A state legislator’s pie-in-the-sky pitch to slap a $3 tax on nearly all New York City orders from Amazon and other online retailers touched off a Twitter war with fellow progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who accused the Brooklynite of unfairly targeting the poor.
“You know why all this backlash happens when we say ‘Tax the Rich?’ Because the unquestionable norm is to tax the poor & working class,” the freshman congresswoman tweeted about the proposal from Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn), which aims to raise $1 billion for the cash-strapped MTA.
“Maybe instead of taxing people who need baby formula and essential goods, we tax those who have profited billions from a global pandemic?” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The tweet quickly went viral, drawing the ire of the millennial socialist’s 10.8 million followers — even though the bill from Assemblyman Robert Carroll (D-Brooklyn) exempts the essential items she cited as unfair to tax.
“The surcharge exempts food/medicine & other essential items,” Carroll tweeted in response.
“I support taxing the rich but I also support taxing things like gasoline [because] they have societal costs. We can & should tax both. The surcharge will make our air cleaner, streets safer & help thousands of small biz.”
Fueled by Ocasio-Cortez’s righteous indignation, dozens of online socialists piled on in response to Carroll’s tweets.
“This is an a**backwrd “trickle up” theory. Punish the people who need to shop online to try to hurt the GIANT WEALTHY corp at the top,” user @meltrat458 replied.
“I’m a small biz owner trying to stay afloat in NYC & your proposed tax would hurt me WAY b4 Amazon feels even a pinch.”
“In this era of extreme income inequality and an ongoing recession and pandemic, proposing to place another tax burden on working families is truly heinous,” user @PyroTheFox added.
The MTA is mulling layoffs, fare hikes and 40 percent cuts to subway service in order to close the $15 billion budget hole created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has cratered ridership and tax revenues.
Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen defended the $3 fee, which he said would drive New Yorkers to support and stabilize local mom-and-pop shops.
The labor bigwig, who like Ocasio-Cortez has been a supporter of Bernie Sanders, told The Post that while he agreed with the push to tax the rich, he doubted whether it could pass. He warned that state leaders cannot waste time on ideological debates.
“I don’t think she realizes the imminent danger the transit system is in,” Sameulsen said.
“We can’t afford a three-year discussion of whether it’s okay to take the rich more in New York State. The system will implode, service will be cut and New York’s workers will be packed into subway cars like sardines breathing coronavirus on each other.”