Democrats have a reputation for loving the idea of raising taxes — especially taxes on the well-to-do. They promote class-warfare arguments calling for the government to "tax the rich" and to make the wealthy "pay their fair share."
Naturally, far-left New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio fits into that stereotype.
This is the mayor who reminded his subjects in December that "our mission is to redistribute wealth," adding that "a lot of people bristle at that phrase, that is, in fact, the phrase we need to use."
He said something similar in August when he made a plea for "taxing the rich and redistributing their money even as the Big Apple reels from a coronavirus-induced budget crisis that's already caused well-heeled New Yorkers to head for the hills."
Hizzoner further urged Gothamites, "Help me tax the wealthy. Help me redistribute wealth. Help me build affordable housing in white communities if you want desegregation," adding, "What changes things is redistribution of wealth. Tax the wealthy at a much higher level."
But in all of this, de Blasio has refused to define whom he considers to be "wealthy" or who would qualify as "rich" under his imagined tax plan.
So it should come as no surprise that while taking part in a New York state Senate budget hearing, the mayor reiterated his plea to "tax the rich" but when pressed by a fellow Democrat on who would qualify as "rich" under his plan, he failed to offer any specifics.
De Blasio told Democratic state Sen. Jim Gaughran on Thursday, "What I think, is for millionaires and billionaires, there should be higher taxes, particularly for billionaires," the New York Post reported.
Having the same question many people probably have — especially those who might get caught in the mayor's "tax the rich" net — Gaughran pressed for clarity, asking, "One of the questions I have for you, in terms of if you are looking to the suggestion that we raise taxes on the wealthy. Could you further define that? Who do you define as wealthy and what tax rate should we raise, if it was up to you?"
The mayor, saying he wanted to be "straightforward," offered an unclear answer, "Couple of straightforward points — I think billionaires in particular is where I'd put a lot of the emphasis—"
At that point, the Post said, Sen. Gaughran interrupted to push the mayor to be more clear, asking, "You said billionaires, a billionaire — somebody who has a billion dollars or somebody that makes a billion dollars? Or are you looking at a certain — What would be the annual figure you would look at that you think somebody should make?"
De Blasio didn't have an answer and said simply, "Senator, I want to be straightforward. When I can give you a very specific answer, I will."
He admitted that he didn't really have a plan in mind to back up his left-wing rhetoric.
"I don't have my own independent tax suggestion for the state," de Blasio said. "I just want to tell you directionally."