Morning Fizz

Herbold Looking at New Business Tax Recommendation

Trumpism in Seattle? And city hall looking at new taxes on businesses?

By Josh Feit August 22, 2016

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1. No new head taxes!, says increasingly influential city council member Lisa Herbold—though she is working on a recommendation for a new fee on business “tier size.”

Ever since former mayor Greg Nickels and the council repealed the “head tax”—a $25 per employee tax on businesses—and subsequently, ever since mayor Ed Murray and the council raised the minimum wage in 2014, the head tax (unsuccessfully floated by Herbold’s old boss, former city council member Nick Licata, and council member Kshama Sawant in 2015), has been the third rail in local politics.

The tax, which was in effect between 2006 and 2009, helped pay for street and sidewalk maintenance; employers could exempt employees who walked or took public transportation to work.

The Service Employee International Union has been advocating a renewal of the tax to pay for overseeing enforcement of new labor standards.

There’s a rumor in city hall that Herbold, who’s on a bit of a populist policy winning streak lately (tweaking Murray’s HALA deal to include a new displacement fee on developers, passing new tenant protection rules against income discrimination, and cueing up a “secured scheduling” proposal with the mayor to protect hourly workers) is about to come out with a head tax letter.

However, Herbold tells me while she is drafting a letter, it will actually suggest “a fee that will correspond to business tier size” but not a fee or tax per employee.

2. I don’t usually weigh in on the presidential race. Occasionally, though, when there are interesting overlaps between the banner 2016 contest and local issues—like how Hillary Clinton appealed to city voters during her primary run against Bernie Sanders, or now, how Donald Trump is appealing to a reactionary utopianism—it can be instructive to look at the national narrative.

Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall posted an excellent essay late yesterday explaining why the taboo term “white nationalism” is a fair term to use when talking about Trump’s campaign.

It’s a bit harsh to extend the analysis, but I do think Marshall's thoughts about white privilege help unpackage the stilted resentment I hear from single family homeowners and irked district council leaders in Seattle at the the Murray administration’s steps to retool the balance in this city.

Marshall writes about Trumpism:  

I continue to believe that it is best understood as a reaction to the erosion of white privilege, supremacy and centrality in American life.

That brings us to the second key point: Trumpism is about loss. And that loss is real. It's not just about being haters or uneducated or stupid. The fact that what's being lost is in most respects something that wasn't legitimate to have in the first place - status, centrality and racial privilege….

I think the driving factor is the erosion of white dominance in American life. African-Americans, Hispanics and other rising racial and ethnic minority groups may have grievances or demands for greater inclusion, dignity and respect in American life. But pretty much by definition they're not looking to reclaim something that was taken from them or something they've lost. It is inherently future oriented in a way that this burgeoning white nationalism is not.

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