Town Democrats: Soak the rich, and if you own a house in Greenwich, you’re rich

At least he gave out his own dimes

The two Democrats on Greenwich’s Board of Estimate and Taxation, Jeffrey Ramer and William Finger, have rejected a proposed budget that would increase spending by 2.5% in favor of raising taxes even higher to provide more services for our poor.

Ramer began the discussion by saying that requiring town departments to cut back would create a hardship for Greenwich’s increasingly diverse population.

There’s certainly something noble about a wealthy attorney and a Reynwood Manor mansion owner volunteering other people’s money so they can redistribute it to the poor (or, if you prefer, “our increasingly diverse population”), but where is their concern for those home-owning residents who are expected to foot the bill for Ramer et als’ generosity? These two men and their party seem to share the national media’s view of Greenwich, which says that if you own a house in Greenwich, you’re rich. This will come as a surprise to many home-owners reading this, but Ramer and his bosses in Washington say it’s so and so it must be true.

To own a house here may indeed mean that one is sitting on a $500,000 asset, and Democrats instinctively home in on that fat prey with the avidity of a lioness smelling a new-born impala, but are these homeowners really “rich” and suitable targets for the Democrat’s wrath? For a retiree living on a fixed income who depends on interest payments from a saving account and has watched that income disappear on Obama’s watch, for a middle class family that receives a fixed salary and no bonus, coming up with an extra $3,000 (or $5,000, or $10,000, take your pick) to pay for the Democrat’s beneficence means cutting spending somewhere else. The “fixed pie” concept of an economy really does exist in a household where there is no possibility of additional income. It’s funny that Democrats believe in this concept when coming up with their national schemes to soak the rich and insist that one person’s larger slice must necessarily mean another gets less, but can’t see it when applied to a household budget.

Why should owning your own home make your needs less important than those who don’t? Why must a stay-at-home mother be forced to quit raising her children and take a second job so that her new income can be given to those who don’t work? Ask the next Greenwich Democrat you meet, because I don’t have an answer. Perhaps Bob Horton will enlighten us in his next column.


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19 responses to “Town Democrats: Soak the rich, and if you own a house in Greenwich, you’re rich

  1. Anonymous

    Too right!

  2. FF

    Too stupid. As stupid as Joe Pellegrino saying he’s fighting for the “bottom 30%”. As if cutting every service imaginable will benefit them. And as if Bill Finger’s address means anything at all. This myopic taxes only nonsense is being given up on by the GOP nationally, I suppose it will catch up to you soon. I asked this a year ago, I ask again. What would you really cut. No tripe about “bloated payrolls”, or “the unions”. Platform and facts please.

    • Timid as it is, the Republican budget for Greenwich calls for a cap of 2.5% in increased spending with across the board cuts in all departments’s budgets to meet that goal.
      Democrat’s plan? Spend more – our diverse population deserves it. Of the two, I prefer the Republican’s approach.

  3. Anonymous

    Ramer, Finger, Fudrucker, Malloy, et. al. using the same ploy as Obama.

    “President Obama won [re-election in November, 2012] because he promised to steal more things from the people who didn’t vote for him and give what he stole to the people who did vote for him, because that is what an election is, right? An advanced auction on the sale on stolen goods.” – Peter Schiff

  4. Balzac

    Let’s see. We spend $20 million on the new police station, $20 million on the new fire station, $25 million and counting on the GHS auditorium, $19 million annually on pensions (doubled in the last 6 years), $22 million on the capital for the inefficient nursing home, $20 million in future operating subsidies to cover the losses on the nursing home, etc. etc. The Town debt, which was about zero for most of our lives, now has gone from zero to $210 million in about 15 years.

    The Republicans want to grow operating expenses by only 2%. Not shrink the expenses, simply moderate their growth. The Democrats are demogoging the matter, saying money grows on trees (does it grow on North Street?). Full speed ahead for all spending……..

    • Money grows on the the trees of Reynwood Manor and if the Lord of Reynwood wishes to spend it on the deserving, he has my blessing. I just wish his personal altruism didn’t reach into my pocket

  5. FlyAngler

    As sure as the Sun comes up every morning, people will choose a gift-giving Santa Claus over a Grinch who will not only take the gifts, but the Who-pudding and roast beast as well. Our most recent election proved that to be true.

