AOC-aligned group attacks state Sen. Liz Krueger to push tax agenda
New York’s left is starting to devour its own as part of a campaign to pressure local Democratic pols to aggressively tax the rich to address the state’s pandemic-fueled fiscal crisis.
A group including the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, which is aligned with US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, currently has its sights on powerful liberal Upper East Side state Sen. Liz Krueger.
Krueger, who chairs the state Senate Finance Committee, represents a Manhattan district with more millionaires and billionaires than anywhere in New York — and has fallen down on the job of helping to tax them more, according to a report prepared by the DSA chapter, New York Communities for Change and other lefty groups.
“With responsibility comes accountability,” NYCC head Jonathan Westin told the Post on Sunday. “Sen. Krueger has been back-tracking on her commitments.”
DSA-NYC co-Chair Chi Anuwa added, “Sen. Krueger holds a lot of power. She’s in a unique position.
“We have not seen the political will to push Gov. Cuomo on the tax issue. This is the time for bold leadership.”
The DSA is flexing its muscles after six of its candidates won seats to the state Legislature this year. The group hopes that the six New York City Council candidates it recently endorsed will be elected next year.
As for DSA member Ocasio-Cortez of The Bronx, she has specifically recently called for city and state tax hikes to aid schools.
The leftist coalition acknowledges that Krueger has been a committed liberal during her long political career but complains that she has recently been MIA on its push for more taxes on the wealthy to help the poor.
The proposals the activists back include: additional tax increases on those earning above $1 million a year; making billionaires pay income tax on their investment gains; a pied-a-terre tax on non-primary residences worth more than $5 million, and stock transfer and buyback taxes.
“As the threat of 20 percent cuts loom across localities, the chairwoman has yet to support a package of measures that would raise much-needed revenue for the state by taxing the ultra-rich,” the activists said in their report on Krueger provided to The Post.
The analysis said Krueger’s UES and Gramercy Park district has 92 constituents who make more than $100 million a year, or 80 percent of the total of similar earners in the state.
Another 1,275 of her constituents make more than $10 million a year, 60 percent of the state total, while nearly 3,000 others earn more than $5 million annually, and 14,347 rake in more than $1 million.
Billionaires who are Krueger’s constituents include Mike Bloomberg, Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, Black Rock CEO Larry Fink, financier John Paulson, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Ron Perelman and Mets owner and financier Steven Cohen
Krueger, responding to the criticism, defended her record and said she has long supported higher taxes on the wealthy. But she said any changes in taxes need to be agreed to by other Albany power players, and she is not about to negotiate any specific proposals in public.
“I have not been silent and have met with many groups supporting many different revenue proposals,’’ Krueger told The Post. “I always make clear publicly and privately that I support progressive taxation which means those who can pay more should pay more.”
The senator said her staff is vetting and evaluating all the proposals so that the Democratic majority caucus can have a discussion about “what bills we as a whole may support.
“I have explained to everyone listening that as finance chair, it is unlikely I will sign on to any individual revenue bill … I think we’re looking at 15 now. … But that does not reflect my support or my opposition to any given bill,” Krueger said.
“I respect advocates’ efforts, but I will not negotiate in public, since ultimately this will be negotiated between the two houses and the governor,” she said.
Krueger — who has criticized the DSA for pressuring New York City Council candidates to support a boycott movement against Israel — insisted she is not offended by the group’s attack on her tax stances.
But she also emphasized that she has “many friends” in these groups who “tell me” they are “very uncomfortable” that she is being targeted by once-like-minded allies.
“I explain it’s just part of the Democratic process, like when two lawyers face off against each other in court,’’ Krueger said.
“I am proud of my liberal record and commitments throughout my life, long before I was a senator. I know who I am, I know what I’m doing,” she said.
“My district just rehired me for another two years, and if anyone thinks they can do the job better, they have every right to run against me next round.”
Democrats now control all levers of New York state government, and they are on the cusp of securing a veto-proof majority in the Senate as well as the Assembly.
The super-majorities in both chambers could put pressure on Democratic three-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo to boost taxes on the wealthy to help close a yawning multibillion-dollar budget gap next year — absent a massive federal coronavirus relief package from the incoming Biden administration.
Cuomo thus far has resisted tax hikes on the rich, saying the state and city’s combined income tax rates are higher than the increase just imposed on the wealthiest residents in New Jersey.
He and some budget analysts have claimed that raising taxes too high on wealthy New Yorkers could prompt many to flee with their tax dollars. The state’s top 1 percent of income earners generate nearly one half of its income-tax revenues.
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