As Chicago faces sky high crime rates and an exodus of major corporations, a left-wing group funded by Democratic megadonors George Soros and Pierre Omidyar is calling on the Windy City’s far-left mayor to slash the police force and raise taxes on businesses.
The Action Center on Race and the Economy, in a report entitled “First We Get the Money,” urged Mayor Brandon Johnson (D.) to cut the police budget by 9 percent and eliminate 1,000 vacant police positions in order to defund what the center calls a “racist policing system.” The group also called on the city to reimpose a “head tax” of $33 per employee on companies that have more than 50 workers. The measures are part of a proposal that the Action Center said will raise $12 billion to fund a “just Chicago” and “true community safety.”
It’s the latest example of a group backed by the Democratic Party’s biggest donors pushing to defund police departments. Soros, who funds the pro-defund group Color of Change, contributed $495,000 to the Action Center from 2019 to 2021, according to a database of his nonprofit’s donations. Omidyar, the founder of eBay, gave $750,000 to the organization in 2020 and 2021, according to tax filings. The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with extensive ties to the Biden administration, in 2020 gave $75,000 to the Action Center. Other Action Center donors include the Ford Foundation and the New Venture Fund.
The Action Center is likely to have some influence on Johnson, who took office on Monday. Johnson in 2020 called for defunding police departments. A coauthor of the Action Center report, Saqib Bhatti, reportedly served on Johnson’s mayoral transition team. Johnson during his campaign proposed $800 million in new taxes, including a 3.5 percent tax on people earning more than $100,000 and a 66 percent increase on hotel taxes.
The Action Center’s pitch could exacerbate the problems it aims to address. The 697 homicides in Chicago last year earned it the title of “Murder Capital of the United States.” Companies such as Caterpillar, Boeing, Tyson Foods, and Citadel Securities moved their headquarters from Chicago last year, citing high taxes and high cost of living as reasons for their exodus.
Johnson’s office distanced itself from the Action Center plan, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that the mayor’s tax proposals are far less drastic than the Action Center’s request.
Bhatti suggested the Action Center will continue to push for a radical overhaul.
“We’re not gonna win these things without a fight,” Bhatti told the Sun-Times. “Entrenched interests and the business community are aligned against us in a major way. So the idea that we shouldn’t be ambitious, to me, is just political malpractice.”
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