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Radical Taxation

This spring, legislators of both parties, from Connecticut to Georgia, responded to higher energy prices with “gas tax holidays,” temporary tax reductions for consumers that provide an additional windfall to the immensely profitable fossil fuel industry at precisely the moment when we should be ending the global warming economy. Thirty-six years after Grover Norquist first introduced the “taxpayer protection pledge”—by which thousands of legislators have committed to oppose all tax increases—American policymaking remains trapped in an anti-tax paradigm that leaves us unable to cope with the crises we face. Given that the stakes are the habitability of the planet, paradigms might seem a relatively minor concern. But conservative tax opposition can lead us to imagine barriers to climate action that are in fact no great obstacle at all.

The Case For Taxing The Rich Gets An Unexpected Boost

We’ve had quite a show up in the Alps this week, the first in-person gathering of the world’s mega rich since Covid hit. The occasion? The annual World Economic Forum at the Swiss resort of Davos, an ever-so-sober gathering that has an assortment of global deep thinkers sharing their wisdom with deep pockets ever eager for policy ideas that don’t involve sharing their wealth. Also on hand, in person and remotely: a collection of the world’s most stalwart egalitarians, advocates ranging from activists with the Patriotic Millionaires to analysts at the anti-poverty powerhouse Oxfam. These analysts, on the eve of Davos, released gripping new data on how billionaires in food and energy have been swelling their fortunes — at consumer expense.

Corporate Profits Have Contributed Disproportionately To Inflation

The inflation spike of 2021 and 2022 has presented real policy challenges. In order to better understand this policy debate, it is imperative to look at prices and how they are being affected. The price of just about everything in the U.S. economy can be broken down into the three main components of cost. These include labor costs, non-labor inputs, and the “mark-up” of profits over the first two components. Good data on these separate cost components exist for the non-financial corporate (NFC) sector—those companies that produce goods and services—of the economy, which makes up roughly 75% of the entire private sector. Since the trough of the COVID-19 recession in the second quarter of 2020, overall prices in the NFC sector have risen at an annualized rate of 6.1%—a pronounced acceleration over the 1.8% price growth that characterized the pre-pandemic business cycle of 2007–2019.

Tallahassee: A Betrayal Of Black People By Black Politicians

Tallahassee, Florida - The $27 million in regressive sales tax money diverted from potentially legitimate Blueprint projects to enhance the football experience of powerful white friends of the Chamber of Commerce and Florida State University (FSU) trustees who could care less about poor people in general and Black and brown people in particular, represents a betrayal. It is a betrayal by Nick Maddox and every single Black politician that sold their souls in support of this FSU monstrosity. These include Bill Proctor, Carolyn Cummings, Curtis Richardson and Dianne Williams Cox. Obscene levels of Black infant mortality have not gone anywhere. Yet the Tallahassee power structure would never spend this amount of money to deal with the mortality of Black and brown infants and their mothers.

Communities Should Not Pay Amazon

It’s meaningful that Amazon‘s head, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post, and that the paper sometimes needs to be reminded to disclose that relationship to readers, as they run stories like “Jeff Bezos Blasts Into Space on Own Rocket: ‘Best Day Ever!’”—buttressed by op-eds like “The Billionaires’ Space Efforts May Seem Tone-Deaf, but They’re Important Milestones.” The difficult reality is that Bezos doesn’t need to outright own a news outlet to get coverage that undergirds his worldview that, yes, it makes sense for a man to launch himself into space while some of his employees rely on public assistance to feed themselves, and face every underhanded obstacle if they try to organize, and for a company that contains those contradictions to be labeled a wild economic success.

How To Fix America’s Roundabout System For Taxing Our Richest

Would you walk around the block to get to your next-door neighbor’s house? Of course not. Yet America’s system for taxing the ultra-rich, especially billionaires, works that same exact roundabout way. For most of us, different taxes function in different manners. Sales taxes, for example, impact our spending decisions. Income taxes affect everything from how much we save and how many hours we work to when we retire. Property taxes influence the choices we make for where we live. But these taxes don’t work that way for the ultra-rich. These deepest of pockets can essentially make decisions on spending, work, and retirement without regard

States With Temporary Budget Surpluses Should Invest In People

Policymakers in at least 14 states are using temporary budget surpluses to call for costly and permanent tax cuts targeted more to wealthy people and profitable corporations than to those who need help. That’s a bad choice. States should be careful to protect their long-term ability to provide funding for high-quality schools, access to affordable health care, and other public services, which these tax cuts would badly erode. Instead of permanent tax cuts, states should use the surpluses for needed one-time supports for people and businesses or to seed longer-term investments, especially those targeted to the communities most harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The surpluses largely reflect substantial — but temporary — federal funding provided in relief bills enacted in 2020 and 2021; those relief bills also boosted state economies and thus state revenues as well, further improving state fiscal conditions.

Inaction On Tax Credit Condemns Millions Of Children To Poverty

Working-class families are faced with an extra burden as the new year begins – the expiration of the expanded child tax credit. The expansion provided support for families struggling during the pandemic by changing some key factors of the already existing credit. Namely, the expansion increased the annual amount per child from $2,000 to between $3,000 and $3,600, it paid the credit in monthly installments rather than in one lump sum, and it expanded the full benefits of the credit to families who previously had been ruled ineligible due to their income being too low.  On the same day that the CTC expansion expired, there were almost 450,000 new COVID cases reported, almost double the number reported at the same time in 2021.

