Bernie’s Plutocracy Prevention Act

Chuck Collins

Chuck Collins Scholar, Institute for Policy Studies

The Republicans can’t control their baser greed impulse, as revealed in their latest move to abolish the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on the inherited wealth of the super-rich.

But what we really need is a bold intervention to break up growing dynasties of wealth and power.

Congress should jump on board an improved estate tax introduced today by Senator Bernie Sanders, that would levy a top rate of 77 percent on inheritances over $1 billion. Sanders bill, The For 99.8% Act, would also plug up loopholes and ban trusts that wealthy families use to hide and perpetuate wealth dynasties.

The estate tax, established by Congress a century ago to put a brake on the build-up of concentrated wealth and power, is paid only by a miniscule sliver of billionaires and multi-millionaires. At the time, Theodore Roosevelt supported the estate tax as a protection against the “tyranny of plutocracy.”

Sanders estate tax proposal is a plutocracy prevention act, squarely aimed at preventing the children of today’s billionaires from dominating our future democracy, economy, culture and philanthropy.

In December 2017, Republicans failed to abolish the estate tax as part of their $1.5 trillion dollar tax windfall for the superrich and a handful of transnational corporations. But they did raise the exemptions of who will pay the tax.

In 2019, fewer than 2,000 households will pay the tax, starting with couples with over $22.8 million (individuals with over $11.4 million).

Earlier this week, Senate leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2019.” It is worth noting that the number of annual taxable estates in their home states of Kentucky, Iowa, and South Dakota are fewer than two dozen.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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Make Father's Day Union Made!

Make Father's Day Union Made!