When are the Democrats going to go on offense on taxes?
That's the question we've been hearing from California Democrats through the past couple years of budget cuts. Democrats want more revenues and thus higher taxes, but have generally avoided making full-throated proposals for fear of the political consequences. Under political, they've chosen questionable borrowing over tax increases. This reticence, combined with the perverse incentives created by a system that requires a two-thirds vote to pass budgets and raised taxes, have allowed Republicans to frame the terms of the budget debate.
If Democrats are serious about changing the game, it's time for some demagoguery and finger-pointing.
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Fortunately, California offers a tempting target. Frank and Jamie McCourt -- the battling, divorcing couple that owns baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers -- did not pay a cent in state or federal income taxes between 2004 and 2009, according to the LA Times. They made $108 million during that period.
Let me repeat; the owners of the Dodgers -- who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on personal expenses and have their children on the Dodgers' payroll even though those children don't work for the Dodgers -- pay less in state income tax than you or me.
Why don't Democrats shout this to the high heavens?
I honestly don't know. Perhaps the thought hasn't occurred. Perhaps it seems strange to pick on the Dodgers, a beloved institution (at least in Southern California; we Angelenos hear that feelings are different in the North). Perhaps it's because the McCourts have donated to Democratic causes in the past.
But if Democrats are going to win, they're going to have to get personal. The McCourts are a good place to start.