The Corner

How Did the Poor Win the New York Tax War?

Jacob Gershman has an interesting story in the current issue of New York Magazine. He wonders what explains the success of the recent “Tax the Rich” policies in New York City and around the country.

 

First he asks: 

What happened to the rich and powerful’s power? While the federal government debates Barack Obama’s proposals to milk the well-to-do, New York is poised to approve a substantial personal-income-tax hike for people making more than $500,000. New York’s business elites are now wondering how they lost out. They helped get Governor Pataki elected through a disciplined anti-tax campaign, which coincided with a national consensus that raising them was political suicide.

Then he gives some answers. He starts by reminding us that the wealthy elected a guy who promised to increase the taxes on them:

Obama was never shy about his plan to raise taxes on households and businesses earning more than $250,000 a year—which John McCain called a socialist “redistribution of the wealth.” Yet Obama fared better among the most affluent voters—52 percent of those making more than $200,000 voted for him—than he did among those making between $50,000 and $200,000.

Maybe more important might be the idea that rich people don’t really have an exit option, so politicians might as well abuse them:

Since December, the supporters of the rich tax—an alliance of organized labor and community-activist groups—waged a campaign that further weakened Governor Paterson. They spent millions on ads attacking him and staged feisty protests. (At one near City Hall last month, 1199 SEIU president George Gresham mocked his adversaries: “Where are the wealthy going to go? Iowa?”)

Finally, wealthy people are too busy working and producing wealth rather than fighting for themselves. The author writes:

Tocqueville, a contemporary of President Jackson’s, saw wealth as a “cause of disfavor and an obstacle to gaining power” in America. The rich, he wrote, “never form a body which has manners and regulations of its own,” and prefer to retreat into private life than to “engage in an often unequal struggle against the poorest of their fellow citizens.”

In other words, while lower-income people don’t have much to lose financially when they organize anti-rich campaigns and spend hours banging “on 72,000 doors, collecting over 12,000 ‘handwritten’ notes calling on Albany to raise taxes,” the wealthy are working. That may be their biggest mistake.

 

Read the full story here.

 

Most Popular

White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
White House

Trump’s Disgraceful Endgame

President Trump said the other day that he’d leave office if he loses the vote of the Electoral College on December 14. This is not the kind of assurance presidents of the United States typically need to make, but it was noteworthy given Trump’s disgraceful conduct since losing his bid for reelection to ... Read More
Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More
White House

A Justified Pardon

President Trump’s pardon of retired General Michael Flynn, who fleetingly served as his first national-security adviser, was a justified act of clemency. You don’t have to be a fan of how Trump has wielded his pardon power (often recklessly and on behalf of friends and supporters) or believe that Flynn was ... Read More