Montana, maybe the sky is too big or something, but crazy grows wild and freely up there. Maybe it’s dripping down from Canada, in French. I dunno. But it’s crazy.
Lavin: Looks the RoleMontana Rep. Steve Lavin has introduced HB485, subtitled “Mitt Romney on Steroids and Fertilizer.” Okay, okay, the bill is real but I just made up the subtitle.
Here ya go –
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: “AN ACT REVISING ELIGIBILITY TO VOTE IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AND TO FILE FOR CANDIDACY FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTED OFFICE; ALLOWING A QUALIFIED NONRESIDENT PROPERTY OWNER OR DESIGNEE OF AN ENTITY TO VOTE IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AND TO FILE FOR CANDIDACY FOR MUNICIPAL ELECTED OFFICE; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 7-1-4121, 7-4-4104, 7-4-4301, AND 7-4-4401, MCA.”
Sweet Mother of Landowners, that means that corporations can vote. Maybe they can even run for office. Wouldn’t that be cool? Hey, my friend, are you voting for WalMart or Kodak?
But don’t stop there. Lavine is skipping ladder rungs on the Tower of Nuts. He wants to allow people to salvage roadkill.
Now at first glance that sounds dandy, until you go out to dinner. Yeah, you guessed it – roadkill deer meat in a restaurant.
You know, maybe Republicans are on to something with this smaller government thing. Maybe they should leave. That would be a great first step.
Pity the billionaires, for they are losing hope and falling into a pit of darkness and despair. Alas! They're losing hope they will get any tax breaks in the coming year or get a chance to lower the corporate tax rate.
Corporate tax executives are overwhelmingly doubtful that the U.S. corporate statutory tax rate will come down this year and worry that lawmakers might instead look to raise revenue by targeting loopholes, deductions and overseas income.
Just 2% of tax executives now believe comprehensive tax reforms that would address the overall corporate rate will be enacted this year, down from 31% who expected significant reforms in 2013 last year, according to a recent survey of 163 business tax executives released by law firm Miller & Chevalier and the National Foreign Trade Council this week.
Oh, dear. What's behind this sudden spate of weeping and gnashing of teeth? Well, it appears that CEOs actually thought that this Congress, with all of the wingnuts they helped to elect, might actually pass some form of corporate tax reform that included an overall lower rate.
They need a lower tax rate, you see, because they've squeezed every last drop out of the economy -- and consumers, in particular. In order for their bottom lines to continue to rise and serve the shareholders properly with out-of-proportion returns, they've got to find a balance sheet entry they can reduce. Snap! Reserves for taxes! That ought to do it.
Cisco CEO John Chambers went on a tear last week, declaring a moratorium on any new acquisitions in the United States until tax rates come down. That translates for rational people into a simple "I'm holding my breath until I turn blue" tactic, which should receive a properly resolved response of "have at it, John." But he's not the only one:
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — John Chambers, never the one to mince words and who openly campaigned for Republican Mitt Romney last fall, is stepping up his threats against Congress and the Obama Administration.
Lower corporate taxes, he says, or he simply won't create any more jobs in the U.S.
Other companies are on the record as lobbying for lower corporate taxes or they, like Cisco, will keep profits estimated at a whopping $1.7 trillion "parked" overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. Cisco alone is sitting on $46 billion in cash, some 80 percent of it offshore.
As CNBC noted, Microsoft has 87 percent of some $67 billion outside the U.S.
Oracle is keeping 87 percent of $32 billion away from the U.S.
And Apple tops them all with some 68 percent of $121 billion kept from U.S. tax coffers.
These firms simply won't "repatriate," as they call it, the profits until changes are made.
Given the state of government in Washington, we can expect Cisco's 5,000-employee campus in RTP - its second largest - NOT to grow bigger anytime soon.
"Tax policy will determine where our growth and head count will be," Chambers told CNBC in an interview last Wednesday as Cisco disclosed quartertly earnings.
Not consolidating more tech under Cisco's umbrella is actually a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.
As for the corporate hissy fits, wait them out. They're just trying to scare people into pressuring Congress to do their bidding. There are millions -- even billions -- of reasons not to.
Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and several senators have made similar arguments, variations of the idea expressed earlier by Senator Dan Coats of Indiana that “everyone needs to have some skin in the game.”
This is factually wrong, economically wrong and morally wrong. First, the facts: a vast majority of Americans have skin in the tax game. Even if they earn too little to qualify for the income tax, they pay payroll taxes (which Republicans want to raise), gasoline excise taxes and state and local taxes. Only 14 percent of households pay neither income nor payroll taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center at the Brookings Institution. The poorest fifth paid an average of 16.3 percent of income in taxes in 2010.
Economically, reducing the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit — which would be required if everyone paid income taxes — makes no sense at a time of high unemployment. The credits, which only go to working people, have always been a strong incentive to work, as even some conservative economists say, and have increased the labor force while reducing the welfare rolls.
ALEC stands for the American Legislative Executive Council, but what it really stands for is corporate conservatives corrupting democracy. As I wrote awhile back, ALEC creates turnkey legislation which is then disseminated to elected officials who are also members via their very secretive organization after it has been approved by corporate members. Only, we really never knew who those corporate members were or who the lawmakers were, either.
