Just three people – Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett – now own more wealth than America’s entire poorest 50 percent. The nation’s rich overall, our newly released Institute for Policy Studies Billionaire Bonanza report details, are watching their wealth multiply at speeds nearly beyond belief. Meanwhile, one in five Americans belong to “Underwater Nation.” They have either zero or negative wealth.

These explosive numbers demand action, and the new Billionaire Bonanza has plenty of ideas for easing our deepening inequality. But if any of the GOP tax plans now circulating on Capitol Hill ever pass, we can only expect to see our current chasm widen. Lots more on that and the new Billionaire Bonanza in this week’s issue.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
To Help Fight Inequality, Fund Local News!
The writers at the New York branches of news outlets DNAinfo and Gothamist decided to unionize in late October. But rather than bargain with the newly organized journalists, their billionaire owner closed the newsrooms at the outlets altogether. In the wake of the shutdown, hundreds of news workers and their allies gathered at New York’s City Hall Park to declare that billionaires shouldn’t be determining whether or not cities receive adequate local journalism. Groups like the Economic Hardship Reporting Project are taking steps to fill the coverage gap.
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A Bogus Billionaire Gets Some Comeuppance
Forbes, America’s most fabled business magazine, is now charging that Donald Trump’s “billionaire” commerce secretary has been lying to researchers for the magazine’s annual list of America’s 400 richest. Commerce chief Wilbur Ross, Forbes charges, has engaged in a 13-year series of “fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications, and whoppers” designed to inflate his net worth. Why lie? The richer Ross appears, the more money rich people invest in his private equity firm. Ross complained last year — when Forbes put his fortune at $2.9 billion — that the magazine was low-balling his true wealth. The magazine’s latest top 400 tally puts his net worth at just $700 million. The response from Ross? His flacks at the Commerce Department are calling any confusion about the Ross finances “unfortunate.”
This week on, Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie go behind the scenes of their new report, Billionaire Bonanza 2017: The Forbes 400 and the Rest of Us. Josh also expounds on the growing divide by comparing today’s inequality to the opening scene of A Tale of Two Cities. And Chuck explains why the latest billionaire wealth stats likely underestimate our actual wealth divide, given the tax-haven revelations in the new Paradise Papers.

We're also keeping our eyes on the GOP tax measures up for debate. Bob Lord warns how potential cuts will impact our futures as home-owners. Lindsay Koshgarian of the National Priorities Project shows us what a tax cut for the top 1 percent could buy in health care, education, and infrastructure.

Elsewhere on the web, Scott Nash, a top 1 percenter and the founder of Mom’s Organic grocery store chain, explains in Newsweek why he doesn’t want the estate tax repealed. Thomas Edsall explains how the tax plan will help the rich preserve their wealth in the New York Times, and, in the National Memo, veteran investigative reporter David Cay Johnston shows how the GOP tax plan invites a new Old-World aristocracy.

Michael Linden of the Roosevelt Institute reminds us that instead of cutting taxes on the wealthy we could “literally fund anything” we want and need to do as a country, from repaving every mile of highway in the entire country — twice — to tripling the salary of every single firefighter, EMT, and paramedic in the nation. 

Buried in the Trump tax plan is a little-known change that’s not well understood: chained CPI. David Dayen explains in the New Republic how this tiny detail could have massive consequences for Social Security. In the Dallas Morning News,’s Bob Lord and Sam Pizzigati explore how the pending GOP tax plans privilege wealth over work.


Have We Now Reached Peak Goldman Sachs?
The voters of New Jersey have just elected a former Wall Street banker as their new governor. Just what America needs, many onlookers are undoubtedly thinking, another Wall Streeter in a powerful political position. But this new governor, Phil Murray, bears no public policy likeness to the Wall Street alumni who dominate the Trump administration. In fact, over the course of his gubernatorial campaign, Murphy took every opportunity to distance himself from the wealthy-friendly agenda the White House’s Wall Street crew is relentlessly promoting. Will New Jerseyans end up seeing Murphy’s remarkably progressive campaign agenda realized? The state’s recent history, unfortunately, is giving many progressives pause.
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