Report: The Poor People’s Campaign, 50 Years Later

In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders launched a Poor People’s Campaign to organize towards transformative actions to end poverty, racism, and militarism in America.

While this effort was undercut by King’s assassination, two prominent faith leaders — the Rev. Liz Theoharis and the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II — are launching a new multi-issue, multi-racial Poor People’s Campaign to recapture the spirit of that 1968 campaign.

To support this modern-day Poor People’s Campaign, the Institute for Policy Studies has produced an analysis of the campaign’s four core issues: racism, poverty, the war economy/militarism, and ecological destruction. The report finds that by many measures, these problems are worse today than they were five decades ago.  

For example, the report documents the increased number of Americans below the poverty line; the acceleration of economic inequality; the emergence of new forms of voter suppression laws and mass incarceration that further entrench systemic racism in America; the growing imbalance in federal discretionary spending on the military relative to social programs; and the intensification of racial and income disparities in access to clean air and water and exposure to environmental hazards.

This report is a preliminary analysis for release at the launch of the new Poor People’s Campaign on December 4, 2017. A more in-depth “audit” of these issues, including testimonials from many of the leading activists and thinkers of the past 50 years, will be released in 2018.

Key initial findings:

  • Compared to 1968, 60% more Americans are living below the official poverty line today — a total of 41 million people. And while the percentage of families in poverty has merely inched up and down, the top 1 percent’s share of national income has nearly doubled.
  • More than 50 years after the Voting Rights Act, people of color still face a broad range of barriers to democracy. According to the Brennan Center, 23 states have adopted voter suppression laws since 2010.
  • The criminalization of poverty and racially biased sentencing and policing practices have driven the number of prison inmates up eightfold since 1968, with the share who are people of color increasing from less than half to 66%. Federal spending on prisons has increased tenfold in real terms since 1976.
  • Spending trends also reflect increased scapegoating of immigrants. Between 1976 and 2015, federal expenditures on border control and immigration enforcement rose eightfold while the number of deportees grew tenfold.
  • The gap between our government’s discretionary spending on the military versus anti-poverty programs has grown from two-to-one at the height of the Vietnam War to four-to-one today. In the meantime, millions of lives have been lost in wars that have made us no safer, while “real security” in the form of good jobs, health care, and quality education remains beyond the reach of millions of Americans.
  • Since 1968, the environment has become less polluted, but the poor and people of color are bearing the brunt of climate change and suffering the most from environmental hazards. According to the CDC, for example, at least four million families with children are being exposed to high levels of lead, with low-income and people of color at greatest risk. And low-income families and people of color tend to be more likely to have living conditions and jobs that increase the health risks of extreme heat.

Find the full preliminary analysis here [PDF].

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New Report Underscores Massive Tax Giveaways to Private Jet Set

For Immediate Release: November 30, 2017

Contact:
Jessicah Pierre (617) 401-1470, jessicah@ips-dc.org
Chuck Collins (617) 308-4433
Josh Hoxie (508) 280-5005

Washington, D.C. – The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) today released a comprehensive report highlighting the massive tax giveaways extended by the tax bill under consideration in Congress to the private jet industry. The report also looked at the significant security threats presented by private jets and the detrimental impact they present to our environment.  

The report: High Flyers 2017: How the Private Jet Lobby Shifts Costs To the Rest of Us, Threatens Our Security, and Fuels a Warming Planet,” authored by Chuck Collins and Josh Hoxie shows that while the Republican majority in Congress proposes to extend massive tax breaks for private jet fliers, they also propose nearly doubling fees for commercial airline passengers.

The study examines the $ 56 million dollars spent by the powerful private jet lobbying industry in Washington over ten years to receive more than a billion dollars in the form of outrageous tax giveaways by Congress every year.

“When you think of who benefits from this GOP tax plan, think about the private jet set,” said report author Chuck Collins, lead author of a 2008 report on the same topic. “The private jet lobby and their wealthy constituents have used their clout to shift costs onto the commercial flying public.”

