Economic Patriotism: 400 Millionaires Pen Letter to Congress, ask Republicans NOT to Cut Their Taxes

by Jen Hayden –

Responsible Wealth, a group of business leaders, investors, and inheritors in the richest 5 percent of wealth and/or income in the U.S., are sending an open letter to members of Congress with a clear message: do not cut our taxes. In the letter, which can be read in full below, the 400+ millionaires say that they do not support any tax plan that “further exacerbates inequality” and they deeply oppose cutting any services like “education, Medicare and Medicaid.”

The letter includes several well-known names:

The letter was put together by Responsible Wealth, a group that advocates progressive causes. Signers include Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher, billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, as well as many individuals and couples who aren’t household names but are part of the top 5 percent ($1.5 million in assets or earning $250,000 or more a year).

“I think a tax cut is absurd,” said Bob Crandall, a former American Airlines chief executive who lives in Florida and added his name to the letter. Republicans are “saying we can’t afford to spend money, but we can afford to give rich people a huge tax break. This makes no sense,” Crandall said.

This is what economic patriotism looks like. Moving forward together. These wealthy Americans already know that trickle-down economics do not work. Those tax cuts at the top do not trickle down. There are decades of research showing this to be true, most recently in Kansas, where tax cuts left the state in a lurch. From the Washington Post:

If House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) don’t heed the Kansas lesson, they deserve to have their majorities stripped away in next year’s midterms. And they won’t be able to claim they weren’t warned.

The states are supposed to be laboratories for testing government policy. For five years, Kansas’s Republican governor, Sam Brownback, conducted the nation’s most radical exercise in trickle-down economics — a “real-live experiment,” he called it. He and the GOP-controlled legislature slashed the state’s already-low tax rates, eliminated state income tax for most owner-operated businesses and sharply reduced vital government services. These measures were supposed to deliver “a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy,” Brownback said.

It ended up being a shot of poison. Growth rates lagged behind those in neighboring states and the nation as a whole. Deficits mounted to unsustainable levels. Services withered. Brownback had set in motion a vicious cycle, not a virtuous one.

Last week, finally, the legislature — still controlled by Republicans — overrode Brownback’s veto of legislation restoring taxation to sane levels. The nightmare experiment is coming to an end. 

Republicans cannot be allowed to take these failed tax policies nationwide. They simply do not work. So, thank you to the 400 millionaires who signed the letter below. We are stronger together.

Dear Member of Congress:

We are high net worth individuals, many in the top 1%, who care deeply about our nation and its people, and we write with a simple request: Do not cut our taxes.

As you consider changes to the tax code, we urge you to oppose any legislation that further exacerbates inequality. Tax reform should be, at a minimum, revenue neutral—without using gimmicks like dynamic scoring. We are deeply concerned that revenue loss would lead to deep cuts in critical services such as education, Medicare and Medicaid, and would hamper our nation’s ability to restore investments in our people and communities.

The Republican tax plan would disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals and corporations with provisions including repealing the estate tax, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, and slashing the top pass-through tax rate. This proposal would mean wealthy people could pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class families and transfer massive inheritances to their heirs tax-free. Such proposals that benefit the wealthy would exacerbate the current wealth disparity in the U.S. where the top 1% of households hold 42% of the wealth.

We believe the key to creating more good jobs and a strong economy is not tax breaks for those of us who have plenty, but investing in the American people. Our civic institutions that help people meet basic living standards and protect the climate are critical to supporting our prosperity as a nation. Yet, Congress is already shortchanging the investments needed to strengthen our economy, and the Administration and some in Congress are looking for deeper cuts. Current federal funding for non-defense discretionary spending was slashed overall by more than 13% (adjusted for inflation) over the past seven years, leaving many programs severely underfunded. While Congress should be finding ways to increase funding for these vital investments, the Republican tax plan would instead add at least $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the deficit over the next decade. This would leave us unable to meet our country’s current needs and restrict us in advancing any future investments.

A full repeal of the estate tax alone would lose an estimated $269 billion over 10 years —more than we would spend on the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and Environmental Protection Agency combined. While these critical agencies help millions of people, repealing the estate tax would benefit just two out of every 1,000 estates. It is neither wise nor just to give wealthy people more tax breaks at the expense of working families, and it would be especially egregious to fund tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting or dismantling programs that help people meet fundamental human needs like healthcare or nutrition assistance.

Instead, we call on Congress to raise our taxes to bring in additional much-needed revenue and to restore investments to vital services. Doing so will help create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and ensure America’s economic success. Under no circumstance should tax reform lose revenue, especially to provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.

Respectfully,

(signers)

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos