NY1 Exclusive: Reflecting on Midwest Trip, Mayor de Blasio Highlights Progressive Issues

Mayor de Blasio wrapped up a trip to the Midwest with plans for more travel. He is trying to influence the presidential race by focusing on income inequality. Josh Robin spoke with the mayor exclusively after landing at La Guardia Airport. He filed this report.

Mayor de Blasio may be racking up frequent flier miles. He unapologetically is planning more stops outside the five boroughs.

When asked why this is good for New Yorkers, the mayor said, “Because the issues we are facing as a nation have a huge impact on the people of our city. Now let's look at what's going on with this income inequality crisis. It means, bluntly, that more and more people are falling behind - and there's no solutions coming out of Washington to address it."

By Washington, the mayor largely includes fellow Democrat Barack Obama, who he calls late to the income inequality fight. But mostly in his hizzoner's radar are would-be presidents.

He won't yet back hometown favorite Hillary Clinton, even as she and her husband are credited with boosting the mayor's own political life.

Instead, de Blasio is trying to become something of a progressive kingmaker, and then leverage it with an endorsement.

"I think the point is to go and engage this debate around the country, and raise the demand all over the country, and especially on the people who are running for office all over the country, that we have to address these issues,” said de Blasio.

Those are issues are under the banner of income inequality, which he calls the crisis of our time - a looming iceberg.

He wants paid sick leave, national pre-kindergarten, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and higher taxes on investment income. The city is doing what it can, which is limited.

The Mayor said he is willing to revisit hiking income taxes here, blocked in Albany last year.

"I've said we have to look at progressive taxation on all levels. I think it makes the biggest impact is on the federal level," he said.

De Blasio has tried to get more like-minded Democrats elected. And it hasn't always gone well. Despite his efforts, the State Senate turned solidly Republican last November. Still, de Blasio is undaunted in trying to sway next year's presidential elections.

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