“The bottom line is that every day American flyers, those stuck in the middle seat of commercial flights, are basically paying for the rich and affluent to jet from coast to coast on their Learjets,” said Josh Hoxie.  “While students, teachers, and middle class families see their taxes rise as a result of the Republican tax bill, private jet owners continue to be heavily subsidized. It’s absurd.”

Some of the key findings of the study include:

  • The tax cut package under consideration in the Senate maintains and expands the private jet tax carve out, while the Republican budget plan almost doubles the fees on commercial airline passengers.
  • Private jets contribute less than one-tenth of the resources they use from the federal aviation administration trust fund. Commercial airline passengers heavily subsidize private jet passengers.
  • Commercial jets are taxed at up to 40 times the rate of private jets on the exact same route despite identical needs in terms of transportation infrastructure.
  • Private jets threaten our national security as owners can obscure their identity and passengers face zero security screening.
  • A single private jet trip burns more greenhouse gases than the average American does in a whole year.

The study also calls attention to a push by GOP in Congress which would make it more expensive for commercial airline passengers to fly. A recent provision inserted in the Senate Transportation Appropriations bill would nearly double the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC), a fee collected by commercial airports paid by airline passengers on every flight.  If the provision passes, a family of four flying round trip cross-country with a layover would see their PFC rise from $ 72 to $ 104 by next year.  

Read the full report here: http://www.ips-dc.org/report-high-flyers-2017/ 

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Report: High Flyers 2017

The private jet lobby – and their super-wealthy passengers – have created a parallel universe of perks and privileges that would shock most commercial passengers if they knew about them. In both tax policy and homeland security, the high flyers have used their power to create one set of rules for themselves and another set of rules for the rest of us.

This report examines how they are publicly subsidized, the security threats they pose, and the detrimental environmental impact they present. This report follows the work of a report released by the Institute for Policy Studies in 2008 of the same title.

Some major takeaways:
• The private jet lobby spent $ 56 million lobbying over the past ten years to save more than $ 1 billion in annual taxes they avoid due to preferential tax treatment.
• The tax cut package under consideration in the Senate maintains and expands the private jet tax carve-out, while the Republican budget plan increases fees on commercial airline passengers.
• Private jets contribute less than one tenth of the resources they use from the Federal Aviation Administration Trust Fund. Commercial airline passengers heavily subsidize private jet passengers.
• Commercial jets are taxed at up to 40 times the rate of private jets on the exact same route despite identical needs in terms of transportation infrastructure.
• Private jets threaten our national security as owners can obscure their identity and passengers face zero security screening.
• A single private jet trip burns more greenhouse gases than the average American does in a whole year.

Solutions:
• End the private jet tax carve-out and tax private jets at the same rate or higher than commercial air travelers. Don’t make it more expensive to fly commercial while subsidizing private jet travel.
• Close the security loopholes in private jet travel and tax carbon emissions effectively to account for the environmental impact of private jets.

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Report: Billionaire Bonanza 2017

EMBARGOED UNTIL NOV. 8, 6PM

Over recent decades, an incredibly disproportionate share of America’s income and wealth gains has flowed to the top of our economic spectrum. Americans at the other end of our economic spectrum, meanwhile, watch their wages stagnate and savings dwindle.

This report exposes the extreme wealth concentrated within the fortunes of the 400 wealthiest Americans and compares this wealth to the much more meager assets of several different segments of U.S. society. We draw data from both the recently released 2017 Forbes 400 and the Federal Reserve’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances.

Key Findings:

  • The three wealthiest people in the United States — Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett — now own more wealth than the entire bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 160 million people or 63 million households.
  • America’s top 25 billionaires — a group the size of a major league baseball team’s active roster — together hold $ 1 trillion in wealth. These 25 have as much wealth as 56 percent of the population, a total 178 million people or 70 million households.
  • The billionaires who make up the full Forbes 400 list now own more wealth than the bottom 64 percent of the U.S. population, an estimated 80 million households or 204 million people — more people than the populations of Canada and Mexico combined.
  • The median American family has a net worth of $ 80,000, excluding the family car. The Forbes 400 own more wealth than 33 million of these typical American families.
  • One in five U.S households, over 19 percent, have zero or negative net worth. “Underwater households” make up an even higher share of households of color. Over 30 percent of black households and 27 percent of Latino households have zero or negative net worth to fall back on.

