There is a lot of talk about budget sequestration and federal deficit reduction happening in Washington D.C. What has been lost in the conversation is that there are scores of outrageously profitable U.S. corporations who pay little or no federal taxes. The panel of local experts will explore the damaging impact these cuts will have on our community as well as more progressive, revenue-focused approaches to tackling the national debt.
WHO: A group of concerned citizens
WHAT: Panel discussion on the “Dirty Thirty” corporate tax dodgers
WHEN: Wednesday, February 29, 2013 6:30 pm
LOCATION: 220 E 4th St. Waterloo, Ia. The 220E Retail Incubator.
This event is free and open to the public
Chris Schwartz (moderator) – Working Families Win/ADA
U.S. Congressman, Bruce Braley (invited)
Pastor Belinda Creighton-Smith – Faith Temple Baptist Church in Waterloo
Jan Laue – President Iowa Alliance of Retired Americans
Rudy Jones – Director of Community Development Office, City of Waterloo
Steve Abbott – Iowa Federation of Labor Board Member.
Sponsored by: Americans for Democratic Action; Working Families Win; Iowa Alliance of Retired Americans; Iowa Federation of Labor ; Black Hawk Union Council; Communications Workers of American Retiree Chapter 70901; UNIFY for Education Coalition and the Iowa Citizen Action Network.
The “Dirty Thirty” are; Pepco Holdings; General Electric; Paccar; PG&E Corp; Computer Sciences; NiSource; CenterPoint Energy; Tenet Healthcare: Integrys Energy Group; American Electric Power; Con-Way; Ryder System; Baxter International; Wisconsin Energy; Duke Energy; DuPont; Consolidated Edison; Verizon Communications; Interpublic Group; CMS Energy; NextEra Energy; Navistar International; Boeing; Wells Fargo; El Paso; Mattel; Honeywell International; DTE Energy; Corning; and FedEx. (source: Citizens for Tax Justice)
A story posted on alternet the other day got me to thinking: it really is time for the new American narrative to be told. The old one where people work together and compromise for the better of the whole country is long out of date. Finding out the real truth when coming of age can be quite traumatic for many. Often they realize that not only is the national narrative is filled with manure, so is much of what they are told day in and day out. On second thought maybe the untrue national story does serve a greater good.
8 Giveaways To Corporations
During a conversation with a friend last week I made the statement that “the big money always wins.” And once again, while the country was all atwitter about the “fiscal cliff” and who was winning or losing, the big boys weren’t worried, they knew they would win. In this article we find out that while some had their taxes raised some corporations once more made out like bandits. Same old, same old. I am sure that gave some consolation to Republicans.
Means Testing SS & Medicare
One of the most often offered answers to the so-called “crises” concerning Social Security and Medicare is to means test those who receive benefits. After all, why should the rich get a social security? Why shouldn’t the rich pay for their own medical care? Read the reasons in this article and arm yourself for that eventual tea bagger who claims that means testing will save these two great programs. If you happen to think “divide and conquer” when you read this, you are on the right track.
House Blocks Violence Against Women Act
No real surprise here is there? Just the continuation of Republicans trying to keep women in their place. Nothing personal. Many Republicans have mothers, sisters, daughters and even friends who are female.
Gov. Christie Surprised By Republican House.
Imagine what must be going through Chris Christie’s mind when he found out on his own that Republicans are asses when it comes to aiding misfortunate Americans. Imagine what will go through his mind when he finds out he is one of those hated Republicans.
Harry Reid Gets Unanimous Consent For Pages Of Nominees
Lawrence O’Donnell, who served for years as chief adviser for Sen. Moynihan and as chief of staff for the Senate Finance Committee, dug into that background to report a huge story that no one else reported on. For the first four years one of the tactics that Republican senators employed to cripple the Obama presidency was to automatically filibuster damn near every nominee for anything that the administration sent to the senate for confirmation.
So after all the fanfare of the fiscal cliff story, after all the reporters were gone, Harry Reid quietly brought the numbers of the nominees to the floor and through an agreement with Sen. McConnell, each was passed with a unanimous consent vote. Now the administration can do its job. A thing of quiet beauty.
