Why Didn’t We Listen to this Guy?: Bernie Sanders on the GOP Tax Plan and Global Oligarchy

Rural America In These Times November 29, 2017

In a more rea­son­able world, the Amer­i­can peo­ple wouldn’t need Sen. Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.) to trav­el around the coun­try explain­ing all of the ways this GOP tax pro­pos­al is just anoth­er poor­ly-dis­guised, donor-fund­ed, cor­po­rate cha­rade in which half of Con­gress is attempt­ing to sell us the same trick­le-down decep­tion we’ve already endured for decades — it would be obvi­ous. We are, how­ev­er, not there yet.

So, in a speech deliv­ered ear­li­er this month (and one of many in recent weeks) Sanders con­tin­ued his ongo­ing effort to inform all Amer­i­cans — whether one is a pro­gres­sive, a Demo­c­rat, a con­ser­v­a­tive, a Repub­li­can or some­thing in between” — about some very twist­ed, rapid­ly-wors­en­ing finan­cial realities.

These include:

  • We are liv­ing in a rigged economy.
  • The three wealth­i­est Amer­i­cans — Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and War­ren Buf­fett — now own more wealth than the bot­tom half of the Amer­i­can people.
  • The top one-tenth of one per­cent now owns almost as much wealth as the bot­tom 90 percent.
  • 40 mil­lion Amer­i­cans are liv­ing in poverty.
  • For the first time in U.S. his­to­ry, young peo­ple are fac­ing a low­er stan­dard of liv­ing than their parents.
  • Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, we remain the only major coun­try in the world today that doesn’t guar­an­tee health care to all of its cit­i­zens. (Twen­ty-eight mil­lion Amer­i­cans cur­rent­ly have zero health insur­ance and that num­ber might dou­ble next year.)

But his speech is also about more than the absur­di­ty of our tax code and par­ti­san dys­func­tion. It lays out how the same few enti­ties — a hand­ful of tremen­dous­ly rich indi­vid­u­als, insti­tu­tions and cor­po­ra­tions — are using their con­sol­i­dat­ed pow­er to manip­u­late not only in the Unit­ed States, but around the world.

One of the great crises that we face,” says Sanders, is that a hand­ful of bil­lion­aires are mov­ing this entire plan­et toward an oli­garchic soci­ety in which the peo­ple on top not only have incred­i­ble wealth, but incred­i­ble polit­i­cal pow­er as well.”

He cites the recent­ly released Par­adise Papers: Secrets of the Glob­al Elite, a months-long inves­ti­ga­tion by the Inter­na­tion­al Con­sor­tium of Inves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists (ICIJ) that doc­u­ments the mag­ni­tude of glob­al tax eva­sion while impli­cat­ing, among oth­ers, the Koch broth­ers, Shel­don Adel­son, Carl Ichan and Robert Mer­cer; insti­tu­tions such as Wells Far­go, Cit­i­group and Bank of Amer­i­ca; cor­po­ra­tions such as Apple, Nike and Exxon Mobile and, unsur­pris­ing­ly, numer­ous big-shots in the Trump administration.

A few key take­aways from the ICIJ report:

  • In 2012, the Tax Jus­tice Net­work esti­mat­ed that $21 tril­lion (TRIL­LION) dol­lars was being stashed in off­shore tax havens around the world.
  • One five-sto­ry office build­ing in the Cay­man Islands is now the home” of 18,857 corporations.
  • In the Unit­ed States alone, off­shore tax eva­sion costs our gov­ern­ment $166 bil­lion of lost rev­enue each and every year.

Sanders points out that, as this admin­is­tra­tion works over­time to make this absurd sit­u­a­tion even worse at a time when cor­po­ra­tions are mak­ing record-break­ing prof­its,” one out of five major prof­itable cor­po­ra­tions cur­rent­ly pay noth­ing in fed­er­al income tax.

Like he did on the 2016 cam­paign trail until the DNC brought out its giant hook, Sanders sug­gests that if these enti­ties did pay their fair share” of tax­es, that mon­ey could be used to actu­al­ly address many of the issues these same bil­lion­aires and com­pa­nies drone on and on pre­tend­ing to care about — vet­er­ans, infra­struc­ture, health care, edu­ca­tion, etc. Yet instead, by hoard­ing mon­ey over­seas, they’re plac­ing these bur­dens on a rapid­ly shrink­ing mid­dle- and already squeezed working-class.

This, need­less to say, is an issue that does not get a whole lot of dis­cus­sion,” says Sanders. Because, in gen­er­al, the more impor­tant the issues are, the less dis­cus­sion they get with­in the cor­po­rate media or with­in the polit­i­cal world that we, in Con­gress, live in.”

Check out the video below, it’s only 12 minutes:

(Source: Mike Lebows­ki / YouTube)

This blog’s mis­sion is to pro­vide the pub­lic ser­vice of help­ing make the issues that rur­al Amer­i­ca is grap­pling with part of nation­al discourse.
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