A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carried Interest loophole benefits the country’s richest taxpayers

The Obama administration has included a carried-interest tax increase in each of its annual federal budgets and even more recently in the American Jobs Act introduced last September, where the current law on carried interests was described as “an unfair and inefficient tax preference.”

Changes in tax policy and treatment is worth examining and a good place to start is asking Romney what he thinks.

Certain hedge fund managers, real estate investors and venture capitalists earn much of their pay in the form of carried interest.   Leon Cooperman, a prominent hedge fund manager, recently called the special treatment “ridiculous.”  The White House, which has long expressed support for raising the tax rate on these investment managers and Democratic lawmakers have introduced tax-reform legislation amid a populist backlash against the extraordinary wealth being created on Wall Street.  The effort died in Congress after an aggressive lobbying effort from private equity and hedge fund firms.

The bulk of private equity executives’ compensation comes in the form of carried interest, which is the 20 percent cut of a fund’s profits they keep for themselves. If a private equity firm sells a company for a $1 billion profit, the firm’s executives are entitled to keep $200 million as a performance fee. (Mr. Romney’s former firm, Bain Capital, because of its superior investment record, keeps 30 percent of the profits in many of its funds.)
Most private-equity funds are organized as limited partnerships with the investors (pension funds, endowments, foundations and wealthy individuals) contributing capital and becoming limited partners with a general partner — such as Bain Capital — that provides the entrepreneurial management of the partnership. The general partner is paid a management fee.
The general partner may also contribute its own capital and, as an incentive, receives an additional interest in the overall eventual profits. This additional interest is known as the “promote,” “profits interest,” or “carried interest.” The carried interest is typically 20% of the profits and is generated from appreciation in the value of the partnership’s property realized when the enterprise is sold or taken public.

The tax treatment of carried interest under current law allows managers of hedge funds, private-equity funds, venture-capital funds and others to pay a lower 15% maximum income tax rate applied to investment income as capital gains, rather than higher income tax rates for ordinary income which exceed 35%. This is a huge difference.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Obama Undermines GOP Talking Points

President Obama delivered remarks on modernizing the government for the 21st Century.  Keeping a promise he made to come up with a smart reorganization of the government in his last State of the Union speech.

Obama’s Agency Reorganization Finds Skeptics in Congress. 

The new proposal helps shield Obama from attacks of being a big government liberal and, if Republicans do not support him, opens up another avenue to paint them as unwilling to cooperate.  "Fighting for the middle class is going to be a thematic that runs through all of this year, through State of the Union, through the budget, through everything we do," White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said.  "Given the President’s record of growing government, we’re interested to learn whether this proposal represents actual relief for American businesses or just the appearance of it," Boehner press secretary Brendan Buck said.     
“Today, I am calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents have had to streamline and reform the Executive Branch.  Congress first granted this authority to presidents in the midst of the Great Depression, so that they could swiftly reorganize the Executive Branch to meet the changing needs of the American people. For the next 52 years, presidents were able to streamline or consolidate the Executive Branch by submitting a proposal to Congress that was guaranteed a simple up or down vote. But in 1984, while Ronald Reagan was President, Congress stopped granting that authority.”

“Today, I’m outlining changes we could make if Congress gives the green light to allow us to modernize and streamline.  Right now, there are six departments and agencies focused primarily on business and trade in the federal government – from the Commerce Department to the Small Business Administration to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. Six. In this case, six isn’t better than one. It’s redundant and inefficient. With the authority I am requesting today, we could consolidate them all into one department with one website, one phone number and one mission – helping American businesses succeed.” 

“With or without Congress, I’m going to keep at it. I’m hopeful it’s with Congress because this is an area where we can receive bipartisan support, because making our government more responsive, strategic and leaner should not be a partisan issue.”


