At nearly every campaign appearance during the mayoral race, New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio characterizes the city’s economy as “a tale of two cities” that contrasts the success of the wealthiest New Yorkers compared with the struggles of the working class. In a campaign speech masquerading as a policy address this morning at the New School, de Blasio expanded on his vision for resurrecting the middle class and bridging the gap between these “two cities.”
To illustrate the divide between rich and poor, de Blasio cited the 389,000 millionaires living in the city while one in five New Yorkers live in poverty. He straddled the line between blaming Mayor Michael Bloomberg for ignoring the working and middle class and giving him credit for certain policies, such as helping to foster the city’s growing tech economy.
“If all we do as a city is to replace one elite economy with another, we will fail millions of New Yorkers who need good jobs that work for their lives,” de Blasio said.
De Blasio proposed to restructure the city’s tax incentive policies to free up resources to support small businesses and growing industries in the city, such as green jobs and advanced manufacturing.
For entrepreneurs, he suggested a $100 million revolving loan fund financed by reforming incentive subsidies. And to help create jobs for the youngest members of the city’s workforce, de Blasio pointed to a proposal from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer that would start a STEM program at CUNY to prepare high school graduates for jobs in the city’s tech industry.
Afterwards, de Blasio was asked how his vision for restoring the city’s middle class differs from his opponents, such as Christine Quinn or Anthony Weiner.
“I’m willing to take the kind of actions that would actually make a change,” de Blasio said. “Everyone likes to use the phrase ‘middle class.’ Are you willing to change our subsidy programs? Are you willing to tax the wealthy to fix our schools? Are you willing to make strategic investments in the part of the economy that will actually bring back middle class jobs? I think people are not talking about those kind of solutions and the proof will be in the pudding.”