But now, thanks to someone inside who leaked documents recently, there is much more information, and more to be gleaned. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. Here are some examples of work (and damage) ALEC has done.
Reviewing ALEC’s healthcare-related bills and resolutions from the past few years makes it clear that insurers realized early on that the best way to block the profit-threatening provisions of any federal reform would be to attack them at the state level through ALEC. With Democrats in control of both houses of Congress and the White House in 2009, insurers assumed some kind of healthcare reform was inevitable, so they adopted a strategy to shape rather than stop reform.
Earlier in that piece Potter steps through the reasons that single payer wasn't going to be put on the table, but this paragraph right here tells you all you need to know about it: They were one step ahead and had been before any proposals went out on the table. That's also, by the way, how the public option was killed.
There's more, too. They approved legislation for tort reform, block grant funding for Medicaid, and selling insurance across state lines. You recognize these policies as the current conservative platform, I'm sure. However, what's new about this is that the platform was dictated, agreed to, drafted and disseminated by a small group of corporations, right-wing supporting think tanks and their conservative legislative partners and we can finally prove it.
Who are these people?
Corporations - Here is a list of corporate members of ALEC. They're the same names you see on the top of the Dow and NASDAQ lists, with some exceptions, like Koch Industries. Notable members include Altria (formerly RJR Tobacco), Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) - the private prison operator, DuPont, Exxon-Mobil, McDonalds, Intuit, and Coca-Cola. But they are just a few. I doubt there are many names on the list that aren't recognizable.
Corporate Trade Groups - Groups like the American Bail Association, American Bankers Association, PhrMA, National Association of Charter School Organizers, and more.
Non-profit organizations - Those oh-so-nonpartisan groups (yes, that's sarcasm) like The Mackinac Center for Freedom and Democracy (ha!), Goldwater Institute, and Reason Foundation are or have been members. You know, the organizations that write legislation and hand it off to people like Scott Walker to ram through Wisconsin, or who shut down the government like they have in Minnesota (for nearly 2 weeks now).
In today's climate there's a tendency to view things through the lens of the people versus corporations, where all the corporations are allied and aligned against people. But there's another layer, far more interesting, surrounding Jeffrey Immelt and his cordial relationship with the White House. It reveals a corporation vs. corporation rivalry fought via the current political culture wars.
FreedomWorks and the NCPPR, another free-market think tank, have launched a campaign to “dethrone” Immelt from GE, calling him the “king of crony capitalism”, and are running ads attacking Immelt’s conflicts of interest as a blatant sign of corruption. “It’s time to break up the unethical romance between government and big business,” said FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe in a statement. “For too long, corporate elites have lobbied to profit from the size and growth of government at the expense of hard-working Americans.”
Oh, this is rich, coming from the organization funded by corporate elites who not only lobbied to profit from government but also hoodwinked ordinary people in order to profit from them. And of course, it's simply a smokescreen for a corporate proxy war between Koch-allied corporations and GE-allied corporations.
Before anything else, GE and Koch Industries are direct competitors in the energy arena. I'm sure the bailout of GE Capital contributed to the rage the Kochs felt about bailouts in general (ideology aside), since a weakened GE would have meant a stronger Koch Industries, but alas. It didn't quite work out that way.
In addition to being in direct competition, GE has positioned itself as a "green energy" company, integrating climate change into their business model. This runs exactly counter to Koch, who continues to not only deny climate change, but fight for the right to keep the country enslaved to oil for generations to come.
I'm still not happy about Immelt's prominence and access to the president, but I do admit to a small "har-har" moment over FreedomWorks and the Koch family going to such lengths to "dethrone" Jeffrey Immelt. Plus, it distracts them for now.
CNN has taken pains to give Murdoch some PR cover with their not-so-subtle list of donors to both parties.
General Electric, which owns NBC, has also made substantial political contributions in the 2010 election cycle. For example, GE donated
$688,900 to Democrats through its PAC this election cycle compared to $410,100 to Republicans. The company has also given $75,500 to Democratic-affiliated leadership PACs and $74,500 to Republican-affiliated leadership PACs.
Meanwhile, GE has donated $237,000 to the Democratic Governors Association and $205,000 to the Republican Governors Association.
Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, has given $60,000 to the Democratic Governors Association in the 2010 election cycle, according to CQ Moneyline. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable, a former subsidiary of Time Warner, donated $50,000 to the RGA this election cycle.
There are more, too. On the other hand, it's worth noting that News Corporation donated one million dollars to one party only, unlike the others CNN mentions.
If we were having an actual national emergency, rather than corporations happily sitting on piles of cash and handing out record bonuses and dividends, this might --- might make sense. But since the only "emergency" here is corporate greed, I can only speculate as to why it only makes sense to take money from workers.
I think it would make a lot more sense to take 95% from CEOs:
With 9.5 percent unemployment and millions more underemployed, it seems like a daunting, almost impossible, task to find jobs for everyone. But Ken Maryland, president of ClearView Economics, has an idea: Cut everyone's pay by 10 percent.
