Saturday, December 28, 2019

The protests continue and many protesters continue to be missing

  1. Tonight in Iraq people released these beautiful balloons commemorating those killed while protesting government corruption this fall.

The protests continue -- despite the continued targeting of the protesters.  Lawk Ghafuri (RUDAW) reports:

Scores of protesters and activists abducted over the course of nationwide protests remain missing, Iraq’s highest human rights body announced on Saturday.

A total of 68 protesters have been kidnapped by unknown actors due to their involvement in anti-government protests that began to grip the south and centre of the country on October 1, according to a statement from the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights (IHCHR).

“The Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights announces that 56 protesters and activists have been kidnapped and are still missing,” the statement reads. “Twelve protesters and activists have been kidnapped, but were released later.”

The protests have been one of the most important stories -- even if much of the US media played dumb.

  1. "The year 2019 will be remembered for the largest and most enduring anti-government protests in Iraq’s modern history"

While they can overlook the ongoing protests, they're all about the death on Friday.

  1. A US contractor has been killed & an unspecified number of US and Iraqi troops have been wounded in a rocket attack on a base in Kirkuk, Iraq. These are the first US casualties since a campaign of rocket attacks blamed on Iran-backed groups began earlier this year

"They" does not refer to Liz Sly who has repeatedly noted the protests.  It does refer to many others.  Why the interest in the death on Friday?  The death is being used to push for war on Iran. 

The following sites updated:

End Private Prisons (Elizabeth Warren)

From candidate Elizabeth Warren's website:

Last month Caliburn International — a for-profit company whose subsidiary operates Homestead, the largest detention center for unaccompanied migrant children — hired John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff. Caliburn has profited directly off of the Trump administration’s inhumane immigration policies — while children at Homestead are reportedly kept in unsanitary, prison-like conditions, often for months. Now John Kelly is cashing in, too.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal and I have demanded answers. But this is just the latest example of private prison companies wringing billions out of federal taxpayers. I’ve been after these companies to come clean about their practices and human rights abuses. Every answer just raises more questions.
We didn’t get here by chance. Washington works hand-in-hand with private prison companies, who spend millions on lobbyists, campaign contributions, and revolving-door hires — all to turn our criminal and immigration policies into ones that prioritize making them rich instead of keeping us safe. From 2000 to 2016, the private prison population grew five times as quickly as the overall prison population. And the profiteers multiplied, too: today, nearly 4,000 corporations make money off mass incarceration.

President Obama took steps to lower the incarceration rate and wind down private prisons, but these companies got their biggest break yet when Donald Trump landed in the White House. With Trump, private prison companies saw their chance to run the same playbook for our immigration system. They poured money into lobbying for “alternatives” to ICE detention centers. And boy, did it pay off. Private detention centers have made millions implementing Trump’s cruel immigration policies, as the number of detained children quintupled in just a single year. Today 73% of detained immigrants are held in private detention facilities.

The companies running prisons and detention centers regularly sacrificesafety to boost their bottom line. Private facilities have higher rates of assaults than federal prisons. They violate federal rules by putting incarcerated people into solitary confinement to fit more bodies in the building. They impose forced labor on immigrants just to make a buck. Multiple detainees have committed suicide. And now, under Trump, babies are getting sick and dying from their detention centers.

The government has also stood silently by while private contractors providing services in both public and private centers come up with extortive schemes to make millions off of the backs of incarcerated people. Prison phone companies charge as much as $25 for a 15-minute call, forcing families into debt just to stay connected to loved ones. Commissary contractors mark up prices, and companies coerce detainees to work for as little as a dollar a day just to afford basic necessities like toothpaste.

While contractors getting paid taxpayer dollars cut corners to maximize margins, the government has turned a blind eye. Food companies make millions but serve bug-infested food to save cash. An investigation into a prison transport company that allowed at least five deaths and a sexual assault to occur under their watch has gone nowhere.

And today, the exploitation doesn’t end when individuals emerge from prison or detention. Current law pushes money into the hands of for-profit supervision companies, many of which are run by the same private prison corporations. These companies get rich by making people just getting out of prison — often with huge debts — pay outrageous fees for monitoring and supervision services like ankle monitors. Some have gone so far as to threaten individuals with reincarceration.

