After two years of tracking billionaire wealth, we’re excited to see the president get behind a proposed minimum income tax on the richest 0.01 percent.

It’s Budget Day! The Biden administration has just released its annual plan for federal spending. That might not sound particularly exciting, but this year’s plan most definitely rates as a big deal. The new Biden budget includes historic proposals to tackle extreme economic inequality.

What exactly has us excited? We’ve been closely tracking the huge spike in billionaire wealth over the past two years. President Biden has noticed that spike too. We’re excited to see his new budget call for a minimum income tax on our richest 0.01 percent, a move that would squash the scandal of billionaires paying next to nothing in taxes for years on end.

We’re also excited to see Biden pushing back on stock buybacks. This legal form of stock manipulation artificially inflates the value of a company’s shares — and the value of corporate executive stock-based pay. Biden’s plan would prevent CEOs from engineering buybacks that pump up their personal fortunes. More detail to come in upcoming issues!

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Economic Democracy for All — Not Just a Few
Economists and policymakers are struggling to explain the “Great Resignation” now sweeping the labor market. In 2021, an estimated 47 million workers left their jobs — some to change careers, others just to recover from burnout. This massive exodus should signal to us all that working people have priorities that go well beyond traditional wage-and-hour issues, and experienced organizers Sarita Gupta and Erica Smiley see here an opportunity to reimagine organizing, a chance to see workers as not just people who work but as people with diverse arrays of identities. Smiley directs Jobs With Justice, a job Gupta held before moving to the Ford Foundation. In their new book, The Future We Need: Organizing for a Better Democracy in the Twenty-First Century, they explore the new movement using organized bargaining power to secure true economic democracy in the workplace — and throughout American life.
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This Corporate Chief Only Overspends on Himself
AT&T’s entertainment arm, WarnerMedia, and Discovery are busily getting ready to celebrate their impending blockbuster merger, and Discovery chief David Zaslav, the CEO-in-waiting of the merged new firm, is vowing to run a company that can compete with streaming giants like Netflix and Disney. But Wall Street is worrying that the nation’s streaming giants are spending far too much — on producing content — to register the profit numbers investors want to be seeing. Last month, on an earnings call with Wall Street analysts, Zaslav brashly declared he could win the streaming wars without overspending: “Our goal is to compete with the leading streaming services, not to win the spending war.” Zaslav is certainly already winning one corporate spending war — on CEO pay. He cleared a remarkable $246 million last year, on top of $212.9 million over the three previous years. His 2021 windfall amounted to some 3,000 times the pay of Discovery’s most typical employee.
Ban Out-Of-Control Wall Street Bonuses
Low-wage workers delivering essential services are struggling today to make ends meet. Wall Streeters, meanwhile, are reaping massive rewards for high-risk behaviors that endanger the economy. In a jaw-dropping new analysis, our Sarah Anderson reveals that Wall Street bonuses soared a stunning 20 percent in 2021, nearly five times the increase in U.S. average weekly earnings.

Fourteen years after the financial crash, in short, the reckless Wall Street bonus culture is still raging. The financial reform bill enacted in response to that crisis banned Wall Street compensation plans that encourage “inappropriate risks.” But regulators have never put this law into force. Anderson is urging rigorous implementation of this long-stalled law. Executives, for instance, should have to set aside a chunk of their own pay every year to pay penalties their firms may face for financial wrong-doing.
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A Ukraine Query: Who’s Enabling Putin’s Enablers?
Where would Vladimir Putin be without the Russian oligarchy? Without Russia’s oligarchs, political leaders of the Western world have concluded, Putin would be tottering. Western leaders have made squeezing Russia’s richest a central piece of their strategy to end Putin’s Ukraine cross-border assault. These same Western leaders, unfortunately, have failed to take seriously what ought to be an equally pressing question: Where would Russia’s oligarchs be without the West, without the Wall Streeters, wealth managers, and assorted other high-finance riff-raff “paid millions to help billionaires sequester trillions”?’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
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What's on 

Sarah Anderson, Wall Street Bonuses Soar By 20%, Nearly 5 Times the Increase in US Average Weekly Earnings. If the minimum wage had increased as much as Wall Street bonuses since 1985, minimum wage workers would today be making $61.75 an hour.

Chuck Collins and Helen Flannery, Time to Move the Money: Independent Research on Donor-Advised Funds. Charitable giving has become a taxpayer-subsidized extension of private power and influence for our nation’s wealthiest.

Elsewhere on the Web

Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Biden to Include Minimum Tax on Billionaires in Budget Proposal, New York Times. The tax would require that households worth over $100 million pay a tax on unrealized gains in the value of liquid assets like stocks.

Fletcher Peters, ‘Money Heist’ Creator’s New Netflix Series Will Target the 1 Percent’s Luxury Pandemic Bunkers, Daily Beast. The new high-concept series from Alex Pina will take its theme from the wealth disparities of pandemic Spain, inspired by the actual 15-floor-deep luxury bunkers of the super rich.

Drummond Pike, At What Point Does a Billionaire’s Greed Hurt the Rest of Us? Institute for New Economic Thinking. Dems in Congress have to decide whether they want to keep dark money flowing or step up to embrace powerful economic policies that would change peoples’ lives. Policies like a wealth tax.

Faiza Shaheen, The case for addressing prejudice to address inequality, and some ideas on how we move forward, Medium. Pittinb different forms of equality against each other has become central to the playbook of those who sow division to distract from the greed grabs of our richest.

Jess Winterstein, How can we understand wealth inequality across countries? LSE International Inequalities Institute. A new study identifies the United States, a society with both high income and wealth inequality, as an outlier among its peer nations.

Jeremy Bearer-Friend and Vanessa Williamson, The Common Sense of a Wealth Tax: Thomas Paine & Taxation as Freedom from Aristocracy, Florida Tax Review. Amid renewed interest in wealth taxes, we need to highlight the wealth tax work of our original revolutionary generation.

Anna Papadopoulos, World’s Wealthiest People, 2022, CEO World. U.S.-based corporate chief execs are riding exceptionally high these days, with Elon Musk now worth over a quarter-trillion.
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