Leona Helmsley, the beauty queen turned mean-mouthed hotelier, once said, “Only the little people pay taxes.”
Helmsley has a soulmate in state Sen. Bill Brady. This week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill allowing Illinoisans who owe back taxes between 2002 and 2009 to pay them without interest, as long as they pay between Oct. 1 and Nov. 8.
Only one senator voted against the tax amnesty: Bill Brady.
“It’s tax breaks for tax cheats, and Illinois just had a tax amnesty program,” Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said. “It’s always a concern when the Blagojevich-Quinn administration continues their pattern of spending money we don’t have and using one-time revenues. That’s what got us into this hole in the first place.”
That’s the kind of statement that makes Brady sound like every sneering plutocrat in a Charles Dickens novel -- Mr. Bumble the Beadle in Oliver Twist, Josiah Bounderby in Hard Times, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.
Most people who fall behind on their taxes aren’t cheats. They’re honest citizens who lose their jobs and have to choose between paying the government and paying the landlord. When the state piles on interest, it’s essentially charging these people money as a penalty for not having money. Their tax bills spiral out of reach, and they drop out of the system. A tax amnesty is a chance to bring them back in. The state estimates it can raise $250 million. Fifty-eight senators understood that. But not Bill Brady.
Maybe Brady doesn’t understand because a tough year for him means laying off half his employees, then getting a tax refund. Since Brady is so determined to put the screws to struggling taxpayers, this is a good time to tell the true story of his Porsche.
Ward Room has noted several times that Brady drives a Porsche. In fact, we’ve noted it so many times that a Brady spokesperson asked us to stop. The Porsche doesn’t belong to Brady, the spokesperson explained. It belongs to his wife. It’s 10 years old. It was a gift. And the Bradys only drive it at their home in Florida.
You see? It’s considerate of Brady to only drive the German charger at his vacation home. During this recession, he sees no need to flaunt his hot wheels before the little people who are struggling to pay their taxes.