This is exploitation, plain and simple. Our criminal and immigration systems are tearing apart communities of color and devastating the poor, including children. Women — especially women of color — are particularly saddled with the financial burden. We need significant reform in both criminal justice and in immigration, to end mass incarceration and all of the unnecessary, cruel, and punitive forms of immigration detention that have taken root in the Trump Administration.
The first step is to end this private profiteering off cruelty.

The government has a basic responsibility to keep the people in its care safe — not to use their punishment as an opportunity for profit. That’s why today, I’m proposing my plan to root out once and for all the profit incentives perverting our criminal and immigration systems.

Here’s what I’ll do:
  • Ban private prisons and detention facilities. There should be no place in America for profiting off putting more people behind bars or in detention. That’s why I will shut down the use of federal private detention facilities by ending all contracts that the Bureau of Prisons, ICE, and the U.S. Marshals Service have with private detention providers. And I will extend these bans to states and localities by conditioning their receipt of federal public safety funding on their use of public facilities.
  • Stop contractors from charging service fees for essential services.
    Companies shouldn’t be able to treat incarcerated individuals as captive profit centers. We should prohibit contractors from charging incarcerated and detained people for basic services they need, like phone calls, bank transfers, and healthcare. I’ll also keep contractors from imposing exploitative price markups on other services they provide, like commissary or package services. And I’ll prohibit companies from charging for re-entry, supervision, and probation services, too — because no one should have to pay for their own incarceration, whether it’s inside a facility or outside of one.
  • Hold contractors accountable by expanding oversight, transparency and enforcement. It’s time to shine sunlight on the black box of private services that receive taxpayer dollars. I’ll close the ridiculous FOIA loophole that lets private prison subcontractors operate in the shadows. I will put in place an independent Prison Conditions Monitor within the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General. The Monitor will keep contractors from cutting corners to make a quick buck by setting enforceable quality standards, regularly auditing and investigating contractors, and terminating their contracts if they fall short. I’ll direct the Department of Justice to prosecute companies that blatantly violate the law. And I’ll make sure companies are held accountable no matter who’s in the White House by allowing people to bring a lawsuit against abusive contractors who violate their rights.
Washington hands billions over to corporations profiting off of inhumane detention and incarceration policies while ignoring the families that are destroyed in the process. We need to call that out for what it is: corruption. Incarcerating and detaining millions for profit doesn’t keep us safe. It’s time to do better.

Corporate Accountability and Democracy (Bernie Sanders)

From candidate Bernie Sanders' website:

Key Points

  • Fundamentally shift the wealth of the economy back into the hands of the workers who create it.
  • Give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for.
  • Break up corrupt corporate mergers and monopolies, including reviewing all mergers that have taken place during the Trump administration and institute new merger guidelines
  • Finally make corporations pay their fair share of taxes by reversing Trump’s corporate tax breaks and closing corporate tax loopholes to raise up to $3 trillion over 10-years.


In America today, corporate greed and corruption is destroying the social and economic fabric of our society, where a small group of ultra-wealthy CEOs are making the decisions that increasingly determine our economic, environmental and political future. For too long, these greedy corporate CEOs have rigged the tax code, killed market competition, and crushed the lives and power of workers and communities across America. Year after year we’ve seen wages slashed and thousands of workers laid off, all while the richest corporate CEOs pay themselves huge bonuses. They got away with it through a broken campaign finance system, where a few large campaign donations can get you the ear of any politician.

Now Donald Trump, the most corrupt president in history, has brought this corporate corruption straight into the Oval Office.

Enough is enough. With Bernie’s Corporate Accountability and Democracy Plan, we will give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, break up corrupt corporate mergers and monopolies, and finally make corporations pay their fair share. When Bernie is president, we’re going to put an end to the corporate greed ruining our country once and for all.

Give Workers an Ownership Stake in Corporate America

In America today, corporate greed is destroying the social and economic fabric of our society and rapidly moving our nation into an oligarchy, in which a small handful of multi-billionaires increasingly determine our economic, environmental, and political future.