Medicare Costs Down Dramatically
Hard to believe, but once more Republicans are using “facts” that are not true. The claims that Medicare costs are spiraling out of control are demonstrably not true. And the changes that the Affordable Care Act will bring will help reign them in even more. Peter Orzag, formerly of the Obama Administration and now of Ctiti, has put together some numbers and charts which show Medicare costs down dramatically with a downward trend. This should be a game changer.
I certainly miss the days when real facts were used in debating policy.
Black friday at Walmart Supercenter #1723
5101 SE 14th St, Des Moines
November 23 • 07:00 pm
Black friday at Walmart Supercenter #1764
73rd St, Windsor Heights
November 22 • 06:30 pm
Black friday at Walmart Supercenter #892
1002 SE National Dr, Ankeny
November 22 • 08:00 pm
Black friday at Walmart Supercenter #2716
3601 29th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids
November 22 • 08:00 pm
Walmart Black Friday Worker Solidarity Event, Quad Cities area
3101 W. Kimberly Rd., Davenport
November 23 • 09:00 am
Making Change at Walmart
The contrast between Democratic and Republican approaches to the government’s role in job creation could not be clearer than with the Branstad administration’s recently announced deal with the Egyptian corporation Orascom. The company plans to build a fertilizer plant in Lee County. Touted as a “win-win,” the project will result in a $1.4 billion construction project and 165 permanent jobs, according to news sources.
The deal appears to be predicated on cheap natural gas, proximity to fertilizer users, and a package of tax incentives that according to Peter Fisher of the Iowa Policy Project, “amount to more than $650,000 for each permanent job.” CF Industries, Inc., Dow Chemical and Royal Dutch Shell are reported to be mulling similar projects, so Iowa is participating in a broader economic trend related to the explosion of natural gas supply in the United States due to hydraulic fracturing, and its intersection with agriculture.
The Orascom deal is done, it creates jobs, and it occurred on the Republican watch. However, is a tax incentive to a foreign corporation the best way to create Iowa jobs? Democrats have a different answer, one that favors Iowa businesses, and small businesses particularly.
Recently, the Solon City Council approved a $125,000 package of forgivable loans to a local company planning to open a restaurant and microbrewery on Main Street. One can debate how many jobs this will create, but management, a cook, a brew master, wait and kitchen staff, maintenance and accounting functions will all be part of the business. Perhaps five or six jobs and parts of others after the construction is finished and the business opens. For the money spent on each Orascom job, five or six small businesses could receive such a loan, multiplying the job creation many times per dollar spent over the Republican deal.
If one cares about job creation, supporting Main Street is more sensible than giving tax breaks to large, multinational corporations. There is the partisan difference, Democrats support Iowa businesses on Main Street, Republicans support tax breaks to large corporations.
Democrats support a strong Iowa economy by supporting a reduction in commercial property taxes for every Iowa business, focused on Main Street in small towns. We also support giving Iowans first bidding rights on government contracts, and buying American and Iowa made products where cost competitive. We support financial incentives for small businesses like the one in Solon.
This approach would do more for the Iowa economy than providing tax incentives to foreign corporations for a business relying on the economics of the questionable practice of hydraulic fracturing.
The Orascom fertilizer plant deal shows once again that while Republicans favor large corporations, Democrats favor doing business in Iowa with Iowans. It points out that Democrats make the better job creators.
It just occurred to me that besides all of the big buck bets that the likes of David and Charles Koch, Sheldon Adelstein, the Waltons (BTW, every time you shop at Walmart you help the Republicans) and the many other billionaires and multi-millionaires through so-called non-profit “PACS”, there is another group that is placing a silent bet against Obama and they have been doing so for several years.
Since the implementation of the stimulus plan, we have seen major business refuse to hire. We have also seen lending banks refusing to lend, even though that was one of the main objectives of the TARP funds distributed by both the Bush and Obama Administrations.
