Category Archives: Corporate Greed

Newt Gingrich Has No Moral Authority

Newt Gingrich Needs to Ride Off Into the Political Sunset

GingrichNewt Gingrich recently wrote an opinion piece in the right-wing Washington Times entitled: “Why I will not accept Joe Biden as president”. I could simply ask “Who gives a damn?” and end this post, but Newt Gingrich is rarely challenged on his bombastic bullshit. For those lucky folks who don’t know much about Gingrich, here are the cliff notes:

He’s an arrogant, self-important, self-delusional, self-aggrandizing, adulterous, finger-in-the-wind ex-politician. For more detail, read:

Politico’sThe Millennial’s Guide to Newt Gingrich

The Atlantic’s “How Newt Gingrich Destroyed American Politics“, and

Time’s “How Newt Gingrich Laid the Groundwork for Trump’s Republican Party

Now, back to Newt’s opinion piece; without a doubt, the most hypocritical statement comes at the very start:

Having spent more than four years watching the left #Resist President Donald Trump and focus entirely on undoing and undermining the 2016 election, it took me several days to understand the depth of my own feelings.

Carrying the torch of Republican hypocrisy

In case you didn’t know, Newt Gingrich was the star of the show at the 2009 Inauguration eve meeting to sabotage Obama’s presidency.  Robert Draper’s book, “Do Not Ask What Good We Do: Inside the U.S. House of Representatives” lists attendees as:

Republican Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.), Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Pete Sessions (Texas), Jeb Hensarling (Texas), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.) and Dan Lungren (Calif.), along with Republican Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Ensign (Nev.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.). The non-lawmakers present included Newt Gingrich, … and Frank Luntz, the long-time Republican wordsmith.

As HuffPost’s Sam Stein reported:

For several hours in the Caucus Room (a high-end D.C. establishment), the book says they plotted out ways to not just win back political power, but to also put the brakes on Obama’s legislative platform. (…)

“You will remember this day,” Draper reports Newt Gingrich as saying on the way out. “You’ll remember this as the day the seeds of 2012 were sown.”

Sadly for Newt, the seeds dried up and Obama won re-election in 2012. Republicans never realized how much Democrats supported their President, and saw through GOP efforts to ensure the government failed. Just as they don’t realize even now that unlike their base, Democrats have always seen through Trump’s MAGA bullshit. Republicans elected a repulsive, vulgar, un-American, self-absorbed con-man who has done nothing but shit all over the dignity of the office and the reputation of the country. AND NEWT GINGRICH KNOWS THIS.

Covering for the Failure-in-Chief

Gingrich continues:

” …Democrat-led COVID-19 policies have enriched the wealthy while crushing middle class small business owners (some 160,000 restaurants may close).”

It’s DEMOCRATIC-led, brainiac, sheesh! Anyway, this kind of nonsense is why people like Newt write for conservative sites: No Pushback. And fact-checking? PFFFT. 

Whatever COVID-19 policies Democrats enacted were a result of the lack of leadership and blatant dishonesty from Washington. Blue states acted quickly and imposed the necessary lockdowns.

 

Republicans, however, hid behind their constituents’ selfish “freedom” arguments and practically reveled in doing the opposite of everything the disease specialists suggested.

Red States’ COVID cases are surging now, and Republicans and the White House have abandoned any pretense of having a plan.

The Right’s fine-tuned art of dishonesty

As for “enriching the wealthy and crushing middle-class small business owners”, that is a direct result of the non-existent oversight of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). According to SBA.gov:

The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

SBA will forgive loans if all employee retention criteria are met, and the funds are used for eligible expenses.

But according to Vox (my emphasis):

As written in the legislation, any business that’s classified as an accommodation or food service that has 500 or fewer employees at its individual locations, is eligible. It’s a loophole that, in theory, was meant to help franchisees and independent owners — think a local McDonald’s store owner — but as Bloomberg notes, the “language didn’t clarify whether individual locations must apply for the aid or whether corporate headquarters could start vacuuming up millions in relief funds.”

Some of the “small businesses” that “vacuumed up” money included Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Shake Shack, and the Los Angeles Lakers. In fact, the AP found that “… at least 94 companies that disclosed receiving aid since the program opened April 3 were publicly traded, some with market values well over $100 million.” True small businesses were left to fend for themselves, thus the money was gone before they could even get their applications processed.

Mnuchin’s Financial Free For All

Among others receiving PPP money:

A couple who purchased a $3.5 million estate, and a “ministry” that tried to buy a $3.7 million house in Disney World’s Golden Oak development. In addition, Small Business Trends reports:

Feds have seized a 2020 Lamborghini Huracan sports car, a Rolex Presidential watch, a 5.73-carat diamond ring, and a diamond bracelet — all purchased with PPP loan money. Other loot includes a Tesla, a 26-foot Pavati Wake Boat, a 33-foot Cruiser yacht, two Rolls-Royces, a Lamborghini Urus, a Kia Stinger, and a Ford F-350 pickup truck.

