In this week’s issue, more on tomorrow’s debate and the deepening despair over the state of our democracy, and join us on October 5th for our second town hall on charity reform
The failure to bring Breonna Taylor’s killers to justice has sparked another round of nationwide protests against racist police violence and brutality. This continuing inability to bring justice remains a national disgrace — and reveals how starkly unequal the United States continues to be.

Deeply unequal societies, we’ve learned over recent years, do worse than more equal societies by every social metric that really matters. Now we can add one more metric to that list: performance during pandemics.

At the start of the Covid-19 crisis, some pundits speculated that the pandemic might become the “great equalizer.” The coronavirus has instead, as our Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo note, “exacerbated longstanding class, racial, and gender divides.” To illustrate just that, we’ve added to our website a new collection of 13 data visualizations that explore how Covid-19 and inequality interrelate.

President Trump, meanwhile, is pronouncing that Covid-19 affects “virtually nobody.” Comments like that — and yesterday’s blockbuster New York Times report on Trump’s tax returns — figure to make Tuesday’s first 2020 presidential debate as much “must-cringe” as “must-see.” We’ll have more on those Trump taxes next week. In this week’s issue, more on tomorrow’s debate and our town hall October 5 on charity reform.

Chuck Collins, for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Laid-off Autoworker Refutes Trump’s Jobs Claims
In tomorrow night’s debate, President Trump will almost certainly repeat claims he’s made at campaign rallies across the Midwest about “bringing back” jobs. Autoworker Chuckie Denison would love to ask the president a couple questions: Why didn’t he lift a finger when GM laid off 14,000 workers across Michigan, Maryland, and Ohio last year? And why did his administration let GM continue collecting $700 million in federal contracts and massive tax breaks? After losing his job at a GM factory near Youngstown in Ohio, Denison has been speaking out about Trump’s false promises on manufacturing jobs.
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No Revlon Makeup Can Cover a Blemish This Big
Billionaires like Ronald Perelman — an original 1980s junk-bond-era takeover king — don’t like to lose and especially don’t like looking like a “loser.” So what do you do when your business empire has become too indebted to sustain? You start selling off your crown jewels all the while insisting that you want to “simplify” your life and “give others the chance to enjoy some of the beautiful things that I’ve acquired.” For the 77-year-old Perelman, those things include his Gulfstream jet, his 257-foot yacht, and his world-class fine art collection. Also available: his 57-acre Hamptons estate, reportedly for $180 million. Perelman has watched the market value of his highly indebted flagship business, Revlon cosmetics, shrink by nearly 80 percent and his own personal net worth dip from $19 to $4.2 billion. For one Perelman biographer, this financial distress — and not any sudden yearning for hearth and home — explains Perelman’s billionaire garage sale. Says Richard Hack, author of a 1996 bio: “If you want a simpler life, you go buy a farm in Oklahoma.” Adds Hack: “If he’s selling his art, it’s because he needs cash.”
End Wealth-Hiding Anonymous Shell Companies
Last week, covered the revelations from the FinCEN Files, a leak of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that chronicled the role of international banks in facilitating money laundering and illicit finance. Yesterday, we learned from a New York Times exposé that in 10 of the last 15 years, Donald Trump paid no taxes, a revelation that builds on past investigative journalism that has revealed how “wealth defense industry” professionals have hidden hundreds of millions of Trump family dollars.  Eliminating anonymous shell companies would help prevent such abuses, and last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan Corporate Transparency Act to require disclosure of beneficial ownership.  House leaders are pushing to include Anti-Money Laundering Provisions into the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate is now considering bipartisan legislation called the ILLICIT CASH Act (S.2563) that would also require shell companies to report their beneficial owners.  See the fact sheet and action created by the FACT Coalition.
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Let’s Start Debating What Dooms Democracy
The blue-ribbon panel that has produced every presidential debate since 1988 has announced the six topics that will each get 15 minutes at this year’s initial square-off between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. The six: the Trump and Biden records, the Supreme Court, Covid-19, the economy, race and violence in our cities, and the integrity of the election. This imprecise jumble of broad categories and specific issues makes little logical sense. Are we talking here about “race” or “racism”? And how can a topic list for a presidential debate in 2020 — the year West Coast skies turned red — not make any reference to climate change? And that brings us to another mammoth concern absent from Tuesday’s topic list: our staggering maldistribution of income and wealth. In these days of despair over the state of our democracy, we desperately need inequality on our political center stage. co-editor Sam Pizzigati has more.
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This week on 

Brian Wakamo and Sarah Anderson, Inequality and Covid-19 in 13 Charts. A new data visualization series illustrates how the pandemic and flawed policy responses have widened long-standing economic, racial, and gender divides.

Elsewhere on the Web

Jane Gravelle, Sharing the Wealth: How to Tax the Rich, Tax Prof Blog. A Congressional Research Service analyst looks at the heart of the problem of taxing the rich: that the individual income tax does not reach much of the income of the extremely affluent.

Deirdra Funcheon, What Miami's vastly unequal zip codes reveal about the election fight in Florida, Guardian. Miami-Dade hosts both the nation’s richest zip code and some of its poorest.

Ethan Winter, Voters in Key States Support a Wealth Tax, Data for Progress. Among voters in key 2020 battleground states, 61 percent say they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports a wealth tax, with only 19 percent less likely.

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, There’s a Pattern of Corporate Media Censoring News About Wall Street Banks’ Crimes, Wall Street on Parade. Major U.S. media outlets have not covered the release of the stunning International Consortium of Investigative Journalists new report on how five of America's biggest banks have continued to launder dirty money. Nothing new there.

David Dayen, Trump Says a Biden Win Will Crash the Stock Market. Let’s Hope So, American Prospect. Trump says Biden will crash the stock market. What Biden will do: help stop the financial machinations that let big investors get rich in the Wall Street casino. 

Christopher Rugaber, The super-rich get even super-richer during the pandemic, Mercury News. The Federal Reserve could have required those companies whose bonds it bought to keep all their workers. The Fed instead has bought bonds from corporate giants that lay off freely.

Claudia Webbe, A wealth tax is crucial in the transition to a fairer society, Morning Star. A British perspective.

Ashwin Rodrigues, Gig Economy Company Launches Uber, But for Evicting People, MotherBoard. A hot new start-up is calling evictions today’s “fastest-growing money-making gig.”

Dimitrije Ruzic, How Trade Made the Richest 0.1% Even Richer, INSEAD. New research shows that inequality within U.S. firms,  measured as the difference between CEO pay and the average wage in the rest of the firm, has run 50 percent larger among firms that export overseas compared to those that sell only domestically.

John Gonzalez, The Political Donations of NBA Owners Are Not So Progressive, Ringer. NBA teams and owners have publicly pledged their solidarity with Black players in support of Black Lives Matter. But their political donations show they favor a different cause
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Second Town Hall on Charity Funding Reform
Current tax rules enable wealthy donors to warehouse most of their charitable funds forever. As a result, more than $1 trillion dollars is not reaching front-line charities in desperate need right now. Meanwhile, those donors have already taken their tax deduction, costing other taxpayers up to 75 cents for every dollar being warehoused in this way. Join us on Monday, October 5th at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST for the second online town hall to learn about solutions to this problem and how you can help. Co-hosted by us with CalNonprofits, and Community Centric Fundraising Network.
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