These figures underestimate our current levels of wealth concentration. The growing use of offshore tax havens and legal trusts has made the concealing of assets more widespread than ever before.

To reduce extreme wealth inequality in the United States we need to take two key steps:

  • First, we must not make inequality worse through new tax cuts for the wealthy. The proposed Trump tax cuts, as currently designed, would grow top 1 percent fortunes and do little to reduce the ranks of America’s “underwater nation.”
  • Second, we need to implement policies to reduce concentrated wealth. Inequality will continue to widen unless we intervene directly to reduce grand concentrations of private wealth. By taxing our wealthiest households, we could raise significant revenues and then invest these funds to expand wealth-building opportunities across the economy. We could also broaden the distribution of America’s wealth by encouraging employee ownership, matching savings programs, and similar initiatives.

Read the full report here [PDF].
Find sharable graphics here.

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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.

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Report: The Road to Zero Wealth

In this report, we look at the racial wealth divide at the median over the next four and eight years, as well as to 2043, when the country’s population is predicted to become majority non-white. We also look to wealth rather than income to reconsider what it means to be middle class. In finding an ever-accelerating gap, we consider what it means for the American middle class and we explore what policy interventions could reverse the trends we see today. We find that without a serious change in course, the country is heading towards a racial and economic apartheid state.

Key Findings:

  • While households of color are projected to reach majority status by 2043, if the racial wealth divide is left unaddressed, median Black household wealth is on a path to hit zero by 2053 and median Latino household wealth is projected to hit zero twenty years later. In sharp contrast, median White household wealth would climb to $ 137,000 by 2053.
  • If current trends continue, by 2020 median Black and Latino households stand to lose nearly 18% and 12% of the wealth they held in 2013, respectively, while median White household wealth increases 3%. At that point–just three years from now–White households are projected to own 85 times more wealth than Black households and 68 times more wealth than Latino households.
  • The declining wealth of households of color is already taking a significant toll on the broader economy. The nation’s overall median wealth decreased nearly 20% from 1983 to 2013 ($ 78,000 to $ 64,000—a period when Black and Latino median wealth went down and White wealth slowly went up.
  • Even earning a middle-class income does not guarantee a family middle-class economic security, according to the report. White households in the middle income quintile—those earning $ 37,201-61,328 annually—own nearly eight times as much wealth ($ 86,100) as Black middle-income earners ($ 11,000) and ten times that of their Latino counterparts ($ 8,600).
  • This disconnect in income and wealth is visible across every socioeconomic level. The report found that on average, only Black and Latino households with an advanced degree have middle-class wealth or higher, while White households, on average, need only a high school diploma to attain that same level of wealth.

The report calls on the Trump administration and Congress to consider a range of policy options to help close the racial wealth divide. They include:

  • Changing our tax code to stop subsidizing those who are already wealthy and start investing in opportunities for low-wealth families to build wealth. Specifically, the report recommends reforming the mortgage interest deduction and other tax expenditures, bolstering and expanding the federal estate tax, and creating a net-worth tax on multi-million-dollar fortunes.
  • Protecting low-wealth families from wealth-stripping practices by strengthening the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and closing the offshore tax shelters currently enabling the ultra-wealthy to hide their assets.
  • Investing in bold new programs like Children’s Savings Accounts, automatic-enrollment retirement accounts, federal jobs guarantees, and a racial wealth divide audit of government policies.

Read the full report here [PDF].
Find sharable graphics here.

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Report: Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs

House Speaker Paul Ryan is proposing to cut the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 20 percent. President Trump wants to slash the rate even further, to just 15 percent. Their core argument? Lowering the tax burden will lead to more and better jobs.

To investigate this claim, this report is the first to analyze the job creation records of the 92 publicly held U.S. corporations that reported a U.S. profit every year from 2008 through 2015 and paid less than 20 percent of these earnings in federal income tax. Did these reduced tax rates actually lead to greater employment within the 92 firms? The data we have compiled give a definitive — and sobering — answer.

