to support the arts through his foundation.
In 1996, Bloomberg endowed the William Henry Bloomberg Professorship at Harvard with a $3 million gift in honor of his father, who died in 1963, saying, “throughout his life, he recognized the importance of reaching out to the nonprofit sector to help better the welfare of the entire community.” Bloomberg also endowed his hometown synagogue, Temple Shalom, which was renamed for his parents as the William and Charlotte Bloomberg Jewish Community Center of Medford.
Bloomberg reports giving $254 million in 2009 to almost 1,400 nonprofit organizations, saying, “I am a big believer in giving it all away and have always said that the best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.” Bloomberg has donated over $1.8 billion to more than 850 charities.
In July 2011, Bloomberg launched a $24 mil
lion initiative to fund “Innovation Delivery Teams” in five cities. The teams are one of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ key goals: advancing government innovation.
In December 2011, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a partnership with online ticket search engine SeatGeek to connect artists with new audiences. Called the Discover New York Arts Project, the project includes organizations HERE, New York Theatre Workshop, and the Kaufman Center.
On March 22, 2012, Bloomberg announced his foundation was pledging $220 million over four years in the fight against global tobacco use.
Bloomberg has donated $200 million toward the construction of new buildings at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the teaching hospital and biomedical research facility of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, including the Charlotte R. Bloomberg Children’s Center. In January 2013, Johns Hopkins University announced that with a recent $350 million gift, Bloomberg’s total giving to his undergraduate alma mater surpassed $1.1 billion; his first gift to the school, 48 years prior, had been a $5 donation. Five-sevenths of the $350 million gift is allocated to the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships, endowing 50 Bloomberg Distinguished Professors (BDPs) whose interdisciplinary expertise crosses traditional academic disciplines.
He is the founder of Everytown for Gun Safety (formerly Mayors Against Illegal Guns), a gun control advocacy group.
In 1975, Bloomberg married Susan Brown, a woman from Yorkshire, United Kingdom. They had two daughters: Emma (b. ca. 1979) and Georgina (b. 1983), who were featured on Born Rich, a documentary film about the children of the extremely wealthy. Bloomberg divorced Brown in 1993, but he has said she remains his “best friend.” In 2010 Bloomberg was living with former New York state banking superintendent Diana Taylor.
Licensed as a commercial pilot, Bloomberg pilots an AW109 helicopter, and is near the top of the waiting list for an AW609 tiltrotor aircraft. In his youth he was a licensed amateur radio operator, was proficient in Morse code, and built ham radios.
His younger sister, Marjorie Tiven, has been Commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, since February 2002.
In 2013, he owned 13 properties in various countries around the world, including a mansion built in the Georgian style. His newest acquisition is a historical property located in London that belonged to writer George Eliot.
Awards and honors
At the 2007 commencement exercises for Tufts University, Bloomberg delivered the commencement address. He was awarded an honorary degree in Public Service from the university. Likewise, Bloomberg delivered the 2007 commencement address at Bard College, where he was also awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. In February 2003, he received the “Award for Distinguished Leadership in Global Capital Markets” from the Yale School of Management. Bloomberg was named the 39th most influential person in the world in the 2007 and 2008 Time 100. In October 2010, Vanity Fair ranked him #7 in its “Vanity Fair 100: The New Establish 2010.”
In May 2008, Bloomberg was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from the University of Pennsylvania, where he delivered the commencement speech to the class of 2008. Bloomberg also delivered the commencement address to the class of 2008 at Barnard College, located in New York City, after receiving the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the College’s highest honor.
In May 2011, Bloomberg was the speaker for Princeton University’s 2011 baccalaureate service.
Bloomberg was also awarded a tribute award at the 2007 Gotham Awards, a New York-based celebrator of independent film. On November 19, 2008, Bloomberg received The Hundred Year Association of New York’s Gold Medal “in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York”. Additionally, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at Fordham University’s 2009 commencement ceremonies.
In 2009, Bloomberg received a Healthy Communities Leadership Award from Leadership for Healthy Communities – a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation national program – for his policies and programs that increase access to healthful foods and physical activity options in the city. For instance, to increase access to grocery stores in underserved areas, the Bloomberg administration developed a program called FRESH that offers zoning and financial incentives to developers, grocery store operators and land owners. His administration also created a Healthy Bodega initiative, which provides healthful food samples and promotional support to grocers in lower-income areas to encourage them to carry one-percent milk and fruits and vegetables. Under Bloomberg’s leadership, the city also passed a Green Carts bill, which supports mobile produce vendors in lower-income areas; expanded farmers’ markets using the city’s Health Bucks program which provides coupons to eligible individuals to buy produce at farmers’ markets in lower-income areas; and committed $111 million in capital funding for playground improvements. New York also was one of the first cities in the nation to help patrons make more informed decisions about their food choices by requiring fast-food and chain restaurants to label their menus with calorie information.
In 2010, Bloomberg received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.
In 2013, Bloomberg was chosen as the inaugural laureate of the Genesis Prize, a $1 million award to be presented annually for Jewish values. He will invest his US $1M award in a global competition, the Genesis Generation Challenge, to identify young adults’ big ideas to better the world.
In 2014, Bloomberg was bestowed the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard University in recognition of his public service and leadership in the world of business.
On October 6, 2014, Queen Elizabeth II named Bloomberg an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his “prodigious entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors, and the many ways in which they have benefited the United Kingdom and the U.K.-U.S. special relationship.” Since Bloomberg is not a citizen of the United Kingdom, he cannot use the title “Sir”, but Bloomberg may, at his own discretion, still use the post-nominal letters “KBE”.