Top Ten Reasons To Support the Millionaires Tax

by on January 30, 2012 · 16 comments

in California, Economy, Education, Popular

Governor Jerry Brown has been getting a lot of media coverage lately for his efforts to promote his ballot measure which he is selling as a way to stop further cuts to education in the coming years and help solve California’s seemingly eternal budget crisis.  While the mainstream media has showered much attention on Brown, whose initiative would temporarily raise taxes on those earning over $250,000 and raise the sales tax on all Californians, very little notice has gone to the Millionaires Tax, which is vastly superior to the governor’s measure for many reasons.

While I have written about the Millionaires Tax in a previous column for the OB Rag and for Labor Notes , it is worth reviewing the central arguments why California voters should support the Millionaires Tax rather than the Governor’s initiative.  What are the top ten reasons to support the Millionaires Tax?

1. The Millionaires Tax is a permanent tax increase on millionaires while the Governor’s initiative is a temporary 4-year measure that will not bring in enough revenue to restore the cuts that have been made to education, infrastructure, and vital public services—not here in San Diego or anywhere else in the state.

2. The Millionaires Tax will not cost a single penny for anyone making less than $1 million a year.  The regressive sales tax in the Governor’s initiative will hit everyone and regressive taxes disproportionately affect the poor who already pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes than the rich do.

3. With 70% or higher support (depending on the poll), the Millionaires Tax enjoys the strongest support among the revenue proposals based on extensive polling and research. Even the backers of other initiatives admit that the Millionaires Tax is the easiest to pass.  While a recent poll showed the progressive taxes in the Governor’s measure to be supported by 68%, the same poll indicated that 64% of those questioned disapproved of the sales tax in his measure.  Thus the regressive taxes that Brown included to please the Chamber of Commerce will act as a lead weight on his initiative.  So if you want a clear winner in practical terms, it’s the Millionaires Tax.  If you want to make Grover Norquist’s crew happy, support the Governor’s plan.

4. The Millionaires Tax will bring in $6 to 9.5 billion annually for K-12, community colleges, CSU’s and UC’s, and to fund crucial services that have been decimated by cuts, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.  The LAO estimates that the Governor’s measure will only bring in $4.8 to 6 billion

5. Money from the Millionaires Tax goes directly into school districts and counties so Californians can see the results. As we know, Californians do not trust Sacramento. They want to see new funds go to work, not get lost in bureaucracy.

6. Higher education investment benefits working class and middle class students, whose tuition has increased 300% over the last decade.  It’s time to stop taxing students via tuition and fee increases and start asking the 1% to pay their fair share.

7. The campaign for the Millionaires Tax energizes and engages the progressive base, including rank and file union members, activists and college students to be FOR something, so that we can turn out the base to defeat paycheck deception and win other key electoral races for progressive candidates.  Taking money from Occidental Petroleum, the California Hospitals Association, Blue Shield, Indian casinos, and other corporate interests as the Governor’s campaign has done in exchange for a weaker measure including regressive taxes is a toxic compromise that only makes voters more cynical about the process.

8. The campaign for the Millionaires tax will strengthen labor-community coalitions to promote a progressive agenda while building a movement for future reforms – WITHOUT RELYING ON POLITICIANS.  We should not have to tie the future of California’s education system and other public services to the political calculations of Jerry Brown.  Many in the progressive community supported Brown’s efforts to win over a handful of Republicans to vote for a very reasonable extension of then currently existing regressive taxes last year.  He failed and schools and public services were cut yet again.  We should not take that risk again this time.  The price is too steep.

 9. The Millionaires Tax is a unique expression of the broader national effort, most clearly seen in the Occupy Movement, to bring economic and tax equity to the 99% of Americans who have been left out, and can spur similar efforts in other states.

 10. The Millionaires Tax resonates with President Obama’s reelection message (to have millionaires, who have benefited the most from society, pay their fair share).  It would bring the Buffet rule to California.

Thus, if you really care about the future of the state of California and want to take a big step toward actually restoring some of the devastating cuts we’ve seen most severely affect students, the sick, the elderly, sign the Millionaires Tax petition when it comes out in February.

