Americans are looking to mayors to solve inequality because the federal government is failing to do it, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told the nation’s mayors Thursday.
“This town we’re in, here, has been gripped in a frustrating paralysis and so we turn as a nation to all of us, to the mayors of this country to address the root causes of inequality,” he said in Washington, D.C. before the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ winter meeting.
Indeed, the heavy northeastern storm and New York City plow drama did not keep de Blasio from bringing his focus on inequality to the Nation’s Capitol for the conference.
“I wish we could say we could thank the Congress but let’s be honest, that’s not where the progress is coming from, it’s coming from you,” he said. “And that’s something we need to build upon.”
Saying the U.S. Conference of Mayors came about shortly after the country’s mayors convinced President Herbert Hoover in the 1930s to sign legislation to create a $300 million federal assistance program for cities, de Blasio stressed that America “faces another profound economic crisis” that has not hurt the wealthy, but keeps the middle class struggling.
“Put simply, we are in the midst of an inequality crisis,” he said, explaining that mayors are the ones who people are looking to fix the issue.
“It’s up to us,” he said.
De Blasio went on to tout his focus on universal full-time pre-K by getting the wealthy to pay “a little bit more in taxes,” and paid sick leave.
“Let’s forge that new national urban consensus together. Not just around priorities like pre-K and paid sick leave. But around strategic investment in affordable housing and 21st century transportation,” he said.
The New York Mayor came under fire this week for the lack of snow plows in the Upper East Side following this week’s snowstorm.
While de Blasio did not directly address the criticisms in his speech, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who announced the New York Mayor, ribbed him on the heavy snow, noting that the New York Mayor did not need a special snowplow to get there.
De Blasio concluded by noting that while he does not have the wealth of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, if the mayors visit him, he will offer them cookies and bagels “on him.”