Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

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Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#1

Post by Addie » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:10 pm

Thread title changed

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Salon - Amanda Marcotte
Here's the real story of the 2020 election: Billionaires vs. America

Will 2020 be defined as the election that pitted the super-wealthy against everyone else? Early indicators, as candidates start to enter the race, suggest that may well may be the case. Increasing rhetoric on the Democratic side is highlighting the already popular idea of soaking the rich as a way to address the myriad of social problems caused by economic inequality. Meanwhile, billionaires are panicking and the right-wing propaganda machine is snapping into action, trying to portray mild economic reforms as the moral equivalent of the Holocaust.

There's a real chance, then, that 2020 will become a showdown between American democracy and American capitalism. The question of whether money can trump the will of the people may be put to the test in a way it hasn't before.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren was the first serious Democratic contender to make it official that she's running for president. It's clear that Warren's campaign, like her political career so far, will be focused on these issues of economic fairness. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Warren is proposing a "wealth tax" that would be applied to assets of the fantastically wealthy, with a focus on ameliorating massive inequality over time.

"Middle-class America has been paying a wealth tax forever," Warren explained on MSNBC Monday night. "It's called a property tax, on their principal accumulation of wealth, which is their home."

"How 'bout we'll also tax your diamonds and your yachts and your art collection and all those other ways that people accumulate wealth?" she added.
Adding:
Rolling Stone: Turns Out Americans Actually Do Want to Tax the Rich

New polls find big backing for taxing accumulated wealth, hiking income tax for “ultramillionaires”

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Re: Billionaires vs. America

#2

Post by Addie » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:04 am

The Guardian
Historian berates billionaires at Davos over tax avoidance

A discussion panel at the Davos World Economic Forum has become a sensation after a Dutch historian took billionaires to task for not paying taxes.

In a video shared tens of thousands of times, Rutger Bregman, author of the book Utopia for Realists, bemoans the failure of attendees at the recent gathering in Switzerland to address the key issue in the battle for greater equality: the failure of rich people to pay their fair share of taxes.

Noting that 1,500 people had travelled to Davos by private jet to hear David Attenborough talk about climate change, he said he was bewildered that no one was talking about raising taxes on the rich.

“I hear people talking the language of participation, justice, equality and transparency but almost no one raises the real issue of tax avoidance, right? And of the rich just not paying their fair share,” Bregman tells the Time magazine panel on inequality. ...

Industry had to “stop talking about philanthropy and start talking about taxes”, he said, and cited the high tax regime of 1950s America as an example to disprove arguments by businesspeople at Davos such as Michael Dell that economies with high personal taxation could not succeed. “That’s it,” he says. “Taxes, taxes, taxes. All the rest is bullshit in my opinion.”

After the panel Bregman tweeted a link to a opinion piece he wrote for the Guardian in 2017, saying “most wealth is not created at the top, but merely devoured there”.

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Re: Billionaires vs. America

#3

Post by fierceredpanda » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:15 am

Relevant to this discussion, I've been thinking about guillotines a lot lately. :think:

Listen, billionaires of the world. History tells us that out-of-control inequality gets solved one of two ways: Either policy gets changed to (yes) expropriate and redistribute some of the excess wealth being hoarded at the top, or things get sorted out by more direct and violent means, up to and including guillotines. I personally prefer the former option.

John Podhoretz was on MSNBC yesterday arguing that we shouldn't tax the rich because they will find ways to not pay taxes anyway. (One wonders if he feels that way about crimes like murder? People are going to kill anyway!) He also said that it is unjust to punish people by taxing wealth rather than earnings. That got me to thinking about The Hobbit. It's very true that no one in Bilbo and Thorin's party had the idea to tell Smaug, "Yo, dragon, it's cool that you've got all this treasure and everything, but we need to do something about inequality, so we're going to tax your hoard at 2% per annum. Have a nice day!" Instead, they went into Erebor to kill the fucking dragon. Again, I prefer the first option, but the hoarding is the problem here, and I have utterly lost patience with people who insist that the 99.9% of humanity that doesn't enjoy vast, uncountable, and ever-expanding wealth should just sit by and do nothing while all the gains go to the top.
"There's no play here. There's no angle. There's no champagne room. I'm not a miracle worker, I'm a janitor. The math on this is simple; the smaller the mess, the easier it is for me to clean up." -Michael Clayton

