Voters in Massachusetts will decide in November the fate of a proposed state constitutional amendment pushed by the “social justice” left that would impose a surtax of 4% on incomes of more than $1 million a year.
That would effectively raise the marginal tax rate on every dollar of annual income of Bay State residents in excess of $1 million by 80% — from 5% to 9%. And that’s on top of the 37% federal income-tax rate that a $1 million income taxpayer would pay.
Backers of the Massachusetts ballot referendum have dubbed it “the Fair Share Amendment.” It’s anything but, because the rich already pay a disproportionately high share of total taxes paid — in other words, more than their “fair share.”
According to 2019 figures from the nonpartisan, nonprofit Tax Foundation, the top 1% of income earners (adjusted gross incomes of $546,434 and above) paid a greater share of individual federal income taxes (38.8%) than the bottom 90% combined (29.2%).
All of this raises a pair of related questions that Democrats and the left inexplicably never get asked: What constitutes a “fair share” and, beyond that, who gets to determine that? Tax-and-spend liberals apparently think they do, and a “fair share” is whatever so-called progressives think it should be in service of their big-spending agendas at any given moment.
“This is no time to threaten Massachusetts’ prospects for an immediate economic recovery from a once-in-a-century pandemic. The long-term economic competitiveness of the commonwealth rests on a precarious point,” the Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based free-market think tank, asserts in the new book “Back to Taxachusetts?” in opposition to the tax-hike amendment. (For decades, Massachusetts has had a reputation as a high-tax state; hence, the derisive moniker.)
Meanwhile, the uber-liberal Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center supports what it calls the “millionaire tax” proposal, arguing that it’s necessary “[i]n order to build an economically and racially just Commonwealth.”
Here again, the left sets an arbitrary benchmark of what constitutes “economically and racially just.” It’s a premise that should not be accepted just because the left says so.
Massbudget, as it calls itself, estimates the tax hike would raise at least $2 billion a year in new revenues to pay for what it deems “key investments” in transportation and education systems.
But, of course, governments treat tax revenues as fungible, so there’s no guarantee that those extra funds would in fact result in a net increase of $2 billion a year in additional “investments” (a left-wing euphemism for spending) in transportation and education. There’s nothing to keep legislative appropriators from reallocating a like amount of education and transportation dollars to other “key investments,” leaving net spending on the former level.
The left-wing Boston-based think tank also gratuitously racializes the debate: “As a matter of fairness and economic commonsense (sic), it is important that the much-needed new revenue come from our state’s highest-income households — the same group that has gotten even richer during the pandemic and which also is disproportionately white.”
And while, theoretically, education and transportation spending should benefit all, Massbudget begs to differ: “When making these investments, it is especially important that the Commonwealth prioritize the needs of Black, brown and Latinx (sic) communities. Due to a centuries-long history of systemic racism, these groups have much lower average household incomes and continue to be excluded from many economic opportunities. This is an injustice we can and must correct.”
The left-wing think tank dismisses out of hand the Pioneer Institute’s warning that passage of the amendment would likely lead to the flight out of state of wealthy Massachusetts residents, just as “soak the rich” policies have in neighboring Connecticut and in California, New York, Illinois and elsewhere. Why Massachusetts residents would be any different is anyone’s guess.
To defeat the so-called Fair Share Amendment this fall, the first thing Republicans and conservatives in Massachusetts need to do is reject the left’s “fair share” premise by citing statistics like those cited above about who pays how much.
“Fair share” is a staple of Democratic presidents’ State of the Union addresses, floor speeches of liberals in Congress and state legislatures, and the left generally. It should no longer be allowed to go unchallenged.