Kathy Hochu;
Kathy Hochul

New York governor Kathy Hochul’s stunning June 5 announcement about putting congestion pricing on “indefinite pause” shows she is not ready for prime time.

The upstate Democrat cited New York City’s fragile economy for abandoning the plan to charge motorists $15 to drive into lower Manhattan.

But a very timely report released June 26 by the Reinvent Albany group shows that New York’s economy can’t afford to lose congestion pricing.

It found that Hochul’s decision means $15B in investments by Metropolitan Transportation Authority goes on hold, risking an estimated 100K jobs connected to modernizing New York City’s transit systems and thousands of indirect jobs.

Reinvent notes that a well-functioning MTA delivers enormous value to metro New York’s economy by moving millions of people to jobs, schools, entertainment, healthcare and shopping. Gridlock costs NYC $20B a year in lost productivity.

Congestion pricing would improve air quality due to the reduction of the number of vehicles entering the city, and cut asthma rates in heavily polluted areas.

Hochul had an opportunity to shine on the national stage, but she couldn't measure up.

In a letter to the governor, NYC council member Crystal Hudson wrote that New York’s congestion pricing plan was “hailed as a model for how this policy could be applied around the country, potentially triggering a national trend in emission reduction and creating more livable cities.”

Hochul’s out-of-the-blue decision to pause congestion price due to worries from affluent suburban commuters demonstrates political weakness.

What's Plan B? Cut the $15 congestion price to $7.50. Would that translate into losing 50K potential MTA jobs and revamping the transit network?

By caving as the congestion pricing implementation date neared, Hochul blew any shot of re-election in 2026.

It also begs the question: How would a strong leader like Andrew Cuomo have handled congestion pricing?

Amazon’s risky gamble. Amazon plans to set up a “direct-from-China” discount unit to compete with fast-fashion Shein and Temu. It should re-consider.

Shein and Temu’s ultra-cheap business model relies on some questionable outsourcing practices.

Senator Marco Rubio in April sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas asking him to investigate whether Temu and Shein are violating the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.

“Given the blatant exploitation of trade loopholes that Shein and Temu regularly demonstrate, and the high probability these companies have facilitated the importation of goods made with forced labor, I urge you to investigate these companies and add them to the exporter list should they be in violation of federal law,” wrote the Republican Senator from Florida.

Does Amazon really want to get into the ultra low-cost game, especially at a time when Donald Trump and his ilk are stirring up anti-China sentiment?