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America

#4

Post by Addie » Fri Feb 01, 2019 1:48 pm

LA Times - Michael Hiltzik
America is falling out of love with billionaires, and it’s about time

Our emerging political debate over taxing the rich seems to be getting bogged down in details — how high a tax rate, should we tax income or wealth, etc., etc. But this fixation on nuts and bolts is obscuring what may be the most important aspect of the discussion: America is becoming fed up with its billionaires.

That sentiment is long overdue. It has begun to surface in the suggestion by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that the top marginal rate on high incomes shift back to what it was in the 1950s or 1960s, and in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for a wealth tax on those with high net worth.

Since the Reagan administration, the political establishment has strived to convince Americans that extreme wealth in the hands of a small number of plutocrats is good for everyone. We’ve had the “trickle-down” theory, the rechristening of the wealthy as “job creators” and their categorization invariably as “self-made.” We’ve been told, via the simplistic Laffer Curve, that if you raise the tax rate you get less revenue.

There are three main subtexts of these arguments, all of which show up in the email in-box whenever I write about wealth and taxation. First: The extreme wealth of the few creates wealth all along the income scale, for the masses. Second: It’s immoral — confiscatory — to soak the rich via taxation, at least above a certain level that never seems to be precisely defined. And third: If we torment the wealthy with taxes, they’ll pack up their wealth and leave us, whether for some more accommodating nation on Earth or some Ayn Randian paradise.

Experience has shown us that the first argument is simply untrue — extreme wealth begets only more inequality. The second argument begs the question of where reasonable taxation turns into confiscation, although the level of taxation of high incomes today is nowhere near as high as it was in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, when economic gains were shared much more equally with the working class. As for the third, Warren’s answers to capital flight include stepping up IRS enforcement resources, which have been eviscerated by political agents of the wealthy, and imposing an “exit tax” on any plutocrat renouncing his or her U.S. citizenship to evade U.S. taxes.

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Re: Billionaires vs. America

#5

Post by Wintermute » Fri Feb 01, 2019 6:57 pm

fierceredpanda wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:15 am
Relevant to this discussion, I've been thinking about guillotines a lot lately. :think:

Listen, billionaires of the world. History tells us that out-of-control inequality gets solved one of two ways: Either policy gets changed to (yes) expropriate and redistribute some of the excess wealth being hoarded at the top, or things get sorted out by more direct and violent means, up to and including guillotines. I personally prefer the former option.
:snippity:
The Hobbit. It's very true that no one in Bilbo and Thorin's party had the idea to tell Smaug, "Yo, dragon, it's cool that you've got all this treasure and everything, but we need to do something about inequality, so we're going to tax your hoard at 2% per annum. Have a nice day!" Instead, they went into Erebor to kill the fucking dragon. Again, I prefer the first option, but the hoarding is the problem here, and I have utterly lost patience with people who insist that the 99.9% of humanity that doesn't enjoy vast, uncountable, and ever-expanding wealth should just sit by and do nothing while all the gains go to the top.
Damn Fierceredpanda, way to go middle earth on inequality.
???????????????

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America

#6

Post by p0rtia » Fri Feb 01, 2019 8:52 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:
No matter where you go, there you are! :towel:
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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America

#7

Post by Addie » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:07 pm

New York Times - David Leonhardt
What’s Really Radical? Not Taxing the Rich

It’s time to reverse the extreme upward redistribution of the last 40 years.


Imagine for a moment that a presidential candidate made this speech:

My fellow Americans, I’m here today to tell you about my economic plan. Each year, I will require every middle-class family across this great country to write a check. We will then pool the money and distribute it to the richest Americans among us — the top 1 percent of earners, who, because of their talent, virtue and success, deserve even more money.

