We’d like to wish you all a happy holiday season from everyone here at the Patriotic Millionaires.
It’s been a long and eventful year, so we’d like to commemorate it by looking back over some of the main events, praising those who did good for our nation, and calling out those who did bad. For this final Roundup before the end of the year, let’s take a look at who deserves presents for the holidays and who should be getting coal in their stocking.
Congressional Republicans: COAL
It’s no secret that Republican lawmakers and pundits want rich people to pay less in taxes, but they took it to a new low this year when they went to bat for wealthy criminal tax evaders. Many claimed back in the fall that, with the new funds from the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats planned to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, arm them, and send them to audit working Americans and small business owners. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted: “Do you make $75,000 or less? Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you – with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k.” Just like all the other scare tactics the Republican party uses to dissuade the American people from supporting taxing the rich, this was a bald-faced lie. All new IRS enforcement money is going to make sure rich people can’t illegally evade taxes, something the Republican party apparently thinks is acceptable.
Kyrsten Sinema: COAL
We genuinely don’t even know where to start with Kyrsten Sinema; the number of times she’s thrown the American people under the bus for the benefit of her wealthy donors is long enough to be a list itself. She spent months obstructing the Build Back Better Act, blocked basically every attempt to raise taxes on the rich, and threatened to sacrifice the entirety of the Inflation Reduction Act at the last second to keep the carried interest loophole intact. At nearly every opportunity, Sinema chose the rich over regular Americans. At least by year’s end, she showed her true colors by leaving the Democratic party entirely. Good riddance.
Pelosi and Schumer: PRESENTS
After months and months of deliberation and negotiation among Democrats in both the House and the Senate, Democratic leadership was finally able to pass Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act along party lines in August. It certainly did not include everything (or even most things) that we wanted, but getting anything passed at all in the face of obstructionists like Richard Neal, Joe Manchin, and Kyrsten Sinema is worth celebrating. Speaker Pelosi also deserves credit for passing a range of important bills, including both the Raise the Wage Act and the For the People Act, through the House. Sometimes leading the Democratic Party can feel like herding cats, so we are thankful these two leaders were able to get the job done.
Senator Rick Scott: COAL
In February, Sen. Rick Scott released his “11-point plan to rescue America.” His manifesto criticized the nearly 50% of Americans who do not pay taxes and proposed raising taxes on 98% of the poorest Americans. Sen. Scott wanted to force low-income Americans to pay over $1,600 in new taxes each year per family member which would double child poverty and push an additional 18.5 million Americans into poverty. Senator Scott’s colleagues may have tried to distance themselves from his proposal, but Scott, the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, isn’t an outlier – he’s just being honest about his party’s goals. Republicans like Sen. Scott don’t care about cutting taxes unless it benefits their wealthy supporters. They’re fine with poor people paying higher taxes because poor people aren’t the ones giving them big checks for reelection.
NY State Democrats: COAL
New York Democrats shot themselves in the foot multiple times leading up to this election season, and it cost the party several seats in the House as a result. Former Governor Cuomo failed to put in place judges and legislators who could pass the district lines they needed, resulting in maps that were much more advantageous for Republicans. Combining these new maps with a state party that became increasingly out of touch with their base and the electorate as a whole led to NY Dems losing a number of seats in a solidly blue state. This fiasco culminated in Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney becoming the first DCCC Chair to lose reelection in 40 years. When the Congressional maps were redrawn, Maloney decided to leave the 18th district and instead run for reelection in the new 17th district, pushing out Rep. Mondaire Jones. This selfish stunt, coupled with the fact that Maloney did little to connect with grassroots groups and organizers in the months and weeks before the election, led to his stunning defeat.
Voters in Nevada, Nebraska, and Washington DC: PRESENTS
Voters in these two states and the District took monumental steps toward wage equality by passing significant increases to their minimum wages on election day.
