MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg accused President Obama of failing to lead Monday night as a Congressional supercommittee officially declared its failure to reach a deal to curb the nation’s debt.
“The number of jobs that were destroyed, the wealth that was ruined and taken away — it’s just mindboggling,” the mayor told CNN’s John King in a televised interview Monday evening.
“Nobody could write a novel where this scenario took place and sell a book. People would say, 'Impossible,' and yet we’ve just seen it.”
The mayor’s comments came shortly after members of the bipartisan supercommitee issued a joint statement saying they had failed to reach a deal to cut $1.2 trillion from the nation’s spiraling deficit in time to meet Wednesday's deadline.
Accusing them of “cowardice," Bloomberg hit out at members on “both sides of the aisle” for being too involved in partisan bickering to find a compromise. But his most pointed criticism was directed at President Barack Obama, who he said should have stepped up to broker a plan.
"The president, as the chief executive of the country, has the responsibility to make things come together,” he said. “In the end, no CEO would send a proposal and just say, ‘Well, let's see what happens.’ You send a proposal and then you go fight for it,” he said.
He said it’s time for the President to take charge.
"I think the president should now just stand up and say, ‘We aren’t gonna take any more,’” he said.
“’Forget about the politics. This country is crying out for leadership, it’s crying out for courage, and I — president Obama should say this — and I’m going to provide exactly that,” he said, calling on Obama to issue a statement promising to veto any extension of the Bush-era tax cuts on both the wealthy and the middle class.
He also had a message for Congress — no matter how you slice it, solving the debt problem is impossible “without both increasing government revenues and decreasing government expenses.”
“I don’t care what you promised your constituents," he said. "Those are the facts. And so, every elected official has to make the decision, am I going to do what’s right politically, or am I going to what’s right for the country?” he said.
The comments followed earlier remarks in Staten Island Monday, in which the mayor declared the supercommittee’s failure “a damming indictment of Washington’s inability to govern this country.”
“It’s the chief executive’s job to bring people together and to provide leadership in difficult situations. I don’t see that happening,” he said then, adding that the failure of the committee will mean that thousands of jobs that would have been created won't be now.
“The biggest single threat to our economy is not Europe’s instability or China’s monetary police or anything else. It is this partisan paralysis and political cowardice that I think is defining Washington,” he said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that automatic cuts now set to go into effect next year because of the panel's failure would cost the state approximately $5 billion in federal funding over the next 10 years.
"Washington's inability to get its fiscal house in order and work in a bipartisan fashion to create jobs represents a fundamental failure of government that has bred frustration and anger among the people and prolonged the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression,” he said in a statement.
In a story published Monday, former Deputy Mayor Kevin Sheekey appeared to be floating the idea that Bloomberg might again be eying the White House someday, telling the Daily Beast that the mayor is constrained by his current job.
“City Hall holds him back. He stands to become something much larger after he leaves office,” Sheekey reportedly said, adding that, “Mike Bloomberg has the ability to be the best parts of Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, and Bill Gates all rolled up into one.”