On the positive side: activists taking on the billionaire class.
Many groups that once focused exclusively on poverty are now tackling the top end of the inequality problem and demanding that the rich pay their fair share of expanded child tax credits, universal pre-K, affordable home care, and the many other vital investments in the Build Back Better plan.
Poor People’s Campaign Co-Chair Rev. William J. Barber II, for example, recently excoriated Senator Joe Manchin for denigrating proposed education and health care investments for low-income Americans as wasteful “entitlements” while “treating billionaires like they have the entitlement to make $2 trillion during the pandemic.”
Again on the positive side: explosive investigative research.
An avalanche of new data underscores the need for a tax crackdown on the ultra-wealthy. A new Bloomberg blockbuster shows how Nike founder Phil Knight’s tax games have shrunk his IRS bills by the billions. ProPublica revealed earlier this year that America’s two richest men — Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk — have paid zero in federal income taxes some years. And White House economists recently reported that the 400 wealthiest U.S. billionaires paid an average income tax rate of just 8 percent between 2010 and 2018, much lower than most teachers and firefighters.
So how would a billionaire wealth tax work?
Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden is expected to release the details shortly, but we know that his plan makes billionaires pay annual taxes on their increased wealth. This is key, since the ultra-rich get the vast bulk of their money from investments rather than from paychecks like most of the rest of us.