Bill de Blasio became Mayor of New York City in 2014 with a bold populist message that all New Yorkers are on an equal footing. But when it comes to the most controversial debate about wealth in the city's recent history – Amazon's announcement, then the reversal – about the opening of a heavily subsidized head office in Queens, of Blasio does the trick the interests have to be stronger to withstand the public scrutiny.
"The minute there were criticisms, they left," said Blasio Sunday at Meet the press. "Amazon just took their ball and went home."
From Blasio: "This is an example of corporate power abuse … Amazon just took their ball and goes home." pic.twitter.com/QVh8g75VWc
– Meeting with the press (@MeetThePress) February 17, 2019
Amazon's decision to reconsider its plans to build a campus in Queens has become a litmus test of progressive idealism. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Whose district includes the proposed site, celebrated the overthrow of the society. "I think it's amazing," Ocasio-Cortez told NBC. "This shows that ordinary Americans still have the power to organize and fight for their communities."
Amazon was withdrawn from the deal after suffering a strong reaction from the communities following the multi-million dollar tax incentives that politicians had negotiated with the company. Opponents were also concerned that the project would worsen inequality in New York, as it has been criticized by big tech companies, including San Francisco and Seattle.
De Blasio had defended the deal from the beginning, and he now argues that Amazon's decision is "an abuse of corporate power." In an editorial for the New York Times Published on Saturday, de Blasio wrote that this deal provided a solid foundation for nearly 25,000 jobs and that the company should have been able to withstand some public criticism of income inequality. "The lesson is that businesses can no longer ignore the growing anger over economic inequality," Blasio wrote. "We're seeing anger in Silicon Valley, in the rocks of buses carrying technicians from San Francisco and Oakland to suburban office parks."
The real lesson may be that Blasio's message has not changed. Instead, ordinary New Yorkers are much less willing to slowly eliminate inequality. They want to take it head-on.