by Rob Roper
Progressive legislators Chris Pearson (House) and Anthony Pollinia (Senate) think its time to raise taxes on the wealthiest Vermonters. The idea is to raise by 1.5% the marginal tax rate for those in the highest bracket, and by 1% the rate for those in the second highest.
The bill reportedly tacks on an average increase of $10,000 to the tax bills of those hit in the top bracket, and would raise an estimated $17 million. Keep in mind that Vermont already has one of the highest marginal tax rates in the nation at 8.95% and the nation’s most progressive tax structure. So, the “rich” in Vermont already pay more than their “fair share” in shouldering the cost of government.
But don’t worry, says Sen. Anthony Pollina (D-Washington), “We’re not increasing taxes. We’re asking the wealthy to take slightly less of the Bush tax cuts.”
There are two serious flaws with this argument. The first is the implication that when government does not tax its citizens, it is the citizens who are “taking” that money from the government.
The second is the logic that if the federal government does not levy a tax or does provide a tax cut, the state should then scoop up that money. Of course, the flip side of that proposition is that if the federal government raises a tax, the state should offset the loss of revenue to the individual with a tax cut. Somehow I don’t think Pollina or Pearson or any of their supporters would advocate for this.
So, who are these people who claim the wisdom to spend other people’s money better than they could themselves?
Pearson graduated from UVM in 1995 with a BA in psychology. He describes himself as “a political organizer” since 1998. He has worked for Bernie Sanders, the Progressive Party, and his current day job is with National Popular Vote, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation whose specific purpose is to study, analyze and educate the public regarding its proposal to implement a nationwide popular election of the President of the United States.
Pollina, a perennial Progressive candidate who finally abandoned the label and got elected to the state senate as a Democrat, lists his career highpoints on his website. They are: Senior Policy Advisor to U.S. Representative Bernie Sanders, Founder and Director of Rural Vermont, our strongest farm/rural advocacy group, and Director of VPIRG, our largest consumer, environmental organization.
Pollina leaves off his website his venture into the business world with Vermont Milk Company, which he described as a “pretty courageous effort by farmers and others to establish a different model of doing dairy business.” Pollina’s courageous new business model led to bankruptcy and a liquidation auction back in March of 2010.
Senator Dick McCormack (D-Windsor) also expressed support for the tax increase scheme at the press conference held to promote the bill. In an interview with Vermont Business Magazine, McCormack described his business as, “I am a folk singer; I’m a raconteur; I do an after-dinner program of Vermont humor; I lead a rock-and-roll band; I did radio shows at different times over the last several years. I’ve been a freelance writer.”
And, called out for recognition by Pearson, was his seatmate, Rep. Kesha Rahm (D-Burliington). Rahm is 23 years old, and the youngest member of the House. She moved to Burlington to attend UVM, and was elected while still a student. Now, when not in the legislature, she is a legal advocate for the non-profit organization, Women Helping Battered Women, assisting victims of domestic violence.
Is our money really better off in the hands of people with this level of background and experience? What jobs have they created? What wealth have they generated? But, these are the people we’re turning to when we expect government to solve a problem.