    The problem is our political class (both parties) have a genetic disposition to add things to government, what specifically is a matter of party ideology. They do this more when times are good, taxes are robust and the coffers are full. Unfortunately, then times are less good (or bad) and taxes decrease and the surplus is invaded, they can not cut what they have created. Selfish human nature being what it is, most people don’t want to give up their “stuff”, whether things or services. Thus, since local governments can not print more currency, the only solution is to find more revenue to fund the stuff is taxes and fees.

    Frank, your comment above is indicative of a large part of the problem with politicians. Your class grows size of government stuff and then, when times are tough, dare anyone to suggest what should be cut. Sure, it is easier to whine than offer a plan. Yet, you seem to take some moral high ground over Chris when you challenge him to be specific.

    The problem is, once a government program gains a constituency, it can never be cut without a gut wrenching fight. Except the military as we are about to witness on a national basis.

    As for national taxes, our newly re-elected, “reach across the aisle” President has just proposed $1.6TRILLION in new taxes over the next decade, nearly twice the amount he was seeking in his “grand bargain” discussions with Boehner last time around. Given the demands being made by the national unions, tough to see Mr. Obama stretching his arm much to reach across that Aisle.

    Elections have consequences, just glad that “wealthy” Obama voters will be feeling the same pain I will be facing.

  6. Georgie

    Balzac…very well said.

    FF…even Willy Sutton knows you rob where the money is….so to say don’t blather on about unions and payrolls is to literally to ignore where the money is.

    Municipal opearating budgets are over 70% labor. To tackle ever increasing spending—just like the private sector—you need to increase productivity per employee, reduce the number of headcount and gold-plated compensations.

    I would start FIRST with the bloated school schools central office and staff administrators. Then, I would move to public safety employees who still can retire at 50 and with lifetime guaranteed defined benefits.

    I would outsource as much as feasible possible, starting with the IT department.

    Then tackle those grandiose capital projects Balzac described—way too large in scope and scale. Gotta love today’s story on the nursing home missing BOTH the opoerating and capital targets….and now needing one year later $2.4 million….on an already $22.5 million project. That incrementalism is what is so insidious in government spending.

    We haven’t even gotten into the debackle of soil contamination and remediation….that the taxpayer has to absorb. Forget the petty in-fighting on which department owns it…..its ultimately the taxpayer…..and this very real expense crowds out other spending—unless we go with the Ramer/Finger solution of taxing more the “rich.”

    SOLUTION: cut spending where it is located…..people, compensations, and too grand of capital projects. All levels should be affected (frontline to management…mostly management if it were me) and all departments.

    That’s TRUE shared sacrifice. Our Yankee forefathers worked this way….and we owe it to our kids and grandkids to do the same.

  7. This is clear and irrefutable. Wish I could publish it elsewhere.

  8. Cos Cobber

    Great post Fly.

  9. Pike

    Oh cry me a river. A $ 500,000 real estate asset in any other town than Greenwich has at least double the tax liability.

    And Balzac has been a townie long enough to remember that a generation of elected leaders chose to kick the can down the road to future inhabitants. Margenots famous last words…..Lets do a study!

    Balz could have paid for and papered all of town hall with all the studies that had been made.

    • Agree with you absolutely with your description of Margenot’s management style, but you miss my point about the impact of tax increases on fixed incomes and salaried employees – there is no extra cash lying around, so buying more of something: taxes, in this instance, means buying less of something else. We’re not talking about a Caribbean vacation deferred or holding on to the Mercedes another year.

  10. AJ

    A $ 500,000 real estate asset in any other town than Greenwich has at least double the tax liability? That’s because your $500,000 home in any other town would cost you a million in Greenwich. Many people who purchased their multi-million dollar homes back in the sixties did so for less than $50,000. Many who purchased homes in the thirties, forties, and early 50s did so for less than $10,000. Just because the cash (inflation) value of the house has increased, doesn’t mean the owners income has also increased accordingly.
    I’ve got an idea: how about no property tax for homeowners over 65? You could make up the shortfall with a special tax on politicians.

