Bill de Blasio is now Mayor-elect de Blasio.
Take that, all of you who doubted that a candidate who planted his campaign on a promise of tackling inequality could attract enough support to win.
On November 5, New Yorker’s elected just such a guy by a landslide: 73 to 24 percent.
On Election night, de Blasio took the stage, not in some swanky corporate ballroom in a midtown Manhattan hotel but in the Park Slope Armory—a big, brick, Brooklyn building now functioning as a YMCA.
Now the work really starts. In a city that’s seen the richest 1 percent’s share of the wealth soar—from 12 percent in 1980 to 39 percent last year—de Blasio ran on a pledge to tax the rich to fund universal pre-k and after-school care. It’s just a tiny hike on incomes half a million and up, but it’ll still need the state legislature’s support.
Where billionaire mayor Bloomberg has shared the public largesse with the affluent—showering tax breaks on luxury property owners and increasing tax subsidies for developers by a factor of ten—de Blasio wants a “Unified Development Budget” that would spread subsidies throughout the city”and he’s proposed “economic development hubs” not just in the fashionable design and high-tech sectors but in every neighborhood.
He’s also proposed a new revolving loan fund that would free up credit for small and neighborhood businesses—as he says—“to fulfill the role most banks have abandoned.” But how about going a step further, as the mayor of Richmond, California, has done, to seize inflated mortgage debts from avaricious banksters, and force a reduction of what mortgage holders owe so people can stay in their homes and fewer homes get boarded up?
Or taxing, not just the richest New York city residents, but also the absentee oligarchs—like the ones who recently bought two $90 million dollar penthouses on 57th Street or the $55 million condo chaps who don’t pay any city tax because they actually live somewhere else.
The Tea Party wing of the tabloid press is freaking. The New York Post has pretty much declared that socialists are marching on City Hall. De Blasio’s hardly nationalizing Wall Street (or driving Disney out of Times Square), but his victory is a triumph for the labor and community coalition that backed him: the Working Families Party, which Fox and friends love to hate. Working Families is being called the “left-wing mouse that roared in city politics” this week.
It all bodes for an interesting year. A non-billionaire mayor, backed by labor with a budget of $72 billion to dispense? It’ll be worth watching. You know what they say: If you can do it here…
This commentary is also available on Soundcloud. For more on de Blasio’s victory, read our lead editorial in the latest issue of The Nation.