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I guarantee you Repubs will raise taxes. On whom? Hint: it’s not the rich



I’ve known many multi-millionaires and quite a few billionaires due to my former position in the wine industry. I’ve liked them all—but I have to say it’s unconscionable how frivolously so many of them spend their money, while 99% of ordinary Americans struggle just to get by.

This isn’t meant to criticize the billionaires. They’re doing what the law allows. And many are philanthropic. It’s just that, ever since the days of Reagan, we’ve seen these tax rates on the ultra-wealthy plummet, leaving them to spend their fortunes on another mansion or five, or another Degas, or another pair of Manola Blahniks they’ll wear once. Meanwhile, Joe Sixpack scrounges to put bread on the table.

Everybody knows that taxes should be a matter of fairness. The more you earn, the more you should pay. If there was enough money in America for everything we want, it would be okay to tax everyone at the same rate—the famous “flat tax” so beloved by Republicans. But there’s nowhere near enough money for everything. The solution, I believe, is a graduated or “progressive” income tax—which is what Democrats have favored since the days of Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

But Repubs hate the progressive income tax. And they’re running the show.

If you think there’s not enough money now for America’s needs, wait until Trump’s budget-smashing bills come due. There’s the “Wall”: $25 billion at a minimum. There’s the vastly expanded payroll for immigration and enforcement bureaucrats, and the vastly increased legal costs to deport millions of people. We don’t even know yet how much he wants to lavish on an already bloated Pentagon, but you know it will be many hundreds of billions of dollars more than now. There’s the $1 triilion (with a “t”) he supposedly wants for infrastructure. On top of all this wasteful spending, he wants to cut taxes yet again, starting with the wealthiest Americans.

Honestly, I will never figure out why these angry white people in the Rust Belt who voted for him aren’t complaining. I think they’re as upset about it as I am—they have to be!–but they’re afraid to criticize their guy.

You know who’s really feeling the heat? Governors. With the refusal of this regime to even consider marginal tax rates or an increase in the estate tax, Governors are hitting the panic button. Their states are falling apart. They have worker pensions they are obligated to fulfill. And when and if Trump succeeds in throwing millions of Americans off healthcare, they’re going to be stuck with that problem too. So what are these Governors doing about it?

First, consider the concept of a regressive tax. It is “a tax that takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners.”

Examples of regressive taxes are the “parcel taxes” that most communities, including mine in Oakland, levy on homeowners (aside and apart from the property tax itself). Let’s say the county places a parcel tax on each homeowner, to pay for mosquito abatement or libraries. Every homeowner pays the same, whether his parcel is a 350-square foot condo or a 5,000 square-foot mansion or a million square-foot office building. That’s insane. It’s unfair. It’s a regressive tax.

One of the most regressive taxes in America is the gasoline tax. We all pay exactly the same amount per gallon, a combination of the Federal gas tax and whatever the state gas tax is. We pay it at the pump when we fill up. But who does the gas tax hurt the most? Low-income and middle-income people, who are the ones who drive the most to get to their jobs. In an area like the Bay Area, where housing is so expensive, middle-class folks are actually having to move 50, 100, 200 miles away from their workplaces, just to afford a home in a town with good schools. Every time you raise the gas tax, you’re literally stealing money from them.

Back to those Governors. “States, in Search of Funds, Turn to Gas Tax,” is the headline in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that describes how “nearly 20 states, with both Republican and Democratic governors, have raised gas taxes…in recent years to generate funds…”. Moreover, “at least a dozen more are considering such measures.” These Governors range from deep-red Alaska’s Bill Walker to deep-red Tennessee’s Bill Haslam and deep-red Indiana’s Eric Holcomb. Now, we all know that Republicans always campaign on promises to “Read my lips, no new taxes.” But not even the most conservative Governor wants to run a state so bankrupt that bridges are falling down, dams collapsing, roads turning into mine fields, school districts going broke, and other examples of societal breakdown. As Haslam told the Journal, he really doesn’t want to raise the gas tax, but “I decided it was important to do the right thing.”

Well, good for Gov. Haslam! We want our governors to do the right thing. Taxes do have to go up. But why in such a regressive way as an increase in the gas tax? Why not a progressive income tax, in which the more you make, the greater a percentage of your income you pay? Does San Francisco’s multi-billionaire Getty family—which really produces nothing for anyone, since their wealth is passed along from generation to generation to the lucky sperm kids—really need to have their taxes cut, yet again?

Clearly not. But here’s Trump coming out with his tax plan, which “would cut taxes at all income levels, although the largest benefits, in dollar and percentage terms, would go to the highest-income households,” according to the Brookings Institution, hardly a bastion of liberalism.

Tea Party people: Really? You’re down with that? Is more tax breaks for billionaires (including the Goldman Sachs crowd you hate, but that Trump stuffed his Cabinet with) the tradeoff you’re willing to pay for the Wall and the Muslim ban?

God help you.


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