Sometimes a tax is just a tax.

Then there’s New York’s latest money grab, which will give you the exclusive right to enter the “Congestion Relief Zone.” 

The name, which is what the MTA dubs the section of Manhattan below 60th Street, turns truth on its head.

The only “relief” you will feel after entering the zone will be from a lighter wallet. 

The $15 daily fee for cars and up to $36 for trucks and buses is the latest version of what the crooks from Tammany Hall called legal graft.

There ought to be a law against it. 

There also ought to be a mayor and a governor with the courage to block it.

Eric Adams and Kathy Hochul are pretending to be bystanders even as another reason to avoid Manhattan barrels toward implementation. 

Trying to keep their fingerprints off the money grab, the mayor and the governor have gone mute as the MTA exercised the power Albany gave it to impose a tax on the right to use city streets. 

Adams and Hochul both found time for junkets to Europe but have nothing to say as New York further cements its reputation as America’s most expensive place to live and work. 

A major part of the exorbitant costs are the myriad taxes and fees that jack up the price of everything from potato chips to apartments.

Government is a major driver of Gotham’s absurd cost of living. 

Yet it keeps upping the ante in an ignorant belief that it can make the city more affordable with ever more redistribution schemes.

Perhaps the wizards in Albany and City Hall ­haven’t heard that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers already have fled their rapacious policies and each new tax adds to the exodus. 

Only remaining hope 

Because the political class is all aboard the congestion tax bandwagon, the only hope is that one or more of the handful of lawsuits succeed in stopping or delaying the program. 

Otherwise, June 30 is doomsday. 

As it stands, the tax has been sold on three big lies. 

The first is that the MTA desperately needs the added $1 billion it would get annually from the program. 

Technically, that’s true — the MTA always desperately needs more money because it makes drunken sailors look frugal.

It’s already scheduled to burn through nearly $20 billion this year, yet has a long list of necessary capital projects it claims it won’t be able to do without the extra $1 billion. 

Such threats are the usual form of government hostage-taking during negotiations, but the MTA is in a class of one.

It says that unless it gets the $1 billion, it won’t be able to provide signal upgrades, new elevators, new subway cars and do countless routine repairs. 

In other words, the first $20 billion turns on the lights, and everything else rests on the added $1 billion. 

The only certainty is that the extra money will remove any pressure on the politically appointed board to reform the system’s wasteful habits.

That’s something Hochul and Adams could fix if they had the backbone. 

If past is prologue, the $1 billion will be deemed insufficient in the blink of an eye.

MTA operators will need even more because, when it comes to a government agency controlled by its unions, there is no such thing as enough money. 

This is the same agency that lost upwards of $750 million through fare-beating — in just one year!

So instead of catching and penalizing the cheaters, it penalizes people — auto and truck drivers and taxi passengers — who don’t use the system. 


Lie No. 2 is that the city and state are tapped out and can’t afford to spend more on mass transit.

That doesn’t pass the smell test based just on the size of their new budgets. 

The state’s spending plan comes to a whopping $237 billion, which ­Hochul describes as being full of “historic investments.”

It’s certainly full of something, because it’s twice as large as Florida’s budget of $117.5 billion — a state that has 3 million more people than New York. 

The city, too, is flush with cash, and negotiations between Adams and the City Council are likely to conclude with a total budget approaching $115 billion.

A watchdog group projects that the city-funded portion could increase by close to 9% over the current fiscal year. 

Immigrant budget drain 

A major cost factor is the still-ballooning arrival of illegal immigrants.

Adams projected a tab of $12 billion over three years, and the state has sharply upped its contribution. 

Among Hochul’s new “investments” is at least $2.5 billion for the problem caused by President Biden’s open border.

Shifting less than half of that to mass transit would eliminate the entire argument for a congestion tax. 

So there’s plenty of money in New York, but city and state pols decided to spend it on other things and also levy a new tax, as if there are no limits to what the public can bear. 

Look for a shortfall 

The third lie is that the tax will solve the congestion problem while paying for mass transit. 

It can’t do both at the promised levels.

If the levy sharply reduces the number of cars and trucks entering Midtown, the pledged money will come up short. 

If the tax doesn’t reduce traffic, congestion will remain a problem. 

That’s a more likely outcome because the reasons for congestion are not limited to traffic volume.

The city itself plays a major role in clogging streets by allowing anti-car zealots to eliminate traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes, restaurant sheds, construction equipment, double-parking, pedestrian plazas and anything else that suits their agenda. 

So the current congestion was inevitable — and largely by design. 

And now the zealots want to tax it. 

That’s who they are.

‘Kent sane’profs

Reader Jack Ciotti remembers campus upheavals in a different era, writing: “When the Kent State shootings took place in May of 1970, I was a student at Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. Fearing extreme disturbances, Pace, along with other colleges, closed. There were no final exams and we received whatever grades we had from the midterms. 

“Although there was extreme controversy over the Vietnam War and other issues, none of my professors ever tried to force their opinions on me. In fact, they encouraged me to take a reasoned approach to historical and contemporary situations. 

“Compared to current conditions on college campuses, it seems that my experience not only occurred in a time long past, but also on another planet.”

Damning silence

Reader David Shapiro asks and answers two questions, writing: “Is it surprising that prominent Jewish Democrats like Jerry Nadler, Chuck Schumer and Daniel Goldman are silent in the face of pro-Hamas demonstrations? Is it so strange that they failed to call out Biden for his duplicitous betrayal of Israel? Not at all. They are consumed by political expediency and have given short shrift to the security of Israel and America.”

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