Archive for June, 2011

How Far Do You Go To Lure Greenbacks Back Home?

Posted on June 30, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

How Far Do You Go to Lure Greenbacks Back Home?

Could a national infrastructure bank (Ibank) plan aimed at repatriating to American soil nearly $1 trillion in profits earned by U.S. multinational companies and parked in foreign banks, actually find bipartisan support?

Clearly, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) believes so. He is working hard to convince his Senate colleagues that marrying the desire of companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple for a corporate tax “holiday” with the urgent need to replace and repair the nation’s crumbling bridges and roads, is a winning combination.

The idea is to entice corporations currently stashing their profits in overseas financial institutions, as a way to avoid paying U.S. taxes, to bring that money back home by temporarily lowering the tax rate to about 5 percent from 35 percent. The taxes collected as a result of this “one-time” gift, err, holiday—about $50 billion—would go into an Ibank with funds being used to rebuild America’s infrastructure.

Who would have thought that once upon a time Schumer was an outspoken opponent of tax holidays for multinational corporations. When Republicans proposed a tax holiday for corporations in 2009 Schumer was one of the 48 Senate Democrats who opposed the idea. And Schumer isn’t alone in changing his position on the tax holiday issue. According to Bloomberg News “several other Senate Democrats, who voted against that measure, including John Kerry of Massachusetts and Kay Hagan of North Carolina, also signaled that they may reconsider their position.”

Senators and Representatives from high population urban states like the Ibank idea because projects of national and regional significance—the phrase used to describe projects that an Ibank would finance—are likely to benefit their constituents.

Federal lawmakers from rural and western states, however, know such projects are very unlikely to be located in their home states and congressional districts and, therefore, are lukewarm to the idea. This rural versus urban divide in Congress has kept an Ibank proposal from moving forward for several years now.

A national infrastructure bank is an idea that is theoretically great, but politically, a very difficult sell.

–C.Z.T–

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Despite Stumbles the Michele Bachmann Express Rolls On

Posted on June 29, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

At any moment now I’m expecting Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Iowa) to tap into her inner Dick Nixon and declare once and for all: “I am not a flake.”

Yes, Bachmann, who announced her candidacy for this nation’s highest office in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, on Monday, has been known to make more than her share of verbal miscues. Even as she declared her candidacy she mistakenly said that the actor John Wayne was also a Waterloo native. She told a Fox News reporter that “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” It turns out, however, that it was John Wayne Gacy, Jr., the infamous serial killer who shares a hometown with Bachmann and not the Duke.

If that weren’t enough, the very next day following the Waterloo gaffe, Bachmann took the national airwaves to address the mistake and promptly made another. This time while appearing on Good Morning America, Bachmann, a Tea Party Republican who should know better, called John Quincy Adams one of America’s Founding Fathers. There is no denying that John Quincy Adams was a great American having being elected as the nation’s sixth President along with being a diplomat and serving in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, but it was his father, John Adams who was a Founding Father.

Apparently, because of her propensity for making misstatements, Fox News host Chris Wallace recently asked the congresswoman if she’s a flake—insinuating that her candidacy is less than serious.

While Bachmann’s string of flubs may elicit chuckles and a fair amount of ribbing in the media, believing those stumbles somehow undermine her campaign and make her less than a serious contender for the GOP nomination would be to make a mistake bigger than any attached to the congresswoman. Bachmann might stumble and bumble on the campaign trail, but her presidential express is steaming ahead at full- throttle.

A recent Des Moines Register poll of Iowa Republican voters has Bachmann in a dead heat with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney for the lead in that state’s nominating contest. And a recent Washington Post story has Bachmann coming in a close second to Romney in fundraising for the second quarter of 2011 when reports are filed tomorrow. A skilled fundraiser, Bachmann collected more than $13 million for her 2010 House race, the Post reported.

If you need more proof of Bachmann’s political muscle, a new Associated Press poll shows her favorability numbers climbing among Republicans. According to the AP, in May, 41 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of the Minnesota congresswoman. That percentage rose to 54 percent in the new survey. Among supporters of the Tea Party movement, her favorability climbed from 48 percent to 57 percent.

Say what you will about Bachmann’s tendency toward mistakes, there is no denying that the woman’s political IQ is extremely high.

–C.Z.T.–

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Debt Reduction Means the Military and Millionaires Must be in the Mix

Posted on June 28, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

When it comes to being serious about deficit reduction there simply cannot be sacred cows—bombers, big business and billionaires must all be fair game and subject to taking a hit if this country is to ever get its financial house in order.

Clearly, reducing the deficit is going to take a combination of deep spending cuts and significant revenue increases.