I meet you all the time. You hate Obama. You hate gay people. You hate black people, immigrants, Muslims, labor unions, women who want the right to make choices concerning their bodies.  You hate socialism and social justice. You hate regulations, taxes, spending, and the Government.  You demonize everyone who is not a rich, white, heterosexual, or submissive and obedient wife.  You hate liberals, moderates, hell, anyone who disagrees with Conservative dogma as espoused by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.  You hate us more than you love your country.  You hate gay soldiers more than you want America to win its wars.  I don't even think you want America to win wars, you just want America to have wars, never ending wars and the war profiteering it generates. You love that kind of spending, you love spending on faith based initiatives and abstinence based sex education (George Carlin would have loved that one), you love spending on subsidies for profitable oil corporations, you spend like drunken sailors when you are in the White House, but if it is a Democrat then suddenly you cheer when America doesn't get the Olympics because it might make the black President look bad.  You hate them.  You hate them all.

You like people who look like you or at least hate most of the things that you hate.   You profess to love our country and the founding fathers (unless you are reminded that they believed in the separation of church and state).  You like war. You like torture. You like Jesus. I don't know how in the hell any of that is compatible, but no one ever accused you haters of being over-committed to ideological consistency.  Well, here are the facts, Jack.  If you hate the Government then you are unqualified to manage it.  If you hate gay people more than you love America than you should take your own advice and get the hell out. There are several countries that are openly hostile to gay people, but they are full of brown people and you don't like them much either from what I understand.  It looks like you are screwed, but that's not what I am here to tell you.

America is a melting pot, it always has been. We are a multi-cultural amalgamation of all kinds of people.   But oooh you love your country, you say, and you want it back. Well listen here Skippy, it isn't your country, you don't own it, it is our country, and America is NOT the religiously extremist Fox bots who hate science, elitist professors and having a vibrant and meaningful sex life with someone we love.   

Now that you have thrown everything and the kitchen sink at President Obama and it still hasn't worked you are panicking. Obama's approval ratings are still near 50% despite your best efforts to undermine the economy and America's recovery at every step you can.

You call him a Kenyan. You call him a socialist. You dance with your hatred singing it proudly in the rain like it was the 1950 musical.  You’ve tried to hold the American economy hostage to force America into default on its' debts, debts that YOU rang up under Bush, so you could blame it on Obama and it failed. You've used the filibuster more than any other Congress ever, going so far as to vote against providing health care access to 9/11 first responders. You remember 9/11, don't you, it's that thing you used to lie us into a war in Iraq, and then when Obama killed Bin Laden and ended the war in Iraq you told people that he hates America and wants the troops to fail.

You are monsters and I am openly questioning your patriotism.   Frankly, you disgust me. Your hatred nauseates me. Your bigotry offends me. Your racism revolts me.

Republicans can NOT win on the issues. They've got NOTHING.

All they have is a divide and conquer class war that pits ignorant racist and bigoted people against the rest of us in a meaningless battle of wedge issues.   Ask a gay hating and racist religious extremist if they think Corporations are people and they will gladly agree, but if you ask if gay people are people they aren't so sure.  If corporations are people, they are neither American patriots nor capable of love. Just like you.

They have an agenda for tax cuts for the rich, deregulation, privatization and war profiteering and nothing else.  All they can do is blame black people, gays, the government, anybody and everyone else for their own failings.

You are the cruel, heartless misinformed assholes who would sell America out to Halliburton in a heartbeat, you would rather pay ZERO taxes than you would see a newly born baby get access to quality health care, you cheer when we discuss denying health care to young people with preventable diseases, and you boo when we discuss the First Ladies plan to cut back on childhood obesity.   You are the same blind, ignorant and closed minded dunces who drove this country into a civil war years ago because you are bound to the notion that some men are more equal than others.

So stop wearing your hate with pride. Stop celebrating your anti-science, anti-math ignorance. Stop using code words to mask your bigotry like "family values", especially when you hate my family and when you stand on the same stage as a guy who has had three marriages or if you share a seat in the Senate with a guy who cheated on his wife with hookers while wearing diapers. You should be ashamed. I know that you are just doing this to motivate your misinformed hate cult base because if they actually knew that your ideas will make them poorer than they are now, they would never vote for you. You are doing your best to impoverish your countrymen so rich people can get bigger tax breaks and you can keep on delivering corporate welfare to the special interests who have bribed you, and I am disgusted by the way you gleefully parade your hatred with aplomb. I don't think you do love America. At least, not as much as you hate everyone in America who isn't exactly like you.  You should think about that, and maybe get some help.

