What Else Could Tax Cut For The Richest 1% Buy? A 50-State Perspective

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By Jill Richardson of Other Words – Inequality in America has been growing for decades, stymying our national potential and contributing to the growing political rift in the country. According to estimates by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act introduced in the House of Representatives would disproportionately benefit the richest 1 percent of Americans. The ITEP estimates reveal that nationwide, the richest 1 percent of earners would receive a 31 percent share of the tax cuts in 2018 – and by 2027, the richest 1 percent would receive a 48 percent share, leaving the remaining 99 percent to share roughly half the tax benefits. What the ITEP estimates cannot reveal is the lost potential in federal investment represented by this reallocation of resources to the 1 percent. The House bill is designed to increase the deficit by no more than $1.5 trillion over ten years – the equivalent of about a year of federal discretionary spending. The loss of revenue will trigger other choices, as decision makers in Congress either accede to a higher than customary level of national debt, or face political pressures to drastically reduce spending on federal programs and services. Pressure to cut spending could result in losses to popular federal programs ranging from education to health care and infrastructure, and more.

New Report Details Racial, Economic Injustice Of Pollution Trading Programs

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By Staff of Food & Water Watch – WASHINGTON – New analysis published today details the disproportionate burdens of air and water contamination and serious human health effects placed on low-income communities of color by market-based pollution trading schemes. The report, from the advocacy organizations Food & Water Watch and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, shows that under many of these plans – like California’s notorious “cap-and-trade” program – localized pollution and public health impacts actually increase in lower-income minority communities. Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown was at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) last week, touting his state’s cap-and-trade program and urging European leaders to adopt similar policies. Elsewhere, political leaders in states throughout the country have publicly endorsed pollution trading plans or indicated interest in exploring them. Polluters have traditionally sited their facilities in lower-income communities of color, resulting in a disproportionate, localized environmental and public health burden.

This Year’s Real Halloween Horror

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By Bob Lord for Inequality – The family that has made billions off trick-or-treat candy has gone generations without paying any appreciable tax on its enormous fortune. And the Trump tax plan, if adopted, would ax a huge chunk of the tax on the family’s income! The Mars family has made billions selling us M&Ms, Snickers, and countless other Halloween treats for a century now. But when it comes to paying tax, the Mars family seems to be all tricks and no treats. In fact, the family’s latest tax trick may have cost the U.S. Treasury a whopping $10 billion. What could $10 billion do? That’s the cost of delivering prenatal care to hundreds of thousands of expectant moms under Medicaid, an essential program that President Trump and the GOP Congress plan to cut by up to $1 trillion. According to the current U.S. tax code, any American worth $25 billion can expect 40 percent of that, or $10 billion, to go to Uncle Sam in estate tax, the federal levy on the personal fortunes of deep pockets who kick the bucket. Forrest Mars Jr. had a $25-billion fortune when he died in July 2016. But the Mars family has apparently been able to avoid estate tax on that entire $25 billion. How do we know? Researchers at Forbes and Bloomberg, the two business publications that track America’s billionaire wealth, have some fascinating numbers for us.

World's Billionaires Own A Staggering $6 Trillion

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By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams – In an analysis (pdf) published Thursday that throws into stark relief the “unjust and unsustainable” nature of what economists have termed the New Gilded Age, the Swiss financial firm UBS found that the wealth of the world’s billionaires grew by 17 percent in 2016, bringing their combined fortune to a record $6 trillion — more than double the gross domestic product of the United Kingdom. The report also found that there are 1,542 billionaires in the world and more than 563 in the United States alone, more than any other country. Josef Stadler, lead author of the UBS analysis, told the Guardian that the firm’s findings demonstrate that the world is “now two years into the peak of the second Gilded Age.” The extent of the world’s wealth concentration — just eight men now own as much wealth as half of the global population — raises a number of questions, one of which is whether the world’s population will continue to tolerate such vast inequities, Stadler said. “We’re at an inflection point,” Stadler argued. “Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest — that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?”

