National Press Club

California group pushes for tax on the wealthy at NPC Newsmaker

June 12, 2012 | By Heather Forsgren Weaver |

Californians heading to the polls in November have an opportunity to signal the rest of the nation that it's OK to tax the wealthy, Rick Jacobs, founder and chairman of the Courage Campaign, said at a National Press Club Newsmaker June 11.

“There is no other ballot measure of which I am aware in the 50 states this time around that actually raises taxes,” Jacobs said.

The Courage Campaign, a 750,000 member grassroots organization based in California, is spearheading efforts to pass a ballot measure in the state that authorizes taxes on people earning more than $250,000 per year.

A victory would also send a message to 19 Republican members of Congress from California expected to vote to extend Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year, Jacobs said. The Obama administration proposes to extend the cuts only for those making less than $250,000 per year.

“It is time for people who make more to pay more,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said he doesn’t believe there will be much money spent to defeat the ballot measure.

“There is a lot of other stuff going on this fall. There are a lot of places that people are going to want to put money,” he said. Large business groups “have taken an active neutral position, and that is usually the source of opposition money in our state for this sort of thing.”

Jacobs estimated the ballot measure will raise $50 billion over seven years. Ninety percent of the revenue comes from a tax on people who make more than $250,000 per year, he said. There is also a quarter-cent sales tax increase that will sunset after four years.

If the ballot measure fails, Jacobs predicted “draconian” cuts to education and public safety.