Hit & Run

I Spitz in Your General Direction

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Hunh. I just heard something about New York mulling a sales tax for Amazon.com sales, and it appears the state (mainly Gov. Eliot Spitzer) has pulled anchor already.

Yesterday, just hours after The New York Sun reported on the new revenue collection scheme, the Spitzer administration announced that it was burying it for the time being — at least until after the Christmas shopping season. The move saved New York City shoppers from having to pay an additional 8.375% on many Amazon.com goods.

"Governor Spitzer believes that now is not the right time to be increasing sales taxes on New Yorkers," Mr. Spitzer's budget director, Paul Francis, said in a statement. "He has directed the Department of Tax and Finance to pull back its interpretation that would require some Internet retailers that do not collect sales tax to do so."

It's been a hell of a year in New York politics: Spitzer won the governorship by a landslide, bragged that he was a "fucking steamroller," flagrantly abused power to attack the GOP state Senate leader, then fought, and lost, a pitched battle on drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants. His political capital is torched; Ira Stoll and Jacob Gershman explain why people should have seen it coming. But they winnow in on Spitzer's credentials as a "New Democrat," which seem less important than his messiah complex. Spitzer's tumble (it's not a "fall"--the next election is in 2010) reminds me of the latter, pre-9/11 days of Rudy Giuliani, when he picked enormous fights to build his national conservative credentials and convinced most of the city that he was a crazy person.

Empire state conservatives and libertarians have been warning us for years of Spitzer's thuggery, of course. I'm chagrined for giving him the benefit of the doubt. Lesson learned.