VIDEO: The U.S. War in Afghanistan Is Now 16 Years Old. Trump Has No Plans to End It.

On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The war is now 16 years old — and that’s not even counting the decade of U.S. intervention in the country during the Cold War.

Donald Trump once advocated the “speedy withdrawal” of U.S. troops from that country. As president, however, he’s gone in the opposite direction, demanding the U.S. must now “fight to win.” 

As Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism project, explains in this short video, Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. He’s not said how many new troops he’ll send or how long they’ll be deployed. Worse still, civilian casualties in multiple U.S. wars have been on the rise since he took office — by 67 percent in just six months.

It’s clear by now that the solution to terrorism won’t come from using military power, Bennis explains. That can only be achieved by diplomacy. “It’s harder, it takes longer, it’s not as sexy, it’s not sexy on CNN, it’s not any of those things,” she concludes. “But it’s the only thing that will work.” 

Video by Victoria Borneman and Peter Certo.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/TwhtGpwWquc/

Germany and the Rise of a ‘Fascist International’

Merakel-European-Council-Flickr

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (Photo: European Council / Flickr Commons)

Germany got its very own electoral shock this week when the far right won 13 percent of the vote in country’s parliamentary elections.

For the first time in more than half a century, the far right will be represented in the German parliament, with more than 90 seats. Although it’s now Germany’s third most popular party — behind the Christian Democrats (CDU) and the Social Democrats (SDP) — the Alternative for Germany (AfD) is still too toxic to become part of a ruling coalition.

But the AfD will have influence well beyond its numbers. “In a nutshell,” Deutsche Wellereports, “things are about to get a lot nastier.”

The AfD’s electoral victory has destroyed the taboo in Germany that has kept the far right on the fringes. It will inevitably pull the ruling Christian Democrats further to the right, particularly on social issues like immigration. It may even have an impact on the ongoing discussions about the fate of the European Union.

Beyond Germany, the AfD’s success will give a shot in the arm to other far-right formations, particularly after the National Front’s losses in the last French elections. Looking a little further down the road, if it manages to return to parliament in the next election, the AfD will qualify for government money to create its own party foundation, which will enable Germany’s far right to spread its message all over the world.

Europe’s rebellion against liberalism — in both its economic and social versions — is continuing to shake up politics as usual. An equally unsettling question, though, is how much it will shake up geopolitics as usual.

What the AfD Wants

The far right in Germany has followed much the same script as the Tea Party and the Trump movement in the United States.

It began in 2013 with several academics angry about the Eurozone (and, by extension, the European Union). But just like economist Dave Brat was an obscure political hopeful until he started talking about the so-called “threat” of immigrants in Virginia — and ended up taking House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s seat in 2014 — the AfD only became truly popular by stoking anti-immigrant sentiment.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Christian Democrats welcomed refugees into Germany in 2015 — an influx, to date, of around 1.3 million people — the AfD began to peel away support from the center-right CDU. Even the purportedly moderate faces of the AfD, like Jorg Muethen, have made statements like, “in some German cities, I struggle to find Germans on the streets,” thus equating German citizenship with skin color or other external markers.

The party has advocated border controls — effectively abrogating the Schengen system of free movement within many EU member states — as well as new border patrols. Frauke Petry, a party leader who is also considered a moderate, has said that these new border police units should shoot at migrants if necessary as they try to make it into the country.

Central to the anti-immigrant message has been Islamophobia. The party plastered the streets of Germany with posters like one that showed two young, bikini-clad women from behind that read, “Burkas? We like bikinis.” On Facebook, it distributed an ad showing bloody tire tracks with the caption, “The tracks left by the world chancellor in Europe,” linking Merkel’s refugee policy to terrorist attacks around the continent.

The party has other deeply disturbing positions, like its denial of climate change. But what has caused some division within the party is its attitude toward German history. One party leader, Bjorn Hocke, has called for a “180-degree turnaround” in German attitudes about the Nazi era. Since current German policy is firmly in the camp of condemnation of Nazis, it’s quite sobering to imagine the kind of policy that Hocke prefers.

