There is this bizarre thing happening in New Jersey. The NJEA- the state’s teacher’s union- is sponsoring a series of advertisements which portray Republican Governor Chris Christie as a friend of the dreaded millionaire to the detriment of us middle class folk and the poor. I live in New Jersey and I am certainly no millionaire. But, according to the definition of a millionaire in New Jersey, as determined by the tax code, the highest rates kick in at $400,000 of income, not $1 million. During last year’s well-publicized budget debate in Trenton, Democrats attempted to enact a surcharge on incomes over $1 million in addition to the high rates for those making in excess of $400,000 of which the legitimate millionaires were included. Leaving the highest tax rates in effect for the $400,000-$999,999 earners plus millionaires plus the surcharge was the Democratic/liberal definition of a millionaire’s tax.
One of the reasons for Christie’s veto of the Democratic proposal was that if enacted, it would drive high earners out of the state. That makes intuitive sense although a couple of in-state studies indicate that when these surcharges were first enacted in 2004 (and in some cases before that), high earners did not leave in droves as some Republicans contend. Instead, using the approximate $500 million raised towards deficit reduction and payment to pension funds was used by the Democratic legislature and Governors to fund a property tax rebate system. The fact that the state even has a property tax rebate program highlights another problem- some of the highest property tax rates in the nation, which was probably the operative factor in driving not only millionaires, but lots of other people out of New Jersey (as confirmed by the Census). The Democratic tax-the-millionaire and spend on pet projects was a tacit approval of the status quo which was high property taxes. Without fundamental reforms in property taxation- which McGreevey and Corzine ignored and Christie has begun to address- the costly and inefficient rebate system remained in effect. For example, I received a $250 check from the state to offset $3,300 in property taxes, or a 7.5% offset. That meant I could take my family to Red Lobster that week the check came in the mail. Without the property tax reform coupled and profligate spending and sweetheart public worker union deals, Christie inherited a fundamentally flawed system of which budget deficits were the most obvious symptom.
So last year, Christie vetoed, as promised, a Democratioc bill to place a surcharge on income in excess of $1 million- values at which these individuals (some 18,000 according to some counts) were already paying the highest rates in New Jersey. Today, this is being advertised and portrayed as giving millionaires a tax break. In my mind, giving them a tax break would be lowering the extablished tax rates, not allegedly taking away that which they did not have in the first place. It is such an illogical argument. It is downright liberal obfuscation of the isuue to mislead the public which is apparently working because 71% of respondents in New Jersey believe a “millionaire tax” should be adopted according some recent polls. But think: who wouldn’t say “yes” to a pollster if they knew the tax would not affect them?
Lets look at this another way. New Jersey does have some of the lowest gasoline tax rates in the country, perhaps the lowest of any non-energy producing state. Recently, some legislators in Trenton have proposed increasing the gasoline tax in New Jersey. This proposal was rejected by Christie saying, in effect, “Why can’t New Jersey have a low tax rate in something?” Does his refusal to raise the gasoline tax equate with giving a tax break to New Jersey motorists? On some level, the failure to raise a tax or to even establish a tax is a “tax break” in the minds of some. If you believe that not creating a millionaire tax is a tax break for millionaires, then you have to believe that not raising the gasoline tax is a tax break for motorists. Hence, organizations like the NJEA are clearly misleading the public. This is how the convoluted mind of the liberals actually works.
It is either that or New Jersey residents have just become so accustomed to tax increases that we have become immune to logical thought processing. We have come to expect that when a tax is not increased or created, then it must be because of some special interest group “getting a break.” In a state beset with excessive taxation, it is obvious that the Democratic legislature and the past Democratic governors in conjunction with the groups that give them their marching orders- groups like AFSCME, SEIU, and the NJEA- are playing a dangerous game of class warfare pitting “us” versus the 18,000 minority. The problem for them is that “us” are also taxpayers like the 18,000 minority- that is, there are more of “us” than there are members of the NJEA, SEIU, or AFSCME. This is what is inevitable in the mind of a liberal when they are beginning to lose the battle of commonsense and logic. They resort to name-calling and distorting facts. Christie needs to continue what he started last year which is nothing short of changing the spend, spend, and spend more mentality in Trenton.