It's become Bill de Blasio's signature tagline:


The mayor's message, as he travels around the country and continues his flirtation with a White House run, has been focused on income inequality, taxing the rich, and wealth redistribution.

"The income inequality crisis is literally killing us. I say very bluntly, and I say it to be purposely provocative," the mayor said Friday morning on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC. "We must tax the wealthy on a much greater level. We must change the way we are governed as a country and a city, a state."

In a crowded field of nearly 20 Democrats already setting their sights on beating President Donald Trump, the mayor, increasingly sounding like a guy running for office, is facing tough critics here at home.

"I love the possibilities of this country and I love the humanity of this country," de Blasio said. "I've traveled this country throughout my life and there is something beautiful in the American experience."

Paulette Soltani, political director at VOCAL-New York, said the mayor's tagline raises questions.

"The level of hypocrisy is huge when we are hearing Mayor de Blasio talk in other states about his progressive values when, here in New York City, we have the worst homelessness crisis that we have ever seen. There are 64,000 people living in shelters and that number has risen under his leadership," Soltani said.

Homelessness is not the only problem. The city is continuing to grapple with a crisis in its public housing system, there's an ongoing measles outbreak, and the mayor continues to face questions about the level of access donors have to City Hall.

But Greg David, an economic expert with Crain's New York Business, said the mayor has actually followed through on his promise to close the gap on income inequality in a city that continues to experience the highest levels of wealth disparity.

"Bill de Blasio does actually have a good record on income redistribution in New York. Of course, high taxes on the rich nationally might make a lot of sense," David said in a Skype interview. "So these are issues that do resonate with Democratic voters at least. But, again, he's just not the only one out there with this agenda."

As presidential debate deadlines loom closer, de Blasio is still playing coy.

"I've said, I have not ruled it out," de Blasio said Friday.

The mayor will have to meet fundraising and polling requirements just a few weeks before the first presidential debate, which is scheduled for June.

Unlike in previous weeks, the mayor plans to spend this weekend here at home.


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