The 1% is now wealthier than the entire middle class. It’s time for tax fairness.

Jay Owen Transforming Finance

The Build Back Better agenda being debated in Congress would improve the lives of millions. Jobs, child care, home care, housing, and so much more is at stake.

So what’s the hold up? For one thing, many lawmakers simply give social spending more scrutiny than military spending, even though Pentagon spending is more than double the yearly cost of the full Build Back Better Act, as Lindsay Kosgharian writes for Marketwatch.

For another, some billionaires — and the politicians who represent them — just don’t want to pay their taxes.

In a stunning case study this week in Bloomberg, IPS associate fellow Bob Lord exposes Nike co-founder Phil Knight’s intricate tax avoidance scheme, drawing attention to the sneaky ways in which the ultrarich pass wealth to their heirs tax-free.

In a Q&A with Chuck Collins, Bob gets into the nuts and bolts of how billionaires take advantage of a tax system rigged in their favor — and explains why it’s Congress, not just billionaires, who are to blame.

Knight is among the U.S. billionaires who’ve seen their wealth surge by 70 percent during the pandemic. And while Knight is often viewed as one of the more charitable billionaires, the revelations in the Bloomberg exposé raise questions about whether his philanthropy is driven by generosity or tax reduction, write Helen Flannery and Chuck.

Thanks to the explosive growth of billionaire wealth — and the tax avoidance that enables it — the top 1 percent is now wealthier than the entire middle class combined. To make the case for tax reform, Sarah Anderson and Brian Wakamo illustrate the problem with five new charts on wealth inequality — including our first-ever animated chart.

Also this week in InsideSources, Dedrick Asante-Muhammad calls for the Community Reinvestment Act to take a race-conscious approach. “Legislation designed simply to reduce discrimination,” he writes, “must be transformed into legislation that economically advances communities that have been historically — and are currently — marginalized.”

Finally, John Feffer looks at the faltering U.S.-China relationship and outlines a de-escalation strategy.