U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians topple a statue of Saddam Hussein in this April 9, 2003, file photo. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
For well over a decade now the United States has been “a nation at war.” Does that war have a name?
It did at the outset. After 9/11, George W. Bush’s administration wasted no time in announcing that the U.S. was engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT. With few dissenters, the media quickly embraced the term. The GWOT promised to be a gargantuan, transformative enterprise. The conflict begun on 9/11 would define the age. In neoconservative circles, it was known as World War IV.
Upon succeeding to the presidency in 2009, however, Barack Obama without fanfare junked Bush’s formulation (as he did again in a speech at the National Defense University last week). Yet if the appellation went away, the conflict itself, shorn of identifying marks, continued.
Does it matter that ours has become and remains a nameless war? Very much so. MORE
Protesters mobilize at Freedom Plaza. Credit: Greg Kaufmann
Gisele Mata of Whittier, California, never considered herself a political activist. Other than making some calls on behalf of President Obama during the 2012 campaign, her focus was on her work, family, church and volunteering as a Girl Scout troop leader.
But on Monday, May 20, 2013, at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., she was ready to march to the Department of Justice, where she would risk arrest in order to save her family’s home and stand up for other people facing foreclosure.
“Banks are doing extreme things to get people out of their homes, so it requires extreme action,” Mata told me. “I wouldn’t be here except the banks are not being monitored so we have to stand up as citizens. They are getting away with acts of inhuman behavior and the Justice Department is not reacting.”
Mata was among 500 activists from across the country who came to the nation’s capital to “Bring Justice to Justice” — participating in three days of action organized by Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes. They were calling for the criminal prosecution of banks for ongoing illegal activity, including illegal foreclosures; and for resetting mortgages to a property’s fair market value for the more than 13 million homeowners still at risk of foreclosure. MORE
Earlier this week, a Senate panel investigated how Apple avoided billions in taxes through a web of offshore subsidiaries “so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen.” Although the company may have achieved, in the words of Sen. Carl Levin, the “holy grail of tax avoidance,” senators didn’t accuse Apple of doing anything illegal and it is by no means alone in its use of loopholes and gimmicks to avoid paying taxes.
Here’s a list, topped by Apple, of 10 companies that increased their offshore holdings in the past year. MORE
BornFree glass baby bottles are seen on display in the foreground as a mother shops at Babies'R'Us in Peabody, Mass. (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
A bipartisan bill unveiled Wednesday by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and David Vitters (R-VA.) would give the Environmental Protection Agency more power to ensure the safety of chemicals before they are allowed to go to market.
As public health historians David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz explained on last week’s Moyers & Company, existing legislation allowed the EPA to test chemicals only after there was cause to believe they were dangerous. Of the 84,000 registered chemicals in the United States, only about 200 have been tested. Each year, another 700 chemicals are introduced into the environment. They argued that the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act was in great need of a major overhaul, but that they didn’t expect new legislation to pass anytime soon.
This article was originally published by ProPublica.
IRS Headquarters in Washington, DC
In the furious fallout from the revelation that the IRS flagged applications from conservative nonprofits for extra review because of their political activity, some points about the big picture – and big donors — have fallen through the cracks.
Consider this our Top 6 list of need-to-know facts on social welfare nonprofits, also known as dark money groups because they don’t have to disclose their donors. The groups poured more than $256 million into the 2012 federal elections.
This post originally appeared on The New York Times Economix blog.
President Bush touts his tax cut plan to a crowd at Lafayette Regional Airport March 9, 2001, in Lafayette, La. (AP Photo/Kenneth Lambert)
Ten years ago this month, Congress enacted the third major tax cut of the George W. Bush administration. Its centerpiece was a huge cut in the tax rate on dividends. Historically, they had been taxed as ordinary income, but the Bush plan, enacted by a Republican Congress, cut that rate to 15 percent. The tax rate on ordinary income went as high as 35 percent.
This initiative originated with the economist R. Glenn Hubbard, who had been chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers when the proposal was sent to Congress. Mr. Hubbard was a strong believer that the double taxation of corporate profits – first at the corporate level and again when paid out as dividends – was a major economic problem.
During the George H. W. Bush administration, Mr. Hubbard had been deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy and wrote a Treasury report advocating full integration of the corporate and individual income taxes.
Mr. Hubbard had also spearheaded enactment of big tax cuts in 2001 and 2002 that he said would jump-start the American economy. In an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Nov. 16, 2001, he predicted that the soon-to-be-enacted 2002 tax cut, which President Bush signed on March 9, 2002, would “quickly deliver a boost to move the economy back toward its long-run growth path.”
Mr. Hubbard predicted that it would create 300,000 additional jobs in 2002 and add half a percentage point to the real gross domestic product growth rate. MORE
Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., left, and the subcommittee's ranking Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., arrive on Capitol Hill this morning. McCain quipped that Apple's tax strategy has given "new meaning" to its old slogan, "Think Different." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
A government report (PDF) released yesterday says that Apple kept billions of dollars in profits in an offshore tax haven that made it possible for them to avoid paying taxes in any country. Reuters reports:
The subsidiary, which has a Cork, Ireland, mailing address, received $29.9 billion in dividends from lower-tiered offshore Apple affiliates from 2009 to 2012, comprising 30 percent of Apple’s total worldwide net profits, the report said.
“Apple has exploited a difference between Irish and U.S. tax residency rules,” the report said.
The streets are so much darker now, since money for streetlights is rarely available to municipal governments. The national parks began closing down years ago. Some are already being subdivided and sold to the highest bidder. Reports on bridges crumbling or even collapsing are commonplace. The air in city after city hangs brown and heavy (and rates of childhood asthma and other lung diseases have shot up), because funding that would allow the enforcement of clean air standards by the Environmental Protection Agency is a distant memory. Public education has been cut to the bone, making good schools a luxury and, according to the Department of Education, two of every five students won’t graduate from high school. MORE
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid speaks with reporters following a Democratic strategy session at the Capitol in Washington, May 7, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargeant reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is threatening to make filibuster reform a reality if Republicans block three key Obama cabinet nominees in coming weeks.
President Obama’s picks to head the Department of Labor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protections Bureau are in danger of — or already are — being filibustered. Apparently, Harry Reid has had enough. MORE