Editor’s Note: DC 37 members last week came out in support of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fight for a millionaires’ tax to help fix the country’s largest subway system. Also joining the fight was Vermont U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. The mayor’s remarks from the press conference at a lower Manhattan subway station are excerpted here…
Standing in the presence of Bernie Sanders means a lot to me, because… he has said things that needed to be said. He said something simple; the economy is rigged against working people. And it’s time to take action to change that and we have to do that in every city, in every state and across our nation in the halls of Congress. We have to understand that a millionaire’s tax to fix the MTA is another way of responding to the inequality that plagues our society…
Now, we happen to be here in a subway station that’s just a few blocks from Wall Street. You go outside and walk a few blocks away you will see the offices of the millionaires and billionaires who dominate this nation. And they have benefited from a tax code written for them. It’s matter of fact. I don’t begrudge anyone hard work, I don’t begrudge anyone’s success. But I like to be honest. They got a lot of what they got, because of laws that benefited them specifically and tax laws written for them. Why don’t we write our tax laws for the average New Yorker?
People ride the subway every day, working men and women. They depend on the subway for every part of their lives to get to work. To get their kids to school, to get to a job interview, to further their own education when the subway doesn’t work, their lives don’t work.
The MTA as everyone knows is run by the State of New York. The MTA has been plagued with challenges for a long time. But to be fair to the MTA, the MTA never had the resources it deserved. We need a long term funding stream. We need a verifiable consistent funding stream. And my friends, I know where the money is. I know it, we all know it. Those who have benefited so much in this society have the resources. It’s time for them to pay a little more, and to them I assure you it’s just a little more. So the rest of us can get around.
We’ve presented with our good colleagues in Albany a simple plan. It’s called the Fair Fix. It’s fair because it asks those who’d done very well to contribute. It’s a fix, because it would provide at minimum half a billion dollars a year to fix the MTA’s physical problems. That money would be there every single year. And it would give the MTA the certainty it needs to make the big changes. But this plan also includes over $200 million for the Fair Fare. And this is the ultimate act of justice. Taking from those who have done very, very well and making sure that money reaches the lowest income New Yorkers who deserve a half price metro card so they can opportunity too.
Anyone paying attention in the last few years in this country, in this state, in this city knows the people are demanding fairness. The people understand the game is rigged, they want solutions… This subway system has been struggling for decades, but there was never the audacity among our political leaders to say, let’s turn to those who benefit the most in our society. But now… the discussion has changed. Things are now different.
And you’ll hear a lot of criticism of this idea; you’ll hear a lot of people say it can’t be done. Well, let me tell you something. When working people unite, when working people believe in change, they can overcome all the cynics, they can overcome the status quo, they can move mountains. And we can get this millionaire’s tax for the people of New York City.