This German corollary to Trump’s appeal to white supremacists and neo-Nazis has divided the party. Frauke Petry abruptly walked out of an AfD press conference this week after announcing that she wouldn’t sit in parliament with the party faction. Reportedly, Petry has wanted to purge the party of its extremist elements — at least those who take an extremist position on the history question — just as Marine Le Pen attempted to clean up the National Front by kicking her anti-Semitic father out of the French far-right party.

According to Spiegel’s analysis of AfD’s likely MPs, 35 of 94 are “right wing extremists.” So, it’s not just about a purge of one or two bad apples. Expect the AfD to split along the same realoand fundi — realist vs. fundamentalist — fault line of the Greens.

A key connection between AfD and Trump, the UK Independence Party, and right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is their ad man, Vincent Harris. He’s responsible for the bikini and tire tracks ad campaigns. He’s adept at fusing anti-immigrant, Islamophobic, and race-baiting messages. But with one of his suggestions for the AfD, Harris went too far. The party rejected his suggestion of “Germany for Germans” as a campaign slogan. Perhaps it will resurface in the next election, if the so-called moderates abandon the party.

Finally, what would a modern election be without Russian interference?

In the lead-up to the election, several major newspapers noted that Russian involvement in the German vote was scant. Perhaps they spoke too soon. First to consider are the Russian speakers, those with German heritage who’ve relocated to Germany since the 1980s — the right kind of immigrants from AfD’s point of view. The AfD estimates that fully one-third of its support comes from this constituency, and it has helped the party become the second most popular one in former East Germany.

Then there was the obligatory visit to Moscow, as Petry made her pilgrimage last February and met with, among others, the truly beyond-the-pale politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky. As the election entered its last phase, the usual trolls and Twitter bots came out to play, at least some of them Russians supporting AfD.

Again, as with Trump, the Kremlin isn’t interested in promoting a particular party in the hopes that it will win or reorient the country’s foreign policy. It simply wants to shake up a status quo that it perceives as tilted against Russia.

Has the Right Already Won?

Even though the radical right has lost some recent elections — notably in France and in the Netherlands — it has nevertheless transformed the debate in Europe.

Consider the immigration situation. This month, the two-year program to relocate 160,000 migrants from Greece and Italy to other EU member states came to an end. It managed to relocate only 28,000 people, and only with great effort. Some countries — notably Poland and Hungary — refused to locate a single migrant. More than 20 member states failed to meet their obligatory target by 50 percent.

Far right populists poisoned the discourse on immigration, denouncing millions of people as well as linking this “scourge” to the EU, multiculturalism, and liberal politics more generally. Throughout the continent, EU member states are tightening their immigration laws, increasing the number of deportations, and sweeping away informal settlements like the “Jungle” in the northern French town of Calais.

“The right-wing populists have already won the upcoming elections in Europe, no matter what the outcome is,” writes Krsto Lazarevic in Deutsche Welle. “The EU has done away with human rights and Western standards of civilization by cooperating with the Libyan coastguard, African dictators, and deporting people back to war zones.”

Then there’s the issue of helping countries like Greece exit their perpetual financial crisis. Discussions this week between Athens and Eurozone officials seem to point the way toward fresh loans and the prospect of Greece becoming fiscally independent by next August. But if Merkel has to bring the Free Democrats into a coalition government, she’ll have to reckon with that party’s “red line” on reforming the Eurozone to facilitate “fiscal transfers” to countries like Greece. The Euroskeptic AfD will rejoice.

Elsewhere in Europe

The French turned back the tide of hatred in the last presidential and parliamentary elections. The National Front, once seemingly on an unstoppable roll, now has only eight seats in parliament, and its leader Marine Le Pen presides over a fractious party.

In the wake of Le Pen’s losses, pundits wondered if Trump has had a bracing effect on Europe. Europeans see how Trump has transformed the United States into a three-ring circus, and they want none of it.

But that’s France. Elsewhere, the far right continues its march.

In Norway, for instance, the right-wing Progress Party pulled in a respectable 15 percent in September elections, good enough for it to continue as a coalition partner with the Conservative Party. But perhaps that’s because the Progress Party, despite its anti-immigrant and pro-nationalist approach, isn’t quite as crazy as the National Front.

