The Occupy movement — despite police abuse, official hostility and dismissive media — is changing the mainstream of discussion in American politics. For the first time in years, it's actually possible to talk about raising taxes on the very wealthy. All the polls show strong, and growing, public sentiment in favor of economic equality. It's a great opportunity to reform California's tax system — but Gov. Jerry Brown seems unwilling to take advantage of what could be the most important moment in his political career.
At least five groups are preparing tax-reform measures for the November, 2012 ballot. One of them — the so-called Think Long proposal supported by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen and Google executive Eric Schmidt — is largely regressive. Much of the $10 billion it would raise would come from sales taxes on services, which amounts to a whopping new tax on the middle class. Another, known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act (also backed by a billionaire, hedge fund manager Tom Steyer) would force corporations to pay taxes based on sales in the state, which in and of itself isn't a terrible idea. But that's the beginning and end of the measure, and half of the $1 billion it would raise would be earmarked for (private sector) clean energy projects. Read more »