Via: Atlantic Wire
The rich (see photo) pay taxes differently, apparently, than you and me.
Today the IRS said that a total of 30,000 individuals have come forward in a voluntary disclosure program for tax cheats that already has yielded the IRS $2.7 billion from offshore bank accounts in places like Switzerland and Bermuda, according to reports from the AP and Bloomberg. And yet, as one tax attorney told Bloomberg, it’s “still only a FRACTION of the people who have these accounts.”
The word “voluntarily” in the paragraph above maybe deserved some quotation marks, because the alternative to coming clean for a lot of these tax evaders is prosecution. The IRS has been cracking down on the wealthy who funnel money to offshore accounts as of late.
“The results we’re seeing today were unthinkable just a few short years ago,” IRS head honcho Douglas Shulman told the press today. “The world has clearly changed.”
But this may be it for the well-to-do willing to disclose. There had been two rounds of the program so far, and another tax attorney interviewed by Bloomberg doubts there will be a third one, given the moral hazard further rounds create. “It would be like catching a bus. You miss one and you wait for the next one,” he said.
Time to draw up the indictments.
That’s great to talk about ‘catching a second bus’ for tax cheats; but if someone is dealing crack on a ‘city bus’, does he/she get a 2nd chance?
In an effort to obtain badly needed revenue for the ailing U.S. economy, President Barack Obama recently appeared in a 30-second television spot for the popular Japanese snack product Glico Pretz Ham & Cheese, White House sources reported Wednesday.
According to aides, the advertisement will air nationally throughout Japan and will feature the president endorsing a savory, stick-shaped cracker snack manufactured by the Ezaki Glico corporation, which agreed to pay Obama a one-time fee of $300,000 PLUS residuals, compensation to be used exclusively for U.S. economic stimulus purposes.
“While the president does not ordinarily endorse retail products, he was willing to make an exception for Glico Pretz Ham & Cheese as a way of easing the current financial burden on our country,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, stressing that the commercial’s quick, two-day shoot outside of Yokohama took little time out of Obama’s schedule and was of the highest production quality. “Also, we have been assured by Ezaki Glico CEO Katsuhisa Ezaki that the TV advertisement, and accompanying billboard and bus ads, will only be seen in Japan and will portray the president in a very flattering, elegant light befitting a world leader of his stature.”
Representatives for Ezaki Glico confirmed this week that the visually opulent ad will feature the president wearing swim trunks and relaxing with a group of young Japanese male friends by the side of an animated swimming pool filled with melted cheese and ham.
Via: The Onion ‘America’s Finest News Source’
If President Obama doesn’t decide to become a Japanese citizen – Re-ELECT OBAMA in 2012!
“As we work with Congress in the coming year to chart a new course in Iraq and strengthen our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century, we must also work together to achieveimportant goals for the American people here at home.
This work begins with keeping our economy growing. … And I encourage you all to go shopping more.”
Via: Project Syndicate – A World of Ideas
The September 11, 2001, terror attacks by Al Qaeda were meant to harm the United States, and they did, but in ways that Osama bin Laden probably never imagined. President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks compromised America’s basic principles, undermined its economy, and weakened its security.
The attack on Afghanistan that followed the 9/11 attacks was understandable, but the subsequent invasion of Iraq was entirely unconnected to Al Qaeda – as much as Bush tried to establish a link. That war of choice quickly became very expensive – orders of magnitude beyond the $60 billion claimed at the beginning – as colossal incompetence met dishonest misrepresentation.
Indeed, when Linda Bilmes and I calculated America’s war costs three years ago, the conservative tally was $3-5 trillion. Since then, the costs have mounted further. With almost 50% of returning troops eligible to receive some level of disability payment, and more than 600,000 treated so far in veterans’ medical facilities, we now estimate that future disability payments and health-care costs will total $600-900 billion. But the social costs, reflected in veteran suicides (which have topped 18 PER DAY in recent years) and family breakups, are INCALCULABLE.
Even if Bush could be forgiven for taking America, and much of the rest of the world, to war on false pretenses, and for misrepresenting the cost of the venture, there is no excuse for how he chose to finance it. His was the first war in history paid for entirely on credit. As America went into battle, with deficits already soaring from his 2001 tax cut, Bush decided to plunge ahead with yet another round of tax “relief” for the wealthy.
