On Feb. 14, 2008, after Nunes had publicly declared his intention to forgo earmark requests, Fleming called Nunes' office. In two phone calls that day, according to two senior Nunes staffers, Fleming warned that Specter Gear could move out of Visalia if the earmark requests weren't made.
Nunes considered it a threat and quietly filed his ethics committee complaint a week later. That March, Fleming sent an e-mail stating that Specter would not move out of the congressional district after all, but asked for help with a letter to the Defense Logistics Agency in support of the company's work.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A midnight strike deadline loomed as Philadelphia's transit agency negotiated late Friday with its largest union in an attempt to avert a threatened strike that could disrupt bus and subway services during the World Series.
The two sides discussed wages, pensions and health care until 11 p.m. Thursday. Union members have threatened to walk out if a new contract is not reached as early as 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Allison Cooper, the union's vice president, said both sides were still talking with less than a half hour to go until the deadline. But Cooper said she was still telling the union's members to expect a strike.
"It's getting closer to the time," she said.
But this latest French utopia has met a prosaic reality: Many of the specially designed bikes, which cost $3,500 each, are showing up on black markets in Eastern Europe and northern Africa. Many others are being spirited away for urban joy rides, then ditched by roadsides, their wheels bent and tires stripped.
With 80 percent of the initial 20,600 bicycles stolen or damaged, the program’s organizers have had to hire several hundred people just to fix them. And along with the dent in the city-subsidized budget has been a blow to the Parisian psyche.
Reporting from Los Angeles and Sacramento - Starting Sunday, cash-strapped California will dig deeper into the pocketbooks of wage earners -- holding back 10% more than it already does in state income taxes just as the biggest shopping season of the year kicks into gear.
Technically, it's not a tax increase, even though it may feel like one when your next paycheck arrives. As part of a bundle of budget patches adopted in the summer, the state is taking more money now in withholding, even though workers' annual tax bills won't change.
Think of it as a forced, interest-free loan: You'll be repaid any extra withholding in April. Those who would receive a refund anyway will receive a larger one, and those who owe taxes will owe less.
Friday, October 30, 2009
But Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), a key player in the healthcare debate, said Friday he doesn’t expect those groups will have much of a chance.
“Unless there are major problems I would expect the opportunity for amendments to be very limited, if at all,” Miller said in a telephone news conference.
Miller chairs one of the committees of jurisdiction and also the House Democratic Policy Committee. Also, he is possibly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's closest ally.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Page 1213: There is language in the bill regulating vending machines, to ensure everyone will see nutrition labels on items before purchasing their food. See language here:
‘(viii) VENDING MACHINES.—In the case of an
18 article of food sold from a vending machine that—
19 ‘‘(I) does not permit a prospective pur20
chaser to examine the Nutrition Facts Panel
21 before purchasing the article or does not other22
wise provide visible nutrition information at the
23 point of purchase; and
1 ‘‘(II) is operated by a person who is en2
gaged in the business of owning or operating 20
3 or more vending machines,
4 the vending machine operator shall provide a sign in
5 close proximity to each article of food or the selec6
tion button that includes a clear and conspicuous
7 statement disclosing the number of calories con8
tained in the article.
If we were really living in the world of leading-edge politics that many people thought they were getting with Barack Obama, he would have proposed an iPhone for health care—a flexible system for which all sorts of users could create or choose health-care apps that suited their needs. Over time, with trial and error, a better system would emerge.
No chance of that. Our outdated political software can't recognize trial and error. What ObamaCare is doing with health care—the "public option"—may be fine with the activist left, but I suspect it's starting to strike many younger Americans as at odds with their lives, as not somewhere they want to go. Wait until EPA's ghost busters start enforcing cap-and-trade.
People thought something small, agile and smart was coming to government, but so far it's turning out to be just big-box politics.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A total of 690,000 new vehicles were sold under the Cash for Clunkers program last summer, but only 125,000 of those were vehicles that would not have been sold anyway, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the automotive Web site Edmunds.com.
Still, auto sales contributed heavily to the economy's expansion in the third quarter, adding 1.7 percentage points to the nation's gross domestic product growth.
The Cash for Clunkers program gave car buyers rebates of up to $4,500 if they traded in less fuel-efficient vehicles for new vehicles that met certain fuel economy requirements. A total of $3 billion was allotted for those rebates.
The average rebate was $4,000. But the overwhelming majority of sales would have taken place anyway at some time in the last half of 2009, according to Edmunds.com. That means the government ended up spending about $24,000 each for those 125,000 additional vehicle sales.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Public housing has bred long-term dependency; in New York City, public-housing tenants remain in the system, on average, for 20.1 years, free from the time limits that apply to other forms of welfare. A perverse federal requirement that rent be set as a percentage of income discourages families from striving to earn more and better their circumstances, since that would just hike their rent. From a social-policy standpoint, public housing is rightly considered a disaster.
