Apr 10, 2019
"Tax the Rich. Save America. Yes, it really is that simple."
The one-day conference aimed to explain why and how to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to curb economic inequality and address major national issues, including "underfunded schools, inadequate healthcare, and a crumbling infrastructure."
Hosted just ahead of Tax Day, the conference highlighted how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, which critics call the Trump or GOP "tax scam," was always designed to benefit corporations and the richest Americans rather than working people and families.
\u201c\u26a0\ufe0fSCAM ALERT\u26a0\ufe0f #GOPTaxScam lower rates for capital gains and dividends. which 78% of the benefits go to the richest 1% of Americans. While less than 10% of benefits go to the bottom 60% @SteveWamhoff of @ITEP pointed out at @PatrioticMills #TaxTheRich\u201d— Coalition on Human Needs (@Coalition on Human Needs) 1554908147
Dozens of progressive millionaires, lawmakers, policy experts, and journalists came together for panel discussions and presentations such as "Trump's Tax Bill: The Art of the Steal," "The Games People Play (And By People We Mean Corporations)," and "Let's Play Economic Jenga With Billionaires!"
Speakers included Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Mark Pocan (Wis.), who both hold leadership roles in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. In a panel discussion moderated by The Intercept's Ryan Grim, Lee noted how "the Trump Tax cut has been used as a base to attack the American safety net."
\u201c"The Trump Tax cut has been used as a base to attack the American safety net. Every prediction we made about attacks on social security, Medicare, and more have come true. And that\u2019s why we are fighting back" @RepBarbaraLee #TaxTheRich\u201d— Patriotic Millionaires (@Patriotic Millionaires) 1554903591
"This really is a 'which side are you on?' moment," said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten. "Either we fix the tax code so it doesn't rig the economy further, or we follow the ruinous path of slashing services and making the middle class and working class pay for it."
Weingarten, who leads the nation's second-largest teachers union, also emphasized the importance of fully funding programs like Title 1 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in her "Fund Our Future" presentation.
\u201c\u201cIn short, if we create a fair tax system, we can #FundOurFuture. That\u2019s what we need to do, and we need to do it together.\u201d @rweingarten #TaxTheRich\u201d— AFT (@AFT) 1554909709
In a presentation on "What Killed Hope in America?" public health expert and Syracuse University professor Shannon Monnat outlined how the national opioid crisis is significantly impacting areas of the country with high rates of unemployment and poverty.
As Monnat put it, according Inequality.org, "opioids are a symptom and a symbol of much larger social and economic problems," representing "our widening levels of income inequality and a neoliberal policy regime."
\u201cThe highest opioid prescribing & overdose rates? \n\nAreas with high rates of unemployment & poverty.\n\nEconomic & family distress have driven 40,000 excess deaths over the last decade.\n\nTrump performed best in the places with the most despair.\n\n@smonnat @SyracuseU #TaxTheRich\u201d— Michael Kink (@Michael Kink) 1554906382
\u201c@smonnat: "Social infrastructure also matters. But those institutions have also been unraveling" .. "Opioids are a symptom and a symbol of much larger social and economic problems", representing "our widening levels of income inequality and a Neoliberal policy regime" #TaxTheRich\u201d— Inequality.org (@Inequality.org) 1554906220
Economist Bill Lazonick, in his presentation on predatory value extraction, explained how billionaire hedge fund and private equity managers foster "extreme income inequality and employment instability."
\u201cThe amazing @Lazonick says we\u2019ve got to get rid of PREDATORY VALUE EXTRACTORS (billionaire hedge fund & private equity managers) and the laws & rules they\u2019ve purchased from lawmakers to get a fair economy \ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25\ud83d\udd25#TaxTheRich\u201d— Michael Kink (@Michael Kink) 1554907265
In the panel discussion near the end of the conference entitled "What Americans Want and Who's Standing in the Way (Polling, Kochs, Money in Politics)," Duke University history professor Nancy MacLean concluded, "We must tax extreme wealth to save our democracy."
The conference comes a week after a coalition of progressive groups, including Patriotic Millionaires, launched the 'Tax the Rich' campaign--which, as Common Dreamsreported last week, aims to build "a grassroots movement to unrig the tax code and make wealthy Americans pay their fair share."
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