Take On Wall Street and Big Money: A Proposal to Fix America’s Rigged Tax System

The outsized power of corporations and CEOs in our economy and political system must be brought to heel. Before the financial crisis, the largest banks borrowed excessively — gambling with taxpayer money with little oversight. It is time that we close the many tax loopholes that encourage risky investments by Wall Street, corporations, and the wealthy. Instead of cutting tax rates for corporations and wealthy people, we need to comprehensively reexamine the adequacy and fairness of our current tax system that continues to perpetuate record income inequality.

Through a budget procedure called “reconciliation,” which only requires a simple majority to pass, the Senate GOP is working on a tax “reform” plan. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch has asked for input on the U.S. tax system, and People For the American Way is part of a coalition of more than 50 groups that have submitted a proposal. The “Take On Wall Street “ proposal would raise more than $1 trillion in additional revenue and discourage dangerous Wall Street speculation by requiring the financial services industry to pay its fair share of taxes. Additionally, the coalition has submitted over 190,000 petition signatures.

The Take On Wall Street plan includes the following:

  • Closing the carried interest loophole which allows billionaire Wall Street money managers to pay lower tax rates than nurses or construction workers;
  • Closing the CEO Bonus loophole, which allows corporations to deduct CEO salaries above 1 million dollars a year from their taxable-income as long as they call it ‘incentive pay’;
  • Creating a Wall Street sales tax that would discourage short-term bets and generate billions in new revenue for services our communities need;
  • Creating a small tax on the riskiest big bank borrowing to discourage future bailouts and raise revenue for important public services;
  • Closing the reinsurance loophole which allows hedge funds and certain insurers to transport money to untaxed foreign “reinsurance” subsidiaries;
  • Ensuring complex derivatives contracts are not used to avoid taxes.

Our current tax system favors the super-rich at the expense of everyday Americans. Congress should change this through real tax reform that closes loopholes instead of creating more tax cuts for Wall Street.

100 Days of Fighting Back Brings Wins for The Trump Resistance

The morning after Election Day was full of shock. Even ardent Trump supporters were caught off guard by the Electoral College win from the same man who revived the birther myth against President Obama for years and bragged that he could grab women “by the pussy.” For many progressives it marked the end of a long arc of progress under Obama. For others it was a painful reminder of the racism, sexism, and homophobia coursing through a portion of the American electorate. And for hundreds of thousands of people (after we dusted ourselves off) it was a time to dedicate, or rededicate, ourselves to a long fight against opponents who were well-positioned to beat us at many turns. Undoubtedly, we’ll see some losses. And while the world over will be harmed, we know we can rebuild if we can minimize the losses and organize for the future. So the resistance has been born.

The resistance has taken on many shapes, including the formation of new coalitions and organizations, unprecedented marches and local movements, town halls flooded with activists, and more. While Trump has tried (and sometimes succeeded) to do some pretty horrific stuff, activists across the country have been there to show him that it will not be tolerated.

Here are 10 times the resistance won:

1. Failing to Weaken the Office of Congressional Ethics

Before Trump was even inaugurated, House Republicans attempted to change House rules and strip the Office of Congressional Ethics of its independence, presumably to remove barriers to their upcoming power grab. You flooded congressional offices with calls and within days the proposal was withdrawn.

2. HUGE Marches Around the World Raise the Level of Discourse

Building on a long history of activism, the day after inauguration, millions of people marched on Washington and around the globe in the Women’s March to show their desire for a more equal and inclusive world than the one represented by the new U.S. presidential administration. The march had the added bonus of overshadowing a dismally-attended inauguration and aggravating the notoriously grandiose Trump. Other large-scale events including the Immigration Strike, Day Without a Woman, Tax March, People’s Climate March (April 29) and May Day Strike (May 1) are focusing attention on an array of issues that our country and the president cannot ignore.

3. Thousands Make Their Voices Heard at Town Halls

With the help of Facebook Live, we’ve witnessed the power of democracy through the surge of participation in House and Senate town halls across the country. Constituents have filled rooms to ask questions about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the AHCA, the anti-Muslim ban, and Planned Parenthood—and even held “empty chair” town hall events when their representatives would not host their own. And they are listening.

4. Stopping the First and Second Travel Bans

After the chaotic rollout of the Trump administration’s first travel ban targeting Muslims and refugees, which was quickly blocked by a federal judge in New York, lawyers and protesters as well as members of Congress showed up at major airports across the country to welcome immigrants and travelers and pressure security officials to release anyone who had been detained. The people were ready for his second and latest attempt at an anti-Muslim ban which was stopped by a federal judge in Hawaii.

