Calls for a massive tax on New York’s billionaires are picking up steam after firebrand freshman Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threw her weight behind the cause.
A small group of protesters took to Manhattan streets on Friday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo pass a bill that aims to boost taxes on billionaires to create an emergency worker bailout fund for poor and undocumented New Yorkers.
The protest, albeit small, was fueled by an endorsement from Ocasio-Cortez, who expressed support for the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition on Thursday in a video calling out Cuomo.
‘Governor Cuomo, we need you to pass a billionaire’s tax, in order to make sure that we’re providing for our working families,’ Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat who represents parts of the Bronx and Queens, said in the video.
‘It’s time to stop protecting billionaires, and it’s time to start working for working families.’
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is ramping up her crusade on billionaires by backing tax on New York’s richest residents that critics fear could drive them out of the state
A small group of protesters took to Manhattan streets on Friday to demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo pass a bill that aims to boost taxes on billionaires to create an emergency worker bailout fund for poor and undocumented New Yorkers. The protest came a day after Ocasio-Cortez publicly endorsed the so called billionaires tax
Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most outspoken progressives in Congress, has trumpeted the need for higher taxes on the super-rich since she entered the political fray in 2018.
Calls to do so have only heightened during the coronavirus pandemic, as the nation’s wealthiest people have seen their net worth balloon while tens of millions of Americans were laid off.
According to the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition, New York’s 118 billionaires have increased their wealth by $44.9billion over the course of the pandemic.
The coalition has argued that that wealth should be taxed much more thoroughly, with the money redistributed to aid illegal immigrants and other New York residents excluded from coronavirus emergency federal assistance.
State Sen Jessica Ramos has submitted a bill proposing a tax that would generate $5.5billion from the wealthy. The bill is expected to be considered as soon as the state legislature returns on Monday.
People hold signs during a protest put together by community groups and labor organizations calling on New York State to implement a new tax on billionaires to help supplement income lost by people who are unable to receive unemployment benefits in New York City on Friday
The protesters carried signs touting the hashtag #MakeBillionairesPay, which went viral after Ocasio-Cortez tweeted a video calling for the tax on New York’s uber-rich residents
Friday’s protest began in Madison Square Park, where Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and one of Ocasio-Cortez’s favorite billionaire targets, spent $96million creating his dream home.
The group then made their way up to Cuomo’s offices in Midtown while carrying signs with the words ‘Make Billionaires Pay’ and ‘Bail out workers – not billionaires’.
‘They take and take and take from our city and do not contribute, proportionally,’ Molly Glenn, a 34-year-old protester who works in construction, told Bloomberg.
‘You want to have an apartment here. You want to say that you are a member of the greatest city in the country. You should have to support the city.’
Cuomo has repeatedly expressed opposition to the creation of a billionaire tax, including after Ocasio-Cortez’s video came out on Thursday.
The governor said he agrees with business advocates who say that such a tax would drive billionaires out of the state.
‘If they want a tax increase, don’t make New York alone do a tax increase, then they just have the people move to Connecticut,’ Cuomo said Thursday.
‘Let the federal government pass a tax increase. And let them apply it all across the country, so you don’t hurt any one state.
‘Because if you take people who are highly mobile, and you tax them, well then they’ll just move next door where the tax treatment is simpler. It has to be done on a federal level.’
In apparent reference to Ocasio-Cortez and fellow progressives, he added: ‘I’d like to see those officials demanding that Washington do what it needs to do to help New York and the other states.’
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly expressed opposition to a billionaire tax, including after Ocasio-Cortez’s video came out Thursday. The governor said he agrees with business advocates who say that such a tax would drive billionaires out of the state
The Partnership for New York City, a top business advocacy claim, released a report on Friday outlining the likelihood that billionaires will leave the state if a wealth tax is implemented.
‘Stabilization of the tax revenue base to avoid further losses should be the first objective in a recovery plan … The idea of raising tax rates on the highest earners could have the effect of creating further losses,’ the report states.
‘The top 1 percent of earners who currently account for almost 40 percent of state tax revenues are highly mobile.
‘Many relocated to other locations during the pandemic and, after five months working remotely, some may consider permanent residence outside the city or state.’
The report noted that about five percent of mostly-wealthy New York City residents temporarily left the city during the pandemic, warning: ‘If this pattern holds, the tax losses facing the state and city will be extended.’
Carl Icahn, a Wall Street icon and lifelong resident of New York whose net worth is estimated at $18.3billion, had already threatened to leave the city months before the latest calls for a billionaires tax.
Icahn said last September that he was planning to relocate both his home and his business to Florida to avoid New York’s high taxes.
In its report the Partnership for New York City suggested that consumption and sales taxes as a better method for boosting the state’s revenue without alienating its wealthiest residents.
However, advocates for the billionaires tax say that such measures will only hurt low-income residents that are already struggling.
Ocasio-Cortez and the Fund Excluded Workers Coalition recently gained a potentially powerful ally in Jamaal Bowman, who toppled long-term Representative Eliot Engel in a Democratic primary last week.