FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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]
Contact: Mike Leyba, Director of Communications FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: 617.423.2148 x105
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.
# # #
For Monday, January 19, 2015
FOR AN EMBARGOED COPY OF THE REPORT and IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(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 Overcharged
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.
MLK DAY REPORT UNDERSCORES 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.
Exxon, 3M, Chevron & Bank of America
- 3M: http://bit.ly/11nY03i
- Bank of America: http://1.usa.gov/11fKlR7
- Chevron Corporation: http://1.usa.gov/11EKuIH
- ExxonMobil: http://1.usa.gov/17zxubn
PRESS RELEASE — Embargoed until midnight, January 21, 2013
Racial Wealth Disparities Persist
- 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.
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.
MEDIA ADVISORY — September 20, 2012
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).
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.
Karen Traeger 202-785-5980 or [email protected]
Inequities in the Tax Code and Progressive Tax Revenue Solutions
"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."