Today, the richest 10 percent of Americans own an estimated 97 percent of all capital income – including capital gains, corporate dividends, and interest payments. Since the 2008 Wall Street crash, 49 percent of all new income generated in America has gone to the top 1 percent. The three wealthiest people in our country now own more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans. And the richest family in America – the Walton family, which inherited about half of Walmart’s stock – is worth $200 billion and owns more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of the American people.

While the corporate profits that presently go to a small number of ultra-wealthy families are at or near an all-time high, wages as a percentage of our economy are near an all-time low.

Instead of using their massive profits to benefit workers and our society as a whole, corporate America has pumped over $1 trillion into stock buybacks to reward already-wealthy shareholders and executives since the Trump tax plan was signed into law. Meanwhile, as the very rich become ever richer, the average hourly wage of the American worker has gone up by just 1 percent from where it was 46 years ago, after adjusting for inflation. Since 1982, the Walton family has experienced a more than 10,000 percent increase in its wealth, while the median family in America has less wealth today than it did 37 years ago.

The reality is that today the executives and biggest shareholders of most large, profitable corporations could not give a damn about the working class or the communities in which our corporations operate. Those who control these behemoth corporations have only one allegiance: to the short-term bottom line. What happens to their employees, what happens to the environment, and what happens to the community in which their firms function matters very little. These are not really American companies – they are companies currently located in America at most, and increasingly aren’t even incorporated here but instead merely selling here. Tomorrow, if the economics made sense to them, they could be located in China – and already they are incorporating in offshore tax havens like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

This type of greed is not an economic model we should be embracing. We can do better; we must do better.

The establishment tells us there is no alternative to unfettered capitalism, that this is how the system and globalization work and there’s no turning back. They are dead wrong.

The truth is that we can and we must develop new economic models to create jobs and increase wages and productivity across America. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to large corporations that ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to give workers an ownership stake in the companies they work for, a say in the decision-making process that impacts their lives, and a fair share of the profits that their work makes possible in the first place.

If workers had ownership stakes in their companies and an equal say on corporate boards:
  • Corporations would be far less likely to shut down profitable factories in the United States and move abroad;
  • CEOs would not be making over 300 times as much as their average workers; and
  • Companies would be far less likely to pollute the communities in which workers live.
The time has come to substantially expand employee ownership in America. Study after study has shown that employee ownership increases employment, increases productivity, increases sales, and increases wages in the United States. This is in large part because employee-owned businesses boost employee morale, dedication, creativity and productivity, because workers share in profits and have more control over their own work lives.

Employees in worker-owned companies are not simply cogs in a machine owned by someone else. They play a central role in determining what the company does and how it is run.

