More perks for the rich and rugged individualism for the rest of us.
The Silicon Valley Bank collapsed this past week.

Like Senator Elizabeth Warren, we see a clear connection between the bank’s demise and a bill Donald Trump signed in 2018 that undid essential banking reforms enacted in 2010, paving the way for financial institutions to chase after profits and disregard the downsides. SVB’s top dog Greg Becker, Senator Warren points out, took home almost $10 million last year for boosting his bank’s profitability — “and its riskiness.”

Federal officials are now strategically positioning their rapid-fire involvement in SVB’s financial recovery as definitely not a taxpayer-funded “bailout.” We find more convincing the analyses that see the rush to protect SVB’s clients as a sign of the outsized political power of rich bad actors that gives lower-income people the short end of the stick.

SVB, a bank with $200 billion in assets, collapses and gets rescued on a 48-hour timeline. Meanwhile, average Americans are now approaching $2 trillion in crushing student debt. Ask activists at the Debt Collective, a debtors union working to cancel student debt: “What have we gotten?”

They’re asking the right kind of question: How can the federal government spring to action to bail out mercurial venture capitalists while letting the debt of hard-working Americans pile up as banks levy heavy overdraft fees and the cost of living skyrockets?

To get a better sense of what the White House now ought to be doing, tune in to the upcoming March 16 Congressional Progressive Caucus Center Big Ideas Briefing, The Power of the Pen: Building Justice Through Executive Action. Our co-editor Sarah Anderson will be on hand to explain how new executive actions could reduce inequality all across our country.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Shifting Narratives on Wealth and Who Deserves It
Gabriela Sandoval counts herself as a member of the 0.1 percent — just not the 0.1 percent you’re likely thinking of. Sandoval, the executive director of the newly formed Excessive Wealth Disorder Institute, sits in the 0.1 percent of children of Mexican immigrants who’ve earned a PhD.

Our nation’s prevailing narrative on meritocracy would see and applaud Sandoval as someone who has pulled herself up by her proverbial bootstraps. But Sandoval knows full well she would never have reached her goals without support from public policies like the Pell Grants that make higher ed affordable for poor kids and the first-time homebuyer program that helped her parents buy a home of their own.

To Sandoval, our deeply concentrated current wealth represents a policy choice as well, and we can fix that choice by talking about the other side of the wealth divide. managing editor Rebekah Entralgo recently sat down with Sandoval to learn more about how her background influences her new work at the Excessive Wealth Disorder Institute.
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Don’t Push Low-Wage Workers Off the Medicaid Cliff

For a time during the pandemic, our federal government stepped in and protected millions of low-income workers from health care profiteers. During the Covid-related crisis, Medicaid enrollment boomed and, in exchange for increased federal matching funds, states agreed not to kick anyone off Medicaid until the national emergency ended.

Without Congressional action, those protections will end on March 31, putting an estimated 18 million people at risk of losing their health care benefits. You can count LT Talarico as one of those millions.

“Our health system treats care as a source of profit for the wealthy,” notes Talarico, a dental hygienist from Pennsylvania who has struggled to get the care she needs for an autoimmune condition. “My modest pay is just high enough that I will likely lose coverage, and my contract job doesn’t offer health benefits.”

How we can protect health care as a human right? Talarico has some ideas.

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What's on 

Tom Conway, The Unconscionable Push to Bring Back Child Labor. Rather than offering wages attractive to adults, employers want lawmakers to push teens into some of the most dangerous jobs in the country.

Joseph A. McCartin, Making Campuses Platforms for Labor Renewal. Campuses are becoming sites of labor organizing and struggle. The Labor Spring movement is emerging to build that energy across the country.

Owen Tudor, Ukraine’s Trade Unions Are Playing a Critical Role in the War Effort – And Will Be Central to a Just Peace. Social justice, including the full respect of fundamental worker rights, must be the basis for Ukraine’s future.

Elsewhere on the Web

Robert Reich, Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong and Joe Biden Is Right About Stock Buybacks, Common Dreams. Companies don’t get better because of buybacks. Shareholders only get richer.

Joe Biden, My Plan to Extend Medicare for Another Generation, New York Times. The rich today need to pay more in taxes because our wealthiest 1 percent now have over five times the wealth of our bottom 50 percent combined.

Ty Roush, Billionaires, Buybacks And Medicare: How Biden’s 2024 Budget Outlines Trillions Of Dollars In Proposed New Taxes, Forbes. These new taxes represent the most sweeping set of tax hikes on America’s most affluent seen since the 1940s.

Magdalena Sepulveda, To Strengthen Women's Resilience to Disasters, Make the Wealthiest Pay Their Fair Share, Common Dreams. States need introduce progressive taxation to finance universal access to health care and education and strengthen women's resilience to natural hazards, including climate change.

Carl Davis, Tax Avoidance Continues to Fuel School Privatization Efforts, Institute On Taxation and Economic Policy. Wealthy families are, in overwhelming numbers, using school voucher tax credits to opt out of paying taxes into public coffers.

Sarah Davidson, We’re millionaires, why can’t we pay more tax? Meet the super-rich lobbying for change, Metro. The A wealth tax must be fair, not voluntary, says Patriotic Millionaires international director Rebecca Gowland.

Paul Prescod, NFL Players’ Injuries Aren’t the Only Terrible Aspect of Their Working Conditions, Jacobin. The National Football League Players Association just released team report cards that amount to an indictment of the greed and incompetence of billionaire team owners.

Sarah Rawlins, Unfair Cap Means Millionaires Stop Contributing to Social Security, Center for Economic and Policy Research. No more than 1 percent of any millionaire's total earnings go to supporting Social Security.

Alexander Stern, Are the Rich Special? Commonweal. On the “Triangle of Sadness” and the pitfalls of the eat-the-rich film.

Matthew Desmond, Why Poverty Persists in AmericaNew York Times. A Pulitzer Prize-winning sociologist offers a new explanation for an intractable problem.

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