Authorities also seized cash hoards and froze bank accounts. They are in the process of trying to recover other assets.

Some defendants blew taxpayer money on wild spending sprees, including Las Vegas gambling, visits to strip clubs, and day-trading. In one case, a married couple was apprehended at JFK Airport purportedly attempting to flee the country after submitting 18 fraudulent applications — allegedly.

As a result of public outcry over the program’s fraudulent loans, Steve Mnuchin decided to conceal the names of businesses receiving PPP loans.

I’m not going to continue to point out the blatant lies in Gingrich’s opinion piece, I think you get the drift. Aside from tax breaks for the wealthy, starting wars, suppressing the vote, and denying people their rights, lying is one of the things Republicans excel at. Newt Gingrich’s opinions are about as important as something you’d scrape off of your shoe, and his character is no better.

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Filed under Corporate Greed, COVID-19, covid-19 relief package, newt gingrich, Politics, relief package corruption, stimulus

Now YOU’RE Paying For Corporate America’s Meals

When the Hell is Enough Enough?

Republicans fought long and hard to get the 35% statutory corporate tax rate lowered. They claimed it made U.S. companies less competitive than their foreign counterparts. At the same time, Republicans KNEW that corporate effective tax rates averaged much less.

In 2016, the Senate Budget Committee’s Ranking Member received a report from the GAO on effective tax rates. The GAO report, using tax years 2006-2012, found:

cash and cigarsThe statutory tax rate on net corporate income ranges from 15 to 35 percent, depending on the amount of income earned. For tax years 2008 to 2012, profitable large U.S. corporations paid, on average, U.S. federal income taxes amounting to about 14 percent of the pretax net income that they reported in their financial statements (for those entities included in their tax returns). When foreign and state and local income taxes are included, the average ETR across all of those years increases to just over 22 percent.

Insanity is… well, you know.

Even so, the GOP majority got their way in 2017, rewarding those big-money donors at the expense of American taxpayers. In 2019, a report from ITEP (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy), Corporate Tax Avoidance in the First Year of the Trump Tax Law found:

TCJAWhen drafting the tax law, lawmakers could have eliminated special breaks and loopholes in the corporate tax to offset the cost of reducing the statutory rate. Instead, the new law introduced many new breaks and loopholes, though it eliminated some old ones.

Key Findings:

pigs at the troughThe 379 profitable corporations identified in this study paid an effective federal income tax rate of 11.3 percent on their 2018 income, slightly more than half the statutory 21 percent tax rate.

91 corporations did not pay federal income taxes on their 2018 U.S. income. These corporations include Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton and IBM. An ITEP study released in April 2019 examined 2018 Fortune 500 filings released to date and found 60 companies paid zero in federal income taxes. Now, all companies have released their 2018 financial filings, and this report reflects that.

Another 56 companies paid effective tax rates between 0 percent and 5 percent on their 2018 income. Their average effective tax rate was 2.2 percent.

Now, instead of the mere 27 companies paying no income taxes in 2015, we’ve jumped to at least 91 companies avoiding taxes in 2018.

Feeding Corporate Pigs

Fast Forward to 2020. A raging pandemic, over 300,000 U.S. deaths, huge job losses, people facing evictions or losing their homes, and THIS is what Trump and Republicans insisted be part of the latest COVID Relief Plan:

feeding corporate pigsCorporations will now be able to deduct 100% of the cost of “business meals”.

Paying 50% of their meals was obviously too burdensome, so Americans will pay even more now to prop up our so-called “self-made” corporate Americans. We already subsidize their

          • Operating Expenses

          • Employee Expenses

          • Insurance

          • Travel

          • Bad Debts

          • Interest

          • Equipment

          • Taxes

          • Professional Services

          • Advertising

Not to mention yachts, planes, second homes…

Now we can feed them, too.

Meanwhile, working families are struggling to put food on their own tables. Republicans are vile, despicable people who’ve never given a rat’s ass about America.

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Filed under Congress, Corporate Greed, COVID-19, covid-19 relief package, Economy, Frontline Workers, Politics, relief package corruption, Republican Priorities, Republicans, stimulus, Taxes, Trump

Disney Screws Americans Over

disney charactersDisney may be as American as apple pie, but now we find Disney biting the hands that feed it. Part of being an American Corporation, entertainment or otherwise, is taxpayer subsidies, and the Disney Company is no different. For example, Florida Watchdog reported in 2013:

According to Disney’s lastest financial report, it received $183 million through the film tax credit in 2011, for its movies and shows, an amount projected to exceed $200 million in 2013.

