Speaker Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Reid meet Tuesday after the Supercommittee is deadlocked

November 15, 2011

“Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) met Tuesday, a sign they might take a larger role in deficit talks, congressional aides say.

The supercommittee is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Nov. 23. Failure to reach a deal would trigger across-the-board cuts of the same amount divided evenly between discretionary and security spending.

In a closed-door briefing Tuesday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the Republican co-chairman of the panel, said divisions among Democrats are standing in the way of an agreement. He told his colleagues the GOP had put multiple offers on the table that Democrats had yet to accept.

Boehner told reporters that the GOP offer was “fair,” referring to a $1.2 trillion proposal by supercommittee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that included $300 billion in new tax revenue.”

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Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) releases report detailing millionaire tax breaks that should end to help balance the budget

November 14, 2011

“A leading Senate conservative is taking aim at tax breaks that he says amount to welfare for millionaires. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) released a report detailing special tax breaks for wealthy income earners that could give members of the supercommittee common ground for raising tax revenues.

The report found millionaires enjoy about $30 billion worth of “tax giveaways” and federal grants every year — almost twice NASA’s budget, the report notes.

“From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes and luxury yachts to subsidies for their ranches and estates, the government is subsidizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Multimillionaires are even receiving government checks for not working,” Coburn said in a statement Monday.

The report is significant because Coburn has spent more than a year working intensely on a bipartisan grand bargain to reduce the deficit.”

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Reuters: How to break the Supercommittee’s tax increase roadblock

November 14, 2011

“First, phase out the mortgage-interest deduction. It costs $100 billion a year and disproportionately benefits the well-to-do. Worse, it can goad people into buying homes they can’t afford. Start by limiting the deduction to only principal residences and reducing the maximum amount of eligible mortgage debt to $500,000. Full deductibility can then gradually yield to ever-smaller partial deductions. We estimate the savings over 10 years could be about $200 billion.

Next, we should eliminate corporate tax breaks. Abolishing a provision that rewards companies that use “last-in-first-out” accounting would raise about $70 billion; ending tax breaks for corporate jets would generate $3 billion; and stopping subsidies for oil and gas companies gives us about $40 billion over 10 years. Reducing farm subsidies could cut $28 billion. And subjecting “carried interest” to the same tax rate as regular income would generate $20 billion.”

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Rep. Cantor: The Supercommittee will succeed

November 14, 2011

“Despite the pessimism surrounding the deficit-slashingpanel — according to the new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll, 69 percent of the public don’t believe the supercommittee will strike a deal — Cantor said Monday that he believes the supercommittee will ultimately succeed.

The supercommittee has just nine days until they [must] deliver a package cutting at least $1.2 trillion in deficit-cutting measures to Congress.

Cantor’s comments came when a reporter asked whether he would favor overturning automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs — known as a sequester — that would be triggered in the case that the supercommittee fails to reach a deal.”

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President Obama shifts away from his “hands-off” approach towards the Supercommittee, phoning the bipartisan co-chairs Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) urging them to reach a deal

November 13, 2011

“President Obama phoned both Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Representative Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the bipartisan co-chairs of the supercommittee, and urged them to reach a deal. He also reminded the two that both parties agreed to a sequester.

This marks a shift for President Obama, who has had a “hands-off” approach to the congressional deliberations.

A senior White House official says the president called the co-chairs in response to media reports, like this one from Foreign Policy’s “The Cable,” outlining an attempt by Republicans to circumvent the “trigger” mechanism.

This week, Sen. John McCain said, “We’ll do everything we can to prevent [the trigger] being implemented. You can’t bind future Congresses.”

In his call, President Obama responded, emphasizing that, “Congress must not shirk its responsibilities.”"

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Supercommittee still hoping for a debt deal before the November 23rd deadline

November 13, 2011

“The U.S. congressional “super committee” is at a difficult point in negotiations on a deficit-reduction deal, but lawmakers said on Sunday they had not given up reaching an agreement by this month’s deadline.

The special congressional committee is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in federal budget savings over 10 years, but with a Nov. 23 deadline looming, Republicans and Democrats on the panel have not yet sealed a deal.

Republicans have been reluctant to allow tax increases, and Democrats do not want to agree to cuts in healthcare and retirement programs until tax increases are on the table.”

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Bipartisan group of 7 Senators will soon introduce a bill allowing all states to collect online sales tax

November 9, 2011

“State governments would be able to collect online sales taxes under a bill due to be introduced in the Senate on Wednesday, said sources familiar with the bill.

Supporters of the online sales tax collection requirement include Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target Corp and other “big box” retailers who argue they are at a disadvantage against online-only competitors.

A bipartisan group of up to seven senators will introduce the bill, which is broader than similar legislation introduced in the Senate in July. The new bill will differ from a bill in the House of Representatives by affecting more small businesses under a lower exemption threshold, the sources said.”

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Flip-Flop: Obama Administration delays its recently announced 15-cent fresh Christmas Tree Tax

November 9, 2011

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to delay implementation and revisit a proposed new 15 cent fee on fresh-cut Christmas trees, sources tell ABC News. The fee, requested by the National Christmas Tree Association in 2009, was first announced in the Federal Registry yesterday and has generated criticism of President Obama from conservative media outlets.

The well-trafficked Drudge Report is leading with the story, linking to a blog by David Addington, a former top aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, at the conservative Heritage Foundation assailing the president thus: “The economy is barely growing and nine percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do? And, by the way, the American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government.”
The National Christmas Tree Association says the fee would fund a program “designed to benefit the industry and will be funded by the growers” and is “not expected to have any impact on the final price consumers pay for their Christmas tree.” According to the Federal Registry, the proposed Christmas Tree Promotion Board, which would be funded by the new fee, would launch a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” and to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.”

