A couple of weeks ago Fredric Dicker stirred things up when he reported in the New York Post that Bill De Blasio was planning to run for president. Most people eventually dismissed it as rumor-mongering.
This week, the NYC Mayor re-affirmed that he’s not ready to endorse Hillary Clinton yet.
De Blasio, a former Clinton aide, has said he is waiting to hear more about her positions, particularly on income inequality, and he reiterated that he is still not ready to endorse her for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’ve seen some clear signals, some clear ideas come out of her conversations in Iowa, certainly the speech on criminal-justice reform the other day I thought was very powerful, what she said yesterday on immigration. I think she’s beginning to fashion a progressive agenda,” the mayor said in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I think a lot of us, understandably, want to hear the core ideas around the fight against inequality,” he added.
Mike Allen at Politico writes this:
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, using his muscular perch to try to nudge the national Democratic Party to the left, next week will unveil a 13-point progressive agenda that he hopes will be the left’s answer to the Contract with America, which helped propel Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution of 1994…
Among the planks is a universal pre-kindergarten program, DeBlasio’s signature policy since he took office on Jan. 1, 2014. Other elements are aimed at helping working people ($15 minimum wage) and working parents (paid family leave), and proposals for “tax fairness” (increasing the tax on carried interest, a huge issue for private equity).
Mark Binelli has an extended article in Rolling Stone titled: Mayor Bill De Blasio’s Crusade. Amidst a lot of biographical information about the Mayor are a few tidbits.
Earlier that afternoon, de Blasio had convened a closed-door meeting of national progressive thought leaders and elected officials…They’d all come together to begin work on a new version of the “Contract With America,” only this one would be a product of the left, focusing on economic policies — a set of line-in-the-sand principles that progressives, and their candidates in 2016, could rally around. It was a surprising choice of inspiration for de Blasio, the mission’s unlikely Danny Ocean: Looking to rejuvenate the Democratic Party, he’d turned not to Bill Clinton, whose strategy of triangulation the mayor openly repudiates, but Newt Gingrich.
“Look, the New Democrat approach, from my point of view, didn’t work,” de Blasio told me that afternoon. “That governing approach didn’t stop the progression that led us to a thoroughly Republican House and now Senate, and a national debate that doesn’t even address the real issues.”…
…he learned a valuable lesson about the levers of power, and he’s convinced that putting pressure on state and national political leaders is the only way to comprehensively address income inequality…
De Blasio’s progressive alliance will sponsor a bipartisan presidential forum later this year. When I asked if he hoped to exert a leftward pull on establishment Democrats, in the same way that a progressive primary challenger might have such an effect on Clinton, he replied, “Well, I would say it differently. Having been involved in politics, I would not say it is a given to progressives that primaries are necessarily going to result in the outcomes that you want, either a better candidate or your policies being adopted. What we’re doing here is a little more organic than that. It’s understanding that for all of the candidates, there needs to be a real push, calling on them to address these issues.”
Finally, Mayor De Blasio published and op-ed in the Washington Post with Senator Elizabeth Warren. They list 9 things we can do to revive the American Dream.
1. Raise the minimum wage
2. Adopt family friendly policies (paid family leave, child care, etc)
3. Expand educational opportunities (reign in cost of college, universal pre-K, etc)
4. Focus on research and innovation
5. Invest in infrastructure
6. Strengthen and expand Social Security
7. Strengthen the rules of the marketplace
8. Promote fair trade
9. Reform the tax code
We’ll have to watch all this play out in order to see what De Blasio is up to. But he is certainly someone who is steeped in what it means to be a community organizer. If I had to guess, that’s what I think he is trying to do right now…organize from the bottom up on a new “Contract with America” taking direct aim at income inequality.
If I’m right, he doesn’t need to focus on who the candidate will be because, as the saying goes…”when the people lead, the leaders will follow.”
Update: I should have pointed out that De Blasio and Warren’s op-ed contained 9 items specifically targeted at reviving the “American Dream.” But the “Contract With America” De Blasio plans to announce this Tuesday will have 13 items. So they are likely complementary lists but not identical.