New Jersey Working Families should be applauded for bringing bread and butter issues back under the noses of the sex and social issue obsessed Democrats who run the Legislature. For too many years now, when told of high unemployment, rising foreclosure, the lack of job opportunities, or the high level of child poverty, men like Steve Sweeney would adopt their "progressive" stance, point to their "conversion" on same-sex marriage, and then rush out to Hollywood to pocket a big sweaty wad of gay money. It's a good thing when someone reminds these Democrats that there are a whole lot of working people and people who want to work who are living in the crapper and the highly-touted "bi-partisan" stuff that Democrats like Sweeney like to brag about hasn't done a whole hell of a lot to make a difference.
Now for the criticism. New Jersey Working Families is at the center of the debate over whether or not to link an increase in New Jersey's gas tax with a reduction of the state's estate and inheritance taxes. The group is concerned about what they call the "inherent unfairness" of such a deal. As John Reitmeyer wrote in yesterday's NJ Spotlight: "That’s because an increase of the gas tax will consume a bigger percentage of a low-wage worker’s income compared to those who make a lot of money, and the wealthy stand to gain the most from lowering the estate and inheritance taxes."
The NJ Spotlight story carried this quote from Analilia Mejia, the executive director of New Jersey Working Families: "The idea that somehow this tradeoff is fair, is tax fairness . . . is in our eyes preposterous... To us, this concept basically boils down to the premise of a future tax cut when you die that most New Jerseyans will never actually see." Ms. Mejia made her comments during a news conference held in the State House yesterday.
We understand Ms. Mejia's frustration. There are many in New Jersey who got rich by gaming the system. Others by treating their workers like dogs and their customers like dopes. Crony capitalism, corporate welfare, fraud, waste, and abuse of the taxpayer. And there will be no justice for these people. You can't build a wall and chain them to the bedrock of New Jersey. Make their lives difficult and they will go on living their good lives -- somewhere other than New Jersey. You crave justice, but you are not going to get it. You'll just make things worse for those who can't move.
The rich can always move. And when enough rich people move you will begin to see shortfalls in income tax collections. Taxes on spending will suffer too -- and then there goes your safety net. At a time of high unemployment and growing dependency, New Jersey needs high earners to provide the life support that others depend on.
There is no loyalty to the state of New Jersey in the way there is to the nation of the United States. Even top members of the political class who structured the high-tax, low-job creation, corporate crony playground that New Jersey is, bolt to low-tax states when they get the chance -- and their pension checks and spending follows them. Case in point: Former Democrat Speaker Joe Roberts (D-Norcross).
According to figures provided by the Internal Revenue Service (that's President Barack Obama's IRS) over the last ten years those leaving New Jersey have taken $19 billion more income away with them than the those moving into New Jersey have brought with them. This is called net outflow -- and a $19 billion net outflow allowed to grow at the same rate, year by year, will in time kill New Jersey's ability to fund a safety net. And then where will Working Families be?
It may be galling not to indulge, but Working Families shouldn't let class hatred get in the way of common sense. We need the rich... well, their money anyway.