De Blasio Touts National Liberal Vision in Washington

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, fashioning himself as one of the left's loudest voices on economic causes, appeared with Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Washington on Tuesday in what was the highest-profile stop yet in his national tour to tout the need to fight income inequality.

De Blasio, a first-term Democrat, likened the nation's struggle in the aftermath of last decade's Great Recession to the economic hardships faced by millions after the Great Depression.

"The economic moment and the political momentum have converged and now is the time for our country to enact bold structural changes to rebuild our middle class," he said at an economic forum hosted by the nonprofit Roosevelt Institute, a liberal think tank.

"The crisis of economic inequality is massive. But it is well within our power to take it head on and a make a real difference."

De Blasio — who later Tuesday will unveil a liberal political platform he has dubbed "The Progressive Agenda" — held up his accomplishments in New York over the last 18 months as examples for the nation, including paid sick leave, free universal pre-kindergarten and his recent ambitious call to lift 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty in the next 10 years.

He also called for a national minimum wage hike and a tax system that would require the rich to pay more.

"The system is rigged to benefit those at the top and to leave everybody else behind," he said. "We want to rewrite those rules."

He praised Warren's "extraordinary" leadership on economic issues, a comment sure to be parsed by political pundits considering de Blasio's ongoing reluctance to endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 Democratic front-runner for president and someone with whom the mayor has close ties. De Blasio drew some criticism when he said last month that he wanted to see more from Clinton on income inequality before he would officially offer her his support.

Warren has been floated as formidable liberal challenger to Clinton, though she has repeatedly said she is not running.

De Blasio's speech echoed themes he has hit during his recent spate of travel to Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. After spending Wednesday in Washington as well, he is then bound for California, where he will make two more speeches on income inequality.

The surge in travel has prompted some criticism back in New York from those who feel he is ignoring the needs of his constituents; de Blasio has made as many trips to the Midwest in 2015 as he has made official visits to the city's borough of Staten Island. But he has insisted that he can help New Yorkers at home by influencing national policies and political conversations.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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