CBS's Smith to Bloomberg: 'Manhattan Will Be Underwater by 2050'

On Monday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith interviewed New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The liberal mayor has followed in the footsteps of Al Gore and implored the government to take action to address an impending environmental crisis, saying "We need to do something now." To match Bloomberg’s alarmist rhetoric, Smith added "Manhattan will be underwater by 2050." Amusingly, even Bloomberg thought that assertion went too far, "There's a -- I don't know that Manhattan will be underwater, but certainly the environment's going to be a lot worse that we leave our children." Smith also pressed Bloomberg on a possible 2008 presidential run.

The interview began with Smith asking about Bloomberg’s proposal to impose a national carbon tax. Smith asked, "Who gets taxed?," to which Bloomberg responded, "People who generate carbon and put it into the air, that pollute the air that you breathe, and that I breathe, and that's causing worldwide changes over the long term in our environment." In other words, everyone. Far from challenging Bloomberg on how people would react to such a plan, Smith instead followed up with, "Something similar to this has been advocated for a long time, the sort of cap and trade...Why is yours better than theirs?" Smith’s assumption that Bloomberg’s plan is "better" is an interesting way of challenging such a policy.

Shifting into crisis mode, Smith next wondered, "Why this and why now, and how important do you feel it is to enact something like this as soon as possible?" To ease Smith’s fears, Bloomberg proclaimed that the debate was over, "Well, there's no question that we're damaging our environment...and I think everybody understands, the Administration, everybody else, that we are damaging our environment." An incredulous Smith quickly responded, "Do you think the Administration?" Perhaps Bloomberg’s best sound bite came at this moment with this great one-liner, "Yeah, I think that the dialogue has gone from 'this is a Communist plot,' to maybe we don't have to pay for it now..." That got a roaring laugh from Smith. Apparently anyone who is skeptical of Global Warming is just some paranoid right-winger who thinks it’s a "Communist plot."

In addition to helping tout Bloomberg’s big government solution to climate change, Smith also fawned over the New York Mayor as a potential presidential candidate in 2008. In a teaser at the top of the show, co-host Hannah Storm excitedly proclaimed:

Also coming up this morning, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is with us. He's on the cover of "Newsweek" out today as "The Billion-Dollar Wild Card" in the upcoming election. We'll ask him if he plans to be a candidate.

Smith hinted at the speculation to the "wildcard" himself:

Now, if I didn't know better, you could almost pull that out as a sound bite, and it could have sounded like something said by a presidential candidate....So, speaking of this notion of running for president and why these other candidates haven't said these very things, how frustrating is it for you that they don't say these things?

Well, that was about as subtle as a sledge hammer.

Nearing the end of the segment, a frustrated Smith continued to press Bloomberg, "You want to announce -- why won't you announce now?" What is it about liberal environmentalists that makes Harry Smith want to recruit them for the presidency? Like he did with Al Gore in May.

At the end of the segment, both Smith and co-host Julie Chen showed their approval of the environmentally friendly Bloomberg:

SMITH: Yeah, yeah. Alright, Mayor Bloomberg, thanks so much for being with us.

BLOOMBERG: Thanks for having me.

SMITH: Really appreciate it. I'm breathing easier already. Now here's Julie.

JULIE CHEN: Deep inhale.

All that breathing could be harmful to the environment and may be subject to tax under Bloomberg’s plan.

Here is the full transcript of the interview:

7:01AM TEASER:

HANNAH STORM: Also coming up this morning, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is with us. He's on the cover of Newsweek out today as "The Billion-Dollar Wild Card" in the upcoming election. We'll ask him if he plans to be a candidate.

7:21AM

HARRY SMITH: And New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, in our studio this morning, talking green and talking running for president.

7:30AM SEGMENT:

HARRY SMITH: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking on global warming, calling for a national carbon tax. He's also featured in the current issue of Newsweek magazine, and Mayor Bloomberg is with us this morning. Good morning.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: Good morning. Thank you for having me.

SMITH: You gave this speech on Friday, the National Association of Mayors in Seattle, asking for a carbon tax. What is it exactly?

BLOOMBERG: Want to tax carbon and move the money over to reduce payroll taxes, so net-net we don't have any greater taxes, but we use our money more intelligently.

SMITH: Who gets taxed?

BLOOMBERG: People who generate carbon and put it into the air, that pollute the air that you breathe, and that I breathe, and that's causing worldwide changes over the long term in our environment.

SMITH: Something similar to this has been advocated for a long time, the sort of cap and trade. Big polluters would be -- have certain levels. If they get below them, then they could trade them to people who pollute more. A lot of people have said that's the way to go. Why is your's better than their's?

