By Mark Glennon of Wirepoints
Two Chicago interest groups that are major allies of Mayor Brandon Johnson published Wednesday what they want Johnson to pursue for new taxes: a city income tax, a wealth tax, a “head tax” assessed per worker on employers, a digital ad tax, a jump in the tax on jet fuel used at Chicago’s airports, a progressive increase on real estate transaction fees on sales over $1 million. The new taxes would total $6.8 billion according to the plan, and would be coupled with supposed savings of $5.1 billion that would be redirected to other spending, totaling nearly $12 billion
For a little perspective, the tax increase would more than double Chicago’s Corporate Fund, the main operating account in the city’s budget.
You gotta hand it to today’s left when it comes to the path to power. The title on their proposal is “First We Get the Money: $12 billion to fund a just Chicago,” echoing the wisdom in a famous line in the movie Scarface, “First you get the money, then you get the power….”
That formula has worked well for the Chicago Teachers Union and its close allies, the Action Center on Race & The Economy and the People’s Unity Platform, which sponsored the new proposal. The CTU, Johnson’s former employer, was his biggest campaign donor, using funds questionably squeezed from its members. Its mastery of money and power is unquestioned, also extracting oversized pensions and nearly $30,000 per student for its schools.
The proposal is co-written by Saqib Bhatti, a member of Johnson’s transition team and co-executive director of ACRE, one of the report sponsors. “I think it’s appropriate to hold [Johnson] accountable for the promises he’s made,” Bhatti told Crain’s. “Mayor Johnson ran on a platform that actually included some of these things.”
Johnson has indeed supported some of those tax increases, but he quickly distanced himself from the proposal on Wednesday, saying the tax increases he proposed during his campaign are far smaller — just $800 million — his spokesman told Crain’s. Johnson said he had no role in the proposal.
Smells like a political ploy. “Look at me, what a fiscal moderate I am,” appears to be the setup for Johnson to claim. The Great Conciliator.
The proposal includes supposed savings of over $5 billion from things like reducing the “bloated police budget.” Particularly ridiculous is a claim that over $2 billion could be saved by issuing interest-free loans that somehow could be sold to the Federal Reserved Bank “for 0% interest.” The supposed savings would be re-spent on things like public housing, education and climate. The full proposal is here.
But wait, there’s more in other news. Angela Davis will join Johnson in a Sunday event about the future of Chicago along with “the baddest organizers in movement leaders,” according to one promoter on Twitter.
Davis was among the most notorious figures in America’s last radical era forty or fifty years ago. She was twice the U.S. Communist Party’s candidate for vice president and was warmly welcomed by the former Soviet Union (which awarded her its Lenin Peace Prize), the former East Germany and Cuba. A gun belonging to her was used in a famous attempt to spring prisoners in which four people were killed. She was prosecuted but acquitted for three capital felonies including conspiracy to murder.