The exact size of the checks will depend on a family’s income, but a typical middle-class household will hand over $15,000 each year. This plan, I promise all of you, will create the greatest version of America that has ever existed.


You would consider that proposal pretty radical, wouldn’t you? Politically crazy. Destructive, even. Well, I’ve just described the actual changes in the American economy since the 1970s. ...

The extreme redistribution of income — upward — has multiple causes. Some of them, like technological change, stem mostly from private-sector forces. But government policy plays a crucial role. Tax rates on the wealthy have fallen sharply. Labor unions have been undermined. Big companies have been allowed to grow even bigger and more powerful. The United States has lost its lead as the most educated country in the world.

More often than not over the past 40 years, our government has helped the rich at the expense of everyone else. As a result, economic inequality has reached Gilded Age levels.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America

#8

Post by Addie » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:19 pm

Politico
Soak the rich? Americans say go for it

Surveys are showing overwhelming support for raising taxes on top earners.


The prospect of 70 percent tax rates for multimillionaires and special levies on the super-rich draw howls about creeping socialism and warnings of economic disaster in much of Washington.

But polling suggests that when it comes to soaking the rich, the American public is increasingly on board.

Surveys are showing overwhelming support for raising taxes on top earners, including a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Monday that found 76 percent of registered voters believe the wealthiest Americans should pay more in taxes. A recent Fox News survey showed that 70 percent of Americans favor raising taxes on those earning over $10 million — including 54 percent of Republicans.

The numbers suggest the political ground upon which the 2020 presidential campaign will be fought is shifting in dramatic ways, reflecting the rise in inequality in the United States and growing concerns in the electorate about the fairness of the American system.

“There is a deep wellspring in terms of perception of unfairness in the economy that’s been tapped into here that either didn’t exist five years ago or existed and had not had a chance to be expressed,” said Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JPMorgan Asset Management who has studied the latest tax proposals. “This is quite a moment in American economic history where all of a sudden in a matter of months this thing has kind of exploded like this.”

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#9

Post by Addie » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:36 am

Rolling Stone
Warren Buffett Joins the Tax-the-Rich Chorus

The billionaire investor is the latest to call for income supports for the working class


Noted McDonald’s breakfast enthusiast Warren Buffett is no stranger to the American tax debate. He’s famous for endorsing the “Buffett Rule” that proposes no millionaire should pay a lower effective tax rate than a working person. In a new interview that aired on CNBC on Monday, Buffett again injected himself into the politics of inequality insisting: “The wealthy are definitely under-taxed relative to the general population.”

The 88-year-old’s comments add chum to the tax-the-rich waters. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has proposed increasing the estate tax up to 77 percent for billionaires. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for an annual wealth tax to be imposed on fortunes greater than $50 million. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY) has called on a 70-percent tax bracket for those with annual incomes in excess of $10 million. All of these policy proposals are a hit with voters, according to recent polling.

Buffett, who is worth more than $80 billion, used his CNBC interview to endorse a redistribution of wealth to counteract an economy that’s rewarding those at the very top. “As we get more specialized, the rich will get richer,” he said. “The question is: How do you take care of a guy who is a wonderful citizen, whose father died in Normandy, and just doesn’t have market skills? I think the income tax credit is the best way to address that.”

Buffett alludes to policies like the Earned-Income Tax Credit, a wage subsidy administered through the federal tax code. Several mainstream Democratic presidential candidates (and those flirting openly with runs) have called for an expansion of the EITC, or a similar mechanism to increase the standard of living for America’s workers.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#10

Post by Addie » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:10 am

WaPo - Greg Sargent
An election all about our Gilded Age levels of inequality

The other day, economist Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley put out a new paper that startled many observers, finding that wealth inequality has returned to levels not seen since the 1920s.

The paper’s key attention-grabber: The 400 richest people in America now own a greater share of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 150 million people do.

As Christopher Ingraham summarized, this remarkable finding may understate the severity of the situation. The ongoing wealth shift is having serious consequences, eroding the economic security of untold numbers of ordinary families, while further consolidating economic and political power in the hands of a tiny economic elite.

