Wealthiest Americans Call on Congress to Raise Their Taxes


APRIL 15, 2015

CONTACT: Brent Carney

617-340-9337, [email protected]


Wealthiest Americans Call on Congress to Raise Their Taxes 

(Boston, MA and Washington D.C.) – As Americans raced to beat the annual tax filing deadline, Washington D.C. - based Voices for Progress and Boston - based Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, announced today that a letter signed by more than 150 of America’s wealthiest 1% of citizens is being sent to member of Congress calling for a tax increase on the wealthy to help support the middle class.

Reform proposals would raise the top rate tax on capital gains to 28% for couples making at least $500,000 and eliminate the loophole that allows wealthy heirs to avoid paying capital gains on billions of dollars in inherited assets.

“Rather than helping to address our growing inequalities, our tax system includes loopholes - more than $1.9 TRILLION in capital gains tax breaks alone - that benefit the wealthiest Americans who are financially stronger than ever,” said Mike Lapham, Director of the Responsible Wealth Project. “This disparity is very clear to middle-class Americans as they finalize their 1040s.”

Among those to sign the letter include:

Garrett Gruener – founder of Ask.com

Abigail Disney – film maker, and Disney family member

Nancy Stephens – actress and activist in CA

Brian Arbogast – Seattle based angel investor

Gun Denhart – Founder of Hanna Anderson

Bill Gates Sr. – father of Microsoft’s Bill Gates

Tedd Saunders – family owns Lenox Hotel

Craig Newmark – founder of Craigslist

Arnold Hiatt – former Chairman of Stride Rite Shoes

Robert Crandall – former CEO of American Airlines

Jeffrey Hollender – co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation

The full text of the letter coordinated by Responsible Wealth and Voices for Progress is included below and can be signed here. A full list if signers is available upon request:

Dear [member of Congress]:

We are among the 1% of Americans who would feel 99% of the impact if Congress approves President Obama’s proposal to shift some of the vast sums now being spent on tax breaks for us to a better use: boosting the middle class, and making investments in education and child care that will create jobs, prepare our children, and strengthen the economy. We heartily support the President's proposals to 1) raise the top rate on capital gains to 28% for couples making over $500,000, and 2) eliminate the step-up in basis for capital gains on inherited assets.

The current unfair rules will give us and other wealthy Americans $1.3 TRILLION in tax breaks over the next ten years by taxing our income from investments at rates far below what other Americans pay on their paychecks. Those rules will give us an additional $640 billion “free pass” by allowing us and our heirs to avoid ever paying any tax on billions of dollars in capital gains. It’s past time they were changed.

Those of us who founded or run businesses know well that the key to job creation is not tax breaks on our income, but providing opportunities for America’s children and building a robust middle class that can afford to consume our products and services.

We would not have our current wealth if we had been born in a country that lacked the services our government provided — including federal support for schools and universities that have prepared us and prepared our employees, for research and innovation, for roads and public transit, for our judicial system and law enforcement, and the national defense. We would not have even our current health if it weren’t for the government safeguarding our food, water, and medicine, preventing epidemics, and helping find cures for disease.

Yet today, Congress is foolishly shortchanging the investments needed to strengthen our economy now and in the long-run. Federal funding for investments like early care and education, medical and scientific research, and developing energy efficiency and clean energy, has been slashed from $580 billion in 2010 to $492 billion in 2014 — a 15% cut in just four years. And under current law, these cuts will become even more severe.

The money currently being spent on tax breaks for us can be far better spent to restore these critical investments in education, create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and ensure America’s economic future.  


[Note: to sign the letter, please click here]


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Board of Directors Appoints Jeannette Huezo Executive Director

Contact:  Mike Leyba, Director of Communications                                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tel: 617.423.2148 x105

Cell: 562.266.4357     

Email: [email protected]


Board of Directors Appoints Jeannette Huezo Executive Director

New Executive Comes with Fourteen Years of Experience as Popular Educator, Organizer


The Board of Directors of the national nonprofit issued this letter to supporters:


Over the past 9 months, Board and staff of United for a Fair Economy (UFE) have reflected together on what we need in a leader as we begin our 20th year and the second year of our new 5-year Strategic Plan. We compiled a list of qualities: visionary, motivational, inspirational, collaborative, risk taker – someone who embodies our work with grassroots social justice organizers around the country.


As we considered these qualities, and whether to conduct a national search, we realized that the leader we needed was already here, and serving as one of our interim co-executive directors.


