Tags: de blasio | iowa | snub | clinton

De Blasio Takes Tax-the-Rich Call to Iowa After Snub of Clinton

Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 01:17 PM

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who vowed to become national leader for progressive policies, took his campaign for higher taxes on the rich to America’s heartland and the home of the first presidential test of 2016.

De Blasio, 53, brought the same message to Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday that he delivered to New Yorkers a little more than a year ago, when he became the first Democrat in 20 years to run the largest U.S. city. He says income inequality is the defining issue of our time.

“The cost of asking the wealthy to pay their fair share pales in comparison to the cost of allowing inequality to soar,” de Blasio said in remarks prepared for a speech at Drake University’s library, where he was a guest of former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin and the Harkin Institute for Policy and Citizen Engagement. “If we have an economy driven by opulence instead of inclusiveness and innovation, then we all lose.”

He cited Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., who said last year that income inequality in the U.S. was “destabilizing.” He also quoted billionaire Warren Buffett, who said of successful investors, “potential taxes have never scared them off.”

De Blasio’s remarks came as part of a long-planned Midwest swing that included a stop in Nebraska on Wednesday. He arrived in Iowa the same week as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the newly announced candidate and frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

De Blasio managed the former first lady’s successful 2000 bid to become a U.S. senator from New York, and in 1997 he worked as a regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in her husband’s administration.

No Endorsement

It was front-page news in New York’s tabloids this week after de Blasio went on NBC News’s “Meet the Press” on April 12 and declined to endorse Clinton the same day she declared herself in the race. The mayor said he would wait until he hears her support policies that are consistent with his agenda.

“If you’re serious, you’ve got to be ready to tax the wealthy, you’ve got to be ready to raise wages and benefits, you’ve got to be ready to have tax fairness in this country,” de Blasio said on the program. “She is one of the most qualified people to ever run for this office, but we need to see the substance.”

The mayor told reporters two days later that he had already informed Clinton and her team that he wouldn’t endorse her right away.

“I don’t think there’s any surprise in it,” he said.

De Blasio points out that since the 2008 financial crisis, the wealthiest 1 percent have gobbled up 95 percent of the additional earnings sparked by the recovery, while for the rest, wealth and wages have remained stagnant or worse. Fairness and social cohesion require government to improve conditions for the middle class and poor so they share in economic growth, he says.

‘National Convener’

It’s a theme he’s pushed since he won the mayoral election in 2013 by 49 percentage points -- the biggest margin ever for a non-incumbent -- saying New York had become “a tale of two cities.” Weeks before taking office he announced that the job included his acting as “a national convener” for “a progressive urban agenda” that mirrors what he’s pushed in New York: universal all-day pre-kindergarten, housing subsidies to prevent homelessness, increasing the minimum wage and scholarship aid to attend the city’s public universities.

U.K. Trip

De Blasio has since taken his message to the U.K., where he addressed a Labour Party conference in September, and to frequent meetings with mayors in Boston and Washington to seek money for mass transportation, infrastructure maintenance and fewer restrictions on immigration.

It was a coincidence that de Blasio’s schedule and Clinton’s campaign itinerary put them in Iowa the same week. He said he’s planned the trip to Des Moines for months. Iowa will hold caucuses for the 2016 presidential election on Feb. 1.

After the Drake speech, de Blasio plans to speak to a group of like-minded activists who call themselves Progress Iowa at the state headquarters of the Education Association, the union that represents public-school teachers.

The mayor also addressed students at the University of Nebraska Wednesday night. He told them he came from a city where an apartment recently sold for “a jaw-dropping $100 million” and another rented for $500,000 a month.

“At the same time that those at the top are doing so well, 46 percent of New Yorkers -– nearly half our city -– is living at or near the poverty level,” he said.

DeBlasio hosted an April 2 meeting at Gracie Mansion, his official Manhattan residence, that included Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy; former Governor Ted Strickland and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, both of Ohio; and Jonathan Soros, son of the billionaire hedge fund founder and philanthropist George Soros.

They emerged pledging to create a new “contract with America” that would hold 2016’s presidential candidates to a set of policies devoted to their progressive agenda. The pact would push to tax the rich to pay for job-creating infrastructure improvements and help for families struggling pay for education and housing, he said.

While Democrats have consensus around social issues, a divide remains on the economy between the “Wall Street wing of the party” and a more populist side, said Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation magazine, which endorsed de Blasio early in the mayoral primary.

“Mayor de Blasio has become an important symbol of a national populist agenda,” said vanden Heuvel, who attended the Gracie Mansion gathering. “And as such, his mayoralty is being viewed by the country as a test case for progressive responses to what he considers the crisis of our time -- income inequality.”


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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who vowed to become national leader for progressive policies, took his campaign for higher taxes on the rich to America's heartland and the home of the first presidential test of 2016.De Blasio, 53, brought the same message to Des Moines,...
de blasio, iowa, snub, clinton
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2015-17-16
Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 01:17 PM
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