United For A Fair Economy
MARCH 2008

Article One

Nation’s Most Progressive Tax Gets a Boost

On March 18 and 19, UFE helped 34 members and friends visit their Congresspeople in Washington, DC, to advocate for keeping the estate tax at a meaningful level. Most policy watchers believe the debate is no longer whether we keep the estate tax, but how much it will be.

As part of the Take Back America conference, Institute for Policy Studies fellow and UFE co-founder Chuck Collins spoke on a panel with other prominent estate tax champions such as Bill Gates Sr. and Barbara Ehrenreich. This inspirational session set the tone for the next day when we organized groups of pro-estate tax constituents to meet 41 tax and budget staffers in the Senate and House.

In many cases, staffers heard from wealthy people whose families paid or will pay the estate tax. The fact that these wealthy people support a strong estate tax gave our lobbying effort an important moral underpinning. Most are members of our Responsible Wealth program, which brings together wealthy people to work for economic justice and widespread prosperity.

Learn more about Lobby Day and see photos.

Learn more about the estate tax.

Learn more about Responsible Wealth.

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Article Two

Take the Tax Fairness Pledge

Behind the scenes, the Bush tax cuts continue to drain our nation’s capacity to provide vital services, fund education, invest in research and infrastructure, build a strong and sustainable economy, and assure fairness and opportunity. And yet, Bush, McCain, and others are pushing to make those tax cuts permanent!

You may not even realize that you are part of this, because your personal tax cuts are buried in the IRS calculations. But you can find out exactly what your share is and redirect your tax savings to tax fairness efforts with the Tax Fairness Pledge.

If you are wealthy, you have benefited most from these tax cuts – and you continue to benefit more. But you can reject tax cuts for the wealthy by taking the Tax Fairness Pledge. By doing so, you are saying that these irresponsible tax cuts don’t reflect your values and should be rolled back, not extended.

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Article Three

State Budget Woes Mean Opportunity for Progressive Tax Advocates

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reports that over half of the 50 states anticipate budget problems in the fiscal year 2009. The combined budget shortfall could be over $37 billion. To the extent that new taxes will be needed, there are major opportunities to make them progressive.

Helping out in some states will be UFE’s Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative (TFOC). This network enables sharing and learning among different statewide grassroots organizations that are educating and organizing for fair and adequate taxation. Through the TFOC, state tax advocates receive training, tools and other support to help them as they push for progressive tax policies.

See if your state is in the CBPP report.

See if your state is a member of the TFOC.

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How Do You Know Economic Inequality is Bad?

Some free-market boosters would have us believe that economic inequality is good because it pushes those with less to work harder. While the evidence is mixed on whether that’s true, what’s becoming more and more clear is that the cost to our health is significant.

A new documentary series on PBS, Unnatural Causes, looks at the root causes of health problems in the U.S. and finds that societal and institutional forces are much to blame. The first episode, airing Thursday evening, March 27, called In Sickness and in Wealth lays out the thesis – and proof – that economic and racial inequality are health issues as critical as genetics, diet and exercise.

Check your TV listings, and visit the Unnatural Causes website.
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Vote for UFE!

It's an election year, and UFE is on the ballot. Working Assets has chosen UFE as one of the organizations they will support in 2008.

If you're a customer of Working Assets, you already know that this progressive business donates a portion of profits to organizations working for social change. Your vote helps to decide where their contributions go. So vote for UFE to increase our support!

If you're not a customer, check them out. Each time you use one of Working Assets services – CREDO Mobile, CREDO Long Distance or the Working Assets Credit Card – a portion of the charge is donated to nonprofit groups working for peace, equality, human rights and the environment. To date, they've raised over $50 million for progressive causes – all of which are chosen by customers. Find out more about Working Assets.

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Responsible Wealth Members Share their Stories in the Media

Some families avoid conversations about finances – and some wealthy kids struggle with giving back. But three Responsible Wealth members are publicly sharing their efforts to pass down values and meaning to the next generation.

Profiled in a recent New York Times feature article, Responsible Wealth members Dal LaMagna, Frank Butler, and Martin Rothenberg call attention to how they are setting up legacies of charitable giving and social stewardship for their children and grandchildren.

We were able to make this happen because the writer at the Times called Mike Lapham looking for people to profile. These three were from among 15 or so folks who answered Mike’s call for volunteers.

We get this kind of request all the time – and not just for wealthy people. Whether you’re low, middle or high income, the media is interested in hearing your story and why economic justice is important to you. If you’re willing to share your story, we can help. Please contact Bob Keener or Mike Lapham.
The Color of Wealth:
The Story Behind
the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide

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April 2008, Cape Cod, MA
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