The conservative wing of the U.S. Supreme Court has again preempted state laws designed to protect American consumers. In yet another ruling that favors large corporations at the expense of working-class families, the Supreme Court held last week that state laws cannot override “unfair” arbitration provisions. The decision, AT&T v. Concepcion, will have devastating implications for millions of consumers because it unilaterally favors clauses imposed by corporations where consumers do not have a say. Described as the “biggest ever” ruling on class action suits, is another blow to people who want to collectively address a problem, and to states who want to find a fruitful way of addressing issues that are potentially unfair to the average consumer.
Several elected officials across the states have approached budget shortfalls with extremely short-sighted and economically damaging proposals, including lavish tax breaks for corporations, slashing unemployment benefits, heinous cuts to programs that primarily benefit middle class and working families, eliminating earned income tax credit (EITC) programs, and privatizing services and institutions across the board, such as mental health services, prisons, and infrastructure. These types of policies will only serve to worsen fiscal pressures, exacerbate the economic pain of the middle class, increase inequality, and heighten the current regressivity of state tax structures, which, on average, place a heavier burden on low and middle-income earners than the rich. This is demonstrative of a disturbing and pervasive recent trend: tax breaks for the affluent and corporations, and austerity for the rest.