1. In just a three-week period from October 7-27, Wal-Mart announced the opening of 22 new stores and expansions of existing stores that have added 5,340 new jobs to the local communities in 18 different states.
2. Wal-Mart recently announced Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Price Reductions, with unprecedented savings each week this Holiday season.
3. Wal-Mart also recently announced that total capital spending for the fiscal year ending Jan. 2010, is projected to be between $12.5 to $13.1 billion, up from $11.5 billion in fiscal year 2009. Total capital spending for the fiscal year ending Jan. 2011 is projected to be $13.0 to $15.0 billion. Note: More than 50% of Wal-Mart's capital spending is for its U.S. operations.
Call it The Wal-Mart Economic Stimulus Plan: Thousands of new jobs for American workers, millions of dollars of savings for U.S. consumers, and billions of dollars of investment in local communities around the country. And it all happens in the private sector, without any new legislation and without adding a dollar to the U.S. deficit.
Gov. Bob Riley signed an executive order in February to put the state's finances online. His office likens the Web site to a checkbook register that lets you see every check written by the state.
If the state approves a check to a local sheriff, you can search his name and it will pop up.
If the state pays a Colbert County circuit judge his regular monthly paycheck, you can find out how much he made.
Want to know which local businesses are getting state funds for their goods and services? Visit Open Alabama.
Much of the information found on this Web site isn't a surprise. For example, taxpayers may already know how much the state is paying a sheriff each month to feed prisoners or how much a judge makes each year.
But information sheds light, and light is a great way to encourage bureaucrats and politicians to act with integrity when it comes to state funds.
Officials are looking to convince residents in the Washington, DC metropolitan region that converting every local streets into toll roads would be good for them. The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board last Wednesday voted to seek federal gas tax funds to bankroll a $400,000 study on how best to sell the public on a controversial per-mile tax proposal that would raise up to $4.8 billion in new revenue.
"A comprehensive road-use pricing initiative in the Washington metropolitan area would be an extremely ambitious experiment," Brookings Institution authors Benjamin K. Orr and Alice M. Rivlin explained in a policy paper designed to garner the interest of regional authorities. "Leadership and upfront investment from the federal government would also be essential to get the experiment off the ground and ensure comprehensive implementation. Some recent indications of interest at the federal level suggest that this might be possible. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has recently stated that, due to the failure of the Manhattan congestion pricing initiative, the US Department of Transportation still has funds available for pilot congestion pricing programs."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Little wonder then that the president and powerful allies like Holder--many of whom have benefited from school choice and are currently sending their children to expensive private schools--want the ad to go away.
Chavous discussed Holder's comments during an Oct. 16 interview with WAMU radio host Kojo Nnamdi and NBC 4 reporter Tom Sherwood during Nnamdi's The Politics Hour. A related article on Holder's objection to the ad on blackamericaweb.com has also been circulating.
During the broadcast Chavous elaborated on his interaction with Holder, and said he will continue running the ad until the president agrees to support the program.
"I saw [Holder] at an event," said Chavous. "He did ask me in front of others to pull the ad. My response was, 'No, and I tell you what, if the president does the right thing, not only will we pull it but we will celebrate him.' "
Smoke shops on New York reservations now sell hundreds of millions of packs of cigarettes each year. Technically, state law requires taxes to be paid on any cigarettes that aren't for the personal use of tribe members. The rules have never been enforced in deference to Indian sovereignty.
Some lawmakers and health advocates would like to see the state begin enforcing the law.
Arthur "Sugar" Montour, owner of the Seneca brand cigarette company, says any attempt to tax the tribes will be "taking away the birthright of our people."
If global warming raises sea levels in Northeast Florida, taxpayers and wetlands could both be squeezed, a study published Tuesday suggested.
The study, based on federally funded research, predicts that people would try to save most of the dry land in low-lying parts of the region by building defenses like sea walls.
While that would save the houses, the sewers and storm drains and roads built to serve them would have to be raised or redesigned to keep from being swamped. And that would mean the government spending a big chunk of change, one of the authors said.
“All kinds of infrastructure that’s in place is going to have to be raised. … I think it’s going to be too expensive for people to participate in,” said Daniel Trescott, a principal planner at the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council in Fort Myers.
The Capital Area United Way raised $8,550 Saturday night through a text-message campaign during the LSU-Auburn game at Tiger Stadium.