Key findings: 

Tax breaks did not spur job creation

  • America’s 92 most consistently profitable tax-dodging firms registered median jobgrowth of negative 1 percent between 2008 and 2016. The job growth rate over those same years among U.S. private sector firms as a whole: 6 percent.
  • More than half of the 92 tax-avoiders, 48 firms in all, eliminated jobs between 2008 and 2016, downsizing by a combined total of 483,000 positions.

Tax-dodging corporations paid their CEOs more than other big firms

  • Average CEO pay among the 92 firms rose 18 percent, to $ 13.4 million in real terms, between 2008 and 2016, compared to a 13 percent increase among S&P 500 CEOs. U.S. private sector worker pay increased by only 4 percent during this period.
  • CEOs at the 48 job-slashing companies within our 92-firm sample pocketed even larger paychecks. In 2016 they made $ 14.9 million on average, 14 percent more than the $ 13.1 million for typical S&P 500 CEOs.

Job-cutting firms spent tax savings on buybacks, which inflated CEO pay

  • Many of the firms in our sample funneled tax savings into stock buybacks, a financial maneuver that inflates the value of executive stock-based pay. On average, the top 10 job-cutters in our sample each spent $ 45 billion over the last nine years repurchasing their own stock, six times as much as the S&P 500 corporate average.

ExxonMobil hiked CEO Tillerson’s pay while dodging taxes, slashing jobs

  • The oil giant paid an effective tax rate of only 13.6 percent during the 2008-2015 period, at the same time cutting more than a third of its global workforce (the company does not reveal U.S. jobs data). After pumping nearly $ 146 billion into stock buybacks, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now the U.S. secretary of state, took home $ 27.4 million in total compensation in 2016, 22 percent more than he collected in 2008.

AT&T is the top job-cutter among the tax-dodging firms

  • The telecommunications giant managed to get away with an effective tax rate of just 8.1 percent over the 2008-2015 period, while cutting more jobs than any other firm in our sample. After accounting for acquisitions and spinoffs, the firm had nearly 80,000 fewer employees in 2016 than in 2008. Instead of job-preserving investments, the firm shoveled profits into stock buybacks ($ 34 billion over the past nine years) and CEO pay. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson pulled in $ 28.4 million in 2016, more than double his 2008 payout.

GE cut jobs while funneling offshore tax-dodging proceeds into CEO pay and buybacks

  • Through extensive use of overseas tax havens, General Electric achieved a negative effective tax rate during the 2008-2015 period, meaning the firm got more back from Uncle Sam than it paid into federal coffers. The company spent $ 42 billion repurchasing its own stock, which helped boost CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s pay to nearly $ 18 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the company’s employee count dropped by about 14,700 over the past nine years.

Read the full report here [PDF].
Find shareable graphics here.
Explore all Executive Excess reports from 1994 onward.

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New Report Finds Corporate Tax Cuts Boost CEO Pay, Not Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Full report and graphics

Washington, D.C. — When President Donald Trump launches his tax cut campaign today in Missouri, he will no doubt repeat the Republican mantra that slashing the corporate tax rate will lead to more and better jobs. He has proposed cutting the statutory federal corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent, while House Speaker Paul Ryan has called for a 20 percent rate.

To investigate this jobs claim, the Institute for Policy Studies has analyzed the employment records of the 92 publicly held U.S. corporations that exploited loopholes to pay less than a 20 percent effective U.S. tax rate from 2008 through 2015, despite making a profit every year.

Key findings: 

Tax breaks did not spur job creation

  • America’s 92 most consistently profitable tax-dodging firms registered median jobgrowth of negative 1 percent between 2008 and 2016. The job growth rate over those same years among U.S. private sector firms as a whole: 6 percent.
  • More than half of the 92 tax-avoiders, 48 firms in all, eliminatedjobs between 2008 and 2016, downsizing by a combined total of 483,000 positions.

