Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) — New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called on fellow U.S. city leaders to tackle a nationwide "inequality crisis" with policies such as paid sick days and universal pre- kindergarten.

Mayors need to bypass the "frustrating paralysis" of congressional politics, the 52-year-old Democrat said today at at a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington. Such "progressive" moves, which he's championing in New York, will create a new standard to achieve shared prosperity, de Blasio said. The speech was his first outside of the city since taking office 23 days after a landslide victory.

"This town we're in here has been gripped in a frustrating paralysis and so it turns, we turn as a nation, to all of us, to the mayors of this country, to address the root causes of inequality," de Blasio said in a 17-minute speech. "We should have a consistent federal partner in that endeavor. We understand that that's not today's reality. So it's up to us."

De Blasio is positioning himself as a leader in a national movement for a "progressive urban agenda" that got him elected by 49 percentage points, the largest margin for a non-incumbent in city history. His speech today echoed remarks made last month after joining 15 other mayors and mayors-elect for a White House meeting with President Barack Obama, where he emerged as the group's spokesman.

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