Last night, Dino Rossi officially became the Republican Senate candidate in Washington. Earlier this week, he tried to portray his desire to repeal the estate tax as a measure that will help small businesses, when in fact, the overwhelming majority of the benefits from repeal would go to the ultra-wealthy. And that’s not the only way in which Rossi is going to bat for the rich.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has embraced the Obama administration’s proposal to allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, while renewing those for the lower- and middle-class. Rossi, though, wants to extend all of the cuts, saying that allowing those for the rich to expire is a “class warfare program”:
Rossi argued that 2 1/2 million people in Washington benefit from the 2001 Bush tax cuts, the extension of which will be a major issue in Congress this fall. Rossi described as “this class warfare program” the Obama administration’s plan to extend the cuts enjoyed by middle-income taxpayers, while repealing tax cuts for high-income households.
Rossi is very confused about the numbers here or is entirely unclear about what the administration’s proposal is. There are about 6.7 million people in Washington state, so for Rossi’s number to be accurate, he’s either claiming that Obama and Murray want to raise taxes on people that they don’t, or he is claiming that more than one-third of the state’s population is making more than $200,000 per year.
Back in reality, the median income in Washington is about $52,000, according to the state’s Office of Financial Management. According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, there are 105,209 households in the state that would be affected by the expiration of the Bush tax cuts (or about 1.6 percent of the total population). So Rossi inflated his state’s wealthy population by 24 times.
Washington State (where Rossi formerly served in the state senate) also has one of the country’s most regressive tax systems, as it relies very heavily on sales and excise taxes and has no state income tax. The poorest 20 percent of Washington taxpayers pay more than 17 percent of their income in state taxes, while the richest one percent pay less than three percent.
Rossi himself made somewhere between $380,000 and $1.5 million last year, and has investments worth between $4 million and $15 million. So his taxes most certainly would go up if the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire. But the same can’t be said for the vast majority of Washington’s residents.