Today, America is focused on unemployment and the deficit. Both threats to America’s future can, in no small measure, be traced to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Increased defense spending, together with the Bush tax cuts, is a key reason why America went from a fiscal surplus of 2% of GDP when Bush was elected to its parlous deficit and debt position today. Direct government spending on those wars so far amounts to roughly $2 trillion – $17,000 for every US household – with bills yet to be received increasing this amount by more than 50%.
PLEASE take a few minutes and read the rest, HERE:
Joseph E. Stiglitz is University Professor at Columbia University, a Nobel laureate in economics, and the author of Freefall: Free Markets and the Sinking of the Global Economy.
18 suicides a day: Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann
Via: NYT – the NEW ‘Fair and Balance’
At least 25 top United States companies paid more to their chief executives in 2010 than they did to the federal government in taxes, according to a study released on Wednesday.
The companies — which include household names like eBay, Boeing, General Electric and Verizon — averaged $1.9 billion each in profits, according to the study by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal-leaning (that doesn’t mean the numbers are wrong, does it?) research group. But a variety of shelters, loopholes and tax reduction strategies allowed the companies to average $304 million each in tax benefits — which can be taken as a refund or used as write-off against earnings in future years.
The chief executives of those companies were paid an average of more than $16 million a year, the study found, a figure substantially higher than the $10.8 million average for all companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.
The financial data in the report was taken from the companies’ regulatory filings, which can differ from what is actually filed on a corporate tax return. Even in a year when a company claims an overall tax benefit, it may pay some cash taxes while accumulating credits that can be redeemed in future years. For instance, General Electric reported a federal tax benefit of more than $3 billion in 2010, but company officials said they still expected to pay a SMALL AMOUNT of cash taxes (‘while accumulating credits that can be redeemed in future years’ – hey, that’s fair).
“Hey Citizen, you dropped the soap” – Republican/Tea/Libertarian Party
OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate.
Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s
actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
Please read the rest, HERE:
I believe the teabaggers want to reduce the deficit by cutting costs, instead of equalizing the tax burden.
Why do they want to do that?
Because many believe they will, someday, win the POWERBALL.
OK, so Standard and Poors has gone ahead with the threatened downgrade. It’s a strange situation.
On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.
On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscalpolicy?
Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.
More than that, everything I’ve heard about S&P’s demands suggests that it’s talking nonsense about the US fiscal situation. The agency has suggested that the downgrade depended on the size of agreed deficit reduction over the next decade, with $4 trillion apparently the magic number. Yet US solvency depends hardly at all on what happens in the near or even medium term: an extra trillion in debt adds only a fraction of a percent of GDP to future interest costs, so a couple of trillion more or less barely signifies in the long term.
What matters is the LONGER-TERM prospect, which in turn mainly depends on health care costs.
So what was S&P even talking about?
Presumably they had some theory that restraint now is an indicator of the future - but there’s no good reason to believe that theory, and for sure S&P has no authority to make that kind of vague political judgment.
In short, S&P is just making stuff up — and after the mortgage debacle, they really don’t have that right.
SO THIS IS AN OUTRAGE = not because America is A-OK, but because these people are in no position to pass judgment.
I don’t agree with, “In short, S&P is just making stuff up.”
I think they are in lock-step with the GOP, and are doing their bidding to elect a GOP President/Senate/House in ’12; and if that happens, the nation will really be fucked!
States may go their own way in adopting fiscal policies and turn to more borrowing if Congress on Monday enacts a last-minute compromise plan raising the federal debt ceiling.
Across the nation, local officials — who spent the last month fretting that the United States would default for the first time — now fear the debt-cap bill will cut the federal deficit by yanking billions of dollars of aid from them.
The resulting cuts in all levels of government spending could further:
1. crimp consumers’ lifestyles
2. make poverty worse
3 threaten public safety
4. job-creating government contracts for healthcare and defense companies
5.possibly (possibly?, that’s a laugh) heightened risks for public pension investments.
Tom Cochran, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said the federal cuts in the debt-ceiling agreement “mean fewer cops, fewer firefighters and less money for job- creation projects, housing and elderly care.”
To make up for the federal cuts, he called on Congress to close tax loopholes for corporations and individuals.
It’s true what the say, “shit rolls downhill’.
Via: Think Progress
Despite recent rhetoric from GOP lawmakers, Republican presidents have raised the statutory limit on U.S. debt by a much greater percentage than either of the two Democrats elected since 1981.