In an effort to use mobile technology for philanthropic purposes, United Way President and CEO Karen Profita said, the nonprofit agency made a plea to Tiger fans to make a $5 donation by sending a text message, according to a news release.
The plea — made during the first timeout in the first quarter of the game — brought in $8,550 from more than 2,558 text messages sent, Profita said.
Are you planning on being immunized against the Swine Flu (H1N1)?
Source: Angus Reid Strategies Methodology: Online interviews with 1,002 Canadian adults, 1,006 American adults, and 2,000 British adults, conducted from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26, 2009. Margins of error range from 2.2 per cent to 3.1 per cent.
Okay, folks, we progressives got what we wanted. A comprehensive health care reform bill with a reasonably strong public option will be going to the floor as part of leadership bills in both the House and the Senate. We don't yet know whether we will get the best version of the public option in the House bill, and the Senate version is not as strong as progressives have been pushing for. But strengthening the form of the public option can be negotiated over in conference committee, once we get there.
For now, we can thank Harry Reid (HCAN has a page here) and Nancy Pelosi for their gutsy leadership, and fight like hungry dogs to win the floor fight and deliver on this hope. In the coming weeks we will have an all-hands-on-deck, all out public war with the insurance industry over whether we finally pass comprehensive health care reform or once again fall short at the bitter end after coming so far.
The New York City Police Department’s latest daylong crackdown on drivers using handheld cellphones left 7,529 people holding tickets in their hands by the end of last Thursday.
For the third time this year, the police made an extra effort to issue summonses to drivers over a 24-hour period. The number of tickets – which are normally for $130 - written by police officers on Thursday was about 1,500 fewer than were written on the first crackdown day in May. However, it was about 100 more than were written on a similar day in August.
The police said the decline in the number of tickets since May suggested that drivers were taking the dangers of talking on their cellphone while driving more seriously.
The police did not calculate how many of the 7,529 tickets were issued to taxi drivers. On a typical day, police officers write about 540 tickets to drivers who are holding their cellphones while driving. Last year, 197,198 tickets were given to drivers for similar violations.
Mayor Daley's tough-times, 2010 budget includes a first-ever "Tax Whistleblower Program" expected to include cash bounties for informants who deliver the goods on unpaid business taxes.
The cash reward would be a percentage of the amount recovered, but specifics are still being worked out. The dreaded employee head tax and lease tax are just two of the most frequent targets for tax cheats.
"It's just another way of bringing people into compliance," said Revenue Department spokesman Ed Walsh.
"It would probably be ... a business knowing that a competitor is not remitting a tax. An employee [of the tax-dodging business] could know that, too. Typically, you need to provide some type of incentive."
Monday, October 26, 2009
CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Oct. 16-18, 2009. N=1,038 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.
"Do you think Barack Obama's policies have made the economy better, or don't you think so?"
7/31 - 8/3/09
Mandated Expansions: All the health bills before Congress depend on a massive Medicaid expansion to expand coverage. If Congress raises eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty level, 33 states would see their Medicaid populations increase by 30%, and 10 states would see their Medicaid populations jump by 50%. Of course, this scenario is far worse if Congress moves eligibility to 150% FPL, as proposed by the Senate HELP Committee.
Sec. 221. Refusal or neglect to answer questions; false answers
(a) Whoever, being over eighteen years of age refuses or willfully neglects, when requested by the Secretary, or by any other authorized officer or employee of the Department of Commerce or bureau or agency thereof acting under the instructions of the Secretary or authorized officer, to answer, to the best of his knowledge, any of the questions on any schedule submitted to him in connection with any census or survey provided for by subchapters I, II, IV, and V of chapter 5 of this title, applying to himself or to the family to which he belongs or is related, or to the farm or farms of which he or his family is the occupant, shall be fined not more than $100.
(b) Whoever, when answering questions described in subsection (a) of this section, and under the conditions or circumstances described in such subsection, willfully gives any answer that is false, shall be fined not more than $500. (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this title, no person shall be compelled to disclose information relative to his religious beliefs or to membership in a religious body.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
A new Rasmussen Reports Poll showed lopsided opposition to the use of tax increases to address the state's financial challenges.
When asked if they were willing to consider a tax increase of any kind to help resolve the state's budget problems 64 percent of voters in the survey said no and 26 percent answered yes.
Fifty-four percent of respondents said they oppose a one cent sales tax increase to pay for Georgia transportation improvements.
"Those are heavy numbers. I think that if a lawmaker is [going to] pass some sort of needed transportation fix, he's [going to] have to put it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment and let the people decide," said Phil Kent of FOX 5's Georgia Gang.