A more authentically radical right is poised to take over in Austria in elections next month. There, the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) is polling even better than the AfD — in the low 20s. It would be doing even better if the center-right People’s Party hadn’t started to take up its anti-immigration, Islamophobic message. The bullet dodged at the end of last year when independent Alexander Van der Bellen defeated Freedom Party leader Norbert Hofer seems to have taken a boomerang trajectory.

Worse, the center right in Austria, unlike its counterpart in Germany, has no problems with forming a government with the far right. Given that one-third of Austrians don’t want to live next to Muslims — more than in Germany or France or Switzerland — it can count on considerable popular support for such a coalition.

In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, a certifiably Trump-like figure is likely to win next month’s presidential election. Andrej Babis, currently the finance minister, is a billionaire who’s skeptical of the European Union and wants to close the EU’s borders to keep out immigrants. His involvement in a corruption scandal involving one of his enterprises illegally receiving EU subsidies — oh, the hypocrisy! — doesn’t seem to have harmed his popular standing.

The AfD’s win may well encourage this political trajectory in Europe and beyond. It’s still hard to imagine the party successfully pushing through legislation or having much impact on governance. But if the party gets above 5 percent of the vote in the next parliamentary elections, it will win the right to form its own international foundation. Of course, the Bundestag might deploy various stalling tactics to prevent such an official funding stream — as it did when the left-wing Die Linke qualified — but there’s a strong bias in German political culture to observe the rules.

I’ve worked with German foundations all over the world: Friedrich Ebert (Social Democrats), Friedrich Naumann (Free Democrats), Heinrich Boll (the Green Party), and Rosa Luxemburg (Die Linke). Funded by German taxpayers, they’ve all provided valuable support for civil society and in promoting useful exchange of ideas.

The prospect of German government money helping to spread far right-wing politics globally is a nightmare scenario. Germany just took one step closer to helping globalize the alt-right and recycle from history’s dustbin something that ought never again see the light of day: a Fascist International.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/8dt6pObBbNE/

VIDEO: Busting Trump’s Tax Myths

President Trump begins a barn-storming tour to tout his tax plan, we’ve released a short video rebutting some of the most common Republican myths about corporate tax cuts. Trump has claimed that we’ll “see a rocket ship” once his tax plan is adopted — that’s just how much he wants us to believe the economy will take off.

But as predicted, the plan he and congressional Republican leaders released on September 27 would primarily benefit the wealthy and big corporations. For the rest of us, it would be a dud.

In this video, IPS tax expert Sarah Anderson goes head-to-head with President Trump to rebut his corporate tax cut claims. Trump says his plan will make the economy take off like a rocket. Anderson explains why it will really be a “Rocket for the Rich.”

On the corporate side, the video shows Trump claiming that slashing the federal tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent will lead to huge numbers of new U.S. jobs. Many researchers have dispelled this myth, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, theEconomic Policy Institute, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

At the Institute for Policy Studies, we recently took a novel approach by analyzing the 92 U.S. publicly held corporations that paid an effective tax rate of less than 20 percent from 2008-2015. What we found is that overall these tax-dodging firms had median job growth of negative one percent, compared to a six percent employment increase among U.S. private sector firms as a whole. Not surprisingly, we found that some of the proceeds from this tax savings were winding up instead in higher-than-average pay for their CEOs.

The video also rebuts the president’s claim that U.S. corporations pay more in taxes than firms in other globally competitive countries. Because of all the loopholes in the U.S. tax code, government revenue from corporations is actually lower in the United States than the average for industrialized countries. And the new Republican plan gives very little detail on what loopholes they might close. At the same time, the plan offers huge new tax breaks to corporations, including allowing multinationals to pay little-to-no taxes on the profits they book offshore.

In short, Trump’s tax cuts would be like a rocket ship — but only for big corporations and the 1%. For ordinary Americans, it would mean deep cuts to Medicare, Society Security, and other services.

As he travels around the United States, let’s hope Trump hears from the majority of Americans who reject the “trickle down” theory that tax cuts grow the economy and create jobs. It’s time for the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share.

Video by Victoria Borneman and Peter Certo.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/xiY9L7BZc70/

Report: I Dream Detroit

Report coming soon.

