Bill de Blasio as a Snapshot of Contemporary Liberal Politics

John Cassidy of The New Yorker has a brief comment on Bill de Blasio, the presumptive next mayor of NYC. Cassidy sees in de Blasio potential signs of a new political orientation for liberals:

Since the days of Bill Clinton and the New Democrats, it has been a totem of faith in some liberal-progressive circles that the key to lifting up the lower ranks lies in downplaying social and economic conflicts, cozying up to business interests, and tackling inequality covertly, through largely invisible subsidies such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. De Blasio, in pledging to raise taxes on the rich to finance his education programs, has challenged this formula, and turned himself into the standard-bearer for what some see as a new era of urban populism.

Although Cassidy doesn’t describe it this way, this potential “new era” also takes place in the midst of the kind of problems that would-be liberal leaders are increasingly facing throughout the country:

New York still faces significant challenges, particularly with regard to the rising costs of employee benefits and debt interest. The city now spends almost as much on providing pensions and health-care insurance for its own workers as it does on providing food stamps, medical care, and other social services. It spends almost as much on servicing its debt as it does on the Police and Sanitation Departments combined.

(That’s the police force that is not the seventh-largest army in the world)

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