California Progress Report columnist Peter Schrag has a must-read post today examining how the current state budget debate has been horrifically impacted by Grover Norquist.
As Grover Norquist, the small government “starve the beast” head of Americans for Tax Reform, threatens to destroy Republicans who vote to put Brown’s taxes on the ballot, many of us are reluctantly pushing for preservation of the half-starved beast that Norquistism has already left us with.
Schrag utilizes California Budget Report data to show just how skewed away from the poor and middle class the budget deal is.
California’s lowest-income families – those in the bottom fifth – pay the largest share of their income in state and local taxes; those in the top 1 percent pay the lowest percentage. In the past 20 years, that top 1 percent has enjoyed far and away the largest gains in income, up 81 percent between 1987 and 2008 in constant dollars, compared to a loss of 11 percent in the bottom fifth and similar losses in all other groups below the top fifth.
Similarly, as the CBP analysis points out, our tax system has become both more unfair and more irrational. In the past decade total state net income of corporations has increased by 192 percent but corporate tax liability is up by just 69 percent; in the same period total adjusted gross income of personal income taxpayers increased by 16 percent while personal income tax liability increased by 24 percent. The top-bracket tax cut extensions that Republicans extorted from Barack Obama in December will save California’s highest earners — those in the top 1 percent — $14 billion a year.
There is no doubt that the choices facing our legislators are horribly difficult. But we must not minimize how Norquistism and supermajority vote requirements have led to even the best-case scenarios leaving such a negative impact on so many of our residents.