According an analysis of historical data compiled on the statutory limit by the Office of Management and Budget, former President Ronald Reagan outstrips all other executives to date, increasing the debt ceiling by 199.5 percent during his eight years in office.
He is followed by President George W. Bush, Jr. at a 90.2 percent increase over eight years and by President George H. Bush, Sr. at a 48.0 percent increase over only four years in office.
Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, on the other hand, have only raised the debt ceiling by 43.6 and 26.3 percent, respectively.
It remains to be seen whether or not Congress will reach a compromise and pass legislation to increase the statutory limit again by the Aug. 2 deadline issued by the U.S. Treasury. Even if Congress does pass the proposed $2.4-trillion increase, Obama will still be looking at a total increase of 47.5 percent over his first term — less than half of the increase that Reagan oversaw during his first four years.
1. None of the presidents, EXCEPT President Obama INHERITED: two-wars, AND the Greatest Recession, since the Great Depression.
2. As often the case of late, the Democrats have done a ‘shit-job’ of selling their case; but then again, the Democrats don’t have a Mudoch cable channel spreading LIES, 24/7.
Via: The Atlantic
A few months ago, Air Force leaders noticed some very strange behavior from pilots in the cockpit of F-22 Raptor fighters. Some pilots sounded like they were drunk on the radio; others couldn’t even remember how to use the radio during flights. Lab tests revealed not alcohol in the pilots’ blood, but a host of toxic chemicals including oil fumes, anti-freeze and even propane.
The Air Force grounded the entire stealthy F-22 fleet on May 3rd and launched an investigation. This week, the Air Force Times reports that they’re still stumped, which is not the best news for the fantastically expensive and problem-prone F-22s.
The Air Force has definitely figured out that toxins are making their way into the cockpit, but they don’t know how. The symptoms that the pilots were displaying resemble those of hypoxia, a condition due to a lack of oxygen. Captain Jeff Haney exhibited the similar symptoms just before he crashed and died in Alaska in November of 2010. Suspecting that the chemicals entered the cockpit through the jet’s life support system, the Air Force is investigating the oxygen masks and pressurization systems, but they’ve yet to find the link.
Unable to fly, pilots are stuck in simulators and runway taxiing exercises for safety’s sake. Investigators haven’t given any clues to how close they might be to a solution, but if pilots are grounded more than 210 days, they all have to get retrained, inevitably an expensive option.
Expensive and problematic has become a trope for all things F-22-related. Just before the the toxin problem hit its tipping point, the jets were supposed to see their first combat action in Libya. Manufactured in Georgia and championed by Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss, the jets lost the privilege of leading the first attacks over Libya after showing signs of communications and missile navigation issues. Meanwhile, folks at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) are starting to wonder why the government is still supporting the program.
“Given the extraordinary cost of this aircraft and the myriad problems in maintaining it (you can’t use a plane if it’s grounded), is the F-22 too expensive and too difficult to use?” asked POGO’s Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach earlier this month. “The oxygen system issue is just the latest fiasco in this program.”
Schwellenback links to a Washington Post article from 2009 that reports an F-22 requires “more than 30 hours of maintenance for every hour in the skies, pushing its hourly cost of flying to more than $44,000.”
The government has so far sunk BILLIONS into the F-22 fleet.
Via: Anchorage Daily News
‘Air Force Pilot Dies in Crash’
The pilot of an F-22 Raptor fighter jet that went down Tuesday during a training flight over Interior Alaska died in the crash, Col. Jack McMullen, commander of the Air Force’s 3rd Wing, said Friday.
At a brief press conference on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where the plane was based, McMullen said evidence at the scene of the crash about 100 miles north of Anchorage and south of the Denali Highway, including pieces of Capt. Jeff Haney’s flight suit and other personal effects, led investigators to the conclusion that he didn’t survive. Part of the aircraft’s ejection seat was also found at the scene.
“The weather was beautiful. It was a clear night, about 77 to 80 percent moon illumination,” McMullen said at the press conference. “You could see the ground, you could see mountains, you could see the terrain. So it was a great night to fly airplanes.”
McMullen said the planes were about 10 miles apart, with Haney’s jet in front, as Haney was making a 180-degree turn to rejoin the other plane to fly home. They were passing each other about 2 miles apart when contact with Haney was lost.
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