Slogan of NY mayor's race: the middle class
By Jennifer Peltz, APNEW YORK -- It's become the common catchphrase for those seeking to lead the biggest U.S. city: New York is increasingly out of reach for the middle class.
September 9, 2013, 11:40 am TWN
That sounds inarguable in the home of the US$125 million penthouse, the US$1 million parking spot and the US$295 burger. And it's a strategic line for candidates looking to capitalize on the view among many that ultra-rich Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been out of touch with the average person.
But is it just populist campaign rhetoric, or is the Big Apple really hollowing out at the socio-economic core?
Key statistics are mixed but indeed sketch a city of increasing economic extremes and a crunch in the middle. It's a trend nationwide, but the wealth has raced to the top faster here.
From a pier in Brooklyn's middle-income Sheepshead Bay, charter fishing boat captain Keith Kmiotek sees a New York that's gotten tougher for middle-class or working-class people.
His father bought a house in the city on a carpenter's income; Kmiotek, now a married father himself, rents and doesn't see a clear path to buying. And he's frustrated by what he considers a tax structure that works for the wealthy and a social-service system directed at the indigent.
“You're choked out” as a New Yorker in the middle, Kmiotek says. “You've either got to be very poor or very rich.”
That's a theme Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has hammered on his way to a big lead in the polls ahead of Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary, telling a “tale of two cities” with have-it-alls on one side, have-nots on the other and the center “in danger of disappearing.”
Rival Christine Quinn, the City Council speaker, speaks frequently of her “actual record of delivering for middle-class New Yorkers.” Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner has built his campaign around a series of ideas to aid “the middle class and those struggling to make it.”