The Year In Inequality

A year ago we had such high hopes. We expected the Covid vaccine rollout to bring a swift end to the pandemic, opening a window for pushing bold solutions to the long-standing economic, racial, and gender divides that had grown even wider under Covid. Where are we as 2021 comes to a close? These 10 charts highlight major inequality developments of the year, covering some steps back and some important steps forward. The combined wealth of the 745 U.S. billionaires surpassed $5 trillion in 2021, up 70 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness analysis of Forbes data.

For Rich Countries To Honor Their Climate Debt, Tax Multinationals

For once, most of the debtors are not in Africa, but in the North. I am not talking money, but about climate debt, as natural disasters are multiplying and the fight against climate change has become an existential issue. Since industrialized countries have used the available atmospheric space to develop and get rich by exploiting fossil fuels, the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)—that is coming to end in Glasgow right now—must be an opportunity to recognize this climate debt to Africa, and to developing countries in general, and to honor it. With 4% of global emissions, Africa has contributed very little to global warming. Yet, it is the continent that is already suffering the most from its consequences.

Biden’s ‘Global Tax’ And The 40-Year US Corporate Tax ‘Shell Game’

The corporate media in recent days has been busy resurrecting and re-reporting the deal negotiated weeks ago by Janet Yellen, US Treasury Secretary, to get 100+ other nations to sign on to and introduce a 15% global corporate alternative tax in their countries. But why is the mainstream media bringing it up again now? Is it to soften the blow of Biden’s repeal of his proposal to hike corporate taxes in the US from Trump’s 21% to 26%? (It was 35% pre-Trump)? Or is there something else as well that explains why the media is running the global tax story that’s already weeks old? The global sign on to Biden’s 15% global minimum tax, announced weeks ago, is purportedly designed to prevent big multinational corporations’ manipulating governments by seeking out, and getting, special tax deals in certain countries at the expense of others.

The ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ Billionaires Tax

With the introduction of these two ‘smoke and mirrors’ tax measures, negotiations enter the ‘end game’ phase of the corporate strategy to beat back the two stimulus bills—the traditional Infrastructure Bill (now $0.55T new spending reduced from $2.3T) and the Human Infrastructure/Reconciliation Bill (now $1.75T reduced from $3.5T). The strategy to slash the level of spending in both bills has been driven behind the scenes by the corporate wing of the Democrat party, with Senators Manchin and Sinema as their negotiating ‘point persons’.  The strategy has always been to cut the magnitude of spending on both bills so deeply that it would not require actual tax hikes on corporations and wealthy individuals of any significance. What was left in terms of reduced spending levels could then be funded by means of various ‘smoke & mirrors’ measures—i.e. by moving money around from other current programs or by transferring funds from other government slush funds.

Why Not A Financial Transactions Tax?

As Senator Sinema gets Biden to drop his proposed tax increases on corporations and wealthy investors earning more than $400K income a year, no consideration is being given at all within Democrat party circles about introducing a financial transactions tax to pay for the Infrastructure bill ($.55T) or the Build Back Better Bill ($1.9T).  5 years ago I wrote and proposed a minimal financial transaction tax that would generate $2.4T in revenue. That would pay for both the new spending proposals in the Infrastructure bill ($.55T) as well as the Build Back Better bill proposal still on the negotiating table ($1.9T)–the latter which, by the way, is about to be reduced further by Democrat Senator Krysten Sinema’s ‘no taxes on corporations or the rich’.

Democrats’ Plans To Make The Wealthy Pay Will Barely Make A Dent

Demanding tax increases on the rich is back in fashion – both in the corridors of the House of Representatives and on the red carpet of the Met Gala. The House Ways and Means Committee outlined plans on Sept. 13, 2021, to move the top marginal income rate up a couple of notches to 39.6% and to introduce a 3% surtax on incomes above $5 million. That proposal would fall short of calls to really “tax the rich,” as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s dress demanded at a glitzy New York bash just hours later. Tax policy is deemed progressive if the chunk of income taken increases with the income of the individual – so wealthy Americans would pay a larger proportion of their income than poorer ones. With a regressive tax policy, lower earners pay a larger percentage of their earnings in tax than wealthier ones.

Righting The Ship

Long time war tax resister Robert Randall  introduced me to his hometown of Brunswick, Georgia by saying it was mostly known as a port town for automobile transportation; quickly followed by saying “not much happens there.”  On April 4, 2018, 7 people entered the King’s Bay naval submarine base, home to one of the largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons in the U.S., as part of a Plowshares nuclear disarmament action down the shore from Robert’s home. In September 2019, the Golden Ray cargo ship full of 4,200 cars keeled over outside of Brunswick after it was loaded improperly and was lacking in water in the ballast to balance the ship. It would have been difficult to appreciate the tragedy of the capsized ship without seeing the tar balls and oil come ashore while visiting the beach during the King’s Bay trial a month later; the warnings to not go in the water.
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