We are pleased and excited to announce Jeannette Huezo as our next Executive Director, beginning February 1, 2015. Many of you already know Jeannette as a popular educator for UFE. Her expertise as a popular educator and facilitator are well known throughout the social justice community.


For 14 years, Jeannette has coordinated UFE’s Popular Education work and facilitated many workshops, particularly for Latino groups. She is also co-author of several of UFE’s State of the Dream reports on racial economic inequality in the U.S. In addition to her work with UFE, Jeannette currently serves on the Board of  Trustees of Access Strategies Fund and the National Executive Board of United Association for Labor Educators (UALE), and is a member of the Expert for Color Network at the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.


Originally from El Salvador, Jeannette came to the U.S. in 1989 and has spent her life working for justice and social change. In developing confidence and leadership skills in others, Jeannette has increased the number of activists in the movement for social change, and has empowered women, immigrants and others facing injustice to participate in the decision-making process around issues that affect their lives. We are proud to lift up Jeannette as a dynamic Latina woman who exemplifies the leadership qualities we need and who reflects the constituencies that we work with, as well as the changing demographics of the U.S.


While Jeannette is a dynamic leader in her own right, her appointment by the Board is guided by the transforming nature of our economic justice movement. Over the years, UFE has been known for raising awareness about economic inequality. Our future as an organization - as directed by our new strategic plan - is rooted in supporting the growing and dynamic worker-led movement to help build a fair economy.

We also want to express our deep appreciation to both Jeannette and Mike Lapham who have so capably guided us through this challenging period as interim co-executive directors.  We are excited about the future of UFE and our work together with all of you.


United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization that challenges the concentration of wealth and power that corrupts democracy, deepens the racial divide and tears communities apart.


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Media Advisory: State of the Dream Report: Underbanked and Overcharged


For Monday, January 19, 2015




(English) Mike Leyba, Dir. of Communications, United for a Fair Economy

[email protected]       (617) 423-2148 x105    mobile: (562) 266-4357

(Spanish) Jeannette Huezo, Interim Co-Executive Director, United for a Fair Economy

[email protected] (617) 423-2148 x132

January 5, 2015


Report Release: State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and OverchargedState of the Dream 2015 Cover


This report sheds light on the racial aspects of the 93 million unbanked and underbanked adults and children in the United States, disproportionately people of color, and suggests innovative ideas on how to include them in the financial mainstream. Each year, poor and working class people hand over $89 billion worth of fees and interest to Wall Street, by way of alternative financial service providers such as check cashers, pawn shops, payday lenders, etc. These fees are levied on those that can least afford it and if addressed, could provide a powerful stimulus opportunity for the people and communities that need it most. This report proposes several solutions to this problem, including utilizing United States Post Office branches as a mechanism for financial inclusion, as has been done in the past, as well as advocates for expanding public-private partnership programs that work such as BankOn or private lending circles.


An Excerpt from the Foreword by Van Jones: “The marches that have organized across the nation in the wake of the killings of Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown and countless other men and women of color are not just responses to any one violent act or extraordinary situation – they are the result of centuries worth of unequal treatment and political exclusion, and a pervasive sense of hopelessness in communities of color. That’s why this report, ‘State of the Dream: Unbanked and Overcharged’, is so important to our understanding of the current political moment. The historic exclusion of non-whites in housing, credit, banking, and politics have left many people of color behind.”


WHEN: Tuesday, Jan. 13: Embargoed Copy Released to Media

Thursday, Jan. 15 at 2:00PM EST: Press Conference via Phone

Monday, Jan. 19: Interviews Available (English/Spanish)

Monday, Jan. 19: Full Report Release to public

Monday, Jan. 19: National Postal Banking Organizing Coalition Announcement via APWU Press


The State of the Dream report is released annually by United for a Fair Economy.


United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that challenges the destructive effects of concentrated wealth and power and supports grassroots movements for greater economic equality.

