Where's the "tax the rich" move in SF?


Warren Buffett may have actually set off a movement with his NY Times oped calling for higher taxes on the rich. That's what Carla Marinucci, who is not known as a socialist radical, reports today in the Chronicle. 

Billionaire Warren Buffett may not seem to have much in common with angry laborers at town hall meetings or armies of California nurses protesting in the streets.

But these days, the executive celebrity in his boardroom and working folks on the front lines have found a common mantra as the economy continues to sputter and the 2012 election approaches: "Tax the rich."

It's a great time to be talking about this -- The Institute for Policy Studies just released a report showing that a lot of major corporations paid their CEOs more money last year than they paid in federal taxes. And as the economy continues to sputter, voters are going to keep asking why the rich are doing so well and the rest of us are doing worse and worse.

So let's make this the center of the mayor's race in San Francisco.

The nurse's union is taking on the tax issue directly. The nurses' candidate for mayor of San Francisco, Leland Yee, doesn't even mention "taxes" on his list of issues in the race.

Progressive leader John Avalos talks about bringing in $40 million in new revenue, and he has told me many times that he supports taxing the rich. But those words aren't on his issues page, either. Phil Ting supports repealing part of Prop. 13, but his website talks only of bringing in new revenue without raising taxes. David Chiu wants to reform the business tax, which is a good idea -- but again, the word "tax" isn't on his issue list, and there's nothing about the rich at all. Bevan Dufty? Nothing about taxes at all. Ed Lee? Zero.

The only leading candidate whose website actually mentions tax reform as a leading issue is Dennis Herrera, who mentions repealing the payroll tax and holding a "tax summit." His analysis of the payroll tax is dubious, but at least he uses the word "fair." He doesn't, however, use the word "rich."

So here was have the mainstream of the Democratic Party and even ol' Nancy Pelosi talking about making the wealthy pay their fair share, and in San Francisco, which is supposed to be the most liberal big city in America, it's not even on the agenda.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a problem?



Tax reform is important, but we should not ignore the question of HOW some people are getting SO rich. What is it about our economic system that allows a single person to amass such a large amount of money? Taxing the income after it's earned is certainly helpful, but maybe we should be considering why the income is so high to begin with and what we can do about it. We should be reforming corporate governance and management. Broken corporate governance and management is what is allowing this to happen in the first place.

Posted by Dawdler on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 12:36 pm

Left to their own devices, most corporate elites simply will not institute or comply with the reforms you suggest.

We need much simpler mechanisms such as phasing in (over a few decades to ease the transition) of strong caps on income and property ownership (both in dollars and cubic feet) such that eventually no one makes more than $250k a year and everyone has a decent home and enough room to live comfortably.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

nor a Constitutional basis for arbitrary caps on salaries or ownership. You might like to see such confiscatory policies but there is no legal basis to implement them in this country. It would be a Government "taking".

The closest you can get is to levy taxes at close to 100% on such incomes and assets. And indeed, we had something like that before the tax reforms of the 1980's. But that has little to do with San Francisco since such taxes are only levied at the Federal and State levels. And there is almost no appetite for such socialist policies in this country.

So it would be better to focus on what the City can do, than talk about pie-in-the-blue-sky thinking. It ain't gonna happen.

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

been discussed ehre many times. Effectively SF has very few options to introduce or raise taxes. Why?

City/County Income Tax - illegal under State law.

City/County Capital Gains Tax - illegal under State law.

City/County Wealth Tax - illegal under State law.

City/County Sales Tax - capped and easily avoided, since there are three other counties within 10 miles

Property Tax - capped under Prop 13

Payroll Tax - the one tax SF can apply but is a total job killer - just look at TwitterGate

RE Transfer Tax - want to kill an RE market already in it's death throes?

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

Tim Redmond, I hope you will join with me in calling on the city to tax the cannabis capitalists.

Under the guise of selling "medical marijuana" to "patients," the cannabis capitalists have in fact tapped into a market of thousands of stoners, to whom they sell recreational pot. Most of these capitalists pay no taxes and keep no publicly available records.

There is a huge reservoir of potential tax money here. Let's tap into it to help the city save basic services.

By the way, check out their high-priced ads in the back pages of the print issue of The Guardian.

These guys are loaded with money!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

Terry Baum, the Green Party candidate for Mayor is indeed saying loudly and clearly that we need to tax the rich.

In a ranked choice election, the idea of prematurely declaring 'leading' candidates (as you just did above) is incredibly dubious (especially when some of those 'leading' candidates are still in -single- digits in the polls)

So in San Francisco, the apparently Democrat co-opted press (including the Guardian) unfathomably continues to ignore Baum's candidacy.

So, is it the fault of -candidates- that the discussion on taxing the rich is not happening?

Or is it perhaps -also- equally the fault of an all too liberal (rather than radical) media...?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

Looking it over, I see it's all about what he's done in the past and nothing about what he'll do if elected mayor. With election season little more than a month away, it starts on October 10, I hope the Avalos campaign puts a out a few policy papers for the voters to read, about his plans for the future if he makes it to Room 200 at City Hall.

Posted by MPetrelis on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

See Prop G.

Oh, those wonderful progressives...

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

Actually Bevan Dufty brags about giving corporate tax cuts - ie the twitter tax cut - on his website.

Posted by mark snyder on Sep. 01, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

it can prevent a job being lost or relocated out of the City, as with Twitter.

Posted by PaulT on Sep. 02, 2011 @ 1:32 am

I'm down. But how about giving the one candidate who IS talking about taxing the RICH some ink, eh? That candidate is Terry Baum.

Posted by Lisa on Sep. 02, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

"So in San Francisco, the apparently Democrat co-opted press (including the Guardian) unfathomably continues to ignore Baum's candidacy."

- Eric Brooks

Granted, The Guardian and other papers should include Terry Baum as part of their umbrella pieces on the fringe candidates. But why would any paper give her any more attention than that?

The Green Party has imploded in SF. Terry Baum barely scores in the polls. Her advocates antagonize everyone who isn't already on her bandwagon.

If she were a serious contender, she would be reviving the Greens, doing better in the polls, and finding advocates who are intelligent and articulate.

As it is, she will soon be as irrelevant to SF politics as Krissy Keefer. Eric Brooks is helping push her to this sodden fate, just as h brown did to Krissy Keefer.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 04, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

Eric Brooks has nothing to do with Terry Baum's political fortunes. If anything, he's helping to bring attention to her candidacy. She barely scores in the polls because she can't get any press, not to mention that she has been systematically excluded from the debates. This is about power and corruption of the electoral process. Brooks is the least of Baum's worries.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

Guest, you say:

“Eric Brooks has nothing to do with Terry Baum's political fortunes.”

That’s like saying Rose Pak has nothing to do with Ed Lee’s fortunes. Or that Chris Daly, if he should start channeling his inner Godzilla in the current campaign, would have nothing to do with John Avalos’ fortunes.

When Eric Brooks goes around stomping on toes on behalf of Terry Baum, people don’t ask “What is Terry Baum’s platform?” They ask “Is Terry Baum as lacking in social skills as Eric Brooks?”

There’s no way that this can help Baum.

You say:

“She barely scores in the polls because she can't get any press.”

You have it backwards. She doesn’t get any press because she barely scores in the polls.

You say:

“This is about power and corruption of the electoral process.”

This is about Terry Baum’s irrelevance to the electoral process.

You say:

“Brooks is the least of Baum's worries.”

You’re right that even without Brooks, Baum would still be nowhere now. But Brooks guarantees that she’ll never be more than nowhere.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Sep. 04, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

If Warren Buffet is calling for 'shared sacrifice', this is a golden opportunity to make our own demands. Call or write your reps and demand that corporations, hedge funds and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of taxes. No more loopholes and tax havens! And tell them that you back Barbara Lee's demand for "$500 billion in direct federal investment in job creation and training to be paid for by closing the Bush tax cuts." We do not have to accept the inevitable decline of the economy with the collapse of workers' wages and pensions, nor the gutting of Social Security and Medicare. The movement to tax the rich is gearing up all over the country. The time to resist is now!

Posted by Lisa on Sep. 04, 2011 @ 5:35 pm

Yeah well, many people are "resisting now," particularly at the White House and being arrested for doing so....being arrested for protesting at the White House (google: Hundreds arrested protesting the Oil Sands Pipeline). Now mind you, George W Bush is not in office any longer....well technically he's not. This is under Mr Change We Can Believe In. Naomi Klein was arrested yesterday. The head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies was arrested a couple of days before. One cannot protest at the White House. Isn't it supposedly The People's House?...Yeah right...It's the house representing the corporations, the Pentagon and oil companies et al....Not we the people. Most of these people in positions of power don't give a fuck what any of us think and they have made that quite clear to anyone who's been paying attention.

Posted by QUEER-Boy Jorge Orwell 1984 on Sep. 04, 2011 @ 6:08 pm

"The system counts on you to believe that you’re powerless, but nobody is enslaved until he or she buys into it. The first step is knowledge. The second is resistance. Resistance is still possible in this police state, but no one can say for how long. To block Exxon in this deal is to start breaking chains." ~Lanny Colter & Paul Edwards

Posted by Lisa on Sep. 06, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

A friend sent me this link:

More from Mr Change We Can Believe In:

"Obama nominates opponent of minimum wage, and unemployment insurance to council of economic advisors"


(Is anyone surprised? Some people are finally realizing---man, some people are damn slow---that this guy Obama is not "progressive" or "moderate." Oh really? That's why some of us voted for Nader and McKinney.)

Posted by QUEER-Boy Jorge Orwell 1984 on Sep. 06, 2011 @ 12:44 am

but I took a close look at Obama's record, and cast my vote for McKinney. I think that the Hopesters who supported Obama were looking at the fascist Bush administration, thinking that anyone had to be better than Bush. Of course, they were wrong. Fortunately, Obama supporters are finally waking up to the fact that Obama is every bit as bad as Bush was. November 2012 could be very interesting. Think about what just happened in Canada's general election this year.

As Greg Kamin put it, "Imagine for a minute a day when the tattered remnants of the Democratic Party can do no better than play spoiler to the Greens. Imagine that ordinary citizens get elected to congress who run no campaign, and themselves never imagined that they could win. Imagine waitresses, teachers, and undergraduate college students suddenly finding they’d been elected to Congress. Hard to imagine, eh? Well, this is not some wild-eyed fantasy. This is the scale of the tsunami that just happened in Canada. And those who demonize progressives for not being sufficiently loyal to the duopoly would do well to pay attention. And the most amazing thing? Nobody saw it coming."


Posted by Lisa on Sep. 06, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

Part of your link complains that the subject in the article was not clairvoyant.

Posted by meatlock on Sep. 06, 2011 @ 7:48 am