Zucman is one of the world’s leading trackers of inequality. When Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced her proposal for a tax on extreme wealth — of 2 percent on wealth over $50 million, and 3 percent over $1 billion — it was accompanied by an analysis from Zucman.

Warren’s wealth tax proposal is only one of many from Democratic presidential hopefuls. Warren has rolled out reforms to make big corporations more responsive to the public interest and a plan for universal child care. Others are advocating ambitious tax credits for the working poor and children. Sen. Bernie Sanders is pushing a raft of proposals to curb corporate power and boost worker power, among other things. Also on the table: a $15-per-hour minimum wage and variations of Medicare-for-all.

In short, the Democratic field is now more focused on inequality and concentrated economic and corporate power than any presidential field in recent memory. I spoke to Zucman about his findings and what lies ahead, and a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follows.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#11

Post by Addie » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:43 am

ProPublica
The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.

Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. It never had a chance. ...


How did a case that consumed so many years of effort, with a team of its finest experts working on a signature mission, produce such a piddling result for the IRS? The Schaeffler case offers a rare window into just how challenging it is to take on the ultrawealthy. For starters, they can devote seemingly limitless resources to hiring the best legal and accounting talent. Such taxpayers tend not to steamroll tax laws; they employ complex, highly refined strategies that seek to stretch the tax code to their advantage. It can take years for IRS investigators just to understand a transaction and deem it to be a violation.

Once that happens, the IRS team has to contend with battalions of high-priced lawyers and accountants that often outnumber and outgun even the agency’s elite SWAT team. “We are nowhere near a circumstance where the IRS could launch the types of audits we need to tackle sophisticated taxpayers in a complicated world,” said Steven Rosenthal, who used to represent wealthy taxpayers and is now a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution.

Because the audits are private—IRS officials can go to prison if they divulge taxpayer information—details of the often epic paper battles between the rich and the tax collectors are sparse, with little in the public record. Attorneys are also loath to talk about their clients’ taxes, and most wealthy people strive to keep their financial affairs under wraps. Such disputes almost always settle out of court.

But ProPublica was able to reconstruct the key points in the Schaeffler case. The billionaire’s lawyers and accountants first crafted a transaction of unusual complexity, one so novel that they acknowledged, even as they planned it, that it was likely to be challenged by the IRS. Then Schaeffler deployed teams of professionals to battle the IRS on multiple fronts. They denied that he owed any money, arguing the agency fundamentally misunderstood the tax issues. Schaeffler’s representatives complained to top officials at the agency; they challenged document requests in court. At various times, IRS auditors felt Schaeffler’s side was purposely stalling. But in the end, Schaeffler’s team emerged almost completely victorious.

His experience was telling. The IRS’ new approach to taking on the superwealthy has been stymied. The wealthy’s lobbyists immediately pushed to defang the new team. And soon after the group was formed, Republicans in Congress began slashing the agency’s budget. As a result, the team didn’t receive the resources it was promised. Thousands of IRS employees left from every corner of the agency, especially ones with expertise in complex audits, the kinds of specialists the agency hoped would staff the new elite unit. The agency had planned to assign 242 examiners to the group by 2012, according to a report by the IRS’ inspector general. But by 2014, it had only 96 auditors. By last year, the number had fallen to 58.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#12

Post by Whatever4 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 10:15 pm

That’s why you are far far more likely to be audited if you are poor.

Where in The U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS?
Humphreys County, Mississippi, seems like an odd place for the IRS to go hunting for tax cheats. It’s a rural county in the Mississippi Delta known for its catfish farms, and more than a third of its mostly African American residents are below the poverty line. But according to a new study, it is the most heavily audited county in America.

In a baffling twist of logic, the intense IRS focus on Humphreys County is actually because so many of its taxpayers are poor. More than half of the county’s taxpayers claim the earned income tax credit, a program designed to help boost low-income workers out of poverty. As we reported last year, the IRS audits EITC recipients at higher rates than all but the richest Americans, a response to pressure from congressional Republicans to root out incorrect payments of the credit.

