For Immediate Release
Date: July 13, 2022
Contact: Jeff Garis, email@example.com, 215-694-4783
NEW REPORT SHOWS GROWING TREND: BILLIONAIRES BUYING FEDERAL ELECTIONS, PUTTING DEMOCRACY AT RISK
PA’s Wealthiest Billionaire Jeffrey Yass and Other Ultra-Rich Individuals Pump Millions Into 2022 Campaigns, Mostly to Republicans Who Will Cut Their Taxes and Supported Trump’s January 6th Insurrection
Harrisburg, PA — The 99% Pennsylvania campaign released a new report today in coordination with Americans for Tax Fairness showing that America’s billionaires are pumping tens of millions of dollars into the 2022 midterm elections, mostly backing Republican candidates for Congress who will cut taxes for the ultra-rich and the corporations they own. The report finds that many of the candidates and lawmakers receiving billionaire campaign contributions are undermining our democracy by supporting the January 6, 2021, insurrection to overthrow election results. The report reveals that Pennsylvania’s wealthiest billionaire, Wall Street trader Jeffrey Yass, has already contributed $28.5 million in the 2022 cycle to right-wing political candidates, many of them election deniers, and groups.
The increased flow of billionaires’ dollars into American politics this year continues a trend that began when the Supreme Court struck down effective campaign contribution limits 12 years ago in the Citizens United decision. Legislation cosponsored by two members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation—Representatives Dwight Evans (PA-3) and Susan Wild (PA-7)—would begin to curb this imbalance by imposing a tax on individuals with a net worth exceeding $100 million.
The United States has a growing number of billionaires, many of whom increased their wealth during the last two years of the pandemic even as average Pennsylvanians struggled with health, financial security, and growing inflation. Pennsylvania’s 17 billionaires more than doubled their collective wealth from March 2022 to April 2022, increasing by $30.1 billion to a combined net worth of about $58.5 billion—again of 106%. Jeffrey Yass and fellow Pennsylvania billionaires, Thomas Tull and Jared Isaacman, have used some of that increased wealth to support candidates and lawmakers who will pass policies that further enrich the ultra-rich and advance their agenda, including tax loopholes that enable many billionaires to pay lower tax rates than teachers, firefighters, and nurses.
The report, “Billionaires Buying Elections: How the Nation’s Wealthiest Translate Economic Power Into Political Clout,” shows that
● almost half—$89 million, or 47%—of the nearly $190 million raised by the House and Senate GOP super PACs in the first 16 months of the 2022 campaign cycle came from just 27 billionaires. Almost all of that money came from Wall Street tycoons, who particularly benefit from some of the biggest loopholes in the tax code.
● in the 2020 cycle, Pennsylvania billionaire Jeffrey Yass donated about $30 million bankrolling conservative Republican super PACs like Club for Growth Action and the Protect America PAC, both of which backed lawmakers who tried to overturn the 2020 election results.
● the Democratic counterparts of the two congressional GOP super PACs have received much less billionaire money: about 17%, or about $26 million out of $154 million. These billionaire contributions were much less concentrated by industry: while the most still came from finance and investment (35%), cryptocurrency (26%) and high-tech (18%) were also substantial sources.
In addition to direct contributions to candidates who will keep laws rigged in their favor, the wealthy also leverage influence through the corporations they control. Many of those corporations also spend big on midterm elections, backing mainly GOP candidates who pledge to keep corporate tax rates low and support lawmakers and candidates that deny the 2020 election outcome. The report highlights seven large corporations—AT&T, Chevron, ExxonMobil, FedEx, GM, Merck, and UPS—that together gave almost $1.5 million to election deniers this election cycle. In 2021, they paid an average 2.7% tax rate on a combined $78 billion in profits. Average American families pay about 13%.
Many of the Republicans they supported who are now in Congress are expected to oppose the current reconciliation bill that would raise taxes on millionaires and corporations while lowering prescription drug prices for seniors and making health care coverage more affordable for people with private insurance plans.
“What’s good for billionaires—like lower tax rates for the ultra-rich and corporations—is bad for the rest of us. A handful of billionaires already control more wealth than over half the American population and they plan to hold onto that wealth by buying the candidates and election outcomes they want to keep the rules rigged in their favor. Congress should take action now by cleaning up campaign finance rules and tax reforms that hold the super wealthy accountable to the same rules as the rest of us,” said Jeff Garis, the federal campaigns and program director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, which convenes the 99% Pennsylvania campaign.
Legislation to tax the ultra-wealthy has been proposed by President Biden, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Pennsylvania representatives Dwight Evans (PA-3) and Susan Wild (PA-17), who are cosponsoring Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s Babies Over Billionaires Act. Billionaires’ income tax proposals would tax the increased value of rich people’s wealth more like workers’ wages. Right now, the wealthy pay no more in taxes when their wealth increases because of stock assets unless they choose to sell those assets. A billionaires’ income tax could raise between $360 billion and $550 billion over 10 years.
JOIN US for our Tax The Ultra-Rich Now! public event in Philadelphia on Sunday, July 24.
Learn more about the TURN event here: https://www.mobilize.us/democracypa/event/478885/.