We retired Tax Justice Blog in April 2017. For new content on issues related to tax justice, go to www.justtaxesblog.org
The Boss a Local Hero with Anti-Poverty and Children’s Advocates
With a short letter to the editor of his hometown paper, the Asbury Park Press, Bruce Springsteen sided with anti-poverty and children’s advocates, teachers, and other New Jersey residents who oppose Gov. Christie’s cuts-only approach to the state’s budget gap.
The letter was a response to an article about rising poverty amidst budget cuts to the very programs that assist low- and moderate-income families in the state. Springsteen praised the article for being “one of the few that highlights the contradictions between a policy of large tax cuts, on the one hand, and cuts in services to those in the most dire conditions, on the other.”
The letter has forced Governor Christie to spend the past week defending his cuts to critical and core services and his adamant objection to reinstating a tax on New Jersey millionaires.
New Jersey Senate and Assembly Democrats support a plan to raise $600 million in revenue by instating a surcharge on households with taxable income of more than $1 million (the households impacted make up less than half of one percent of the state’s taxpayers).
A similar policy was in place temporarily in 2009. Democrats passed a bill to reinstate the surcharge last summer, but the governor vetoed the bill and has vowed to do the same this year.
During the governor’s ABC News interview this week, Diane Sawyer said that Springsteen “has written a letter in which he says that it’s simply a contradiction between your large tax cuts including for really rich people and doing things that change education for the kids that affect teachers, cut the services to those in the most dire conditions.”
Christie responded that Springsteen is a liberal who “believes that we should be raising taxes all the time on everyone to do all the things that he’d like to see government do.”
Reason to Believe in the Role of the State
Of course, Springsteen is right that in a time of economic distress, when demand for state-funded services has increased alongside growing poverty, states more than ever need to focus on education, assistance to families and communities in need, and keeping the public healthy and safe, which will in turn support economic recovery. To do this, New Jersey must have adequate revenue.
Christie Stands Up for the Mansion on the Hill
Christie went on to suggest that it was the previous New Jersey governor, Jon Corzine, who cut taxes on millionaires, which is a completely false statement. When Corzine was governor, he enacted a temporary increase on millionaire’s that expired after tax year 2009. As previously noted, a bill passed the Senate and Assembly last year to reinstate the tax, but Christie vetoed it and continues to voice opposition to any tax on millionaires.
When Sawyer pressed him more on the issue, Christie argued that the tax would “only raise $600 million.” While $600 million may be only loose change to Christie, that money would go a long way to the hard-working New Jersey families struggling to make ends meet in the face of more and more cuts to the very services they depend on.
The honest truth is that Christie would rather shrink government at the expense of the vast majority of New Jerseyans than ruffle the feathers of millionaires.