Going to endless rallies to protest cuts to health care, education, and other public services can be depressing as it seems things just keep getting worse and the wrong people always seem to pay the price.  Well now Californians have a chance to affect real change and put the Millionaires Tax on the ballot.  If we pass it, it will be a real victory for the 99%.

Political insiders in back rooms in Sacramento don’t have the courage to give us this choice, but now we have the opportunity to frame the debate ourselves.  Let’s do it.

For more information, go to The Millionaires Tax

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

RB January 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

Gee, people are against taxing themselves (sale tax) and for taxing others (millionaire tax). Who could have predicted these positions. LOL California needs to increase the state economy, grow the pie, not tax productivity and drive jobs out of state with tax increases and new regulation.


Anna Daniels January 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Gee- people are concerned about the inequitable nature of the current tax system. Sales taxes are inherently regressive. It is also inherently inequitable that corporations can take advantage of tax loopholes that were lobbied for by them and exclusively benefit them. You may try to raise the issue of “fairness” in your comment, but your argument is weak.


RB January 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

You are confused. Raising taxes on millionaires does not change loopholes or taxes for corporations. And I agree, the sales tax is regressive and should be lowered not raised.


Anna Daniels January 30, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Raising taxes on millionaires does not change loopholes- it offsets them in a straightforward, clean and fair way, since an overhaul of the tax code is not going to happen any time soon. And you equate said tax with a “tax on productivity?” I’d say you are the one who is confused.


Shane Finneran January 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

RB, I think you’d prefer the alternate tax reform referendum being drafted by the Howard Jarvis Society. Have you heard of it? Would lower state tax rates on millionaires to 0.0% — and also entitle them to fellatio-on-demand from any non-millionaire taxpayer, anywhere in the state…

Arnold Schwarzenegger has called it “the best idea I could ever hope to come across.” Mitt Romney says, if it passes, he’ll move his family to Cali, “even the Mexico branch.” Newt Gingrich had only one word: “Schwing!”

So visit the Howard Jarvis Society website to learn how you can sign up to gather signatures… California’s millionaires look forward to working with you…


The Bearded OBcean January 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

So instead of raising taxes, why not reform them by removing loopholes? As for fairness, who or what is the final arbiter of what is fair? We don’t pay taxes out of fairness, we pay taxes to fund our government, which, unfortunately, can’t balance its books. Unless or until that happens, there will always be a call to raise taxes. It’s a quick soundbite and is far easier than tackling the problem.


Frank Gormlie January 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

Ol’ Bearded one – you are not rich, not a millionaire. Why do you care so much if taxes are raised on them? Do you secretly hope to be one someday? (Good luck with that, buddy). The tax system was set up out of fairness – to offset the tremendous wealth on one hand and the tremendous poverty on the other. People like Reagan and Bush offset this parity.


The Bearded OBcean January 31, 2012 at 12:43 pm

And no secrets about it Frank. While I probably won’t bring in that sort of money on a salary, it’s certainly within my grasp for my assets.


Anna Daniels January 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Are you really saying that talking about fairness and establishing a standard of fairness are not seminal to a democracy? Wow. I think I need to sit down and fan myself. There aren’t many things we can all agree about in this country, but there is one thing we do agree upon- we loathe a rigged system. And yes we are capable of arbitrating what is fair or not. A boxer paid a huge sum not to pull a punch… an Olympic winner found to be using steroids… We howl when that kind of stuff happens and it is a righteous right-on howling.

Civil rights and women’s emancipation are reflections of our ability to assure justice and fairness in our democracy. Our democracy has been strengthened by this push for fairness.

Democracy likewise suffers when fairness and justice are omitted from consideration. Our political/economic system is rigged. It is rigged when my five figure family income has the same effective tax rate as Mitt Romney, who doesn’t work and can send his millions on vacation in the Cayman Islands. That is unfair.
This is not about “raising taxes.” It is about fair taxation policy applied to the top 1% (actually top .01%) that continues to amass wealth while seeing its tax rate drop over the past decades.


RB January 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Salary income is paid by the employer BEFORE the money is taxed. Dividend income and capital gains (or increased value) of the company are taxed at the corporate rate first. Dividend income is paid AFTER the money is taxed at the corporate rate. Dividends and capital gains are taxed a second time when divided and given to the individual owners. If dividends were to be treated the same as salary for taxes, they should be paid before taxes by the corporation and taxed the same rate as salary income for the individual.