One of the easiest and least painful ways to increase revenue is to close tax loopholes—eliminating those special perks in the tax code that are targeted to very specific groups and individuals. However, when the Democrats proposed closing tax loopholes on oil companies—companies that rake in billions of dollars in profits every year—GOP lawmakers cried bloody murder despite the fact that eliminating those tax breaks would generate $40 to $50 billion in revenue. And when Democrats proposed capping tax deductions claimed by households earning more than $500,000 a year at 10 percent of adjusted gross income the GOP went ballistic. According to our sources this was apparently the proposal that caused Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to walk-out on the budget talks last week.
Speaking for the GOP on this issue, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had this to say: “Throwing more tax revenue into the mix is simply not going to produce a desirable result, and it won’t pass.”
Obviously, Republicans equate closing tax loopholes with tax hikes—which is where they draw a line in the sand.

Surprisingly, though, another historical no starter for the GOP—cuts to military spending—may just be on the table this go around. The buzz on the Hill is that Republican leaders have hinted that there could be support for a debt-reduction package that shrinks the Pentagon budget. If that is indeed the case, Democrats appear willing to give on tinkering with the tax code if significant defense cuts are made.
If you can take Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and freshman congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) at their word, then there is a likely path to compromise.

“Defense spending is damaging spending. Many of us believe it does more harm than good to our people and to our reputation in the world,” said Frank. “If we can get $100 billion from reducing unneeded military spending, that’s better than $100 billion in taxation.”

And while Kinzinger called defense spending a “pillar of Republican strength… a pillar of national strength,” he also said the time for “sacred cows” has passed. “We cannot afford them anymore.”

–C.Z.T–

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Michele Bachmann Has It Wrong Again

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Just in case you missed it yesterday, Tea Party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared on CBS’ Face the Nation that it’s not true that the U.S. government would default on its loans if the debt limit is not raised.

The presidential hopeful went on to say that those who claim that failure to raise the debt ceiling is courting economic disaster, including President Obama, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and even former head of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan, are simply using “scare tactics” to bully Congress.

This claim that the Administration and some of the nation’s top economic experts have it wrong, comes from a woman who famously said that the first shots of the Revolutionary War—the ones “heard around the world”—were fired in New Hampshire. You would think that Bachmann, who carries the Tea Party banner and loves to refer to the Founding Fathers, would know that the first shots of America’s war of independence were fired in Massachusetts.

Still, it is up to you to decide who’s right on the debt ceiling issue.

I’ve decided that despite the juvenile theatrics—Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) walking out on Vice President Biden’s debt limit talks last week—a deal will be struck to raise the debt limit by the Aug. 2 deadline, to do anything else could lead to serious disruptions in the world’s financial markets. The last thing anyone wants is a replay of the 2008 financial meltdown.

I will concede, however, if Cantor’s stormy withdrawal from the Biden group negotiations gets Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh.), and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) involved in resolving this debt limit crisis, then I’ll take back my criticism. The sooner a deal gets done the better for America and all Americans.

The good news is that Obama and Biden are slated to meet with Reid this morning and with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) later this evening.

Senate Democrats are pushing a jobs bill that includes an extension of the employee payroll tax holiday, installs a temporary tax holiday for employers, and other possible “job creation” actions such as repatriation of some offshore corporate tax payments into a national infrastructure bank. While this is partly a political ploy to “put Republicans on record against jobs,” it also provides some counterbalance from the Democratic side in response to GOP insistence that “tax increases be taken off the table” in budget deal negotiations. Of course one man’s tax increase is another man’s tax loophole closure—more on this tomorrow.

–C.Z.T–

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Daily Caller: Clinton voters still skeptical of Obama for 2012

Posted on June 24, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

By Caroline May

Though many Hillary Clinton supporters clenched their teeth and supported Barack Obama in 2008, many remain frustrated with the president’s failure to champion women’s issues and believe he should expect a lower turnout among women for his 2012 reelection.

“After 2008 [Clinton voters] were basically told get over it, and they haven’t gotten over it,” Amy Siskind, president of the feminist advocacy group The New Agenda, told The Daily Caller.

Women, however, did vote for Obama in droves with the hope that he would tackle the issues important to them once in office. This has not been the case according to many Hillary Clinton supporters.

“Barack Obama wasn’t the women’s candidate in 2008 and he is not the women’s president midway through 2011,” Diane Mantouvalos, a 2008 Clinton supporter and co-founder of HireHeels.com (“a forum of power chics for Hillary”) noted.

According to Manatouvalos — who pointed to a March 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed 90 percent of recovery jobs had gone to men in the prior 12 months as proof — Obama has hardly been the women-friendly executive so many thought he could be.

Indeed, while women did vote for Obama by a margin of 13 percentage points over the GOP in 2008, Democrats lost the women’s vote to Republicans by 1 percentage point during the 2010 elections, based on exit polling.

“I’d say few if any Hillary supporters have warmed up to the president…I certainly hope that changes by 2012, but it’s too late for women to feel like they’re doing better than they were 3 or 4 years ago,” Mantouvalos added.

It is not just the job situation either. Feminists have also taken issue with the fact that Obama’s cabinet only has a comparable number of females to the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

“In Obama’s coalition, women do not play as strong a role,” Lara Brown, assistant professor of political science at Villanova University and former President Clinton appointee, said. “From my perspective, even though Obama and his administration have talked about giving women appointments, I think that, in fact, they have been much more interested in reaching out to other constituencies that they feel are more important.”

