Sunday, August 19, 2007

Diplomatically Taxing Congestion-Not!

When Mayor Bloomberg announced his congestion taxing scheme in April he told one and all that, except for emergency vehicles, taxis, and handicapped drivers, everyone would have to pay-including diplomats. Well, not so fast. As the NY Post reports this morning, it now appears that State Department pressure has removed diplomats-you know, New York's favorite scofflaws-from having to pay the fee. Diplomats already owe NYC around $18 million in unpaid parking fines.

What got us going here was the fact that our government is fighting the attempt by the city of London to collect $3 million it says that the US owes because of that city's congestion charges. As the Post says; "The State Department-currently locked in a bitter battle with the city of London over $3 million in unpaid congestion fees and fines American diplomats have racked up there-has argued that congestion pricing amounts to a tax. And under the Geneva Conventions, the agency maintains, foreign governments don't pay taxes." (added emphasis)

So it takes the US government to label this congestion plan for what it really is-a tax on the middle class of the city, a tax that all of our free loader diplomats will be able to avoid so that the State Department can save some money. As Josh Beinstock, speaking for the Committee to Keep NYC Congestion Tax Free, says; "It is galling that an Iranian diplomat could pay nothing while a senior citizen from Bayside would be charged to go for cancer treatment at a Manhattan hospital."

The more we are able to see behind the smoke and mirrors involving the congestion tax, the more we can see just how the costs of this plan will burden some of the most taxed people in this country-homeowners, small business folks, and outer borough working people who are apparently the forgotten class when it comes to the policy making of this administration.