Why Andrew Cuomo Should Proudly Tax the Rich

Photo: Chris Hondros/2010 Getty Images

Governor Andrew Cuomo is trying to find a way to revamp the state’s tax structure so that it distributes the pain more fairly, creates jobs, and generates more revenue. Good for him. Even better would be if Cuomo came right out and said this: Yes, I’m going to raise taxes on New York’s wealthiest. It isn’t breaking a promise to say things have changed. We made massive budget cuts last year and still have a $3 billion deficit, and the economy remains stalled. Our most fortunate residents can handle a tiny increase and they know that this is responsible leadership. 

The Post’s editorial page would howl, but then it already is howling, and Cuomo has merely hinted at his possible plans this week. Directness would score points with lots of other folks, however, like the thousands of citizens across the state who are seeing schools grow more crowded and food pantry lines lengthen. Then again, Cuomo has so far shown himself to be a deft Albany strategist, so maybe he’s right to finesse this subject — and by tackling the larger tax code he could avoid becoming bogged down in a fight over extending the millionaire’s tax. Yet showing some progressive guts on the substance of tax code reform is especially important given another element of the Cuomo economic agenda: his apparent willingness to legalize more casinos. Never mind the moral costs and inevitable political corruption involved — gambling is essentially a regressive tax. If New York is going to inflict more slot machines on its masses, surely the state’s 1 percent can spare a few coins too.