"EVERYBODY -- from the president down to the chambermaid -- takes a 10% cut in compensation," writes Marlyand for Marketwatch. "This freed-up compensation expense is then used to re-employ the 8% (12.3 million) of the unemployed. Net-net, the nation's compensation bill has remained unchanged, and the unemployment rate is now 4.5%! Voila!"
The 4.5 percent Maryland refers to, is the optimal unemployment rate, which allows for employee turnover and doesn't risk inflation. While his idea may seem crazy, companies have begun to do it in small fashion, as Maryland points out, by having furloughs and pay cuts.
Maryland says this has a chance because there's an "inherent fairness" to the idea since everyone will be receiving the pay cut. But not really, since the employed would have to take the pay cut, while the unemployed will receive a significant increase in pay by suddenly having a paycheck.
Not to mention, the drop in pay doesn't mean a mortgage that's locked in will suddenly be cheaper or a car payment miraculously fall 10 percent. Maryland also says an issue with the idea would be making sure everyone falls in line, pointing out that unions would have a fit (although I'm not sure that CEO, whose pay increased more than anyone in business over the past 30 years, would be too happy with the idea as well).
Not to mention the biggest flaw in this proposal: Namely, why would you trust executives to hire people after they cut salaries?
Google and Verizon released a new plan this week for how the Internet should operate (see Susan's post for more background), if they got to rule the world. We'd keep Net Neutrality for the wired Internet (at least for consumers not corporations), but they could set up fast lanes and slow lanes for the wireless Internet. Wireless is of course the future of the Internet, but then again that is exactly the point.
Their proposal has devided the tech industry, as the NYT reported today, with Facebook, Amazon, eBay and venture capitalists raising serious concerns with the Google/Verizon evil deal:
It set off a flood of reaction, much of it negative, from Web companies and consumer advocacy groups. In the most extreme situation that opponents envision, two Internets could emerge — the public one known today, and a private one with faster lanes and expensive tolls. [snip]
The wireless Internet is quickly emerging as the dominant technology platform, said Matt Cohler, a general partner at Benchmark Capital, a prominent venture firm in Silicon Valley that has invested in start-ups like Twitter. “It is as important to have the right protections in place for the newer platform as it is for the older platform.”
The media has trashed their evil deal and over 300,000 people have signed an open letter demanding Google drop this proposal.
It's a giant corporate power-grab and Google who claims to "do no evil" is doing exactly that with this evil plan. That's why MoveOn, the PCCC (where I work), CREDO Action, Color of Change and Free Press are holding a rally at noon tomorrow in front of Google headquarters. The event is at the corner of Amphitheatre Parkway and Charleston Road in Mountain View. Click here to RSVP.
For people in the San Francisco area, there will be a bus leaving from the San Francisco Opera House at 11 a.m. You have to RSVP to get on the bus, as seats are limited.
This deal can be stopped, but only if President Obama and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski understand just how angry we are at the prospect of our rights being trampled online by Google and other corporate giants. So, please join us, or if you don't live in the Bay Area, pass along the info to your friends.
This clip of Anthony Weiner going ballistic on the House floor is one for the ages -- it should be watched again and again and again, and not only because he was angry and frustrated, but because he spoke a truth that all of us expect from our representatives. It's really quite simple: "If you believe that it's right, you vote yes. You don't hide behind procedure and give cover to your pals."
It's really that simple, but here's the backstory. The House has been trying to re-open the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund through 2031 for 9/11 responders whose health has been affected.
When it became apparent that the Republicans were going to attach "poison pill" amendments to the bill that had nothing to do with 9/11 and everything to do with their political agenda, Democrats shut down the possibility of amending the bill by moving it to the suspension calendar, where a minimum 2/3rds vote is needed for it to pass.
Republicans applied the same old talking points, calling it a "massive new entitlement program". Actually, that's not quite right. They called it a "massive job-killing new entitlement program", because that's the Frank Luntz mantra of the week. (I was monitoring the Senate at the same time, and somehow the Small Business Jobs bill also became another "massive job-killing new entitlement program.") Of course, that's nonsense too, given that it had been structured to be paid for by closing a tax loophole for foreign corporations.
But why should the political class listen? They get the majority of their reelection funds from corporations and the rich. Their spouses and children are given good jobs by such donors, and if ordinary people do actually ever vote them out for not looking after their interests, well, as long as they went down doing what they were supposed to, they'll still be very well taken care of.
Get elected, do what your corporate masters tell you to, and you'll never ever have to worry about money ever again.
Only a sucker or an idealist would do anything else.
This is the fundamental problem with the US. There is no accountability for the political class. They and those who take care of them have made sure of it. Go to war with a nation which has never attacked the US based on a big lie propaganda campaign, or spy on millions of Americans, or torture, or deregulate the economy so that Wall Street can cash in and crash the economy, and hey, so what, there's no cost for you.
And as long as there is no cost for them, they'll keep doing it. Just like Wall Street, having been bailed out after crashing the world economy, will do it again. They got rich doing it, why wouldn't they do it again.