New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took his fight against income inequality on the road this week, making speeches in Nebraska on Wednesday and Iowa on Thursday.
De Blasio called for national policy solutions to address the economic backslide of working families when he talked with WNYC’s Julianne Welby. He said that the people of Iowa and Nebraska who had invited him to speak were “hungry to talk about the issue” of income inequality.
“The last time you could find income disparity this bad would be the 1920s, but the 1920s led to the New Deal,” de Blasio said. “We don’t have anything like that on the horizon.”
De Blasio said that Americans need a national policy solution, including changes to the minimum wage and tax policy, along with programs his administration has prioritized here in New York City, like universal prekindergarten and paid sick leave.
“Unless you want to have a negative competition between states and regions, you need national policy. You need one standard for the whole country,” said de Blasio.
De Blasio’s trip coincides with that of newly-minted presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Reporters had made much of the fact that de Blasio has not yet endorsed her campaign. The mayor told WNYC that he wanted to hear from Clinton on domestic issues that she hasn’t spoken about since she was a presidential candidate eight years ago.
“Now is a time for her to formulate a vision and I think for a lot of us we need to hear that before we can jump forward, because it’s so essential we get it right this time,” he said.
De Blasio said he worried that no action would mean the growth of inequality, which would put the nation at risk of “destabilization.”
The mayor said he’s talked to economists about this issue. “So I think there’s lots of voices across the spectrum saying that this is a serious crisis that has gone under-recognized and under-addressed,” de Blasio said. I think it’s absolutely fair to say to any candidate, ‘Show us your plan and your vision’ before we can make a decision on who to support.”
De Blasio also spoke about the recent Brooklyn Bridge protest. The NYPD has confirmed that an off-duty police officer pulled his gun after being assaulted. The mayor said he supported the protests, but that they must be peaceful and in this case, they weren’t, he said.
“I’ll wait to get more information but I have every reason to believe that unfortunately that moment began with protesters attacking a police officer,” he said.