By giving workers seats on corporate boards and a stake in their companies, we can create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent. Not only are we going to make it much easier to join a union and much harder to misclassify workers through the Workplace Democracy Act and increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. With this proposal we are going to fundamentally shift the wealth of the economy back into the hands of those who create it.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Share Corporate Wealth with Workers. Under this plan, corporations with at least $100 million in annual revenue, corporations with at least $100 million in balance sheet total, and all publicly traded companies will be required to provide at least 2 percent of stock to their workers every year until the company is at least 20 percent owned by employees. This will be done through the issuing of new shares and the establishment of Democratic Employee Ownership Funds.
    • These funds will be under the control of a Board of Trustees directly elected by the workforce. Employees will be guaranteed payments from the funds equivalent to their shares of ownership as equal partners in the funds.
    • Workers will be guaranteed the right to vote the shares given to them through this plan. The funds will enjoy the same voting rights as any other institutional shareholder and their shares will not be permitted to be transferred or sold. Instead, they will be held permanently in trust for the workforce. Dividend payments will be made from the Funds directly to employees.
    • According to the most recent statistics, 56 million workers in over 22,000 companies in America would benefit under this plan.An estimate based on data from over 1,000 companies shows that directing 20 percent of dividends to workers could provide an average dividend payment of over $5,000 per worker every year.
  • Democratize Corporate Boards. Under this plan, 45 percent of the board of directors in any large corporation with at least $100 million in annual revenue, corporations with at least $100 million in balance sheet total, and all publicly traded companies will be directly elected by the firm’s workers – similar to what happens under “employee co-determination” in Germany, which long has had one of the most productive and successful economies in the world.
    • When workers have a seat at the table, when they are involved in the decision-making that impacts their jobs and their work at the desk or on the shopfloor the results are clear – absenteeism goes down, productivity goes up, and people stay at their jobs for longer periods of time.
    • When workers are respected on the job as full human beings who help make decisions for a profitable company, rather than being mere cogs in the machine, morale goes up. And workers who sit on corporate boards will not vote to pay themselves poverty wages or ship their own jobs to low-wage countries to further enrich overpaid CEOs and a few wealthy stockholders.
  • Require Federal “Stakeholder” Charters for Large Companies. Under this plan, U.S. corporations with more than $100 million in annual revenue, corporations with at least $100 million in balance sheet total, and all publicly traded companies must obtain a federal charter from a newly established Bureau of Corporate Governance at the Department of Commerce. This new federal charter will require corporate boards to consider the interests of all of the stakeholders in a company – including workers, customers, shareholders, and the communities in which the corporation operates.
    • In October of 1981, the Business Roundtable, a group comprising the CEOs of most of the largest corporations in the country, issued a “Statement on Corporate Responsibility.” As journalist Ken Jacobsen documents, “the Business Roundtable, which groups the CEOs of the largest US firms, recognizes six constituencies – customers, employees, communities, society at large, suppliers, and shareholders – as forming the ‘web of complex, often competing relationships’ within which corporations operate. It accepts the idea that ‘shareholders have a special relationship to the corporation’ but doesn’t allow their interests to trump all others.” Here is an excerpt from the Business Roundtable statement in 1981:
      • “Balancing the shareholder’s expectations of maximum return against other priorities is one of the fundamental problems confronting corporate management. The shareholders must receive a good return but the legitimate concerns of other constituencies also must have appropriate attention. Striking the appropriate balance, some leading managers have come to believe that the primary role of corporations is to help meet society’s legitimate needs for goods and services and to earn a reasonable return for the shareholders in the process. They are aware that this must be done in a socially acceptable manner. They believe that by giving enlightened consideration to balancing the legitimate claims of all its constituents, a corporation will best serve the interest of the shareholders.”
    • This statement was rewritten in 1997, when the Business Roundtable adopted a statement that put shareholder returns ahead of everyone else. This year, the Business roundtable released empty words recognizing the error in admitting corporations put profits and shareholder returns above everything else. Empty words are not enough. This plan will ensure that corporations conduct business in a fair way – a way that treats workers and the communities in which businesses operate with respect. In order to conduct business, a federal charter that ends the practice of putting shareholder returns above everything and requires corporations to conduct business in a way that takes into account the interests of all stakeholders must be obtained.
  • Ban Stock Buybacks. Under this plan, large-scale stock buybacks will be treated like stock manipulation, just as they were before 1982. This will be done by repealing the Securities and Exchange Commission’s misguided Rule 10b-18. Since Trump signed his tax plan into law, corporations have announced over $1 trillion in stock repurchases which provide absolutely no benefit to the job-creating productive economy. These buybacks are nothing more than stock price manipulation and must be treated as such.
  • Require Firms that “Outsource” Production to Low Wage Countries or Automate to Convey Shares to “Laid Off” Employees. Under this plan, the owners of firms that dispose of American labor to take advantage of robots or cheap labor overseas will be required to share the gains that they make through such practices with those whom these practices harm. Champions of “globalization” and “automation” often claim “everybody wins” through these practices, or that at least the gains exceed the losses. If those claims are true, then the owners of those firms can more than afford to share their gains with the workers they displace. It is time to enable the owners of outsourcing and automating firms literally to “put their money” – that is, their ownership shares – “where their mouths are.”
  • Establish a U.S. Employee Ownership Bank. Under this plan, a $500 million U.S. Employee Ownership Bank will be created to provide low-interest loans, loan guarantees, and technical assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses through the establishment of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) or Eligible Worker-Owned Cooperatives. In order to be eligible for assistance under this plan, the ESOPs or worker coops would need to be at least 51 percent owned by workers.
  • Guarantee a Right of First Refusal. Under this plan, workers will be given the right to buy a company when it goes up for sale, is closing, or if a factory is moving overseas and will receive financial assistance from the U.S. Employee Ownership Bank to make that possible.
  • Create Worker Ownership Centers. Under this plan, worker ownership centers, modeled after successful programs in Ohio and Vermont, will be established in every state and regional center in the country. These centers will educate retiring business owners and workers about the benefits of employee ownership. It has been estimated that with education and financial assistance from the federal government between 150,000 to 300,000 retiring owners of small to mid-sized businesses could sell their companies to their workers.
  • Diversify Corporations. Under this plan, we will develop rules to diversify corporate boards by ensuring a significant portion of every board be comprised of people from historically underrepresented groups (e.g. marginalized by gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability or sexuality). And we will require every corporation to complete an annual report that gives the compensation, gender, and racial composition of board and employees.

