Editor's Note: This piece was authored by Young Voices contributor Rachel Tripp.
Bill de Blasio is the champion of working people — unless, that is, they’re working to make money. In Wednesday night’s second Democratic presidential debate, the New York City mayor distinguished himself as the candidate with the strongest penchant for raising taxes, proudly announcing his desire to “tax the hell” out of the country’s super rich. It seems the working Americans who have done well in their industries, sacrificed time at home and with family in exchange for professional gain, and earned their way into top income brackets aren’t worthy of the right to their own wages. Somehow, though, De Blasio is viewing himself as better equipped to budget paychecks than the people actually earning them.
In his closing argument, the mayor, whose presidential run was met with disapproval by 76% of current New York City residents, claimed that wealthy and powerful Americans are “holding the American dream hostage” from everyone else. Of course, by saying this, De Blasio betrayed himself. If it wasn’t before (it was), it’s painfully obvious now that de Blasio fails to grasp basic economics, and is also anxious to vilify the roughly 5.4 million American households making over $250,000 annually in the name of his own political ambitions.
As any good old-fashioned free-market economist would tell you, the prosperity enjoyed by some doesn’t stop the less fortunate from growing their own wealth. In a country where there’s not some finite amount of tangible wealth to be stolen or hoarded from others, there are limitless opportunities for everyone to improve their own lives. Blaming wealthy Americans for the poverty of others is a pretty significant attack on the American Dream itself.
Of course, a pledge to increase taxes on the super rich is nothing new in the world of Democratic policy. But what makes de Blasio’s rhetoric unique is the seething undertone of malice that accompanies his plans. While other candidates speak in comparatively more congenial terms, mandating that the wealthy pay their “fair share,” de Blasio’s plan reeks of an underlying desire to punish those who have dared to become successful. It’s an odd thing when you consider it, because it translates into ripping away at Americans who work — which is who he pretends to want to help.
If nothing else, de Blasio is consistent. During his time in office, he has successfully implemented policies that have led many businesses to lay off employees or be forced to close altogether as a result of his endless stream of mandates. His hypocrisy has become a joke among New Yorkers, who have become disenchanted by repeated accounts of de Blasio napping on the job, ousting homeless from subway cars, and taking an SUV to work while promoting green policies.
Indeed, for a candidate so dead set on punishing America’s wealthy, de Blasio is one of only 10 mayors in NYC’s history to take up residence in Gracie Mansion, a privilege that most previous mayors have declined due to the exorbitant costs that residency imposes on taxpayers.
De Blasio’s ego is enormous. He touts that he’s “in charge” of New York City, a notable diversion in language from his fellow candidates, who have vernaculars sprinkled with words like “leadership” or “togetherness” to market their governing styles. But De Blasio has continually shown that his motivations don’t lie with the best interests of New Yorkers, but in pursuit of accolades like “fairest big city in America,” or “most progressive mayor in America,” ignoring pesky legislative logistics in favor of catering to his own pride.
His approach to the presidency appears largely the same: he is willing to cast aside an entire segment of American constituents in exchange for being able to say that he’s proposing the “most aggressive wealth tax” of any Democratic candidate. But he’s just after a trophy, no matter what title he’s actually winning.
If Bill de Blasio made one thing clear during the Wednesday debate, it was that he isn’t interested in representing all Americans. In fact, he’s looking to ruin some of them. But we need a president who will be proud to promote and uphold the achievements of all Americans, regardless of their pay grade — not seek to punish them for enjoying the fruits of their labor.
Maybe we’ll get a president who will push the country to reach new heights of prosperity, harmony, and unity. But it won’t be de Blasio, because those are three words he doesn’t seem to understand.
Rachel Tripp is a Young Voices contributor and former New York City resident writing from Washington, D.C.