Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

protester

A protester at a union rally against government budget cuts in New York. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Billionaires to 2020 Presidential Hopefuls: 'America Has a Moral, Ethical, and Economic Responsibility to Tax Our Wealth More'

In an open letter, 18 individuals from 11 families detailed the sweeping benefits of imposing a wealth tax on the richest Americans

Jessica Corbett

In an open letter to 2020 presidential candidates of all parties Monday, a group of billionaires active in progressive organizations called for implementing a wealth tax on the richest Americans and outlined the wide range of political, social, and economic benefits of doing so.

Published by the New York Times, the letter (pdf) reads in part:

We are writing to call on all candidates for president, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest 1/10 of the richest 1 percent of Americans—on us. The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.

America has a moral, ethical, and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more. A wealth tax could help address the climate crisis, improve the economy, improve health outcomes, fairly create opportunity, and strengthen our democratic freedoms. Instituting a wealth tax is in the interest of our republic.

It goes on to highlight polling which shows broad support for a wealth tax, the "vital needs" that revenue generated could help fulfill, and that some of the more than two dozen candidates for the White House already have expressed support for such a measure.

A proposal from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), for example, "would provide millions of families with a better shot at the American dream by taxing only 75,000 of the wealthiest families in the country" by imposing "a tax of 2 cents on the dollar on assets after a $50 million exemption and an additional tax of 1 cent on the dollar on assets over $1 billion."

"Those of us who have signed this letter believe it is our duty to step up and support a wealth tax that taxes us," the letter reads. "It is a key to both addressing our climate crisis, and a more competitive, stronger economy that would better serve millions of Americans. It would make America healthier. It is a fair way of creating opportunity. And it strengthens American freedom and democracy. It is not in our interest to advocate for this tax, if our interests are quite narrowly understood. But the wealth tax is in our interest as Americans."

The letter is signed by 18 named individuals from 11 incredibly wealthy families, including Robert S. Bowditch Jr., founder of real estate development firm MB Associates, and his wife, Louise Bowditch; filmmaker Abigail Disney; philanthropist George Soros and his son Alexander Soros; Arnold S. Hiatt, chairman of the Stride Rite Charitable Foundation; Regan Pritzker, president of the Libra Foundation; and Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons, co-founders of the impact investment organization Blue Haven Initiative.

"We thought it would be a good idea," Ian Simmons explained to the Times. "Liesel and I decided to reach out to some other folks to see if they thought it was a good idea, too."

Others signatories to the letter are entrepreneur Nick Hanauer; Justin Rosenstein, co-founder of the company Asana; Stephen M. Silberstein, co-founder of the software company Innovative Interfaces; Molly Munger and her husband Stephen English, co-founders of the civil rights group Advancement Project; philanthropist Agnes Gund and her daughter Catherine Gund; and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and his husband, Sean Eldridge, founder of the progressive group Stand Up America.

Hughes told the Times that "one thing that we collectively want to see is further research and more activism on policy design."

The letter came as Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund on Monday launched a website detailing the tax proposals of each Democratic presidential candidate.

"It's surprising that this early in the 2020 race tax policy is emerging as a key issue and a defining one for Democrats," the group's executive director, Frank Clemente, said in a statement. "The utter failure of the Trump-GOP tax cuts to live up to the promises of more jobs and higher wages has given the candidates an opening to propose major tax increases as part of their campaign platforms. Virtually all candidates are saying they want to repeal or significantly roll back the Trump-GOP tax cuts."

The impacts of the Trump-GOP tax cuts, public support for higher taxes on rich individuals and companies, and voter demand for higher investment in public services, Clemente added, "have combined to create an environment in which candidates—far from having to shy away from the tax issue as in past years—will actually be rewarded for proposing major tax increases on the wealthy and corporations, and using the money to pay for vital public investments."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Humanity 'Way Off Track': WMO Says Atmospheric Carbon at Level Unseen in 3 Million Years

The new report has "a stark, scientific message for climate change negotiators at COP 26," said the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

Andrea Germanos ·


Profits Before People: 'The Facebook Papers' Expose Tech Giant Greed

"This industry is rotten at its core," said one critic, "and the clearest proof of that is what it's doing to our children."

Jon Queally ·


New York Taxi Workers Stage Hunger Strike to Demand Medallion Debt Relief

"They are an essential industry here in New York City," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, "and we need to make sure we're doing right by them."

Julia Conley ·


'It's Not Coming Out': Bernie Sanders Stands Firm on Medicare Expansion

"It's what the American people want and, after waiting over 50 years, what they are going to get."

Julia Conley ·


'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo