Mike Bloomberg

Mike Bloomberg

Former mayor of New York City

Mike Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York City, from 2002 to 2013. One of the wealthiest Americans, he made his fortune after founding what became Bloomberg L.P., a financial data services company, in 1981. The company has since diversified and now includes a global news service with bureaus around the world. He also funds Bloomberg Philanthropies, which directs resources to a wide range of environmental initiatives, public health programs, and arts organizations.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1964 and a master’s degree from Harvard Business School in 1966 before entering Wall Street.

China

Bloomberg has been a proponent of deeper trade and investment ties with China and he opposes President Donald J. Trump’s trade war with Beijing. He says the United States must work closely with China on climate change and other issues, and has drawn scrutiny for his business relationships in the country. 

  • He has advanced a more moderate view of China’s leadership than some other candidates, saying in 2019 that Chinese President Xi Jinping is “not a dictator” and that Beijing is making progress on climate goals. 
  • He opposes Trump’s trade war with China, calling it a “failure of our government” and arguing that it is hurting the economy, costing jobs, and slowing innovation. He says China’s unfair trade practices need to be addressed through negotiation.
  • He argues that trade with China is good for consumers and the U.S. economy, but that China needs to further open its markets to U.S. companies. He has previously said that expanded trade puts pressure on Beijing to “act responsibly” on the world stage.
  • The news organization that he founded, Bloomberg News, has drawn criticism for tailoring its reporting to avoid being expelled from China. 

Climate and Energy

Bloomberg has made fighting climate change a central mission of his public life, devoting tens of millions of dollars to a wide array of programs aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing clean energy. He is skeptical of the sweeping government-led plans backed by many other candidates. 

  • In 2019, he announced Beyond Carbon, a program to eliminate U.S. coal-fired power plants by 2030, to which Bloomberg has pledged $500 million. He previously led the Beyond Coal campaign, which he says has led half of the country’s coal-fired plants to close or commit to a specific retirement date.
  • He serves as the United Nations special envoy for climate action, and donated more than $10 million to UN climate efforts following Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement. 
  • Along with California Governor Jerry Brown, in 2017 Bloomberg launched America’s Pledge, a coalition of cities, states, businesses, and organizations dedicated to upholding U.S. commitments under the Paris accord in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal.
  • He says that the Green New Deal framework, championed by many Democratic candidates, “stands no chance” of Congressional approval, and that solutions will have to come from outside government. 
  • He has launched numerous other initiatives, including the Climate Finance Leadership Initiative, which brings together major corporate leaders, and campaigns to unite mayors and local government officials around climate goals. He helps lead the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which includes the leaders of many of the world’s largest cities.
  • He is open to increasing the use of nuclear power. He previously supported hydraulic fracking, arguing that the natural gas it produces is cleaner than coal. 
  • He points to his mayoral record on environmental issues, which includes reducing New York City’s carbon footprint. 

Counterterrorism

Bloomberg touts his mayoral record, crediting his counterterrorism policies with keeping New York City safe from terrorist attacks. His expanded surveillance measures and other efforts sparked debate over how to balance security with civil liberties. 

  • Bloomberg points to his mayoral experience dealing with terrorism. Elected weeks after the 9/11 attacks, he created a dedicated counterterrorism unit within the New York City Police Department staffed with one thousand officers. 
  • His administration’s approach to counterterrorism was controversial, with his increased surveillance measures drawing criticism for relying on racial and religious profiling and violating civil liberties. 
  • In the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, he argued that “our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change” to accommodate increased surveillance and other restrictions necessary to ensure public safety.

Cybersecurity and Digital Policy

Bloomberg warns of the vulnerability of U.S. electoral systems and other infrastructure to foreign hacking, and he argues that technology and communications companies must do more to cooperate with federal investigations. 

  • He argues that Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election demonstrated that the country’s electoral systems are increasingly vulnerable to foreign hacking. 
  • He backs proposed federal legislation to ban political parties from using any information illegally gathered by foreign governments by requiring campaigns to report all foreign contacts to the Federal Election Commission. 
  • He argues that technology companies should be required to cooperate with government investigations by sharing customer data. 
  • As mayor, he sought to position New York as the next Silicon Valley, attempting to attract technology start-ups to the city through loan incentives, technology incubators, and direct investments.

