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The question isn’t if raising taxes on the rich is too ‘radical,’ but rather: Is it radical enough?

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For nearly two decades, more than two-thirds of American taxpayers have told Gallup they don’t think corporations pay their fair share in taxes. In fact, the word “taxpayers” almost categorically excludes many major multi-national corporations, along with some of the absolute wealthiest individuals in the country—not to mention the world. That list of non-taxpayers includes companies like Nike and FedEx and individuals such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk (as we recently found out through a blockbuster ProPublica investigation).

Anger over the nation’s stunning lack of tax equity was at a fever pitch even before the latest revelation that 25 billionaires paid the equivalent of just 3.4% on their total wealth.

In fact, just a couple months ago, Pew Research Center polling found that at least 80% of Americans said one of their biggest complaints about the federal tax system was the fact that some corporations and wealthy individuals don’t pay their fair share. 

Pew: What bothers Americans Most about the federal tax system?
Bothers me A lot some Not much not at all
some corporations don’t pay their fair share 59% 22% 12% 6%
some wealthy people don’t pay their fair share 59% 21% 12% 7%

The question now for President Biden and Democrats isn’t whether simply raising taxes on wealthy corporations and individuals is both fair and politically smart; it’s whether their taxation proposals go far enough to level the playing field for the undue burden middle-class and lower-income Americans are bearing.

ProPublica’s exposé proved that the outrageously rich enjoy gigantic tax advantages precisely because the IRS taxes wages rather than overall wealth, which puts regular old wage earners at an extreme disadvantage while Jeff Bezos gets off practically scot-free. 

In other words, simply raising taxes on the mega-wealthy might generate revenues but it won’t do much to make the tax system more equitable. Rather, the tax system must be restructured.

One proposal already floated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts would do exactly that. Warren’s wealth tax on unsold assets worth more than $50 million would both level the playing field and raise at least $3 trillion in federal revenues over a decade, according to her estimates. Warren, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, unveiled the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act in March along with Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who sits on the House Budget Committee, and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Warren told The Washington Post Tuesday that ProPublica’s reporting neutralized critics who have said it would be nearly impossible to valuate the nonliquid assets of the ultrarich.

“What this shows is, actually, it’s not that hard to value hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth and tax it on an annual basis,” Warren said.

Oh, and hey, that tax on ultra-millionaires and billionaires is also super popular with actual taxpayers. Overall, 63% of likely voters support a wealth tax, according to polling released last week from A More Perfect Union and Data for Progress. That support includes 82% of Democrats, 59% of independents, and a 45% plurality of Republicans—otherwise known as pretty damn popular.

The poll also found that 61% of likely voters favor “restoring” the corporate tax rate to 35%—the rate before Republicans slashed it to 21% in 2017. In his American Jobs Plan, Biden had originally proposed rolling back the GOP tax cut on corporations to 28% but has since dropped that number in response to the concerns of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.

But ultimately, levying a tax on the unsold assets of the mega-wealthy is among the most popular tax proposals anyone has floated to date—if not the most popular. It would also likely do more than any other proposal to equalize the tax burden among the American people. 

As President Biden searches for a path forward on his signature American jobs and families plans, he has been handed a gift. Democrats should take up Warren’s wealth tax and dare Republicans and Joe Manchin alike to make their case against it. Explaining why assets worth more than $50 million shouldn’t be taxed would be a hard sell in West Virginia, which ranks dead last nationwide in the overall quality of its infrastructure. 


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Morning Digest: Colorado just released a new congressional map. We’re not covering it

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Procedures vary in every state, but as a rule, the redistricting process is long, messy, and iterative. Whether handled by a commission, the legislature, or the courts, it’s common to see many proposals introduced and debated. Even as they advance—whether through a vote on a legislative committee, a submission by a court-appointed expert, a proposal from a commission, or any other means—they can always be amended and adjusted along the way, and often are. And of course, even a map passed by lawmakers can be vetoed by a hostile governor, just as a map approved by a court can get overturned on appeal.

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One salient example from a decade ago comes from South Carolina, where bitter GOP infighting nearly resulted in redistricting getting punted to the courts despite the fact that Republicans controlled the legislature and the governorship. A split between the upper and lower chambers saw dissident Senate Republicans join with Democrats to pass a completely different congressional map from the version their counterparts in the House had signed off on, and for a while the standoff seemed insoluble.

After a weeks-long stalemate, though, the rebels finally caved after one leader decided he preferred voting for a map he disliked instead of letting federal judges draw the lines. (As David Jarman wrote at the time, there was “no word on what type of horse’s head was placed in his bed to help him arrive at this decision.”) It was a fascinating illustration of how things can go haywire even in a state under one-party rule, but it also shows why it pays to be cautious before devoting a lot of time and energy to analyzing a map that may never actually be used, especially for a small outfit like Daily Kos Elections.

