July 26, 2023

Reps. Barbara Lee, Summer Lee, Jamaal Bowman, and Rashida Tlaib Introduce OLIGARCH Act to Tax Extreme Wealth and Combat Aristocracy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-12), Summer Lee (PA-12), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), and Rashida Tlaib (MI-12)introduced the Oppose Limitless Inequality Growth and Reverse Community Harms (OLIGARCH) Act to tax extreme wealth, reduce inequality, and combat the threat to democracy posed by aristocracy.

High levels of inequality plague the United States, with the richest 0.1% of US households holding 20% of the country’s wealth in 2018. This extreme wealth disparity causes inequality to grow, with the rich getting richer every day. During the pandemic, while most Americans suffered extreme financial and emotional losses, America’s roughly 700 billionaires added over $1 trillion to their collective net worth. The wealthy hold the most political power in the U.S. today.

The OLIGARCH Act is put forward to combat these extreme disparities and ensure true democracy. This legislation establishes a wealth tax with four brackets, designed to wax and wane with wealth concentration, intensifying during periods of rising inequality, but tapering off to near non-existence when median household wealth increases and inequality moderates to an acceptable level. While aiding in closing the wealth gap, the bill also outlines specific enforcement measures to combat tax evasion, including a requirement for at least a 30% audit rate on households covered by this tax, and establishes penalties for substantial valuation understatements. The bill ensures accountability and is an effort to restore democracy.

"Inequality in the United States is worse in 2023 than it was during the Gilded Age. It is unacceptable that millions of hardworking people remain impoverished, while the top 0.1% hold over 20% of the nation’s wealth,” said CongresswomanBarbaraLee. "The OLIGARCH Act is the solution we need to close the exorbitant wealth gap in America and create a tax system where everyone pays their fair share. This level of wealth is not just a source of economic injustice, but a major threat to democracy: the richest 400 people in the U.S. have 22,000 times the political power of the average American. At a time when the GOP is pushing for even deeper tax cuts, I am proud to introduce this vital bill with my progressive colleagues to hold billionaires accountable and make democracy work for the people, not the oligarchs.”

Congresswoman Summer Lee said,“Right now, the 400 richest Americans have 22,000 times the political influence of the bottom 90%. Our teachers, firefighters, and nurses are paying more in taxes than Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg. We allow billionaires to buy elections and Supreme Court Justices in exchange for tax cuts favorable rulings–and corporate PACs are spending millions to keep working class Black women like me out of Congress. Oligarchy is blocking climate justice, racial justice, Medicare for All, Student Loan Forgiveness, worker power, fully funded public schools, fair pay for teachers, and reflective democracy. With a mandate from nearly ¾ of Americans - Democrats, Republicans and independents - who want the wealthiest to pay higher taxes, I couldn’t be prouder to co-lead the introduction of the OLIGARCH Act to tax the richest of the rich and give power back to the people where it’s always belonged.”

“Our residents are struggling while economic inequality is reaching record highs,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “The richest 0.1% now have more than five times the combined wealth of 50% of Americans. This extreme concentration of wealth only makes it harder for our neighbors to thrive. The same billionaires are threatening our democracy with their political contributions that taint any opportunities to change the status quo. It’s time to tax the rich and get big money out of politics.”

“In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, no one should struggle to put food on the table and afford healthcare while billionaires fly around in their private jets and CEOs make hundreds of millions of dollars a year,” said Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16).“When the richest 0.1% of households hold 20% of the country’s wealth, there is undoubtedly a problem. The extreme wealth inequality we see today, which disproportionately impacts Black and brown families, is a result of centuries of discrimination towards working class, vulnerable communities while allowing tax breaks for the rich and wealthy. I’m proud to join my colleagues Reps. Barbara Lee, Summer Lee, and Rashida Tlaib to introduce the OLIGARCH Act and address this inequity. It’s time the billionaires and ultra-wealthy pay what they owe to the American people.”

“Extreme wealth inequality has become an existential threat to our country,” said Morris Pearl, the Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and a former managing director at BlackRock, Inc. “American oligarchs have used their wealth to accumulate an unprecedented level of political power, which they’ve then used to amass even greater wealth. Without decisive action, this vicious cycle of concentrated power and money will dismantle our system of democratic capitalism, and with it, our way of life. We must stop this cycle by passing the OLIGARCH Act as soon as possible.”

The OLIGRACH Act specifically establishes four tax brackets:

·         2% for all wealth between 1,000 and 10,000 times median household wealth;

·         4% for all wealth between 10,000 and 100,000 times median household wealth;

·         6% for all wealth between 100,000 and 1,000,000 times median household wealth;

·         8% for all wealth over 1,000,000 times median household wealth

This wealth tax is largest when the gaps are extreme, and shrinks when the gaps are closing, allowing for it to adapt to a changing economy and maintain equality. Ultimately, the OLIGARCH Act benefits everyone in America.

To read the full text of the bill, click here

This bill is cosponsored by House Representatives Nadler (D-NY), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Grijalva (D-AZ), Omar (D-MN), Schakowsky (D-IL), and Huffman (D-CA). 

The OLIGARCH Act has been endorsed by Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), American Family Voices, Americans for Tax Fairness, Center for Popular Democracy, Coalition on Human Needs, Demand Progress, Economic Policy Institute, HedgeClippers, Institute for Policy Studies-Program on Inequality, Main Street Alliance, MoveOn, Our Revolution, Oxfam, People’s Action, Patriotic Millionaires, Progressive Democrats of America, Responsible Wealth Project of United for a Fair Economy, Social Security Works, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Take on Wall Street, Unrig Our Economy.