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MLK Day Report Underscores Racial Disparities of Health


GOP State-by-State Attack on Obamacare Makes Matters Worse

Boston, MA (January 16, 2014) – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." This quote is the touchstone of a new report – State of the Dream 2014: Healthcare for Whom? Enduring Racial Disparities – the 11th Annual MLK, Jr. Day report from United for a Fair Economy (UFE).
State of the Dream 2014 documents the heavy toll that continued racial segregation and concentrated poverty takes on people's health. High poverty communities often lack adequate healthcare facilities, full-service grocery stores, and green space to walk or jog. These communities also face higher exposure to lead and other toxins, mold, and even industrial pollutants. These factors, coupled with the physical stress of caring for one's family amidst high crime rates, poverty, and persistent racism all exact a price. People of color face the brunt of this injury as poor Blacks and poor Latinos are significantly more likely than poor Whites to live in such high-poverty neighborhoods.
Dedrick Muhammad of the NAACP, and an advisor on the report stated, “Governors and state elected officials across the nation have an opportunity to begin reversing the historical and persistent racism that continues to steer families and individuals toward poverty and poor health.” He adds, “Their commitment to deny underserved communities and communities of color access to basic healthcare equates to a commitment to fight against justice for all.”

The state fights over Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as Obamacare – deepen the insult to an already difficult situation according to the report. “It’s bad enough that communities of color face additional health hazards and stressors,” adds Brian Miller, executive director of UFE and author of the report. "Now we have politicians around the nation trying to block health insurance coverage that would have otherwise been extended to millions of low-income Americans.”

Following the Supreme Court ruling in 2012, states were no longer required to expand their Medicaid programs as provided for under the ACA. Since then, 25 states – all but three headed by Republican governors – have declared their commitment to NOT expand their Medicaid programs in 2014. The nearly 5 million who are affected by the 25-state coverage gap are disproportionately people of color.

Blacks make up only 13 percent of the population according to the new report, but account for 27 percent of those who will fall through the GOP's 25-state coverage gap. The disparate impact on African Americans is in large part a result of conservative states in the South, where large numbers of Blacks reside, rejecting the ACA's Medicaid expansion.

Latinos make up 15 percent of the population, but account for 21 percent of those who fall through the new 25-state coverage gap. Over 1 million of the nearly 5 million who will go without health care because of the 25-state coverage gap live in Texas, a state that is 38 percent Latino. Florida has the second largest Latino population among the 25 states currently not expanding coverage.

Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina, writes in the foreword, “The greatest myth of our time is the notion that extreme policies harm a small subset of people such as people of color. However, these policies harm us all. What we’ve seen in North Carolina and other parts of the country are wealthy extremists playing on the fears of working class and white people… Our job is to unpack the truth about these extreme policies and how they adversely impact all people.”

“We have a history in Alabama of enacting laws and policies that favor wealthy residents, while ignoring the needs of the underserved,” said Dollie Hambrick of Alabama Arise, whose group is working to get Alabama to fully expand their Medicaid program under the ACA. “On top of that, our leaders have a long-standing resentment of the federal government. Those factors have been huge barriers to ACA implementation in Alabama, but the people we meet in rural communities and low-income urban neighborhoods have had enough.”

Hambrick adds that the community in Alabama is moving to take action. “They’re gathering in community meetings to share information and encourage others to get involved. And they’re letting the Governor know that expanding health coverage can help Alabama overcome our history of destructive health disparities.”

As originally designed, the ACA established health insurance exchanges to make it possible for middle-income Americans who don't get healthcare through their employers or other means to buy policies, with tax credits available to assist with the cost. However, a key provision of the ACA is the expansion of existing Medicaid programs to individuals up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. It is this second provision that is currently under assault across the nation.

In addition to pressuring the 25 states to expand their Medicaid programs, the report calls for bolder action. “As long as we depend largely on employers to provide health insurance, our healthcare system will simply reflect the vast racial disparities of employment,” adds Miller. “People of color, who are often relegated to low-wage, part-time, and temporary jobs that offer little or no health insurance, are the ones left behind in such a system. The ACA's Medicaid expansion attempts to address this shortcoming, but the real fix is to move to a universal, single-payer system.”

The report lifts up Vermont's new single-payer system, scheduled to come online in 2017. Leveraging the rules and funding from the ACA, Vermont's new Green Mountain Care will provide health insurance to all residents, including undocumented immigrants who work in the state's many dairy farms.

“The fight today is over implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and ensuring that as many Americans as possible get health insurance,” adds Miller. “But long-term, we need to look at the real underlying causes, break up concentrated poverty, and begin promoting a more broadly-shared and inclusive prosperity. That's the movement we hope to support with this report.” The report includes an array of organizer tools and resources, including workshop modules that can be used at local union halls, worker centers, and church groups to stimulate discussion and action around the racial wealth divide. 

State of the Dream 2014: Healthcare for Whom? is available as a free download at http://www.faireconomy.org/dream.


