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By Ben Kamisar
WASHINGTON — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Sunday laid the blame for the scuttled deal between Amazon and New York City at the corporate giant’s feet, saying the company “took their ball and went home” by pulling out of the deal.
De Blasio, who said he is not ruling out a presidential bid in 2020, defended progressives who supported a pressure campaign against the project by framing the company as exclusively at fault. But he also argued the deal would have been a way for progressives to show they could balance their values with governance as well.
“I have no problem with my fellow progressives critiquing a deal or wanting more from Amazon — I wanted more from Amazon too. The bottom line is, this was an example of an abuse of corporate power. They had an agreement with the people of New York City,” he told “Meet the Press.”
“They said they wanted a partnership, but the minute there were criticisms, they walked away. What does that say to working people, that a company would leave them high and dry, simply because some people raised criticism?”
Amazon initially agreed to a deal to bring part of its new corporate headquarters to the New York City bureau of Queens. Projections predicted the move would bring between 25,000 and 40,000 jobs to the area over 15 years and $27 billion in tax revenue for the city over a quarter century, in exchange for $3 billion in tax breaks and certain zoning guarantees.
Progressives attacked the project as a misallocation of city resources, fretting that it threatened to make housing prices unsustainable for members of the community. They also raised concerns that the city was forgoing billions in tax revenue that could have gone toward needed investments and improvements in the community.
Amazon cited the criticism of the project in its statement announcing the decision.
“A number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the company wrote.
Liberal lawmakers like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren celebrated the pullout, framing the move as a triumph of progressive values over that of corporations.
“If we were willing to give away $3 billion away for this deal, we could invest those $3 billion in our district ourselves if we wanted to. We could hire more teachers, we can fix our subways, we can put a lot of people to work for that money if we wanted to,” she said.
Supporters of the deal framed that opposition as misguided, arguing that the long-term economic impact was more than worth the trade off.
That’s the message de Blasio, who helped to woo Amazon in the first place, sung on Sunday, arguing that the deal represented an “opportunity for working people.”
“I am representing 8.6 million people and a clear majority of those people believe we need more fairness in our economy but of course we need growth, we need jobs, we need revenue. But progressives can do both,” he said.
“We had a chance here to do something very positive for our city and for working people.”