"The burden on familes has to be lessened, the burden on companies and inheritance tax has to be reformed," said Merkel, who won a second term in elections last month at the head of a new coalition.
"We have agreed a coalition programme showing that we want to advance courageously into the future," Merkel said. "We are aiming for growth, for the creation of an education republic and social cohesion."
In the election Merkel ditched her previous coalition partners for the last four years, the centre-left Social Democrats, in favour of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Three weeks of hard bargaining between the parties wrapped up in the early hours of Saturday morning. Officials said earlier that the new coalition planned 24 billion euros (36 billion dollars) worth of tax cuts.
Friday, October 23, 2009
President Obama told an audience at a Democratic Party fundraiser Wednesday night that Republicans often “do what they’re told,” but GOP voters don’t think their legislators listen enough to them.
Just 15% of Republicans who plan to vote in 2012 state
primariessay the party’s representatives in Congress have done a good job of representing Republican values.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 73% think Republicans in
Congresshave lost touch with GOP voters from throughout the nation. Twelve percent (12%) are undecided.
These numbers are basically unchanged from a survey in late April.
IT'S THE moment nosy neighbours have been waiting for – the release of official records showing the annual income and overall wealth of every Norwegian taxpayer.
In a move that would be unthinkable in most countries, tax authorities in Norway have issued the skatteliste, or "tax list," for 2008 to domestic media under a law designed to safeguard the country's tradition of transparency.
Defenders of the system say it enhances transparency, which is essential for an open democracy.
"Isn't this how a social democracy ought to work, with openness, transparency and social equality as ideals?" wrote Jan Omdahl, a columnist for the tabloid Dagbladet. He acknowledged, however, that many treat the list as "tax porno" – furtively checking the incomes of neighbours or co-workers.
Critics say the list poses a threat to the very society the freedom of which it is meant to protect.
"What each Norwegian earns and what you have in wealth is a private matter between the taxpayer and the government," said Jon Stordrange, director of the Norwegian Taxpayer's Association.
He claimed the list, besides providing criminals with a useful tool to find prime targets, generates my-dad-is-richer-than-yours taunts in the playground.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Assuming deductions, exemptions and credits were kept the same as they are now, the government would have to nearly triple every tax rate. Table 1 shows the effect on statutory rates of such a hypothetical tax hike. Instead of taxing couples with rates that range from 10 percent to 35 percent, tax rates would have to start at 27.2 percent and range up to 95.2 percent.
Tax Brackets for
0 to $16,750
$16,751 to $68,000
$68,001 to $137,300
$137,301 to $209,200
$209,201 to $373,600
$373,601 and over
Note: The rates are the same for single taxpayers, but the brackets vary. For
Source: IRS and Tax Foundation
It seems to be working. According to a Raffles Hospital official, a knee replacement surgery runs between U.S. $12,000 and $14,000. Spinal fusion runs between $10,500 and $14,000, and a heart bypass (coronary artery bypass graft) from $23,000 to $26,500. Conservatively speaking, these prices are less than a third of what the same procedure would cost in the U.S.—that is, when you can even get the price.
As any American who has ever tried to make sense of a hospital bill or haggled with his insurance company over a payment can tell you, even for those who have decent coverage our system can be a bureaucratic nightmare. Singapore's system isn't perfect. It does suggest, however, that the Average Joe stands more to gain from a system where hospitals and doctors compete for patients, where patients have different price options for their hospital stays and appointments, and where they pay for some of it out of pocket.
There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem – 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 4 among 1,500 adults reached on cell phones and landlines, finds that 57% think there is solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades. In April 2008, 71% said there was solid evidence of rising global temperatures.
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which now owns the Wall Street Journal, received a $20.7 million subsidy in 1996 from New York city and state and a $24.4 million subsidy in 1998 for a new printing plant in the Bronx for the New York Post. The New York Daily News received a subsidy of more than $35 million from New Jersey when it moved its printing plant there in 1993, according to Good Jobs New York, a group that is a watchdog on these special corporate tax breaks. And the New York Times received a subsidy of $28.7 million for a printing plant in Queens in 1993 and a subsidy of $18.7 million (the Times itself put the figure at $26.1 million, and noted that opponents said the subsidies could be as large as $70 million) in 2001 for its new headquarters building near Times Square in Manhattan.
Six years ago, a group of lawmakers and aides crafted Medicare Part D, the prescription drug program for seniors that has produced billions of dollars of profits for pharmaceutical companies.
Today, at least 25 of those key players are back, but this time they’re lobbyists, trying to persuade their former colleagues to protect the lucrative system during the health care reform negotiations.