These tax credits make up more than a quarter of the total $718 million in public dollars the Walt Disney Co. received from federal, state and local governments in 2011, when the company generated more than $40.9 billion in revenue.

FrozenWhile Disney is supposed to be the epitome of family entertainment, H-1B Visas are supposed to be for employers who can’t find American workers. Hopefully, never the twain shall meet. But what’s a poor little company to do when it’s netting a measly $5.7 billion in profits? Outsource of course, you idiots!

This is the definition of the H-1B program from the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor (my emphasis):

BraveThe H-1B program applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations… A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.

(…)

MinionsEmployers must attest to the Department of Labor that they will pay wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers that are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment – whichever is greater.

The real question here is: How much money is enough money? Is it really a burden, with billions in profits, to employ American workers here in America? The Economic Policy Institute reports, (my emphasis):

finding nemoThe Disney Corporation had its most profitable year ever, with profits of $7.5 billion—up 22 percent from the previous year. Disney’s stock price is up approximately 150 percent over the past three years. These kinds of results have paid off handsomely for its CEO Bob Iger, who took home $46 million in compensation last year.

I’m betting Mr. Iger wouldn’t give up a dime of his salary to save money. As the Orlando Sentinel put it:

jasmine… there’s something about a 40ish man at the happiest place on Earth losing his six-figure salary to a 20-something from India who will do the job for a lot less that is particularly jarring.

I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m getting damned sick and tired of the state and federal governments handing companies like Disney enormous tax breaks after which, they turn around and outsource jobs while squirreling money away overseas.

It seems relatively simple to me: You don’t want to pay taxes, then no tax breaks; you want to replace U.S. workers with foreign workers, then your company should receive no business, employment, or benefits deductions for those workers; in fact, you should have to pay a fee to the taxpayers for hiring temporary foreign workers when you don’t actually need them.

Meanwhile folks, for what Disney charges for a one day pass, you can get a season pass at a place like Dollywood., a 2 day ticket to Seaworld Orlando, or a pass to Seaworld and Busch Gardens together. America’s got lots of beautiful sights to see as well. Think about it.

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Filed under Corporate Greed, Labor, off shore banking, Outsourcing, Tax Cheats

Will Offshore Blackmailers Win Again?

Congress might be poised to kowtow to corporate offshore blackmailers again, according to Reuters News Service:

corporate gift from congressDemocrat Barbara Boxer of California and Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky called for allowing businesses to pay 6.5 percent corporate income tax on foreign profits brought into the country from overseas, instead of the current 35 percent rate, which they largely avoid.

Seriously, this offshore tax holiday bullshit again? Do we learn nothing from past mistakes? As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities reports:

A tax holiday enacted in 2004 failed to produce the promised economic benefits. The evidence shows that firms mostly used the repatriated earnings not to invest in U.S. jobs or growth but for purposes that Congress sought to prohibit, such as repurchasing their own stock and paying bigger dividends to their shareholders. Moreover, many firms actually laid off large numbers of U.S. workers even as they reaped multi-billion-dollar benefits from the tax holiday and passed them on to shareholders.

Americans for Tax Fairness reports:

Multinational corporations are holding roughly $2 trillion in profits offshore – much of it in tax havens to avoid paying U.S. taxes. These corporations are costing U.S. taxpayers about $100 billion every year in lost revenue.

When corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes, the rest of us must make up the difference. Here’s how much a handful of these corporations would likely owe in taxes if they brought those profits home:

  • Apple: $26 billion
  • Microsoft: $19.4 billiontax dodging
  • Amgen: $7.9 billion
  • Eli Lilly: $7.3 billion
  • Oracle: $6.3 billion
  • Dell: $6.2 billion

Now consider this: In a 2013 Senate subcommittee hearing, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed: “We pay all the taxes we owe, every single dollar.” As Forbes reported at the time:

Apple, one of the world’s most valuable companies, was asked to testify about its tax programs as part of the subcommittee’s ongoing look into corporate tax loopholes.

The bi-partisan committee, headed by Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), said its investigation found that Apple has shifted billions of dollars in profits away from the U.S. and into Ireland, where the maker of iPhones and iPads has negotiated a special corporate tax rate of 2 percent or less. The subcomittee said yesterday that Apple has avoided paying taxes on $44 billion in overseas earnings that should have been taxed in the U.S. over the past four years.

offshore_tax_rulesWhile Apple paid almost $6 billion in taxes last year, the company also shifted $36 billion in taxable earnings away from the U.S. in 2012 and avoided a payment of $9 billion, Levin said. That translates into avoiding $1 million an hour in taxes, or $25 million a day, he said. “Apple wants to focus on the billions in taxes it has paid. But the real issue is the billions in taxes it has not paid.”

