The panel on the "Morning Joe" show said Monday that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is criticizing Uber and defending taxi companies because the taxi companies have donated to his campaigns.
"This is all about politics," host Joe Scarborough said. Buzzfeed reported that de Blasio accepted $350,000 from taxi companies during his 2013 campaign. The New York Post also said the taxi industry has donated more than $600,000 into committees he controls since the beginning of 2013.
De Blasio wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News on Saturday explaining his stance. He critiqued the multi-billion dollar company for not having handicap accessible vehicles, failing to contribute money to the city's transit system and clogging up the roads, as well as Uber drivers' lack of benefits and protections as well as environmental concerns.
"More than 2,000 new for-hire vehicles are being added to our streets every month, overwhelming the most congested parts of Manhattan. For perspective, that means we're facing the addition of over 25,000 cars to our streets over the next year — the rough equivalent of two times the total number of yellow taxis in all of New York City," de Blasio said.
De Blasio is capping the number of Uber drivers for one year in response to worries about congestion on the streets, the "Free Beacon" reported. He wrote in his op-ed that last year was the "lowest year on record for the streets of the Manhattan" for speed on the city's streets, with an average of 8.5 miles per hour.
Co-host Willie Geist said de Blasio's remarks are "pretty transparent politics" as de Blasio is protecting the taxi industry who has supported him.
"But for a guy who's progressive by any definition of what's progressive, this is a pretty tough stance against progress," Geist said. "This is a good thing. This makes it easier, it makes it safer for people in outer boroughs to get around where they can't find cabs a lot of the time. Uber is progress, and it's a fool's errand to stand in the way at this point."
Scarborough said he criticized Uber six months ago before downloading the app himself.
"I downloaded the app and tried it, and I use it everywhere … This is why Americans hate politics, because you finally have something that works and you've got a politician who's more interested in his big donors and his big support than actually keeping people safe," Scarborough said.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski said she agreed with de Blasio's one-year trial.
"It's 25,000 more cars in the city. You want a year, just a year, to check it out," Brzezinski said.
Former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford also said de Blasio's stance was economical rather than about transit.
"Even before Uber came, I can tell you traffic is pretty stiff from 2:00 to 6:00 anywhere in the city," Ford said.
De Blasio ultimately said there needs to be restrictions on Uber just like other major companies.
"But no company's multi-billion-dollar political war chest gives it a blank check to skirt vital protections and oversight for New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "We wouldn't let ExxonMobil or Wal-Mart or any other corporate giant operate in New York City without basic rules in place to protect the public. And no number of lobbyists or ad campaigns will change that."
Uber is extending its multi-million dollar television ad campaign "Don't strand New York" into August.
However, even the taxi companies said the one-year freeze will do little to help their situation, the New York Post reported. Some of these companies have filed law suits against the de Blasio administration saying Uber is in violation of taxis' "exclusive rights to street hails under state law."
"This legislation does nothing for yellow taxis. It has the effect of legitimizing a business model that is not complying with the law. It is a charade. It is a bit of a farce," said Todd Higgins, the lawyer representing credit unions that provide loans to medallion owners, the New York Post reported.