As Detroit’s resurgence continues to garner local, regional and national attention, a new ground- breaking report and project seek to amplify the voices of those most absent from the public discourse on the city’s future—women of color.

The I Dream Detroit project works to bring the experience and ideas of women of color from all walks of life more fully to bear in shaping Detroit’s development plans. In Detroit, women make up 53 percent of the city’s population. Among all women, 91 percent are women of color (Black, Asian and Latina) and a substantial portion of them live below the poverty line (56 percent of Latinas, 55 percent of Asians, and 40 percent of African Americans). Despite these odds and others, families led by women of color are self-employed and employ others as business owners, run nonprofits, hold public office, pick themselves up after incarceration and help those in need. Detroit-based social activist Grace Lee Boggs called these everyday waymakers “solutionairies.”

I Dream Detroit launched in spring 2016 with a series of meetings with direct service providers, small business owners, community activists, union leaders and elected officials from across the city. These leaders now serve as ongoing advisors and partners. Last summer, I Dream Detroit held six focus groups with partner organizations in different neighborhoods that attracted more than 100 women. Additionally, nearly 500 women offered their opinions through a citywide survey.

The project is grounded in the belief that amplifying the voices of women of color—both those most affected by poverty and those implementing effective strategies for change—is essential to Detroit’s long-term progress. “How is it that the images I see about Detroit’s revival don’t often include these women?” asks I Dream Detroit report author Kimberly Freeman Brown, a Washington, D.C.-based expert on gender and racial equity and inclusion issues. “Imagining and building a new Detroit without their meaningful participation will prevent Detroit from fully coming into its potential and promise.”

We also believe that focusing on the economic well-being of women is a way of securing the well-being of children. Toward this end, the overarching goal of the project is to reimagine Detroit’s approach to addressing economic development by putting women of color and their children at the center. Ideally, doing so will demonstrate the need for a more balanced economic change in Detroit and what it will take to achieve economic security for more of its citizens.

I Dream Detroit, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Black Worker Initiative, a national think tank based in Washington, D.C. “The eyes of our nation are watching what happens in Detroit,” says Black Worker Initiative Director and I Dream Detroit Project Director Marc Bayard. “As cities begin to climb out of the hole created by the Great Recession, emerging opportunities to prosper can’t be for a select few. We must innovate and build economies that allow everyone to thrive. And that requires surfacing fresh ideas from new voices.”

I Dream Detroit will culminate with the October 2017 release of a photojournalistic report featuring the results of the survey and focus groups. Additionally, the report will document the struggles and successes of 15 women whose lives reflect the travails and triumphs of women of color in Detroit.

“We believe the report will greatly inform Detroit’s ongoing economic development planning,” says Brown. “And we’ll introduce to some, or re-introduce to others, new partners that economic development leaders should be working with more closely.”

For more information on I Dream Detroit, contact: Delora Hall Tyler, First Media Group (248) 354-8705 or delorahtyler@firstmediagroup.net.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/qGekqMAi7Ys/

As Harmful Spending Policies Loom, IPS Teams Up with Federal Budget Experts

Media Contact:
Domenica Ghanem, 202-787-5205, domenica@ips-dc.org

(Washington, DC) — While congressional leaders are pushing a plan to cut taxes for the rich, Congress is considering an $ 80 billion increase in military spending. It is harmful spending policies like these that have brought groups like the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the National Priorities Project (NPP) together.

On October 2, 2017, NPP and its leading experts on the federal budget will come under the umbrella of IPS. The National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies will continue its work at making the federal budget accessible to the American public so that ordinary folks can participate in critical debates about federal spending and revenue.

While NPP at IPS will remain at its Northampton, Massachusetts location, it will take on new national significance as it teams up with other IPS projects focused on racial justice, climate justice, and peace and foreign policy.

The addition of NPP to our other projects is already helping IPS expand our work on:

  • Linking job cuts by tax-dodging corporations to devastating cuts to services that could be triggered by an immoral tax reform plan
  • Exposing the interplay between poverty, racism, militarism, and the climate crisis in the U.S. in a landmark report for the new Poor People’s campaign
  • Employing facts to clear the fog of fear around rising tensions with North Korea to spread the message of diplomacy over war
  • Outlining policy proposals to transfer funds from the military budget to a climate security budget to address one of the most pressing dangers of our time

“We couldn’t be happier for NPP to leverage their work and find synergies with existing IPS programs — especially on military spending,” IPS Director John Cavanagh said. “Both political parties have claimed that there’s just not enough money in the federal budget for needs like universal health care, or debt-free higher education. But NPP’s work has exposed that lie and shown that we’re wasting billions of dollars a year and destroying millions of lives in endless wars in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.”

