The Big Economic Shift: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

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Candidate Mayor Michael Bloomberg

By Andrew Busch and Leah Hamilton

In this research paper, we’ll answer the question: “what are Bloomberg’s views or policies?”

Who is Michael Bloomberg?

Michael Bloomberg is the former Mayor of New York City, serving from 2002 to 2013. He was educated at Johns Hopkins University, obtaining a B.S. in 1964, followed by an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1966.  He is the current CEO of Bloomberg LP and is considered to have amassed over $55 billion in wealth.  As Mayor, he pushed through laws banning smoking in various public places and created the New York Young Men’s Initiative to improve the life quality of young men and boys of color.  He also rezoned 40% of New York City, and built or preserved 165,000 units of public housing.  On public safety and police, Bloomberg instituted the “stop and frisk” policing method, which became the subject of a racial profiling controversy.

In current national polls (February 2020) Bloomberg is polling at around 16% of the vote.  After the Iowa Caucus result, Bloomberg noted that he planned to double his national ad campaign.  It’s estimated that Bloomberg has already spent more on ads than what Sen. Elizabeth Warren has raised: so far, he has spent over $338 million. 

Bloomberg has politically switched back and forth between Democrat, Republican, and Independent, and tends to support a variety of policies. For example, he is strongly supportive of climate change and gun control policies but expresses skepticism over wealth taxes and the Green New Deal.

Key takeaways:

  1. In general, when compared to candidates such as Warren and Sanders, Bloomberg takes a more moderate or centrist approach to many issues, including on the environment and healthcare.
  2. Bloomberg distinguishes himself by focusing on issues of generational wealth, upward mobility, and economic empowerment for Black Americans.
  3. His climate change and environmental policies are extensive when compared to his other plans, and his economic policies are significantly in line with those already put forward by Biden and Buttigieg.

Bloomberg has his website organized into several parts, with a section specifically dedicated for his policies.  Below are the listed plans from his website.

Latest Plans:

What Does Bloomberg do for the Economy and Jobs?

Bloomberg has several plans addressing the economy and job creation, as well as taxes.  He has special plans for improving the economic situation of specific groups.

First, Bloomberg’s plan on the All-In-Economy agenda includes several goals and policies intended to put “more Americans to work in better paying, higher-quality jobs, reinvigorates communities through strategic investments and public-private-academic partnerships, and provides education and training to millions of community college students.”

This plan covers several key points and goals that he calls his “key pillars”.  The first is that he promises to make education and training a national priority, to equip adults for good jobs and careers.

He also states that he will “send billions of dollars to communities across the nation to help create jobs and grow incomes,” and that he will do so by investing in research, talent, and infrastructure.  Bloomberg also plans to “launch a major public research and development initiative in industries like agriculture, manufacturing, and medicine” to create jobs and promote growth.

Bloomberg also proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit like many of the other Democratic candidates and would increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and would index this to inflation.

In addition, he proposes to open Business Resource Centers “to help entrepreneurs access capital, navigate bureaucracy and take advantage of federal programs.”

He also notes that he intends to improve rural America’s connections to growth centers by investing in rural broadband access.

What are Bloomberg’s Plans for Affordable Housing?

With regard to housing, Bloomberg’s Plan on Housing Affordability and Homelessness sets out several key initiatives:

His housing plan is relatively comprehensive and includes further details on each of these initiatives.  First, when providing rental assistance for the lowest-income Americans, he would guarantee housing vouchers to all Americans at all or below 30% of the median income.  He would also increase the Child Tax Credit.

He also states that he would recruit more landlords into the voucher system but does not explain how he would do this.  He also says that he will curb discrimination by landlords via regulation and incentives.

Bloomberg sets out to stop homelessness, by doubling federal spending on preventing homelessness from $3 billion to $6 billion annually.  Towards this end he would also promote rapid-rehousing and permanent supportive housing.

In addition, he will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and enhance its value.  Bloomberg states that he plans to provide extra resources “to help homeowners, building owners, and tenants upgrade their homes, to lower operating costs, save energy, and eliminate pollution,” but does not state the extent of these resources or how they will be funded.

Towards his housing plan, he would provide targeted assistance to help people afford down payments for homes and would broaden access to financial services.

Bloomberg also proposes several plans for supporting small businesses.  First, he suggests providing funds for cities and towns to establish and/or strengthen entrepreneurship centers in their communities.  He would offer targeted matching funds to create or expand small-business incubators and affordable shared workspaces in local industries.

