Apologists for the plutocrats lay an egg

Dan Petegorsky

From the wonderful folks at Planet Money comes news of yet more evidence of the lack of evidence for one the most common claims the plutocrats and their shills throw out every time the pitchforks are pointed their way: that states which threaten to raise taxes on the rich to avoid shutting down schools and libraries and kicking ever more low-income, elderly and disabled residents off their health plans will send the golden geese fleeing to greener pastures across their borders.

Turns out two new studies profiled by the Planet Money crew show yet again that such claims have about as much value as what all those geese leave strewn about their stomping grounds (and I don’t mean gold). Jeff Thompson of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the author of one 18-year study, puts it succinctly: "Taxes [have] essentially no impact on causing people to leave a state."

A second researcher, Charles Varner of Princeton University, studied the effect of taxes on people moving from New Jersey after it increased taxes on those making over $500,000 by 2.6%. What happened? "The vast, vast majority just don't respond to the tax. They stay put."

That’s quite a bit of egg of the faces of the tax-averse plutocrats and their front men.


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    Thanks for the post. Really good stuff. I see the first study states, "States raising taxes will see somewhat fewer migrants choose their state as a destination, but offset and reverse this impact when they use increased tax revenues in ways that attract people and create jobs." This seems so obvious, but glad we now have (more) empirical evidence to show this.

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    Rich people don't have to limit their choices based on economics; if they want to live some place because they like it, they will. I'd guess that a desirable state is just as worthwhile as a desirable neighborhood in that decision.

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    I am not a scientist or statistician, but as someone who has lived in Vancouver, WA for 30+ years, it does seem like we have a hell of a lot of older rich people living here who have no connection with our community and who only live here because WA does not have an income tax and they only have passive (non-wage) income. I attribute the fact that SW Washington has skewed so hard to the right politically on the fact that we have a bunch of old rich Republican tax refugees among us. But maybe I am wrong.

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      You'll need to do better than that, Gregory, unless you have any actual evidence that they've moved there from Oregon. They could just as easily be retirees from elsewhere in Washington who have flocked to the Couv so they can do their shopping sales-tax free right across the border -- a notion I similarly have zero evidence to back up.

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        I don't care whether they moved here from Oregon, California, or Mars. My concern is that I now have a Hispanic right-wing-nut Congresswoman instead of my decades of Democratic Party representatives. And now my local and state races are trending GOP-right-nuts instead of our solid Dem. base. I just want the GOP voters to go back to where they came from.

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          While I sympathize, I think you're forgetting Linda Smith. I'm also not sure what Jaime Herrera Beutler's ethnicity has to do with this.

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