Colorado Editorials

The Colorado Springs Gazette: Polis plans to soak the middle class

Author: The Gazette Editorial Board - September 13, 2018 - Updated: September 13, 2018

Jared Polis wants to soak the middle class with taxes more than any other Washington politician.

The super-rich Boulder congressman and Democratic nominee for governor pitches free health care for all. He proposes student loan relief, 100 percent renewable energy, and a slate of other government giveaways the middle class would pay for with soaring utility rates and larger withholdings from paychecks.

While wage earners cannot escape taxes, the same is not true of Rep. Polis.

Polis doubled his net worth during the past 10 years in Congress. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates his net worth close to $400 million.

When Polis first ran for Congress in 2008, the Boulder Daily Camera reported he had paid no taxes for five years.

Reporters asked the congressman Tuesday whether he had paid taxes every year of his congressional career.

“Polis deflected,” writes Colorado Politics reporter Ernest Luning.

The Colorado Sun’s John Frank, a former Denver Post political reporter, writes this week: “Jared Polis demanded that Donald Trump release his tax returns and helped lead an attempt in Congress to force the Republican candidate to do so. Now, Polis won’t release his own tax returns as the Democratic nominee for governor in Colorado.”

Stupendously wealthy politicians have lawful options to get around taxes, so we have no reason to suspect Polis cheated. No one should blame him for minimizing tax liabilities with business investments that create wealth. The Polis tax drama only highlights how the politician lives a different reality than Coloradans who work for wages and pay their taxes before receiving take-home pay. They never get a five-year tax reprieve.

People who pay taxes the old fashioned way will lose substantial income if Polis gets his way.

Polis in May became the first member of Congress to introduce a bill to repeal the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The tax cuts mean more take-home pay for wage earners and have led to rising incomes. Polis seems to oppose these middle-class benefits, probably because he doesn’t know firsthand how much they mean to average households.

“It is the first piece of legislation that would entirely reverse the tax cuts passed last year,” reported The Hill in Washington, just before Polis introduced his proposed tax increase.

The Polis tax bill was more extreme than anything proposed by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Unlike Polis, they proposed undoing tax cuts for only the top 1 percent of wage earners.

For workers and professionals living paycheck-to-paycheck, the tax cuts mean fewer days waiting to restock cupboards with food. They mean less time stretching a tank of gas or a threadbare set of tires. They mean a possible movie night with the kids. Polis has not lived like that.

To understand what the tax cuts mean for the economy, look to left-leaning CNBC. The network opposes President Donald Trump but concedes the benefits of tax cuts he signed into law.

“GDP is growing at a 3 percent-plus rate. The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low.

Meanwhile, the stock market has jumped 27 percent amid a surge in corporate profits,” explains a Sept. 7 CNBC report.

“Friday brought another round of good news: Nonfarm payrolls rose by a better-than-expected 201,000 and wages, the last missing piece of the economic recovery, increased by 2.9 percent year over year to the highest level since April 2009. That made it the best gain since the recession ended in June 2009 … ”

“Indeed, the economy does seem to be on fire, and it’s fairly easy to draw a straight line from Trump’s policies to the current trends.”

Unlike Polis, Republican gubernatorial nominee Walker Stapleton defends middle-class incomes. As Colorado treasurer, Stapleton led the defeat of a billion-dollar tax increase known as Amendment 66. He led a campaign to trounce a single-payer health care proposal, saving wage earners from a 10 percent state income tax.

Polis may be wise to run with an anti-Trump message, given the president’s self-destructive antics. But the congressman’s desire to soak the middle class with taxes poses irreparable harm to Colorado households. Colorado’s median household income is less than $70,000. Average Coloradans do well by national standards but don’t have easy lives.

They don’t get years-long vacations from taxes. They need their take-home pay — not more taken for government giveaways promised by Polis.

The Gazette Editorial Board