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The Democratic Party’s Uber Panic

uber-crashes-panic

The latest target is Uber, the app-based ride-sharing service that since its launch in San Francisco just five years ago has expanded to more than 300 cities across the globe.

William McGurn writes: It is an axiom of modern American life: Offer a new service that is wildly popular with the public, and sooner or later you will find yourself labeled an enemy of the people.

The latest target is Uber, the app-based ride-sharing service that since its launch in San Francisco just five years ago has expanded to more than 300 cities across the globe. Here in New York, Uber is now locked in combat with the city’s progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio. In a Sunday op-ed for the Daily News, Mr. de Blasio said he aims to freeze Uber’s expansion until his regulators can figure out how best to block any attempts to “skirt vital protections and oversight.”

[Also see – Bill de Blasio Bonds With Mayor of Paris Over Uber Crackdown]

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo meets with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall in New York, May 30, 2014. Anne Hidlago is on a two-day visit to New York.      EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo meets with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at City Hall in New York, May 30, 2014. Anne Hidlago is on a two-day visit to New York. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

“It is not surprising there is growing opposition to the Mayor’s bill because try as they might, Mayor de Blasio can’t pretend protecting taxi owners is progressive.”

— Uber spokesperson

 writes:

…A spokesperson for Uber pointed to Democrats, including Brooklyn Borough President Eric AdamsCongresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Comptroller Scott Stringer, who support Uber’s growth.

“It is not surprising there is growing opposition to the Mayor’s bill because try as they might, Mayor de Blasio can’t pretend protecting taxi owners is progressive,” said the spokesperson. “The odds have been stacked against us by rushing the bill through the council, but it’s getting harder and harder for the Mayor to explain why he’s against creating 10,000 jobs and protecting reliable rides in communities outside Manhattan.” …(more)

NYObserver

The mayor’s call to arms comes only days after Hillary Clinton used her big speech on economics to sound a similarly dismal note. Though she didn’t mention Uber by name, the Democratic Party’s leading contender for the 2016 presidential nomination fretted that while the “gig economy” may be “exciting” and “unleashing innovation,” “it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Hard questions that Mrs. Clinton no doubt intends the government to answer, even if those answers end up making Uber and others like it less exciting and less innovative.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Republican presidential candidates are having fun with all this. Marco Rubio, who last year sided with Uber over regulators in Miami, accused Mrs. Clinton of trying to “regulate 21st-century industries with 20th-century ideas.” Jeb Bush pointedly traveled by Uber for his visit to Thumbtack, a Silicon Valley startup. Meanwhile, Rand Paul says he would like our government to adopt the Uber model—more information and customer ratings—while Ted Cruz says his campaign will be as disruptive of politics-as-usual as Uber is of old business models.

To Uber’s credit, the company is not backing down from the political offensive. In a clever jab at Mrs. Clinton (who has been invoking her status as a new grandmother), the company issued a news release touting how it is helping “aging Americans” get around. It also has launched a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign against Mr. de Blasio’s plan and even courted the Rev. Al Sharpton by making the case that Uber has done a good job bringing car service to previously underserved minority neighborhoods.

However these battles end, the attacks it faces are no accident. They have two chief causes: First…(read more)

WSJ

Write to mcgurn@wsj.com.

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