The study estimates that Humphreys, with a median annual household income of just $26,000, is audited at a rate 51 percent higher than Loudoun County, Virginia, which boasts a median income of $130,000, the highest in the country.
https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/eitc-audit
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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#13

Post by Addie » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:18 am

Cross-posting

WaPo - Catherine Rampell
The Democrats’ new tax plan is their clearest, most efficient blueprint yet ...

Some of these ideas are better thought through — legally, fiscally, politically — than others. But the general theme is this: Forget (or reverse) those tax cuts for the rich. Focus on cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families instead. ...

It’s called the Working Families Tax Relief Act. Already, nearly every Democratic senator has signed up to co-sponsor it — including every senator now running for president. ...

For those unfamiliar, the EITC is a tax credit that incentivizes work by topping off workers’ wages. Given the EITC’s record of lifting living standards and job growth, it has long enjoyed bipartisan appeal; Republican and Democratic presidents alike have presided over successive expansions. If passed, this new bill would boost the credit for families who have children and massively expand it for “childless” adults (which includes non-custodial parents), who are currently eligible for little support. ...

The new bill would make the existing child tax credit available to all children by making it fully “refundable.” That is, poor families whose income taxes are less than the credit could receive the entire balance as a refund.

It would also create an entirely new, fully refundable “Young Child Tax Credit” available to families with children under 6. Together, these changes would increase the child-tax credit’s maximum value to $3,000 per preschool-age child. That would surely be a welcome increase in living standards for families struggling with child care and other expenses.

The bill’s beneficiaries would be widespread — raising incomes for households containing an estimated 114 million people and putting a significant dent in the child-poverty rate, according to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. No cost estimate is available yet, but it appears less expensive than other ambitious proposals Democrats have put forward.


Also:
Brown.Senate.gov - Press Release: What They’re Saying: More Than 80 Organizations Support Working Families Tax Relief Act
Adding:
NBC News: 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg on taxing the rich and the future of American capitalism

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#14

Post by Addie » Mon Apr 15, 2019 12:05 pm

New York Times - Michael Tomasky
Is America Becoming an Oligarchy?

Growing inequality threatens our most basic democratic principles. ...


Mr. Buttigieg said that when capitalism becomes unrestrained by democratic checks and impulses, that’s no longer the kind of capitalism that once produced broad prosperity in this country. “If you want to see what happens when you have capitalism without democracy, you can see it very clearly in Russia,” he said. “It turns into crony capitalism, and that turns into oligarchy.” ...

So, yes, democracy and the kind of economic inequality we’ve seen in this country in recent decades don’t mix. Some will rejoin that many nations even more unequal than ours are still democracies — South Africa, Brazil, India. But are those the models to which the United States of America should aspire?

A number of scholars have made these arguments in recent years, notably Ganesh Sitaraman in his book “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution.” All that work has been vitally important. But now that some politicians are saying it, we can finally have the broad national conversation we’ve desperately needed for years.

Bernie Sanders has proposed an inheritance tax that the founders would love, and Elizabeth Warren has proposed a wealth tax of which they’d surely approve. But you don’t have to be a supporter of either of those candidates or their plans to get behind the general idea that great concentration of wealth is undemocratic.

Policies built around this idea will not turn America into the Soviet Union or, in the au courant formulation, Venezuela. They will make it the nation the founders intended. And this, as Mr. Buttigieg’s words suggest, is how Democratic candidates should answer the socialism question (with the apparent exception of the socialist Mr. Sanders). No, I’m a capitalist. And that’s why I want capitalism to change.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#15

Post by Addie » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:09 pm

The Nation
The Plan to Save Our Economy

By curbing corporate power and reinvigorating the public sector, we can create an economic system that works for everyone.


It is no small task to tell the story of how the nation arrived at this moment of extreme concentration of wealth and political power. It’s even more difficult to explain what, specifically, can be done to reclaim the economy and democracy for the benefit of the public.

