American billionaires don’t pay taxes and our politicians don’t seem to care | Maureen Tkacik


AAmerican billionaires pay no taxes, and American politicians are almost ready to send Seal Team Six to assassinate the unnamed bureaucrat who informed ProPublica of this fact. Welcome to our political hell.

This month, ProPublica revealed that America’s billionaires basically pay no taxes, and within hours the White House had clumsily promised no less than four federal inquiries into the identity of the individual who alerted the news agency on this fact.

On Thursday, a congressman from North Carolina was demanding the FBI director explains why he made no arrests or, at the very least, “did not execute any search warrant or search any office” as part of the international manhunt for leaky

Over the weekend, demands for justice on behalf of America’s parasitic oligarchs had united the Republican Party like nothing since perhaps the phrase “public option” was something you heard on cable TV. . Politicians from Susan Collins to the author of the infamous North Carolina “Toilet Bill” have both grilled law enforcement officials testifying before their committees about “illegal” violations of the website. the private life of a mega billionaire.

Fox News has screamed at Twitter’s double standard by allowing the sharing of ProPublica’s revelations despite blocking a previous New York Post article on Hunter Biden’s laptop. At least 19 senators signed angry letters demanding that the inquiries they had been repeatedly assured of were well under way. (Senator Mike Crapo single-handedly issued three separate statements to this effect.) The prominent member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee told the Hill on Friday that the revelations were about Democratic proposals to add $ 8 billion additions to the IRS’s annual budget – which was intended to help with tax law enforcement and compliance – “nearly a death blow.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have had little better response. The billionaire’s tax evasion story deserved no mention on the Twitter feeds of the four founders of “The Squad,” other than a retweet from AOC. And so the only elected officials who seem to have read the story that ProPublica President Richard Tofel presented as “the most important story we’ve ever published” were those calling on the federal government to ransack ProPublica’s offices. .

But worst of the whole saga has been the realization that the explosive revelations from ProPublica would likely have received more attention during Donald Trump’s presidency. ProPublica carefully chose the six billionaires whose tax returns it chose to select for specific review, and several of them – Jeff Bezos, George Soros and Mike Bloomberg – are so hated by Tories that it would have been impossible. for a Trump-era Republican party to respect their constitutional right to dodge taxes. Poor media coverage that billionaires not only have barely paid any taxes, but have also increased their net worth in recent years, has resulted in the four-year media obsession with tax returns. former President Donald Trump looks like a partisan crusade. it was never a real commitment to ending billionaire tax evasion, but simply scoring points against Trump alone.

So, as we taught our kids at home and waited with the unemployment department, Democrats of all stripes barely say a word about the billionaires adding $ 1.2 billion to their fortunes over the course of this year. the only past year. And it’s not that there’s nothing to say about it. ProPublica has what it takes to put tax evasion on the map, and if Democrats pledged to end the class war that the rich wage against the poor every day, they would take those goods and run.

After all, Jeff Bezos got a $ 4,000 middle-class tax credit the year his net worth hit $ 18 billion. There is something so wonderful and transcending small tribal affiliations about this fact, like a perfectly executed 60-yard touchdown pass in the last 18 seconds of a five-point game. Unearth a diamond like this, and your team deserves to win. Now imagine if Democrats could just catch the damn thing!

But ProPublica seems to have deliberately reversed. After telling breathless readers that they owned a 15-year “treasure trove” of tax returns on literally “thousands” of the world’s richest people, the three story authors began to weave together a few. juicy, un-contextualized facts in a narrative that felt like an extended sidebar to the ‘real’ story. We’ve learned that America’s richest 25 billionaires added $ 401 billion to their net worth between 2014 and 2018 and paid about 3% of that amount in taxes, but we haven’t learned much about it. a billionaire’s tax evasion strategies aside from a brief discussion of the borrowing habits of random 1980s corporate raider Carl Icahn, whom Icahn is clearly proud enough not to bother to pursue. (“I like to win,” he told the website.)

Fifteen years of reporting the tax returns of thousands of American plutocrats is, of course, one of the biggest stories of the decade. It’s just not clear that ProPublica is so keen on sticking to the story.

Bloomberg has previously threatened to “use all legal means” to determine who disclosed the tax returns and “ensure they are held accountable.” No doubt Charles Koch and Dan Gilbert are already sharpening their knives. In a podcast interview last week, ProPublica’s series editor Steve Engelberg expressed deep unease over actually using the information provided by the anonymous tipster, explaining that the editors had agreed to publish only the information they deemed “absolutely necessary for the public to understand what is, let’s face it, an obscure subject.”

There had been plans early on to release basic data on the income tax returns of the 25 richest billionaires in the country, he added, but they decided not to do so on the grounds that some of the names in the list “are fairly well known and others much less well known”, and he preferred to “use familiar names” that are “in the fabric of our daily lives” and not, I suppose, their discreet heiresses and widows.

It was, I believe, a moral and strategic error which will be difficult to correct. Each billionaire is an inherently public figure, whose fortune is inextricably woven into the fabric of our daily lives; The Forbes 400 could serve as an invaluable guide to demystifying our social dysfunctions without sentimentality, if billionaires weren’t rich enough to hire all the lobbyists and publicists who make sure nothing of this nature is ever written about their clients.

In the past, criminals of great wealth have restored their public image by investing in the media; now the plutocrats seem just as happy to siphon off their ad revenue, topple their office buildings, or even chase them into oblivion. The editorial board of ProPublica, one of the last two or three US news agencies to have the resources to handle this story, certainly understands what is at stake. One can only hope that they stick to their guns – and that someone with minimal political power starts paying attention.


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