Shareholder Democracy

Today in the United States, a tiny group of asset managers control most of the votes in the economy. They control shares in corporations, which control our workplaces, our pay, our security in retirement, and our environment. The three biggest asset manager firms – BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard – if combined would be the largest shareholder in 438 out of the S&P 500 largest corporations. In each firm, there are just 10 to 20 people working in corporate governance departments, who cast the votes on all corporate shares that they control. Under 50 people control the votes in the American economy.

These asset managers oppose labor unions and fair wages. They support escalating pay for billionaire CEOs. They oppose action to end discrimination at work and stop the gender pay gap. They oppose meaningful action to combat climate damage. They oppose an end to corporate political spending, and billionaires buying elections, under the disastrous Citizens United decision.

The voting power asset managers control comes from other people’s money. It doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to us. It comes from Americans saving for retirement, in group and single-employer pension plans, in 401(k)s, in life insurance, and in mutual funds. But the share of workers’ capital in the stock market has been shrinking since the 1980s. Inequality has skyrocketed as workplace democracy and collective bargaining have been attacked. This has meant a smaller slice of the pie for American labor, and a growing slice for Wall Street. We need to rebalance the share of income and wealth in favor of labor. We need to give America a pay raise. We need to expand democracy in the workplace and the economy.

As president, Bernie will:

  • End the monopoly of shareholders on voting rights in the American economy. Every employee should be guaranteed the right to vote at work, and have a voice in setting their pay, regardless of the kind or size of company or firm they work for.
  • Ban asset managers voting on other people’s money, unless they are following instructions, just like we banned broker-dealer voting in the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • Guarantee the right of every saver to elect representatives who set voting policy in corporations, in multi-employer pensions, single-employer pensions, in 401(k) funds, and every other form.
  • Organize sectoral pension plans, with more bargaining power, that can ditch Wall Street asset managers and take voting in-house, as we revitalize sectoral collective bargaining.

Break Up Monopolies and Make Markets Competitive

Today, we are seeing a level of corporate concentration not seen since the Gilded Age. Over the past 40 years, nearly every single industry in the country has become more concentrated. Monopolies and oligopolies rule over every aspect of American life, from the food we eat, the beer we drink, the airlines we fly, even to the eyeglasses we wear. Without competition, these corporations are able to gouge consumers, extort suppliers, and stifle innovation.

At the turn of the 20th century, Congress saw the need to restrict the monopolistic and unfair practices of massive trusts and corporations. The Sherman Antitrust Act, the Clayton Antitrust Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act gave wide latitude for the federal government to enforce anti-monopoly policy, recognizing the destructive nature of unchecked corporate power. However, over the past several decades, the federal judiciary and antitrust agencies have been hijacked by right-wing, corporate-aligned ideologues who have made the failed Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s idea of “consumer welfare” the guiding principle for antitrust law. In implementing Bork’s far right ideology, the Supreme Court has weakened laws put in place to protect people from consolidation and monopolization and has left the economy to be run by a few large corporations.

This has resulted in a new era of monopoly power. Concentrated markets have led to lower wages and less innovation. We are seeing large corporations stamp out fair competition, excluding smaller rivals and raising prices for consumers.

These large corporations are also able to create laws that benefit them, as we’ve seen with companies like Amazon fight to pay no taxes in the communities where they operate, while at the same time paying nothing in federal taxes. Consolidation of large hospital systems has led to higher prices and worse service. In agribusiness, Bayer controls a seed monopoly that crushes small farmers, and Tyson Foods locks powerless chicken farmers into exploitative contracts with no way out.

