More than 10 million Americans are abruptly unemployed. Boeing is offering buyouts to slash its workforce.
People are fearful not only of a deadly new virus, but whether they’ll have jobs when life returns to normal.
Seattle, sadly, has a surplus of such pols on its City Council. Namely Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales, who last week renewed their crusade to penalize large employers for creating jobs in Seattle.
They are like climate deniers — people who refuse to acknowledge a crisis, insist on continuing destructive behavior and stubbornly ignore facts about harm occurring all around them.
The forest of jobs that sustains Seattle is aflame. Who would attack those fighting the fire and able to plant more trees? Only politicians who are so consumed by a desire to burn down the establishment and promote themselves, they can’t see the danger at hand.
Like cities around the world, Seattle will be hard pressed to sustain services because there’s less employment and economic activity to fill city coffers.
A majority of employers that remain in business will struggle to get through the downturn. It doesn’t help that Seattle already taxes businesses more than most places, with a multitude of progressive and regressive taxes.
Because of those existing taxes, Amazon’s recent growth and construction it spurred enabled Seattle and the state to massively increase spending in recent years.
A spiteful new tax on jobs will encourage Amazon to create more jobs elsewhere, instead of Seattle. For the other 799 employers affected, it reduces their ability to maintain and add jobs.
Bottom line, Seattle will see fewer jobs as it tries to rebuild if Sawant and Morales succeed. Then fewer will get jobs back at shuttered restaurants, empty stores, vacant hotels and idle construction sites.
Don’t believe the fantasy Sawant and Morales are peddling. Head Tax 2.0 will not make things better by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. It’s cruel to spin bogus fairy tales in a crisis, when people are suffering and desperate for assurance that jobs will return.
The only winners would be politicians. They could give more money to friends and buy influence. But if the tax suppresses job growth, Seattle gets less revenue overall. Most residents would suffer from reduced public services.
Changes in Washington’s tax system may be spurred by the crisis. That discussion has been percolating for years. Labor was already using Seattle council members as pawns in its quest for a graduated city income tax, which the state Supreme Court rejected on Friday. Cities might still pursue a flat income tax but that’s deeply regressive and demolishes any pretense of taxing the rich to help the poor.
Seattle tax extremism slows progress on reform. The Legislature this year considered a business-backed proposal to allow a limited head tax, to fund housing and homeless programs that big companies support. It would also have limited Seattle’s ability to further tax jobs, which led to a stalemate, and the bill died.
If Sawant and Morales get their tax approved by the council or an initiative, a costly court battle will ensue. While that grinds on, employers will be even more wary of hiring in Seattle, and none of the Bezos bucks that Sawant is promising to dole out will be forthcoming.
One positive: Sawant and Morales are administering a test for council members and Mayor Jenny Durkan. Results will tell voters who is in denial and who is realistic about what’s needed to get through the crisis and back to strength.
Other council members should immediately reject this divisive and counterproductive attack on employers, so it doesn’t impede Seattle’s recovery.
Durkan is showing strong crisis leadership. She’s braced for the challenge of restoring jobs and economic activity that are Seattle’s lifeblood. Durkan should publicly disavow the Sawant-Morales scheme and veto it if necessary.
Amid an employment catastrophe, it’s past time for City Hall to lower its “We Hate Big Employers” flag.