Article One

Evaluating Candidates on Taxes

With the economy making voters nervous, candidates for public office are frantically crafting proposals and taking economic positions that include tax policy. This is great news, because in our view one of tax policy’s most important functions is to address economic inequality.

Of course, not all candidates share this value. But even for those who do, it can be difficult for voters to see through the rhetoric and arcane technicalities to evaluate their positions.

That's why we created Action Tools for evaluating candidates on taxes. These short documents contain descriptions and definitions of key progressive principles as well as sample questions that you can ask as you research candidates' proposals and positions. Use them to learn, challenge…and demand change.

Federal Candidates Tax Action Tool (PDF)

State Candidates Tax Action Tool (PDF)

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Article Two

Why Not Gratitude for Taxes?

"Ask a group of people to choose their favorite day of the year and you’ll get a lot of different answers -- a birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving. Ask them to choose their least favorite day of the year and the odds are good many will choose the same day, April 15th, tax day.

"As a former investment banker and successful private investor, I have more reasons than most to dislike tax day. But in my current role as a research psychologist, I’d like to offer my fellow high-income taxpayers some advice on why April 15th should be celebrated rather than feared," wrote Responsible Wealth member Eric Schoenberg earlier this month.

Read Eric Schoenberg’s full article.

Read "Tax Pride Day," from last year, by UFE staffer Karen Kraut.

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Article Three

More Evidence Shows Economic Rules are Rigged

The next time someone tells you they think our economy is fair, here’s new proof that it’s not.

New calculations of IRS data by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty show that over the past three decades income has skyrocketed by 240 percent for the wealthiest 1 percent, while for the bottom 90 percent it increased only 10 percent. In fact, just between 2005 and 2006, average income adjusted for inflation of the top 1 percent grew by $73,000 (or 7 percent), while the average income of the bottom 90 percent grew by just $20 (or 0.1 percent). (In 2006, the top 1 percent were those with incomes above $375,000, and the bottom 90 percent were those with incomes below $105,000.)

So, what does it tell us that incomes are growing faster for those at the top? Clearly the rules that govern income growth in our economy are rigged in favor of the already rich.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The same data show that in the three decades after World War II, things were reversed: incomes for the top 1 percent grew only 25 percent, while for the bottom 90 percent they grew 92 percent.

Among the rules that changed between then and now are union-busting, trade liberalization, deregulation, and tilted tax policies. Time to change them back?

Read Sam Pizzigati’s take in the newsletter Too Much.

See the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the data.

Find Emmanual Saez’ recent article here (PDF).

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Article Four

Give Up Your Riches Or Face Eternal Damnation!

Maybe greed doesn’t say it all. In updating the Catholic Church’s mission, Pope Benedict XVI has issued seven new sins, including social injustice, causing poverty, and extreme wealth. This help in the struggle for economic justice comes from an unusual source, but it could have an impact around the globe and even in the United States. Still, we don’t expect to see Mel Gibson on our list of major donors anytime soon.

Find the AP story here.

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Article Five

New Accessible Books Turn a Critical Eye on Wealth and Finance

UFE friend and neighbor Dollars & Sense has just published new editions of two important books, The Wealth Inequality Reader and Real World Banking and Finance.

The second edition of The Wealth Inequality Reader features 42 engaging essays that explore the causes and consequences of wealth inequality, as well as strategies for change. It contains the latest statistics on wealth in easy-to-read charts, tables, and illustrations and is co-edited by the Dollars & Sense Collective and UFE. Contributors include such familiar names as Gar Alperovitz, Chuck Collins, Bill Fletcher, Ellen Frank, William Greider, Paul Krugman, Meizhu Lui, Kevin Phillips, and more.

Real World Banking and Finance, fifth edition, provides progressive insights into the changing role of banks, the stock market, the Federal Reserve, financial services for the poor, international monetary issues, and much more. An essential resource for anyone wondering how the financial industry got into the current crisis and where it’s headed.

Buy books and learn more about Dollars & Sense.

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Article Six

How Are We Doing?

We launched a redesigned website a few months ago. What do you think? Please take 5 minutes to fill out a quick survey to let us know. Your feedback will help us improve the site and plan the next features. Thanks!

Click here to take survey.


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"Without UFE’s workshops and accessible information on economic inequality, I wouldn’t be able to do my work. Nobody else is doing what UFE does."

- Gabe Camacho, AFSC Project Voice Regional Organizer