Medicare, millionaires, militarism, and Michigan.
Budgets, our friends at the Poor People’s Campaign like to say, amount to moral documents. So what can we glean, on this moral front, from President Joe Biden’s just-released new budget proposal?

On the domestic policy side, the White House budget proposes much-needed investments in jobs and families, protecting Social Security, and strengthening Medicare — all while reducing the federal deficit by $3 trillion over the next decade. How? By closing loopholes to make sure corporations and our wealthiest pay their fair share in taxes. That step alone could raise $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years.

One specific piece of the new Biden budget has us particularly excited: a proposal to quadruple the current 1 percent tax on stock buybacks, a move that would encourage companies to invest in their growth instead of enriching their top execs and shareholders.

But these imaginative steps won’t take us nearly as far as we need to go as long as we continue allocating two-thirds of federal discretionary spending to our nation’s militarization. Just imagine, for example, the seven transformative programs we could fund if we shaved $100 billion off of the Pentagon’s massive $858 billion budget.

Nearly 140 million people in the United States are currently struggling to make ends meet. We’ll never adequately address the poverty at the base of our deeply unequal economy until we confront the ultra-wealthy individuals and corporations at the top.

Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies team
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Michigan Lawmakers Deliver Big-Time for Workers
Michigan’s Senate has just voted to repeal the state “right-to-work” legislation signed into law eleven years ago. That deceptively named legislation — Michigan state rep Joey Andrews prefers “right-to-freeload” — removed requirements that workers benefitting from union contracts pay union dues.

By hobbling unions’ collective bargaining capacity and disincentivizing union membership, as the Economic Policy Institute notes, “right-to-work” in Michigan led to a steep decline in real worker wages while the income share of Michigan’s top 10 percent rose. Michigan has now become the first state to repeal “right-to-work” in almost 60 years.

“People came to Michigan because of the promise of a union, my family included,” points out State Senator Derrin Camilleri, a lead sponsor of the repeal pictured here. “Unions fought for good pay and benefits so that all workers get ahead. Today we restored that promise and said to all workers that Michigan has their back.”

More on Michigan below from Julia Conley of Common Dreams.
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Let’s Hold Reckless Wall Street CEOs Accountable
Greg Becker, the deposed chief executive of the now cratered Silicon Valley Bank, is facing growing demands to cough up the mega-millions he raked in as he led the bank to collapse. This would be the moral thing to do, but under current law, Becker faces no legal obligation to do so.

The situation didn’t have to be this way. Nearly 13 years ago, in the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, Congress passed a ban on Wall Street pay that encourages “inappropriate risk.” But all these years later, regulators have still not moved to enforce this part of the law.

As our veteran executive pay analyst Sarah Anderson explains in a column for Marketwatch, rigorous implementation of these Wall Street pay restrictions could have held Becker accountable for his recklessness — and maybe even prevented the bank’s collapse.
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What's on 

Karen Dolan, Biden’s Budget Would Level the Playing Field and Reduce the Deficit. The president’s plan for jobs, families, and health reflects what most of us value. But the budget should allocate more to these valued priorities and less to the Pentagon.

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.

Elsewhere on the Web

Jeet Heer, Silicon Valley Learns to Love Socialism for the Rich, The Nation. The same folks who eviscerated banking regulations now want to be shielded from the catastrophe they’ve created.

John Hammond, Tax the Rich, Because Inequality Is Bad for All of Us, Jacobin. Economic inequality undermines democracy, hastens environmental destruction, and erodes social trust. We can start solving these problems by taxing the rich, as New York progressives and socialists are now proposing.

Les Leopold, The perverse nature of the Billionaire Bailout Society, TRTWorld. Our only realistic path away from having to bail banks out over and over: nationalizing the banking system. If we can't afford to let these financial institutions fail, these institutions should be run as publicly owned utilities.

Robert Faturechi and Ellis Simani, Wealthy Executives Make Millions Trading Competitors’ Stock With Remarkable Timing, ProPublica. For CEOs, the greed grabs never stop.

Amanda Marcotte, Silicon Valley Bank wasn't ‘woke’: Tech billionaires are just as bad as Wall Street bros, Salon. Ignore GOP hype about the “liberal” tech industry. Reckless, entitled libertarianism fuels Silicon Valley.

Sam Ben-Meir, Freeing America from the quagmire of inequality, Blitz. Inequality erodes social solidarity and trust, so much so that societies with large income differences may lack the social capacity to create safe communities.

Zachary Crockett, Should we automate the CEO? The Hustle. Corporate execs are buzzing about how AI might eventually replace lower-rank workers. But why not start with our highest-paid corporate execs?

Matthew Desmond, America Is in a Disgraced Class of Its Own, New York Times. Just collecting all unpaid federal income taxes from the top 1 percent would raise $175 billion a year, enough to more than double the federal investment in affordable housing.

Nevil Gibson, Musk rules: Who wants to be a billionaire? NBR. In every billionaire’s journey, the mind eventually turns to thoughts of legacy and the immortal glory that accumulated money, power, and status can buy.

Annabelle Spranklen, From phone bugging to kidnapping, these are the biggest security concerns of the super-rich, Tatler. Security experts reveal all: blackmail, extortion, and cyber security, oh my.

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