- C. eliminated the tipped minimum wage (for the second time. Hopefully, this time it sticks) and will gradually increase it to match the non-tipped minimum wage by 2027.
- Nebraska voted to increase the state minimum wage from $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2026.
- Nevada passed an initiative to increase the minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2024.
Once again, we’re reminded that this is THE winning issue. If voters in deep-red Nebraska will vote for a $15 minimum wage by a margin of 17 points, it’s hard to argue there’s anywhere in the country it can’t win.
Howard Schultz: COAL
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, has lived up to his reputation as one of the worst offenders of the union-busting movement. Schultz’s long history of aggressive anti-union practices has carried into his current battle against the growing union activity within his company. There are many companies that deserve coal for fighting against their workers’ right to unionize, but Starbucks, led by Schultz, is particularly terrible. The corporation has racked up hundredsof labor violations in the last year and a half, including withholding benefits and pay or outright firing union activists and workers at potentially unionized stores. Just look at Will Westlake, a union organizer and friend of the PMs who spoke at our conference earlier this year, who was fired for wearing a suicide awareness pin in honor of his friend and coworker.
The Federal Reserve: COAL
The Federal Reserve has once again raised interest rates this week in their attempt to cool inflation, but in doing that, it has sacrificed regular Americans’ abilities to borrow and spend money. Raising interest rates can help shrink inflation, but it does that by deliberately slowing down the economy and disproportionately hurting poor and middle-class Americans. The data is clear – the problem with inflation is not out-of-control wage growth or other “standard” causes of inflation, which higher interest rates are designed to fix. It’s rampant corporate greed and profiteering driving inflation, which raising interest rates does nothing to prevent. What it does do, however, is make it more expensive for regular Americans to borrow money.
Elon Musk: COAL
Earlier this year, billionaire Elon Musk purchased the social media website Twitter, effectively taking control of one of the most influential communication platforms of the modern age. It’s an old story – Elon Musk and billionaires like him have a track record of using their money to purchase influence in politics and media. If you’ve seen the film It’s a Wonderful Life, you may remember the wealthy old miser, Mr. Potter. You may also remember George Bailey’s dystopian alternate reality in “Pottersville,” a degenerate place where money and power reign supreme. Unfortunately, America already has a number of misers like Mr. Potter: Elon Musk and billionaires like him use their money to pull strings to control the economy, politicians, and our social media companies. We’re already living in our own modern version of “Pottersville.” The unchecked growth of billionaire wealth in America today has led to countless instances of billionaires using that wealth to buy power and control the ways in which we conduct our private and public lives. This is part of the reason we need to tax billionaires: money isn’t just money. When it’s accumulated in great amounts, it equals power. You might not care how much money a billionaire has, but you probably care about how much power they have over your life.
Corporate CEOs: COAL
During a year of record inflation, Corporate CEOs went on record in earnings calls with their shareholders and openly bragged about the success of their price-gouging strategies. One CEO said, “The longer inflation lasts, and the more widespread it is, the more air cover it gives companies to raise prices.” In addition to taking advantage of inflation to price-gouge the American people, executives of multi-billion dollar companies were also caught admitting that they want their employees to be less economically secure, so they can take advantage of them more easily. They talked about how inflation and a recession would allow them to once again use economic despair as a tool to take advantage of both their consumers and their employees to boost their profit margins. When these people tell you who they are, you should believe them.
American workers: PRESENTS
American workers are the backbone of our economy, and they deserve presents every year. But this year was particularly special, with more and more workers showing solidarity with each other by unionizing in record numbers, even in the face of union-busting corporate backlash. Workers at big-box companies like Starbucks, Amazon, REI, and hundreds of other companies and industries have come together to organize their workplaces and lead the charge to form unions from within. Thanks in large part to their efforts, support for labor unions is at a 50-year high, with one poll finding that no less than 68% of Americans approve of unions. American workers deserve the pay and benefits they are asking for, and we should support them in their fight for it.