He would also “consolidate, streamline, and expand federal support” for small businesses in the Small Business Administration.  This includes primarily eliminating bureaucratic roadblocks and increasing the funding for the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program.  The SBIC provides some subsidized financing for small businesses, with a focus for those funds on “underserved and distressed communities and advanced industries,” with the aim of having a particular impact for jobs and economic growth.  In addition, he suggests that he would ensure also that women, minority and veteran business owners are given support, capital, and mentorship that they need to succeed.

Will Bloomberg Raise Taxes on the Rich?

Bloomberg has also proposed a number of policies for tax reform.  He states that he “believes that the current tax system is deeply unfair because it taxes income from capital at a much lower rate than income from work, allows accumulated wealth to pass from generation to generation with little or no tax due, and provides countless loopholes that the rich can exploit to reduce their taxes still further.”

He plans to implement these policies by raising rates on high-income taxpayers, taxing income from capital gains more equitably, closing loopholes, and increasing enforcement mechanisms.

First, he would reverse the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax cuts for high-income households and would return the rate on ordinary income from 37% to 39.6%.  He would also tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income for taxpayers who earn over $1 million. Bloomberg also proposes a wealth tax, including a 5% surtax on incomes above $5 million, and will apply to capital and labor.

Bloomberg also states that he would lower the estate-tax threshold, end the stepped-up basis, and shut down estate-tax avoidance schemes.  He would also close the “pass through” 20% deduction, and end the “like-kind” provision, as well as ending the carried-interest loophole.  In addition, he would raise the corporate tax rate from 21-28%, raise the minimum tax on foreign income, tighten rules on transfer pricing, and apply pressure on countries that are set up as tax havens.  He would also push for cooperative international efforts to defeat profit-shifting.

What Does Bloomberg Do for Black Americans?

Finally, Bloomberg has a plan targeted specifically at Black Americans, called the Greenwood Initiative.  This is his plan for his view of economic justice.  This initiative is aimed at creating generational wealth for Black Americans, driving economic empowerment, and closing the economic gap between Black and White Americans.

His plan ties into several of his other economic policies, but with a specific focus on this demographic.  For example, he promotes homeownership as a generational wealth-building tool and would support this with some of his housing plans such as down payment assistance, enforcing fair lending laws, and increasing the supply of affordable housing.

Bloomberg has also put forward a Social Security and Retirement plan, though it is rather light on details.  It sets out that he will introduce a new minimum social security benefit and will provide a government-backed savings plan.

He has also introduced a new Labor plan, which sets out that he will raise the minimum wage to $15.  He would also ensure that all employers would be required to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave, and 7 days of paid sick leave.  He would also prohibit “right to work” laws for private-sector unions, and public sector employees would have the right to unionize and bargain collectively.

Farmworkers and domestic workers would also be covered by overtime pay and minimum wage and would also have other essential labor standards applied to them.  He would also ensure that benefits stayed with workers when they switch jobs and would model his desired labor practices with federal dollars.  He would ensure that federal contracts go to companies “with strong benefits for workers and a clean record on labor violations.”

Is Bloomberg a Believer in Free Trade?

Bloomberg does not have a dedicated trade policy, so it’s hard to tell.

In his plan for International Climate policies he states that he would rejoin the Paris Agreement, and would aim to “lead the world by example” in terms of reducing emissions.

He also states that he would use trade agreements to encourage countries with which the US has diplomatic relations to have emissions-reductions plans that are in line with the Paris agreement.  He would also apply a border adjustment for emissions-intensive goods at the US border.  Bloomberg would aim to work with other countries to end export assistance for fossil fuel investments.

He would also “institute stress testing of financial institutions,” and would work with financial regulators worldwide to standardize those actions.  He would aim to work with the G20 and the Financial Stability Board “to develop a Task Force that would bring financial institutions together with multilateral and national development banks to finance clean energy and resilience projects in developing countries.”

Prior to announcing his candidacy, he had been critical of the Trump administration’s trade war with China, stating that the President’s approach to the situation had “set new benchmarks of incoherence and irresponsibility.”  He has not released any further policies on this point.

Is Bloomberg in Support of the Green New Deal?

