For a minute, it looked like no one was going to show up to Washington State Republican Party Chairman Susan Hutchison's press conference outside City Hall today. The Seattle City Council had just passed a new income tax on high-income people and Hutchison was scheduled to offer a response. But, other than a few Republican Party staffers, the plaza outside City Hall was quiet.
Then, a crowd of people carrying bright red "TAX THE RICH" signs spilled onto the plaza and the scene turned into perhaps the most Seattle thing I can imagine:
Hutchison—who last year excused Donald Trump's "grab 'em by the pussy" comments by saying he was "channeling Bill Clinton"—pressed forward with her comments, claiming the high earners tax is really an effort to try to pass an income tax on all residents.
"This is not a tax on the rich, it's a veiled attempt to turn over the constitution," Hutchison said, as a crowd behind her chanted "tax the rich!" over and over. "It's not a tax on the wealthy, it's going to be a tax on everyone and that's the intention of this bill... There simply aren't enough high earners to justify the cost of administering this tax."
According to estimates from city staff, the new tax will raise about $140 million a year, cost between $10 million and $13 million to set up, and cost $5 million to $6 million a year to implement. Council members said they have no plans to tax everyone in the city, as Hutchison claims, considering the whole point of the tax is to address the existing tax burden on poor people.
Then Hutchison got to the best part of her remarks. When a reporter asked what Republicans planned to do about the tax, Hutchison smiled, thanked her for the question, and said without a shred of irony, "We are encouraging all the citizens of the city as well as the state to exercise civil disobedience, to not comply, to not file, and to not pay."
"We are encouraging civil disobedience," she repeated later, "a long tradition in America."
Hutchison said she expects a legal challenge of the tax but is not aware of who will bring that case. In a press release this afternoon, the Freedom Foundation said it is "prepared to challenge the action in court—hopefully with a coalition of other freedom-minded organizations."