The perceived neglect of women likely will not escape the administration’s attention as they embark on their 2012 campaign. Obama will need to decidedly win the women’s vote if he hopes to be re-elected.

“I think it’s partly why he installed Debbie Wasserman-Schulz as the head of the Democratic National Committee, to mollify women, to be serious about making women very visible in his administration and in his reelection campaign,” said Kellyanne Conway, CEO of the polling company, inc./WomanTrend, in reference to the relatively few number of women surrounding the president.

However, Sam Bennett, president and CEO of the Women’s Campaign Forum and a former Republican, explained that no matter how frustrated Clinton supporters might be with Obama, Republican policies and attacks on choice will make the 2012 election a no-brainer for most women. They will just vote against the Republicans, not necessarily for Obama, she said.

“This election cycle, more than any other, women have a very clear choice,” she told TheDC. “Even if they do not fully embrace Obama yet, which I completely understand, because Hillary represented so many women — a whole nation of life’s work. But the choice is clear.”

Pamela Hayes, an attorney who served on Clinton’s national finance committee for both Clinton’s senate and presidential runs, said that while she would like to have seen Obama do more, the only choice for her and other Clinton supporters should be the Democrat, Obama.

“Most Hillary voters are really loyal Democrats. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t support the president. He’s done really good things, I would like to see him do more, however,” she said, noting that primarily she would have liked him to have codified equal pay legislation.

Conway said that some of the Obama’s decisions, as of late, are a ploy to woo female voters, but that it is likely too little too late.

“His administration tried to win women, has tried to court and attract women by talking about reproductive rights and environmental consciousness and making history and hope and change,” said Conway. “Women are pretty savvy customers, and they’re looking for specific solutions, tangibles, options. To many women, Obama is a great example of what everybody’s grandmother warns them about. You know, all talk and no actions. ”

As Karen Mulhauser, fomer National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) executive director and a 2008 Obama advisor, told TheDC, Democrats are focused on upping the intensity in the wake of the unenthusiastic results from 2010.

“The Democratic Party is hoping that — after seeing the results of 2010 — people are just not going to be as complacent and stay home, when they have the chance to vote,” she said.

Anecdotally, however, Obama is having a difficult time garnering support from female donors.
“The administration is now, out of nowhere, from nowhere, trying to do a reach out to the Clinton women effort,” said Caren Z. Turner, a Democratic fundraiser, Clinton supporter and CEO of the lobbying firm Turner Government & Public Affairs.

“It’s been dead silence for over two years, almost three years,” Turner said. “And suddenly we’re seeing significant people from the administration reach out and I would say that the administration officials that have met with us have been, I would say polite, but chilly.”

Former Clinton fundraiser Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild added that many significant Democratic donors will not be giving to Obama this cycle.

“I believe Obama is going to have a lot of difficulty with a lot of Clinton supporters,” Rothschild said. “[They] are going say to themselves ‘fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’ and will not join on as long as the Republicans or a third option is a good option.”

Turner pointed out, that while women have made many demands on Obama, the few victories for women the administration can point to, such as the Lily Ledbetter Paycheck Fairness Act and the White House Council on Women and Girls, are hardly a fraction of what many would have liked to see.

“[The report “Women in America”] it’s the only thing [the White House Council on Women and Girls] have done and it’s an embarrassment to the administration and yet they clearly point to this as an accomplishment,” Turner said. “I think the former Clinton women are very sophisticated, this is not their first rodeo, they see through this nonsense and the lights and mirrors. And this is lights and mirrors. For these very high-ranking officials to point to this study as an accomplishment is a huge embarrassment.”

While the report was not especially groundbreaking, many women were pleased to see it, as there had been no report like it for decades.

“So that does represent a commitment, a focus, out of the White House that has not been there in 30 years,” Bennett noted.

Like Conway, Turner believes that words and symbolism are one thing, but to get women to take notice, Obama actually needs to present tangible results.

“I think he could have done a lot more,” Turner said. “I just think this whole White House Council on Women and Girls is just symbolic of the higher problem that he’s going to have with women. We’re asking, ‘show us what you’ve done’ and we get a very nice dissertation about Joplin, Missouri. Okay, that’s interesting, but what have [you] done to help women and girls in this country?”

Rothschild told TheDC that Obama will likely not win the Clinton vote as easily as he did in 2008, now that they have seen how he governs.

“He’ll do what he did last time, he’ll take the Hillary vote for granted,” she said. “I understand why people went with him in 2008. It was ‘hope’ over experience. Well now we actually have seen the experience.”

While Clinton supporters remain frustrated that their candidate got the shaft in 2008, Conway noted that now Clinton is even more popular than Obama, a Pyrrhic victory, to be sure, but a victory nonetheless.

“It’s amazing – I would say that many of these women feel exonerated, vindicated, and, even if under-appreciated, because Hillary Clinton is 20 points more popular than she was on Election Day 2008, and more popular than her boss, Barack Obama,” Conway said. “I think women will look at that as sweet justice.”

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