Bloomberg was critical of Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal in the past, promising to put forward an “achievable” version rather than her “pie in the sky.”  Nonetheless, his plan was still a transition towards renewable energy, called “Beyond Carbon.”  This aimed to eliminate coal-fired power plants by 2030 and stop the growth of natural gas in the US.

His 2020 election policies include one Climate Change plan, that is broken down into 6 parts:

  • 100% Clean Power and Communities First
  • Clean Buildings
  • International Climate
  • Climate Change Resilience
  • Clean Transportation
  • Wildfire Resistance

Under his plan for 100% Clean Power and Communities First, Bloomberg states that he wants to “propel” the US economy towards full decarbonization as soon as possible, ideally before 2050.  He also plans to slash emissions by 50% in the next 10 years.

His plan to reach those goals includes cutting emissions in three primary sectors: electricity, buildings, and transportation.

In the electricity sector, Bloomberg aims to have 80% of electricity generation from clean sources by 2028.  To do this, he would set strict carbon and pollution limits on new gas power plants and would replace all coal power plants with clean energy by 2030.  As part of this, he would set firm dates for the retirement of each power plant.  He would slowly replace gas power plants with clean energy.

He also states that he would offer incentives in data and technology to monitor and analyze sources of pollution, with the aim that this would enable stronger enforcement approaches.  All subsidies for fossil fuels would also be ended, and he would work with other countries to end export assistance for fossil fuel investments.  He would also establish a moratorium for all new fossil fuel leases on federal lands.

Bloomberg would also work across government institutions and levels to help this clean energy transition to progress.  To support this, he would expedite clean energy projects, improve permitting processes for offshore winds, fast-track clean-energy projects, increase consultation, and would provide additional technical and staffing assistance.  He would also invest in the electricity grid to support two-way flows of energy and information.

In addition, Bloomberg proposes to quadruple the federal R&D investment in clean energy and a clean grid and would provide financial support for clean-energy technologies.  This would include expanding solar and wind tax credits and creating new tax incentives to develop clean-energy technology such as battery storage and clean hydrogen.

He would also particularly support rural electric co-ops and the access of low-income families to clean energy.

Bloomberg also proposes to expand investments to map unequal exposures to pollution, and the health impacts of climate change.  This would include environmental justice mapping and data gathering, as well as enhancing neighborhood and community-level air and water pollution monitoring.  He would also increase funding for researching how coal and fossil fuels affect overburdened communities, including health and environmental impacts.

He suggests using the National Environmental Policy Act to ensure that “climate risk, environmental impacts, and equity concerns are considered in all federal actions,” as well as incorporating these into the budget process.

Bloomberg would also reverse a lot of the Trump administration’s changes to air, water, and health and safety rules.  Instead, he would expand EPA resources for enforcement, and would collaborate with communities to discuss and expose unsafe coal and gas production.  He would also work “to strengthen health and safety protections, starting with those communities that have borne the worst impacts of pollution.”

In Bloomberg’s Clean Buildings plan, he proposes to “push for cleaner, healthier buildings in his first term, expanding programs to reduce energy costs for low-income households while simultaneously improving health and safety.”  He would also specifically focus on low- and middle-income minority communities.

He would provide incentives for pollution-free, all-electric appliances and building equipment, as well as opportunities to upgrade entire buildings’ energy performance with extremely reduced cost.  To do this he would create a national plan for building upgrades, and would include rebates, tax credits, and low-cost financing.  He would also “upgrade Energy Star to focus on shifting to electric appliances.”

His focus on low-income households would include a “Pay as you Save” program at rural electric cooperatives, and a “Bucks for Boilers” program to encourage people to trade in their old-fashioned oil and gas boilers, heaters, and other similar equipment.

Bloomberg would also create workforce development programs to train electricians and installers and would create a program modelled on the 1000 Green Supers program to help building managers identify and implement low-cost ways to save energy.

On a city and state level, Bloomberg proposes to incentivize them “to adopt energy efficiency standards for existing buildings that require owners of large buildings to gradually reduce pollution and improve energy performance.”  He would also work with the FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie May to require energy audits when houses are sold.  In addition, Bloomberg supports Senator Michael Bennet’s SAVE Act, “which would allow mortgage lenders to account for home energy costs and energy efficiency measures.”