Things are even more complicated this year, thanks to delays in the production of the granular census data necessary to produce maps with equal-sized districts that comply with the constitutional requirement of “one person, one vote.” The Census Bureau says it will provide this data by Aug. 16, which means that any maps produced before that point are reliant on population estimates, making them vulnerable to court challenges. To insulate such maps from these sorts of challenges, states will have to revise them after receiving the new data—including those that have already passed into law, like the legislative plans in Oklahoma and Illinois.

Rest assured, we will be covering the entire redistricting process thoroughly, with even more fine-grained coverage in our weekly newsletter, the Voting Rights Roundup. But this is most definitely a marathon and not a sprint: In the previous redistricting cycle, the last congressional map wasn’t finalized until June of 2012, when Kansas brought up the caboose (thanks, once more, to Republican disarray). If that precedent holds, the conclusion could be a year away—and that’s not counting the inevitable litigation that will follow. So, as Nathan says, take a deep breath and get ready for the long haul. We will be there the whole way.

Senate

WI-Sen: We haven’t heard much from Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes about a potential Senate bid since he first publicly expressed interest in January, but he still seems very keen to run. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that he recently hired a prominent political consultant and has also been making more official appearances. Barnes, a former state representative, was elected on a ticket with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in 2018 and would be Wisconsin’s first Black senator.

Governors

MI-Gov: Fox asked former Detroit Police Chief James Craig this week when he expected to make up his mind whether he’d seek the Republican nod, to which he responded, “I’m optimistic, hopefully within a few weeks I should be making a statement on the decision.”

NY-Gov: On Thursday, Attorney General Tish James refused to give a direct answer when reporters asked if she’d rule out a campaign for the Democratic nomination. She instead replied, “The politics stops at the door of the office of attorney general.” When reporter Jimmy Vielkind pointed out that James was literally standing outside the door of the office of attorney general, she laughed and added, “The door of the Capitol.”

James also declined to say when she’d be finished investigating the many allegations that have been leveled against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying her probe “will conclude when it concludes.”

VA-Gov: Republican Glenn Youngkin’s vast personal fortune means that he can afford to stay on TV from now until November, and he’s making the most of that advantage. The Washington Post reports that Youngkin has spent $2 million on TV and radio spots since he won the GOP nominating convention in early May; Democrat Terry McAuliffe, meanwhile, has restricted himself to digital advertising since his primary victory a little more than two weeks ago.

Youngkin campaigned for the GOP nod by touting himself as an ardent Trumpist, but unsurprisingly, he’s adopted far different messaging since then. Youngkin’s newest spot has him asking, “In our communities, in our houses of worship, right here at work, does anyone really care what political party we belong to?”

House

IA-02: Iowa Starting Line writes that Democratic state Rep. Christina Bohannan’s name has been “making the rounds recently” as a potential opponent for Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, though there’s no word on Bohannan’s interest.

Miller-Meeks won an open seat race last year by all of 6 votes as Donald Trump was carrying this southeastern Iowa seat 51-47, but Team Red’s complete control of state government gives legislators the chance to draw up a friendlier district for her next year. Under state law, a nonpartisan agency proposes maps to the state legislature, but while lawmakers have always adopted them, the GOP now can simply reject the agency’s proposals and implement their own gerrymanders.

NY-22: Former Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi said Thursday that he would not wage a third campaign against Republican Claudia Tenney next year. Brindisi unseated Tenney during the 2018 blue wave but ultimately lost their rematch last year by 109 votes after months of uncertainty.

This seat, which contains Binghamton, Utica, and Rome, backed Donald Trump 55-43, but Tenney’s underwhelming performance could leave her vulnerable even if state Democrats don’t take full advantage of their ability to bypass the state’s new bipartisan redistricting commission to draw up their own maps.

Attorneys General

AZ-AG: Former Arizona Corporation Commission Chair Kris Mayes announced this week that she would seek the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, a GOP-held open seat. Mayes joins state Rep. Diego Rodriguez in the primary.

Mayes worked as Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano’s communication director in 2003 even though she was a registered Republican, and she was later appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission, the powerful body that regulates utilities. Mayes went on to win statewide races for that office as a Republican, and she left the post at the end of 2010 due to term limits. Mayes says she re-registered as a Democrat in 2019.

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he was nominating former Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a fellow Democrat, to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: We have a deal, at least on infrastructure

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Greg Sargent/WaPo:

Joe Manchin is about to extract his pound of flesh. Here’s what Biden must do now.

This is supposed to represent a big loss to the left because it’s less than Biden originally proposed on concrete infrastructure and doesn’t include the “human infrastructure” priorities in Biden’s agenda — investments in children and families, climate and caregiving infrastructure, etc.

But Democrats are proceeding on two tracks. On one is the bipartisan deal. On the other, Sanders, as Senate Budget Committee chair, is crafting a large package that includes many of those other priorities — this one paid for by corporate tax hikes — and would pass by simple-majority reconciliation later.

By all indications, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), a lead negotiator in the bipartisan group, is insisting on this deal — or an exhaustive effort at reaching one — as a precondition for supporting a reconciliation package later.

