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Sam Pizzigati

How The Super-Rich Avoid Paying Their Share

Extravagantly wealthy people cheat on their taxes. Regularly. Extravagantly, too. Our super rich are stashing vast chunks of their personal fortunes in offshore tax havens, generating billions annually in new income that — to their governments — goes unseen and untaxed. How deep could that evading run among America’s super rich? The latest IRS stats on tax evasion — from a 2016 report — covered the tax years from 2008 through 2010. They showed a $406-billion “tax gap” between what taxpayers owed Uncle Sam and what they actually paid. But the IRS figures don’t include the billions the super-rich hide from sight in tax havens. Chronic budget underfunding has left the agency woefully understaffed, with not enough resources to adequately investigate — or crack down on — wealthy tax evaders. What do we need to be doing to turn things around? We need to “go bold” on fighting income and wealth concentration. How could we do that? An annual “wealth tax” on the assets of the super rich would go a long way. A mere 2 percent annual levy, multiple studies show, “would gradually address the enormous amounts of untaxed wealth accumulated — especially by the top 0.1 percent — over the past few decades.”

Trump Threatens Mass Deportations

Trump issues vague threat to begin deporting ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants next week. CNN: “President Donald Trump on Monday night issued a vague threat to deport ‘millions’ of undocumented immigrants next week, though he did not provide details and administration officials did not respond to requests for clarification. Trump said the agency will begin deporting undocumented immigrants ‘as fast as they come in,’ and called on congressional Democrats to address the border crisis.’ It was not immediately clear what plan Trump was talking about and neither the White House nor Immigration and Customs Enforcement responded to CNN’s request for clarification on Monday. The tweets came hours before the President is set to officially kick off his 2020 bid. He launched his 2016 campaign vowing to take a hard stance against illegal immigration by building a wall and ridding the country of undocumented immigrants, but deporting millions of people, as Trump suggested Monday, requires vast resources and ICE is already strained by migrants crossing the border illegally.”

NY Reaches Deal On Sweeping Climate Protections

‘Huge Victory’ for grassroots climate campaigners as New York lawmakers reach deal on sweeping climate legislation. Common Dreams: “Grassroots climate campaigners in New York applauded on Monday after state lawmakers reached a deal on sweeping climate legislation, paving the way for the passage of what could be some of the country’s most ambitious environmental reforms. The legislature reached an agreement just before midnight Sunday on the Climate and Communities Protection Act (CCPA), one of several climate bills state lawmakers have pushed in recent months since progressives gained momentum in their push for a federal Green New Deal. New York’s CCPA—like those passed in recent months in California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and Washington—offers a path forward for the implementation of Green New Deal-like laws at the state level, proponents say. ‘This is going to be a huge victory for the environmental justice movement in New York,’ author Naomi Klein tweeted, adding that some far-reaching parts of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal grew out of state legislation.”

Billionaire Donors Dump Trump

Why the Mercers, Trump’s biggest 2016 backers, dumped him. Vanity Fair: “To judge from the recent leak of its internal poll numbers, Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign has a lot of ground to make up—and Trump family members have already been sounding alarms that Republican mega donors aren’t stepping up to close the gap. Don Jr. recently called a prominent donor and warned that Trump’s money haul is falling behind where Barack Obama was early in his reelection, while Jared Kushner has privately complained to RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel that Trump’s war chest is not as big as it should be at this point in the cycle. a large part of the problem is that Trump has lost the financial support of one of his biggest backers in 2016: the Mercers. With their ties to Steve Bannon, Breitbart, and Cambridge Analytica, Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah were superstars last cycle. According to half a dozen sources familiar with the reclusive family’s political activities, the Mercers have drastically curtailed their political donations in recent months and will likely not play a significant role in 2020.”

SCOTUS Rules Against Racial Gerrymander

Justices split along unexpected lines in 3 cases. NPR: “With less than two weeks left in the U.S. Supreme Court’s term, the justices handed down four decisions on Monday. The court reaffirmed its 100-year-old rule declaring that state governments and the federal government may each prosecute a person separately for the same crime, without violating the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause. Spurning pleas from Virginia Republicans, the court let stand decisions by lower courts finding that 11 state House districts were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. The court upheld Virginia’s ban on uranium mining. In a 6-3 vote, the justices said that the state law was not superseded by the federal Atomic Energy Act. The only classic conservative-liberal split on Monday came in a case testing whether a private corporation that runs a public access TV channel in New York City is a public forum that, like a public park, cannot discriminate against speakers. The court concluded that a public access channel was owned by Time Warner, because it was privately owned,could not be sued for refusing to air a movie.”

Mitch Is Big Tobacco’s “Special Friend” In DC

What internal documents say about Mitch McConnell. NPR: Nearly 9,000 Kentuckians die every year from smoking — roughly 24 people every day. Kentucky also spends $1.9 billion on smoking-related health problems like lung cancer, strokes and premature birth. ‘Our state once grew tobacco like none other,’ said McConnell. ‘And now we’re being hit by the health consequences of tobacco use like none other.’ An NPR review of McConnell’s relationship with the tobacco industry over the decades has found that McConnell repeatedly cast doubt on the health consequences of smoking, repeated industry talking points word-for-word, attacked federal regulators at the industry’s request and opposed bipartisan tobacco regulations going back decades. The industry, in turn, has provided McConnell with millions of dollars in speaking fees, personal gifts, campaign contributions and charitable donations to the McConnell Center, which is home to his personal and professional archives. One lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds called McConnell a ‘special friend’ to the company.”

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