While we have heard excuses after excuses that range from almost weird to the standard “the economy is unstable.” And the excuses have been just that – excuses. These excuses are being used to hide a very easy to see reality. Corporations and Wall Street connected businesses, have refused to hire even though business is up and profits are at an all-time high. Were they to hire, it would lower the unemployment numbers. Lowering the unemployment numbers might make Obama look good. If Obama looks good, it would strengthen his chances to be re-elected.
So, major corporations have refused to hire and are sitting on as much as $3 Trillion in cash. They are more than willing to hurt their own businesses to have some effect on defeating Barack Obama. I guess this is their idea of patriotism. Hurt Americans, probably millions of Americans, in order to put one man out of a job.
So you have a three pronged attack by the rich – especially the corporations – funding Romney, funding to the hilt the so-called “non-profit” PACS and refusing to do anything to help America get better. Seems like when the rich are not having dreams about rape, they are about the business of raping poor and middle class Americans.
They have also been able to push even more productivity out of workers without sharing the profit from that raise. It is almost as if they are at war with the very public they want to buy their products.
I hope the poor and middle class folks who vote Republican understand that they are nothing but pure pawns for that party.
by Dave Hunt
Today we have a guest post from Dave Hunt of Tipton. Dave is a retired teacher from North Cedar High School and a former Iowa Teacher of the Year.
Mitt Romney has advocated cutting the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%. The theory is that jobs would be created and that we would become more competitive. It’s interesting that people keep repeating this argument even though there is remarkably little economic evidence to support it.
What has the impact of corporate taxes actually been? In the 1950’s these taxes accounted for 30% of the government’s revenue but by 2010 this had dropped to 6%. Current data doesn’t support the contention that corporations are suffering under an “oppressive” tax burden. Profits are up, with the Commerce Department reporting that corporate profits, during the fourth quarter of 2010, reached their highest level in history. Currently they are sitting on the highest cash to asset level since the 1950’s.
An examination of what corporations are actually paying in taxes will show that the tax avoidance industry is booming. For example G.E. has tasked 974 people to do this job. Overall in the last 10 years corporations have paid 1/3 less in taxes while seeing a 60% rise in profits. Through effective lobbying corporate tax avoiders have carved out 400 billion dollars worth of loopholes.
One of their favorite tax dodges is the creation of foreign subsidiaries based in tax havens. Citi Bank for example has 427 foreign subsidiaries, 91 in Luxembourg and 90 in the Cayman Islands. In fact the Cayman Islands are so popular that over 15,000 corporate subsidiaries are registered in one building.
Worst of all in 2010 thirty corporations with 160 billion dollars in profits paid no taxes at all. Among these were Bank of America, Citi Group, Exxon-Mobile, Verizon, Boeing, Wells Fargo, and G.E. This problem is not limited to Federal taxes, 68 corporations reported paying no state income taxes for at least one year from 2008-2010.
Don’t expect Romney to address the problem of tax avoidance. He has refused to release more than one year of his tax returns and during his time as chairman of the audit committee at Marriot (a pioneer in tax avoidance), a fine of 29 million dollars was levied by a judge who characterized one of their tax shelters as “pure fiction”.
Iowa Move To Amend along with Blog for Iowa, Progress Iowa, Sierra Club, Physicians for Social Responsibility and others co-sponsored an appearance by Lisa Graves in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, July 15th at the Electrical Union Hall 1211 Wiley Blvd. [Video will be available soon at neighborhoodnetworknews.com]
Graves is the Executive Director of THE CENTER FOR MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY in Wisconsin…the folks who outed ALEC last year and campaigned successfully for major corporations to cut ties with ALEC this year. She was in Iowa to speak at the ICCI Convention on Saturday. She is also on the Executive Committee of national Move To Amend.
