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Column: Pritzker's little shop of horrors
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Column: Pritzker's little shop of horrors

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John Donald O'Shea

John Donald O'Shea is a retired circuit court judge and a columnist for The Dispatch-Argus.

Whenever Illinois Democrats give their proposed legislation a pure and noble name, protect your wallet.

In 2018, they passed the "Bail Reform Act." Who could be against "Reform?" Now with more criminals back on the street, and crime rates soaring, the gullible Illinois citizenry is slowly waking to the price of the so-called bail "reform."

And now our "good ole" thimblerigging Democratic legislators, with the connivance of Gov. J.B.Pritzker, want to dupe us into amending the Illinois Constitution to allow our "good friends" in the legislature to pass a "graduated income tax." This license to plunder Illinois taxpayers, they have christened "The Fair Tax."

Democrats know that if they give their proposed new "Income Tax Law" an honest name, that they'd risk being tarred and feathered. Or even worse, being voted out of office.

Imagine if our Illinois Democrats actually called their "Audrey II"* by its true name and described what they have already done, and why:

"An Amendment to the Illinois Constitution to Allow the Legislature to Create a Graduated Illinois Income Tax. The Illinois Legislature has already passed legislation creating initial 'sucker rates,' so as to gull the gullible into voting for this deceptively named 'Fair Tax.' Once this Amendment is approved, the legislature, at any time thereafter, can increase the tax rates on disfavored classes of individuals, even to the point of confiscation, by a simple majority vote. This "Fair Tax" is really a shell game."

To repeat,, the Democrats in the Illinois Legislature are asking for a license to plunder. They want to emulate, in Springfield, the looting and plundering that antifa, Black Lives Matter and their fellow-travelers are already wreaking on the shops and business along Chicago's "Magnificent Mile."

Advocates of graduated income taxes always argue that it is "unfair" for a rich man to pay the same rate of tax as a poor man. To make it "fair" the rich man must pay a higher rate.

Really? What exactly is unfair about a man with 10 times the income of his neighbor paying 10 times as much in taxes?

Graduated income taxes are always ushered in with promises of low rates. But that quickly changes. In 1913, Congress levied a 1% tax on net personal incomes above $3,000, with a 6% surtax on incomes above $500,000. A mere five years later, the top rate on income over $1 million was increased, as a war measure, to 77%.

Today, federal rates range from 10% to 37%.

This "Fair Tax" proposal of Pritzker and the Illinois Democrats is "bait and switch."

Presently - unless you vote "yes" in the November referendum - the Democrats in the Illinois Legislature cannot impose any "graduated" or "progressive" income tax. To get power to impose their "Fair ("graduated") Tax," they first need you to approve their referendum.

(Approval requires either the approval of 60% of voters voting on the question, or greater than 50% approval from all voters who cast ballots in the election).

Once you hand Democrats the constitutional power to impose a "graduated" or "progressive" income tax, they can change the rate at their will.

Pritzker promises that unless you are "rich," your rates will remain the same or be slightly less. However, if you file single and have an income over $250,000 up to $350,000; or if you file jointly, and your income is over $250,000 and up to $500,000, you are "rich" and will pay 7.75%.

If you are "richer," you will pay up to 7.99%.

That doesn't sound so bad, does it? But that's where the "bait and switch" comes in:

The day after you approve the constitutional amendment authorizing a "Graduated Income Tax," the Democrats can go back into session and double, triple or quadruple the rates. You are giving them a "blank check" to insert whatever rates they want.

Under Illinois' present "Flat Tax," a person with no income pays nothing. Everybody else pays 4.95% of their income. That's "fair." Presently, if Mr. Democrat wants to raise your tax rate, he must raise his own and everybody else's in the same percentage.

There is nothing whatever "fair" about a "Fair Tax" that allows a majority to vote to exempt itself from income taxation while at the same time voting to raise taxes on their "rich" neighbors. That's not "fairness;" it's plunder.

Similarly, the majority's use of its voting power to elect legislators committed to "making the rich or any other minority pay their 'fair share'," while   exempting or minimizing the tax obligation of the majority, is plunder. It is morally indistinguishable from the looter plundering shops along Michigan Avenue.

To place unlimited taxing power in the hands of a Democrat-controlled legislature generally perceived as being incompetent, corrupt and self-dealing is utter insanity. Is 7.99% "fair" today? How about tomorrow? 100 voters will give 100 different answers.

* Audrey II is from "The Little Shop of Horrors" and was a plant that thrived on a diet of blood.

John Donald O'Shea, a regular columnist, is a retired circuit court judge.

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