Blueprint For The Most Radical City On The Planet

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By Bill Quigley. A federation of local cooperatives and mutual aid networks, Cooperation Jackson, has many concrete forms including an urban farming coop, a food coop, a cooperative credit union, a hardware coop, and a cooperative insurance plan. They plan to be an incubator for more coop startups, a school, a training center, a cooperative credit union, a bank, a community land trust, community financial institutions like credit unions, housing cooperative, childcare cooperative, solar and retrofitting cooperative, tool lending and resource libraries, community energy production. They are also working to build an organizing institute and a workers union. Cooperation Jackson is an economic movement, a human rights movement and a movement insistent on environmentally sustainable progress. They work for clean air and water, zero waste, and against toxic industries.

Yes, Half Of Americans Are In Or Near Poverty: Here's More Evidence

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By Paul Buchheit for Common Dreams – The poverty threshold is still based on a formula from the 1960s, when food expenses were a much greater part of the family budget. It hasn’t kept up with other major expenses. Since 1980, food costs have gone up by 100%, housing 250%, health care 500%, and college tuition 1,000%. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) says, “If the same basic methodology developed in the early 1960s was applied today, the poverty thresholds would be over three times higher than the current thresholds.” Three times higher! The median household income in the U.S. in 2016 was $59,039. The Economic Policy Institute’s 2015 Family Budget Calculator determined that the median budget for a two-parent, two-child family is $63,741. As CRS concluded, that’s about three times higher than the current poverty threshold. In 2014, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, median household expenses were $36,800, against income of about $54,000. But that includes very little for wealth-building investments, such as short- and long-term savings, college education, and life insurance. After accounting for annual outlays for these essential and/or typical family expenses, the median household in the lower third was $2,300 in debt.

Minority Neighborhoods Pay Higher Car Insurance Premiums Than White Areas With Same Risk

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By Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Lauren Kirchner and Surya Mattu for ProPublica – For decades, auto insurers have been observed to charge higher average premiums to drivers living in predominantly minority urban neighborhoods than to drivers with similar safety records living in majority white neighborhoods. Insurers have long defended their pricing by saying that the risk of accidents is greater in those neighborhoods, even for motorists who have never had one. But a first-of-its-kind analysis by ProPublica and Consumer Reports, which examined auto insurance premiums and payouts in California, Illinois, Texas and Missouri, has found that many of the disparities in auto insurance prices between minority and white neighborhoods are wider than differences in risk can explain. In some cases, insurers such as Allstate, Geico and Liberty Mutual were charging premiums that were on average 30 percent higher in zip codes where most residents are minorities than in whiter neighborhoods with similar accident costs. Our findings document what consumer advocates have long suspected: Despite laws in almost every state banning discriminatory rate-setting, some minority neighborhoods pay higher auto insurance premiums than do white areas with similar payouts on claims. This disparity may amount to a subtler form of redlining, a term that traditionally refers to denial of services or products to minority areas.

Unleashing The Transformative Potential Of An Equitable Economy

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By Chuck Collins for Inequality – While there is now widespread understanding that extreme income and wealth inequality is growing and has negative impacts on society, most proposed solutions fail to address deeper systemic drivers. If we misdiagnose an illness, we are likely to prescribe an insufficient or even dangerous remedy. If we misdiagnose the causes of inequality, we will likely put forward misguided solutions. For example, if we believe that inequality is primarily driven by changes in technology and globalization—what economists call a skills-biased technological change— then our solution will focus on investing in workforce education and skills expansion. While technological change and globalization have supercharged inequalities, they are not the primary drivers. My new report, Reversing Inequality: Unleashing the Transformative Potential of an Equitable Economy, co-published with the Institute for Policy Studies and the Next Systems Project goes beyond false solutions to understand the systemic drivers and the challenges of concentrated wealth and power.

