In Defense of Millionaires

Loren Kaye
President of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education

Why is Darrell Steinberg still picking on millionaires?

On the heels of successfully promoting a new “millionaire’s tax,” Proposition 30, the leader of the State Senate has proposed using his new supermajority legislative power to “alter the initiative process in a way that makes it harder for millionaires to impose their will by spending vast sums qualifying a measure for the ballot.”

This is adding insult to injury – after sticking millionaires with a retroactive tax increase, he’s going to make a grab for their access to the ballot initiative.

I certainly hope the millionaires don’t leave this slap unanswered. I propose that a “Coalition of the Wealthy” approach Sen. Steinberg to urge him to change his mind. I have some delegates in mind:

  • Thomas Steyer, former hedge fund manager, successful promoter of the Proposition 39 corporate tax increase, and featured speaker at Tuesday’s Democratic victory party.
  • Rob Reiner, Hollywood producer, successful in promoting Proposition 10 tobacco tax, but unsuccessful with the Proposition 82 high wealth income tax increase.
  • Chris Kelly, former eBay executive, successful promoter of Proposition 35 and unsuccessful candidate for Democratic nomination for Attorney General in 2010.
  • George Soros, hedge fund owner, successful funder of various ballot measures to soften criminal justice penalties (Proposition 5 Proposition 36), and noted national Democratic financier.
  • Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO and unsuccessful promoter of the Proposition 88 parcel tax for schools.
  • Stephen Bing, Hollywood producer and unsuccessful promoter of the Proposition 87 oil severance tax.
  • Robert Klein, developer and financier, and successful promoter of the Proposition 71 stem cell research bond, and a housing official in Gov. Brown’s first administration.

(Even though she shares the politics of my delegation, Molly Munger, promoter of Proposition 38, the defeated rival of Proposition 30, probably shouldn’t attend.)

To be sure, Democrats are not the only wealthy Californians who have sought a popular vote on public policy via the initiative. George Joseph, Charles Munger and Arnold Schwarzenegger have bankrolled ballot measures to advance their public policy visions. But it is striking that a tool that is used so frequently by wealthy liberals and labor unions is under fire by leading Democrats.

Senator Steinberg: give the millionaires a break!

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