We hear that the economy is beginning to recover - but for whom?
The December 2009 for African Americans and Latinos were higher than any annual rate for the past 27 years. Black unemployment is now 16.2% and Latino unemployment is at 12.9%, while white unemployment just fell for the second month in a row.
Last month President Obama rebuked the (CBC) for demanding that some of the stimulus money be targeted to the poorest communities of color; he said recovery efforts must help "all Americans." But our new State of the Dream report, shows that untargeted stimulus spending mostly reaches white people. African Americans and Latinos are continuing to disproportionately experience economic hardships.
State of the Dream 2010 - Drained: Jobless and Foreclosed in Communities of Color, contains data and analysis about the current racial divide in terms of unemployment, median income, poverty, net worth, and rate of foreclosures.
Co-authors of the report are now available for interview, background or comment. They are:
- Ajamu Dillahunt, Board Member of UFE and Outreach Coordinator at the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh.
- Brian Miller, Executive Director of UFE.
- Mike Prokosch, Board Member of UFE and Organizer at Community Labor United.
- Jeannette Huezo, Education Coordinator at UFE.
- Dedrick Muhammad, Senior Organizer and Research Associate, Institute for Policy Studies.
The report will be available to the general public from www.FairEconomy.org/dream
In the meantime, you may download a Fact Sheet with key findings under embargo at: www.FairEconomy.org/EMBARGO
To schedule interviews, or for more information please contact me, Mazher Ali, at firstname.lastname@example.org or .
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
• Lee Farris, UFE Estate Tax Policy Coor., 617-423-2148 x133 (off); email@example.com
• Brian Miller, UFE Executive Director, 781-392-4564 (cell); firstname.lastname@example.org
Waging Class Warfare - The Rich Win Again
Boston, MA, December 31, 2009 – On New Year's Day, the estate tax, which has been part of the US tax system for nearly 100 years, will disappear due to the failure of the Senate to pass an extension in December. Now, Congressional leaders are pledging to act in early 2010 to reinstate the federal estate tax, making it retroactive to January 1, 2010, an action supported by United for a Fair Economy (UFE).
"The Senate's failure to extend the estate tax is the epitome of fiscal irresponsibility, coming at a time when our country is struggling to recover from a deep recession," states Brian Miller, UFE's executive director. "Permanent repeal of the estate tax would increase the federal deficit by $1.3 trillion dollars over 10 years. Those taxes would likely be shifted from multi-millionaire inheritors to the middle class, at a time when middle-class families are already losing their jobs and homes. That's outrageous."
The estate tax has been cut five times since 2001. As of 2009, it is paid only on the portion of an individual's estate over $3.5 million, or $7 million for a couple. As a result, over 99% of all estates are unaffected by the estate tax. Very few farms or small businesses are impacted at the 2009 level either, collectively making up less than 1% of all estate tax collections. Those estates that are affected only pay taxes on the portion of the estate above the exemption, not the full value of the estate. "The 2009 law is already generous enough. We oppose any effort to further weaken it," states Miller.
"Providing for one's children and grandchildren is a good thing. No one is questioning that," adds Miller, "But how much is enough? Since there is zero tax on the first $7 million left by a wealthy couple under 2009 law, an heir can conceivably inherit more, tax free, than the average American earns in four whole lifetimes. Isn't that enough? And unlike the lucky heir, the working American will be paying taxes on what they earn."
Because the Senate failed to act, the estate tax will disappear in 2010, then return in 2011 to the pre-Bush levels with an exemption of $2 million for a couple and $1 million for an individual. However, it is unlikely that Congress will allow the estate tax to revert fully. In response, UFE and other estate tax advocates are supporting Rep. Jim McDermott's Sensible Estate Tax Act, HR 2023, as a middle ground between 2009 and pre-2001 law. It includes an exemption of $4 million for a married couple, with a 45% rate on amounts over that, and a 55% rate on estates worth over $10 million.