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AP:

Unvaccinated Missourians fuel COVID: ‘We will be the canary’

As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, Missouri is becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the country: It is seeing an alarming rise in cases because of a combination of the fast-spreading delta variant and stubborn resistance among many people to getting vaccinated.

Intensive care beds are filling up with surprisingly young, unvaccinated patients, and staff members are getting burned out fighting a battle that was supposed to be in its final throes.

The hope among some health leaders is that the rest of the U.S. might at least learn something from Missouri’s plight.

“If people elsewhere in the country are looking to us and saying, ‘No thanks’ and they are getting vaccinated, that is good,” said Erik Frederick, chief administrative officer at Mercy Hospital Springfield, which has been inundated with COVID-19 patients as the variant first identified in India rips through the largely non-immunized community. “We will be the canary.”

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Andre E Johnson/Religion Dispatches:

WHERE DID WHITE EVANGELICALISM’S HATRED OF CRITICAL RACE THEORY REALLY BEGIN?

After his appearance on “Tucker,” [Christopher Rufo] received a call the following day from Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, who invited him to come to Washington and assist in drafting the Executive Order that President Trump would issue on September 4, 2020. Reflecting on his work, Rufo remarked, “This entire movement came from nothing,” while Wallace-Wells gives all the credit to Rufo for causing the current ‘CRT controversy.’

However, the truth is that before Rufo “discovered” CRT from the footnotes of documents leaked to him by frustrated employees in anti-bias and diversity training classes, white evangelicals had already been laying the groundwork for the attack on CRT. For instance, the libertarian evangelical blog Truth and Liberty warned fellow evangelicals about CRT in Don’t Let Critical Race Theory Infiltrate the Church. The writer argued that CRT is not conducive to the gospel because of its “Marxist” orientation and its “flawed” definition of racism.

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WaPo:

Inside the ‘shadow reality world’ promoting the lie that the presidential election was stolen

Wealthy allies of former president Donald Trump have spent millions on films, rallies and other efforts to tout falsehoods about the 2020 vote.

In this world, ballot reviews like a Republican-commissioned recount now underway in Arizona are about to begin in other key swing states. Conspiracy theories that grow more dizzyingly complex by the day will soon be proven, showing that China or other foreign powers secretly flipped votes for Biden. Trump will be restored as president in months.

These falsehoods are now seeping into civic life, spurring citizens in multiple states to demand that local officials review the 2020 results.

Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, said her staff contended with the latest barrage of email and calls just last week. “It told us something had transpired online,” she said, adding: “You can’t disprove the negatives that are being thrown out that are absolutely based on nothing.”

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AJC:

Michigan GOP report debunks election fraud claims, even in Georgia

An analysis produced by Michigan Republican senators concluded Wednesday that voters should be confident in the results of the presidential election, which Democrat Joe Biden won over Republican Donald Trump by 155,000 votes. Biden’s margin of victory was narrower in Georgia, less 12,000 votes.

“I have never doubted that competent, experienced and objective analysis would find what I have said from the beginning that the election was fair and accurate,” Raffensperger said Wednesday. “A similar examination here in Georgia will find that is true as it was in Michigan.”

Instead, some legislators in the Georgia Senate’s Republican majority have said they doubted the integrity of the election, and Raffensperger has become a frequent target of Trump loyalists.

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On Infrastructure, Biden Tests the Limits of Having It Both Ways

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His agreement with Senate centrists, including at least five Republicans, includes just under $600 billion in new federal spending, focused on physical infrastructure like highways and broadband. In the pursuit of enough Republican votes to clear a Senate filibuster, the deal excludes all the president’s proposals to more heavily tax corporations and the rich, much of his push to curb climate change and all his proposed investments in the “human infrastructure” of education, paid leave and child and elder care.

“Neither side got everything they wanted in this deal, and that’s what it means to compromise,” Mr. Biden told reporters in the East Room. “And it reflects something important: It reflects consensus. The heart of democracy requires consensus.”

That consensus represents a small slice of Mr. Biden’s $4 trillion economic agenda, and liberals were quick to call it insufficient. That is why Mr. Biden also said on Thursday that he would not sign the bipartisan agreement unless it was accompanied by a second bill, probably passed with only Democratic votes and funded by some tax increases on corporations and high earners, that would spend heavily on the parts of his agenda that were cut out of the deal at the insistence of Republicans.

“If this is the only thing that comes to me, I’m not signing it,” Mr. Biden said, just moments after extolling the virtues of consensus. “It’s in tandem.”

Congressional leaders echoed him. “All parties understand, we won’t get enough votes to pass either unless we have enough votes to pass both,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said on the Senate floor. “The bottom line is both tracks need to make progress concurrently.”

Top Republicans were quick to denounce the two-step. “That’s not the way to show you’re serious about getting a bipartisan outcome,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, said on Thursday. “So I hope our colleagues can recover and get their good-faith efforts back on track.”

White House officials, though, say the president made clear to Republicans throughout the negotiations that he was pursuing both a bipartisan deal and a second bill to pass only with Democratic votes through a process known as budget reconciliation. They do not expect Republicans to walk away from the agreement struck this week.

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