About thirty people turned out, escaping the blistering heat in an icy air-conditioned room at the IBEW hall. Marybeth Gardam of Cedar Rapids Move to Amend opened the program talking about Move to Amend, the organization formed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010. Hanging on one wall of the room was a poster depicting the historical timeline of increasing corporate power and wealth in the United States of America. What is Move to Amend? According to the fliers they handed out today:
“It’s been said that Slavery was the legal fiction that persons were property. Corporate Personhood is the legal fiction that property (Corporations) are people (legal persons). We want to strip from corporations the Constititutional rights that were intended for human citizens. Corporations would be able to operate their businesses just as they do now, except they would be accountable to states who charter them, and they would not be able to use their wealth and influence to take away the rights of human persons, influence elections or buy votes in our Congress.”
Speaking of corporations…. This was an appropriate segue to Graves’ topic which was ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. Blog for Iowa has been posting about ALEC for some time, so we were not naive about the true nature of this organization, but listening to her description of how they operate in horrifying detail was well, horrifying.
Legislative members of ALEC (all Republicans) are not working for Iowans. They are working for corporate members of ALEC who get our state representatives to debase themselves by abandoning their duty to represent us, and to instead introduce legislation in our state house that the corporations want and have pre-approved and pre-authored. These bills of course have nothing to do with what is best for Iowa. They have only to do with what will best suit a right-wing national agenda that is corporate friendly and Democracy-unfriendly. The hundreds of bills that ALEC has pushed onto state legislatures across the country have commonalities of more rights for corporations and no rights for people.
ALEC is responsible for the tsunami of anti-democratic laws now sweeping Republican controlled state houses across the country and making their presence felt in Iowa. Examples of ALEC model laws include Voter ID laws (a transparent scam designed to prevent Democratic constituencies from voting against Republicans); anti public education/pro-private virtual school legislation, designed to make education a for-profit industry. Here’s how it works: Take away the classrooms, the schools, the extracurricular activities such as soccer, band, chorus, and replace them with a room full of computers, fund these virtual schools the same as public schools even though they are stripped down and cost less to operate, and the private corporation that runs the virtual school pockets the profit. Neat, huh? ALEC promotes torte reform (aka people can’t sue companies for wrongful or negligent acts no matter what the circumstances). Gun friendly laws such as “stand your ground” (shoot first) laws are to serve the profit desires of the firearms industry and have nothing to do with what makes sense for Iowa. The NRA, longstanding member of ALEC, is responsible for pushing these laws in state legislatures across the country. The Republicans will continue to try to pass this in Iowa for their friends in ALEC.
Legislative members of ALEC are virtually all Republicans. In Iowa, it is 100% Republican members in the House. It is not clear in the Iowa senate who are members. ALEC membership dues for Iowa House members are automatically paid for by the taxpayers. Our representatives must opt out of ALEC as opposed to opting in. All of the Iowa House Democrats have opted out of ALEC. Graves told an anecdote that once upon a time, Delores Mertz, a conservative Democrat was a member of ALEC, and said that ALEC had no interest in working with Democrats. Nonetheless, they try to pass themselves off as a neutral bipartisan organization that does nothing more than help legislators craft bills.
State chairs have additional ALEC duties. They must introduce the pre-authored-by-the-corporation bill, try to get it passed, and to raise money for ALEC “scholarships” - money ALEC doesn’t report to the IRS that they even have according to Graves.
One of the Iowa co-chairs is Rep. Linda Miller. If she is your representative, you may want to contact her about her membership and involvement in this anti-democratic group. Her duties as state chair of ALEC are not compatible with her greater duty to represent you.
Iowa’s Voter Id Bill can be found here: http://coolice.legis.state.ia.us/Cool-ICE/default.asp?Category=billinfo&Service=Billbook&ga=84&hbill=HF95
ALEC Exposed: http://alecexposed.org/wiki/ALEC_Exposed
ALEC Voter ID Act Template: http://alecexposed.org/w/images/d/d9/7G16-VOTER_ID_ACT_Exposed.pdf
American Legislative Exchange Council: http://www.alec.org/
Previously on Blog for Iowa
Every member of the [Iowa] [update] House Republican delegation is a member of ALEC by virtue of not opting out of such membership. Membership dues are paid by the state, that is, by taxpayer money. All House Democrats have resigned membership in ALEC.
