Heather Ryan makes her case against the local option sales tax for Iowa’s largest county. -promoted by desmoinesdem
In case you haven’t heard, there is a special election scheduled on the intentionally obscure date of Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Polk County residents must decide if they believe an additional 1 percent sales tax will help solve their financial woes. I will be voting “No.” Twice if I don’t get caught. Here’s why:
You’re reading a political wonk article on a liberal political site. Chances are, you already know that a regressive tax is an unfair way for society to fund projects as it punishes the wallets of the poor and working classes more than those of the wealthy. If you’re not familiar with the concept, there’s a very short video HERE that will explain why progressives NEVER support a regressive tax structure.
The “Yes on A” supporters will argue that “essentials” such as food and medicine have been exempted, which will make up for the unfair balance of the tax. But these “essentials” are exempted for everyone, not just lower income Iowans. It’s also more than a little insulting to insinuate that working class families only buy food and medicine. Families also buy clothing, fuel, rent, car notes, utilities and (God forbid) may actually wish to partake of some sort of entertainment on occasion. The exemptions insinuate that poor people should stay home, cook their own food and stop partaking of “booze, women and movies”, as suggested by Senator Chuck Grassley.
How do we know this is how the City Council feels about this tax? Because Mayor Frank Cownie practically set off a riot when he said precisely the same thing to a college student when she asked him about it at the East Des Moines Area Democrats meeting, which was live streamed on February 7 here.
Women traditionally make 20-25 percent less than men. So as a gender, we are already disadvantaged for making ends meet.
Let’s add to the injustice of pay inequality that products which are marketed toward women cost more than the same items that are marketed to men. Women’s clothing costs 8 percent more than men’s, toys average 7 percent more and personal hygiene items for women are a whopping 13 percent more expensive (article here).
So when one takes into account that women make less but pay more, it makes sense that an increase on sales tax will affect women more than men. Women will actually be punished, more than men, because we will be paying more in tax on higher-priced products, even as we earn less money.
When broached with this topic at a Beaverdale forum designed to encourage residents to vote for the tax, unbelievably, the moderator was too flustered to even read the question in full, because it contained the word “tampon” as an example of taxable products that are uniquely specific to women. Adding insult to injury, City Council Member Connie Boesen scoffed at the assertion that such a disadvantage even exists.
While the “Pro-A” supporters are evidently skeezed out by such language, it is still important that we recognize that women (especially the cash-strapped) are more affected by a sales tax hike.
CHUCKING MORE WEALTH AT THE WEALTHY
The arguments above are absolutely concerning. But those reasons why you should not vote for this regressive tax pale in comparison to the fact that over one hundred thousand dollars have been spent in ads on television, internet and glossy mailers to convince you that regressive taxes are super awesome. From the first day I began receiving these slick pieces in my mailbox until Friday, March 2, I was asking the obvious question, “Who is funding this insanely expensive media buy?” Then, because of ethics rules, donors were forced to be divulged.
A-Vwa-La, the sun came out and now we see the light.
Below you will find a list of the major donors who each gave between $2,000 and $15,000 to convince voters that a sales tax scheme that automatically chucks 50% of the proceeds to landowners is a super-de-duper proposal. (To view all donations, see here and here.)
The list is also a who’s who of the wealthiest corporations and landowners in the metropolitan area. When reading this list of funders, one must keep in mind that corporations are only concerned about a return on their investment. Corporations and the wealthiest Iowans, with higher property values, are going to benefit the most from this additional tax break. While those of us who live in far less expensive homes have the potential of saving less on “property tax releif” than we will spend on the increased sales tax. Even worse, renters will receive absolutely no benefit from this “property tax relief” but cannot escape the additional sales tax.
But wait! There’s more! If you’ve been privy to any of the forums and neighborhood meetings attended by our elected officials in an attempt to convince you to vote “Yes,” you’ve noticed their dogged defense of this scheme. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that so many current and former Des Moines City Council members are also donors to the ad campaign. Mayor Frank Cownie, Christine Hensley, Joe Gatto, Chris Coleman, Bob Mahaffey, and Linda Westergaard’s adult daughter (Emily) are all fiancialy invested in this bombardment of literature and ads. The conflict of interest should be glaring, but those have never stopped Christine Hensley and the City Council in the past (story here).
“Neighbors for Growth and Public Safety” major donors:
Hubbell Realty Company fund $15,000.00
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. $10,000.00
James S. Cownie $10,000.00
Knapp Properties, LC $10,000.00
EMC Insurance $7,500.00
The Graham Group $6,000.00
Raccoon Valley Investment Co., LC $5,000.00
Nelson Development, LLC $5,000.00
Christensen Development 1, LLC $5,000.00
The Hansen Company $5,000.00
Ruan Center Corporation $5,000.00
Ruan Inc. $5,000.00
Kemin Industries, Inc. $5,000.00
Gartner, Michael G. $5,000.00
Rypma, Timothy $2,500.00
Simonson, Michael W. $2,500.00
Conlin, James C. $2,500.00
Ryan Companies US, Inc.. $2,000.00
The Weitz Company, LLC $2,000.00
Des Moines Area Assoc. of Realtors $2,000.00
… Because, you know, the corporate welfare they receive from the Federal, State and Local governments just isn’t enough …
Finally, while I only laid out three reasons why you should “VOTE HELLZ-TO-THE-NO” on Tuesday, there are many more examples that can be taken into consideration if you’re still contemplating your vote (See links below). But take this one final note into consideration: The day before famed activist Jonathan Narcisse passed away unexpectedly, the two of us were discussing the pure evil of this proposed punishment of Polk County’s poor and working class. A small, dedicated team of activists were creating phone banks and canvassing crews with zero budget to combat the high dollar “pro” campaign.
Jonathan’s passion for justice is what keeps me so focused in my efforts to spread the word regarding the ills of this proposal. I, for one, will be out on the streets on Monday and Tuesday doing everything that just one person is capable, to combat corrupt corporate welfare heaped on the backs of the working class. I hope you will join me to help fulfill Mr. Narcisse’s final grasp for equality and justice. You can sign up to help at www.VoteNoMarch6.com.