MORNING MESSAGE: Tax Avoidance Alchemy
OurFuture.org’s Sam Pizzigati: “America’s mega rich are actually taking in much more in income, [Bloomberg] shows, than their tax returns indicate. Hundreds of millions more. And this hidden income has reduced their effective tax rate — a figure already lower than the rate average Americans pay — even lower. We’re not talking patently illegal tax evasion here. We’re talking complex financial transactions that would do medieval alchemists proud … David Miller, the New York State Bar Association tax expert, wants the super rich to have to pay a tax on the annual increase in the value of their immense stock holdings. Such a tax, even if only levied on America’s richest 0.1 percent, could raise as much as three-quarters of a trillion dollars over a decade’s time.”
GOP Makes Case For Raising Middle-Class Taxes
Senate GOP Whip Jon Kyl backs end of payroll tax cut, raising taxes on middle class. NYT: “…on ‘Fox News Sunday,’ Mr. Kyl, of Arizona, said: ‘The payroll tax holiday has not stimulated job creation. We don’t think that is a good way to do it.’ Moreover, Mr. Kyl said, increasing taxes on the most affluent Americans, including small-business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns, would undermine the fragile economic recovery. ‘The best way to hurt economic growth is to impose more taxes on the people who do the hiring,’ Mr. Kyl said…”
GOP shifting focus to stopping congressionally-approved automatic cuts to military spending. CNN: “[Sen. Pat] Toomey expressed the view of conservatives that the required cuts were weighted too heavily toward the military … Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, told NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that removing the possibility of the automatic cuts would make a deficit reduction agreement ‘impossible.’”
NYT’s Paul Krugman proposes “things to tax.”: “Let me suggest two areas in which it would make a lot of sense to raise taxes in earnest, not just return them to pre-Bush levels: taxes on very high incomes and taxes on financial transactions … the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers — roughly speaking, people with annual incomes over $2 million — had a combined income of more than a trillion dollars. That’s a lot of money, and it wouldn’t be hard to devise taxes that would raise a significant amount of revenue from those super-high-income individuals.”
Maine fearful of impact from federal heating aid cuts. NYT: “President Obama has proposed sharply cutting the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and Maine is at this point expecting less than half of the $55.6 million that it received last winter, even as more people are applying. The average state benefit last year was about $800 for the season; now it may be closer to $300. Eligibility requirements have tightened too, and with oil prices climbing … many here are anticipating days or weeks of forgoing heat.”
Bloomberg Uncovers Secret Fed Loans
Bloomberg uncovers “secret Fed loans” to big banks: “The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates … A fresh narrative of the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 emerges from 29,000 pages of Fed documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and central bank records of more than 21,000 transactions. While Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses, details suggest taxpayers paid a price beyond dollars as the secret funding helped preserve a broken status quo and enabled the biggest banks to grow even bigger.”
Fed to try new stimulus. Bloomberg: “The biggest bond dealers in the U.S. say the Federal Reserve is poised to start a new round of stimulus, injecting more money into the economy by purchasing mortgage securities instead of Treasuries … Fed purchases of mortgage bonds would dovetail with efforts by President Barack Obama, who has been promoting an initiative by the Federal Housing Finance Agency to let qualified homeowners refinance mortgages regardless of how much their houses have lost in value.”
Deadlines Pass For Occupy LA, Philly
Arrests in LA after attempt to end Occupy protest. LAT: “Police arrested several people early Monday at the Occupy L.A. demonstration outside City Hall, but then the commotion quickly died down. Shortly after 5 a.m., police issued an order to disperse to those demonstrators gathered at the intersection of 1st and Main streets. Most people complied, but a few demonstrators refused to leave. … Police said that there are still no plans to begin evicting people from the City Hall park, which was officially closed at midnight Sunday.”
Deadline passes for Occupy Philly. Philadelphia Inquirer: “…the expected police eviction had not happened by late Sunday evening, and city officials continued to avoid saying when, or whether, they would throw the Occupiers and their tents off City Hall’s so-called front lawn.”
Occupy is not leaderless, it’s “leader-full,” argues Micah Sifry: “… the insistent avoidance of traditional top-down leadership and the reliance on face-to-face and peer-to-peer networks and working groups creates space for lots of leaders to emerge, but only ones that work as network weavers rather than charismatic bosses … Adjusting to a leaderfull world full of self-starting network weavers, transparent and accountable about their actions–from a world of top-down leaders who use hierarchy, secrecy and spin to conduct their business, will take some getting used to…”
Gingrich, Romney Jockey Over Immigration
“Romney’s Previous Position on Immigration Mirrors Gingrich He Criticizes” reports Bloomberg.
Gingrich proposes “citizen juries” would rule on who gets to stay reports W. Post.
Annual UN Climate Summit Convenes
Nations gather for annual climate summit. W. Post: “Seasoned nongovernment observers said the outcome of the conference, which ends Dec. 9, is among the most unpredictable since the annual all-nation meetings began … The main point of contention is whether industrial countries will extend their commitments to further reduce carbon emissions after their current commitments expire next year.”
Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard lays out “five things” to watch for: “Will the countries that joined the Kyoto Protocol agree to a second commitment period? … When will there be a new, legally binding treaty … Where does China stand? … How will we pay for climate change? … What role will the US play?”
Will GOP Block Medicare Nominee?
GOP holding back support for presidential nominee Marilyn Tavenner to run Medicare and Medicaid. W. Post: “It is unclear what reception she will get in confirmation hearings. Republicans have reacted cautiously to her nomination. … former colleagues described her as a patient-centered manager, a hands-on medical professional equally comfortable in the board room and the emergency room. And in contrast to [recess-appointed predecessor Donald] Berwick, Tavenner isn’t associated with a grand vision for health reform or a particular policy agenda for Medicare and Medicaid.”
NYT edit board pressure GOP for quick confirmation: “The agency needs continued strong leadership as it works to create pilot programs and innovation centers that are supposed to lower costs of Medicare and Medicaid and improve the quality of care. The center must provide guidance to states as they cope with a big expansion of Medicaid. Senate Republicans need to put aside their rancor and obstructionism and confirm Ms. Tavenner.”