“This is a natural partnership given how interconnected our issues are: from peace and security, to economic and racial justice, to climate change.” NPP at IPS project director Lindsay Koshgarian said. “We’re facing many challenges today — from threats of war with Iran to threats of a tax plan that would line the pockets of overpaid CEOs. Misinformation fuels these threats, as it fueled our current endless wars in the Middle East. The need for a reality check has never been greater and joining IPS will result in a stronger NPP, with deeper ties to grassroots movements and new audiences for our work. “

###

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/UjkyCgEJwSc/

We Get Sick, They Get Rich

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/MFKxvV6AqLQ/

Can Anti-Racist Businesses Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is?

wall-street-sign-american-us-flag

(Photo: Stuart Monk / Shutterstock)

Donald Trump’s failure to condemn White supremacists after the violent neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville several weeks back had an unexpected casualty: the president’s business advisory councils.

My partner works for a Fortune 500 company whose CEO sat on one those councils. Along with many other employees, my partner had been pressuring the CEO through an internal petition for some time.

Eventually, the dam broke: CEO after CEO decided they could no longer associate themselves with the White House after the incident, forcing Trump to dissolve two high-level panels.

I’m glad my partner’s efforts, along with bigger ones like a campaign to target “Corporate Backers of Hate,” rattled these major corporations’ top decision makers.

Corporate execs know that it’s bad for business to be affiliated with racists — and good for business to look like heroes. While rejecting racism is good, it’s a low bar — especially when many still profit off it.

Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, jumped into action after Charlottesville. He not only issued a statement, but also announced that JP Morgan Chase would donate $ 500,000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that’s fought racism since the 1970s.

It was a smart business move. The last time JP Morgan was on the wrong side of racism, it cost them $ 55 million in settlements for charging Black and brown people higher rates for their mortgages. Looking at that number, a $ 500,000 donation is a drop in the bucket.

The company can’t take back the discrimination lawsuits or its part in the housing crisis, which slashed Black wealth in this country in half. That’s a huge percentage. Black families had already been denied centuries of wealth accumulation due to slavery and racist policies like redlining, and this crisis was a double whammy.

$ 500,000 also isn’t enough to make up for the bank’s financing of mass incarceration.

JP Morgan Chase lent hundreds of millions of dollars to Geo Group and CoreCivic, two major operators of private prisons and immigrant detention centers, despite investor concerns .

All that dirty money makes Dimon’s comments in support of DACA after Trump’s decision to repeal it also ring a little hollow.

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program created by the Obama administration that protects some young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

It’s hard to believe that Dimon truly thinks that “when people come here to learn, work hard, and give back to their communities, we should allow them to stay in the United States” when his company supports corporations that profit from warehousing immigrants in detention.

White supremacy doesn’t just look like KKK hoods and swastikas — it can also wear a business suit on Wall Street. Of the top five Wall Street firms, the highest level decision makers are 86 percent white. That’s no coincidence.

Corporations have huge power they can use to fight structural racism. But it’s got to be more than just words.

JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs could publicly commit to pull contracts that contribute to mass incarceration. IBM could refuse contracts that contribute to violent immigration enforcement activities. Wells Fargo could halt its financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Native lands. At a minimum, that’s what the Corporate Backers of Hate campaign recommends.

And, by looking inward at their hiring policies, promotion policies, and pay scales, these businesses can begin building towards long term equality.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing that they denounced hatred. I just hope they’ll put their money with their mouth is.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/dBUxwUurUIs/

The Dark Side of Hosting the Olympics

Homeless man holding sign 'Very Hungry Please'

(Photo: EyeTunes / Flickr)

This summer, Los Angeles officials reached a deal with the International Olympic Committee to host the 2028 Olympic Summer Games.