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Investors Vote on Political Spending Bans at Major U.S. Corporations

Shelley Alpern, Clean Yield Asset Management, 802-526-2525, x 103
Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Capital Management, 617-482-0800
Sonia Kowal, Zevin Asset Management, 617-742-6666, x 308
Mike Lapham, Responsible Wealth, 617-423-2148, x112


Investors to Vote on Political Spending Bans at
Exxon, 3M, Chevron & Bank of America

BOSTON, MA (May 7, 2013) – During this season’s corporate annual meetings, stockholders of Chevron, ExxonMobil, 3M and Bank of America will have the opportunity to weigh in on shareholder proposals calling on the companies to refrain entirely from spending corporate funds to influence electoral politics. These proposals have been filed in the wake of the unprecedented spending levels since Citizens United, and are part of a broader shareholder movement to reign in corporate involvement in politics.
When companies become involved in the electoral process, they are unnecessarily courting political and reputational risk,” said Sonia Kowal, Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Zevin Asset Management. “Companies that choose to refrain from political donations signal that they are able to profitably conduct business without resorting to regulatory favors.”

Chevron Corporation, ExxonMobil, 3M, and Bank of America are all facing shareholder resolutions calling for an end to the use of company funds to influence campaign elections. The four companies collectively spent more than $11.5 million dollars in the 2012 election cycle. The record-breaking $6.3 billion spent in the 2012 electoral cycle was largely enabled by the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, which allowed unions and corporations to contribute unlimited amounts to “independent” spending organizations.  Proponents of the proposals contend there is little evidence that this spending generated value to shareholders.
“Companies have not demonstrated the value of these controversial expenditures to shareholders,” commented Leslie Samuelrich, Senior Vice President of Green Century Capital Management. “Consequently shareholders don’t want to be left footing the bill as companies make big gambles in politics,” added Samuelrich. Chevron received significant media attention for its unprecedented $2.5 million donation to GOP SuperPAC, which represents the largest single corporate donation since Citizens United.  Bank of America, called “one of the most demonized corporations in America” by the New York Times in 2012, has given over $16 million to federal candidates since the 2002 election cycle, and $8.4 million to candidates at the state level since 2003. 3M was targeted for its second contribution to the same highly controversial Minnesota candidate that sparked public backlash and boycotts against Target Corporation. ExxonMobil is one of the country’s largest publicly traded political donors, spending over $14 million in federal and state elections since 2002.  In filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the resolution proponents have elaborated further on the rationale behind each company’s resolution (see links at bottom).  
Mike Lapham, Director of the Responsible Wealth Project in Boston, commented, “The record spending levels in this year's elections are deeply unpopular with the majority of Americans. Companies like Bank of America need to listen to their customers and take their money out of politics.”
"It's not clear that corporate political spending is beneficial to companies or their shareholders,” said Shelley Alpern, Director of Social Research and Shareholder Advocacy at Clean Yield Asset Management. “Companies should restrict their public policy participation to lawful lobbying activities, and stop putting their thumbs on the scales at election time. The electoral process belongs to individual voters, not corporate or union entities."
This increase in corporate spending to influence elections is deeply unpopular with the majority of Americans across political lines. According to a 2012 poll by the Associated Press and the National Constitution Center, more than 8 in 10 Americans support limits on the amount of money given to groups trying to influence U.S. elections, with 85% support among Democrats, 81% among Republicans, and 78% among independents.  In the text of the proposals, the resolution filers cite concerns about the reputation risks that Chevron, Bank of America, 3M and ExxonMobil may be exposed to by positioning themselves as some of the largest contributors in election campaigns during a time when public support for high spending levels in elections is so low.
The proposal at Chevron was filed by Green Century Capital Management. Zevin Asset Management filed at ExxonMobil. Clean Yield Asset Management filed the 3M proposal. The Bank of America proposal was filed by individual shareholders affiliated with Responsible Wealth, a project of the nonprofit organization United for A Fair Economy. This is the second year for the Bank of America and 3M filings.
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The following are links to the arguments proponents put forth to support each proposal. These link to the exempt solicitation filings on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s EDGAR site:      

Green Century Capital Management (www.greencentury.com) is an investment advisory firm focused on environmentally responsible investing.  Founded by a partnership of non-profit environmental advocacy organizations in 1991, Green Century's mission is to provide people who care about a clean, healthy planet the opportunity to use the clout of their investment dollars to encourage environmentally responsible corporate behavior. Green Century believes that shareholder advocacy is a critical component of responsible investing and actively advocates for greater corporate environmental accountability.

