Bill de Blasio, embattled idealist

bill de blasio son dante
Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio visits a Brooklyn senior center with his son Dante. Credit: Bess Adler

Bill de Blasio — the candidate calling for a tax on millionaires to fund universal pre-K and after-school programs — has positioned himself from Day One as “the progressive,” a moniker that is now being used by both his supporters and his detractors.

De Blasio has called other candidates’ claims that money for universal pre-K already exists and is regularly sent back to the state “wildly misleading.”

That money, he said, amounts to “several tens of millions.”

“It doesn’t come close to what I’m talking about,” de Blasio insisted. “It’s a smoke screen. I’m talking about a $532 million program.”

That program, funded by this tax on millionaires, would include full-day pre-K for all children as well as after-school programs to all middle-school children who need it.

“There’s no way in hell you can achieve that with current resources,” de Blasio said. “People who are suggesting otherwise should stop lying about that.”

But critics, including Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, say such a tax is out of the question.

“It’s a great sound bite, what Bill de Blasio has done, it’s a great sound bite, and he is a wonderful idealist,” Weingarten said.

Weingarten referred to recent news reports that have sources in Albany insisting that having continued a state income tax surcharge on high-income New Yorkers earlier this year, Gov. Cuomo would likely seek a tax cut in next year’s budget, not another increase, especially given that he will be seeking re-election in 2014.

Senate Republican officials said they would stand firm against a proposal for a tax hike, arguing that the city already has some of the highest taxes in the nation.

This is a major criticism leveled against de Blasio: Many of his proposals are things the mayor does not have jurisdiction over.

Receiving the endorsement of Councilman Brad Lander, one of the architects of the City Council’s recently passed profiling ban and inspector general bill, de Blasio dismissed his critics as those who “want to continue the status quo.”

Lauding Lander’s hard-won victory in passing his bills as an example to counter such arguments, de Blasio said: “We don’t accept that there’s no other way to do things. They said you could not get a ban on profiling and an inspector general. … Yes you could. We had ‘yes you can’ before — yes you could.”

“We insist on change,” de Blasio concluded. 

The call for change and revival of “Yes We Can” bring to mind the first Barack Obama presidential campaign and all the idealism therein. This is perhaps a dangerous comparison, however, considering the criticism leveled against Obama during his first term and the criticism leveled against de Blasio now: Obama often appeared unable to effect change in areas requiring the approval and collaboration of Congress; de Blasio’s detractors are saying many of his proposals call for the hard-to-get — some even say unlikely — approval of Albany.

De Blasio’s camp has been quick to point out that some of rival Christine Quinn’s proposals, including a recent pitch to change the drop-out age and a long-standing push for more city influence on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, would also require approval from Albany.

But supporters of other candidates, particularly Quinn, have started painting de Blasio as a rhetorical progressive in comparison to Quinn as an “effective progressive.”

Gloria Steinem referred to Quinn as an “effective progressive” when Quinn rolled out her paid family leave plan, which she said could be funded by money already in the city budget, side-stepping the need for Albany legislation and avoiding a small payroll tax increase that de Blasio’s plan required.

De Blasio dismisses such criticism as coming from those who are just happy with the status quo.

“I believe there is a clear tradition in the state of New York: When the mayor of the City of New York and the City Council agree and ask for the opportunity for new revenue of their own from their own jurisdiction — with Mayor Bloomberg, with Mayor Giuliani, with Mayor Dinkins, Albany agreed,” de Blasio insisted. “So, for those who throw stones, I just ask them to understand we don’t intend to continue the status quo.”

 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO

  • A program of full-day pre-kindergarten education for all kids citywide, as well as afterschool programs for all middle school students who need it, would be funded by a tax increase on New Yorkers who earn over a million dollars a year. De Blasio said it will cost half a billion dollars a year for five years.
  • That tax increase would need to be achieved within the first 90 days of his time in office, de Blasio said, though the pre-K program wouldn’t be in place as early as September of 2014.
  • De Blasio would keep the police force the same size it is not, but employ more technology, including cameras around the city.
  • Bill de Blasio supports Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban “as a parent,” and would continue to push for it as mayor.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.