And directly from the ALEC.org page:
“Among those who were involved with ALEC in its formative years were: Robert Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin; John Engler of Michigan; Terry Branstad of Iowa, and John Kasich of Ohio, all of whom moved on to become governors or members of Congress. “
What you can do
If your state Rep. is a Republican, you need to contact him or her and inquire about involvement in ALEC. Write a letter to the editor. When your local newspaper or TV station reports on stand your ground or voter ID laws or torte reform or privatizing education, and fails to mention ALEC, let them know.
If you would like help comparing Iowa bills with ALEC model bills, contact Lisa Graves at email@example.com.
Iowa Citiizens For Community Improvement CCI.org
Yesterday, 56 Poweshiek County Iowa CCI members packed their Board of Supervisor’s meeting to tell them to deny a proposed Prestage Farms hog factory expansion.
The meeting was extremely powerful, with almost everyone in the room speaking up and doing a great job.
Three representatives from Prestage Farms, including CEO Ryan Pudenz from Ames and one representative from Pinnacle, who helps build their sites, also attended the meeting.
We are very confident that the Supervisors will recommend denial however we won’t find out until their July 24th meeting.
Next thing on the calendar for Poweshiek County, however, is the DNR’s Environmental Protection Committee meeting Tuesday, July 17, where we need to pack the house again!
The people of Poweshiek County have been fighting all summer against Prestage Farms — a huge factory farming corporation based out of North Carolina that wants to expand two existing factory farm sites in Chester Township.
Join the Fight
Read the latest news and actions on our factory farm organizing. We can work with you and your community to fight back and stand up for clean air, clean water, and your quality of life.
CORALVILLE, Iowa– Yesterday, Blog for Iowa reported that there would be a counter protest to the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) event at the Coralville Holiday Inn. Since our party chair wanted to talk to me on another matter, and he was participating, I decided to spend an hour holding a sign protesting the explosion of corporate money in the political process after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. The Koch Brothers are the founders of AFP, so the hubbub about Joe the Plumber, Senator Rand Paul and Representative Steve King attending drew me off the campaign trail for a while. I was not disappointed.
First, Joe the Plumber called off. We did not hear why, just that he was not coming. We were told Paul and King did arrive, and the assembled group would be viewing the latest attack ad about President Obama. There were three Johnson County Democrats, the two of us in the photo and a young female college student who took the photo. Emily Schettler of the Iowa City Press Citizen was covering the event and interviewed the three of us before going inside. Her account is here. IMHO she does good work, but then I admire people beginning a career in the fifth estate.
Schettler pointed to what many of us have heard, that AFP “bills itself as a grassroots movement.” What we know is they are more astro-turf, founded by the Koch Brothers, a wealthy pair of Republicans, and their money. They claim to be non-partisan, but everyone who believes that stand on your head.
I hailed a local conservative blogger making his way inside. I had not seen him since the two of us appeared on Talking with… Yale Cohn back in October 2010. He looked at me, said he was not a billionaire (referring to my sign) and went inside. He did not make time to chat, maybe his astro-turf dreams lived on, but I wouldn’t know much about that since he had little to say in person.
Next came a gent who said he came because he was a friend of the organizer. He had some issues with the Des Moines Register, the Iowa City Press Citizen and NBC, but I was not sure why he was telling us about these corporate media outlets. I don’t think he knew I was a blogger. He said something about the Constitution, tried to pick on the young student (who held her own), and when I asked him to tell us more about himself, he said he was going inside.
After a few minutes, we decided that the attendance would not be much more and headed across the parking lot to leave. Two people wearing name tags, presumably hotel staff, hailed us from across the parking lot. We couldn’t hear, so the three of us walked back across the asphalt to talk. They asked what we were doing there. I said we were protesting the AFP event, but were finished. Apparently someone had made an issue of our protest inside. Like many things with the Republicans, they catch on… too little, too late.
~ Paul Deaton is an occasional contributor to Blog for Iowa.