Obama and Congress Facing New Challenges, While the Auto Industry is Dealt Another Blow

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Officials on Tuesday said the Obama administration is trying to find ways to sidestep Congress in order to prevent American companies from reincorporating overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes, Josh Lederman reports, Obama Seeks Executive Ways To Limit Tax Inversions. President Barack Obama has condemned so called tax inversions as unpatriotic and urged Congress to stop them, but Republicans and Democrats disagree about the best solution making congressional action unlikely. Messing with inversions without Congressional approval would further open up Obama to charges he’s unilaterally rewriting tax codes as House Republicans are already suing Obama for exceeding his authorities. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, last month, stated that the administration had examined the tax code and without new laws its option were limited. However, on Tuesday, the Treasury Department said in a statement: “Treasury is reviewing a broad range of authorities for possible administrative actions that could limit the ability of companies to engage in inversions, as well as approaches that could meaningfully reduce the tax benefits after inversions take place.” As Lederman explains it, “In an inversion, a U.S. business merges with or is acquired by a foreign company in a country with a lower tax rate, allowing the company to lower its tax bill. Frequently the companies maintain their U.S. headquarters and operations, and the U.S. entity often maintains control of the company. Obama argues that amounts to companies attempting to choose which tax laws they want to follow — a luxury not granted to individual taxpayers.” Both parties generally agree that inversions are a problem, but do not agree on the causes and the solutions. While Democrats want to make it harder for U.S. firms to reincorporate overseas, Republicans argue that Congress needs to lower the corporate tax rate to keep businesses in the U.S. The united States has the highest corporate tax rate at 35 percent in the industrialized world and taxes income that’s earned overseas and brought back to the U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the three Senator Democrats who wrote to Obama Tuesday urging him to take immediate executive action on inversions, stated, “It would be an important first step toward treating companies that renounce America the same way we treat people who renounce America — as freeloaders who get cut off from other benefits.” A House Speaker John Boehner spokesman said Tuesday that Obama should work with Congress on adding inversions rather than action on his own, while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned that actions taken by Obama could make the situation worse. The Congressional Research Service confirmed that 50 U.S. based companies have merged with or acquired foreign businesses over the past decade in inversions.

Meanwhile, Congress according to a Washington Post/ ABC News poll released Tuesday, found that 51 percent of Americans disapprove of their own congressional representative, Ariel Edwards Levy reports, A Record Number Of Americans Don’t Like Their Own Member Of Congress. This is the first time in a quarter century that the poll has had a disapproval rating higher than 50 percent and even higher than the 47 percent disapproval rating of last year’s government shutdown. Terrible ratings are nothing new since Congress has an average approval rating of under 12 percent, however, in the past, Americans approved more of their district’s representative than the legislative branch as a whole, but that number took a dive as well. In June before Republicans took back the House in 2010, 40 percent of Americans told Gallup their represented didn’t deserve to be re-elected, yet 85 percent of members seeking re-election held their seat. The poll also found among the 1,029 adults from both parties surveyed via phone between July 30 and Aug. 3 disapproved of their representative equally at 46 Democrats and 44 percent Republicans. This also differs from the past two midterms as polls found higher anti-incumbent sentiments among the party that would go on to win the House.

An even bigger threat to Congress and the White House, according to what U.S. officials told CNN, is a new leaker that exposed national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Evan Perez reports, New leaker disclosing U.S. secrets, government concludes. The Intercept, a news site launched by Glenn Greenwald who also published Snowden’s leaks, published Tuesday a news story based on national security documents shows proof of the newest leak. The article focuses on the growth in the U.S. government databases of known or suspected terrorist names during the Obama administration citing documents prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center dated August 2013 which was after Snowden left the U.S. to avoid criminal charges. Government officials are trying to find out the identity of the person, while Greenwald, in a February interview with CNN’s Reliable Sources, said: “I definitely think it’s fair to say that there are people who have been inspired by Edward Snowden’s courage and by the great good and virtue that it has achieved. I have no doubt there will be other sources inside the government who see extreme wrongdoing who are inspired by Edward Snowden.” It is not clear how many documents the new leakers shared or how much damage it caused as the documents shard are labeled “Secret” and “NOFORN” which means it was not shared with foreign government. That’s a lower classification than most of the documents leaked by Snowden. Government officials said he stole 1.7 million classified documents many of which were labeled “Top Secret” a higher classification for most important government secrets.

