A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY HOME FROM WESTCHESTER….Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Omnibus ( in this case Ron, Robert who can smash caps to smithereens in two seconds, and I) traveled to White Plains last night intending to enlighten an activist group on our Omnibus Property tax Bill in the legislature and instead learned more than we taught.
When Rachel (see flyer of the meeting below) greeted us with these words…We (Westchester for Change) educate and then we advocate. We worked for Obama; we have been involved in health care reform; and now we want to learn about your work because I feel it has ramifications beyond property tax relief-as important as that is…I knew this evening was different.
I have paraphrased. Feel free to correct me, Rachel .
In fact I’d love some input from you and your members for the blog!
(OOPS! I apologize by the way for that bit about my resistance to religious tax exempts while I was in a Methodist Church which has a thriving community of “do-gooders”J, a great Martin Luther King library, and a thirst for social justice.
Let me make clear when I rail against “spiritual” tax exempts I’m talking about acres and acres of “holy” land belonging to so-called religious groups who are manufacturing; farming in competition with taxpaying farms ; building motels; and acquiring wealth without paying property taxes…. That’s not you, Methodist Church! You guys are what the tax exemption was meant to be for.)
ANYWAY…with Rachel’s intro…
That’s when the epiphany began. In my mind there were a lot of isolated facts about the recession, Wall Street’s debt to Main Street, the resistance of politicians to reform of the prop. tax, the resistance to our work on property tax reform by Wall Street and the think tanks that are their mouthpieces, their insistence on bogus “caps.
By the end of the evening it all came together because of the dynamics of this well informed and activist group.
The entire crisis in our country cannot be resolved until some balance is restored in the matter of who benefits from our country’s great wealth and resources and who pays for it all.
The resistance we tax reformers are meeting is from the billionaires and their political allies.
Reform of property taxes would begin to restore that balance by shifting SOME of the costs of services to that favored 1% who are reaping all the benefits and paying little in taxes in relation to their income.
I repeat prop. taxes are NOT based on income.
BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE shift those costs from the beleaguered middle class which is being ruined by insane property taxes and a Wall Street induced recession.
Back to Westchester:
We started the evening by NOT understanding that Rachel’s gathering was NOT made up of “civiliansJ”.
These are informed, experienced advocates for social causes. That became apparent when-after hearing something about caps and taxes- the questions showed that the people in attendance knew plenty and wanted more..Like “How does the property tax relief issue fit into the nation’s current agony?”
That’s why-from our exchange- no longer a lecture- I came away re-invigorated.
Not a single person thought that ‘any government at all’ was the enemy; that teachers, police officers, or kids were villains; that all taxes were equal; that “ caps’ had some validity; or that Wall street would leave for Kentucky if pressed to pay a little of their windfall profits for the benefit of stabilizing the economy. Not one!
We are grateful for the invitation and enlightened by the discussion and energized by the fresh insights.
Here are the major insights:
The Property Tax Relief and Reform battle we are waging has important national implications.
Omnibus has as our resident genius, Frank Mauro, who is the guru of government and the last word on all things fiscal and financial…the time and the man are fortuitously in synch.
..and that Ron Deutsch who -in his leadership of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness AND the Omnibus Tax Solution Consortium combines in his person the most complete knowledge of the tax equity crisis and the best means to resolve it! .
(Now if we could just force him to postpone his trips to dangerous places in our tormented world in order to build orphanages -in his “spare” time –at least until the property tax crisis is over- we’d all breathe easier…and yes, I’m selfish that way.)
Towards the end of the evening in White Plains –an infuriatingly modest Ron- was entreated to produce his budget solutions-.
This is the BIG “Where is the money coming from to begin to restore tax equity and services?” question
This enlightened group was waiting patiently for the answer to this question.
It was a splendid moment to see it all coming together. Thanks Ron, next time don’t hold back!!
Every pol in Albany has Ron’s document and it’s time for them to put up or shut up. (I’ll blog the list.)
The politicians -who know Ron is key to the number one priority in the state- the intertwined issues of restoring services and shifting the costs away from the devastated middle class- need to just DO IT!
We have been supporting everything a civilized society needs-schools, safety nets, transportation, health care, – while the super-rich have been gaming the system (billions in unearned “profits”!!) and not paying even an approximation of their share.
If I sound like a Marxist you’re not paying attention.
For capitalism to survive (which I fervently hope) there really need to be workers and a thriving middle class…DUH!!
That’s our mission and we welcome the exchange last night with –my new best friends- Westchester for Change. It was fun guys.
And now some bits and pieces that will give you a laugh….
… coming from an anonymous savant in the Governor’s communication office (I wish it were the Gov. himself) a published (faux) report that a Wall Street company (much in the news of late) was going to furlough itself for a few days and thereby capture billions to restore services and pay for property tax reform….and no, it wasn’t a Consortium member though the message was ours…Wall street must pay to help main Street ….
The message purported to come from one Mr. Mammon…good one whoever you are.
GOOD FOR THE CITIZENS OF SHANGHAI!!!
Upon the release of news that a property tax (BOO!!) was going to be instituted, the Shanghai markets immediately lost an ESS LOAD of value…check it out..
How come the brokers in Shanghai get it that insanely structured (is there another kind?) property taxes are lousy for the economy??
…and how come the WSJ immediately panicked and started saying that “CAPS” “CAPS” were the answer to any situation (world hunger??) anywhere in the world?
Is it because the Shanghai crash seems to imply that property taxes may be a really stupid way to raise revenue for services …and even the markets might prefer some other taxes…like an increase in income taxes on the super rich or maybe closing some of those huge corporate loop holes…or…but you get it …that’s the WSJ’s (and the think tanks they own) worst nightmare!!
…and much to the surprise of legislators they were lobbying last week, it was our own brilliant John Whiteley and Robert McKeon (Omnibus members)- representing the cause of property tax relief – who demolished the budget ‘CAP” idea with their intellectual prowess…two smart dudes.
Imagine that. The most intelligent and informed people who have been advocating for property tax relief and reform for years (Pro Bono-out of pocket) know that CAPS are a bogus, cynical, cheap attempt to gull beleaguered property taxpayers. We wouldn’t see our taxes go down a penny if budget “caps” are the pols answer to the mess. What a surprise!!