"The estate tax helps pay for essential services ranging from education to transportation that are the cornerstone of our nation's prosperity," states Miller. "Instead of giving tax breaks to the super-rich, including many of the same people who wrecked our economy, we need a tax system that works for middle-class families. That's why it is so important that we preserve the estate tax, allowing each generation to get a fair shot at achieving the American Dream through their own merit. We urge Congress to reinstate this critical source of revenue for our nation and its people."
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a national organization that works to promote a more broad based prosperity and eliminate extreme inequalities of wealth and income. UFE is on-line at http://www.faireconomy.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Lee Farris, UFE Estate Tax Policy Coordinator, 617-423-2148 x133 or 617-835-7725; email@example.com
- Brian Miller, UFE Executive Director, 617-423-2148 x111; firstname.lastname@example.org
- Shonna Carter and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212-260-5000
- Audio playback of Tuesday's press conference can be heard Friday at 800-642-1687, conference ID: 47047686
WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS CALL ON CONGRESS TO STRENGTHEN
ESTATE TAX BEFORE HOLIDAY RECESS
On Heels of House Vote, Bill Gates, Sr., Mutual Fund Founder John Bogle, Richard Rockefeller
Join United for a Fair Economy to Urge the Senate to Act before Tax Expires
Boston, MA, December 15, 2009 – On the heels of a recent House vote to extend the current estate tax, wealthy individuals, including Bill Gates Sr.; Vanguard Fund founder John Bogle; the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, Richard Rockefeller; along with Anna Burger of the national labor union, SEIU, are calling on the Senate to act before the holiday recess to strengthen the estate tax. If the Senate doesn't act, there will be no estate tax in 2010.
The high profile individuals, organized by the national nonprofit United for a Fair Economy (UFE), say weakening the estate tax or letting it disappear will result in significant losses in revenue for the federal government. This revenue supports the vital public structures and systems — transportation and energy infrastructure, education and healthcare, among others — that are the foundation of broad-based prosperity and economic stability. "In making the 2009 estate tax cut permanent, the House of Representatives would give a huge $391 billion tax-break to the wealthiest 1% of Americans over ten years, at a time when economic inequality has skyrocketed," states Lee Farris, UFE's Estate Tax Policy Coordinator. "That's why it's so important that a group of wealthy individuals, the very beneficiaries of this massive tax giveaway, are standing with one of our nation's largest unions and calling for a stronger estate tax."
Anna Burger of SEIU adds, "Consider a wealthy family with two children. Under the current law, each child could inherit $3.5 million, tax free. That means each child would receive more, tax free, than the average worker would earn in two lifetimes. And the worker would be paying taxes on their earnings. Each of these children would receive more, tax-free, than 240 minimum wage workers would receive in a year."
The US House of Representatives recently cast a 225-200 vote in favor of Rep. Earl Pomeroy's estate tax proposal, which makes 2009 estate tax law permanent, with a $3.5 million exemption ($7 million for married couples), and a 45% tax rate. If the Senate agrees, the result would be a loss of $391 billion over the 10 years starting in 2012. If no vote is taken this year, the estate tax will disappear on January 1, 2010, and then revert to a $1 million exemption per spouse with a 55% rate in 2011.
UFE supports Rep. Jim McDermott's Sensible Estate Tax Act, HR 2023, which represents a middle ground between the 2009 and 2011 laws. McDermott's bill would raise $31 billion more in federal revenue over 10 years than the House bill, while improving the tax by indexing it for inflation and rebating estate tax payments to the states.
Bill Gates, Sr. states, "No one accumulates a fortune without the help of our society's investments. How much wealth would exist without America's unique property rights protections, public infrastructure, and academic institutions? We should celebrate the estate tax as an "economic opportunity recycling" program, where previous generations made investments for us and now it's our turn to pass on the gift. Strengthening the estate tax is important to our democracy."
John C. Bogle, founder and former CEO of The Vanguard Group says, "To me, passing a stronger estate tax is a matter of ethics, of responsibility, of pride in citizenship, and it's the right fiscal choice for our country." He adds, "I don't ever forget, as do some of my colleagues, that I benefited from a lot of business incentives and tax laws as I was building Vanguard Group to what it is today, and I owe some of that back."
