Balance the Budget by Taxing Billionaires? God Forbid!!
By John F. Miglio
Recently, I did the unthinkable! At a town hall meeting in Sacramento hosted by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, I proposed an easy way to balance the $26 billion California budget deficit without raising taxes on average citizens and without making any budget cuts.
The idea for my proposal came to me when I read in Forbes Magazine that California is home to 80 billionaires. California resident Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, alone is worth $27 billion. And if you add up the collective net worth of the other 79 super rich Californians, it comes out to over $232 billion.
Thus, the proposal I made at the meeting was quite simple: Impose a 10% surtax on the 80 billionaires who live in California and the budget could be balanced without making any cuts (actually the total figure falls a few billion short, but I was rounding off to keep it simple). What could be easier and fairer? A billionaire or multibillionaire could easily give up 10% of his net worth without changing his lifestyle one iota.
When I made the proposal Steinberg rolled his eyes, and with few exceptions, everyone else in the room-- most of whom were just average folks-- looked at me as if I were crazy. You can't do that! You can't expect billionaires to pay extra taxes to help out in a financial crisis! Yet somehow it's OK to increase tuition fees for college students or cut salaries for state workers, but ask billionaires to kick in a little extra for the good of the state--God forbid!
And that's the real tragedy! Americans have become so brainwashed over the past 30 years by "free market think" they actually believe that taxing the wealthy is not only off limits, but un-American!
In Wisconsin, the loathsome Republican governor of the state, Scott Walker, would rather cut pensions and benefits of workers and destroy the rights of unions to collectively bargain than to even consider raising taxes on the rich. Ditto for John Boehner and the Republicans in Congress. No taxes on the rich! Period!!