Rep. Birmingham, along with Rep. Francis E. Rafter of Salem and Rep. John V. Mahoney of Dorchester, led the fight to push Gov. Ely’s luxury tax package through the House after the committee on taxation reported the tax package unfavorably on May 19, the Boston Herald reported (May 20, 1932, p. 1, 20, via Genealogy Bank).
The luxury tax package included excises taxes on tobacco, soft drinks, and amusements. Birmingham was charged with leading the fight on the soft drinks tax, while Rafter promoted the tobacco tax, and Mahoney pushed the amusement tax on theaters, baseball, boxing, wrestling, and hockey.
Sen. Erland F. Fish of Brookline, chairman of the taxation committee, said his panel could find no justification for singling the three industries for special taxation. He said that no tax increases should be voted on until cities and towns reduce their expenditures.
Responding, Gov. Ely said: “Senator Fish says that if any more tax measures are passed to raise funds for cities and towns they will not cut down on expenses, but that does not help the man who pays a real estate tax any [sic]. He still will be required to pay the tax. The further argument is used that the three industries should not be singled out but the three industries fall into one classification and that classification is luxury. The tobacco industry is sufficiently profitable so that the president of one particular company received a salary and bonus in excess of $1,000,000. I am tremendously disappointed that the committee did not see fit to report these bills and I believe the people generally will be disappointed.”