We hear it all the time: Republicans support “tax breaks for the rich,” Democrats want the rich to pay “their fair share.”

All this makes great fodder for those who don’t bother to inform themselves of the realities of our tax code, and of taxation in America in general, but every so often politicians explicitly out themselves regarding this folderol as well.

Consider the histrionics regarding the deductibility of state and local taxes, when they were capped under Trump’s tax reform package back in 2017. As I analyzed back then, the alterations to the tax brackets more than offset the hit from the cap for the large majority of taxpayers, with only those of greatest means (i.e. “the rich”) losing out, so anyone who believes “the rich” should be taxed harder should have supported the cap. But soon, it became apparent that the squawks were from politicians and people who feared that “the rich” would be incentivized to leave high tax states, and thus obviate those states’ ability to soak them.

No matter, of course, that the SALT deduction, if left intact, would (continue to) be a “tax break for the rich.”

This is a tipoff that high-tax-state politicians don’t want to tax the rich out of a sense of moral balance (not that I remotely consider this a valid premise), but because they want to be the ones who spend that money.

Along comes one such politician, Tom Suozzi of Nassau County, NY, looking not only to repeal the SALT cap (without, presumably, changing the tax brackets and rates to what they used to be), but to leverage the cancelniks in order to get his way. He wants to “out” donors to those politicians who oppose the SALT cap repeal.

To what end, one might wonder? What purpose is there in publishing a list of donors’ names, based solely on a correlation between their donations and the voting plans of those to whom they donated? Can he prove that these donors opposed the SALT cap repeal, rather than supporting some other positions of those politicians?

Fortunately for us, his motive is overt: “unite New Yorkers in shaming the turncoats.”

I am calling on New Yorkers to stop funding those politicians killing our state, killing our city and killing New York.

Restoring a tax break for the rich is going to save the state? No matter that it’ll hurt Federal tax revenues from rich taxpayers in all 50 states? No matter that there’s no actual proof those to be “outed” supported that policy in the first place? Dirty politics, is all it is.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has long been incensed by the SALT cap, likening it to “economic civil war” between red and blue states. He loses or ignores the reality that the conditions in the state, including the high taxes capped by the deduction, are his doing and the doing of his predecessors and cohorts, and thus well within his power to alter.

No matter that.

As French statesman Jean-Baptiste Colbert noted,

The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to procure the largest quantity of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing.

Some ‘plucky’ politicians, however are OK with shrinking “the largest quantity” if it means they get to keep their pillowful. Any premise of moral imperative in redistributing wealth gets defenestrated in the process. “Their fair share” only matters as far as who gets to spend it.

It’s simply greed. No one is greedier than a politician.

As for the tactic? It’s reprehensible. It’s an abridgment of free speech in that it intimidates political donations and punishes people for expressing their views. Which is exactly the point. Bullying your opponents into silence is easier than winning their hearts and minds, and hurting your political rivals’ coffers is muting their speech.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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