Tax-dodging corporations paid their CEOs more than other big firms

  • Average CEO pay among the 92 firms rose 18 percent, to $ 13.4 million in real terms, between 2008 and 2016, compared to a 13 percent increase among S&P 500 CEOs. U.S. private sector worker pay increased by only 4 percent during this period.
  • CEOs at the 48 job-slashing companies within our 92-firm sample pocketed even larger paychecks. In 2016 they made $ 14.9 million on average, 14 percent more than the $ 13.1 million for typical S&P 500 CEOs.

Job-cutting firms spent tax savings on buybacks, which inflated CEO pay

  • Many of the firms in our sample funneled tax savings into stock buybacks, a financial maneuver that inflates the value of executive stock-based pay. On average, the top 10 job-cutters in our sample each spent $ 45 billion over the last nine years repurchasing their own stock, six times as much as the S&P 500 corporate average.

ExxonMobil hiked CEO Tillerson’s pay while dodging taxes, slashing jobs

  • The oil giant paid an effective tax rate of only 13.6 percent during the 2008-2015 period, at the same time cutting more than a third of its global workforce (the company does not reveal U.S. jobs data). After pumping nearly $ 146 billion into stock buybacks, Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, now the U.S. secretary of state, took home $ 27.4 million in total compensation in 2016, 22 percent more than he collected in 2008.

AT&T is the top job-cutter among the tax-dodging firms

  • The telecommunications giant managed to get away with an effective tax rate of just 8.1 percent over the 2008-2015 period, while cutting more jobs than any other firm in our sample. After accounting for acquisitions and spinoffs, the firm had nearly 80,000 fewer employees in 2016 than in 2008. Instead of job-preserving investments, the firm shoveled profits into stock buybacks ($ 34 billion over the past nine years) and CEO pay. AT&T chief Randall Stephenson pulled in $ 28.4 million in 2016, more than double his 2008 payout.

GE cut jobs while funneling offshore tax-dodging proceeds into CEO pay and buybacks

  • Through extensive use of overseas tax havens, General Electric achieved a negativeeffective tax rate during the 2008-2015 period, meaning the firm got more back from Uncle Sam than it paid into federal coffers. The company spent $ 42 billion repurchasing its own stock, which helped boost CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s pay to nearly $ 18 million in 2016. Meanwhile, the company’s employee count dropped by about 14,700 over the past nine years.

“CEOs have used the proceeds from tax savings to enrich themselves at the expense of job-creating investments,” notes report author Sarah Anderson. “The debate over corporate taxes should focus on ensuring that the corporations these CEOs run pay their full and fair share.”

This 24th edition of the annual IPS Executive Excess series also includes the most comprehensive available catalog of CEO pay reforms, including proposed legislation to eliminate the CEO bonus loophole.

Full report and graphics.

About the lead author: Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and co-edits the IPS web site Inequality.org. She has been the lead author on all 24 of the Institute’s annual Executive Excess reports. Her executive compensation analysis has been featured recently in the New York TimesFortune, and the Los Angeles Times.

More Information:

Sarah Anderson, sarah@ips-dc.org(202) 787 5227
Domenica Ghanem, press@ips-dc.org(202) 787-5205
Jessica Pierre, jessicah@ips-dc.org

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS-DC.org) is a multi-issue research center that has conducted path-breaking research on executive compensation for more than 20 years. IPS also provides a constant stream of inequality analysis and solutions through our Inequality.org web site and weekly newsletter.

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Report: Reversing Inequality

While there is now widespread understanding that extreme income and wealth inequality is growing and has negative impacts on society, most proposed solutions fail to address deeper systemic drivers. While technological change and globalization have supercharged inequalities, they are not the primary drivers.

This report, released with the Next Systems Project, offers a more critical explanation for extreme inequality and the ways in which the rules governing the economy have been distorted by power differentials and political factors. These rules –including tax, trade, regulation, public subsidies, and expenditures – have been tipped to advantage asset owners over wage earners, and transnational corporations over domestically-rooted enterprises. As a result, we are living with a particular flavor of a market economy – hyper-extractive monopoly capitalism – that is transferring wealth from workers and communities upwards to a small segment of the population.