In addition to the spokespeople at today's event, UFE has gathered over 2,000 signatures from high-wealth individuals across the country who expect to pay the estate tax, yet support its preservation as a matter of principle and fiscal responsibility.
United for a Fair Economy (UFE) is a national organization that works to promote more broadly shared prosperity and an end to extreme inequalities of wealth and income. Through UFE's Responsible Wealth project, high net worth individuals like the ones in today's press conference help to support progressive tax policies and promote corporate accountability.
- Lee Farris, United for a Fair Economy, 617-423-2148 x133 or 617-835-7725 after business hours.
- Shonna Carter and David Lerner, Riptide Communications, 212-260-5000
INDIVIDUALS CALL ON CONGRESS TO STRENGTHEN
ESTATE TAX BEFORE HOLIDAY RECESS
Bill Gates, Sr., Mutual Fund Founder John Bogle, Richard Rockefeller and
to Participate in Teleconference on the Need for a Strong Estate Tax
Boston, MA, December. 11, 2009 - As Congress prepares for the holiday recess, a group of wealthy individuals together with a national labor union, organized by United for a Fair Economy, are calling on the Senate to act before the break to strengthen the Federal Estate Tax. The tax will disappear for one year in 2010 unless Congress takes immediate action to either pass a one-year extension or a permanent estate tax. The US House recently passed a bill that would permanently set the exemption level at $3.5 million per person ($7 million per couple), which would cost $234 billion over 10 years.
Teleconference: Need for strong Estate Tax
William H. Gates, Sr., Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
John C. Bogle, founder and retired CEO of The Vanguard Group
Richard Rockefeller, MD, family physician, Chair of the Board of Rockefeller Brothers Fund and great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller
Anna Burger, Secretary/Treasurer of Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator, United for a Fair Economy
(800) 681-9883, Conference ID: 47047686
Tuesday, December 15, 11:00 am (1 hour)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
- Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator – 617-423-2148 x133, email@example.com
- Brian Miller, Executive Director - 617-423-2148 x111, firstname.lastname@example.org
Stronger Estate Tax Urged by United for a Fair Economy in Response to House Vote
Boston, MA, December 4, 2009 – "More tax breaks for the super wealthy is one of the last things our economy needs right now," says Lee Farris, Estate Tax Policy Coordinator for United for a Fair Economy (UFE). "Back in 2001, the Bush Administration enacted a massive tax cut for multi-millionaires by gradually reducing the estate tax over several years. Now, instead of reversing at least part of this damaging Bush tax break, the House voted to make that cut permanent."
Yesterday, the US House of Representatives cast a 225-200 vote in favor of Rep. Earl Pomeroy's estate tax proposal, which makes 2009 estate tax law permanent, with a $3.5 million exemption ($7 million for married couples), and a 45% tax rate. If no vote were taken, the estate tax would have gone to zero in 2010, then reverted back to pre-2001 levels in 2011. Making the 2009 law permanent would result in a loss of $234 billion over the next 10 years.
Brian Miller, UFE's Executive Director adds, "The House vote is a mixed blessing. It's clearly a good thing that the House recognizes the need for an estate tax. However, making the 2009 law permanent amounts to a huge tax giveaway to the super wealthy at a time that our nation has much more pressing needs for that revenue, such as paying for health care and reducing the deficit."
"We urge the Senate to not give even more tax breaks to the wealthy than the House passed on Thursday," says Farris. "There's still time to pass a stronger estate tax. The Senate should pass a one-year extension of 2009 law before the end of this year, so Congress has time for a more meaningful debate of this issue next year."
UFE continues to support Rep. Jim McDermott's Sensible Estate Tax Act, HR 2023, which represents a middle ground between the 2009 and pre-2001 laws; the bill would raise $31 billion more in federal revenue over 10 years than the House bill, while improving the tax by indexing it for inflation and rebating money to the states.
