Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants Gov. Cuomo to get in touch with his inner Robin Hood.
The progressive congresswoman called on Cuomo Thursday to get onboard with a soak-the-rich tax plan that would siphon wealth from the state’s billionaires and redistribute it to working-class New Yorkers suffering from coronavirus-related economic hardships.
“We need to ask Gov. Cuomo to tax the people who are benefiting from this pandemic in order to support the working families who are facing housing insecurity, food insecurity and more,” Ocasio-Cortez, who represents predominantly low-income swaths of Queens and the Bronx, said in a campaign-like video released by Make the Road NY, a progressive advocacy group.
The Make the Road video also features Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, State Sen. Jessica Ramos and a number of other local pols pushing for a billionaires’ tax in New York.
At the forefront of the left-wing campaign is a bill introduced by Ramos that would change the law in such a way that the state’s 118 billionaires would have to pay income tax on their unrealized capital gains. Currently, such investment gains are tax exempt.
Under Ramos’ bill, the cash raked in from New York’s billionaires would establish a “worker bailout fund,” from which people who don’t qualify for federal unemployment benefits can get as much as $3,300 per month if they have lost their jobs or otherwise suffered financially during the pandemic. The bill is set to be considered when the State Legislature returns next week.
In a follow-up tweet to the Make the Road video, Ocasio-Cortez suggested it’s Cuomo’s responsibility to make sure billionaires in New York still pay their fair share, since President Trump’s signature tax legislation gave them a tax break.
“If Trump cut their taxes, NY should pick them up,” she wrote.
But Cuomo suggested the buck doesn’t stop with him.
“If they want a tax increase, don’t make New York alone do a tax increase and just have the people move to Connecticut,” Cuomo said on a call with reporters Thursday morning. “If you take people who are highly mobile and you tax them, then they’ll just move next door where the tax treatment is simpler. It has to be done on a federal level.”
Cuomo, whose consent is ultimately mandatory for the proposed tax hike to become law, said House Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez should play hardball with Trump and Senate Republicans instead of going after him.
“Democrats control the House,” Cuomo said. “Let Democrats stand united and say, ‘We won’t pass another piece of legislation for you, President Trump, until you provide the funds to help the poorest Americans.’ That’s what they should be doing.”
Ivet Contreras, a spokeswoman for Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign, said a national billionaires’ tax is practically impossible with Trump in the White House.
“Our immigrant families need help now,” Contreras said. “Billionaires have long threatened to move out of the state due to higher taxes but the reality is that the highest concentration of billionaires in the country remain in California and New York.”
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