The role of big players like Billy Tauzin — the former Republican representative from Louisiana who is now president of PhRMA, the drug industry’s lobbying group — has been long understood. But a ProPublica analysis shows that the drug industry’s position is also being promoted by other foot soldiers from the Part D legislative process, from committee aides to top Bush administration officials.
Hey Phil Bredesen, its not too late to try to outbid him with buckets of Tennessee taxpayer money.
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Gov. Haley Barbour has told a gathering of business leaders in Jackson that he will call a special legislative session late next week for a $300 million economic development project in the Delta.
Barbour told the Mississippi Economic Council gathering on Wednesday that the project will create up to 500 jobs in five years.
He did not say what kind of company. However, Barbour said the project is not a startup company run by a Chinese businessman who hopes to build a car plant in Tunica County.
CONCORD, N.H. -- A group of lawmakers gathered at the State House on Wednesday to discuss the impact an income tax would have on the Granite State.While not having an income or sales tax in New Hampshire has been a selling point in the state, some said it can no longer come at the expense of homeowners and businesses that are left to foot the bill.The meeting before the House Ways and Means Committee was described as strictly information, but the crowd inside the legislative offices was countered by those outside who believe otherwise."I think that their spending is a tactic, and the long-term strategy is to increase the size and scope of government through taxes," said Andy Demers of Citizens for Sensible Legislation.Fiscal analysts peppered House lawmakers with a variety of viewpoints."For the good of New Hampshire, I hope that you think very long and hard before ever considering an income tax," said Jonathan Williams of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
"I will put [the fat tax] back in my budget address and give the Legislature another chance to do it. You can't keep voting down the ways to create revenues and then saying you don't want to make cuts," Paterson said on WYNC radio.
Paterson was reacting to calls from some Democrats to find ways to raise money instead of the governor's plan to slash $1 billion from education and health care to close a $3 billion deficit.
One suggested a soda tax and hiking tuition for out-of-state SUNY students instead of cuts.
Toronto, ON – Canadians are embracing the new tax-free savings accounts, with an Ipsos Reid/Investor Economics report revealing that as of June, 2009—just six months after Canadians began to be allowed to open TFSAs—about 1 in 5 households (21%) have opened a TFSA. According to the report, there are roughly 3.6 million accounts now open, holding $12.4 billion in assets.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Today, though, plaintiffs’ lawyers may be a gloating a bit, after a favorable ruling Friday from the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, which is regarded as one of the more conservative circuit courts in the country. Here’s a link to the ruling.
The suit was brought by landowners in Mississippi, who claim that oil and coal companies emitted greenhouse gasses that contributed to global warming that, in turn, caused a rise in sea levels, adding to Hurricane Katrina’s ferocity. (See photo of Bay St. Louis, Miss., after the storm.)
For a nice overview of the ruling, and its significance in the climate change battle, check out this blog post by J. Russell Jackson, a Skadden Arps partner who specializes in mass tort litigation. The post likens the Katrina plaintiffs’ claims, which set out a chain of causation, to the litigation equivalent of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”
The central question before the Fifth Circuit was whether the plaintiffs had standing, or whether they could demonstrate that their injuries were “fairly traceable” to the defendant’s actions. The defendants predictably assert that the link is “too attenuated.”
But the Fifth Circuit held that at this preliminary stage in the litigation, the plaintiffs had sufficiently detailed their claims to earn a day in court.
Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Nevada would get help with its Medicaid bills. The elderly in Florida and New York would receive additional Medicare benefits. And workers in so-called high-risk professions such as firefighting and construction would get a break on a new insurance tax.
Those are provisions that Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Harry Reid, put in an $829 billion health-care bill to shield constituents from measures intended to pay for the biggest overhaul of the medical system in four decades.
The result is the new policies may be unevenly administered, with some U.S. states getting preferential treatment, a possibility that has given Republican lawmakers ammunition to attack the legislation.
“It’s going to hurt the bill and raise the level of cynicism about Washington politics,” said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. “The provisions ought to be applied to all of the states.”
THE National Health Service has spent £1.5m paying for hundreds of its staff to have private health treatment so they can leapfrog their own waiting lists.
More than 3,000 staff, including doctors and nurses, have gone private at the taxpayers’ expense in the past three years because the queues at the clinics and hospitals where they work are too long.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information act show that NHS administrative staff, paramedics and ambulance drivers have also been given free private healthcare. This has covered physiotherapy, osteopathy, psychiatric care and counselling — all widely available on the NHS.
“It simply isn’t fair to have one service for staff and another for everyone else,” said Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, who obtained the figures.