Standing in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled what he called "the Progressive Agenda to Combat Inequality." The platform contains a 13-point plan to reduce inequality, including: increasing the national minimum wage to $15 an hour, national paid sick leave and family leave, national pre-K availability, and closing tax loopholes for big corporations.
De Blasio said that this platform was created six weeks ago when he convened a group of progressives at the mayor's residence, Gracie Mansion, to discuss income inequality, which he called "the central issue of our time." De Blasio said of the agenda, "It's a simple concept. We need to reward work again. Not wealth, work."
More than a dozen progressive leaders spoke at the press conference beside de Blasio and signed the billboard next to the podium outlining the 13 progressive principles. Among the attendees were former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, activist Al Sharpton, and Oakland California Mayor Libby Schaaf.
- Senate Democrats block first vote on Obama's trade deal
- How high income inequality hurts America's health
Among the principles laid out in the progressive agenda is opposition to trade deals that de Blasio and others believe hurt American workers. President Obama is seeking authority from Congress to reach sweeping new trade agreements with countries in Europe and Asia. The Democratic Party is divided on the issue of free trade, with some, like de Blasio and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, vocally opposing it.
Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has avoided answering questions about the trade issue, and reporters asked de Blasio if Clinton should speak up on the topic. De Blasio avoided referring to Clinton directly in his response, saying: "I believe that people running for president, governor, or senator should respond to this agenda. Either agree with it or offer their own version on how we deal with income inequality."
Supporters of the trade agreements, including President Obama and Republican congressional leadership, say that the agreement would be of great economic benefit to the United States and all the nations involved.
Howard Dean referenced Hillary Clinton more directly in his remarks, saying, "Gossip in Washington is that this is about trying to move a candidate in a certain direction. If you look at that candidate's record you will find that she has embraced a lot of this already."