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Tax breaks for millionaires isn’t a philosophy, it’s a pay-off


A Martian reading Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s tax plan might imagine that the streets of Lexington are paved with platinum, that a commoner’s brunch in Bowling Green consists of Kobe steak, Iranian caviar, and bottomless mimosas with Dom Perignon, that people in Louisville never get sick, and that in Kentucky, billionaires outnumber corn stocks.  

They would be wrong, of course, but I would forgive them, because why else would Kentucky’s representative in the U.S. Senate propose a tax plan that most benefits people with an annual salary of $900,000 a year or more when less than 1 percent of the people in Kentucky earn that kind of money?

This is not an anti-tax philosophy, it’s a payoff.

{mosads}McConnell promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a move that would strip affordable and accessible health care from an estimated 22 million Americans, in order to eliminate a tax on investment income, providing a huge windfall to the 1 percent. And now he’s pushing a tax plan where 80 percent of the benefits would go to people earning over $900,000 a year — that’s 22 times the amount of money that the average family in Kentucky earns.  

But it gets worse. Under his plan an estimated 30 percent of the middle class, people earning between $50,000 and $150,000 will see their tax bill increase. In other words, McConnell’s tax plan is effectively taking money from the middle class in order to give it to the rich. And worse, the tax cuts will eventually force cuts to essential programs that help the poor and middle class such as public libraries, food assistance, disability insurance, and Medicaid.

McConnell doesn’t represent Kentucky, at least not in any meaningful way. Instead, McConnell has struck a perverse bargain with billionaires and corporations that keep his leadership PAC and campaign coffers flush with cash, apparently in return for pushing policies that benefit big corporations and billionaires at the expense of the good citizens of Kentucky and America. He is not the only corporate stooge in Congress. There are hundreds of them and they are Democrats and Republicans alike.

If we want a government that represents the people, not special interests, corporations, and billionaires, we need to end the current corrupt campaign finance system that Sen. John McCain calls “legalized bribery” and get big money out of politics.  We need to win an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that overturns bad 5 to 4 Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United v. F.E.C. that have emboldened people to abuse public office for the sake of power and private profit.

There are heroes in Congress too, people regardless of ideology, who are fighting for a better democracy, Republicans like Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), independents like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democrats like Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).  But until people all over the country rise up — Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike — and demand fundamental change, the swamp-king will rule.

That’s why I started Stamp Stampede, a national, decentralized protest and demonstration of demand for a Constitutional amendment.

Nearly 80,000 people across the country are legally rubber-stamping messages like “Not To Be Used To Bribe Politicians” on paper currency in order to spread the message and register their disgust. I call it a petition on steroids. Every dollar passes through nearly 1,000 hands before it’s retired. Together, we’re stamping millions of dollar bills to demand change.

According to a 2016 Rasmussen poll, 80 percent of Americans agree that special interests have too much influence in Washington, if those who want to reclaim our democracy join this protest and start making their money talk (literally by turning their money into millions of miniature billboards), “We the People” will prevail.

Ben Cohen is the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and the founder and head stamper of, a non-profit dedicated to reducing the corrupting influence of money in politics.

Tags Bernie Sanders John McCain Mitch McConnell

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