We are seeing mega-mergers like the one between T-Mobile and Sprint, which represents a gross concentration of power that runs counter to the public good. Americans deserve affordable wireless access. This merger will not only lead to fewer options and higher prices for consumers, but it could lead to 30,000 jobs lost and reduced wages for thousands more. Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox has created a conglomerate that controls media in sports, in movie theaters, and on television.
Bernie believes we need to rediscover the American tradition of controlling corporate power and promoting fair competition through antitrust. He will halt anticompetitive mergers, break up existing monopolies and oligopolies, and appoint federal regulators ready to take action on behalf of workers and consumers – not massive corporations. He will take antitrust enforcement authority out of the control of the captured judiciary and create markets that work for all, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

Review All Mergers that Have Taken Place During the Trump Administration

The Trump administration has been plagued by corruption and its approvals of mergers and acquisitions have been no different. We have seen the administration approve mergers after CEOs and investors spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at Trump hotels, despite knowing that it will result in thousands of workers losing their jobs. This is unacceptable and under Bernie’s administration, these mergers will be reviewed and, when necessary, undone.

Furthermore, over the past 40 years we have seen a huge rise in the number of mergers and acquisitions approved. We can see this has led to lower wages, stagnant growth and innovation, and left our economy unstable. The Federal Trade Commission must conduct a comprehensive study to investigate the impacts these mergers have had on competition, our economy, and workers, and establish new guidelines that restrict mergers and acquisitions.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Have the FTC conduct a thorough review of all mergers and acquisitions since Trump took office and undo those that have created highly concentrated markets, demonstrably caused harm to workers, raised prices, or reduced competition.
  • Have the FTC conduct a review of all mergers and acquisitions from the past 40 years to set up new guidelines for approval that will have a special focus on economic security, job security, and competition.
    • This report will also take a special look at behavioral data that companies collect and the relationship that information has with price discrimination.
  • In a Bernie Sanders administration, the FTC will break up corporations that have accumulated dominant market share and are able to wield their market power in anti-competitive ways.

Reinvigorate the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission has failed its mission. Antitrust enforcement has fallen to almost none in recent years. Under the Trump administration, the FTC has shown deference to the largest, most powerful corporations instead of fighting for workers and consumers. When the FTC settled with Facebook for $5 billion over egregious privacy violations, Facebook’s stock rose, as investors knew it was a slap on the wrist. Similarly, the FTC’s recent settlement with YouTube over child privacy violations amounts to just three months of ad revenue. Even as it has handled monopolists with kid gloves, it has attacked the organizing efforts of workers and professionals, including in the gig economy.

The FTC has lost its credibility as a regulatory agency. A Sanders FTC will be reinvigorated. Bernie will appoint commissioners who serve the public interest and will end the revolving door of FTC commissioners and staff leaving to work for the very same corporations they were previously in charge of regulating.

All too often, decisions about mergers and acquisitions are determined by judges, not expert regulators, and have to go through a complicated legal system to be overturned. This is not how other nations approach mergers and acquisitions. The Federal Trade Commission must be given the authority to halt mergers and impose fines on companies that violate FTC guidelines without long, costly, and ideological court battles. Judges do not have the expertise to determine the economic and labor impacts of mergers and the FTC, whose staff has the training needed to make these decisions, must have the authority to approve or deny mergers.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Expand the authority of the FTC to allow it to impose administrative fines on companies and halt mergers without challenging them in federal court.
  • Expand the authority of the FTC to review the non-coordinated effects of mergers by different entities in the same market or closely related markets.
    • Produce an annual report on the impacts of mergers across markets or closely related markets.
  • Explicitly grant the FTC full rulemaking authority, under the Sherman, Clayton, and Federal Trade Commission Acts, to establish rules for a fair, competitive marketplace.
    • Repeal the additional rulemaking burdens placed on the FTC under the Magnuson-Moss Act.
    • Repeal the section of the Magnuson-Moss Act that states the FTC shall be funded through appropriations, and clarify that the FTC will be granted reasonable fees needed to carry out its duties.
  • Ban the revolving door of personnel between industry and regulators.

