Bernie’s Plutocracy Prevention Act

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies

The Republicans can’t control their baser greed impulse, as revealed in their latest move to abolish the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on the inherited wealth of the super-rich.

But what we really need is a bold intervention to break up growing dynasties of wealth and power.

Congress should jump on board an improved estate tax introduced today by Senator Bernie Sanders, that would levy a top rate of 77 percent on inheritances over $1 billion. Sanders bill, The For 99.8% Act, would also plug up loopholes and ban trusts that wealthy families use to hide and perpetuate wealth dynasties.

The estate tax, established by Congress a century ago to put a brake on the build-up of concentrated wealth and power, is paid only by a miniscule sliver of billionaires and multi-millionaires. At the time, Theodore Roosevelt supported the estate tax as a protection against the “tyranny of plutocracy.”

Sanders estate tax proposal is a plutocracy prevention act, squarely aimed at preventing the children of today’s billionaires from dominating our future democracy, economy, culture and philanthropy.

In December 2017, Republicans failed to abolish the estate tax as part of their $1.5 trillion dollar tax windfall for the superrich and a handful of transnational corporations. But they did raise the exemptions of who will pay the tax.

In 2019, fewer than 2,000 households will pay the tax, starting with couples with over $22.8 million (individuals with over $11.4 million).

Earlier this week, Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019.” It is worth noting that the number of annual taxable estates in their home states of Kentucky, Iowa, and South Dakota are fewer than two dozen.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

A Billionaire with a Truly Bottom-Line Moral Code

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

Some advice for billionaire investment fund manager Tom Barrack: Don’t give any more lectures on morality. Last Tuesday, this long-time Donald Trump pal — and chairman of his inauguration — did a bit too much moralizing. Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Barrack called the hand-wringing over Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s role in the savage murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi “a mistake.” After all, he noted, “we have a young man and a regime that’s trying to push themselves into 2030.” We ought not, Barrack added, try “to dictate” the Saudi “moral code.” The pushback would be quick and massive. On Wednesday, Barrack apologized, but didn’t, news reports noted, “retract praise for the crown prince.” One possible reason: Barrack’s investment fund has tanked of late, its share price down by over half. Barrack has raised over $1.5 billion in bailout aid from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. He may be hoping for still more.

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Let's Talk About Wealth

Let's Talk About Wealth