To no one's surprise, New York City Mayor Abraham D. Beame told the Senate Banking Committee yesterday that his city cannot survive financially without continued federal assistance and asked Congress to renew the federal loan program scheduled to end next June.
"It is impossible to solve the problem alone," Beame said. "We will be doing everything we can, but I really and honestly do not believe the city can do this without state and federal help."
The "problem" Beame referred to is New York's continuing financial trouble. The burden has eased from the crisis level of late 1975, when Congress voted emergency federal loans of up to $2.3 billion a year for three years, but still a reality. Last month New York was given the lowest possible. The burden has eased from the ing service when it tried to reenter the bondmarket.
Committee chairman William Proxmire (D-Wis) is holding three days of oversight hearings on New York's financial condition. The immediate issue is whether the federal government will extend the federal loans under the Seasonal Financing Act, phase them out, or undertake more extensive, long term loan guarantees. New York City officials favor the latter.
Beame called for continuation of the short-term loans, by extending them in June for a total of $2 billion for the 1979 fiscal year, and then reducing them by $500 million a year through 1982.
He said it si "highly desirable, if not essential" that the government provide federally guaranteed long-term financing. He emphasized that New York has paid all its loans back to the Treasury, at a porfit of some $25 million to the government.
But proxmire and Sen. Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass.) expressed skepticism that Congress would go along with the loan renewal or want to establish the precedent of the federal government giving long term assistance to cities that can't live on their own revenues.
New York City Conptroller Harrison J. Goldin, whose testimony followed Beame's said emphatically that the short-term seasonal loans would not be enough to lift the city out of its financial doldrums.
He asked for a 20 or 25-year guarantee. The failure to provide it, he said, would make it that much more difficult for the government to get out of New York's fiscal affairs. Whatever program is acvised he said, the city should be in a position to stand on its own when the government leaves.
No one wants a domestic Vietnam," Goldin said "where for the sake of saving the city in the shortrun, we destroy it in the long-run."
Under stern questioning from Proxmire and Brooke, both Beame and Goldin repeatedly denied allegations contained is a Securities and Exchange Commission report last summer that they knowingly misled publice investors about the poor financial condition of the city.
SEC chairman Harold M. Williams told the committee yesterday that city officials, underwriters, bond counsel and rating agencies were all responsible for misleading the public by allowing issuance of short-term obligations which they knew the city could not finance.
"Investors in the securities of the City of New York during the period in question." Williams said, "did not receive the protections afforded by the federal securities laws to which they are entitled . . . the failure to make meaningful disclosure served only to prolong the city's fiscal crisis and to delay necessary corrective efforts."