Progressives need to talk about jobs and economic development; we can’t just operate on the assumption that this is a rich nation with ample resources that simply need redistribution. (“There’s … plenty of money in this city. It’s just in the wrong hands!” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in January, to a chilly reception.) The rich are undertaxed at the national level, where cuts to the top rates have starved basic government services and contributed to a spiraling national debt. But if raising federal tax rates might help, for cities in blue states, it makes little sense to raise local taxes and further disadvantage their economic competitiveness. This is why local growth is often viewed as the better path towards increasing revenue, with the caveat that the impacts of that growth need to be addressed.
When progressives do speak about economics, we tend to favor the small over the large. Small businesses generate most new jobs, and are highly sensitive to social policies that, while they may make sense at a national level, become perilous at a local level. Furthermore, all small business owners, myself included, know that we live in a business-to-business ecosystem that relies on the strength of both large and small companies. New York thrives because the pizza parlors supply the banks which supply their lines of credit, the hairdressers get paid by the coders who program their new-fangled registers, and the graphic designers work for all of the above. It is never one or the other; we all need each other, and we cannot afford to be blasé in the face of losing one another.