5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself from Russia Investigation, Followed by Rep. Devin Nunes

Connections between the Trump campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election remain uncertain at best. But the administration continues to function as if it’s possible to have a serious, credible investigation led by campaign surrogates and administration apologists. Pressure from the resistance forced the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions due to conflicts of interest. Representative Devin Nunes also stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee investigation after ethics complaints were filed against him. Now we need to see the investigations through to the end.

6. “Repeal and replace” Bill Fails to Go to Vote

By all accounts the American Health Care Act, or Trumpcare, was a flop—and attempts by the Freedom Caucus to repeal essential health benefits, including maternity care and mental health or addiction treatment, only made it worse. Republicans showed that after seven years of opposing Obamacare, they didn’t have any solutions, and the resistance sent a loud-and-clear message to Republicans that their bill was unacceptable.

7. Michael Flynn Resigns as National Security Adviser

The pressure to account for the Trump campaign’s connections to Russian officials has exposed many cracks in their story. In February, Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had not been forthcoming about his conversations with the Russian ambassador about relaxing sanctions. Flynn had a well-documented history as a right-wing, Islamaphobic conspiracy theorist who believed in “Pizzagate” and peddled anti-Muslim bigotry. Flynn is back in the news this week after House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz’s statement that Flynn illegally accepted money from Russia.

8. Andy Puzder Withdraws as Secretary of Labor Nominee

Secretary of Labor nominee Andy Puzder’s anti-labor business record as chief executive of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. fast-food chains, put him in hot water with Democrats and unions immediately. Advocates forcefully spoke out about his companies’ crude objectification of women and the sexual harassment faced by many women working there. Puzder’s withdrawal came just days after Flynn’s resignation and put the administration on notice about the expectations for its cabinet appointments.

9. Democrats Start Closing the Gap in Stalwart Red Districts

In the Kansas special election this April, state treasurer Ron Estes defeated Democrat James Thompson by just seven percentage points, closing the gap from the 2016 election by 20 points. (Trump had won against Hillary Clinton in this district by 27 points.) Then, Jon Ossoff of Georgia’s 6th Congressional District swept onto the scene, nearly winning the primary in the district formally held by Newt Gingrich and Tom Price. As the candidate who garnered the most votes in the primary, Ossoff now faces a June runoff against Karen Handel, a Republican who notoriously tried to cut funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood when she was a senior official at the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

10. Standing Up to Threats of Defunding Sanctuary Cities and Planned Parenthood

The people and a federal judge have rejected Trump’s executive order to block funding for the approximately 165 “sanctuary cities”—cities that do not cooperate with some federal immigration enforcement in order to protect the rights of immigrants—across 26 states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Kansas. Momentum is also building in the fight against “defunding” Planned Parenthood, after Trump absurdly offered to ensure the organization’s funding only if they stopped providing abortion services altogether. Of course, Planned Parenthood turned down the offer with the backing of supporters and millions of patients across the country.

Trump’s Attacks on the Media are an Attack on Us All

Just two weeks ago, the media was falling all over itself to claim that President Trump was turning a new page after his “more presidential” first address to a joint session of Congress – perhaps willing it to be true. But within days Trump was continuing his dangerous assault on the First Amendment and the media – often via Twitter, but also on cable news, in the briefiang room, at conferences, and at rallies – and he shows no sign of letting up. Here are his most recent tweets:

From baseless and inflammatory charges that the media “manipulated” images of the inauguration to make him look less popular, to accusations that the media covered up fake terrorist attacks in Bowling Green, the president and his staff don’t hesitate to throw around claims of “fake news,” “failing,” and “dishonest” to discredit the media and his critics.

The ongoing campaign by the president to smear any news outlet or reporter that doesn’t portray him positively is a threat to democracy and the people. Even without using the force of law to silence the press, the chilling effects of Trump’s attacks is a real threat to a free and independent media.

The First Amendment protects the right to protest, dissent, and petition government for a redress of grievances, but these rights cannot be exercised without a free press that provides information to the public. That is why earlier this month we signed onto a letter condemning in the fullest terms the actions President Trump and his supporters have taken to penalize, delegitimize, and intimidate members of the press.

Starting today, you can vote for a free press with their dollars and your time. Just as we rely on the press to inform us about our political officials, they rely on us for readership and revenue. Pay for the articles you read. Tweet about the news segments you are watching. Subscribe to your favorite publications. Like your favorite reporters on Facebook. Resist.