January 2012

From the Officers
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Calling Their Bluff on Taxes

I don't know if Tamara Keith, a reporter for National Public Radio, thought she was calling a bluff when she asked Republican House and Senate leaders to supply names of those individuals who would be hurt by a "millionaires surtax" that was proposed by Democrats to help pay for extending the payroll tax holiday through 2012.

One would think her request would be met with a pile of names. After all, Republicans have been preaching for years — with pious certainty — that increasing taxes on the wealthy would hurt business investment and job creation.

Well, guess what? They came up with a big goose egg. That's right, no names for NPR to talk to. Being a conscientious reporter, Keith then called a group opposed to the surtax called the Tax Relief Coalition and asked for names. The group said they couldn't find anyone who would want to talk about their personal taxes on national radio. Another goose egg.

Keith wasn't giving up. She asked people on Facebook how they would be affected by the "millionaires surtax."

Finally, she got some rap from several men and women with deep pockets and handbags. Like Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management, a boutique firm in White Plains, N.Y., that has done a lot of hiring in the last few years. Yankwitt, who manages $200 million in investments, told Keith: "[The surtax] is not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business hire."

Also chiming in on Facebook was Jason Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global design-build contractor. Burger's business is booming. He says, of the surtax, "It's only fair that I put back into the system that is the entire reason for my success."

Well, well, well. Every time our unions and other progressive organizations call for increasing taxes on the wealthy, a small measure toward a shared prosperity in America, the kind of successful system Jason Burger is talking about, we are accused of engaging in "class warfare" and hurting job creation. But even some of the top 1 percent don't feel a bit under siege.

If our nation is going to recover from our current economic crisis, we need more Americans to see through the smokescreen that was so brilliantly blown away by this report.


Also: Chilia: Going on the Offense in 2012

Edwin D. Hill
International President