For its trouble, the city hopes to generate hundreds of millions in savings and additional revenues. However, over the past few decades, world sporting events have come with a huge price tag for their host cities’ residents — especially the poorest ones.

After the medals are awarded and the fireworks die down, these are the residents are left to deal with the results.

I can still remember watching Dominique Dawes and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team win the first U.S. women’s gold medal in their sport at the Atlanta games in 1996. However, many Atlanta residents better remember the country’s first project housing project, Techwood, and the neighboring Clark Howell complex being destroyed to make way for this gold medal occasion.

The city relocated 6,000 residents from public housing leading up to the Olympics. After the games, rapid gentrification followed, displacing another 24,000 people, the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions calculates.

The pattern replayed itself in Brazil, which hosted the 2014 World Cup. I remember sitting in my apartment cheering on Ghana and laughing while my friends reenacted the soccer team’s dance moves. What we couldn’t see from our television screens were the stark levels of inequality that blighted the host country.

Though Brazil was ranked 12th globally in social inequality, the government managed to find $ 14 billion to host the games, money that could’ve been spent to benefit poor and working Brazilians. To make matters worse, more than 250,000 people were either directly or indirectly forced to leave their homes — often violently.

Brazil didn’t learn its lesson, apparently, because more violence followed in advance of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. About 70,000 people were displaced by the Olympics, and almost a thousand poor people — mostly black men — were killed during “pacification” efforts to clean up the city’s image between 2015 and summer 2016.

These examples only highlight a small picture of the inequality these games bring to hosting cities. According to a 2008 report, the six Summer Olympics held between the 1988 Seoul Games and the 2008 Beijing Games forcibly evicted or otherwise displaced more than 2 million people.

Though Los Angeles is famous for its conspicuous wealth, it also has the highest rate of chronic homelessness in the United States and struggles to provide affordable housing to its residents. Even with these issues, LA officials believe they can protect themselves from the dark legacy of world sporting events.

The city will receive $ 160 million from the IOC to fund youth sports programs in the city. They also plan to use facilities already there, including the new football stadium currently being built, and to use UCLA to host the Olympic Village.

By not having to build new facilities to host the games, officials believe they will minimize displacement. Officials also say the 11-year wait will give them an opportunity to develop a failure-proof plan.

L.A.’s bid committee estimated it will cost $ 5.3 billion to stage the games. But if they’re wrong about displacement, imagine the cost to the families left without homes.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/JyZYgl3FL78/

Black and Latino Families Will Be Broke in a Few Decades if We Don’t Fix the Wealth Divide

Black women equal pay

(Image: Shutterstock)

Many people see progress on racial equity in the U.S. as a steady march forward, in which people of color become more equal with their White counterparts as the years go by.

Those are people who don’t pay attention to household wealth figures.

A new report I co-authored, “The Road to Zero Wealth,” looks at the past 30 years of wealth accumulation across racial lines, as well as what the future will bring if current trends continue. Our findings were bleak.

The divide between the wealth of a typical Black family and a typical White family today is vast. A median Black family has just $ 1,700 in wealth—total assets minus total debt. Thirty years ago, that same family had $ 6,800 in today’s dollars. Latino families at the median have similarly small assets, just $ 2,000, also seeing a decline over the past three decades.

White median household wealth, meanwhile, is significantly higher: $ 116,800, up from $ 102,000 over the same period.

So Black and Latino families at the middle have seen their wealth slip while white families in the middle saw their wealth rise. What does this look like projected into the future?

By 2053, just 10 years after the country is projected to become majority non-White, Black median families will own zero wealth if current trends continue. Twenty years later, Latino median families will follow suit. White median families will continue to own six figures.

Even those Black and Latino families who’ve achieved the traditional markers of middle class life—a good-paying job and a college degree—still lag far behind their White counterparts in terms of wealth. Black and Latino families with a member holding a four-year degree own just a fifth of the wealth of equivalent White families. In fact, they own less wealth than a White family whose head has just a high school diploma.

These numbers represent a troubling trend in which assets and economic opportunities are channeled away from families of color and toward White families.