But the Roosevelt Institute has attempted to do just that with its new report, “New Rules for the 21st Century: Corporate Power, Public Power and the Future of the American Economy.” It is a report, ultimately, about power—who has it, who should have it, and what hangs in the balance as the fight for power is waged. ...

Over the past 50 years, according to the report, free marketeers—including neoliberal policy-makers who believe that free markets produce just outcomes—created today’s inequities in wealth, opportunity, and power through a “calculated one-two punch.” The first punch concentrated corporate power through “regulatory, tax, and procurement” policies that allowed financial and political elites to reap the benefits of a very intentionally designed system. The second punch weakened public power by framing government spending as “inherently inefficient” in contrast to a “free market” that was fair, neutral, and rewarded a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” work ethic.

To sell the first set of policies, the public was told that by reducing top marginal tax rates and taxes on capital gains, deregulating corporations, weakening unions, and generally doing whatever is possible to create unfettered markets, we would all share in the wealth through job creation, higher wages, and increased opportunity. (In other words, that wealth would “trickle down.”) The result? The top .01 percent (about 200,000 households) now own the same wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all Americans while wages have remained fairly flat since the 1970s and the racial wealth gap has widened. Moreover, with the injection of more money in politics through campaign contributions and federal lobbying ($3.5 billion annually), financial elites have increased their access to policy-makers and consequent ability to write rules that buoy the continued concentration of wealth and power.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#16

Post by Addie » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:57 am

TIME: Everyone's Talking About Basic Income. Here Are 8 Problems It Could Fix

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#17

Post by Addie » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:29 am

Cross-posting

New York Times OpEd - Joseph Stiglitz
Progressive Capitalism Is Not an Oxymoron

We can save our broken economic system from itself.


Despite the lowest unemployment rates since the late 1960s, the American economy is failing its citizens. Some 90 percent have seen their incomes stagnate or decline in the past 30 years. This is not surprising, given that the United States has the highest level of inequality among the advanced countries and one of the lowest levels of opportunity — with the fortunes of young Americans more dependent on the income and education of their parents than elsewhere.

But things don’t have to be that way. There is an alternative: progressive capitalism. Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron; we can indeed channel the power of the market to serve society.

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s regulatory “reforms,” which reduced the ability of government to curb the excesses of the market, were sold as great energizers of the economy. But just the opposite happened: Growth slowed, and weirder still, this happened in the innovation capital of the world.

The sugar rush produced by President Trump’s largess to corporations in the 2017 tax law didn’t deal with any of these long-run problems, and is already fading. Growth is expected to be a little under 2 percent next year.

This is where we’ve descended to, but not where we have to stay. A progressive capitalism based on an understanding of what gives rise to growth and societal well-being gives us a way out of this quagmire and a way up for our living standards.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#18

Post by Addie » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:33 am

WaPo
Capitalism in crisis: U.S. billionaires worry about the survival of the system that made them rich

PALO ALTO, Calif. — A perfect California day. The sun was shining, a gentle breeze was blowing and, at a Silicon Valley coffee shop, Rep. Ro Khanna was sitting across from one of his many billionaire constituents discussing an uncomfortable subject: the growing unpopularity of billionaires and their giant tech companies.

“There’s some more humility out here,” Khanna (D-Calif.) said.

The billionaire on the other side of the table let out a nervous laugh. Chris Larsen was on his third start-up and well on his way to being one of the wealthiest people in the valley, if not the world.

“Realizing people hate your guts has some value,” he joked.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans have hailed America’s business elite, especially in Silicon Valley, as the country’s salvation. The government might be gridlocked, the electorate angry and divided, but America’s innovators seemed to promise a relatively pain-free way out of the mess. Their companies produced an endless series of products that kept the U.S. economy churning and its gross domestic product climbing. Their philanthropic efforts were aimed at fixing some of the country’s most vexing problems. Government’s role was to stay out of the way.

