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Seattle Attacks Homelessness by Passing New Tax That Drives Off Employers

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It’s a step that’s going to make Seattle sorry.

In the face of protests by the city’s largest employers — and even some of the union muscle that powers the Democrat Party — the largest city in Washington state voted Monday to place a huge tax on its most productive job creators to fund programs for its poorest citizens.

And even liberal giants are furious.

According to news reports, the nine-member Seattle City Council voted unanimously to impose a tax of $275 per employee per year on for-profit companies with more than $20 million a year in revenue.

The idea is to raise between $45 million and $49 million a year to help deal with Seattle’s growing homelessness problem.

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The so-called “head tax” that was approved was a scaled-back version of an earlier proposal that sparked opposition from building trades unionists, who saw it as a threat to their jobs, but Seattle’s biggest employers were still bitter about it.

Amazon, the retail giant based in Seattle, is well known for its liberal attitudes – and known to kowtow to the Southern Poverty Law Center. But it’s also in business to make money, and it sees the problems Seattle is creating.

In a statement, Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener said the decision forces Amazon to “question our growth here,” according to KOMO.

“City of Seattle revenues have grown dramatically from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $4.2 billion in 2017, and they will be even higher in 2018. This revenue increase far outpaces the Seattle population increase over the same time period,” the statement said.

Do you think this tax will really solve Seattle's homelessness problem?

“The city does not have a revenue problem — it has a spending efficiency problem. We are highly uncertain whether the city council’s anti-business positions or its spending inefficiency will change for the better.”

Check out the KING 5 coverage of the council vote here:

It isn’t just Amazon that’s disgusted. Starbucks, the notoriously liberal coffee chain colossus, issued a statement slamming the efficiency of Seattle’s current homeless programs. More money being spent by the same administration won’t be spent any better, it suggested.

“This City continues to spend without reforming and fail without accountability, while ignoring the plight of hundreds of children sleeping outside,” the statement said, according to KOMO. “If they cannot provide a warm meal and safe bed to a five year-old child, no one believes they will be able to make housing affordable or address opiate addiction.”

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Meanwhile an open letter to City Council from other Seattle businesses also criticized the tax. Even though some of the signers aren’t big enough to be affected by it, they can see the city is essentially penalizing some of its citizens for their own success — and likely driving off Seattle employers.

“This is like telling a classroom that the students who do the most homework will be singled out for detention,” states the letter, signed by more than 100 Seattle business leaders.

“We oppose this approach, because of the message it sends to every business: if you are investing in growth, if you create too many jobs in Seattle, you will be punished. Sending this message to entrepreneurs, investors, and job creators will cause far greater damage to Seattle’s growth prospects than the direct impact on the businesses being taxed. Not all of the undersigned are directly impacted by this tax, yet we all agree it is a bad idea.”

And it’s an idea that’s likely to get worse. Even supporters of the tax admit they’re going to push the matter even further.

“This is a mandate,” one activist told King 5. “This is a wonderful first step.”

“Wonderful”? Nope. It’s a step that’s going to make Seattle sorry.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.
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