After transferring over the bulk of his personal wealth to his “Open Society” Foundation - the umbrella organization for a network of dozens of political groups that push Soros’s far-left agenda across the US and Europe, Soros is still comfortable enough to justify giving away even more of his money - this time to the US federal government.
Taking a page out of Warren Buffett's book, Soros and a group of some 400 other rich Americans - including doctors, lawyers and CEOs - are sending a formal letter to Congress chiding lawmakers for trying to reduce taxes on the richest American families at a time when wealth inequality is rapidly expanding. Instead, the letter asks Congress not to pass any tax bill that “further exacerbates inequality” and adds to the debt (both of the current Republican plans would add $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years).
The letter was penned by Responsible Wealth, a group of “enlightened” rich people that includes Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, fashion designer Eileen Fisher and philanthropist Steven Rockefeller, in addition to Soros. Along with the big names are many individuals and couples who rank among the top 5% of Americans (those who have $1.5 million in assets or earn $250,000 or more a year).
In a rebuttal to Congress’s argument that corporate tax cuts will help stimulate growth, the letter argues that corporations are already reaping record profits. Instead of handing more money to the wealthy, the letter’s signers argue the government should use the funds to invest in education, research and roads that benefit everyone, while protecting entitlement programs like Medicaid.
In the letter, Congress’s push to repeal the estate tax was singled out for criticism. The tax, is only levied on assets worth more than $5.49 million ($11 million for couples) that are left to heirs. The House bill would eliminate the estate tax entirely. The Senate plan would double the threshold so people could inherit up to $11 million ($22 million for couples) tax free.
Only 5,000 families a year end up paying the estate tax. Under the Senate plan, that would drop to just 1,800 families, according to a report by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress's official nonpartisan estimators.
“Repealing the estate tax alone would lose an estimated $269 billion over 10 years — more than we would spend on the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and Environmental Protection Agency combined,” the letter said.
Bob Crandall, a former American Airlines CEO, told the Post “I think a tax cut is absurd,” he said. Republicans are “saying we can’t afford to spend money, but we can afford to give rich people a huge tax break.”
Unsurprisingly, most of the signers of the letter come from California, New York and Massachusetts - states that went for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the last election. Former labor secretary Robert Reich, a backer of Bernie Sanders, also signed the letter. The campaign was organized by Responsible Wealth in partnership with Voices for Progress, another liberal organization.
One of the letter’s signers, a wealthy paper-mill scion from New York, pointed out the seeming absurdity in wealthy people asking Congress not to cut their taxes.
“This has to be one of the few times members of Congress have been visited by people saying, 'Don’t give me a tax cut,'" said Mike Lapham, who inherited sizable wealth from his family's paper mill in Upstate New York and now directs the Responsible Wealth project at United for a Fair Economy. "Wealthy people are saying it themselves: We don't need a tax cut."
Of course, like most political stunts of this caliber, we imagine the letter will be promptly ignored by Republicans. And many of the letter’s signers probably recognize this, too. Because if anybody believed the letter might actually influence the decision-makers in Congress, instead of serving solely as an instrument for virtue-signaling, we imagine there’d be a lot fewer rich people willing to sign.
Read the full letter below:
* * *
Dear Member of Congress:
We are high net worth individuals, many in the top 1%, who care deeply about our nation and its people, and we write with a simple request: Do not cut our taxes.
As you consider changes to the tax code, we urge you to oppose any legislation that further exacerbates inequality. Tax reform should be, at a minimum, revenue neutral—without using gimmicks like dynamic scoring. We are deeply concerned that revenue loss would lead to deep cuts in critical services such as education, Medicare and Medicaid, and would hamper our nation’s ability to restore investments in our people and communities.
The Republican tax plan would disproportionately benefit wealthy individuals and corporations with provisions including repealing the estate tax, repealing the Alternative Minimum Tax, and slashing the top pass-through tax rate. This proposal would mean wealthy people could pay a lower tax rate than many middle-class families and transfer massive inheritances to their heirs tax-free. Such proposals that benefit the wealthy would exacerbate the current wealth disparity in the U.S. where the top 1% of households hold 42% of the wealth.
We believe the key to creating more good jobs and a strong economy is not tax breaks for those of us who have plenty, but investing in the American people. Our civic institutions that help people meet basic living standards and protect the climate are critical to supporting our prosperity as a nation. Yet, Congress is already shortchanging the investments needed to strengthen our economy, and the Administration and some in Congress are looking for deeper cuts. Current federal funding for non-defense discretionary spending was slashed overall by more than 13% (adjusted for inflation) over the past seven years, leaving many programs severely underfunded. While Congress should be finding ways to increase funding for these vital investments, the Republican tax plan would instead add at least $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the deficit over the next decade. This would leave us unable to meet our country’s current needs and restrict us in advancing any future investments.
A full repeal of the estate tax alone would lose an estimated $269 billion over 10 years —more than we would spend on the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, and Environmental Protection Agency combined. While these critical agencies help millions of people, repealing the estate tax would benefit just two out of every 1,000 estates. It is neither wise nor just to give wealthy people more tax breaks at the expense of working families, and it would be especially egregious to fund tax cuts for the wealthy by cutting or dismantling programs that help people meet fundamental human needs like healthcare or nutrition assistance.
Instead, we call on Congress to raise our taxes to bring in additional much-needed revenue and to restore investments to vital services. Doing so will help create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and ensure America’s economic success. Under no circumstance should tax reform lose revenue, especially to provide tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations.