The president’s tax breaks could nearly make up the NYC subway deficit, but Inside Edition has pinned the problem entirely on commuters jumping the turnstile.
“If I had the money, I definitely would pay,” said one NYC fare hopper confronted by the newsmagazine.
Of course, people who have the money in spades don’t have to, and Inside Edition doesn’t seem concerned with that. For instance, while the subway system is crumbling and fares are rising, New York pledged to buy a helipad with taxpayer dollars for the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos.
— Inside Edition (@InsideEdition) February 9, 2019
But Bezos is only one billionaire whose excess could have saved the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) from its estimated billion-dollar shortfalls. President Trump’s business empire — troubled as it was — launched him to the celebrity he eventually used to enter politics. It was also built on the back of NYC taxpayers.
The Grand Hyatt, which Trump brags frequently about, was built with an extraordinary 40-year tax break that has cost NYC $360 million, and set a pattern for his career going forward. All told, Trump has reaped at least $885 million from New Yorkers in the form of subsidies, tax breaks and grants.
And that’s what we know about.
While the excesses of these wealthy men have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, the MTA is in dire straits. As Grit Post has previously reported, the subway system is facing a colossal task to combat its crumbling infrastructure, and is running deficits that have necessitated even more fare increases, costing travelers more at the turnstile.
Costs that at least one person interviewed would pay, if he could afford it.
And the inability to afford traveling in a subway system so run down it is considered in a state of emergency by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) becomes even more troubling when considering commuters are also at risk of losing their cars at an unprecedented scale because they can’t afford to make loan payments.
For his part, Cuomo likes to look hands-on with the MTA — he’s toured the “L” line scheduled to be closed for repairs and he’s pledged to “take the bull by the horns” — but he’s not eager to actually be responsible for the situation the MTA is in.
“The MTA is a train wreck that doesn’t stop and it’s a train gone wild that is completely out of control,” said Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf. “It’ll take this governor and another governor or two to straighten out the mess.”
He added: “No one has been able to do it since the MTA was created in 1965.”
A major part of that problem is that capitol investments — like giving billionaires tax breaks to build a shiny new thing — are politically sexy. Maintenance isn’t. And that’s not just a problem for the NYC subway system, it’s a problem for all infrastructure.
In the end, NYC residents are faced with a government would rather give Donald Trump a building or Jeff Bezos a helipad on the taxpayer dime, than provide upkeep for the public transit the taxpayer actually relies on on a daily basis. The case for maintenance is a hard one to make to elected officials.
But if you ask Inside Edition, it’s the turnstile hoppers that are to blame.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.