The enduring legacy of slavery and the Jim Crow era contribute to this growing divide. For instance, just 2% of the heavily subsidized mortgages made available by the Federal Housing Administration in the 30 years following the Great Depression went to non-White households. Homes are the biggest asset most middle-class families own, so this sort of federally sanctioned discrimination created a huge, inter-generational disadvantage for the Black and Latino families left out.

Modern public policy decisions rooted in expanding inequality also play a significant role. One such policy is America’s complex system of tax expenditures—essentially discounts handed out to certain groups and individuals that together total more than a half a trillion dollars in public spending each year.
One example is the mortgage interest deduction, a tax break designed to promote homeownership. Unfortunately, the deduction is only available to those who itemize their tax returns, which skews the beneficiaries heavily toward the already wealthy—who are disproportionally White.

Changing our priorities around tax incentives, as well as investments in bold new programs like Children’s Savings Accounts (CSA) and a federal jobs guarantee, could reverse the decades-long rise in the racial wealth divide. Had Congress instituted a robust universal CSA program in 1979—seeding small savings and investment accounts for all children that could mature as they grew older—the white-Latino wealth gap would have disappeared by now and the white-black gap would have dropped by 82%.

Policy changes like these would require bold leadership from across the federal government, including Congress and the White House. In today’s political atmosphere, marked most often by scandal and regressive policy decrees as well as congressional gridlock, this does not appear forthcoming.

The good news, however, is that the policies needed to begin to turn the tide on our growing divide are readily at hand. We know what the problem is and how to fix it. Building the political will, and political power, to put such policies in play is the next step.

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/eOv-_-hwCxk/

INDIANA FARMER CAMPAIGNING WITH TRUMP TO REPEAL ESTATE TAX CASHED $3.3 M IN FARM SUBSIDY CHECKS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, September 27, 2017

Contact: Jessicah Pierre, jessicah@ips-dc.org617-401-1470
Chuck Collins, chuck@ips-dc.org617-308-4433
Domenica Ghanem, domenica@ips-dc.org202 787 5205

Kip Tom, the Leesburg, Indiana farmer who will stand today with President Trump calling for repeal of the federal estate tax, has cashed in over $ 3.3 million in farm subsidy checks, including $ 2.6 million between 2004 and 2014, according to the most recent data available.

Research compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies based on publicly available data reveals that Kip Tom of Tom Farms, a large corn and soybean producer, is the ninth-largest farm subsidy recipient in the state of Indiana.

“The definition of hubris is to complain about your taxes but cash millions in checks provided by other taxpayers,” said Chuck Collins, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies.  “I’d be embarrassed.”

Tom Farms has changed legal status over the last 20 years, but received subsidies every year. Between 2004 and 2014, Tom Farms Partners received $ 2,612,561 in subsidies, mostly commodity subsidies. Between 1996 and 2006, Tom Farms LLC cashed $ 667,732 in farm subsidy checks. In 1995, Kip Tom took in $ 42,826 in subsidies, but then refunded $ 17,494 for a net subsidy of $ 25,332. Between 1995 and 2014, this amounts to over $ 3,305,625 in government subsidies.

Republicans have often used farmers and ranchers as props to give the impression that a wide swath of hard-working Americans are threatened by what they call the “death tax.”  In reality, only families with over $ 11 million in wealth and individuals with wealth over $ 5.45 million are subject to this tax.  Nationwide, fewer than two out of a thousand estates are subject to the estate tax, which, if left intact, would raise over $ 230 billion in much-needed revenue over the next decade.

“If you want to see who would benefit from estate tax repeal, look no further than President Trump and his cabinet,” said Collins, who co-authored a 2003 book with Bill Gates Sr. in defense of the estate tax, Wealth and Our Commonwealth.  Collins is director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies, a 52-year old research institute, and co-editor of the website, Inequality.org.

Very few farms are subject to the estate tax and already have different valuations and carve out provisions. Most of the people who pay the estate tax are wealthy and based in urban and coastal areas.

Organizations that represent small farmers, like the National Farmers Union and the Family Farm Coalition, support retention of the estate tax.  They believe concentrations of wealth, farmland and farm subsidies post a threat to competitive agriculture. Over 41 percent of Indiana farmers do not receive any subsidies, according to the USDA.

###

|||||||http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/IPS/latest/~3/SxpA1T1Vzjw/