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Sam Pizzigati

America’s Rich Just Scored A Triple Jackpot

In 2008 America’s 400 richest households paid taxes at a lower rate than any other income cohort in the nation – the first time that’s happened since the modern federal income tax went into effect in 1913. The combined federal, state, and local tax rate on the nation’s richest 400 households, economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman calculate, last year fell 2.5 percentage points to 23 percent. In 1950, the two point out, our top 400 households had a combined tax bill that averaged 70 percent of their incomes. A generation later, in 1980, that combined rate took 47 percent — about half — of top-400-household incomes. The bottom line: America’s richest used to pay over three times more of their income in total taxes than they do now. The predictable result? America’s richest have become phenomenally richer than they used to be. “It’s the economy, stupid,” Bill Clinton’s top campaign guru used to quip during the 1992 presidential campaign.N No, it’s the inequality, stupid – the vast gap between the rich and everyone else that’s poisoning nearly every aspect of modern American life, from our crumbling infrastructure to our endangered environment. Hitting a big jackpot at the racetrack won’t close that gap. Taxing the rich — and confronting their corporate power — will.

Sam Pizzigati co-edits Inequality.org. His latest book: The Case for a Maximum Wage. Among his other books on maldistributed income and wealth: The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.

Impeachment Inquiry Resumes

Impeachment inquiry resumes with diplomat who warned of ‘nightmare’. NPR: “House Democrats are set to resume their impeachment inquiry on Tuesday with a deposition from another diplomat who appeared uneasy with President Trump’s strategy to pressure Ukraine for political help. Ambassador William Taylor, who has been serving as the interim head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Kyiv, is scheduled to talk behind closed doors with members and staff of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees. Taylor is the longtime foreign policy specialist who feared that Trump’s strategy could become ‘a nightmare’ and who said the policy that he and his colleagues were executing might prompt him to quit. Trump used a combination of personal aides, led by attorney Rudy Giuliani, and diplomats to encourage Ukraine to launch investigations that Trump thought might help him in the 2020 presidential race.”

Warren Would Quadruple Funding To Public Schools

Warren unveils education plan quadrupling federal funding for public schools. The Hill: “Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading Democratic presidential candidate, is proposing a plan to quadruple federal funding for public schools with incentives for states to fund poor and rich schools more equally. Warren has often campaigned off her personal history as a public school teacher and the importance of reforming the system. Her education plan released Monday comes after much of the primary field has already released such proposals. Warren’s plan would quadruple Title I funding — equivalent to an additional $450 billion — over the next 10 years for pre-K-12 public schools. Warren also plans to invest an additional $100 billion over ten years in ‘excellence grants’ to public schools, and an additional $50 billion in repairing and upgrading school buildings. In an effort to incentivize states to fund schools more equally, the new Title I funding would be conditioned on states ‘chipping in more funding and adopting and implementing more progressive funding formulas, so that more resources go to the schools and students that really need them.’ The plan is financed by Warren’s signature wealth tax on net incomes over $50 million, as are many of her plans.”

Opioid Makers Sidestep Trial With Settlement

Four attorneys general propose framework for a global $48 billion opioid settlement. CNN: “Four attorneys general announced a proposed framework for a global settlement that could resolve lawsuits against five companies involved in the opioid crisis. North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, along with the attorneys general of Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Texas, announced a $48 billion proposed settlement Monday with two manufacturers — Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries — and with three distributors — Cardinal Health, McKesson and Amerisource Bergen. The proposed deal includes $22 billion in cash and another $26 billion in ‘medication assisted treatment drugs and their distribution’ over a ten-year period. It also includes an agreement for the companies to change their policies to prevent future over-distribution of opioids. The attorneys general are hoping other states will join the settlement, and it remains unclear if this proposal will move forward if they don’t, according to a spokesperson for Stein. The proposal is not part of the $260 million settlement reached Monday with two Ohio counties in the multi-district litigation also known as the MDL. The MDL is comprised of 2,700 municipalities as plaintiffs. Most states have their own pending litigation involving the opioid crisis and are not listed in the MDL as plaintiffs, but a proposed global settlement deal such as this aims to resolve both sets of litigation.”

Justice Dept. To Collect DNA From Migrants At Border

Justice dept. announces plan to collect DNA from migrants crossing the border. NPR: “The Justice Department is proposing to begin collecting DNA samples from hundreds of thousands of immigrants crossing the border, creating an enormous database of asylum-seekers and other migrants that federal officials say will be used to help authorities fight crime. Attorney General William Barr issued the rule, which is set to be published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, with the expectation that federal authorities will gather DNA information on about 748,000 immigrants annually, including asylum-seekers presenting themselves at legal ports of entries. In the proposed regulation, Barr describes the DNA sample as a “genetic fingerprint” that can uniquely identify a person, ‘but they do not disclose the individual’s traits, disorders, or dispositions.’ Legal permanent residents and those seeking to enter the country legally won’t be affected by the new regulation. The rule will now be subject to a 20-day comment period.”

Trump Counts Haitian Refugee Deaths As ‘Progress’

Seeking to Deport Haitians, the Trump administration is counting deaths in displacement camps as “progress”. The Intercept: “After Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake in 2010, an estimated 59,000 Haitians have been granted Temporary Protected Status, which allows the nationals of countries designated unsafe due to ‘extraordinary and temporary’ conditions to live and work legally in the United States. But in November 2017, the Trump administration abruptly terminated TPS for Haitians, setting off multiple battles in court. If the government prevails, current Haitian TPS recipients — many of whom have children who are U.S. citizens — could be deported to a country that is now in the midst of an escalating crisis. A federal judge, in temporarily blocking the policy in April, found evidence that the decision was made in “bad faith” by Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, which went “fishing for reasons” to end Haitians’ eligibility for TPS and ignored relevant facts about the persistence of hazardous conditions in the country. Haiti remains vulnerable to deadly diseases like cholera, Hurricane Matthew only exacerbated the post-earthquake housing crisis, and a political standoff has caused widespread food and fuel shortages, forcing hospitals to cut services or close entirely. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Kuntz also said there was evidence to suggest that “a discriminatory purpose of removing non-white immigrants from the United States was a motivating factor behind the decision.” The Trump administration is now appealing Kuntz’s injunction and defending the termination of Haiti’s TPS designation in four separate lawsuits. In justifying its move to strip Haitians of their protected status, the administration has seized on statistics produced by the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental agency that counted 96 percent fewer people living in camps for internally displaced people in Haiti in 2016 than in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake. But according to a monthslong investigation by The Intercept and Type Investigations, those statistics profoundly distort the experiences of Haitians in the wake of the earthquake, erasing evidence of persistent suffering, dysfunction, and even death to present a narrative of ‘progress’ that justifies the return of tens of thousands to dangerous conditions.”

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