Clean Yield Asset Management (www.cleanyield.com) is an SEC-registered investment advisory firm working exclusively with social investors. Since its founding in 1984, Clean Yield’s goal has been to invest to promote a sustainable society while achieving competitive financial returns. Its hallmark is working closely with clients to ensure that it is responsive to their unique financial requirements and personal values.

Zevin Asset Management, LLC (www.zevin.com) Zevin’s first objective is to minimize losses rather than seeking to maximize gains.  The firm’s proprietary model of asset allocation, based on scenario forecasting, has been refined over 40 years and has resulted in strong investment results by avoiding exposure to excessive risk. Zevin’s focus on environmental, social, and governance factors has also helped improve the risk/return profile of client portfolios.

Responsible Wealth (www.responsiblewealth.org) is a network of business leaders, investors, and inheritors in the richest five percent of wealth and/or income in the U.S. who believe that growing inequality is not in their best interest, nor in the best interest of society. As beneficiaries of economic policies tilted in their favor, Responsible Wealth members feel a responsibility to join with others in examining and changing the corporate and government policies that are widening the economic gap.
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REPORT: Dr. King's Dream Deferred as Racial Wealth Divide Persists

PRESS RELEASE — Embargoed until midnight, January 21, 2013

Maz Ali,  [email protected], 617-423-2148 x101
REPORT: Dr. King’s Dream of Economic Equality Deferred as
Racial Wealth Disparities Persist
United for a Fair Economy Releases 10th annual MLK Day report:
Boston, MA (January 17, 2013) According to a new report, the recent recession, with its string of foreclosures that are disproportionately affecting people of color, demonstrates that policies encouraging homeownership as a path to building wealth in communities of color are flawed. The average white family holds significantly greater wealth than the average Black or Latino family, and housing wealth comprises a far greater share of total assets for Black and Latino families than for White families. Being too strongly tied together, housing and wealth-building policies place communities of color at greater risk of downturns in the housing market as happened in the Great Recession.
State of the Dream 2013: A Long Way From Home, the tenth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day report by United for a Fair Economy (UFE), explains that the Great Recession took a greater portion of wealth from Black and Latino families wealth than it did from White families. Today, the average net worth of White families is, respectively, more than six times higher and 5.7 times higher than the average Black and Latino families. Median wealth disparities are even greater.
“We focus on wealth disparities because it is linked to a host of other socioeconomic inequities – health, education, income, opportunities and economic security among them. If we seriously reduce wealth inequity, it would go a long way toward resolving many of the other inequities,” says Brian Miller, Executive Director of UFE and co-author of the report.
The overall economic well-being of Black and Latino families is more heavily affected by housing value than it is for White families. On average, home value accounts for roughly half of the total assets held by Latino and Black families, but only 28 percent of the total assets held by White families.
“The hemorrhaging of wealth in communities of color stems largely from treating housing policy as an asset-building policy, rather than as two distinct strategies,” says co-author Tim Sullivan. “By trying to do housing and asset-building with the same policy, we’re actually doing neither of them well.”
UFE explores how federal housing policy impacts wealth disparities among White, Black, and Latino families, noting that there are benefits to homeownership for families and communities, but that there are also drawbacks to tying wealth to housing to too great a degree. The report argues that federal investments in housing policy should be directed more toward treating housing as a human right and less toward encouraging homeownership as a wealth-building strategy.
“What’s the point of a policy without a goal?” asks co-author Maz Ali. “We can’t have effective housing or asset-building policies without first being clear about what we want to achieve with those policies. And, we certainly can’t address the economic struggles in communities of color with policies that ignore race as a factor.”
The report’s recommendations include:
  • Limiting the benefit of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction going to the richest taxpayers;
  • Investing in proactive asset-building policies that do not link wealth creation to housing;
  • Investing in affordable housing and policies that reach people for whom homeownership is not the best or most viable option; and
  • Encouraging alternative models that build community wealth, such as cooperative ownership structures.
Visit http://www.faireconomy.org/dream/2013 for an embargoed copy of the report. Co-authors and partnering racial justice advocates are available for interview.
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to raise public awareness of the destructive effects of concentrated wealth and power and supporting the movement for greater economic equality.