# # #
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
• Amaad Rivera, Racial Wealth Divide Project Director – 617-423-2148 x117, email@example.com
• Mazher Ali, Communications Coordinator – 617-423-2148 x101, firstname.lastname@example.org
United for a Fair Economy applauds action by Congressional Black Caucus to stand up for working families
Boston, MA – November 23, 2009 – "With so much of the economic recovery legislation focused on the financial services industry and Wall Street, it's a welcome breath of fresh air to see someone stand up for the needs of Main Street and working families – including people of color – who are all trying to find decent work and hold onto their homes," states Brian Miller, Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy (UFE). "We applaud the Congressional Black Caucus for insisting that the financial regulation bill be accompanied by real action to meet the needs of working families."
Amaad Rivera, Director of UFE's Racial Wealth Divide project adds, "The Congressional Black Caucus is showing real leadership in ensuring that our government addresses the pressing issues of unemployment and economic recovery, with focused attention on people of color and other hard-working families across the country."
UFE notes that while Wall Street bankers and their CEOs have benefitted from the largesse of federal bailouts, the unemployment rate in October reached a staggering 10.2%. Communities of color are feeling the brunt of the recession with unemployment rates hitting 15.7% for African Americans and 13.1% for Hispanics.
Each year on Martin Luther King Day, UFE issues a report, entitled "State of the Dream," that explores the racial disparities of income and wealth, and recommends policy solutions to address those disparities. This report has documented the racial economic disparities that continue to plague this country, starting well before this current economic downturn, now made worse by the recent foreclosure crisis and the predatory lending that preceded it.
"While Americans across the country are struggling to earn a decent wage, people of color have been particularly hard-pressed, earning only 67 cents of income for every dollar earned in Whites households," adds Rivera.
Income aside, most notable are the disparities of wealth outlined in the UFE report. For every dollar of net worth held by white households, African American households on average have only 10 cents, and Latino households have 15 cents. Given that home equity is the single most important form of wealth in communities of color, the current foreclosure crisis is fueling the largest loss of wealth for communities of color in modern history.
The Congressional Black Caucus asserts that prioritizing homeownership and jobs will help all working families, including people of color. "It's time Congress got its priorities straight. What we are getting from Washington is a GDP and Dow Jones policy. What we need is a putting-people-to-work and homeownership policy," states Miller.
The actions of the Congressional Black Caucus last week showed their support for struggling families and people of color. They called for an open legislative process that creates an economic recovery for all Americans.
UFE's State of the Dream report series, which explores racial disparities in wealth and income, as well as the role of predatory lending in communities of color, can be downloaded at http://files.faireconomy.org/issues/racial_wealth_divide.
This press release can also be viewed on CommonDreams.org.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 29, 2009
Contact: Beemer N. Mazzerati (aka Steve Schnapp)
“Billionaires Against Regulating Finance” to Face Off with Protesters in Boston’s Financial District
Day of Action set for Thursday, October 1, 2009
Boston, MA, September 29th, 2009 – In response to the so-called “March Against a Jobless Recovery” planned for Thursday, October 1, 2009, the Billionaires Against Regulating Finance (BARF), an activist group for the wealthy and the corporate elite, will protest the march in full suit and gown at Bank of America in Boston’s financial district between 4:30 and 5:30 pm.
According to the event organizers, “The federal government gave hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to bail out big businesses, but corporations, in turn, are not creating the jobs that were promised.”
BARF members strongly oppose the claim of a “jobless recovery.” Stockson Bond, board chairman of investment banking firm, Goldin Racks, remarked, “Of course jobs have been created. Have you seen the number of foreclosed homes in the US? There must be hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people needed to print and post foreclosure yard signs. And don’t forget about career counseling. That field is booming with the unemployment rate hovering at 10 percent!”
Gree D. Ciyo, chief executive of Smells Fargo, noted, “To the extent that job creation is slower than preferred by the marchers, BARF’s message is clear: Stop Whining! The fact is, we couldn’t possibly create millions of jobs AND get our huge, hard-earned bonuses. Keeping our top talent is number one. It’s all about priorities.”