    • Politicians, sure, but also Democrats and Prius owners (the former encompassing the latter, I know). Triple surcharge on parents who let their teenager wear a Che t shirt in public.

  11. AJ

    You’re use of the phrase home in on — Democrats instinctively home in on that fat prey — is obviously correct in its context, but aroused my curiosity, because you almost always hear honed in used in its place. Apparently this is what’s called an eggcorn:

    “…That’s now the only situation in which most people encounter it. It’s hardly obvious to somebody who hasn’t come across it before or who doesn’t know the background. Why home? This lack of context makes it easy for speakers to change the word into something that seems to be more appropriate or make more sense. Hone in on is a classic example of the type of word shift that has become known in recent years among linguists as an eggcorn: a change in word form due to error or misunderstanding…”

    “…It came to public attention and gained some notoriety when George Bush used it in the presidential campaign of 1980 — he spoke of “honing in on the issues” …” I knew there was a Bush at the bottom of it all.

    Now all I have to is figure out what coming down the pike means, and why you would say that instead of coming down the pipe. Is the pike sort of like a turnstile as in turnpike? or are we talking about one of those Battle of Hastings things where all your freshly speared meat comes sliding down towards you.

  12. FF

    Some great points here. As far as Witherell, couldnt agree more, Greenwich doesnt need a nursing home. I opposed the police station as a boondoggle when I ran for First Selectman, and opposed the new firehouse now. Outsourcing is OK in some places, except we outsourced the tree cutting and look how well that’s gone. Greenwich people went nuts when a private company wanted to post assessment data online, imagine how they will feel when a private company has all their tax and personal records. But I also know that you can’t grow an economy unless you invest in it. You can’t deny that the abysmal state of our schools, particularly highly regarded ones like North Street and Riverside School, are a huge turnoff for the lifeblood of a future populace, school-age parents and their real estate dollars (and subsequent taxes). You can’t deny that there are serious social service needs unmet in Greenwich, and I am for one not willing to forsake the poor and infirm to charity alone. If they can’t get a hand up, then who are we as a society. You can’t deny that our influx of 40,000 workers a day is making our traffic problem untenable, yet how is that going to be fixed? What about our 100 year old sewers that are held together by the pluck and attention of our (unionized) DPW Sewer Division. These are real problems that are going to call for real investment or we face a slow decline – speeding up – in our quality of life. Greenwich is not Greenwich if they are not addressed. Yet, somehow, we talk about 2% or 3% tax increases. Neither of these will be useful in facing our long term problems, so the discussion is just an ideological smokescreen. I’d rather real leadership on the Republican side and put your money where your mouth is and slash the hell out of services to get us to a place where a budget is the only thing that matters. I’d also like to see the leaders in my party propose to increase and extend bonding over 20 years to pay for the things that really need to be done, with the corresponding stability in the mill rate (less capital over the next 20 years, less onerous debt payment – known in other circles as a “mortgage”). But please, somebody do something bold before its too late.

  13. Anonymous

    yeah yeah yeah. Greenwich RE current cost is significant to historical re taxes levied. Kept the tax artificially low, benifiting your mothers and grandmothers btw, by defering capital expenses……for generations. Pay as u go….means pay now or pay later
    ……you all advance the argument about disdain4 people living beyond their means………Your poor olde fixed income-entitlement depending welfare granny old folks may need to go out and get a JOB because I dnt feel like subsidizing them. Aint my fault they didnt plan for the future… is it?

  14. GeorgeCrosley

    AJ, thanks for your discussion of “home in.” Now, if only CF would remember to use the plural possessive when he’s speaking about the Democrats’ and Republicans’ plans.

  15. Georgie

    FF….interesting you state “the absymal state of our schools”

    you need to read the new superintendent’s statement on the status of our schools—everything is just hunky-dorky…..just need to do better but we are just fine overall, thank you. A real Race to the Bottom.

    oh, and his silver bullet—a dedicated computer for every child in the school district….from kindergarten to high school…implemented in 2 yrs.

    why do we keep hiring these poor superintendents? no wonder greenwich has the highest cost per pupil—yet yearly keep sliding against our peers.—both domestic and international.