For all new buildings, he would push for zero-carbon and efficient performance by 2025 to save energy and reduce onsite emissions.  He would develop aggressive new building codes that maximize energy savings, eliminate pollution, and use low-carbon materials and products such as solar.  He also proposes to increase enforcement mechanisms for cities and states to enforce the implementation of new building codes and would encourage the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to enact rules that encourage energy efficiency.”

Bloomberg would fully fund the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), federal lead-reduction programs, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

In these areas Bloomberg suggests that the federal government should lead by example, such as testing new technologies and approaches in federal buildings and set efficiency and emissions standards for federal buildings in particular.  He would also establish a “Buy Clean” program for federal procurement to reduce the emissions associated with federal building.

He also proposes to invest in R&D for improving efficiency and performance in appliances and carbon-capture technologies.  In addition, federal matching would be provided for incentive programs to promote real time energy management and smart grids.

Bloomberg’s Plan on Climate Change Resilience aims to prevent climate impacts from affecting the most vulnerable communities.  First, he would create an Infrastructure Resilience Finance Corporation that would “provide loans, loan guarantees, credit enhancement and grants” with the aim of helping “cities, states and the private sector” to make investments in resilience to climate change impacts.  His Climate-Safe Communities program would then focus on underserved communities.

In addition, Bloomberg proposes to establish a Cooler Communities program to mitigate the effects of extreme heat events, prioritizing smart, sustainable infrastructure.  He also suggests fostering greater collaboration between the public and private sector to improve access to climate data such as flood maps, as well as tools that communities can use for planning.  Defense infrastructure, natural areas and working lands would also be prioritized for resilience efforts.  All federal infrastructure would also be required to implement resilience standards.  Alongside this he sets out a Wildfire plan to cover how wildfires can be better prevented.

He has also put forward a Clean Transportation plan.  In this plan he covers his plans to tackle the transportation industry as a major area of his emissions reduction approach.  First, he would electrify all new cars by 2035 and reduce diesel pollution with electric trucks and buses.  He would also reinstate federal gas mileage and pollution standards and add a new national zero-emissions vehicle standard.  He would lift the cap on those eligible for electric vehicle tax credits and would create a Clean Cars for All program that offers rebates to low- and middle-income families who trade in their old cars for electric ones.

He would extend and improve tax credits for pollution-free trucks and buses.  A Clean Truck Vouchers program would be established to encourage trade-ins for electric trucks, and a federal grants program would be set up for school districts to buy zero-emissions buses.  He would also introduce community pollution monitoring.  Government vehicle procurement of electric vehicles would also be sped up.

To support electric vehicle charging he would set up a network of charging stations along the highway system using tax credits and low-cost financing.  He would also change the Renewable Fuels Standard into a Low-Carbon Fuels Standard, and would reduce the carbon content for fuels, and would give credit to electric charging and biofuels.

In addition, Bloomberg will promote alternative transportation including supporting buses, light rail, biking, and walking.  He would aim for cities to pilot car-free zones and superblocks, and would increase investment in public transit, as well as infrastructure for bikes and pedestrians alongside subsidies for these activities.  He also plans to expand the regional high-speed rail networks and electrify the rail system (both passenger and freight).  He would also invest in R&D to improve vehicle battery technologies, and low- and no-carbon options for aviation and other transportation modes.  All new federal vehicles purchased would be required to be zero-emissions vehicles by the end of his first term.

Is Bloomberg for M4A?

With regard to healthcare, Bloomberg has put out several different plans.  His main plan is called health coverage, and it sets out that his first step would be creating a Medicare-like public healthcare option.  Bloomberg does not support M4A or Sanders’ Medicare for All plan.  Instead, Bloomberg’s plan would be a more mixed healthcare approach administered by the federal government, paid for by customer premiums.  When rolling out the new plan, priority would go to low-income people in states that currently do not have Medicaid.

Bloomberg also supports the ACA and would aim to expand enrollment and restrict the sale of health plans that do not meet ACA standards.  He would also expand subsidies to cap premiums at 8.5% of a household’s income and would create a permanent reinsurance program to aim to reduce customer premiums by 10%.  He would also expand Medicaid to include an optional policy covering dental, vision, and hearing care.

Like other candidates, he would cap out-of-network charges at 200% of Medicare rates, and would aim to lower drug costs.  His policies for lowering drug prices are covered in a separate plan.  In this plan, he would cap out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries at $2000 annually and would authorize Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies.

