Activists in New York Target 'Governor 1 Percent': Cuomo Under Fire for Refusing to Extend Millionaire's Tax
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Fighting Back for the Millionaire's Tax
Back in March, long before Occupy Wall Street, 500 activists organized in part by New York Communities for Change spent the night in the Capitol building to protest the austerity budget and call for the millionaire's tax. In May, community groups and unions formed the May 12 Coalition and organized a massive teach-in and march on Wall Street, again calling for alternative forms of revenue (like taxes on the rich) instead of budget cuts that overwhelmingly hurt New York's poorest.
Thus far, the movement hasn't gotten very far with its demands, but the change in the public debate brought about by Occupy Wall Street may provide just the momentum they needed. And if they have success, they could also provide a model for making political change in solidarity with the demand-less occupiers that doesn't require their endorsement.
Leirer explained, “We've been really hooked in to the people who've been on the ground at Zuccotti Park since day one. We have a good working relationship with them, we have their trust, the ability to ask them to join us and give them a seat at the table without pushing our agenda down their throats. It's been great to build that as a new model of collaboration.”
This model was tested recently when community groups working with Occupy Wall Street activists organized a walking tour of millionaire's homes in New York City's Upper East Side. ( Lynn Parramore attended and reported on the march for AlterNet.) Occupiers participated in the march, which left from Liberty Plaza and highlighted the inequality right here in New York City.
Other groups with particular demands that could use this type of partnership to direct some of the public support for Occupy Wall Street into policy goals might include National Nurses United, which has been agitating for a financial transaction tax for months, or community groups fighting foreclosures.
In New York, the public support from even Republicans has the 99 New York coalition (the new name an obvious reference to the 99 percent) ready to fight hard. As the occupations continue to gain momentum around the country, politicians who ignore the turning of the tide may find themselves left behind, on the wrong side of the battle lines. Anderson said, “Even the GOP in the NY State Senate are starting to waver on the millionaire's tax, especially because the largely rural districts they represent are filled with municipalities that are in serious trouble.”
Leirer said, “Expect a showdown in the next couple of months over the millionaire's tax.”
Sarah Jaffe is an associate editor at AlterNet, a rabblerouser and frequent Twitterer. You can follow her at @seasonothebitch.