Institute New Merger Guidelines

Guidelines for approving mergers reflect pro-corporate ideology and should instead account for the adverse effects mergers often have on workers, consumers, and our economy as a whole. While mergers have historically been great for large corporations, they have hurt workers by closing down plants and reducing wages, and have hurt our economy and our democracy by consolidating market power to a few actors who control entire markets and industries.

The Federal Trade Commission will have the authority to approve or deny mergers, and will focus on people, not profits.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Institute bright-line merger guidelines that set caps for vertical mergers, horizontal mergers, and total market share.
  • Instruct the FTC to produce a report to identify common practices that result in anti-worker behavior, threaten competition, or engage in price discrimination (this includes using behavioral data to get customers to purchase goods and/or services that they would not normally purchase at a price that is inflated).
    • No merger will be approved for companies that engage in the behaviors identified by the FTC as harming workers, competition, or fair pricing.
  • End institutional deference to the “consumer welfare standard.”
  • Place a moratorium on mergers and vertical integration of large agribusiness corporations.

Ensure Fair Contracts

Corporations and employers have an unprecedented amount of power over workers, consumers, and suppliers. While corporations will argue that a signed contract is freely agreed to, in reality there is often no choice but to agree to the terms set by these corporate overlords. Corporations use contracts to rob us of fundamental rights, such as the right to leave for a better job and hold corporate wrongdoers accountable in court. An estimated one in five workers is bound by a non-compete agreement, ostensibly to protect trade secrets and prevent poaching of high-level executives. Today, maids, hair stylists, and fast food workers are subject to these clauses. An estimated 60 percent of major franchises have non-compete clauses in their contracts, which drive down wages and mobility.
Mandatory arbitration clauses prevent workers and consumers from having their day in court. In 1992, roughly 2 percent of the workforce were bound by mandatory arbitration. By 2000, that number had risen to 25 percent. Now, it’s 55 percent. Nearly two-thirds of workers making less than $13 an hour are subject by mandatory arbitration clauses, including majorities of women, Hispanic, and African-American workers. For consumers, mandatory arbitration takes away the option for class-action lawsuits and helps corporations avoid paying restitution for misconduct and fraud. The Supreme Court has empowered corporations to use arbitration to deny us our day in court in front of a jury of our peers.

Even understanding and signing a contract is no defense when the contract includes a unilateral modification clause, which stipulates the terms can be changed at any time, for any reason. Consumers, customers, and workers are subject to the governance of hundreds of pages of fine-print developed by highly-paid lawyers for the purpose of shielding corporations and cementing their market power. The Federal Trade Commission will use its authority to prohibit unfair methods of competition and ban practices that tilt the playing field.

As president, Bernie will:

  • Ban mandatory arbitration clauses.
  • Ban non-compete clauses.
  • Ban unilateral modification clauses.
  • Ban clauses that deny farmers and consumers the right to repair the equipment and technology they purchase.
  • Instruct the FTC to develop guidelines for anti-competitive exclusivity agreements and ban practices that lock suppliers into unfair arrangements.

Make Large Corporations Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

For more than 40 years, Wall Street banks, large profitable corporations, and the billionaire class have rigged the tax code to redistribute wealth and income to the richest and most powerful people in this country.

The American people have had enough. They are sick and tired of profitable corporations like Amazon, General Motors, Eli Lilly, Chevron, Halliburton, Netflix and Delta making billions in profits, but paying nothing in federal income taxes.

Working together, a Bernie Sanders administration will end a rigged tax code and political system that allows large corporations to shift their profits to the Cayman Islands to avoid paying American taxes and to ship jobs to China and other low-wage countries to avoid paying American wages.

If we are serious about reforming the tax code and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to demand that the most profitable corporations pay their fair share in taxes.

End Corporate Tax Avoidance

One of the biggest outrages in the tax code today is that many of the largest corporations in the world are able to make billions in profits and pay nothing in U.S. corporate income taxes. In fact, many of them receive millions in tax refunds.

Between 2017 and 2018 Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in the world, made $16.2 billion in profits. But not only did Amazon pay nothing in federal income taxes over those two years, it received a tax refund of $270 million from the IRS. And Amazon was not alone.