He would also allow medicine to be imported from other countries, as long as they have drug control to the same standard as the US.  He also aims to bring cheaper drug prices to the industry by limiting brand-name drug makers to one patent that lasts for 20 years, which would allow generics to be brought to the market faster.

Summary:  Is Bloomberg a moderate or a progressive?

In general, Bloomberg’s policies are moderate when compared to other candidates such as Sanders and Warren, and he takes a policy position more in line with the approach of Biden and Buttigieg.  In many of his speeches and policy positions so far, he has noted that he is primarily “running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America.”

Like many of the Democratic candidates, he has not provided financing sources for many of his policies, or the sources don’t fully fund his initiatives.  This means it is very hard to estimate exactly how much his plans will cost, and where he expects to raise this money.  And most importantly, it will be impossible to judge the return on investment for the spending or what his spending would do to the rapidly expanding federal budget deficit.

With respect to his tax policies, the Tax Foundation notes that under Bloomberg’s plan, the increase in the top individual tax rate and corporate tax rate, could “reduce the competitiveness of the United States,” and could also potentially “burden taxpayers across the income spectrum, not just the wealthy, as labor bears a significant portion of the corporate income tax.”  On the flipside, this depends to a certain extent on how much corporations pass through the increased tax on to workers in the form of lower wages.  This is the same policy outcome as would occur with the other Democratic candidates who propose reversals of portions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

On the positive side, Bloomberg’s Beyond Carbon plan proposes a shift towards renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, but likely at a much slower pace and within a broader timeframe than Warren and Sanders’ climate plans.  This means that while the end result may be the same, the path there and the speed of the shift will likely be much more palatable for moderates, those in business sectors and the markets.

Another positive is that Bloomberg’s energy R&D budget is in the right place, focusing on smart grids, battery storage improvements, solar and wind development, clean hydrogen, and a focus on rural electric co-ops.  This can help to support some of the most promising technologies in this space, as well as a focus on the most in-need communities such as those in rural areas and low-income families with high energy costs.  

Vox also notes that Bloomberg’s energy plan targets natural gas specifically, and that it “focuses entirely on executive powers [with] no legislative help.”  They also note that it “contains only achievable promises, consistent with what can be done by a president, acting alone, within a president’s term …  in contrast to the sweeping, speculative plans from the other candidates.”  This indicates that a potential positive of Bloomberg’s plans could be that they are actually predictable, achievable, and likely to happen if he were to be elected.  This allows the industry much greater certainty in what to expect in terms of economic and industry changes.

On the flipside, Forbes notes that this focus on natural gas could have a negative impact on the US economy, as natural gas is currently an “extremely inexpensive fuel,” and limiting its use would not necessarily be an economically positive decision.

On the negative side, like healthcare proposals by Biden and Buttigieg, a mixed healthcare model has some positive impacts but misses out on some of the benefits of a completely public system.  The benefits of Bloomberg’s health policies include allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies, which could help to reduce drug prices while still encouraging a competitive market.  Further details on these kinds of mixed healthcare policy approaches can be found in our report on healthcare.

Another negative issue with Bloomberg’s current policy approach is that he has very few policies on trade, which makes it difficult to predict how he would tackle this area and what the impacts on the economy (both national and global) would be.  Given the majority of the Democratic candidates have protectionist trade policies (similar to President Trump), this would be an area to monitor closely.

Overall, Bloomberg’s sparse policy descriptions make his approaches not necessarily a likely negative or a likely positive, but the level of unpredictability that comes with a lack of policies is difficult to pass by.  Granted, he did just enter the race and therefore we’ll find out more over the coming months. 

Still, the level of his unpredictability or uncertainty for the economy is significantly lower than Sen. Sanders or Sen. Warren.  While he has a strong policy track record from his time in office in New York, it’s hard to know what will come from him going forward.  While his energy policies and policies on supporting minority groups economically are much more comprehensive and have some likely positive impacts for disadvantaged groups and the environment, the impact of some of his other policies is hard to predict.  As time goes by and he releases more policies a better idea of his approach will become clear.

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I'm Andy Busch

If things feel crazy in the world today, that's because they are. We are seeing huge shifts in risk and reward, leading to a lot of economic uncertainty and confusion about where we go from here.

As an economic futurist, I do things a bit differently than your typical economist — going beyond analyzing how today's financial policies impact economic growth, to focus on the super-charged trends driving much of today's global chaos and change.

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