New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio turned up the volume on his progressive rhetoric in his sixth State of the City address Thursday, pledging to redistribute money from the haves to the have nots with a series of new initiatives
De Blasio promised to make life better for workers, tenants, and retirees in the wide-ranging speech, promising to create a city-managed retirement fund for those who lack access to employer-sponsored funds, as well as a new Office to Protect Tenants.
“Imagine a city where New Yorkers can live their lives more fully,” de Blasio told the audience at Symphony Space in Manhattan. “That’s the quality of life I want for every New Yorker.”
Later in his remarks, the second-term mayor said millions of Americans are “boxed into lives that just aren’t working” because of Republican policies like tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. “Brothers and sisters, there’s plenty of money in the world,” de Blasio said. “Plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands. You deserve a city that gives you the share of prosperity that you’ve earned.”
The progressive mayor also promised to provide free glasses to any kindergartner and first-grader who needs them and to rebrand the city Department of Consumer Affairs as the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. The new proposals come after de Blasio unveiled plans earlier in the week to expand health coverage for low-income New Yorkers and mandate paid vacation days for private-sector workers.
Under the proposal, NYC Care will guarantee health care for approval 600,000 people without health insurance in New York, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. Politico reported the program is expected to come with a $100 million price tag and new taxes are not expected to be introduced to pay for it. De Blasio touted the plan in an interview with MSNBC Tuesday, beaming that it had “never been done in the country in a comprehensive way.
“Health care isn’t just a right in theory, it must be a right in practice. And we’re doing that here in this city,” the progressive politician told host Willie Geist. “We’ll put the money in to make it work; it’s going to save us money down the line,” de Blasio added. “We’re already paying an exorbitant amount to pay for health care the wrong way when what we should be doing is helping them get the primary care.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.