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EDITORIAL: Blue states lose frivolous challenge to Trump tax reform

Updated October 7, 2019 - 8:56 am

Last week was a bad one in the courts for members of the Trump Resistance.

First, a federal judge in California officially tossed the state’s new law tying primary ballot access for presidential candidates to the release of their federal tax returns. The move was a thinly veiled and patently unconstitutional attempt by progressives to harass President Donald Trump into making public his recent IRS filings.

Then, a New York federal judge made short work of an effort to preserve a lucrative tax deduction for the wealthy by challenging the legality of the landmark 2017 Trump tax reform bill. Four states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland — essentially advanced the ludicrous argument that Congress overstepped its bounds by making tax policy.

The lawsuit was in response to a provision in the GOP tax bill that capped the deduction for state and local taxes at $10,000. Previously, the write-off was unlimited, which amounted to a massive federal subsidy for residents of high-tax jurisdictions and allowed big-spending politicians in blue states to disguise their profligacy.

Democrats and progressives can’t stop railing about the “rich” paying their “fair share,” whatever that is. In this case, however, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his ilk were so worried their high earners might flee to less-taxing locales if they had to pay full freight that they actually sought to preserve a deduction which overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy.

The result was a fatuous federal lawsuit in which attorneys for the four high-tax states argued that Congress has no right to set U.S. tax law. To absolutely nobody’s surprise, federal Judge Paul Oetken, a Barack Obama appointee, was having none of it.

“The cap, like any federal tax provision, will affect some taxpayers more than others and, by extension, will affect some states more than others,” the judge wrote. “But the cap, again like every other feature of the federal tax code, is a part of the landscape of federal law within which states make their decisions as to how they will exercise their own sovereign tax powers.”

In other words, it’s not the job of Congress to make it easier for states such as New York or New Jersey to gouge their citizens through confiscatory taxation. And blue states are free at any time to roll back their tax rates to prevent an exodus of high earners.

Gov. Cuomo called the Trump tax reform an “economic attack on Democratic states.” But the actual “attack” on states such as New York comes from within, and it takes the form of bloated bureaucracies and the excessive taxation needed to feed them. Instead of filing frivolous lawsuits, blue-state pols should look in the mirror.

A previous headline on this editorial was incorrect.

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