When New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio first proposed taxing the rich so every child in the city could attend all-day preschool, it was October and he had support from fewer than 10 percent of Democrats in polls.
Now he leads the pack. And some of the wealthy New Yorkers who’d pay more under his plan say it bewilders and offends them.
“It shows lack of sensitivity to the city’s biggest revenue providers and job creators,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a network of 200 chief executive officers, including co-Chairman Laurence Fink of BlackRock Inc. (BLK), the world’s biggest money manager.
Days before next week’s primary election, de Blasio, 52, has seized the lead decrying economic inequality. After 20 years of Republican and independent mayoral rule during which crime rates and welfare rolls plummeted and parks, stadiums, shopping, tourism and luxury apartments and office towers rose up, de Blasio speaks of a “Tale of Two Cities,” where almost half of New York residents are poor or struggling.
De Blasio, elected in 2009 to the watchdog post of public advocate, says he’s concerned that the number of middle-income city residents is shrinking. The city's richest 1 percent took home 39 percent of all earnings in 2012, up from 12 percent in 1980, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonprofit research group in New York.
“Almost anyone with a self-perceived degree of affluence will be uncomfortable with de Blasio’s tax ideas,” said Michael Steinhardt, chairman of New York-based asset manager WisdomTree Investments Inc. (WETF) While growing inequality is troubling, Steinhardt said, “perhaps even more so is the thought that more government spending is the way out of our problems.”
Right. 21% of all families of four living in New York are living below the poverty level, while the richest 1 percent took home 39 percent of all earnings in 2012. How cruel to talk about a tax increase.