Players: Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock star and part-time Occupy Wall Streeter; Dean Skelos, Republican State Senator who represents Nassau County and isn't a Wall Street Occupier
The Opening Serve: State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos stopped by WCNY, a radio station in upstate New York, on Tuesday and talk turned to the "state's millionaires tax." Skelos opposes the tax, and illustrated his point by name-dropping the 30 Rock star. " We can't be sidetracked. We can't be influenced by the Alec Baldwins of the world that are just buying a $17 million condo in Greenwich Village and he's going to tell us that we should tax everybody else," said Skelos on WCNY's Capital Pressroom on Tuesday. "We have to stay the course that's been established by the governor--not raise taxes." Skelos was referring to Baldwin's recent visit to Occupy Wall Street and news of Baldwin purchasing an $11.7 million penthouse in New York City's Greenwich Village.
The Return Volley: "Skelos is a Nassau County Republican," said Baldwin through a spokesperson in a New York Daily News report. "What does he know about taxation and finance?" The Daily News's Glenn Blain points out that, "Deficit-ridden Nassau County is one of the nation's most heavily taxed counties -- and its financial operations were taken over earlier this year." Baldwin took to his Twitter on Tuesday morning: "Dean Skelos says I want your taxes to go up and not my own," Baldwin wrote. "Only a Nassau County Republian tool like Dean Skelos could drag my name into a debate on state income tax." He added, "I pay more in income txs in 1 yr than Skelos pays in 20. So what's his point? ... His partisanship doesn't bother me. It's that he's so dumb" For good measure, he created the
#noonedistortsthefactslikedeanskelos and #noonelieslikedeanskelos hashtags this morning and offers up a challenge for Skelos:
What They Say They're Fighting About: New York's "millionaire tax." Baldwin, a noted liberal, has vocally supported the tax and his high-profile visit to Occupy Wall Street shows he's picked a side. Skelos, toeing his party's line, opposes the tax. And there's a play to the tension between New York City and New York State here with mentions of expensive Greenwich Village, troubled Nassau County, and Skelos speaking to an upstate radio station.
What They're Really Fighting About: They don't like each other. To make their points about the millionaire's tax, both parties are more interested in tearing down each other: Skelos in pointing out hypocrisy (Baldwin's recent condo purchase) and Baldwin highlighting his opponent's inefficiency (Skelos's very wealthy, yet troubled district).
Who's Winning Now: Baldwin. Baldwin's no stranger to spats, and comes out on top on this one. Sure he's got the numbers (72% of New Yorkers approve of the higher taxes according to a Sienna poll), but he's cleverly (unknowingly?) taken a page out of Warren Buffet's "I'm a nice rich guy" strategy of supporting taxing the wealthy and then offering up personal tax returns. Although Skelos points out the criticism and terrible PR timing of Baldwin visiting Occupy Wall Street then buying a mega-expensive condo, turning a state issue into a personal bout isn't the best idea.