Now that consensus is shattering. For the first time in decades, capitalism’s future is a subject of debate among presidential hopefuls and a source of growing angst for America’s business elite. In places such as Silicon Valley, the slopes of Davos, Switzerland, and the halls of Harvard Business School, there is a sense that the kind of capitalism that once made America an economic envy is responsible for the growing inequality and anger that is tearing the country apart.
Adding:
NBC News: Twice as many companies paying zero taxes under Trump tax plan

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. In its first year, the number of companies paying no taxes went from 30 to 60.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#19

Post by Addie » Sat May 04, 2019 2:43 pm

Business Insider
Even billionaires are acknowledging that the system that created their crazy amount of wealth is unsustainable

Billionaire Marc Benioff recently put his vast wealth to work on a cause that is plaguing his hometown of San Francisco, donating $30 million to the University of California-San Francisco to study the causes of homelessness.

The city has experienced a boom in wealth thanks to the massive tech companies that are headquartered there yet homelessness has skyrocketed as rents continue to climb, leaving an estimated 7,500 people in the city without a home.

While Benioff said in a statement that he hopes to find "a North Star for truth on homelessness," the underlying question is what if billionaires, and the system that allowed Benioff and his peers to accumulate this wealth, are the true reason for the US's staggering levels of wealth inequality.

With income inequality rising to the same levels as the Gilded Age of the 1920s, which was of course followed by the Great Depression, even billionaires are sounding the alarm on the possible side effects coming from when so few people control so much wealth. According to a recent paper by University of California-Berkeley professor Gabriel Zucman, the top 1% in the country own 40% of the country's wealth.

"I think the American dream is lost," said Bridgewater Associates founder and billionaire Ray Dalio on a recent CBS broadcast. Dalio, who was the highest-grossing hedge fund manager in 2018, pulling in $2 billion in total compensation, and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon have said populism and a trend toward more extreme political stances are inevitable results of this inequality.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#20

Post by fierceredpanda » Sat May 04, 2019 8:50 pm

It's almost like the unfathomably wealthy have studied enough history to figure out what happens to people like them when the rest of society decides it has had quite enough of them and their largesse while everyone else fights over crumbs.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#21

Post by Foggy » Sun May 05, 2019 7:18 am

At the Progressive Caucus meeting in Hillsborough yesterday, Les Leopold spoke about Runaway Inequality. It was an excellent, excellent presentation.

https://www.amazon.com/Runaway-Inequali ... 0692436308

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#22

Post by Addie » Mon May 06, 2019 9:50 am

The Guardian - Anna Coote
Universal basic income doesn’t work. Let’s boost the public realm instead

A study published this week sheds doubt on ambitious claims made for universal basic income (UBI), the scheme that would give everyone regular, unconditional cash payments that are enough to live on. Its advocates claim it would help to reduce poverty, narrow inequalities and tackle the effects of automation on jobs and income. Research conducted for Public Services International, a global trade union federation, reviewed for the first time 16 practical projects that have tested different ways of distributing regular cash payments to individuals across a range of poor, middle-income and rich countries, as well as copious literature on the topic.

It could find no evidence to suggest that such a scheme could be sustained for all individuals in any country in the short, medium or longer term – or that this approach could achieve lasting improvements in wellbeing or equality. The research confirms the importance of generous, non-stigmatising income support, but everything turns on how much money is paid, under what conditions and with what consequences for the welfare system as a whole.

From Kenya and southern India to Alaska and Finland, cash payment schemes have been claimed to show that UBI “works”. In fact, what’s been tested in practice is almost infinitely varied, with cash paid at different levels and intervals, usually well below the poverty line and mainly to individuals selected because they are severely disadvantaged, with funds provided by charities, corporations and development agencies more often than by governments.

Experiments in India and Kenya have been funded, respectively, by Unicef and Give Directly, a US charity supported by Google. They give money to people on very low incomes in selected villages for fixed periods of time. Giving small amounts of cash to people who have next to nothing is bound to make a difference – and indeed, these schemes have helped to improve recipients’ health and livelihoods. But nothing is revealed about their longer-term viability, or how they could be scaled up to serve whole populations. And there is a democratic deficit: people who get their basic income from charities or aid agencies have no control over how payments are made, to whom, at what level or over what period of time.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#23

Post by Addie » Fri May 31, 2019 3:44 pm

CityLab
Is This the Universal Basic Income That Americans Will Buy?

