09/27/2010 01:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Washington State Wrestles With Tax-The-Rich Ballot Measure

The fight over what would be Washington's first state income tax since 1933 is shaping up as a battle of the titans: Both the elder Gates, a prominent retired lawyer and philanthropist, and his son, the richest man in America, are backing I-1098. But three of the state's other biggest businessmen -- current Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and John Nordstrom of the Seattle-based retail chain -- are throwing big money into the campaign to defeat it.

Washington voters are being asked to endorse a tax philosophy that is in many ways similar to President Obama's approach to shrinking the federal deficit: Keep the tax burden off low- and middle-income families while raising taxes on the wealthy.

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