Another driver of inequality is systemic racism and a legacy of discrimination in wages and wealth-building. These forces are impossible to separate and disentangle from other drivers of inequality. Policy interventions that don’t incorporate an understanding of systemic racism will fail to reverse or compound existing inequalities. And false solutions like a New Deal 2.0 program, including government stimulus packages, fail to recognize the ecological limits to traditional growth and the need to operate within the earth’s carrying capacity. The only path forward is building resilient communities that can bounce back from environmental and economic challenges.

This paper describes a full menu of “interventions” to reduce income and wealth inequality and address some of the systemic drivers of inequality. They fall into four categories, including policies that:

  • Lift the Floor, establishing minimal standard of living and safety nets
  • Level the Playing Field, by ensuring investments in public goods and elimination of the distorting influences of power and privilege
  • Deconcentrate Wealth, through interventions that directly reduce the concentration of wealth and power
  • Rewire the System, to undercut inequality drivers

One way forward is to build power and win some of these rule changes by focusing on “pressure points” that can accelerate the transition to the next system. This will require game changing campaigns that accomplish three things:

  • Reduce the concentration of wealth and power, break up institutions, or redistribute wealth and power.
  • Open up economic opportunities for those excluded in the current system.
  • Capture the imagination of a wide constituency of people willing to fight for policy change.

Three examples in the paper are:

  • Dividends for all: linking common wealth sources of revenue to programs that expand economic stability
  • Taxing excessive carbon solution and directing revenue to investments in renewable energy, green infrastructure and just transition efforts.
  • Expand tuition-free higher education by creating education trust funds funded by progressive taxes on wealth.

Read the full report here [PDF].
Download Quick Takeaways from the report here.
Find shareable graphics here.

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Report: How States Can Boost Renewables With Benefits for All

Given the current assault on responsible climate policy at the federal level, innovative state and local actions will be critical if we are to achieve a just transition to a sustainable economy. IPS is surveying the array of measures that can accelerate the rapid transition from fossil fuels to clean and efficient alternatives in an equitable fashion. In this study, we focus in on one strategy: Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS).  RPS require utilities to provide a growing share of electricity from solar and wind energy, and are a particularly promising policy option — especially if they increase the benefits of a clean energy transition for low-income families.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia already have RPS requirements, and eight other states have voluntary renewable energy goals. Building on this progress — by enacting RPS in additional states, tightening current standards, and making voluntary programs binding — would have significant environmental, economic, and social benefits:

KEY FINDINGS:

  • RPS expansion can significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The electric power generation sector accounts for nearly 30% of total U.S. GHG emissions. Since residential electricity usage currently makes up more than 37% of national utilities sales, RPS success will depend on dramatically expanding home-based solar energy options — especially for low-income households.
  • RPS expansion creates good jobs. Solar energy already accounts for nearly 43% of direct U.S. employment in electric power generation, even though it only makes up a tiny fraction of the energy we use to power our country.
  • Renewable energy wages are comparable to those in the fossil fuel industry. A typical wind turbine technician, for example, earns $ 25.50 an hour, significantly more than many fossil fuel occupations.
  • Expanding shared solar access advances justice and equity. Low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in poorly insulated homes with higher heating and cooling costs, which means they spend more of their income on electricity. A typical set of residential solar panels would meet more than half of an average low-income household’s electricity needs — which means cutting their electricity bill drastically.
  • Shared renewables can allow families and small businesses a stake in the renewable energy market. The U.S. electricity market was worth $ 391 billion in 2015. RPS can help keep more of this money in communities.

Drawing from successful state models, the report identifies the following key “best practice” elements of RPS and low-income solar access policies:

  1.      A sufficiently ambitious timetable.
  2.      No non-renewable or dirty power (nuclear energy, trash incineration, or biofuels) included in “renewables” definition.
  3.      A system of tradable renewable energy credits (RECs) to facilitate tracking.
  4.      Meaningful penalties for noncompliance.
  5.      Requirement to fund solar access for low-income households.
  6.      Incorporating a “green jobs” component into the low-income solar program.
  7.      Legislative provision for shared solar, which also incorporates funding for solar access for low-income communities (#5) and its related targeted hiring and training component (#6).

Read the full executive summary and report here [PDF].
Find sharable graphics and social media kit here.

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