America’s richest men pay $0 in income tax. This is wealth supremacy | Robert Reich

The super-rich have bought armies of lobbyists to keep their taxes minuscule and to create tax loopholes large enough to drive their Lamborghinis through

ProPublica’s bombshell report on America’s super-wealthy paying little or nothing in taxes reveals not only their humongous wealth but also how they’ve parlayed that wealth into political power to shrink their taxes to almost nothing.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in America, reportedly paid no federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Elon Musk, the second richest, paid no taxes in 2018. Warren Buffett, often ranking number 3, paid a tax rate of 0.1% between 2014 and 2018.

The real scandal is it’s legal.

Wealth and power are inextricably connected. The super-rich have bought armies of lobbyists to keep their taxes minuscule and to create and maintain tax loopholes large enough to drive their Lamborghinis through.

The loopholes are tougher than kryptonite. Remember the notorious “carried interest” loophole that almost every presidential candidate over the last five elections has promised to close? It’s still there.

The armies of the wealthy also prevent any major changes in the system that might threaten their wealth, such as a wealth tax, stronger unions, or tougher antitrust.

American democracy is being attacked from two directions right now – from the white supremacist followers of Donald Trump who are suppressing votes, and from the wealth supremacists who are bribing lawmakers with campaign contributions.

Some of the wealth supremacists are quietly bankrolling the white supremacists because their mutual enemy is democracy.

A few weeks ago, hundreds of US corporations and CEOs lent their names to a two-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post in support of voting rights.

It turns out many of these companies and CEOs are also members of the US Chamber of Commerce, the powerful Washington business lobby that recently put out a “key vote alert” against the For the People Act – designed to protect voting rights from state laws suppressing votes as well as from moneyed interest buying votes.

The hypocrisy is running thicker than ever. Corporate public relations departments put out noble statements while corporate legislative departments continue to put out legislative bribes. Billionaires like Warren Buffett publicly advocate higher taxes while privately paying almost zilch.

The For the People Act targets both white supremacists and wealth supremacists, which is why it’s hugely popular with the public but is running into roadblocks even among Senate Democrats.

This is the fight of our time.


Robert Reich

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The wealth of America's three richest families grew by 6,000% since 1982 | Chuck Collins
Three US families have a combined wealth of $348.7bn. As their generations expand, we are are drifting toward a society governed by the rich

Chuck Collins

31, Oct, 2018 @6:00 AM

Article image
Don't call Howard Schultz a billionaire. He's just a 'person of means' | Arwa Mahdawi
The former Starbucks CEO’s attempt to rebrand the b-word shows how the super-rich justify their immense wealth, says Guardian columnist Arwa Mahdawi

Arwa Mahdawi

06, Feb, 2019 @1:08 PM

Article image
The worst part of Trump paying zero taxes? It's probably entirely legal | Chuck Collins
The tax code has one set of rules for the super-rich and another for everyone else. A cottage industry exists to help them avoid taxes

Chuck Collins

02, Oct, 2020 @12:14 PM

Article image
Richest 25 Americans reportedly paid ‘true tax rate’ of 3.4% as wealth rocketed
ProPublica investigation shows how little US super-rich, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, reportedly paid between 2014 and 2018

Adam Gabbatt in New York

08, Jun, 2021 @6:52 PM

Article image
My plans to tax wealth as well as income would create a more equal society | Lisa Nandy
Under my leadership, Labour would redistribute wealth to tackle entrenched inequality and reward working people, says Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy

Lisa Nandy

26, Feb, 2020 @12:00 PM

Article image
The American economy is perilously fragile. Concentration of wealth is to blame | Robert Reich
The imbalance is more extreme than it’s been in over a century. We need to fix this structural problem before it’s too late

Robert Reich

23, Jun, 2021 @10:23 AM

Article image
The 1% are uncomfortable with their wealth. But what good does that do? | Jamie Peck
In her new book Uneasy Street: The Anxieties of Affluence, the rich are conflicted about their power. Here’s what they can do to fix it

Jamie Peck

22, Sep, 2017 @1:00 PM

Article image
Epoch-changing attitudes to wealth and tax are engulfing Cameron | Steve Richards
The sums are relatively small for the prime minister’s world. Which blows apart the myth ‘we are all in this together’
Cameron faces questions over £200,000 gift from mother
David Cameron’s tax affairs: what the figures show

Steve Richards

11, Apr, 2016 @5:00 AM

Article image
How long can millennials keep living with their parents? This isn't sustainable | Jamie Peck
Some will no doubt attribute this to the unique moral depravity of the Kardashian generation. But don’t blame the crisis of capitalism on us

Jamie Peck

27, Apr, 2017 @2:54 PM

Article image
With working Americans' survival at stake, the US is bailing out the richest
Without significant oversight, Congress’s economic relief bill will leave millions of everyday Americans in financial peril

Morris Pearl and William Lazonick

13, Apr, 2020 @12:29 PM