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NEW REPORT: Forbes 400 Reinforces Flawed "We Built It" Claims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2012

Forbes 400 Reinforces Flawed "We Built It" Claims &
Misleads About Wealth & Opportunity in the U.S.

Boston, MA—Forbes Magazine calls their list of the 400 richest Americans the "definitive scorecard of wealth in America," but a new report asserts the magazine is misleading. Born on Third Base: What the Forbes 400 Really Says About Wealth & Opportunity in America, released this week by Boston-based non-profit United for a Fair Economy, examines the sources of wealth for members of the Forbes 400 and uncovers the role of inheritance and privilege in economic mobility. The report urges Forbes to stop glamorizing the "self-made man" while minimizing the other factors in wealth accumulation, including tax policies, birthright, gender, and race.

The report finds that 40 percent of the Forbes 400 list inherited a sizable asset from a family member or spouse, and over 20 percent inherited sufficient wealth to make the list. In addition, 17 percent of the Forbes 400 have family members on the list.

"Forbes spins a misleading tale of what it takes to become wealthy in the U.S. by understating the overwhelming impact of birthright and privilege," said Shannon Moriarty, co-author of the report. "Economic success should be a function of achievement, not just a guarantee for people lucky enough to be born into wealthy families. The Forbes 400 shows that birthright and family privilege are still very much at play in the American Dream."

The report explains that the net worth of the Forbes 400 grew fifteen-fold between the launch of the list in 1982 and 2011, while wealth stagnated for the average U.S. household. In 1982, the wealth threshold for the Forbes 400 was $75 million; today, every person on the list is a billionaire.

Women accounted for just 10 percent of the list in 2011, and nearly 90 percent of those women inherited their fortunes. The whiteness of the Forbes 400 list also makes clear the racial wealth divide. In the past two years, just one African American made the list. "Instead of asserting that ‘the American dream is very much alive,’ Forbes should acknowledge that the opportunity to become wealthy has never been equally shared," said Moriarty. "The billionaire members of the Forbes 400 are exceptions, not the rule."

Born On Third Base takes Forbes to task for their misuse of the loaded term "self-made" and the undervaluing of privilege and social capital in financial success. "We disagree with Forbes claim that 70 percent of the list made their fortunes entirely from scratch," said Brian Miller, executive director of United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the book The Self-Made Myth. "The 'self-made' and 'I built this' narratives wrongly present the opportunity to become rich as equally attainable by all people in today's highly stratified society. Forbes’ story also ignores the important contributions of others and the role of government in the success of the wealthiest Americans."

"Tax policies have for decades been tilted in favor of the very wealthy," said Tim Sullivan, federal policy coordinator at United for a Fair Economy. "Tax rates on capital gains have been slashed to historic lows, which is of particular benefit to the likes of the Forbes 400." The report explains that the wealthiest 0.1 percent (including those on the list) receive half of all net increases in capital gains. "Drastic cuts to the federal estate tax made under George W. Bush and extended with the 2010 Obama tax deal have made it easier for wealthy families to keep and amass even greater fortunes," said Sullivan.

"As was once said of President George W. Bush, many of those on the Forbes 400 were ‘born on third base’ but claim to have ‘hit a triple,’ and the Forbes 400 list perpetuates this falsehood," said Moriarty.

United for a Fair Economy is launching a petition to coincide with the release of the Forbes 400 and the Born on Third Base report, asking Forbes to tell the whole story of wealth and opportunity in the U.S. Download the report and see the petition at http://www.faireconomy.org/BornOnThirdBase2012. Co-authors of Born on Third Base and authors of the book The Self-Made Myth are available for interview. 

United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to raise public awareness of the destructive effects of concentrated wealth and power and supporting the movement for greater economic equality. Learn more at http://www.faireconomy.org.


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REPORT: Forbes 400 Misleads About Wealth and Opportunity in the U.S.

MEDIA ADVISORY — September 20, 2012

New Report Exposes How the Forbes 400 Misleads 
About Wealth & Opportunity in the U.S.

Shannon Moriarty, [email protected], 617-423-2148 x108
Maz Ali, [email protected], 617-423-2148 x101

New report exposes how the Forbes 400 list misleads about the real sources of wealth and economic opportunity in the United States. Email campaign launching to coincide with the release of the 2012 Forbes 400.

The Born on Third Base report is available now at http://www.faireconomy.org/bornonthirdbase2012.

Forbes claims that their list of the 400 richest Americans is “the definitive scorecard of wealth in America,” but the Forbes 400 does not tell the whole story.

