Friday, December 14, 2007

Traffic Tax LOBOtomy

In this morning's NY Sun, the perspicacious Andrew Wolf deconstructs the congestion plan and finds, what else, a scheme to tax New Yorkers. But, as he points out, the plan manages at the same time to do its taxing of the locals while sparing the out-of-towners: "The plan, as currently conceived, will deduct the cost of tolls from the congestion levy. This is called "The-New-York-Politicians-Reward-New-Jersey-and-Punish-New-Yorkers" plan. Eventually a savvy driver from upper Manhattan or points further north will cross the George Washington Bridge into Fort Lee, fill his gas tank with lower-taxed, bargain-priced Jersey gasoline, and return to New York having saved $10 or so."

To make a bad situation worse, something that is real easy when the Billionaire's club gets together, the tax hits the city middle income drivers hardest: "If Jersey drivers are winners, who are the losers? According to the city's Independent Budget Office, it will be middle class residents of the city's outer boroughs, those earning in the neighborhood of $40,000 a year. I submit that they are as entitled to shop in Manhattan as much as the smirking New Jerseyan."

Which is why all of the tweaking in the world will amount to little more than, in Richard Brodsky's words, "putting lipstick on a pig." Or, to mix the metaphor: "if it walks like a tax, and talks like a tax..." Well, you get the picture here. Fee fie fo fum, this is a tax that's headed to the dustbin of history.