In Oakland, California, over 4,000 people are living homeless lives while nearly 16,000 housing units sit vacant.
A budget, we’re often reminded, says a lot about priorities. Three years deep into the Trump administration, we’ve become well aware what the president’s priorities are — cut whatever’s left of a social safety net, citing “costs,” all while expanding tax cuts for the wealthy and pouring more funding into cruel and costly deportation and military programs.

Trump’s latest budget, released last week, tells us what we already know. But growing social movements are pushing back on austerity plans that funnel wealth upwards. We’ve got more this week on one of them.

Also this week: a look at the wealthy snapping back, in fear, at movements for change and a profile of Silicon Valley, a place where concentrated wealth is crushing the dreams of all but the already affluent.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Taxing Wealth Emperors in the Empire State
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a state budget last month that increases broad-based taxes and cuts to critical services, all to make up for a $6.1 billion state deficit. But instead of turning to austerity and taxes that hit low- and middle-income households, New York ought to be aiming for budget justice. So says the New York Strong for All Coalition, a lively effort that’s outlined several alternatives to the Cuomo budget, including some imaginative new taxes on the wealth of the ultra rich. We have more on the coalition proposals this week.
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Another Day, Another Billionaire Twitter Tantrum
Billionaire Lloyd Blankfein joked as he announced his 2018 retirement as Goldman Sachs CEO that he looked forward to “unrestrained tweeting” in the years ahead. But the Twitter life apparently bored the billionaire, and his twitter account went silent for three whole months — until last week when Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary. Sanders, a Blankfein tweet ranted in response, will “ruin our economy.” As a nominee, Blankfein says, he’d be the Russian pick “to best screw up the US.” Blankfein seems to be engaging in some Trumpian projection here. Few Americans, a just-released Better Markets report details, have done more to “ruin the economy” in real time than Blankfein in his 12 years as Goldman’s top exec. The bank reached “new heights of lawlessness” in the run-up to the 2008 financial crash, Better Markets notes, and then “continued to violate the law in the post-crash era.” The new report may be the best evidence yet that Wall Street, as a certain senator from Vermont often charges, has only one essential business model: “fraud.”
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In Silicon Valley, Money that ‘Clumps’ Crushes
If everything rich people tell us about prosperity happened to be true, Silicon Valley would right now be overflowing with exceedingly happy people. Silicon Valley, after all, has everything rich folks say they need to get an economy going and growing: an abundance of “successful” people with plenty of money to invest, wildly generous rewards for corporate executive “innovators,” and billions in subsidies from local governments. But Silicon Valley isn’t overflowing with happiness, and a new local civic group report is bluntly calling living conditions “harsh” in California’s high-tech hotspot. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Ellen Moore and Jen Moore, Global Mining Corporations Have a Friend in the New Guatemalan Government. A new president has appointed a former mining exec to a high post, worrying indigenous communities that have long protested his company’s harmful extraction activities.

Elsewhere on the Web

Joe Rihn, California Considers Tax on Companies With Large CEO-Worker Pay Gaps, Capital & Main. Firms with top execs making over 300 times more than typical workers would pay significantly more in state taxes under landmark legislation now advancing in Sacramento.

J. Bradford DeLong, Isn’t a wealth tax common sense? Social Europe. How the classical principles of public finance support the adoption of a wealth tax.

Jenice Robinson, 2021 Trump Budget Continues 40-Year Trickle-Down Economic Agenda, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. The Trump administration has laid out a vision for America centered on starving federal coffers via tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.

Sirin Kale, The wealth gap: how changing fortunes tear close friends apart, Guardian. The richer you are, the more likely you’ll believe that success comes from hard work and talent rather than luck or privilege.

H. Patricia Hynes, The richest and the rest of us, Greenfield Recorder. Why we all have a stake in narrowing our country’s wealth divide.

Amitrajeet Batabyal, How the T-Mobile-Sprint merger will increase inequality, The Conversation. The three ways mergers concentrate wealth.

Robert Kuttner, Financial Engineers Ravage American Newspapers — McClatchy’s Turn,  American Prospect. The hedge fund and private equity execs buying up newspapers are maximizing profits — and endangering our democracy — by milking the companies they take over.
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