By Tom Allon
It is often said that good politics involves the “art of the compromise.” To get things done and make progress, which should be the goal of every elected leader, there needs to be give and take.
This lesson seems to have been lost in Washington in recent years, where a polarized Congress has passed fewer and fewer pieces of legislation each session. If Republicans take over the Senate in the upcoming election cycle, we may expect even less during the last two lame-duck years of the Obama administration.
Here in New York, it is budget season in Albany and we’re witnessing lots of horse trading to get things done.
Will it produce a compromise on the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, otherwise known as the Dream Act? Probably not, but there’s still time until the legislative session ends in late June to get that important progressive vision realized and help our immigrant young get great educations.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been exemplary in his ability to use compromise to move his agenda forward. Some think he sacrificed a lot of important goals over the years — such as independent redistricting — but his signature achievements of marriage equality and capping property taxes came about because of his willingness to wheel and deal.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has exhibited his ability to cut deals in his first few months in office. He traded air rights for more affordable housing with the Domino Sugar development in Brooklyn, a move that could serve as a model for the mayor’s future relationship with the real estate development community.
The mayor’s signature education initiative, universal pre-kindergarten, is a great idea that many have pursued unsuccessfully in the past two decades. The governor decided to push this idea forward throughout the state, but he squashed the mayor’s plan to raise taxes on high earners to fund it.
The mayor is making a mistake by continuing to push for the tax. Instead, he should accept Cuomo’s compromise and focus his team on implementing this ambitious plan to add thousands of new seats in city public schools for early childhood education.
After all, once kids are in those seats, it won’t matter to constituents who is paying for it.
There’s an old saying that should apply here for the new mayor: “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
Compromise is an important skill in life. Let’s hope the new mayor’s early signs of deal-making continue.
Tom Allon, president of City & State NY, was a Republican and Liberal Party-backed mayoral candidate in 2013 before he left to return to the private sector. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.