Defense

Bloomberg has taken few stances on defense issues, but he has argued against increasing military spending. As mayor, he pursued a range of initiatives to help veterans. 

  • He has argued that overall military spending is “about where it should be,” and dismisses claims that significant Pentagon budget increases are needed to sustain military readiness. He says the focus should be on developing high-tech equipment and “an effective cyberwar service.”
  • He advocates for a new congressional authorization for overseas military operations, many of which currently rely on two-decade-old legislation, to put them “on sound legal footing.”
  • He points to his mayoral record on veterans’ issues. His administration’s programs included job placement and career assistance services, a veteran-run job center, and a joint program with the Department of Veterans Affairs to combat veteran homelessness in New York.

Diplomacy and Foreign Aid

As a businessman, philanthropist, and former mayor, Bloomberg has dealt with heads of state and international organizations for decades. A harsh critic of Trump’s treatment of U.S. allies, he promises to “restore global respect to the White House.”

  • He calls Trump’s approach to diplomacy “incompetent” and “counterproductive,” arguing that it is alienating the United States, insulting allies, and flattering adversaries. 
  • He says that commitment to the system of alliances the United States helped build after World War II should be bipartisan, since that system has helped achieve peace, democratic progress, and economic growth. 
  • Both as mayor and through his philanthropy, he has furthered his vision of diplomatic engagement with heads of state, city representatives, business leaders, and organizations around the world. He has led delegations, conferences, and initiatives such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which includes the leaders of many of the world’s largest cities.
  • He has worked closely with the United Nations, especially on climate. In 2014 he was appointed a UN special envoy for climate and he has helped to organize UN climate summits. 
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies has worked with global institutions such as the World Health Organization and with national governments on its public health initiatives in areas such as disease prevention, nutrition, and family planning.

Economic Policy

Bloomberg is a proponent of the free market and balanced budgets, and he has expressed doubt about the tax and spending plans of some other candidates. He calls for investment in infrastructure and job training to boost U.S. competitiveness. 

  • He is skeptical of the ambitions of some other Democratic candidates to dramatically increase wealth redistribution, comparing the proposals of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to Venezuelan economic policies
  • He has previously referred to himself as a fiscal conservative and has long been a proponent of balanced budgets and spending restraint.  
  • He advocates for higher taxes on the wealthy, though he opposes proposals for a wealth tax, which he calls unconstitutional and impractical. He supports expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which he argues will both raise wages and reward work. 
  • He opposed Trump’s 2017 tax reform, which cut both corporate and individual rates, arguing that it would worsen the budget deficit without delivering higher economic growth.  
  • He is a critic of recent attempts to tighten financial regulation, calling the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act passed after the 2008 economic crisis a “stupid law” and arguing that its fines on big banks have been “outrageous.” He also opposes proposals to break up “too big to fail” banks.  
  • He says “crumbling infrastructure,” including roads, airports, and energy grids, is undermining U.S. global competitiveness.
  • He supports technical and vocational education, and he pledges to increase federal investment in such programs. He touts his philanthropic and mayoral efforts to connect students with job training.

Immigration

Bloomberg is a vocal proponent of increasing immigration, arguing that it boosts growth, job creation, and innovation. He promises to fix the country’s “broken” immigration system, and he backs a comprehensive reform to strengthen border security, legalize undocumented residents, and greatly expand work visas. 

  • He is opposed to Trump’s proposals for expanding the border wall with Mexico and he criticized Trump for using a government shutdown as leverage to try to win funding for the wall.
  • He has condemned Trump’s border policies, especially the “shameful” separation of families and the detention of children. “That is not who we are as a nation,” he says
  • He supports the DREAM Act, which would grant legal status to undocumented residents who were brought to the country as children, and opposes Trump’s attempts to end the Barack Obama–era program to halt their deportation, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). 
  • He is the founder of New American Economy, a pro-immigration research and advocacy group. 
  • He told CFR in 2011 that closing the door to immigration would be “national suicide” because immigrants create jobs and drive innovation. He argues that undocumented immigrants are net contributors to the United States, paying more into Social Security and the tax base than they use while committing less crime compared with the national average.   
  • He said he backs an immigration compromise that would combine better border security, which he calls “critically important,” with a pathway to permanent legal status for the United States’ estimated eleven million undocumented residents.
  • He favors allowing foreign students who graduate from U.S. universities to stay in the United States, as well as offering visas to foreign entrepreneurs. He wants to end the cap on H1B visas for high-skilled immigrants and is in favor of expanding visas for low-skill labor.

