Washington Passed a $776 Billion Pentagon Budget But Won’t Tax the Billionaires

September 29th, 2021 - by Win Without War & Robert Reich / Guardian UK

House Passes $776 Billion Pentagon Budget that Benefits the Big 5 War Corps

Win Without War

WASHINGTON (September 26, 2021) — The amount of money weapons and war corporations have made since 9/11 is genuinely staggering: up to $7 TRILLION has gone directly from taxpayers into their corporate bank accounts.

It’s the result of decades and decades of corruption: they’ve kept HUNDREDS of registered lobbyists on their payroll, spent more than $100 MILLION on lobbying every single year for the last decade, and have hired at least 1,700 (!!) recent former DOD officials — including generals, admirals, and acquisition officials.

It could pay off YET AGAIN: despite a president and Congress that promised a new way forward on how we would fund security in this moment, the House just voted to advance next year’s whopping $776 BILLION annual Pentagon budget, even with the growing objections of progressive lawmakers. 

Next up is the Senate, but that’s where things could get interesting. We’ve seen this year that a single Senator can grind things to a halt to get what they want. That’s why we are pushing tooth and nail for a committed group of Senators to say NO — and we need you with us!

While they may be the most obvious, direct lobbying and campaign donations aren’t actually the biggest tool in military corporations’ influence arsenal. 

It’s what they do with that influence: weapons dealers know lawmakers are loath to oppose projects that create jobs in their district, so they work to intentionally spread production into as many congressional districts and states in the country as possible. That’s exactly what Lockheed Martin has done with the F-35 program: claiming the workforce is spread over 46 states, even though there’s just a handful of jobs in many. 

It helps explain why one-third of all contracts flow to just five major weapons companies — Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman — who together received more than $166 billion from those deals in fiscal year 2020 alone. It also explains why these giant corporations’ CEOs are able to get away with giving themselves millions in bonuses every year. 

Put an End to Corporate Welfare

It’s time for Congress to get a REALITY CHECK on this corporate welfare: half of the people in this country are living paycheck to paycheck, just under 40 million are living in poverty, and over 600,000 are homeless including roughly 40,000 veterans. 

It’s time that we stop spending money on boondoggles arms lobbyists want, and start spending to improve working peoples’ lives and tackle the true threats to human security: poverty, climate crisis, lack of healthcare, and more. With the Senate voting on the budget next, it’s game-on to stop it.

More and more, politicians are turning down defense contractor dollars they rightly see as toxic to their electoral success. More and more, organizations who have worked tirelessly on underfunded programs are joining this campaign to get our priorities back in order. 

And more and more, activists just like yourself are showing up to fight for the causes they believe in: peace over war, people over profits. 

We are closer than we have ever been to turning the tide on rubber-stamped bloated Pentagon budgets, and we can’t stop now. 

Can you help Win Without War END the corrupt, multi-billion-dollar defense contractor cash handouts so those funds can go to desperately underfunded priorities?

Thank you for working for peace,
Faith, Erica, Amisha, and the Win Without War team

 House Democrats Are Scared to Tax Billionaires — That’s a Costly Mistake

Robert Reich / Guardian UK

Political cowardice means those funding Joe Biden’s ambitious social policy plan want to leave the mega-rich unscathed

(September 23, 2021) — This week, House Democrats released their proposed tax increases to fund Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion social policy plan.

The biggest surprise: they didn’t go after the huge accumulations of wealth at the top — representing the largest share of the economy in more than a century.

You might have thought Democrats would be eager to tax America’s 660 billionaires whose fortunes have increased by $1.8 trillion since the start of the pandemic, an amount that could fund half of Biden’s plan and still leave the billionaires as rich as they were before the pandemic began.

Elon Musk’s $138bn in pandemic gains, for example, could cover the cost of tuition for 5.5 million community college students and feed 29 million low-income public-school kids, while still leaving Musk $4 billion richer than he was before Covid.

But senior House Democrats decided to raise revenue the traditional way, taxing annual income rather than giant wealth. They aim to raise the highest income tax rate and apply a 3% surtax to incomes over $5 million.

The dirty little secret is the ultra-rich don’t live off their paychecks.

Jeff Bezos’s salary from Amazon was $81,840 last year, yet he rakes in some $149,353 every minute from the soaring value of his Amazon stocks, which is how he affords five mansions, including one in Washington DC which has 25 bathrooms.

House Democrats won’t even close the gaping “stepped-up basis at death” loophole, which allows the heirs of the ultra-rich to value their stocks, bonds, mansions and other assets at current market prices — avoiding capital gains taxes on the entire increase in value from when they were purchased.

This loophole allows family dynasties to transfer ever-larger amounts of wealth to future generations without it ever being taxed. Talk about an American aristocracy.

Biden wanted to close this loophole but House Democrats balked.

You might also have assumed Democrats would target America’s biggest corporations, awash in cash but paying a pittance in taxes. Thirty-nine of the S&P 500 or Fortune 500 paid no federal income tax at all from 2018 to 2020 while reporting a combined $122billion in profits to their shareholders.

But remarkably, House Democrats have decided to set corporate tax rates below the level they were at when Barack Obama was in the White House. Democrats even kept scaled-back versions of infamous corporate loopholes such as private equity’s “carried interest”. And they retained special tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

What’s going on? It’s not that Democrats lack the power. They’re in one of those rare trifectas when they hold the presidency and majorities, albeit small, in the House and Senate.

It’s not the economics. Americans have been subject to decades of Republican “trickle-down” nonsense and know full well nothing trickles down. Billionaires hardly need to have their fortunes grow $100,000 a minute to be innovative. And as I’ve stressed, there’s more money at the top, relative to anywhere else, than at any time in the last century.

Besides, Democrats need the revenue to finance their ambitious plan to invest in childcare, education, paid family leave, healthcare and the climate.

So what’s holding them back?

Put simply, Democrats are reluctant to tax the record-breaking wealth of the rich and big corporations because of … the wealth of the rich and big corporations.

Many Democrats rely on that wealth to bankroll their campaigns. They also dread becoming targets of well-financed ad campaigns accusing them of voting for “job-killing” taxes.

Republicans sold their souls to the moneyed interests long ago, but the timidity of House Democrats shows just how loudly big money speaks these days even in the party of Franklin D Roosevelt.

That’s because there’s far less of it on the other side. Through the first half of 2021, business groups and corporations spent nearly $1.5billion on lobbying, compared with roughly $22 million spent by labor unions and $81m by public interest groups, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Progressive House Democrats will still have a say. Senate Democrats haven’t weighed in. But there’s reason for concern.

The looming debate over taxes is really a debate over the allocation of wealth and power. As that allocation becomes ever more grotesquely imbalanced, this debate will loom ever larger over American politics.

Behind it will be this simple but important question: which party represents average working people and which shills for the rich? Democrats, take note.

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