Frances Martel
January 6, 2014

Newly minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-Kindergarten by taxing the rich is proving too far left even for some big-name Democrats. The latest of these to back away from endorsing the program is Sen. Chuck Schumer, who abstained from supporting the plan this weekend.

Sen. Schumer visited George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday and, when asked about the plan, said that he was “leaving it up to de Blasio and [New York Governor Andrew] Cuomo to work that one out.” While Sen. Schumer did note that he has often been an advocate of higher taxes, he noted that there was a big difference between increasing them on a federal level and increasing them on a state level. Statewide, he argued, residents could simply move away to a different state if taxes get too unwieldy, which is not of particular concern federally. Even so, Sen. Schumer half-joked that he had “enough trouble at the federal level” without getting involved in the universal pre-K war.

That Sen. Schumer is leaving it up to de Blasio and Cuomo to handle the matter does not only keep the senator from endorsing a program many see as unduly burdensome on higher-income New Yorkers. It also keeps him from having to take sides between de Blasio and Cuomo themselves. Governor Cuomo has been among those not to fully endorse the de Blasio program, merely claiming that it is “exactly right” while not offering any state-level planning or aid to make it happen. Liking the program while not wanting to implement it makes perfect sense given where de Blasio and Cuomo are in their campaign cycles respectively: de Blasio newly inaugurated, Cuomo up for reelection.

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