Mario Cuomo and President Bush have something in common: They don't like to tax the rich.
To listen to New York's governor you might think the opposite.In a National Press Club speech in December, he blasted the government for 10 years of a Robin-Hood-in-reverse economic strategy - "giving the already wealthy more wealth through huge income tax cuts."
The governor was right.
However, New York has pursued its own Robin-Hood-in-reverse policy, cutting top income tax rates more than 50 percent in the past decade.
The wealthiest 1 percent of the nation's population saw its share of total income increase by 86 percent during the 1980s.
In New York the income of the richest 1 percent of taxpayers increased by 137 percent.
While its share of income was increasing in the past decade, the nation's top 1 percent paid 15 percent less in income taxes.
In New York the wealthiest 1 percent paid 33 percent less in state income taxes.
While the rich became richer and paid less of their income in taxes, New York's middle class and poor became poorer, and the middle class paid a larger percent in income taxes.
As a result of income tax cuts in New York, $7 billion in revenue has been lost.
Owing to the reduction and a worsening economy, the state faces a $6 billion deficit.
Cuomo would partly plug that hole with a regressive $500 million rise in gas taxes.
To offset U.S. and state spending cuts, local governments have had to further burden the middle class with taxes.
Across the state of New York, excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco have been the preferred method of plugging deficit holes.
On Oct. 25, 1989, The Buffalo News reported that Cuomo, criticizing Washington's proposed gasoline tax, said, "I don't believe you should raise revenues on a taxicab driver or a struggling schoolteacher. You should tax the wealthiest people. . . . "
Since Cuomo made that statement, several proposals have made in the New York State Senate to do just that, and Cuomo has rejected them all and promised to veto them.
He says increasing income taxes will send the rich across state borders and destroy New York's economic competitiveness.
He has produced no document or study to show this is the case, while numerous studies show the opposite to be true.
Bush found he could not live up to his "read my lips" pledge.
With huge deficits it was unrealistic and did not serve the nation.
Cuomo ought to learn from that experience and withdraw his own pledge not to raise taxes.