I support treating dividends the same as salary. I do not support taxing dividends twice.


The Bearded OBcean January 31, 2012 at 12:42 pm

In some regards, fairness should not, and is not, taken into account. Civil rights and suffrage have nothing to do with taxes, and has nothing to do with this discussion. Fairness is not, in fact, a seminal component of democracy. I don’t believe that the Constitution mentions either the word fair or fairness. Life is, unfortunately, not always fair. There are winners and losers. Not everyone wins a trophy. As for your example of boxers and olympians, that’s called cheating.

Mitt Romney might only pay 14% tax on his income, however, he’s done it according to the law (and as an aside, he paid taxes on his money in the Caymans). You didn’t mention that he pays nearly 40% on his income when taking his donations to charity into account; Which happens to be a difference between those on the left and right. The left would prefer that money to be in the hands of the government, the right believes that it goes to better use in the hands of charity. Why not reform the law in the first place? It’s obvious that there are problems with it.

Raising taxes is not a panacea, but rather a temporary band aid until the call comes for even higher taxes. Again, who decides what rate is fair in relation to taxes.


Arthur Salm January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

If you’re getting the fantods over the burden our betters will have to bear, remember that only income above $1 million will be taxed at a higher level, and even then not much. What — the guy making $3.6 million would have hired another gardener but now, dammit, he can’t? It takes money, and a lot of it, to run any civilization, much less a rapidly changing, diverse, increasingly techno-centric joint like ours. And a significant portion of it goes toward safeguarding the rich and securing their fortunes: Defense, police, regulation of banks and financial institutions, for example. (“You say you bought this stock/deposited this money? Tough, we’re keeping it. Oh, wait, the government you so thoroughly despise won’t let us.”) Not to mention providing the infrastructure that allowed them to amass wealth in the first place: Education; public health; reliable roads, railways, and air space; regulations and laws ensuring reputable business practices.

And … come on, plutocrats: It’s nice (I guess) behind those gates, with the private security force and all, but don’t you, occasionally at least, want to walk unmolested through the streets of a generally prosperous nation, rubbing cashmere elbows with a well-educated, healthy, and secure (if poplin-elbowed) populace? There’s enough to go around and still keep you in Bentleys. So pony up just a little more. With a smile would be nice, but what the hell.


mr.rick January 31, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Trying to get a philosophical view of politics is some times difficult. But I’ll try. The reason the tax rates have to be raised at this time is because half of all “Americans” are so poor that they can’t even pay into the tax system. Hell, they’re mostly on food stamps and earned income credits just to survive. If we try to reform the tax code we will be hung-up for years with the lobbyists working the priveleged angle for their benefactors. Meanwhile we get idiots talking about SS and medicare cuts. Just raise the payroll taxes on every one up to the pay scale of congress. Or how about the highest paid federal employee. After all, we are paying their salaries. It’s our money.


Seattle February 3, 2012 at 10:15 pm

96,000 people pay 50% of the taxes received in California for the rest of the 30 million residents. Now those 30 million want to take another 5% from those same people. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out if 15,000 of those people buy a home in Nevada and spent 6 months a year there to save their income that California will be much worse off than it is today.

But what the heck – the massive tax increase in Illinois sure helped them. They reached a new credit low and 100,000 jobs left the state. Go for it Cali!


American Dreamer April 12, 2012 at 10:56 am

Ah, Democracy at its most wretched – let’s all vote to have 0.62% of the people support the other 99.38%. Why? Because it’s easier than becoming financially responsible enough to support all the things you’d like your government to give you?

I’m disgusted.


Frank Gormlie April 12, 2012 at 11:32 am

Ah, American dreamer – you’re still dreaming if you think that most of the 99% live off the less than 1%. Who does the work and labor in this society? It’s the 99%. Who collects the wealth? The 1%. The vast majority of the 99% are financially responsible – and despite that – they – we are still suffering. You’re disgusted because you have attached yourself to the wrong story of America. We as Americans have rights – and we’ve attempted – not too well – over the centuries to have the government ensure that everybody plays “fair”. But it hasn’t been working; the system is broken – but not the way you see it. The wealthy have been making out like bandits – leaving the rest of us in the dust. It’s time to turn the tables around – have real democracy.


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