You hate being called racist. You hate being called a bigot.

Maybe if you talked about creating jobs more than you talk about why you hate gay people we wouldn't call you bigots.  Maybe if you talked about black people without automatically assuming they are on food stamps while demanding their birth certificates we wouldn't call you racist.

And for the record, I do not hate you. I am embarrassed by you and nauseated by your cruel, thoughtless behavior, and your all consuming greed, but I do not hate you. I forgive you and I hope you can change someday, but I don't hate you. You have enough hate in you for the rest of us as it is.

By MinistryOfTruthFollow

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Political Campaigns Expect Volunteers to Work for Free – That Isn’t Right!

Republicans - you are applying for a job - pay all of your employees and independent contractors.

Sheldon Adelson, a casino and hotel magnate with a net worth of $21.5 billion, donates $5 million to “super PAC” – Winning Our Future for Newt Gingrich.  The super PAC spent millions on a 27 min. film – “When Romney Came To Town” to be aired in South Carolina.  Spending money on TV advertisement, billboard, and yard signs, shouldn’t be a Campaign’s only expense when they expect free labor.
Every campaign looks for “boots on the ground” and telemarketers to help construct their grassroots effort.  People, young and old, are asked to volunteer countless hours helping with their get out the vote initiatives.  These people go uncompensated.  They aren’t provided with documentation that places a value on their time to be included on their tax returns.    Are campaigns doing anything to help with unemployment?
Mitt Romney, a rich man valued at 200 billion dollars, has received campaign contributions and super Pac’s worth millions of dollars and yet doesn’t offer to pay all of his volunteers to help him seek a new job as President.  South Carolina has an unemployment rate of over 9 percent. The Romney campaign could hire thousands of people for the 15 days leading up to the primary.  You have 6 Republicans competing for the same job and each could be hiring people instead of asking people to work for free.  Instead of free labor, the campaigns could be paying independent contractors with a 1099 form.  Contractors can receive up to $600 each and this would be a short term stimulus to South Carolina’s economy. 
Politicians should pay people for their work and stop expecting free labor.  People are out of work and the high unemployment rate necessitates compensation.          

Saturday, January 7, 2012

3 Things President Obama Accomplished Without Congress

The administration is aggressively using executive action to achieve goals that have been stuck in Congress. 
Obama expands “hardship” waiver for illegal immigrants.  Last year the government started using discretion before deporting illegal immigrants. The aim would be to target felons and "public safety threats" but limit deportations of students and people who've lived here since childhood.  Under the current system, it takes an average of six months for the government to judge waiver cases, and illegal immigrant applicants are required to go home during that period.  Under the new rule, which does not require congressional approval, immigrants would be allowed to stay in the U.S. and apply for a waiver, which can be granted if deporting an immigrant would cause undue hardship to his or her U.S. family. Once waivers are granted, immigrants may apply for green cards. They would still have to leave the U.S. to make those applications, but because they would have hardship waivers in hand, they would be very likely to gain readmission to the country.  The new rule means the illegal immigrant can stay in the U.S. during the adjudication period.  “The goal is to reduce the time of separation and alleviate the extreme hardship to a United States citizen, as the law currently intends.”
The Obama administration proposed regulations to give the nation’s nearly two million home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections.   Twenty-two states do not include home health care workers under their wage and hour laws.  Republican lawmakers and business groups criticized the proposed rules.  A 1975 labor rule defined home care aides as “companions,” a class of workers that does not qualify for federal minimum wage and overtime protections. Ms. Coke’s lawyer, Craig Becker, argued before the Supreme Court in 2007 that the rule was supposed to apply only to occasional domestic workers, like baby sitters, not home care aides. The justices ruled 9 to 0 that only Congress or the Labor Department could change the rule, not the court.  President Obama nominated Mr. Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board in 2010. Senate Republicans blocked his confirmation vote, so President Obama installed him on the board through a recess appointment twice. 
The administration’s move calls for home care aides to be protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the nation’s main wage and hour law. The White House said 92 percent of these workers were women.  Nearly 30 percent were African-American and 12 percent were Hispanic. Nearly 40 percent rely on public benefits like Medicaid and food stamps. While industry experts say an overwhelming majority are paid at least the minimum wage, many do not receive a time-and-a-half premium when they work more than 40 hours a week.
President Obama announces his commitment to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth this summer.   “America’s youth can’t wait for Congress to act. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment. That’s why today we’re launching Summer Jobs+, a joint initiative that challenges business leaders and communities to join my administration in providing hundreds of thousands of summer jobs for America’s youth.”  Blacks between the ages of 16 and 19 are more likely to be unemployed than any other group in the nation. Their jobless rate has consistently been more than twice that of white teens - and more than four times the national rate overall. The economist attributes these unemployment inequities to a growing shift of jobs - from the inner cities to the suburbs. He says weaker job networks for blacks, a low minimum wage, a deficiency in soft skills, and a bias among some employers are also factors. Black teens grapple with unemployment.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Congress Blocks Guantanamo Bay Closing

