While the occupation of Zuccotti Park continues, observers are still trying to figure out what the Occupy Wall Street message is. While it seems to mostly be a BYO for agendas, with people there for everything from legalize drugs to anti-war to socialist revolutionaries, there does seem to be one constant theme – their taxes are too high and they are tired of getting screwed.
They are right, their taxes are too high and they have been getting screwed. That pretty much aligns them with the Tea Party people, with the main differences being the Tea Party people are much more coherent in their message, more respectful of authority and generally cleaner and well groomed.
The anger comes from basically the same place. However, the Tea Party knows who to point the finger of blame at and how to begin fixing the problem. The Occupy Wall Street protestors think that their lot in life will improve if only the government would substantially raise taxes on the rich. They clearly haven’t had much experience dealing with politicians or what they generally do with extra cash.
In New York, they are complaining about a so-called millionaire’s tax surcharge that is set to expire at the end of the year. They are upset that the rich will be getting what amounts to a tax cut, while they continue to be overtaxed at both the state and federal level. What they probably don’t realize is that the surcharge kicks in at only $250,000. Most professional couples in New York City earn around that much with their salaries combined, and the state considers them millionaires.
The surcharge was intended to be a temporary, stop the bleeding measure. And Governor Andrew Cuomo has rightly stood firm on not extending it beyond originally stated emergency period. Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver has countered, offering to up the threshold to $1 million. Silver said that millionaires shouldn’t be getting a tax cut while “working people” are sacrificing.
And for once Silver is right. The middle class has been abused by government and deserves real tax relief now. With the income tax, retirement tax, utility taxes, sales tax, property tax and the myriad of other taxes and fees that government extracts from us on a daily basis, it’s time we collectively said enough is enough. The Tea Party gets it, and now the Occupy people get it.
If they remain by Wall Street and continue to protest American business men, they will get great attention but little results. If they want to make real change, they should move their protest to Albany, the White House and every statehouse in the country. Then watch the politicians sweat instead of the taxpayers for a change.
Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant, blogger, and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.