Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! We hope that you and those close to you can spend time today celebrating America’s 248th birthday and everything that makes our country so special.

We here at the Patriotic Millionaires like to use Independence Day to remind ourselves what patriotism means and why we go about calling ourselves “patriotic” in the first place. And judging by recent events at the Supreme Court, this refresher on American patriotism is sorely needed.

Patriotism is more than waving American flags in a parade or shooting off red, white, and blue fireworks – although we certainly love those things! Patriotism is about what a citizen does or gives up for the country’s greater good. There are many ways to be patriotic and serve your country, but we staunchly believe one of the most patriotic things that Americans can do – second only to military service or holding office – is to pay your rightful share of taxes.

For too long, wealthy Americans have shamefully skirted this most basic civic duty. Between 2014 and 2018, the richest 25 billionaires paid an average effective federal income tax rate of just 3.4% on over $400 billion in gains. In 2007 and 2011, Jeff Bezos paid $0 in federal income taxes, which is a feat that Elon Musk also achieved in 2018. When looking at all taxes paid (corporate taxes, payroll taxes, consumption taxes, etc.), billionaires pay lower effective tax rates than all other income groups. And if legal tax avoidance wasn’t enough, millionaires and billionaires also illegally evade an estimated $150 billion in taxes every year.

We started the Patriotic Millionaires over a decade ago because many elected officials felt comfortable protecting tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans – and we knew it was critical to underscore that patriotic Americans are willing to pay more for a better country. Our Vice-Chair, Stephen Prince, filmed a special video for the 4th of July with this purpose in mind and to explain what being a Patriotic Millionaire means to him. You can watch the video HERE.

We care deeply about bringing about tax fairness in America, but our mission is bigger than that. We want to pay more taxes, not just out of a sense of fairness, but because wealth and power have become so concentrated that spiraling inequality threatens our entire economy and our democracy. Our economy is weighed down by a wage floor so low that millions of working people don’t make enough money to participate in their local economies. This hurts consumer demand, the real engine that creates jobs and keeps the economy going. As for our democracy, you’ve heard us quote the late Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis before: “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentration in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

If you’re looking for an example of how severe inequality ultimately corrupts our institutions, you need only look at the Supreme Court’s ruling in Trump v. United States which was released on Monday. The conservative majority on the Court ruled that American presidents are immune from prosecution for any “official” acts that they take as president. Following the decision announcement, our President, Erica Payne, released a statement highlighting the corrosive influence that money in politics played in the ruling: “[It] is the culmination of a relentlessly executed, multi-decade plan to destroy American democracy. It is the inevitable outcome of rank corruption facilitated by a malignant class of American oligarchs who, over decades, bought and paid for a complicit Supreme Court.”

The Supreme Court issued several stunning decisions this season, but Trump v. United States arguably has shaken the very foundations of our democratic republic. While untethering the presidency from any modicum of accountability would be dangerous regardless of who sits in the Oval Office, the dangers come into stark relief with the specter of former President Trump winning a second term. A number of Trump’s allies and conservative think tanks have published what they call Project 2025, a 920-page manifesto that outlines their vision and plan for a second Trump presidency. The document is chilling. Among other things, they intend to consolidate power in the Executive Branch by having Trump prosecute political opponents, fire and replace independent civil servants with loyalists, and bring historically independent agencies like the Department of Justice under his direct control.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s new ruling, if Trump is re-elected, he will be able to execute this plan without any expectation that he will be held accountable if and when he breaks the law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor put it best in her scathing dissent of the decision: “In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law.”

The United States faces immense challenges this Independence Day. We have been on a slow march toward authoritarianism and oligarchy for decades because billionaires co-opted the Supreme Court, threw sand in the gears of Congress, and undermined the institutions of American democracy. We won’t underplay the gravity of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

But the outcome of this moment isn’t a foregone conclusion. Patriotic Millionaires, our allies in Congress and the White House, and a battery of candidates running for office this cycle are working hard to hold billionaires accountable, raise the minimum wage, and challenge the naked corruption at the Supreme Court. We are clear-eyed about the challenges America faces, but we also are confident we have the solutions.

Rest assured, the Patriotic Millionaires will continue the good fight for economic and political justice, and do everything in our power to ensure that America makes it to its next birthday without getting further trampled on by oligarchs or their criminal puppets.

Happy Independence Day!

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