Some commenter's here and there have accused Mark DeSantis of being a Grover Norquist like Republican, of wanting to shrink government to the size where it could drown'd in a bath tub. Also, of course, Dr DeSantis will give away special tax perks to the wealthy of Pittsburgh, while crushing the rest of of with crippling taxes.
Well, fair enough, we don't know that much about Dr Desantis. He was a policy analyst to the Science Advisor to the rather rational George H W Bush, worked in the commerce department, apparently on science related issues and worked for the relentlessly moderate John Heinz. So, yeah, we have a lot of reason to see DeSantis as a rabid Club of Growth type, espousing tax cutting, small government and conservative social values. Like when Dr DeSantis announced he was pro-choice. I believe the Mayor grudgingly accepts the idea that birth control clinics shouldn't be blown up (something about accepting the idea, sort of, of bubble zones, but the Mayor is not pro-choice, or so I am told).
Anyway, assuming Dr DeSantis is the monster some people have portrayed him as, the arch conservative friend of Rudy Giuliani (who by the way has only recently become conservative to play to the base in the primaries), should we be bothered by that? Assuming that is the case? I say no, and here's why.
Yes, Dr DeSantis is prescribing Act 47 like cuts for the city, though in a fairly careful way. Actually, to my way of thinking, he is prescribing the Act 47 program that should have been implemented in the first place, real help for all the city's problems, not just a short term fix that leaves us crippled in five years. Yes, he is cutting some taxes, in a very careful way. His service cuts for the city involve (I believe) putting everything on the table in terms of how it should be done (services being outsourcing or being provided by city workers, what kind of benefits to provide city worker, etc), but still slowly shrinking the workforce through attrition, 1% a year. He will probably want to renegotiate some contracts, and there may be some tough fights with labor ahead, but they may be fights labor is willing to have since there is a sense labor maybe does not trust Mayor Ravenstahl (and with good reason considering how he has dealt with the media recently).
And the tax cuts he wants to make maybe could be seen as a give away to the rich, three years for new small businesses of not paying certain Pittsburgh business taxes (he has pals just waiting to start buisnesses. Except that there are small businesses on the near Northside and on the Hill and in other undesirable neighborhoods that Republicans don't want to help. If DeSantis wanted to help his friends, he might put a cap on the amount of income that can be taxed, capping it at one hundred thousand, say. Then his millionaire pals would only pay city wage taxes on their first 100,000 bucks. Why hasn't he proposed that? Probably waiting to ambush us.
But Dr Desantis has proposed none of that. Instead, his proposed budgetary program first builds city savings up to one hundred thousand, and he wants to limit city spending with a goofy formula related to the city's growth and the CPI (requiring an amendment to the city's home rule charter). Then, after whatever time period needed for that, his plan starts to make what payments we can to the underfunded pensions and to the city's debt. It's hoping that when the-non profits see how serious the city is, and how hard it is working, they will kick in in a serious way themselves. And when the state seed how hard the city and the non-profits are trying, they will maybe kick in a serious way too.
Actually, if DeSantis really wanted to fulfill the dream of arch conservatives, he should be running for another office, the county executive's office. The county controls property assessments, for one thing. If DeSantis really wanted to help his rich buddies, those in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, but also those in Upper Saint Clair and Sewickley, he would cap the value of any house that can be assessed at something like two hundred thousand and make it stick. So all those million dollar houses would only be taxed as if they were two hundred thousand. Mayor's can't do that stuff.
Also all those social services for the poor the county provides, aid to sick people, public health programs, mental health programs, well the churches should be providing that aid. Time to cut those programs until they can be drown'd in a tub. Of course, Mayors can't do anything about those give aways to the poor.
So we can see that Dan Onorato really outsmarted Mark Desantis when Onorato put himself on the Rebulican ticket for county executive as a write-in. DeSantis was stuck running for Mayor instead of county executive, stuck running apparently for a chance to save the city from itself, because that is all his republicanism will let him do. Curse this power that forces him to do good when all he wants to do is evil!