Get Millionaires to Pay Their Fair Share

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What's the single best idea to jumpstart job creation?

While nearly 30 million Americans continue to look for full-time work, life has never been better for America's wealthy.

While a janitor in Minneapolis breaks the news to her daughter that mommy lost her job, Verizon sits flush with $24 billion in profits over the past two years and hasn't had to pay a dime in taxes.

While one out of every four American children go to bed hungry each night, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship can sleep well dreaming about his $86 million in pay and $4 million of bonus Bush-era tax cuts.

The Great Jobs Debate: An Atlantic/McKinsey Report

America is not broke. Some of us have just forgotten our childhood lessons about sharing and fairness. And this growing divide between millionaires and CEOs and the rest of us is simply un-American. We can put Americans back to work. But only if our government and the private sector find common ground in getting everyone--CEOs and millionaires included--to pay their fair share in our democracy and invest in the good jobs we need. With America facing such a great crisis, we can no longer afford to pay corporations to offshore American jobs. Simply ending this tax break alone would save taxpayers as much as $40 billion a year, discourage corporations from moving jobs to China, and create up to 300,000 American jobs a year.

We can no longer afford tax subsidies for big oil companies, we can no longer afford to allow corporations like Wells Fargo to receive a $4 billion refund from taxpayers after posting $12 billion in profits, and CEOs likeExxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson can afford to go without his $1.4 million Bush era tax cut. With $800 billion, money generated by rolling back corporate tax breaks and forcing millionaires and corporations to pay their fair share, we could put more than six million Americans back to work over the next two years. These workers will in turn spend their wages and help create millions more jobs.

Indeed, the demand for jobs is real. The need for human service jobs has never been greater. We could help state and local governments, non-profits and private businesses create millions of healthcare, child care, home care, education, public safety, and other jobs critical to keeping our communities healthy, educated and safe. We have $2.2 trillion in unmet infrastructure needs--roads, bridges, schools, broadband networks, and clean energy improvements--we could help private contractors, and state and local governments put millions back to work through public-private partnerships.

Our country can do incredible things. We put our faith in the American value of hard work to get through the Great Depression, we put a person on the moon when no one thought it could be done, and we revived an American auto industry on the brink of extinction. Surely we can muster the political courage to tell CEOs and millionaires--you can still have your yacht, but it's time to pay your fair share to put America back to work.

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Mary Kay Henry

International President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

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