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Seattle voters hike taxes to pay for leftist policies, then wonder why things get worse

OpinionSeattle voters hike taxes to pay for leftist policies, then wonder why things get worse

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Seattle residents have once again voted to raise the cost of housing to lower housing costs. If it sounds contradictory, you must be new to the Emerald City. Here, a liberal ethos prevails, with a penchant for endorsing any proposal cloaked in the mantle of progressivism. 

Consider the Seattle Housing Levy as a case in point: a colossal program nearing $1 billion, earmarked for the construction of affordable housing. This levy did not simply extend a pre-existing tax from 2016; it more than tripled the tax rate from 14 cents to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. 

Predictably, the levy passed with early voting results showing a commanding 66% support. The only firm number the levy commits to is a mere 3,200 new rental home constructions. 

MAJOR DEM DARK MONEY NONPROFIT POURED $150 MILLION INTO PROGRESSIVE CAUSES IN 2022, TAX FORMS SHOW

While it helps build some affordable housing, it also increases the cost of housing. Homeowners will see their property tax bills surge by roughly $400 annually. Tenants won’t be spared either, as these tax hikes are passed along via increased rents. 

Seattle homeless

Andrea Suarez dismantles a tent as garbage lies piled at a homeless encampment on March 13, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. The accumulation of garbage at such sites has become a major issue in Seattle as the city tries to move the unhoused out of shared public spaces. Suarez is the executive director of We Heart Seattle, a non-profit that stages trash cleanups across the city. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Adding insult to injury, the levy allocates $30 million for rental assistance to 4,500 tenants, yet the administrative costs to implement it are twice as much. This is in a city where the median house price has soared to $800,000, and where record-high fatal overdoses and a surge in homicides have marred the previous year’s statistics.  

This trend mirrors the distressing trajectory of other Democrat-run cities, where residents pay a premium to live in areas that are deteriorating thanks to extreme leftist policies. 

As I write about extensively in my new book, “What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our Cities,” the progressive conviction is that housing is an inalienable human right. They use that belief to justify heavy-handed governmental interference in the housing market.  

Despite the clear evidence that increased regulations and taxes have propelled the cost of living to exorbitant heights, the radical left remains steadfast in their dogma demanding higher taxes, conveniently sidestepping the fact that all of us are already contributing more than our “fair share.” 

Landlords, often misperceived as affluent, are merely striving to earn a respectable living while providing affordable housing. Yet, they find themselves beleaguered by a system that disproportionately favors tenants, including those who are clearly gaming the system. 

Seattle Grassroots Landlords is a local group of about 600 that connect on social media “to support each other and to prevent the ongoing degradation of rental housing options in Seattle.” Independent landlord Charlotte Thistle told me on my Seattle-based radio show that 17 new laws implemented citywide and statewide over the last three years have made the job nearly impossible. She highlighted the bureaucratic labyrinth that can result in a year-long process and $20,000 in legal fees to remove a disruptive occupant. 

Jason Roth, another landlord, learned this the hard way. After his tenant allegedly stopped paying rent, sublet the property on Airbnb and flaunted his exploits on social media, Roth found himself homeless, with his court case to evict postponed for months due to the tenant invoking the claim of being low-income. It triggered the system to offer him even more benefits. 

Thistle and Roth’s experiences have prompted them, along with many others, to pull their properties from the market. This landlord exodus, in a state that penalizes property ownership, only serves to inflate rental costs further.  

Seattle

Seattle continues to battle homelessness and crime as liberal solutions to its problems fail. FILE: The Space Needle stands over the Seattle skyline as Mt. Rainier is seen in the background on March 13, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Democrats’ response is to pour tax dollars into affordable housing, but there’s a problem with relying on the wealthy to “pay their fair share” (whatever that is). They leave. 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced this month that he’s leaving the Seattle area for Miami, to be closer to his parents and partner. It’s hard to ignore a striking difference between Washington and Florida.  

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Washington Democrats passed a statewide capital gains tax, managing to convince an eager state Supreme Court to redefine income taxes, which are unconstitutional here, so that they could get more tax dollars from the wealthy.  

They bizarrely claimed it’s an excise tax, before justifying their position by arguing their new definition is necessary because the state’s “upside-down tax system perpetuates systemic racism by placing a disproportionate tax burden on BIPOC residents.” 

This trend mirrors the distressing trajectory of other Democrat-run cities, where residents pay a premium to live in areas that are deteriorating thanks to extreme leftist policies. 

Before the tax took effect, Bezos sold more than 1.3 million Amazon shares, sparing him about $1.1 billion in taxes. He won’t have to worry about this in Florida. Moreover, Seattle wants to implement an additional capital gains tax and Democrats in the legislature are eyeing a wealth tax.  

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Democrats believe the homelessness crisis is due to the high costs of homes. But they also believe housing developers and landlords are wealthy, privileged and greedy. This perspective has led to punitive regulations and a reliance on government agencies to manage housing “the right way.” Yet, there is scant evidence to suggest that these measures are making the housing market more accessible. On the contrary, the situation continues to deteriorate. 

Maybe if they stopped “helping” so much, let the market operate with fewer impediments, we’d have housing for everyone. But Seattle voters seem eager to keep getting in the way of progress with more taxes.   

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM JASON RANTZ

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