In 40 Years: CEO Pay Up 937%, Worker Wages Stagnant

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By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change. US inequality problem continues to be the worst in the industrialized world. A new report, published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) this week, shows that while wages for American workers have essentially remained stagnant for decades, CEO pay has soared at an “outrageous” clip. A study by the Pew Research Center (PRC) in 2014 found that economic analyses show a “lack of meaningful wage growth.” Looking at five decades worth of government wage data, PRC showed that wages have been flat or even falling since the 1970s, regardless of changes in the economy and job markets. Now EPI’s Lawrence Mishel and Jessica Schieder have found that between the years of 1978 and 2016, CEO pay rose 937 percent. Over that same period, worker compensation grew by a measly 11.2 percent. The CEOs of America’s largest firms made an average of $15.6 million, 271 times the annual average pay of a typical American worker.

Economic Insecurity Of US Workers Increases With Unstable Jobs

More Americans work without full-time employers yet policies fail to address this new reality. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

By Elizabeth Grossman for In These Times – The U.S stock market may be at record highs and U.S. unemployment at its lowest level since the Great Recession, but income inequality remains stubbornly high. Contributing to this inequality is the fact that while more Americans are working than at any time since August 2007, more people are working part time, erratic and unpredictable schedules—without full-time, steady employment. Since 2007, the number of Americans involuntarily working part time has increased by nearly 45 percent. More Americans than before are part of what’s considered the contingent workforce, working on-call or on-demand, and as independent contractors or self-employed freelancers, often with earnings that vary dramatically month to month.

Newsletter: The Movement Matters Most

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By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese. While some people are calling 2016 the worst year ever, we are optimistic that we are on track for transformational change. Of course there are significant challenges ahead, but there are also important opportunities. We knew all along that no matter who won the elections this year, they would be plutocrats, and we, the people, would have to organize and resist. If we look at the big picture, 2016 was a time of progress in political education, movement building and reaching national consensus. These are all elements that are necessary in successful social movements. If we continue to make progress in the years ahead, then our work collectively will have a greater long-term impact than the incoming administration and Congress.

A Women’s Economic Agenda For The Next President

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By Elise Gould for EPI – Progress on closing the gap between men’s and women’s wages in the U.S. economy has been glacially slow in recent decades—and gender wage parity has become a top priority for those committed to ensuring the economic security of American women. This priority is absolutely essential. No matter how you cut it, the gender wage gap is real and it matters (link to paper). That said, pay parity cannot be the only goal for those looking to improve the economic lot of American women.

The One Tax Idea That Would Be Fair To All Americans

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Donald Trump would pay $200 million a year if the U.S. had a 2% wealth tax — he claims he is worth about $10 billion.

By Brett Arends for Market Watch – Americans, when are we going to get our heads back where the sun shines and implement a wealth tax? How many tax outrages by the super rich do we have to witness before we actually pass the only reasonable measure that would end them? How much longer are we going to moan about Congress and special interests and banks in Panama and various other scapegoats before we actually start taking more responsibility as a nation for our own affairs?

A Do-Over For Our Unequal Economy?

'Conventional monetary policy has failed,' writes Brown. An economy in service of the people, not industry and the banks, is what's needed now. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

By Sam Pizzigati for Inequality – The basic idea behind the “mulligan” ­– you flub a shot, you get to take the shot again — may be golf’s most endearing contribution to world civilization. In our real-world economy, unfortunately, we don’t get to take mulligans. We certainly could use one. Here in the United States, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office makes depressingly clear, we’ve essentially flubbed the last three decades.

Economic Inequality: Cause And Consequence Of Our Racial Problems

Protesters in Los Angeles on July 9 mark the shooting deaths of two black men by police in Minnesota and Baton Rouge, La. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

By Michael Hiltzik for LA Times – The eruption of community protests that followed the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last week placed the spotlight once again on racial disparities in American society. But one aspect that again received less attention than it deserved is economic disparity. That’s important because it’s pervasive in the U.S. and arguably lies at the core of our racial conflicts. Progressive economist Jared Bernstein put his finger on the issue, observing that “the systemic racial injustice embedded in the economy” is among the “institutional prejudices” America needs to consider deeply.