In December, I wroteabout Robert Greenwald’s attempt to mobilize outrage against GildedAge-like inequality and the hedge-funders with his War on Greedseries of short films. Now, another creative effort is being led by theService Employees International Union, with July 17 protests scheduled in 100 cities in twenty-five countries.
Stephen Lerner, the director of the SEIU’s private equity project, toldthe New York Times, “We think the buyout industry and the way it operates are systematicof what’s wrong in this economy. We want to make them responsiblecorporate citizens.”
The SEIU is focused on the Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts,and how they game the systemto take over companies with little of their own money, lay off workers,reap the profits when they resell, and pay a lower tax rate than theirown secretaries do.
I called closing this tax loophole that allows mega-billionaires to betaxed at 15 percent–lower than most working Americans–a litmus testfor Democrats on whether the party stands for working people, andleading Senate Democrats failed.
The good news is that Democratic presidential nominee, Senator BarackObama, quickly spoke outagainst the decision by Democratsnot to take on the loophole after more than twenty lobbying firms worked topreserve it. At the time the campaign issued a statement saying, “Ifthere was ever a doubt that Washington lobbyists don’t actuallyrepresent real Americans, it’s the fact that they stopped leaders ofboth parties from requiring elite investment firms to pay their fairshare of taxes, even as middle-class families struggle to pay theirs.When I’m President, the American people won’t have to spend recordamounts on lobbying to get their voice heard in Washington. I will closetax loopholes for big corporations….”
But it will take a lot more than closing an obscene tax loophole toreverse thirty years of tax cuts for the rich, union-busting, andderegulation that promoted corporate interests at the expense ofconsumers–all of this bankrolled by conservatives and corporations toinstill blind faith in the market as a magic elixir that can solve anyproblem.