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Grinch-like Federal Government announces 15 cent tax on all fresh Christmas trees purchased during the Christmas Season

November 9, 2011

“President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.”

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Bachmann continues to push her ‘Everyone Should Pay Income Taxes’ plan, raising her proposed minimum income tax payment from $1 to $10

November 8, 2011

“White House hopeful Michele Bachmann said Monday that people who can afford to pay more in taxes should as part of a national tax overhaul that she hopes will set her apart from rivals like Mitt Romney and Herman Cain.

The Minnesota congresswoman and tax lawyer wants to do away with the earned income tax credit — a Reagan-era incentive for people to work. Bachmann proposes that even those low-wage earners who get all of their income taxes refunded plus the credit pay at least $10 a year in income taxes.

Bachmann is trying to regain ground lost as Texas Gov. Rick Perry entered the race and Cain surged, as she launches a swing through early voting South Carolina. She said her everyone-pays-something plan is part of the needed reconfiguration of the tax code.

“That’s part of the rethinking that we need to have in the United States: that everyone needs to sacrifice from the top end to the bottom end, and everybody needs to be part of the solution,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.”

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As Obama begins his nine-day trip to visit Asia-Pacific leaders, Washington prepares for a battle over budgets, taxes, spending, and debt

November 7, 2011

“President Barack Obama’s efforts next week to persuade Asia-Pacific leaders of his commitment to the region may be undercut by distractions in Washington, where budget fights may come to a head while he is away.
Obama embarks on a nine-day trip to Hawaii, Australia and Indonesia on Friday that he will use to highlight U.S.-Asian economic ties and the long-standing U.S. role in the region’s security.
His absence from Washington will coincide with a deadline for Congress to avoid a government shutdown and a pivotal stretch of deficit-cutting negotiations that investors and credit rating agencies will be watching closely.
White House officials said Obama has diplomatic goals he hopes to advance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit that he will host in Honolulu on November 12-13 and during his visits to Canberra, Darwin and Bali.
But there is speculation he could face pressure to cut the trip short to rush back to Washington for the budget crunch-time and to avoid criticism that he failed to step up if the negotiations start to go off track.
“There is pressure here not to do the trip,” said Ernest Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who said Obama was facing the political reality that “it’s always better to be in Indiana than Indonesia.”

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Chicago Mayor Emanuel announces plans to raise taxes, fines, and fees by $220 million in 2012

November 7, 2011

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said his plan to raise taxes, fines and fees by $220 million in 2012 includes higher fines for a laundry list of offenses, but he has yet to air that laundry list. Now, the mayor’s 2012 revenue ordinance makes the details public.”

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McDonald’s CEO: Cut taxes and government spending to kick-start economic recovery

November 6, 2011

“America must cut taxes and reduce government spending in order to kick-start an economic recovery, Jim Skinner, the chief executive of McDonald’s, has warned. “We pay some of the highest [corporate] taxes around the world. There needs to be some levelling.”

Asked about federal borrowing, he said: “It’s not a good story… the government has to spend less. We have to grow the economy, grow GDP… and you have to be able to do it in an organic way and not through borrowings and increasing debt.”

McDonald’s army of blue-collar customers need more clarity on core issues, such as healthcare, he said. “Until all of that is all defined and certain… we’re going to continue to have a fragile environment for consumer confidence.”

Skinner’s intervention will be seized upon by President Obama’s opponents amid a fierce debate in Washington over the country’s deteriorating finances and high unemployment. As Democrats and Republicans fire up their 2012 election campaigns, the focus is on the “9pc nightmare”, with both the US budget deficit and jobless total at that level.”

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Senate Democrats remove Millionaire Tax from Jobs Bill and instead plan to keep current fees V.A. Home Loans in place

November 6, 2011

“Senate Democrats plan to make veterans the focus of their next jobs bill, providing tax incentives for businesses to hire former members of the military and instructing the Labor Department to find ways to ease their transition to the civilian workplace.

But perhaps most striking is Democrats’ decision to jettison a popular method of paying for pieces of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill, which failed in a bipartisan vote in the Senate. The majority is not looking to tax Americans who make more than $1 million to offset the veterans’ jobs provision; rather, they will keep in place current fees for V.A. home loans.

The abandonment of the millionaire surtax is a victory for Republicans, who have, heretofore opposed such a measure, and it also signals a significant compromise by Democrats toward improving the nation’s persistently poor jobless rate. While polls showed the surtax to be popular with a majority of Americans, Republicans have stood uniformly against it, thereby blocking any possible jobs measure.”

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Iowa Poll: Two-thirds of likely Republican voters earning less than $50,000 a year believe they would be better off under Cain’s 9-9-9 plan

November 4, 2011

“Two-thirds of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers earning less than $50,000 a year believe they personally would be better off or in the same situation under Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll shows. Research-group reviews of the plan have found that most families making $100,000 or less would pay thousands of dollars more each year.

“The larger point is that people don’t really understand what the 9-9-9 plan actually is, and they’re assuming incorrectly that they may not pay one or any of these taxes,” said Joe Rosenberg, a research associate for the Tax Policy Center, a group based in Washington, D.C., that bills itself as a nonpartisan economic research institute.

Cain’s plan would eliminate the current individual income tax, corporate income tax and payroll tax and replace them with a new 9 percent national sales tax, a 9 percent business tax and a 9 percent income tax. Estate and gift taxes would be eliminated.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that the three taxes combined would be the equivalent of a 25.38 percent national sales tax. Because lower-income families spend a larger percentage of their income on tangible goods, they would be affected disproportionately.

The bottom line: A family with an income level of $40,000 to $50,000 would pay $3,407 more a year in taxes, while families making $500,000 to $1 million a year would pay on average $80,315 less, according to the Tax Policy Center.

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