Is Phil Murphy’s New Jersey “fair” to the Middle Class? That depends how you define “middle.”

By Matt Rooney

Governor Phil Murphy renewed his push for an ever more expansive “millionaire’s tax” on Monday, Save Jerseyans, ahead of an end-of-June deadline to hammer our a budget deal or weather yet another state government shutdown.

Many things come to mind whenever Murphy, a Goldman Sachs gazillionaire, begins expounding on the virtues of taxing our state into better times. Some I have repeated out loud (click here). Others aren’t appropriate for polite company. One Twitter follower really hit the nail on the head today and I thought it was worth sharing:

Very, very well-put, Gary.

Excellent points.

A recent look at the numbers discovered 78% of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck (meaning the money comes in and then goes right out). Is THAT “middle class” in 2019? Looks like it, and if it is, I think most Americans would tell you that they aspire to something higher/better/more “secure” (to use Murphy verbiage) than a paycheck-to-paycheck existence.

The Middle Class is disappearing in states like New Jersey. Only the dependent and flush can afford to live here with property tax rates breaking new records on an annual basis. If you’re somewhere in between public assistance and trust funds? As most of us are? You’re swimming upstream to achieve the traditional conception of the Middle Class (home ownership, two cars in the driveway, and the ability to save every month towards a dignified retirement).

There’s also something to be said for Tweeter Gary’s desire to HAVE (read: “earn”) what Phil Murphy has. Americans haven’t traditionally boarded ships, crossed oceans, worked hard and ultimately been willing to settle for government cheese at the end of the journey! It’s the American DREAM, not the American subsistence which brings immigrants and dreamers alike to this land of opportunity.

Is “secure” really the final desired goal of immigrants, entrepreneurs, innovators and adventurers, past and present?

Or the chance to prosper? Without a king, lord, or despot’s boot on your back?

I’d go a step further and point out that Donald Trump’s appeal with so-called “working class” Americans lies in the image he expertly projects of hard-won America-style success. If you work hard? And are smart? You can make your mark, too. 

All things worth thinking about as this “millionaire’s tax” debate bleeds into the summer months. This is about more than economics; it’s a discussion concerning who we are as Americans. There isn’t another debate more worth having!


MATT ROONEY is a practicing New Jersey attorney, regular panelist on ‘Chasing News’ with Bill Spadea, and the founder and blogger-in-chief of Save Jersey.