New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio laid the blame on Amazon deciding to pull up stakes on a new headquarters in the city squarely on the corporate behemoth, saying that the company just “took their ball and went home.”
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” de Blasio defended progressive Democrats who argued against Amazon’s move to the country’s largest city, but did add that the deal could have been a way for progressive leaders to show a balance on economic issues.
“I have no problem with my fellow progressives critiquing a deal or wanting more from Amazon — I wanted more from Amazon, too,” de Blasio said. “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 added: “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 officials joined de Blasio and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November to announce plans to build a $2.5 billion headquarters in Queens.
De Blasio and Cuomo said the $2.8 billion in tax breaks and subsidies they were offering Amazon would result in $27 billion in tax revenue.
The company, however, announced on Thursday that it had dropped plans to build a new headquarters in Queens amid pressure from politicians and activists over the tax breaks it would receive.
“We are disappointed to have reached this conclusion — we love New York,” the online giant from Seattle said in a blog post announcing its withdrawal.
The stunning move was a serious blow to Cuomo and de Blasio, who had lobbied intensely to land the project, competing against more than 200 other metropolitan areas across the continent that were practically tripping over each other to offer incentives to Amazon in a bidding war the company stoked.
Cuomo lashed out at fellow New York politicians over Amazon’s change of heart, saying the project would have helped diversify the city’s economy, cement its status as an emerging tech hub and generate money for schools, housing and transit.
“A small group (of) politicians put their own narrow political interests above their community,” he said.
But Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York City’s new liberal firebrand, exulted over Amazon’s pullout.
“Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers and their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” she tweeted, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The swift unraveling of the project reflected growing antipathy toward large technology companies among liberals and populists who accuse big business of holding down wages and wielding too much political clout, analysts said.
“This all of a sudden became a perfect test case for all those arguments,” said Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program.
Amazon ultimately decided it did not want to be drawn into that battle.
Amazon announced in November that it had chosen the Long Island City section of Queens for one of two new headquarters, with the other in Arlington, Va. Both would get 25,000 jobs. A third site in Nashville, Tenn., would get 5,000.
The company planned to spend $2.5 billion building the New York office, choosing the area in part because of its large pool of tech talent. The governor and the mayor had argued that the project would spur economic growth that would pay for the $2.8 billion in state and city incentives many times over.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.