The Billionaires are prepared to defend corporate executives against the marchers’ unfair claim that a recovery for Wall Street does not equate to a recovery for Main Street. Beau Ness, Vice President of Banking on America, fumed, “I resent the idea that these people don’t consider Wall Street a part of Main Street. Complex derivatives and credit default swaps are as vital to average Americans and the economy as the neighborhood grocery or hardware store!”
BARF commends Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s recent action at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, where he rejected French President Nicolas “May-As-Well-Be-Communist” Sarkozy’s outrageous proposal to place hard caps on financial executives’ compensation. A triumphant Mr. Ciyo crowed, “Earlier this year, Tim talked tough to the American people about our taxpayer-funded bonuses. But we knew that when the rubber hit the road, he’d be with us 100 percent. It feels great to see our political ‘investments’ paying off.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2009
Contact: Maggie Adair, Policy Director, Connecticut Association for Human Services 860-878-8936 or Mike Lapham, Responsible Wealth, 617-423-2148 x112
UPPER-INCOME CONNECTICUT RESIDENTS ADVOCATE HIGHER TAX RATE IN LETTER TO GOVERNOR
They state: "We are willing and able to share in the solution to our state's budget crisis."
Upper-income Connecticut taxpayers are urging Governor Rell and the State Legislature to increase their taxes to close the state budget gap. Connecticut is one of only two states that have not yet passed a budget for this fiscal year. Twenty-one upper-income Connecticut taxpayers delivered an open letter to the governor and state legislators today urging them to resolve their standoff and close the budget gap by raising taxes on individuals earning $200,000 and above. This threshold is well below the $1 million cutoff the Governor has proposed.
Governor Rell, after initial reluctance, recently signaled a willingness to consider raising taxes on upper income taxpayers. Her proposal, however, does not go far enough and would still require drastic cuts to vital state services. The letter, coordinated by the Better Choices for Connecticut Coalition and signed by many members of Responsible Wealth, states in part:
"As upper-income residents of Connecticut who treasure the quality of life in our state, we believe that Governor Rell's proposed budget cuts unnecessarily limit the State's ability to maintain public structures and human services that are vital to keeping Connecticut strong and vibrant [...]
Part of the solution to the budget crisis lies in asking those with more resources to pay higher marginal rates. Progressive tax brackets are being used in many of Connecticut's neighboring states and are an important means for establishing fairer, more reliable state revenue [...]
Those of us who have incomes of $200,000 and above can well afford an increase in our income tax. Instead of placing an even greater burden on communities and families already suffering from the economic crisis, we need to develop a balanced solution that will save the much-needed public services that benefit us all [...]
As upper-income Connecticut State taxpayers, we are willing and able to share in the solution to our state's budget crisis."
"Better Choices for Connecticut has advocated for a fair budget and a more equitable tax system. Our work has paid off with agreement by the Governor and Legislature to move toward greater tax fairness by increasing the income tax on households earning more than $1 million annually", said Maggie Adair, co-chair of Better Choices for Connecticut. "The Connecticut individuals signing the Responsible Wealth letter in support of increasing income taxes on households earning $200,000 annually demonstrates that upper-income people in our state are willing to step up to the plate and contribute to closing the budget gap and preserving core services such as education, health care, safety net services, transportation, and job development."
The letter was a joint effort between Better Choices for Connecticut and the Responsible Wealth project. "Many of the signers of this letter are members of the Responsible Wealth project. They are people who recognize that Connecticut needs a much more progressive tax structure, and that upper-income folks like themselves need to be a big part of the revenue solution to the current budget crisis. They would rather pay more in taxes than see state services and infrastructure deteriorate. They value the quality of life in Connecticut and are willing to pay more taxes to help preserve it." said Mike Lapham, director of Responsible Wealth, a project of the national non-profit United for a Fair Economy. Responsible Wealth is a national network of over 700 business leaders, investors and other wealthy individuals who are concerned about growing economic inequality.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 28, 2009
United for a Fair Economy Remembers Senator Ted Kennedy as a Strong Supporter of Progressive Taxation
Boston, MA - United for a Fair Economy (UFE) joins the nation in mourning the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy. Although he was born into a wealthy family, Senator Kennedy fought for economic justice and greater opportunities for lower-income and working families. Concerned about growing economic inequality, Senator Kennedy worked for progressive taxation, advocating that people of wealth, such as his own family, pay their fair share of taxes to support the common good.