Forbes understates the impacts of birthright and family privilege.

  • Roughly 40% of the 2011 list received a significant advantage by inheriting a sizeable asset from a spouse or family member.
  • More than 20% received sufficient wealth to make the list from their inheritance alone.

Forbes ignores the other side of the coin — that the opportunity to build wealth is not equally shared.

  • The net worth of the Forbes 400 grew fifteen-fold between the launch of the list in 1982 and 2011, while wealth stagnated for the average U.S. household.
  • The racial wealth divide is starkly apparent from the overwhelming whiteness of the list. The 2011 Forbes 400 had only one African American member.
  • Women accounted for just 10% of the 2011 list, and of the women on the list nearly 90% inherited their fortunes.

Tax policy is tilted in favor of the wealthy members of the Forbes 400 list.

  • Tax rates on capital gains have been slashed, which especially benefits members of the Forbes list. The richest 0.1% receive half of all net increases in capital gains.
  • Drastic cuts to the federal estate tax passed in the Bush tax cuts and the 2010 Obama tax deal allow the Forbes 400 to pass on more of their massive fortunes to their heirs, contributing to the growth of inequality and entrenching a class of super-wealthy heirs.

For more information, please contact Shannon Moriarty or Maz Ali (see above).


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Release: League of Millionaires Join Populist Call for Higher Taxes on Richest U.S. Households

Maz Ali, 617-423-2148 x101, [email protected]
Shannon Moriarty, 617-423-2148 ext. 108, [email protected]

League of Millionaires Join Populist Call for
Higher Taxes on Richest U.S. Households

Wealthy Entrepreneurs, Executives and Inheritors Join
Broad Movement to Support
Tax Solutions for the 99%

BOSTON, MA (April 10, 2012) — Tax day is fast approaching, a Senate vote on the Buffet rule is scheduled for next week and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts looms at the end of the year. With tax policy at the center of the public debate in this election year, United for a Fair Economy and members of its Responsible Wealth project are supporting tax solutions for the 99%.
Wealthy and upper-income taxpayers, including successful entrepreneurs, executives and inheritors, are coming forward to argue that people like themselves should pay higher taxes for the good of the country. They join tax policy experts, organizers, and the majority of the public in support of higher taxes on the rich as the most obvious and sensible first step toward a sustainable federal budget.
"The richest taxpayers were handed enormous tax cuts in the Bush years," stated Mike Lapham, the director of Responsible Wealth project. "These tax cuts are driving up our debt and damaging our economy. The rich don't need any more tax breaks, and the country can't afford them."
United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth members are supporting tax policies including ending the preferential treatment of investment income by taxing wealth like work, restoring a strong federal estate tax and ending the Bush-era tax cuts.
David A. Levine, former Chief Economist at investment-management firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., a millionaire and a member of the Responsible Wealth project from New York City, said, "There's no question that we should raise the top marginal rates on people like me with high incomes. Several higher brackets at, say, $1 million, $5 million, and $25 million make sense. We also need to restore the status of dividends as ordinary income. There's no reason to give that form of income as advantage."
The Senate is expected to vote on the "Buffett Rule" on April 16. The bill would ensure that people with a million dollars in annual income would have to pay at least 30% in taxes.  Responsible Wealth members Deborah Rappaport and Andy Rappaport derive a significant portion of their income from capital gains and would pay a higher tax rate under the proposed Buffett Rule. "Those of us at the top have built our success on a foundation of widespread well being and opportunity, made possible through long-term public investments in education, research, and infrastructure," said Andy Rappaport, a partner at Menlo Park, CA venture capital firm August Capital. "People at our income level won't be dissuaded from work or investment by higher marginal tax rates and less special treatment."
Deborah Rappaport, who runs the Rappaport Family Foundation, added, "It's not fair to ask those who make less than we do to shoulder more than their share of our national investment in the form of taxes. This is why, since 2001, we have given our proceeds from the Bush tax cuts to causes supporting economic justice.  Those tax cuts were unnecessary when they were passed and now they're nothing less than irresponsible."
Tracey Lake, a former Wall Street stockbroker who is currently a real estate developer and investor in Seattle, said, "It makes no sense to tax capital gains at half the rate of earned income.  I don't need a lower rate in order to invest. That's just a convenient myth that's been put out there to put a lot more money in the pockets of folks like me who don't need it." As someone who expects to pay the estate tax under current law, she added, "I'm in favor of a lower estate tax exemption.  Anyone who dies with more than one or two million dollars made that money with the help of a lot of public investment, and a portion of it should go back toward supporting the public infrastructure that makes it possible."  The estate tax exemption is currently $5 million per spouse until the end of 2012, when it is scheduled to return to $1 million.
According to Lee Farris, the Federal Tax Policy Coordinator at United for a Fair Economy, "The Occupy movement has struck a chord with its focus on the concentration of wealth among the top 1 percent and the fact that some wealthy people are paying lower effective tax rates than the 99%.  A strong estate tax like we had under the Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton administrations would generate more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade and curb the growth of dynastic wealth. UFE is organizing thousands of millionaires, wealthy people and ordinary voters to urge Congress and the President to enact changes that will create a tax system that works for the 99%, instead of just the 1%."

