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Letters to the editor — Dec. 30, 2020
Fasten your seatbelts for the new year, New York: With Democrats now boasting veto-proof supermajorities in both the Assembly and the state Senate, and several Democratic Socialists joining the ranks, the left is emboldened — and that spells big trouble.
“We recognize the mandate we’ve been given by voters,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins warned in November. “We will assert ourselves accordingly.”
New York lawmakers, even the “moderates,” aren’t known for their, uh, caution. In 2019, they rushed through a bail “reform” so dangerously flawed that they felt obliged to fix it the very next year — and botched the redo, too. The whole state is now paying the price in the form of surging violent crime.
This coming legislative session, which kicks off Wednesday, they’ve got even bigger plans — starting with a hike in taxes supposedly targeting the rich.
Progressives feel no need to justify tax hikes, of course: Their enduring goal is to redistribute wealth, even if it makes everyone equally poor. (Recall Mayor de Blasio’s assurance that the city has “plenty of money” but that it’s simply “in the wrong hands”?)
Yet they’ll use the pandemic as their excuse nonetheless. The state’s economy, which Gov. Cuomo and de Blasio locked down, is failing to spit off enough tax revenue to fund the state’s spending plans, they’ll argue, so taxes must rise to fill the gap.
In truth, revenue hasn’t fallen as much as expected, and Washington has directed more than $160 billion in pandemic aid, in one form or another, toward the state in any case. Besides, millions of New Yorkers in the private sector have tightened their belts; there’s no reason state government can’t do likewise instead of slamming the private sector even more.
Yet instead, some lawmakers mean to boost spending — on schools, “environmental justice,” to expand broadband, for an undocumented-immigrants fund. They also think this is the year for single-payer health care in New York — an idea so unaffordably expensive that every state that has considered it has had to pull the plug.
Nor will they stop with taxing just the rich: Indeed, they’re eyeing a range of other new levies and fees, too — on methane emissions, carbon use, telecom companies and more. Rest assured, those new costs will hit low-, middle- and high-income workers, either directly or via higher prices from companies obliged to cover their new hit.
With the economy struggling to recover post-COVID and people fleeing the state, it’s hard to think of anything more self-defeating than tax hikes. As Cuomo himself has noted, attempts to milk the rich will just encourage more of them to skedaddle and take their tax dollars with them.
“If you take people who are highly mobile, and you tax them, well, then they’ll just move,” he warned in July.
There’s good evidence for that: New York is already one of the highest-taxing states in the nation, and its population has been dwindling for decades — with many New Yorkers heading to lower-tax states, like Florida and Texas.
Nonetheless, Cuomo has hinted that he’ll back a tax hike anyway this year, unless Washington funnels even more cash to the state, which is highly unlikely.
Nor do Democrats appear interested in helping get Gotham’s crime spike in check. Instead, the zealots have another “justice roadmap” to make even more inmates eligible for parole and keep younger criminals out of prison. Not enough offenders roaming the streets already, you see . . .
The left also hopes to make it harder for part-time and temporary gig workers to find or keep jobs, by requiring that they be treated as employees, subject to minimum-wage laws and worker protections and eligible for company benefits. It’s guaranteed to mean fewer gig opportunities — and fewer jobs, period.
What a time to indulge a far-left wish list. If lawmakers cared about their constituents, they’d be laser-focused on reviving the economy and getting businesses and residents to stay, post-COVID — not killing more jobs and hurting businesses.
November’s jobless rate throughout the state stood at 8.4 percent, more than a point and a half above the national rate. In New York City, the state’s economic engine, it was 12.1 percent. Do they really want to make it even higher?
Albany ought to be moving mountains to help businesses recover and the unemployed find jobs — by easing regulations, lowering taxes and fees, postponing hikes in the minimum wage. The city especially needs help with both its economy and crime.
Offering such assistance isn’t politically impossible, despite the emboldened radicals on the left: Cuomo clearly knows what will help, and hurt, New York and surely doesn’t want to preside over an irreversible downward spiral. He wields enormous power through the budget process, under the state Constitution — and it will take only a few moderate Democrats to join Republicans in the Legislature against a destructive leftist stampede to uphold Cuomo vetoes and block major damage.
Yes, it’s a tall ask. But New York’s future rides on stopping the loony left.
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