In doing so, Senator Kennedy championed the continuation of the estate tax, America’s only tax on inherited wealth, stating, “The estate tax is the most progressive of all federal taxes. At a time when the income gap between the wealthy few and the middle class has grown disturbingly wide – wider than it has been in decades, why would we want to transfer more of the tax burden from the rich onto the shoulders of middle class families? Make no mistake, the trillion dollars that would be lost should the estate tax be repealed will have to be made up by increasing other federal taxes, taxes paid mostly by the middle class. That is the injustice of repealing the estate tax.”
Senator Kennedy further championed the cause of working families in opposing repeal of the estate tax in 2006, stating, “The real beneficiaries of repeal would be the heirs of the richest men and women in America. If we eliminate the estate tax on the largest concentrations of wealth in our society, we will be permitting the very few who inherit huge amounts of money to receive their millions tax free while working Americans have to pay substantial taxes on their wages. It would be terribly unfair to tax work while giving inherited wealth a free ride.” He noted, “Those who have benefited most from the opportunities America offers have a special obligation to contribute something back to their country.”
Demonstrating his commitment to the end, one of Senator Kennedy’s last votes, in April 2009, was in opposition to a budget amendment reducing the estate tax (S Con Res 13).
In addition to advocating for preservation of the estate tax, Senator Kennedy supported other progressive tax policies. He voted for increasing the income tax on people who earned more than $1 million a year, against reducing the capital gains and dividend taxes, and against repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Brian Miller, executive director of UFE, adds, "United for a Fair Economy salutes Senator Kennedy’s fight for economic justice and progressive taxation. His vision and aspirations live on in grassroots efforts across the country. We, along with others, pledge to carry on the fight for tax fairness at the national and state level to foster a strong middle class and a more broadly shared prosperity."
Contact: Brian Miller, 617-423-2148 x111 (office) or 781-392-4564 or at email@example.com
Boston, MA - At the 2009 annual general shareholder meeting of Prudential Financial on May 12, in Newark, NJ, company stockholders voiced their approval of a proposed "Say on Pay" vote on executive compensation. The proposal received a 61.5% majority vote, according to preliminary results.
William Creighton of Freeport, Maine submitted the proposal as a Prudential shareholder and member of Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy in Boston. Responsible Wealth is a national network of 700 members who use their voices as upper-income taxpayers and shareholders to advocate for progressive tax policies and corporate accountability.
"This strong majority vote reflects the feeling of shareholders around the country that they want a voice on executive compensation," says Mike Lapham, Project Director of Responsible Wealth. "While Prudential's executives continue to receive lavish compensation packages, shareholders have seen the company's stock plummet in recent months. They want to have a say in the matter."
"Say on Pay" resolutions call for a nonbinding advisory vote for shareholders to express their approval or disapproval of how a company pays its top executives. CEO pay has become a controversial issue especially during the economic crisis, with the government's allocation of taxpayer money to bail out struggling financial institutions intensifying public scrutiny of executive bonuses and compensation packages at all U.S. corporations.
The full text of the resolution may be found here.
Responsible Wealth's resolution on executive compensation at Prudential was the first of four such resolutions Responsible Wealth is presenting at annual meetings around the country, with proposals at Target, Yahoo!, and FedEx still to come. Responsible Wealth is part of a broad coalition of groups, led by Walden Asset Management and AFSCME, that have submitted over 100 similar resolutions at public companies across the country.
In addition, the Treasury Department has mandated that companies receiving TARP funds implement an Advisory Vote, leading to about 300 such votes this year.
Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a national network of businesspeople, investors and affluent Americans who are concerned about deepening economic inequality and using their influence to advocate for widespread prosperity.
Mike Lapham, Responsible Wealth at 617-423-2148 x112 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Smith, Vice President, Walden Asset Management, at 617-726-7155 or email@example.com.