On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri has proposed a new bill called the Motor Vehicle and Highway Safety Enhancement Act aimed to improve automotive safety following the high profile recalls of General Motors and Toyota, Autoblog reports, Senator Pushes For Up To Life Sentence For Auto Execs Found To Delay Recalls. The plan includes doubling the budget for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the next six years, removing the $35-million limit for fining automakers, and most importantly a provision to punish auto executives who knowingly delay recalls with a life sentence. McCaskill’s office told the Detroit News: “(The bill) gives federal prosecutors greater discretion to bring criminal prosecutions for auto safety violations and increases the possible penalties, including up to life in prison for violations that result in death.” If a delayed recall ends in serous injuries, execs could face a 15 year stint behind bars. By removing the limit on per-vehicle fines, the fine structure can be increased from $5,000 to $25,000 e.g. GM could have been hooked for $55 billion in fines for its ignition switch recall rather than just $35 million. According to The News, McCaskill said: “With millions of Americans behind the wheel every day, and more than 33,000 killed on our roads each year, we’ve got to do more to keep our cars and the roads we drive them on safe. Painful recent examples at Toyota and GM have shown us we also must make it easier to hold accountable those who jeopardize consumers’ safety. For too long, auto safety resources have remained virtually stagnant while cars and the safety challenges they present have become more complex.”

Changing the World: Amazing Billboard Produces Water Out of Air (VIDEO)

Billboard In Lima, Peru Creates Drinking Water Out Of Thin Air (VIDEO).

Changing the world one billboard at a time or at least that is the hope for one group of imaginative engineers and I don’t mean Disney. It is no secret that water is in short supply especially in some areas around the world with only three percent of the water in the world potable. At a rapid rate, the world has used  much of the water leading us all eventually into a world water crisis if nothing is done to curb our appetite. What makes it worse is the fact that many of our fresh water canal and underground springs are polluted everyday by large corporations and carelessness killing species that thrive in these areas. The hope here is to take inspiration away from the video and find ways to lessen your footprint on the world by making positive choices and taking responsibility for what man has done. The engineers came up with the idea because of a necessity and scarcity of water available in some parts of the world.

 The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru partnered with the ad agency Mayo DraftFCBand to the first ever billboard to capture   humidity and turn it into potable drinking water in Lima in order to address the area’s water insecurity issues as well as bring a message of hope in the second largest desert capital in the world. The structure was created in order to address the issue of residents being forced to drink polluted water from wells. As one resident of the Bujama District explains, ” They could put this in different places if possible in each village, in each town…the water that gives us life.” Peru gets less than two inches of rain, but has an atmospheric humidity of 98 percent according to the video so the billboard uses reverse osmosis, a water purifying process, in order to produce the water and stores the water in tanks up to 20 liters each providing 9,450 liters in three months.

The implementation of the billboard coincides with a study, published in the Cryosphere journal, showing the Andean glaciers which provides fresh water for the residents of Peru and other countries has shrunk 30 to 50 percent since the 1970s. Antoine Rabatel, one author of the study, explains: “Glacier retreat in the tropical Andes over the last three decades is unprecedented.” With water supplies dwindling due to climate change and a growing population facing food insecurity issues, the billboard provides one innovative solution in a sea of many possibilities. NanoGanesh, for example, allows farmers to use mobile phones to turn off irrigation systems remotely decreasing the use of water and electricity. According to the Associated Press, the UN and other global agencies are calling for greater solutions to the water crisis as 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities in the next eight years putting more strain on resources and sanitation. UN Deputy Chief Jan Eliasson had this to say, “If we do water and sanitation right, we can have a great improvement on others goals.” The impact of such technology is vast and the potential to save lives is enormous as the access to potable clean water will reduce maternal health issues, child mortality and overall poverty.

Federal Employees Owed $3.5 Billion In Back Taxes In 2011: IRS

Federal Employees Owed $3.5 Billion In Back Taxes In 2011: IRS.

On Friday, the Internal Revenue Service stated that a number of federal employees and retirees owed delinquent incomes taxes in 2011 even more than the previous year with a 12 percent increase that totals about 312,000 people and more than $3.5 billion owed as of Sept. 30,2011. Out of 9.8 millions workers included in the data the delinquency rate was 3.2 percent better than the general public which was 8.2 percent. The Department of Housing and Urban Development had the highest with 4.4 percent and the Treasury Department which includes the IRS had the lowest with 1.1 percent. Among independent agencies, the Government Printing Office had a rate of 7.6 percent the highest and the National Credit Union Administration had the lowest with 1 percent. House employees had a delinquency rate of 3.7 percent higher than the Senate employees at 3.3 percent, while the Federal court employees had a rate of 2.7 percent. According to Huff Post, the IRS has said that most residents who owe taxes filed their taxes but cannot pay the full amount at tax time while others had their bills increased through audits and cannot pay the higher bills. The IRS does not publicize the data but makes it available upon request as Huff Post reported and does not include people on payment plans in their data. The data comes as many federal workers face unpaid furloughs because of the sequestration as many have receive or are yet to receive a furlough notice in the coming months.