The individuals quoted above, along with other spokespeople for this initiative, are available upon request by contacting Maz Ali (617-423-2148 x101, [email protected]) or Shannon Moriarty (617-423-2148 ext. 108, [email protected]).

United for a Fair Economy is a national organization working with grassroots organizers and policy experts to close the growing economic divide in the U.S. Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, inheritors and high-wealth and upper-income advocates of progressive tax policies and corporate accountability.


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Release: Progressive Tax All Star Panel to Address Tax Equity and Revenue Solutions

Karen Traeger 202-785-5980 or [email protected]
Tim Sullivan 617-423-2148 ext 127 or [email protected]
Tax Equity: Paying Fair
Tax Policy Experts and Advocates to Address
Inequities in the Tax Code and Progressive Tax Revenue Solutions

Washington D.C. - With tax day just around the corner, experts from some of the country's leading progressive think tanks and advocacy organizations are coming together for a far-reaching and lively discussion of the current state of tax policy. The roundtable discussion at the Capital Visitors Center on Wednesday, April 11 from noon to 1:30 will be moderated by Nation columnist John Nichols. Panelists will include:
Mike Lapham, Director of the Responsible Wealth project at United for A Fair Economy
Elspeth Gilmore, Co-Director of Resource Generation
Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
Robert McIntyre, founder of Citizens for Tax Justice
Rebecca Thiess, Federal Budget Policy Analyst at the Economic Policy Institute
The briefing will focus on inequities in the tax code and how to make the system fairer. It will be followed by questions from the audience and media in attendance. The event will be streamed live, and questions can also be submitted via social media.
"This is an extremely important conversation," states Mike Lapham, director of the Responsible Wealth project. "The expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of the year presents an opportunity for lawmakers. The richest taxpayers have reaped enormous benefit from tax cuts on investment income and reductions in the top marginal rates on earned income. We have the opportunity to do away with the Bush tax cuts once and for all and to revise the tax code so that it raises enough revenue to stop the budget cuts that are weakening the country and damaging our economy."
Registration is required to attend the event in person. RSVP here. In addition to congressional staff and the media, the event is open to the general public. Lunch will be provided.
Event details:
Tax Equity: Paying Fair
Wednesday, April 11. Noon - 1:30
Capital Visitors Center, room SVC 201-00
Lunch will be provided
Topics covered will include the lower tax rate on investment income vs. earned income; the mischaracterization of high-end salaries as investment income; off-shore tax avoidance schemes; corporate tax loopholes; the estate tax; the income cap on Social Security contributions and more.
The panel is hosted by the Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund. The ADA Education Fund is the sister organization of ADA, the nation’s longest-established liberal advocacy group. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the honorary host of the event.

"How to achieve tax fairness will be one of the central policy debates across the country in this election year, and especially in the weeks leading up to Tax Day on April 17," explained Will Rice of the ADA Education Fund. "Our all star cast of tax fairness experts will inform that debate with valuable information and insights for Congressional staffers, the general public and the media."
RSVP here. For more information, interview requests, details about remote participation and all other inquiries contact Karen Traeger at 202-785-5980 or [email protected], or Tim Sullivan at 617-721-8741 or [email protected].
United for a Fair Economy is a national, independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization located in Boston, MA, which advocates for progressive economic and tax policies.
The ADA Education Fund is an independent, charitable entity that focuses on increasing public awareness through education. The Ed Fund produces periodic policy briefs, hosts progressive speakers on a range of issues, and sponsors Galbraith research fellowships.  Its Congressional Briefing series began last year and has covered topics ranging from Social Security to marriage equality to youth unemployment.
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