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Cuomo Reaches Deal to Raise Taxes on Rich, Responding to Demands of 99%

In addition to the maneuvers aimed at raising taxes on the rich in California, in New York, where the process to raise said taxes isn’t as byzantine, state leaders have agreed in principle on a deal to increase taxes on the wealthy. And this is a reversal from a vow by Andrew Cuomo from earlier in the year to allow increased taxes on the rich to expire.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders on Tuesday announced that they had reached an agreement to raise taxes on New York State’s wealthiest residents as part of a deal to overhaul the tax rates.

The leaders, seeking simultaneously to make the state’s income tax system more progressive and to increase tax collections during a down economy, announced their agreement as lawmakers began to arrive at the Capitol for an expected special session of the Legislature later this week.

The tentative agreement would not only raise taxes for the wealthy, but also cut taxes for the middle class, by creating four new tax brackets and tax rates. The officials said the tax rate changes would generate $1.9 billion in annual revenue for the state.

“This would be lowest tax rate for middle class families in 58 years,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “This job-creating economic plan defies the political gridlock that has paralyzed Washington and shows that we can make government work for the people of this state once again.”

Often times you would see constraints put on a tax reform deal like this, forcing it to be budget-neutral. But that’s not what New York or any state needs during a fiscal crisis. They saw the concept of restructuring tax rates and raising revenues as complementary.

I think we have to give an assist to Occupy Wall Street on this one. Back in October, they criticized Cuomo for failing to extend the millionaire’s tax in New York. They demonstrated outside a Huffington Post event where Cuomo was being honored for his marriage equality victory. Now, not even two months later, Cuomo has come in the direction of the protesters. Sen. Gustavo Rivera alluded to OWS in discussing Cuomo’s change of heart.

“I believe Occupy Wall Street changed the national dialogue,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera. “The conversations we were having 6 months ago got no traction. But things have changed because of what the folks at Zuccotti Park Started.” […]

“I’ve always believed we need a more progressive tax system,” said Rivera. “I’m glad to hear the Cuomo administration seems to be open to it. We have the greatest economic disparity in New York. The economic gap is as bad as it was was in the depression.”

Raw Story describes it as Cuomo “caving to protesters.” I don’t know that I would go that far, but I think the impact is undeniable.

Not bad for a movement without a set list of demands, eh?

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David Dayen

David Dayen