Bill de Blasio says that New York’s wealth is “in the wrong hands”—except when those hands are donating to his campaigns.
Mayor Bill de Blasio ratcheted up his progressive rhetoric last week during his State of the City address. “There’s plenty of money in the world,” de Blasio said. “There’s plenty of money in the city—it’s just in the wrong hands.” The mayor sounded as if he were channeling his Sandinista heroes of the early 1980s. Pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper about what he meant, de Blasio reverted to a favorite history lesson about how everything went wrong in the election of 1980. “This has been an agenda from Reagan’s administration, right on through to Trump’s,” he explained, “to take money from working people and give it to the one percent.”
It’s indisputable that New York City has enormous income inequality; the top 1 percent of New Yorkers earned 40.5 percent of all the city’s income in 2014. However, that same group paid 47 percent of all the local income taxes, while one-third of the city’s filers—mostly poor residents—paid no tax. The same dynamic occurs at the state and federal levels. Those who earn the most pay disproportionately more in taxes, largely to fund wealth-transfer programs that move money down the economic ladder to the needy.
Over the course of a political career that has included five primary elections, five general elections, and a runoff election, de Blasio has raised tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions, much of it from the wealthy. Among the billionaires from whom de Blasio accepted money for his 2017 mayoral reelection campaign, which he was assured of winning, are media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. With the help of city and state funding, Diller is erecting a park in the middle of the Hudson River. The mayor also accepted maximal campaign money from billionaire movie director Steven Spielberg, as well as from the director’s family trust, and from Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, and their family trust. Philanthropist Abigail Disney, Walt Disney’s niece, also contributed. more