Prejudices against “those people” tend to be the familiar age-old biases based upon race, religion and the like, but other stereotypes abound and can be equally misleading. (In his teens, my middle son looked askance at anyone in the “business class”– he felt they all valued profit over people. When he grew up, he came to recognize the infinite variety of people who own businesses, and adjusted his expectations accordingly.)
Too many Americans these days characterize “the wealthy” as uniformly predatory capitalists with their boots on the necks of the working class–a description every bit as over- inclusive as my son’s earlier stereotype. Just as there are greedy and unattractive folks at the top of the income ladder, there are also good, caring people who are working for economic fairness.
A group of millionaires dedicated to decreasing the influence of money in politics is planning to endorse candidates for the first time, in the 2018 midterm elections.
The only requirements: The candidates it backs have to be running against an incumbent who voted for the Republican tax cuts, and they’ve got to be able to talk about taxes in a way that doesn’t put voters to sleep.
Erica Payne, a progressive strategist, is the president of Patriotic Millionaires, the group making the endorsements.
Patriotic Millionaires is a group of about 200 wealthy Americans who advocate for less income inequality and against the concentration of wealth. It’s a bipartisan group, but it’s opposed to a central Republican idea: that benefits for the wealthy will eventually “trickle down” to the rest. That’s the thinking behind the 2017 tax cut bill, which reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent and disproportionately benefits businesses and the wealthy.
The group first came together in 2010 to oppose the extension of Bush-era tax cuts for millionaires. Since then, it’s expanded its focus beyond taxes to also include issues such as the minimum wage and campaign finance reform.
It has also expanded its membership to more than 200 people— to join, you have to have an annual income of more than $1 million or assets of more than $5 million. Morris Pearl, a former director at the investment firm BlackRock, chairs the group.
Patriotic Millionaires is a bipartisan organization concerned about the concentration of wealth; it advocates for less income inequality and rejects the argument–parroted by “policy wonks” like Paul Ryan— that benefits for the wealthy will eventually “trickle down” to the rest of us. “Trickle down” of course, was the purported justification for the 2017 tax cut bill, which reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.
Despite claims that the measure would create jobs, it has disproportionately benefited businesses and the wealthy–while exploding the deficit.
According to estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the top fifth of earners get 70 percent of the bill’s benefits, and the top 1 percent get 34 percent. The new tax treatment for “pass-through” entities — companies organized as sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, or S corporations — will mean an estimated $17 billion in tax savings for millionairesin 2018. American corporations are showering their shareholders with stock buybacks, thanks in part to their tax savings, and have returned nearly $700 billion to investors this year.
As noted above, the 2018 midterms will be the first time Patriotic Millionaires will endorse candidates.
Patriotic Millionaires is currently considering about 60 candidates for potential endorsement, most of whom are Democrats opposing incumbent Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives in competitive districts. The candidates on the list tend to fall into the more moderate, establishment camp, but some, such as Katie Porter in California and Kara Eastman in Nebraska, are avowed progressives.
The group is bipartisan and would therefore theoretically be willing to back a Republican who voted against the tax bill— there are 12 of them. I also asked if they were willing to back a democratic socialist candidate, to which Payne, the group’s president, replied that they will consider endorsing any candidate who is running against one of the lawmakers who voted to support the bill. “This tax bill is such a complete abomination that anybody who voted for it should be hurled from office,” she said.
Think about these activists before you diss all rich people.