White House Signals Openness To Negotiating Over Tax Demands In Sequestration Deal

White House Signals Openness To Negotiating Over Tax Demands In Sequestration Deal.

Why is it so hard to put aside egos and self-interest in order to save the American people from a type of financial death as we are seeing in the EU? Oh I think I answered my own question. Let’s be honest with ourselves does the government have our interest at heart or their own. Republican can blame Obama and visa versa but does that change the fact that come March 1 we are going to be better off…..NO of course not. The sequestration is a little over a week away and some sort of solution needs to happen. The debate now boils down to a fight over tax revenue which will determine the impending $1 trillion verdict that will kick start automatic spending cuts if no decision is made. Democrats want them, Republican hate them and the White House is considering them.

In 10 days, the sequestration will take effect if no decision is made making it more important to bridge the divide. The difference between the two side on most issues could lead to a deal, but on taxes both sides are too far apart making it seemingly impossible without compromise to come to a resolution. The Republican leaders have taken tax revenues off the table after having to concede on a fiscal cliff deal that raised $600 billion through rate increases and tax break expiration. The Democrats want to see sequestration put off entirely, while others want to see higher revenue hikes to replace it. The party has also proposed a 50-50 split between new revenues and spending cuts which represents something of a compromise compared to what others propose. Press Secretary Jay Carney in response to a question from Huff Post said,”balanced means revenues as well as spending cuts, first of all….And then I would note that we support the proposals put forward by Senate Democrats and House Democrats and you can evaluate them in terms of ratios.” Top Democrats insist they won’t take a replacement bill comprised of spending cuts alone. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday that the revenue debate is over and loopholes should be closed so that the money could be used to offset lowering tax rates. He continued to say “tax reform is a once-in-a generation opportunity to boost job creation in America…it should not be squandered to enable more Washington spending.” Some Republicans are not of the same mindset as the deadline approaches more are speaking out. Sen. John McCain on Meet the Press said” on Sunday that ” it’s time for the president who said the sequester won’t happen, maybe sit down with some Republicans, talk to them about this issue so that maybe we can get it resolved.”

IRS Delays Tax Season, Will Start Accepting Returns On January 30

IRS Delays Tax Season, Will Start Accepting Returns On January 30.

Unfortunately they did it anyway people. I can’t believe they would do this but luckily they only postponed it until the end of January when they will begin accepting them. The IRS says late changes to federal tax laws (remember the fiscal cliff people that we supposedly avoided) means that more than 120 million taxpayers – about 80 percent of all filers – should be able to start filing their federal returns on Jan. 30. Others will have to wait until late February or March to file because the agency needs time to update and test its systems. Don’t pain yet people here is a list of the people who will have to wait: people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. The filing season had been slated to start Jan. 22 but was delayed because of the big tax package passed by Congress Jan. 1. We did kind of avoid the fiscal cliff I guess but Obama and Congress still have caused people to delay their tax season plans. This should be a lesson to our leaders that what you do does actually have  a ripple effect.

Fiscal Cliff Tax Hikes Are Not The Only Scary Thing That Could Happen To You On January 1

Fiscal Cliff Tax Hikes Are Not The Only Scary Thing That Could Happen To You On January 1.

Really really important you read this article because we are all about to be screwed over by our so called government. This article will explain 10 ways your money will be affected if our government doesn’t come to a deal before Dec 31. Good luck to everyone because we are going to need it if no deal is made. The selfishness of certain government officials will affect the young to the old, the taxes you pay, the size of your paycheck, unemployment benefits, jobs, and government aid. I encourage everyone to get involved because this is what happens when we let the government dictate our lives and the only interest they have is their own.

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Will Delay Tax Filing, Refunds For 100 Million Americans: IRS

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Will Delay Tax Filing, Refunds For 100 Million Americans: IRS.

Wow show some consideration for those of us who pay your salary and come to a decision. This is what I am talking about, the selfish and agenda fueled politics that is America now. These men won’t be affected as badly as the rest of us hard working Americans. IF they don’t fix the alternative min tax then see your taxes spiking and owing more. Tax season may have to be delayed or even worse don’t expect to see your refund for a while.