Hey Any Bernie Sanders News Today?
Yr Wonkette would like to wish Bernie Sanders a speedy recovery after some chest discomfort Tuesday evening sent him off to a hospital, where doctors found an arterial blockage and inserted two stents. His campaign team has cancelled his appearances for the time being. A campaign aide told the New York Times Sanders "feels better than ever because that's how people feel after they get a stent and there's more blood flow." Now don't overdo it, OK? As Wonkette's Stephen Robinson points out, if this were anyone other than a presidential candidate, their doctor would probably NOT recommend a year of sleeping badly, eating randomly (and state fair food at that), incessant travel, and the ridiculous stress of the always-on news cycle.
Which means Sanders, 78, is likely to be back out campaigning within a couple of weeks, because the people who run for president are every bit as crazy as the system we use to elect them. Take care of yourself, ya nut, so you can ease back into things. Maybe, while convalescing, Sanders can come up with some nice relaxing policy proposals, like his plan, released Monday, to fight income inequality by raising taxes on companies where CEO pay is grossly disproportionate to what average workers get. (This is what we in the writing biz call a "transition." A really clumsy one!)
The plan is simplicity itself: For starters, Sanders wants Congress to raise the regular corporate tax rate to the pre-Trump rate of 35 percent. On top of that, the biggest corporations, those with annual revenue over $100 million, would be subject to increased taxes if their CEO (or other top earner) makes more than 50 times the company's median worker pay. As it happens, Sanders notes, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) already requires publicly traded companies to reveal to the public their CEO-to-median-worker pay ratios, so there wouldn't be any new record-keeping needed. Private companies, like say the Trump Organization, would have to do the same, however, and would be subject to the inequality tax as well.
That reporting requirement is why we know just how insane the gap between average worker pay and CEO compensation is, as Sanders points out:
• Walmart's CEO made $23.6 million last year, 1,076 times more than the median Walmart worker's $21,952.
• Jamie Dimon made over $30 million last year, 381 times more than the median JPMorganChase employee's $78,923.
• Home Depot's CEO made more than $11.4 million, 486 times more than the median Home Depot employee's $23,389.
The amount of extra tax would be increased the bigger the gap between workers and CEOs is. For a mere 50-to-one earnings gap, a company would pay one percent more tax. For the biggest pay gaps, over 500 times median employee income, that would go up five percentage points.
If the plan had been in place in 2018, Team Sanders calculates,
• McDonald's would have paid up to $110.9 million more in taxes.
• Walmart would have paid up to $793.8 million more in taxes.
• JPMorganChase would have paid up to $991.6 million more in taxes.
Sanders says the purpose is twofold. The new revenue would go to pay for his proposal to pay down Americans' medical debts, but more importantly, it's meant to send a message to greedheads: Knock it off with making top executives filthy rich off the labor of your employees.
The American people want corporations to invest in their workers, not just dividends, stock buybacks and outrageous compensation packages to their executives. That's what this plan is all about.
And yes, the Treasury Department would need to issue regulations to prevent tax avoidance, like making sure CEOs aren't secretly paid in hookers and blow in offshore Erotodomes.
Vox notes that the idea isn't peculiar to Sanders:
Portland, Oregon has implemented a similar tax on a local level which fully went into effect last year. San Francisco plans to vote on a CEO tax measure next year, and similar proposals have been considered in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island. Federally, Reps. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced a bill proposing national CEO-to-worker pay ratio tax on publicly held companies in 2016. It has the backing of former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, as well as several leading economists on income inequality, like Thomas Piketty.
As of yet, Portland, whose CEO tax went into effect in 2018, can't say the new tax has had a measurable effect on income inequality, but it's been good for the city's budget; it's projected to raise $3.5 million in its first year, which is a LOT of free-trade coffee. That's less than a tenth of one percent of the city's $621 million general fund, but it gets the point across: We prefer you NOT rip off your workers, OK? More to the point, Portland has not been deserted by job creators.
And as Billy Joel noted, nobody should have to work so hard they have a heart at-tack-ack-ack-ack ack.
COMMENTING NOTE FOR RADICALS: Don't be crass, don't wish ill on anyone, and don't ideate on what this might mean for your chosen candidate, you're not a ghoul, right? RIGHT? RIGHT.
[Sanders campaign / Vox / Oregonian]
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