If we interpret November's news correctly, Mario M. Cuomo, New York's contemplative governor, will overcome his intense distaste for losing and run for the presidency. He hasn't told The Bond Buyer, but look at what has happened this month.
On Nov. 5, a little-known Democrat, Harris Wofford, trounced Richard Thornburgh, the former attorney general under Ronald Reagan and George Bush, in a race for the Senate in Pennsylvania. The vote shouted to Washington to pay attention to the economy. The Federal Reserve heard the message and cut the discount rate the next day. Quite suddenly, the electorate showed it was fed up and President Bush seemed beatable. Gov. Cuomo saw it all.
On Nov. 11, he and leaders of the New York Legislature began to consider a plan that could solve the state's budget problems until 1993, keeping them out of the news until after the presidential race. If the plan is put in place, Gov. Cuomo could run against President Bush, holding onto his post in Albany, and not be plagued by dreary headlines of multi-million dollar deficits. All this is good evidence of the way the Hamlet of Albany is leaning.
It's not an airtight case, be be sure, but we think it is almost persuasive. Then James Reston, the octogenarian conscience of The New York Times, wrote an Op-Ed Page piece recalling that, in 1952, Adlai Stevenson knew he was going to lose to General Dwight Eisenhower -- but ran anyway. "He ran because he thought it was his duty to discuss the great issues of his time, win or lose," Mr. Reston recalled. Who knows? He may shame Gov. Cuomo into action.
On that supposition, we decided to print an extended excerpt of a recent conversation between several Bond Buyer editors and Gov. Cuomo. The excerpt gives the governor's views on supply-side economics, and -- not surprisingly -- he finds much wrong with the economic policies of the 1980s under Ronald Reagan and George Bush. It is a revealing statement.
Gov. Cuomo accuses Republicans of being Pelagians, obscure 5th century heretics who believed man was essentially good. Give Americans tax cuts and they'll do the right thing, the GOP contended. But that is an un-American thought, for the Founding Fathers held a pessimistic view of human nature and made sure to curb power. After a decade of savings and loan fraud, junk bond scams, and congressmen who pass bad checks, it's hard to disagree.
Gov. Cuomo hints strongly that, as President, he would curb wielders of economic power. He would not just give them a capital gains tax cut but give them a capital gains tax cut if they invest in research and development. That is a difference, and we hope our hunch about Gov. Cuomo is correct. We want to hear more articulate detailed debate on economic policy, and we think we might if our hunch is right.