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Regressive Taxation Again

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New York could raise money for its financially desperate public transportation by creating a wealth tax on the richest people in the world who live there (or “live there” given the amount of foreign cash stashed in high-end real estate near Central Park where the owners rarely ever visit). Or it could create a regressive tax that will massively affect middle and working classes far more than it will the wealthy who can and should pay for everything. Which do you think the state will choose? I think you know.

With the Metropolitan Transportation Authority facing a budget crisis, New Yorkers may have to dig into their pockets to help out.

Under a new proposed bill, New York City residents would be required to pay a $3 surcharge on packages they ordered online, with the exception for medicine and food.

Assemblyman Robert Carroll, who proposed the bill, says the online shopping fee would raise more than $1 billion a year “to fund the operating costs of buses and subways in the city of New York.”

In a joint Daily News op-ed with John Samuelsen, the International President of the Transport Workers Union, Carroll (D-Brooklyn) said the MTA cannot rely solely on a federal bailout.

They argued that the surcharge would incentivize New Yorkers to support small local businesses instead of buying from corporations like Amazon or Walmart.

“A delivery surcharge will also undoubtedly encourage consumers, and the Amazons of the world, to more regularly consolidate multiple items into a single package for delivery,” they wrote.

That the TWU would endorse such a proposal instead of creating a wealth tax is highly disappointing, but then we know that unions often don’t craft the best or most progressive policies. And we shouldn’t be afraid to call them out for their errors. It is most certainly that the MTA needs a lot of money. But not all money is equal. And regressive taxes are a terrible principle in policy. Basically, New York needs to continue to elect more progressives and keep pushing that legislature far to the left. They’ve made good progress over the past couple election cycles. There’s a long ways to go if this is the kind of plans coming out of Albany.

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