Obama promised to close the detention center within a year of taking office, after taking office, not during the campaign.  Public displeasure with the decision to close the prison grew. Fifty percent of those surveyed said they disapproved of closing the facility.  After the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day, conservatives renewed calls for Obama to abandon his plans to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Obama really wants to close the center. But Congress really doesn't.  There are still 172 people being held at Guantanamo.  Congress has pretty well tied the administration's hands, prohibiting prosecution in U.S. federal courts and making it extremely difficult to transfer them to other countries.
The law authorizing defense spending for 2011 members of Congress attached several stipulations about Guantanamo. The law says no funds can be used to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States, and no funds can be used to transfer detainees to the custody of foreign countries, unless specific conditions are met about how the prisoners will be held.  Obama didn't like those provisions and issued a statement deploring them.  Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a released statement.  "Unfortunately, some in Congress have unwisely sought to undermine this process by imposing restrictions that challenge the Executive Branch’s ability to bring to justice terrorists who seek to do Americans harm. We oppose those restrictions and will continue to seek their repeal."
On March 7, 2011, President Barack Obama signed an executive order making a number of changes to policies regarding those detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a reversal of his previous policy, the order resumes military trials for Gitmo detainees. It also establishes a "periodic review" process for long-held Guantanamo detainees who have not been charged, convicted or designated for transfer, "but must continue to be detained because they 'in effect, remain at war with the United States." "While appearing to be a step in the right direction, providing more process to Guantanamo detainees is just window dressing for the reality that today’s executive order institutionalizes indefinite detention, which is unlawful, unwise and un-American," Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union said in a released statement.   "The detention of Guantanamo detainees for nine years without charge or trial is a stain on America’s reputation that should be ended immediately, and not given a stamp of approval."

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Willard Mitt Romney had the audacity to compare his "clown car" campaign to Obama's 2011 XMAS vacation

Willard Mitt Romney states "I'm here in Iowa in the cold  campaigning while the President is playing golf!"  Well guess what Willard, you're wrong again.  Our President always handles the nations business while on vacation. 
President Obama single handedly showed Americans how disfunctional House Republicans are.
House Republican's "can't agree with each other." Boehner and the House stabbed the Senate in the back by going back on their agreement to sign the two month extension, claiming they wanted a full year extension (loaded with hostage taking poison pills for the Democrats). Subsequently, they were forced to cave on the payroll tax cut extensions due to political pressure from within their own party. John Boehner responding to questions from reporters said, “We have fought the good fight…. Why not do the right thing for the American people even though it’s not exactly what we want.” McConnell could have easily sided with Boehner on the payroll tax cut extension, but his actions suggest that he too is tired of the games. It is almost as if the big brother (the Senate) is siding with Dad (Obama) to put an end to little brother’s (GOP House) bad behavior and temper tantrums. Both the Senate and the White House have grown tired of the dysfunctional antics of the Boehner led majority. President Obama message to the GOP led House was enough is enough. It is time to grow up and start behaving like an adult. We aren’t going to put up with your antics anymore. John Boehner gets caught up - 3 times in one year. John Boehner just can't deliver. He says yes but never can deliver. Republicans fear President Obama's record as a leader. McConnell charged Obama of engaging in “unhelpful political opportunism.” Imagine that. The fact still remains that McConnell’s filibuster tactic and desire to make President Obama a one term president is the primary reason our nation’s economy has not turned around. 