As a result of the Trump tax giveaway to the rich, the number of large, profitable corporations paying no federal income taxes doubled last year. In fact, in 2018, 60 profitable Fortune 500 companies not only paid zero in federal income taxes, they received a net corporate tax rebate of $4.3 billion.
Corporate tax avoidance did not begin with the Trump tax cuts, but it certainly made a bad situation far worse. At a time of record-breaking profits, large corporations actually paid $92 billion less in taxes in 2018 than the year before – a drop of 30 percent.

In 1952, corporate income taxes accounted for 32 percent of all federal revenue. But last year, just 6 percent of all federal revenue came from corporate income taxes, a five-fold drop over that time period.

According to the Office and Management and Budget, corporate tax revenues in 2018 were just 1 percent of GDP, tying the lowest points since the 1930s and less than half the average over the past 85 years.

The reality is that we now have a tax code that has legalized tax dodging for large corporations and includes a myriad of tax breaks, deductions, credits, and tax avoidance loopholes that Bernie’s plan will end.

One of the major reasons for this tax avoidance is that corporations have been setting up thousands of shell corporations in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and other offshore tax havens to avoid paying taxes in the U.S.

This situation has become so absurd that one five-story office building in the Cayman Islands is the “home” to more than 19,000 corporations.

The good news is that the overwhelming majority of the American people are demanding that corporations pay their fair share of taxes. According to the latest Gallup poll, 69 percent of the American people believe that corporations are paying too little in taxes.

And a survey by the Pew Research Center found that the fact that corporations do not pay their fair share is the single issue about the tax code that bothers them the most.

The time has come to tell corporate CEOs and their wealthy stockholders: You cannot have it all. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry and veterans sleep out on the streets. You can’t continue getting tax breaks by shipping American jobs to China. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens while there are massive unmet needs in every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of 
America if you refuse to accept your responsibilities as Americans.

The Plan

As president, Bernie will raise up to $3 trillion over 10 years by repealing all of the disastrous corporate tax breaks enacted under Trump, closing corporate tax loopholes, and demanding that large corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

Of this revenue, $2 trillion will be used to help fund Bernie’s Green New Deal to combat climate change, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure to make it more climate resilient, and create millions of good-paying union jobs in the process. The rest will be used to help create an economy that works for all of us, not just the top 1 percent.

Under this plan, Bernie will:

  • Restore the corporate tax rate to 35 percent from 21 percent.
  • Ensure that corporations pay 35 percent by eliminating virtually all corporate tax breaks and loopholes.
    • This includes transitioning to economic depreciation for all investments, which partially offsets the tax advantage of investing in automation over labor.
    • This includes further limiting the interest deduction to 20 percent of adjusted taxable income and tightening related rules.
  • Eliminate the use of offshore tax havens by:
    • Applying the same tax rate on offshore and domestic income and applying a per-country limit on the foreign tax credit.
    • Eliminating inversions by limiting interest deductions to 105 percent of a corporation’s share of net interest expense over worldwide earnings, treating companies managed and controlled in the US as domestic corporations, and tightening the definition of inverted corporations to ones owned by 50 percent of the same shareholders after a merger.
    • Tightening other rules including limiting treaty shopping; reforming the base erosion and anti-abuse tax rate by lowering its threshold for application, raising its rate to 17.5 percent, and excluding deductible payments that give rise to includible US income; eliminating the tax break for foreign derived intangible income (FDII), and denying foreign tax credits for excise tax payments by oil, extractive, gambling, and other companies.
  • Requiring corporations with revenues over $25 million to publicly disclose significant portions of their tax returns and country by country financial information including earnings, financial accounts, and tax payments in other countries.
  • Eliminating the 20 percent deduction on pass-through business income and requiring large pass-through businesses to be subject to corporate taxes.
If this plan had been in effect last year, instead of paying nothing in federal income taxes:
  • Amazon would have paid up to $3.8 billion in taxes.
  • Delta would have paid up to $1.8 billion in taxes.
  • Chevron would have paid up to $1.6 billion in taxes.
  • GM would have paid up to $1.5 billion in taxes.