Middle East

Bloomberg’s views on the Middle East have focused on his close ties to Israel, his ambivalence toward the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, and his support for Saudi Arabia’s modernization efforts.

  • He is a strong supporter of Israel, where he visited often as mayor. In 2014, he defended Israel’s right to respond militarily to rocket attacks from Gaza and flew his private jet to the country to show solidarity after U.S. regulators temporarily barred commercial flights there. 
  • He backs a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 
  • He has denounced the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish Israel for its treatment of Palestinians, as “an outrage.”
  • He expressed “deep reservations” about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying that its restrictions on Tehran’s nuclear program didn’t go far enough and blaming the Obama administration for “smearing” the deal’s critics.
  • Bloomberg hosted Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in New York in 2018 and he has praised Saudi Arabia for its reform efforts, especially its expansion of women’s rights, saying the country is going “in the right direction.”
  • He supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, framing it as a response to the 9/11 attacks. He later grew critical of the war, though he consistently opposed congressional attempts to put a timetable on the withdrawal of U.S. forces. 

North Korea

Bloomberg’s brief comments on North Korea have focused on the need for strong U.S. alliances, which he says Trump has weakened.

  • He says that dealing with a “rogue state” such as North Korea requires close relationships with other countries in the region, and that Trump has undermined U.S. alliances. 
  • He says there is no “attractive” military option for responding to North Korea’s nuclear program. 

Russia

Bloomberg accuses Trump of “coddling” President Vladimir Putin and failing to stand up to him over Russia’s interference in U.S. elections. He argues for stronger measures to counter Russia while also calling for fresh negotiations with Moscow on arms control. 

  • He says that Trump is in a “state of denial” about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, which Bloomberg calls “a hostile power’s intrusions into U.S. sovereignty.”
  • He has called Putin a “strongman” who seeks territorial expansion and the destabilization of Europe and who has abetted war crimes in Syria by supporting Bashar al-Assad’s government. 
  • He says that lifting any sanctions on Russia or recognizing its annexation of Crimea would be “a monumental mistake.” He argues that Washington must continue providing Ukraine with lethal aid for it to defend against Russian aggression and maintain faith in U.S. security guarantees. 
  • He opposes the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Europe, arguing that it would give Putin increased leverage over European countries. 
  • He calls for talks with Russia to extend the New START treaty, a nuclear arms reduction agreement set to expire in 2021, as well as to revive the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Trade

Bloomberg is a vocal defender of global trade and multinational trade deals, and he opposes Trump’s trade war. “International trade plays a vital role in addressing global challenges,” he says.

  • He argues that free trade with China and others is not a “zero-sum game” and is instead good for consumers and the U.S. economy. He has also said that expanded trade puts pressure on Beijing to “act responsibly” on the world stage.
  • He opposes Trump’s trade war with China, arguing that it is hurting the economy, costing jobs, and slowing innovation. He calls for China to further open its markets to U.S. companies and says that its unfair trade practices need to be addressed through negotiation.
  • He has argued in the wake of Trump’s imposition of tariffs that Congress should exert more oversight over presidential trade powers.
  • He supported the Obama administration’s Asia-Pacific trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump rejected. 
  • Through his U.S.-Africa Business Forum, he has been a proponent of expanding trade and investment ties with African countries. Bloomberg Philanthropies also organizes a broader global business forum to bring together government and business leaders to promote trade.

Venezuela and Latin America

Bloomberg has not issued policy proposals regarding Venezuela, where the Trump administration has backed opposition leader Juan Guaido amid a worsening humanitarian crisis.

  • Bloomberg has cited Venezuela’s economic collapse as a cautionary tale about socialism in his criticisms of the economic policy proposals of fellow Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. 
  • In 2016, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a Mayors Challenge program in Latin America and the Caribbean, which issues grants to cities with innovative ideas for improving urban life.

This project was made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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