Do Americans share President Obama's desire to impose redistributive social justice on the well off? In liberal Washington State, of all places, voters gave a definitive answer this Tuesday: No! The resounding rejection of a punitive "Robin Hood" initiative shows that it's not just red-state Republicans who oppose extreme tax hikes on the nation's wealth generators.
As Capitol Hill resumes debate on whether to extend the so-called "Bush tax cuts," the White House should pay special heed to the fate of little-noticed Initiative 1098. Its defeat by a whopping 65-35 margin doesn't bode well for Team Obama's class warriors still clinging bitterly to their soak-the-rich schemes. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted this summer that saddling higher earners with higher taxes was "the responsible thing to do." Given the chance to weigh in at the ballot box, a diverse majority of voters in the other Washington determined otherwise.
The Evergreen State is just one of seven states in the nation without a personal income tax. The ballot measure, which would have enacted a state income tax on the wealthiest 1 percent of Washington residents to raise $2 billion for bankrupt public schools, was sponsored by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his left-wing corporate lawyer father. Top donors? The Service Employees International Union, whose state and national chapters threw in a combined $2.5 million of its members' hard-earned dues money, and the National Education Association, which pitched in nearly $760,000.
Hiding behind kiddie human shields, the I-1098 campaign assailed the wealthy for "not paying their fair share" and plastered their campaign literature with sad-faced students and toddlers. Big Labor has been pushing a punish-the-wealthy movement for months. According to Forbes magazine, "six of the 10 states with the highest income tax rates -- Oregon, California, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey and North Carolina -- raised their levies on high earners, at least temporarily" last year.