Progressive Caucus Releases Statements on Mayor’s Support of Bush Tax Cuts & Tuesday’s State Budget Agreement

The Progressive Caucus of the NYC Council released two joint statements this evening, one regarding Mayor Bloomberg’s support of extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, and the other responding to Tuesday’s New York State budget agreement.  Both statements can be viewed below:

STATEMENT BY PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS ON MAYOR BLOOMBERG’S SUPPORT OF EXTENDING BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY

New York, NY – “We are deeply disappointed with Mayor Bloomberg’s recent comments in support of extending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  We find this position irresponsible and urge the Mayor to reconsider his position and join with President Obama and the Progressive Caucus in calling on Congress to let these unfair and unnecessary tax cuts expire this year.

Mayor Bloomberg’s arguments for the tax cuts represent both an ideologically driven view of how the economy works, and a deeply unfair perspective on who should bear the responsibility for supporting the services all Americans rely on.

Mayor Bloomberg claims that extending these tax cuts would be an excellent way to help revive the economy. However, the Congressional Budget Office has reported that, measured by the resulting growth in GDP, extending the Bush tax cuts is actually the least effective way to boost economic growth. Instead, they recommend tools like extending unemployment benefits, expanding temporary aid to states and localities, and providing job-creating tax credits that put money in the hands of middle and low income Americans who are more likely to spend it. Far from hampering economic growth, higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans have also been correlated with the fastest period of growth in a generation: the 1990s.

We find it puzzling that the Mayor would advocate for continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in the face of this evidence. If the Mayor is really in search of “long-term solutions”, he had look no further than reducing our federal deficit, a large part of which is due to the Bush tax cuts – and would only become worse by making these cuts permanent.

The Mayor’s program of budget cuts is in itself an anti-stimulus program.  We need Congress to overcome Republican obstruction and pass much-needed federal aid to states and municipalities, rather than the alternative: worsening unemployment by laying off teachers, closing libraries, and cutting mass transit.

As we struggle to emerge from the worst economic downturn in a generation, with millions of New Yorkers still struggling to make ends meet, we also urge the Mayor to consider that the wealthiest Americans should do their part and pay their fair share. Returning taxes on the wealthiest to their pre-Bush era levels is a small price to pay so that all Americans can survive in this difficult economic climate.”

STATEMENT BY PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS ON TUESDAY’S STATE BUDGET AGREEMENT

New York, NY – “While we are pleased that Governor Paterson and the State Legislature have finally arrived at an agreement on this year’s budget, we were disappointed to learn that the revenue deal hinged on regressive sales taxes that spared hedge funds and New York’s wealthiest residents from making extra sacrifices during these difficult times.

Lower- and middle-income New Yorkers are already bearing the brunt of this economic crisis, being those most negatively impacted by unemployment, the foreclosure crisis and harmful budget cuts at the state and local levels.  In suspending the sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear under $110, New York State is putting an additional burden on these families as well as on our already-struggling local retailers, who could see some of their business go across the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey, where apparel is sold tax-free.

Comments made by the Governor yesterday, which presented a false choice between the clothing sales tax and his proposal for a sweetened beverage tax, ignore the fact that Wall Street and the wealthiest residents of our state are simply not being asked to put in their fair share.  This budget not only maintains the hedge fund tax loophole, but it also maintains the status quo on New York City’s Personal Income Tax structure, which taxes city families who make $90,000 per year at the same rate as those who make $9 million.  Putting in two additional tax brackets at the city-level would have generated over $1 billion this year alone.

We are very encouraged by reports that the U.S. Congress is moving toward passage of a bill that would provide much-needed aid to states and municipalities.  It is our hope that this aid will help offset the painful cuts and regressive taxes that have come out of this year’s State budget agreement, and that looking ahead, both the City and State will consider more forward-thinking approaches to balancing our budget.”

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