Bernie Has A Better Idea
Over the weekend we looked at some reactions from progressives-- mostly positive-- to Biden's proposed Billionaire Minimum Income Tax. As most of teh Blue America candidates said, it's a good start... if it even gets past the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. But I wonder how much excitement will decrease among progressives when they find out he hopes to use the extra money to spend even more money on the already over-militarized police! The 2023 budget will include more than $32 billion in new spending to fight crime, and by crime they're mostly not talking about the kind of crime committed by rich white people. The priority on fighting crime prioritizes one kind of crime and ignores the kind that costs society billions.
Biden, wrote Hans Nichols, this morning, "has been looking for ways to distance himself from progressives over how to combat crime, and to convince swing voters he understands their concerns about feeling unsafe." Biden, of course, has spent 5 decades looking for ways to distance himself from progressives. A White House official told Nichols that Biden's "budget will reflect three important values: fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and abroad, and a commitment to building a better America."
Want to read something more forward-thinking? On Friday, Bernie and Ed Markey (along with Jamaal Bowman in the House) introduced legislation to reinstate the windfall profit tax. If the Republicans and corporate Democrats somehow don't kill it, the bill--which only covers 2022, 2023 and 2024-- could raise around $400 billion annually from 30 of the largest corporations alone by imposing a 95% windfall tax on the excess profits of major companies.
In introducing the bill, Bernie told the media that "The American people are sick and tired of the unprecedented corporate greed that exists all over this country. They are sick and tired of being ripped-off by corporations making record-breaking profits while working families are forced to pay outrageously high prices for gas, rent, food, and prescription drugs. We cannot allow big oil companies and other large, profitable corporations to continue to use the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the specter of inflation to make obscene profits by price gouging Americans at the gas pump, the grocery store, or any other sector of our economy. During these troubling times, the working class cannot bear the brunt of this economic crisis, while corporate CEOs, wealthy shareholders, and the billionaire class make out like bandits. The time has come for Congress to work for working families and demand that large, profitable corporations make a little bit less money and pay their fair share of taxes."
Bowman backed that up by noting his constituents "are hurting, and they are rightly asking what Congress can do about surging prices for food, energy, and other necessities. What we cannot do is ask working Americans to shoulder any more of this burden. Corporate price-gouging is playing a big role in the inflation we are experiencing right now, putting families in a financial squeeze in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. These are the same corporations that are eroding our democracy, eviscerating workers’ rights, and fueling the climate crisis-- and it is time to make them pay. The Ending Corporate Greed Act will take away any incentive for large companies to exploit our current crisis for profit, and it will protect workers, families, and small businesses in New York and across the country. Our country has successfully used windfall profits taxes in the past, and I look forward to working with Senator Sanders to pass this bill as soon as possible."
Under this legislation, even with the 95 percent windfall profits tax, companies would still be able to make a reasonable profit compared to previous years. Additionally, as the tax is on profit, not revenue, companies that raise prices for legitimate reasons related to rising expenses would not be penalized. However, companies that have chosen to raise prices in the pursuit of obscene profiteering, to further enrich their CEOs and wealthy shareholders, would pay a tax of up to 95 percent on their windfall profits. For example:
Chevron’s average profit between 2015-2019 was $7.6 billion. In 2021, Chevron’s profit skyrocketed to $21.6 billion. If the windfall profits tax had been in place in 2021, Chevron would have paid an additional $12.9 billion in taxes and would still maintain $8.7 billion in profits. While Chevron’s revenues increased by 84 percent from 2020 to 2021, oil prices for the average consumer doubled and the price of natural gas tripled. At the same time, Chevron engaged in $1.4 billion in stock buybacks and spent $500 million more on shareholder dividends than it did in 2020.
JP Morgan Chase’s average profit between 2015-2019 was $37.4 billion, but its 2021 profit was $59.6 billion. If the windfall profits tax had been in place in 2021, it would have paid an additional $18.8 billion in taxes and still would have maintained $40.8 billion in profits.
San Diego area progressive Joaquin Vazquez added this just now:
"Biden's billionaire tax proposal comes at no surprise, triggered by Senators Sanders and Markey's windfall tax proposal announced on Friday, which came with support by Rep. Bowman in the House. A legislative tactic used every time by the moderate wing of the Democratic Party and the Republicans to introduce their own counter bill after a good bill is introduced by the left. It is disgusting and disheartening to see Biden continue to fight the left on policy that will uplift struggling Americans, the only faction that truly fights for the working-class. Not surprisingly, in addition to seeking an increase to police spending, Biden includes ramping up military spending for the war in Ukraine, as I had previously alluded to. The question is: why, when we're still in a pandemic, with a new COVID-19 wave coming, is he prioritizing police and military build up? Because it's election season and Biden along with all corporate establishment politicians are more concerned about re-election and catering to Republicans rather than delivering much needed resources to communities that have been most impacted by the pandemic, and much more so now by corporate price gauging. Biden said once during the campaign trail that "nothing will fundamentally change," and that is perhaps one of the few times where I fully believed he would keep his word on. He has so far done so: nothing has changed."