Defining “millionaire” down

| NY Torch

Supporters of an income tax increase in New York State were, until recently, pushing what they called a “millionaire tax.”  But now that the number of millionaires is rapidly shrinking, Albany’s most vocal tax-hike proponents have lowered their taxation target to households with incomes over $200,000, judging from a poll reportedly released by the union-dominated Working Families Party (WFP) last week (but, oddly, not posted on the party’s website as of this morning).

Of course, it’s hardly a surprise to find that 75 percent of New Yorkers favor raising taxes on the highest-earning 5 percent; as the late U.S. Sen. Russell Long observed, the default position of most Americans is “don’t tax me, don’t tax thee, tax that fellow behind the tree.”

In another non-surprise, the WFP poll also finds that (a) “major cuts” are favored by a solid majority of New Yorkers when asked about the state’s fiscal crisis, but (b) majorities also oppose specific cuts in school aid and Medicaid, the two largest areas of the budget.  This, too, is consistent with other recent surveys, such as the November Siena College poll in which a plurality said they’d rather see cuts in “something else.”

So if the Legislature and Governor Paterson are guided by public opinion in closing a $15 billion two-year budget hole, they will reduce government spending a little and raise income taxes a lot on New York’s most productive and mobile households.   And then, presumably, they’ll join everyone else in a race for the exits as the state economy sinks even further.

Hey, it’s a plan.

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