All year, we’ve been tracking the rants of America’s mega-rich, and last week we put it to a vote: who was the most petulant plutocrat of 2017? Thanks to you, we have an answer: Betsy DeVos, the U.S. secretary of education.

The billionaire ranks as one of the least popular members of Trump’s cabinet and has fielded controversy after controversy during her first year in office. And what a busy year it’s been: her department has rolled back guidance on sexual assault allegations on campus, civil rights protections, and regulations on for-profit colleges — a worthy choice for 2017’s petulant plutocrat.

We may have crowned our plutocrat for the year, but that doesn't mean America's wealthy and the lawmakers they pay are taking a break just yet. Last week, congressional Republicans issued their final version of the tax bill, and it is quite the holiday gift for the country's richest, at the expense of working people. We have more on the bill — and why the final version is even more of a giveaway to the wealthy — in today’s issue.

While we’re taking a short break for the holidays, we’ll continue to track this tax abomination on our site. We’ll be back in your inbox in early 2018. Wishing you all a happy New Year — here’s to hoping it brings more justice and equity for all.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
Keep Tips in the Hands of Servers Who Earn Them
Thea Bryan is a single mother putting herself through graduate school. She spends her days at an unpaid internship for her social work program. At nights, she bartends to support herself, earning most of her income through tips. Sometimes, the pay is lucrative. But around October, her work — and money — started to lag. As it stands, the lack of customers has already had a profound effect on her life. But a new proposal from the Department of Labor could make things much worse for Bryan. Under the proposed rule, she might have to hand those tips — the basis of her income — over to her bosses. co-editor Negin Owliaei has more on the campaign to protect the tips workers earn.
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A Mickey Mouse Rationale for a Greed Grab
Bob Iger, the CEO of the Walt Disney entertainment empire, last week announced his empire’s biggest deal yet: a $52.4-billion takeover of 21st Century Fox. The merger does face one roadblock: Government antitrust regulators must approve it. But Iger can’t see why they wouldn’t. Regulators, he told reporters right after the merger announcement, “should quickly conclude the aim of this combination is to create more high-quality product for consumers around the world and to deliver it in more compelling, innovative ways.” Actually, analysts point out, the merger much more reflects Disney’s need to “bolster its flagging television business” and better “compete against deep-pocketed digital competitors.” And Iger also has a bit of personal stake in seeing the deal go through. The merger with Fox, Bloomberg News reports, will dump an extra $100 million in his pockets. 
In Congress, a Grand Tax ‘Bargain’
In the U.S. Congress, the House and Senate regularly pass different versions of the same basic legislation. They then come together in a “conference committee” to bargain out the differences. These “conference committee” bargaining sessions do what human bargaining has always done. They arrive at a point somewhere between the House position and the Senate position. Capitol Hill observers, naturally, expected the same process to play out on the rich people-friendly GOP tax bills that passed the House and Senate earlier this fall. House and Senate conferees, everyone expected, would come up with a compromise somewhere between the House and Senate positions. The conferees did no such thing. They simply bargained themselves to an even bigger windfall — for America’s rich. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has the details.
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This week on

Bob Lord, The GOP Tax Plan Will Complete the Destruction of America’s Middle Class Wealth. If the GOP tax plan becomes law, we may be looking at a future where our 1,600 richest hold more wealth than the nation’s entire middle class.

Sarah Anderson, Alabama Upset Sparks Calls to Slow Down GOP Tax Push. Take a look at some of the pettiest anti-middle class provisions the GOP hopes to ram through in their tax giveaway to the wealthy.

Joel Westheimer and John Rogers, Teaching About Economic Inequality Is Political, but Not the Way You Think. A new study finds that teachers' civic engagement drives conversations on inequality in the classroom.

Elsewhere on the web:

Bob Lord, A Backdoor Tax on the Middle Class, US News & World Report. By cutting the estate tax, Republicans are just asking the middle class to pick up the tab.

Josh Hoxie, After Alabama, Dems Should Target Policies to Help Blacks, Newsweek. The typical black family in America has seen a decrease in household wealth from 1983.

The Tax Bill That Inequality Created, The New York Times Editorial Board. A bill made for the wealthy will only widen the gap.

Michael Hobbes, Why millennials are facing the scariest financial future of any generation since the Great Depression, Huffington Post. On the road to zero wealth.

Nouriel Roubini, Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America, Project Syndicate. Pluto-populists have been turning democracies into autocracies with the same playbook for thousands of years.

Eduardo Porter, Tax Plan’s Biggest Cuts Could Be in Living Standards, New York Times. The evidence that tax cuts for the rich hurt everyone else.

Jonathan Chait, Why the Trump Tax Cuts Might Jack Up the Deficit More Than Anybody Expects, Daily Intelligencer. A new analysis details the new tax-avoidance loopholes the GOP tax legislation opens up.

Mathew Schmalz, Here’s what the Bible actually says about taxing the rich to help the poor, Raw Story. The biblical principles on inequality.

Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Adam Chaikof, Two billion dollars in stolen wages were recovered for workers in 2015 and 2016 —  and that’s just a drop in the bucket, Economic Policy Institute. Still another reason CEOs are sashaying down Easy Street.

Craig Torres and Jordan Yadoo, America’s Inequality Machine Is Sending the Dow Soaring, Bloomberg. Understanding why the stock market is setting records.

This Map Shows You the Richest Politician In Every State, Plutocracy’s most out-front faces.