Yesterday morning’s hearing on HB 2456–to cut tax loopholes for large corporations and the wealthiest 2%–featured testimony from business leaders in support of the plan. But there was also a panel of familiar corporate lobbyists repeating familiar talking points about why the wealthy should get big tax breaks.
There were, however, a couple of surprises. Here’s what Jon Chandler, lobbyist for the Home Builders Association, said in opposition to the bill:
Even higher income people, however that’s defined, are entitled to rely on the state not changing its mind. $250,000 joint file, $125,000 single file, is scarcely rich by most people’s definition.
And even if that is rich, those people have made expectations, made decisions on their personal front, they’ve made their kids’ college decisions, their mortgage decisions, their charitable giving, their household expenses–whatever they might be–based on a set of assumptions about the economy and about state tax policy to some greater or lesser extent. And even if it’s minuscule, I would submit to you that it’s simply unfair, again, for the state to decide, ‘you know what, we’re going to change the rules on you. Thanks for playing.’ That’s not good policy in any context.
I’ll give you a moment to digest that before we unpack it. Go ahead, read it again if you need.
Ok, so. $250,000 per year is “scarcely rich by most people’s definition.” Actually, that income level makes you richer than 98% of Oregon, so by definition that probably makes you rich. (Not to mention how it stacks up against global income levels…)
Second, the wealthy in Oregon pay a lower overall effective tax rate than lower and middle class Oregonians (see accompanying chart). HB 2456 would close that gap–almost imperceptibly, but it’s a step in the right direction. It begins to fix a longstanding problem that lets the wealthy pay a lower overall tax rate than working families.
Third, is Chandler signaling his opposition to cutting pensions for retired public employees? His cohorts in the corporate lobby want to cut Cost of Living Allowances for retirees who make as little as $25,000. Does he disagree?
Or does Chandler think it’s okay to “change the rules” and take money away from a retiree who makes $30,000, but it’s totally “unfair” to change tax rates for someone who makes 10 times that amount?