In a rather humorous/ironic twist, Senator Rand Paul, one of those calling for this latest get-out-of-jail-free-card for tax dodgers:

accused his colleagues of trying to “vilify” Apple. Paul said the committee should “apologize” for forcing Apple to sit through a “show trial” and for having to cope with “a bizarre and Byzantine tax code.” “Money goes where it’s welcome,” Paul said, calling for comprehensive U.S. tax reform. “Frankly, I’m offended by the tone and tenor of this hearing…I’m offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America’s greatest success stories.” (emphasis mine)

Poor little multimillionaire; I sympathize, don’t you?

There is a tax myth repeated ad nauseum by the Right and their “think tanks” like the Heritage Foundation that claims U.S. corporations pay the highest tax rates in the world. This myth has been debunked numerous times, and yet it remains a mantra on the Right. The corporate tax rate is supposedly 35% on U.S. profits; but, as Citizens for Tax Justice pointed out in their report The Sorry State of Corporate Taxes:

The report looks at the profits and U.S. federal income taxes of the 288 Fortune 500 companies that have been consistently profitable in each of the five years between 2008 and 2012, excluding companies that experienced even one unprofitable year during this period.

Some Key Findings:

• As a group, the 288 corporations examined paid an effective federal income tax rate of just 19.4 percent over the five-year period — far less than the statutory 35 percent tax rate.

• Twenty-six of the corporations, including Boeing, General Electric, Priceline.com and Verizon, paid no federal income tax at all over the five year period. A third of the corporations (93) paid an effective tax rate of less than ten percent over that period.

• Of those corporations in our sample with significant offshore profits, two thirds paid higher corporate tax rates to foreign governments where they operate than they paid in the U.S. on their U.S. profits.

This is a breakdown of U.S. tax revenue for 2013:

chart u.s. tax revenue 2013

In 2013, federal corporate income tax revenue was approximately $273.5 billion; at the same time corporate after-tax profits hit $1.68 trillion.

Now, I agree the tax system is a mess, so let’s fix it; lower the corporate tax rate, but eliminate all tax write-offs. Americans shouldn’t have to subsidize a company’s R&D, corporate jets, re-investment, etc.; if “they built that” then they can pay for their own costs of doing business. And stop letting billion dollar corporations call themselves small businesses, it’s an insult to true small business.

Let’s simplify the individual income tax while we’re at it, and stop allowing the wealthy to pay less taxes for doing nothing than those who actually work.

But most of all, let’s stop allowing big corporations and the rich to shirk their responsibilities, then blackmail America to get out of paying what they owe.

crossposted @ All Things Democrat

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Filed under Barbara Boxer, Corporate Greed, off shore banking, Politics, Rand Paul, Tax Cheats, Tax code

Corporate Crime Report For 2/4/15

Corporate Criminals

Corporate Crime Headlines From Corporate Crime Reporter:

FCC to Fine AT&T $640,000: The Federal Communications Commission intends to fine AT&T Inc. $640,000 for allegedly operating numerous wireless stations throughout the United States without authorization over a multi-year period and failing to provide required license modification notices to the FCC.

FinCEN Fines Oppenheimer $20 Million: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) assessed a $20 million civil money penalty against Oppenheimer & Co., Inc., for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).

Oppenheimer, a securities broker-dealer in New York, admitted that it failed to establish and implement an adequate anti-money laundering program, failed to conduct adequate due diligence on a foreign correspondent account, and failed to comply with requirements under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act.

FinCEN and the New York Stock Exchange assessed a civil money penalty of $2.8 million against Oppenheimer in 2005 for similar violations.
In 2013, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority fined the firm $1.4 million for violations of securities laws and anti-money laundering failures.

Community Health Systems Hospitals to Pay $75 Million to Settle False Claims Act Charge: Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation (CHSPSC) and three affiliated New Mexico hospitals (CHS) will pay the United States $75 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by making illegal donations to county governments which were used to fund the state share of Medicaid payments to the hospitals.

CHSPSC is based in Franklin, Tennessee, and manages more than 200 affiliated hospitals in 29 states.

“Congress expressly intended that states and counties use their own money when seeking federal matching funds in order to encourage them to join the federal government in ensuring that Medicaid funds are spent on the needs of beneficiaries,” said Justice Department Civil Division chief Joyce R. Branda. “When private hospitals violate the rules against hospital donations funding the state share, that important protection of the Medicaid program is destroyed.”

Standard & Poor’s Financial Services and its parent McGraw Hill Financial Inc. will pay $1.375 billion: to settle charges S&P engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in structured financial products known as Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs).

The agreement resolves the department’s 2013 lawsuit against S&P, along with the suits of 19 states and the District of Columbia.

 

martha

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Filed under Banking regulation, Big Banks, Corporate Crime, Corporate Greed