The Republican drive to cut taxes on America’s richest has knocked one key obstacle out of its way. Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would give a massive tax break to the nation’s wealthy and the corporations they run, all at the expense of working people. But the tax battle remains far from over.

In this week’s issue, we highlight one group that’s keeping the pressure on corporate tax lobbyists as the debate moves into the Senate. We also look at the just-released — and staggering — new stats in the Swiss bank Credit Suisse’s latest annual Global Wealth Report. The new numbers have a great deal to tell us about inequality in America, none of it good.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Tax Prom Protesters Offer a Different Kind of Party
Last week, on the same day the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the GOP tax legislation, hundreds of well-compensated lobbyists working on tax cuts for the wealthy convened for the “Tax Prom,” the annual Washington dinner hosted by the right-leaning Tax Foundation. But on the streets right outside the plush affair a crowd gathered to let attendees know their partying comes at a cost. co-editor Negin Owliaei has more on the protesters who crashed the corporate party to remind Americans that the latest Republican tax plan amounts to a outright giveaway to the nation's wealthiest.
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Helping Puerto Rico? That Would Be ‘Impractical’
Boston hedge fund kingpin Seth Klarman has a nifty formula for making big bucks. He buys distressed assets — like the bonds of deeply indebted political jurisdictions — at a discount, then presses those jurisdictions to pay up in full. All this “investing” takes place in the shadows, concealed in the opaque filings of shell companies. In October, researchers dug through that opacity and discovered that Klarman’s hedge fund now ranks as Puerto Rico’s biggest debtholder. Since Hurricane Maria, activists have been demanding a debt forgiveness that would enable Puerto Rico to rebuild. Klarman has responded by calling any major debt forgiveness an “impractical” move that would “almost certainly eliminate any ability the Commonwealth would have to borrow money in the future at reasonable rates.” Analysts dispute that rationale for forcing Puerto Rico to privilege Wall Street. One thing no one disputes: Taking Klarman’s “advice” will balloon his already ample $1.5 billion personal fortune.

This week on, Keith Payne tells us that if we really want to live longer, we should forget the Nordic diet and try the Nordic tax plan instead. Payne, a psychology prof at the University of North Carolina, explains how equality does more to lengthen lifespans than any diet.

Bob Lord also adds a hard-hitting analysis of the most classic tax-cut canard: the notion that the tax code is unfair to the rich. That’s rich!

Elsewhere on the web, co-editor Josh Hoxie writes for U.S. News & World Report about the boondoggle for private-jet owners hidden in the tax bills now before Congress, and, over at Quartz, Dan Kopf shows exactly who would benefit from a repeal of the federal estate tax: the most privileged Americans. That’s probably why Republicans are rushing their tax proposals through Congress. Voters that way, Helaine Olen at the Washington Post points out, won’t know who loses until it’s too late.

What Does Inequality Cost Ordinary Households?
The 12 months that ended this past summer, suggests the just-released annual 2017 Global Wealth Report from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, ought to be cause for celebration. The world has never been richer. Net worth worldwide has increased by a remarkable $16.7 trillion over the past year alone. So why aren’t people around the globe cheering? That added $16.7 trillion, the Credit Suisse report makes clear, has benefited only a precious few. The top 1 percent globally now hold a stunning 50.1 percent of the world’s household wealth. What does this intense concentration of wealth mean for typical households? The new Credit Suisse numbers offer us a vivid sense of the incredibly high toll that inequality exacts.
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