The 18 cm of snow dumped over New York on his second day in office is not the only blizzard Bill de Blasio, the newly installed mayor, is having to negotiate. He is also heading into a political blizzard over his plans to tackle inequality by raising taxes on the very rich.

The 109th mayor used his inaugural speech on Jan. 1 to issue a liberal clarion call of the type not heard in New York — or arguably anywhere else in the U.S. — for at least 20 years. As the first Democratic mayor to take office in the city since 1994, he vowed to take on what he has dubbed "the Tale of Two Cities" — the vast income gap that sets a sparkling and buoyant Manhattan apart from the grinding poverty found in the outer boroughs.

The pledge pits de Blasio, a towering 193-cm presence armed with an overwhelming electoral mandate from 73 percent of New Yorkers, against the city's fiscally conservative establishment as well as the political leadership of Albany, the state capital, which holds sway over tax rates. How he emerges from what promises to be a bruising fight could determine the fate of his new mayoralty — and affect political debate across America.