04:38 - Source: CNN
Biden: Nobody got everything they wanted, even me

Editor’s Note: Eric L. Adams, a Democrat, is the mayor-elect of New York City. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the author. View more opinion at CNN.

CNN  — 

When our cities succeed, America prospers.

Eric Adams

That was once considered common sense in the halls of our Capitol before toxic partisanship began to take hold and urban communities were cynically pitted against rural families for political gain. That must change if our country is going to recover from Covid-19 and reach new heights, because the truth is that our cities power our country.

As lawmakers try to finalize negotiations over President Joe Biden’s historic reconciliation package, it is essential that our representatives in Washington remember that fundamental fact.

Our top 23 metropolitan areas make up about half of our country’s total gross domestic product (GDP); the New York City area alone accounts for almost one-tenth of the US’ economic output. In 2018, US metro areas accounted for a combined 90% of the real GDP, according to a report from the US Conference of Mayors. And the nation’s 10 largest cities saw their populations increase over the last decade, according to the most recent census.

New York sends roughly $20 billion more each year to the federal government than it gets back – largely due to the strength of New York City’s economy. This imbalance negatively impacts our city even during the best of times. When Covid-19 struck, existing inequalities were exacerbated, swallowing some families and small businesses whole. This, in turn, affected our national economic recovery.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan can fix this. Here are the five priorities that can boost our cities and help get America moving again:

Child care: The Build Back Better plan would cap the price of child care for millions of working families – a game changer whether they live in big cities or small towns. Research conducted by the National Women’s Law Center shows that expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care would increase the number of women with young children in our full-time workforce, leading to higher earnings that would contribute to our collective economic output. Provisions in the Build Back Better plan to provide universal pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds would also help shrink the academic achievement gap that is persistent along racial and socioeconomic lines by encouraging healthy development at a younger age.

Resilience: The extensive damage and horrific loss of life caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida underscore the fact that coastal cities like mine are at a greater risk of extreme weather brought by climate change. The bipartisan infrastructure bill would immediately address this short-term threat while providing investment for long-term solutions like renewable energy. At the same time, it will create crucial jobs that can be filled by the communities most in need of employment.

Transportation: Local transportation – especially mass transportation – are the arteries that keep goods, services and commerce flowing through the hearts of our cities’ financial centers. If we do not invest in modernizing them, entire regions could experience debilitating logjams. That is why investing in mass transit systems like New York’s subways and trains are so essential to the future – and not just because it will keep our economy moving, but because it will also reduce carbon dioxide pollution by taking cars off the road.

Gun violence prevention: Shootings are on the rise, and gangs are committing violent atrocities with increased brazenness. Local law enforcement agencies in cities across the country need to establish a more robust relationship with all levels of government and share access to intelligence gathering and databases to fight gun violence. In New York City, a new Joint Guns and Gangs Task Force would help us do that. We also need to support on-the-ground “violence interrupters” who do essential conflict meditation work by fully funding President Biden’s community violence intervention initiative.

Public housing and affordable housing: Crumbling infrastructure due to federal disinvestment is a daily environmental health hazard, and too many of these developments face additional health and safety threats to their residents. We also need to address the housing insecurity that has contributed to rising homelessness in countless communities by fully funding the existing Section 8 voucher program to help working class and lower-income people afford housing.

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    Congress must move quickly and overcome the divisions that have stalled both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan. Covid-19 has exposed and exacerbated the inequities in our society. If we do not stand together now and invest in our cities, we may not get another chance to try to bridge this gap for a generation.

    Our representatives must do the smart thing — and the right thing — and pass Biden’s plans to bring America back.