BLOOMBERG: Cap and trade says if you're a bad polluter, you can keep polluting and hurting the environment that your company is in, as long as somebody on the other side of the world reduces their carbon emissions. That may be good net-net for the world, but number one, I don't know wether they're going to do it overseas, and number two, doesn't help the people that live near your plant.

SMITH: Right. Why this and why now, and how important do you feel it is to enact something like this as soon as possible?

BLOOMBERG: Well, there's no question that we're damaging our environment. Here in New York City we've got a plan to plant a million trees, to reduce the number of cars on the streets, to make buildings pollute a lot less, to do a lot of things because we have a situation where our kids are going to the hospital with asthma rates higher than the national average, and I think everybody understands, the Administration, everybody else, that we are damaging our environment.

SMITH: Do you think the Administration?

BLOOMBERG: Yeah, I think that the dialogue has gone from 'this is a Communist plot,' [Harry Smith Laughs] to maybe we don't have to pay for it now, maybe I don't have to do it, let's argue about how to do it. Let's not do it unless everybody else does it. But the dialogue has switched from whether or not it exists, to what to do.

SMITH: On the other hand, you have states like California, New Jersey, even Florida, have said we want to reduce tail pipe emissions, everything else, and the federal government says, whoa, whoa, whoa, they're ready to sue the EPA.

BLOOMBERG: Look, Washington is immobilized, they are unable to do anything about it, and so you see governors across this country, and mayors across this country, saying we can't wait for Washington. Let's do something. Because the people we represent are breathing bad air.

SMITH: Right. Now, if I didn't know better, you could almost pull that out as a sound bite, and it could have sounded like something said by a presidential candidate.

BLOOMBERG: Well, you would hope that that's right, and you would hope that all of the Republican and Democratic candidates would address the issue and would say not just 'I'm in favor of motherhood and apple pie,' but how are we going to do it, who's going to pay for it, when can you get it in. They talk about -- Congress talks about -- goals to reduce carbon in the year 2050. How many people in Congress today are going to be alive in 2050? Just do the math, not very many.

SMITH: Right.

BLOOMBERG: We need to do something now.

SMITH: Manhattan will be underwater by 2050.

BLOOMBERG: There's a -- I don't know that Manhattan will be underwater, but certainly the environment's going to be a lot worse that we leave our children.

SMITH: Yeah. So, speaking of this notion of running for president and why these other candidates haven't said these very things, how frustrating is it for you that they don't say these things?

BLOOMBERG: Governors and mayors can't say 'I'm in favor of something, but I'm not going to tell you how I'm going to do it.' Governors and mayors have to be judged the next day of whether they got it done.

SMITH: Right.

BLOOMBERG: And it is frustrating for those that are in the executive branches of government to see people who just keep saying we'll do it, elect me, and then trust me, I will do it. We don't have that luxury.

SMITH: Alright. Your political adviser, Kevin Chiccy, says he actually has a plan, and the Newsweek article that's out today basically says if he can convince you you can win the electoral college, that you'll run, run for president.

BLOOMBERG: Look I have --

SMITH: You want to announce -- why won't you announce now?

BLOOMBERG: Because I have 787, 86 days left to --

SMITH: Oh, you always say that though. You always say that.

BLOOMBERG: But I have the greatest job in the world.

SMITH: Right.

BLOOMBERG: And I'm thrilled to do it.

SMITH: Well, you would take another one if you have the opportunity.

BLOOMBERG: Well, when I finish this, which is the end of '09.

SMITH: Right.

BLOOMBERG: Look, I'm not a candidate for president, but I do think --

SMITH: But might you be? Let's just, let's just --

BLOOMBERG: No, that's not the right question. The right question is --

SMITH: The right question?

BLOOMBERG: How do you get those out there to speak out and address the issues? And if you take a look, mayors have addressed crime in the streets. And in New York City we brought crime down. We've addressed public education, we've improved the public schools. They're doing something about the environment. And what we've got to do is somehow or another to get people paralyzed by partisanship to start working together. This country doesn't need somebody that's going to say my party versus your party, this country needs somebody that says 'I'm going to get the best from both parties and pull them together,' like Sarkozy did in France. Once he got elected, he really did pull people together. And we've got to do that.

SMITH: Yeah, yeah. Alright, Mayor Bloomberg, thanks so much for being with us.

BLOOMBERG: Thanks for having me.

SMITH: Really appreciate it. I'm breathing easier already. Now here's Julie.

JULIE CHEN: Deep inhale.

 

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC