The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Quigley,, 317-752-9150

Patriotic Millionaires Praise Sanders' For the 99.5% Act

"What gives us the right to think that any dollar given to the government is a dollar stolen from us?"


Today, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the For the 99.5% Act, a progressive estate tax on the fortunes of the richest 0.5% of Americans. It establishes a new rate structure for the estate tax for Americans who inherit over $3.5 million in wealth while providing protections for family farms. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, this bill would raise $430 billion through 2031, all from only the richest 0.5% of Americans.

In response to this bill's introduction, Patriotic Millionaire Abigail Disney, filmmaker, philanthropist, activist, and the grand-daughter of Roy Disney, gave the following statement as part of her testimony to the Senate Committee on the Budget in this morning's hearing entitled, "Ending a Rigged Tax Code: The Need to Make the Wealthiest People and Largest Corporations Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes."

"I support the For the 99.5% Act, because unchecked inherited wealth is an insidious way to build dynastic power over time, allows families to hoard an unspendable amount of resources, and moves us further towards aristocracy.

My grandfather paid a much higher effective tax rate than we do now, and yet still managed, after paying off the Estate Tax, to leave significant wealth behind to benefit not only his son, but his four grandchildren and even his 16 great-grandchildren. Did it really need to be more than that? What did we ever do to earn the first dollar and what gives us the right to think that any dollar given to the government is a dollar stolen from us?

Back in 2011, United for a Fair Economy looked at the members of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans and what they found was alarming. At least 22% of them had inherited up to $1 million. 11.5% of them had inherited between 1 and 50 million dollars, 7% inherited between $50 million and enough to make the Forbes 400 off inheritance alone, and 21.5% had inherited enough to "earn" a spot on the list just by pure luck of being born to the right family. Those are some mighty fancy bootstraps they used to pull themselves up.

Not only do we need NOT to repeal the Estate Tax; we need to beef it up. Read my lips: the For the 99.5% Act would only affect 0.5% of estates. It would not force the sale of family farms or break up small businesses. It would, on the other hand, go a long way toward preventing the accumulation of the kind of dynastic wealth that threatens democracy, governance, and human rights everywhere it is found."

The Patriotic Millionaires is a group of high-net worth Americans who share a profound concern about the destabilizing level of inequality in America. Our work centers on the two things that matter most in a capitalist democracy: power and money. Our goal is to ensure that the country's political economy is structured to meet the needs of regular Americans, rather than just millionaires. We focus on three "first" principles: a highly progressive tax system, a livable minimum wage, and equal political representation for all citizens.

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