Hi FLARA Family,
We are looking for a volunteer to assist in placing a Labor Day Op Ed. The bulk of the text is already written:
It’s been a rough couple of years for American workers. First, working families were battered by a pandemic that caused massive unemployment, loss of health coverage and financial hardship for tens of millions of working people.
Thanks to swift bipartisan action in 2020, Congress passed historic relief packages that helped workers, extended health coverage and protected the majority of Americans from COVID’s worst harms. The unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April 2020 to 3.5 percent this summer, millions of people got affordable healthcare coverage that brought the number of uninsured people to an all-time low and poverty actually declined even as the pandemic raged on. [Insert state specific numbers on employment, ACA and Medicaid enrollment, etc.]
But even as infection rates declined, the pandemic’s impact lingered. Rising inflation over the past year threatened recovery as people found themselves paying record amounts for fuel, goods and services. Large corporations, seeing an opportunity to fatten profits, used pandemic conditions as a pretext for price-gouging consumers. Since the spring of 2020, corporations in the non-financial sector have raised prices by an annualized rate of 6.1%—a huge increase over the 1.8% annual price growth between 2007–2019. Over half of this increase (53.9%) contributed to bigger profit margins, while labor costs accounted for less than 8% of the increase. In 2021, corporate profits surged by 35%, giving American corporations their most profitable year since 1950. But even as CEO pay and shareholder earnings soar, workers’ real wages–despite some increases– failed to keep up with the higher cost of living.
Though corporations made more profits, they mostly didn’t pay more taxes. In 2020, for instance, 55 of the nation’s largest profitable firms like Nike, FedEx and Salesforce, paid zero in federal taxes thanks to loopholes and breaks in the tax code. Neither did their billionaire CEOs and shareholders. Billionaires increased their wealth by an astonishing $1.7 trillion, or 57 percent, between March 2020 and March 2022. In [State], [XX] billionaires increased their wealth by [XX] over this two-year period.
Like their corporations, the ultra rich have either avoided taxes or paid a much lower rate than middle class workers thanks to special tax breaks that help them hoard their wealth. Research shows that the nation’s 400 richest billionaire families paid an average tax rate of just 8.2 percent between 2010 and 2018. Middle class people paid an average tax rate of 13.3 percent in 2019.
A rigged tax system is something we can fix and, thankfully, Congress has already started [with support from Representative/Senator X] or [despite opposition from Senator/Representative X]. [Representative/Senator X voted for or voted against] the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that lowers the price of prescriptions, makes health insurance premiums for Affordable Care Act coverage more affordable, and cuts energy costs through its climate provisions which also reduce pollution and harmful carbon emissions.It also makes the tax code more fair by requiring the nation’s richest corporations–those making over $1 billion in profits annually– pay a 15% minimum corporate tax. It provides the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) resources to track down the nation’s richest tax cheats so they will finally have to pay what they owe like the rest of us. No one making less than $400,000 a year will see higher taxes.
These improvements give us a lot to celebrate this Labor Day. There’s a lot more to do to make our system more fair and equitable but at least we’re headed in the right direction. Congress should pass a Billionaires Income Tax that requires the ultra-rich to pay taxes on their increased wealth the same way workers pay on wages. While working people pay taxes on every paycheck, billionaires can go years without paying any federal income taxes at all because their income is derived from stock and financial assets which are not taxed unless they are sold. Billionaires don’t need to sell assets to live a lavish lifestyle–they can borrow against those assets nearly interest-free and pass all their wealth on to the next generation without paying what they owe.
We need a tax system with fair and consistent rules that apply to everyone, including the rich and corporations. Under that kind of system, billionaires would still be billionaires and corporations would still make a lot of profit, but both would pay more of what they owe and contribute back to the communities that make them rich just the way American workers do every day.
I will work with you to add a personal story and provide the required statistics. It will be a light lift on your end, as usual. Please reply back if you are interested.
Jordan Kanter, Executive Director