Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Revolting Times

In a classic NY Times editorial today, the paper excoriates-the voters-for their temerity in getting rid of Nassau's County Executive Tom Suozzi and Westchester's Andy Spano over those county's high tax rates: "Thomas Suozzi has just lost his job, voted out as Nassau County executive by about 380 votes in an election that turned on voters’ frustration and anger about high property taxes. It was a victory for free-form anxiety, but a loss for Nassau County, whose tax-weary residents went after the wrong target."

OK, but what exactly is the right target is never really fully explained by the Times-except perhaps for the paper blaming long gone Republican leaders and regimes that are apparently the root causes of the current fiscal mess. And the Times finds this to be true even in New Jersey: "Decades of Republican majorities in Nassau County kept taxes down by borrowing and borrowing until the crisis exploded. Mr. Corzine fell into a hole created by the reckless borrowing and tax-cutting of the state’s last Republican governor, Christine Todd Whitman."

But incredibly, the high tax rates themselves-a function of state and local levies combined-isn't seen as problematic by the Times in its attack on, "A Misguided Tax Revolt." In fact, the Times sees the anti-tax platform as too simplistic: "The Republicans took the simplistic path to success, railing against taxes to turn voters’ pain into votes. But their logic was grossly misplaced. Nassau’s property taxes are crushingly high, but the county portion of the bill, Mr. Suozzi’s responsibility, is only about 16 percent. More than 60 percent goes to school districts, whose bloated budgets voters routinely support. Twenty percent pays for a galaxy of special taxing entities, like garbage districts and fire departments, that voters have never seen fit to consolidate or close..."

We wonder why the paper doesn't understand that these local electeds were seen as standard bearers for the entire high tax regimes in both New York and New Jersey-and that the coming revolt may very well make the ouster of Spano, Suozzi and Corzine look mild in comparison. But why should the Times understand this when it writes a long editorial on campaign finance and Albany dysfunction without mentioning the state's high tax environment and the role of the Working Families Party in its sustenance.

And so it concludes its voter ignorance screed on the folowing note-warning the electorate that what they are looking for is not in their own best interests: "Voters in these areas should hope their newly elected leaders don’t actually try to keep their promises." What, not enough New Yorkers are making their way to the exits?