Getting Turned Around with Progressive Tax Policies

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This story out of Seattle provides a teachable moment on the craziness of the progressive approach to tax policy:

The Seattle City Council will once again consider an employee hours tax that’s being recommended by its Progressive Revenue Task Force, after having rejected such a proposal last November.

Rather than approving the proposal last year, which was projected to generate about $25 million annually by taxing businesses grossing more than $10 million annually 6.5 cents per employee per hour, the council decided to create the PRTF to further explore an employee hours tax, or head tax, and other possible new revenue streams.

The PRTF provides three options for an employee hours tax (EHT) in its recently published final report for generating $75 million in new revenue for creating affordable housing and providing emergency services. It provides several more recommendations for the city council to consider for generating another $75 million in new revenue for $150 million total, which the task force states is still grossly inadequate when dealing with the city’s homelessness crisis, but is a “solid start.”

Even on the progressives’ own terms, this is crazy.  So, a city has a problem with homelessness, and this “task force” thinks the solution is to increase the cost of employing people in the city by up to $150,000,000.

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Employment and prosperity are the answers.  Incentives function by making it easier for people to do the thing you want while making it more difficult for them to do the things you don’t.  Now, we can certainly argue about the appropriate amount of meddling for government at each tier (local, state, and federal), but we should at least agree that incentive structures should point in the correct direction.

This would be like taxing gym memberships in order to fund obesity programs or taxing vaping products in order to fund smoking cessation activities.

It’s difficult not to conclude that progressives don’t much care how they get money for government; they just want more of it.  They may not even care all that much about what government does with its windfalls, as long as it’s government that gets to do the doing.



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