On the News With Thom Hartmann: Bernie Sanders Focuses on Need for “Moral Economy” at the Vatican, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Sen. Bernie Sanders focuses on the “urgency of a moral economy” in his speech to a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Science; Oxfam claims that top US corporations have stashed $1.4 trillion offshore; Sen. Elizabeth Warren rolls out a bill to make filing taxes easier and reduce the cost; and more.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

TRANSCRIPT:

Thom Hartmann here — on the best of the rest of Economic and Labor News…

You need to know this. In Sen. Bernie Sanders’ speech to the conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Science, he focused on the “urgency of a moral economy.” Sander’s said, “The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great economic issue of our time, the great political issue of our time and the great moral issue of our time. It is an issue that we must confront in my nation and across the world.” Sanders talked about the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling which deemed that corporations are “people” and can give campaign donations to candidates. The ruling “has established a system in which billionaires can buy elections.” He added that the US has “been left with an economy operated for the top 1%.” Sanders, an outspoken admirer of Pope Francis, mentioned the pontiff directly in his remarks: “I am told time and time again … that a truly moral economy is beyond our reach. Yet Pope Francis himself is surely the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism.”

Oxfam claims that top US corporations have stashed $1.4 trillion offshore. Oxfam released its new report, “Broken at the Top,” to show the extent to which mega corporations such as Pfizer, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Alphabet, Disney and Coca-Cola keep money in offshore funds. These companies use more than 1,600 subsidiaries to lower their global tax rate on $4 trillion in profits. And, for every dollar of taxes these companies paid, they collectively received $27 in federal loans, loan guarantees and bailouts — paid for by US taxpayers. Oxfam America president Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement, “The vast sums large companies stash in tax havens should be fighting poverty and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, not hidden offshore in Panama, Bahamas or the Cayman Islands.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren rolls out a bill to make filing taxes easier and reduce the cost. The bill was offered days before the tax filing due date. Warren said in a press release, “Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes each year, not bowing to the interests of the tax prep industry.” The legislation, called the Tax Filing Simplification Act of 2016, would allow the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to develop a free online tax-preparation service. It would also prevent the IRS from entering into agreements with tax-preparation companies that limit the agency’s ability to provide free preparation services. The bill has a number of co-sponsors, including Senator Sanders, who said, “Tax Day has become an opportunity for corporations to profit off of confusion over our complicated tax code. That is wrong,” he said. “The Tax Filing Simplification Act would end the absurdity of Americans having to pay private companies hundreds of dollars to pay their taxes.” Hillary Clinton, who also supports the bill, said, “This important piece of legislation will help us build a better, fairer tax system.” She added, “This proposal will help take the headache out of Tax Day, saving Americans both time and money.” Warren also released a report that details how the tax prep industry has stopped the IRS from implementing laws to simplify tax preparation.

Ted Cruz, trying to resell trickle-down Reaganomics to a new generation, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that, “My object is a minimum of 5 percent GDP growth.” He claims to get there through his tax plan, which cuts taxes 10 percent across the board rate on all income, and 16 percent on businesses. Echoing Ronald Reagan’s false assertions, he added, “The numbers we’re estimating are, if anything, underselling the GDP impact” of his plan. History proves, though, that tax cuts will not unleash huge economic growth, but are big giveaways to corporations and the rich. The richest 1% would get half of all the benefits, with just 7 percent going to the middle and working class. It would reduce government tax revenue by $8.6 trillion over a 10-year span, giving “President Cruz” a good excuse to further cut the social safety net. As we all know and research shows — massive tax breaks for the wealthy don’t trickle down to the middle class: Reaganomics just creates a nations of peons.

Patricia Cohen has an article at eonomyandcrisis.com called, “Working, but Needing Public Assistance Anyway.” She writes, “A home health care worker in Durham, NC; a McDonald’s cashier in Chicago; a bank teller in New York; an adjunct professor in Maywood, Illinois. They are all evidence of an improving economy, because they are working and not among the steadily declining ranks of the unemployed. Yet these same people also are on public assistance — relying on food stamps, Medicaid or other stretches of the safety net to help cover basic expenses when their paychecks come up short.” According to a new study by the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, close to three-quarters of the people helped by programs for the poor are families who have members working. Because of this, taxpayers are not only supporting the poor but, in effect, giving a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers. The report estimates state and federal governments spend more than $150 billion a year on four key anti-poverty programs used by working families: Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit. So we — you and me — pick up the difference when employers don’t pay a living wage!

And that’s the way it is – for the week of April 18, 2016 — I’m Thom Hartmann — on the Economic and Labor News.