The Obama administration finalized a $30billion sale of new Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia in a deal meant to counteract Iran and support an estimated 50,000 U.S. jobs on December 29th. The sale, signed on Christmas Eve in Riyadh, “will send a strong message to countries in the region that the United States is committed to security in the Gulf.” Saudi Arabia, a longstanding U.S. ally in the region, also supports U.S. and international opposition to Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. officials said the main trigger for the deal was Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iranian threats in the region. In addition to the F-15 aircraft, the United States promised to sell 70 Apache attack helicopters, 72 Black Hawk helicopters, 26 Little Bird helicopters and assorted weapons systems (missiles and bombs) for the aircraft. “This gives Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates really modern combat aircraft that are much more advanced than Iran has.” “We conducted that assessment, and we are satisfied that this sale to Saudi Arabia will not detriment Israel’s qualitative military edge.” “This agreement will positively impact the U.S. economy and further advances the president’s commitment to create jobs by increasing exports.” 

Separately, the administration also is increasing arms sales to another Gulf ally, the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. this week reached an agreement with the Emirates to sell them Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Thaad missile interceptors for an initial contract of $1.96 billion in a deal potentially valued at $3.49 billion.  

Obama signs Iran sanctions bill into law. The president signed the law in Hawaii, where he is on holiday.

Iran discovers US aircraft carrier in the strategic narrow waterway in the Persian Gulf. “The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53), conducted a planned, routine transit through the Strait of Hormuz, Dec. 27. ”The ships completed a port visit in Jebel Ali, UAE, and transited the Strait, in order to provide air support to Operation Enduring Freedom from the North Arabian Sea,” Fifth Fleet spokeswoman Lt. Rebecca Rebarich said in an emailed response to questions about the Iranian report. US-Iran Tensions Flare – Dec. 28th – The Pentagon said it would not allow Iran to follow through on its threats. “Closing the Strait of Hormuz will not be tolerated.” The Strait of Hormuz is a vital transit point for up to 20 percent of the world’s oil supply. Only a few dozen miles wide at its narrowest point, it lies between Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. Iran said this week it would choke off that supply if the United States and its allies imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil sector.

Pakistan told the U.S. to vacate Shamsi Air Base by December 11. The Pakistani airbase had been used by U.S. forces, including the CIA, to stage elements of a clandestine U.S. counter-terrorism operation to attack militants linked to al-Qaida, the Taliban and Pakistan's home-grown Haqqani network, using unmanned drone aircraft armed with missiles. Pakistani authorities started threatening U.S. personnel with eviction from the Shamsi base in the wake of the raid last May in which U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden at his hide-out near Islamabad without notifying Pakistani officials in advance.

A stealthy RQ-170 drone played a critical role in surveilling the compound in Pakistan where Osama bin Laden was hiding in the months before the raid in which he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in May. Iranian engineers are claiming that they were actually able to electronically take control of the RQ-170 drone captured last week: Taking advantage of weak, easily manipulated GPS signals, which calculate location and speed from multiple satellites. Western military experts and a number of published papers on GPS spoofing indicate that the scenario described by the Iranian engineer is plausible. Given the previous reports about the Predator drone fleet being infected by a computer virus, I’d be more concerned with the cyber attack claim by the Iranians, actually.

Our President has no vacation.  He has to govern for all Americans all of the time.