The Municipal Government Liberation Front

After recounting the drift of the New York GOP, which has utterly failed to offer an attractive alternative to the agenda of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute recommends that the party focus on freeing local governments from crippling state-imposed unfunded mandates:

Republicans would be better served if they turned their attention to one major issue: Cuomo’s apparent unwillingness to help local governments control their costs as they stagger under the weight of unfunded mandates. At a downstate conference presented in June by the newspaper City & State, executives from Erie, Rensselaer, and Ulster Counties—two Democrats and a Republican—joined Syracuse mayor Stephanie Miner, a Democrat, in pleading for help. Yet on this critical and politically promising issue, Skelos punted and waved through Cuomo’s “financial structuring board,” allowing the governor to maintain the fiction that he’s helping local governments.

The GOP leadership could make easing mandates on local governments the highlight of its autumn agenda. It could start with repealing the Triborough Amendment, which forces local governments to adhere to the terms of bad labor contracts even after the contracts have expired. Republicans should also push for a bill empowering local governments to set health-care premium requirements for their workers separately from their collective-bargaining agreements with unions—enabling the governments to increase the employees’ premiums as costs rise.

Easing mandates on local governments isn’t exactly the most scintillating agenda. And as David Schleicher has observed, Republicans in blue states face serious constraints:

Most votes in state legislative elections turns on impressions we develop about national politics — we punish and reward state officials largely for what Congress and the president do, rather than for what they do themselves. The same is true in city council elections in big cities. High-profile state and local candidates can successfully develop a brand for themselves that permits them to outperform their party (like Dave Freudenthal, the recent Democratic governor of Idaho, and Michael Bloomberg, who became mayor of New York City as a Republican), but down-ballot results are almost entirely determined by national party preference.

But Gelinas’s proposed agenda has the virtue of being coherent, substantive, and relevant to New York state voters.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More
Elections

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More
U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More