A new proposal for a Universal Earned Income Tax Credit could unlock the poverty-fighting powers of no-strings-attached money.


As far as most of the country is concerned, universal basic income—that’s when the government just, like, gives people money—is the stuff of NBER white papers and Star Trek economics. Beyond a handful of notable experiments, like a pilot program in Stockton, California, to give 130 random residents $500 a month for a year and a half, UBI demonstrations—in the U.S. at least—are more elusive than UFOs. That’s at least in part because the premise itself is so fundamentally antithetical to the American mythology of self-made men and women: Handouts are for places like Finland.

But with job-eating automation looming and the wealth gap growing, the essential logic behind UBI—a no-strings-attached cash transfer program that helps vulnerable low-wage households from teetering into ruinous poverty—is more relevant than ever. And we might not have to wait for a socialist revolution or an Andrew Yang presidency to see what it might look like in the United States. Leaders in the here-and-now are thinking about ways to expand a conventional tax credit to guarantee the wages of low- and middle-income working households. Changes to the tax code could help to make up the wage stagnation that has dragged the economy for more than a generation.

The key is the Earned Income Tax Credit, a favorite poverty-fighting tool among progressive economists and, increasingly, Democratic presidential candidates. More than 25 million tax filers claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2018, for an average refund of nearly $2,500. Expanding this wage credit to $10,000 would lift virtually all low-income households headed by a full-time worker out of poverty, according to a new report from the Urban Institute & Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center.

“For the first time in decades, low- and middle-income workers would share in economic gains even if the factors suppressing market wages do not reverse,” reads the proposal by Leonard Burman, an Urban Institute fellow.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#24

Post by Addie » Tue Jun 04, 2019 2:28 pm

The Guardian - Robert Reich
Almost 80% of US workers live from paycheck to paycheck. Here's why

The official rate of unemployment in America has plunged to a remarkably low 3.8%. The Federal Reserve forecasts that the unemployment rate will reach 3.5% by the end of the year.

But the official rate hides more troubling realities: legions of college grads overqualified for their jobs, a growing number of contract workers with no job security, and an army of part-time workers desperate for full-time jobs. Almost 80% of Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next one will be.

Blanketing all of this are stagnant wages and vanishing job benefits. The typical American worker now earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 40 years ago, adjusted for inflation. Although the US economy continues to grow, most of the gains have been going to a relatively few top executives of large companies, financiers, and inventors and owners of digital devices. ...

Not even the current low rate of unemployment is forcing employers to raise wages. Contrast this with the late 1990s, the last time unemployment dipped close to where it is today, when the portion of national income going into wages was 3% points higher than it is today.

What’s going on? Simply put, the vast majority of American workers have lost just about all their bargaining power. The erosion of that bargaining power is one of the biggest economic stories of the past four decades, yet it’s less about supply and demand than about institutions and politics.

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Re: Issues 2020: Billionaires vs. America/Tax the Rich

#25

Post by Addie » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:18 pm

CNBC
Most millionaires support a tax on wealth above $50 million, CNBC survey says ...

Fully 60% of millionaires support Warren’s plan for taxing the wealth of those who have more than $50 million in assets, according to the CNBC Millionaire survey. The wealth tax is different from an income tax, since it taxes a family’s total holdings every year rather than their income.

Polls show that a majority of Americans also back a wealth tax. But the support from millionaires, some of whom would presumably pay the tax, shows that some millionaires are willing to accept higher taxes amidst growing concern over inequality and soaring fortunes of the rich.

While 88% of Democrats support the wealth tax, 62% of independents support it along with 36% of Republicans. Even the upper tier of millionaires, those worth more than $5 million, support a wealth tax, with two-thirds in favor. ...

A larger number of millionaires also support an income tax rate of 70% on those making more than $10 million – a suggestion floated by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And a majority support repealing the 2017 tax cuts on companies.

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