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New York City Democratic Mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio appeared on Al Sharpton's "Politics Nation" (MSNBC) last Thursday.  He was comfortable.  He was strong.  He is the most robust Democratic nominee for Mayor in a long time.  I am happy he is the nominee.

Perhaps it is now time for him to 'center' his message a little. The general election campaign begins today. Below I note how two of his policies might be re-introduced as the campaign begins: his proposal for a 1/2 % percent tax surcharge on incomes over $500,000 to pay for universal pre-kindergarten; and community policing.

On the 1/2% percent income tax surcharge:

De Blasio must say more about the economics of the proposal. Most voters are aware of the 'income inequality' argument for this.  But de Blasio can deflect the 'class war' charge.  He must show skeptics that he has thought seriously about the the proposal's effect on the city's business environment.  He might not win votes by speaking directly to 'fiscal conservatives' (Wall St, and big Real Estate, etc.).  But maybe he can at least neutralize their instinct to vote for (and contribute to) whoever promises lower taxes.

Three points to be made about the 1/2% tax rise, plus one on the accusation of 'class warfare'.

1. Good for Business argument

This modest tax rise and resulting jobs created should help the local economy by creating more demand for services and goods throughout the city, in all five boroughs.

1a. Keynesian argument

The same argument as above but rephrased in the language of economists.  Without saying "Keynes" it would still be good to somehow note that "aggregate demand" would be stimulated.  

Globally many economists - like the IMF - say that part of the problem with the global economy (including the weakness of the US recovery) is too much austerity.  Over the last decade too many tax cuts for the wealthy and too many subsequent reductions in government spending have led to what economists call "reductions in aggregate demand" .

Perhaps mentioning  Warren Buffett's endorsement of a (national) tax increase is best.  No need to mention Stieglitiz or Krugman or any hedge fund guys who might agree.

2. Fairness/ compare with Bush Tax Cut

This just puts the modesty of the tax proposal in perspective. Many of those affected by the proposal will realize they have been benefiting from the 5% Bush tax cuts from 2001 for almost an entire decade now; this represents a small (10%) correction.

3. Comparable investment

The plan calls for a small, $500 million investment in a proven strategy for increasing the performance of lower income kids.  Most of these children enter school with smaller vocabularies than middle class kids and most never catch up. The preparation provided by full day pre-kindergarten has been shown to especially help these children throughout their schooling and beyond.

Bloomberg has invested $8 Billion simply remodeling schools in pursuit of unproven strategies like creating small schools and unwanted charter schools.  That money reduced the classrooms available and so increased overcrowding.  And we have nothing to show for it.  After 12 years of Bloomberg, three quarters of NYC's eighth graders still can't do eighth grade work.

Universal pre-K represents a much smaller commitment to building up our neighborhood schools, and a clear break with Bloomberg's policy of aggressive neglect of neighborhood schools.

4. "Class warfare" argument - Reagan raised taxes.  Bloomberg raised taxes.  Nobody accused them of 'class warfare'.  We're not talking about raising the overall tax burden to the level it was under President Carter or Reagan or Clinton.  It is just a very small change.

On Community Policing
Crime and community safety are important to many 'Reagan democrats' or whatever you'd like to call them.  The Republicans are excellent at pandering and fear mongering. De Blasio can set the record straigjht.

1. Rudy Giuliani often walks around like he invented crime fighting. As we all know, crime went up under Mayors Lindsey, Beame and Koch.

2. But if you only listen to Rudy Giuliani, I doubt you know which modern mayor first led the reduction in crime? The answer is David Dinkins.

De Blasio can say "I should know. I was there."

Mayor David Dinkins led a lot of the initiatives to reduce crime.  He hired thousands of officers to the force, increasing the force by 25%.  He pushed the sort of community policing we want to extend in the next four or eight or maybe twelve years (if de Blasio can borrow some money from Mayor Bloomberg).

Giuliani's reputation, ambition and pride leads him to act like he was the first to reduce crime.  The mainstream media tends to accept this.  But the turnaround, the implementation of the metrics, all that was started under Dinkins, and de Blasio can say 'I am proud to have served in his administration.  And I want to continue his effective policies as well as those of his successors that don't create unwarranted civil rights violations'.

Originally posted to rexxnyc on Mon Sep 16, 2013 at 12:48 PM PDT.

Also republished by New York City.

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Comment Preferences

  •  stay left (0+ / 0-)

    I dunno.  I don't think there's any obvious reason to "move to the center."

    These are policies that resonate with people.  Even on the right (in the trenches) there is uneasiness with inequality or unfairness and the cheating of corporations.

    I think de Blasio has a winning message for the general electorate and the election of Elizabeth Warren proved it.  Hell, I would wager that Obama won the 2008 election on the basis of his leftist message.

    The important part really is how de Blasio will govern.  

    As my husband reminds me often, presidents run left and govern right.  Obama and Bush both did a bait and switch.  And probably even Clinton.

    And every poll shows that over the past 20 years Americans want what the Swedes had... so long as it wasn't not called socialism.

    And now we have a rising generation that is suspicious of capitalism.  And I think de Blasio's message will do just fine with the general electorate.

    •  well its not in the bag (0+ / 0-)

      no polls yet on Lhota vs Bill dB

      so worth thinking about what pivots we might need

      anyway I'm not saying he should change his policies; just that he can tune the message a to deflect some rw attacks

      as for Obama, well he was always a wall street fave; and he had a fairly reactionary senate even when both houses were controlled by Ds

      I think biggest mistake was listening to Summers and not pushing for more stimulus

      and I don't know who to blame for the 2010 midterm debacle;

      •  obama (0+ / 0-)

        I think Obama has been captured by the banks from the git-go.  His entire economics team is and always has been all from Wall Street.  

        He had Wall Street on its knees when he came into office and demanded NO concessions.  None.  None of the binding stuff foisted upon the car makers.  

        He used Volcker as a fig leaf when running and then dropped him.

        He only just now dropped Summers as Fed chief.  And that was only because he had to.  There was no way that the Senate would confirm him.  

        And I'll go out on a limb and bet the Yellen won't be appointed.  He wants someone more tied to Wall Street concerns

        I think this despite the Dodd-Frank bill.  Obama's just better at throwing concessionary bones.  Everything I've read indicates that the D-F  is relatively toothless, despite the howls from the Street.

        •  Dodd Frank is just useless (0+ / 0-)

          A lot of paperwork, a lot of compliance people to hire.

          But no consequences.

          Yellen would be ok. Christina Romer better but I think Summers machinated her getting shoved out the door.

          Wall Street did the old Cleavon Little trick.

  •  It's very encouraging for progressives (0+ / 0-)

    all over the country -- not just in New York City alone -- to read an insightful and inspiring diary like this one concerning solid points and a strategy for a terrific candidate like Bill De Blasio.

    It was a delight to follow this primary all summer.  Some wild turns in the road, but the thrills were exhilarating.  I thought Bill Thompson showed a hell of a lot of class today.  Now I hope New York City voters will pick the tall guy for their next mayor.

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