Friday, December 09, 2011
Held aloft by the highest approval ratings of any governor in America, Andrew Cuomo scarcely seemed to worry about angering his state's progressives, who were disappointed by his refusal to extend a state surtax on New York's millionaires. But in what may come to be regarded as a watershed moment in his tenure, Cuomo now plans a sweeping tax reform that is expected to demand more, not less, from the state's wealthiest, while reducing the burden on the middle class -- in the name of "fundamental fairness."
Over the weekend, rumors of a shift in Cuomo's anti-tax position began to circulate, confirmed on Monday morning when his office dispatched a short essay by the governor to newspaper editors around the state arguing that New York's current tax code is "unfair" to the middle class and inhibits economic growth.
Rather than the expiring surcharges, which Cuomo castigates for raising the taxes of families making $200,000 a year -- "hardly millionaires," as he put it -- his proposed new system would add higher brackets at the top end and lower brackets in the middle. Although he didn't offer details yet, his aims are clear enough:
"First, we need to reform the code in a way that creates jobs and grows our economy. To do that, we need to put more money in New Yorkers' pockets and inject it back in to the economy. There are also tax credits that can incentivize private-sector job growth.
"Second, true reform for fairness has two factors: income brackets that fairly group income levels and progressive rates increasing with income. Simply put, to me 'fairness' dictates that the more you make the more you pay, and the higher your income the higher your rate. Also, you should be treated the same as people with similar incomes and differently from people who make significantly more, or significantly less, than you earn."
Fairly or not, Cuomo's decision to seek higher levies on the state's highest earners will be portrayed as a turnabout from his earlier position, which had cast him as a defender of Wall Street and big business against labor populism. Predictably enough, Republicans and the local tea party were swift to attack. Mike Long, chairman of the state's Conservative Party (and longtime antagonist of Cuomo and his father, the former governor), denounced him as a flip-flopper.
"He's the one who made a principled stand," said Long. "Whether you agree with that principled stand or not, once you break a principled stand, then one wonders what you can count on him for in the future." The state's tea party leaders said that Cuomo should be cutting more spending instead of raising taxes.
But Cuomo crushed the tea party-sponsored opposition to his campaign in last year's election, against the midterm right-wing tide -- and his opinion that the rich should be taxed more is at least as popular as Cuomo himself. If he succeeds in changing the tax system to encourage both higher employment and greater equity, he will have removed a potential obstacle to any future national ambitions he may cherish.
COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM
See Other Political Commentary.
See Other Commentary by Joe Conason.
Views expressed in this column are those of the author, not those of Rasmussen Reports. Comments about this content should be directed to the author or syndicate.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.