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Republican leadership personally profiting from tax inversion deals

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 10:03
House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp with House Speaker John Boehner Reps. Dave Camp and John Boehner, lining their pockets through tax inversions.
Congressional Democrats have jumped on the issue of tax inversions, introducing legislaton that would curb the practice by which American companies avoid hefty corporate taxes by buying a foreign company and then relocating their headquarters there. Needless to say, Republicans in Congress have been refusing to act on the issue. But a new report from Bloomberg news might force them to reconsider.
While U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp have resisted calls for a crackdown on companies adopting overseas addresses to pay lower taxes, both have made money off one of the deals. They also have investments at risk of losing value because of government action.

The two lawmakers reported the sale of stock in Covidien Plc within nine days of Medtronic Inc. saying it was planning a takeover, an announcement that sent Dublin-based Covidien’s shares near a 52-week high. The deal, one of several that have sparked a national debate over U.S. corporate tax policy, would put the combined company’s headquarters in Ireland and reduce its tax rate. […]

According to an analysis of public disclosures, the lawmakers still hold Medtronic shares--and Camp bought additional stock after the medical-device maker announced the transaction. Those holdings, though only a small part of the two multimillionaires’ stock portfolios, give them an interest in the deal’s completion, along with their ability to influence the outcome.

As chair of Ways and Means, Camp is the lead House member on tax issues—every piece of legislation that would reform the tax system has to go through him and his committee. There's nothing illegal in these, or any other members owning these stocks, and spokesmen for both say that neither participated in any decision-making by the companies and that their investment portfolios are managed by investment advisors. But the optics of congressional leadership personally profiting from these companies that are dodging taxes is problematic, to say the least.

While congressional action isn't likely to happen on inversions anytime soon, the Treasury Department is exploring what options President Obama can take to crack down on the practice. There's a relatively simple option in current code that empowers the Treasury Department to largely prevent companies that perform a tax inversion from claiming tax deductions on money they loan to themselves. That would be a good first step.

Poll: White people a lot more likely than black people to think police treat racial groups equally

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 09:06
Police officers point their weapons at demonstrators protesting against the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 18, 2014. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters on Monday after days of unrest sparked by the fatal sh Go figure: White and black Americans have very different levels of confidence that their local police forces treat racial groups equally, use the right amount of force for each situation, and hold officers accountable for misconduct.

According to a new Pew Research Center/USA Today survey, whites are nearly four times as likely than blacks to say police do an excellent or good job at treating racial and ethnic groups equally: 38 percent of whites give police high marks on equality, while just 10 percent of African Americans do the same. The numbers are similar for views on how well police do at holding officers accountable when misconduct occurs, and the gap is even larger on the question of whether police use the right amount of force for each situation.

You don't have to look far to see why a person's race might affect how they view the police—maybe, just maybe, it's because a person's race affects how the police treat them. That lack of trust isn't just about how many times Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, or what the incident report on that killing looked like. It's not just about how the Ferguson police responded to peaceful protest. You can ask Charles Belk about it. Being handcuffed and detained for hours on suspicion of bank robbery just because you happen to be a tall bald black man might tend to make you question how committed to racial equality your local police department really is. Multiply that story times a million and you start to understand—if you're willing to really think about it—why African Americans have such a negative view of police.

Cartoon: If cops treated bankers the way Ferguson cops treat black people

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 08:50

(Click to enlarge)

A pre-emptive alert for the satire-challenged: this strip is obviously not endorsing violence against bankers. It is saying that many in the financial world are real thugs who are never treated the way police often treat black citizens in Ferguson and many other places. The devastation caused by white-collar criminals — the loss of so many people’s homes and life savings, leading to broken families, poor health, depression, and suicide, has caused suffering on an immense scale. Yet bankers have to try very, very hard to get themselves arrested, and even then they usually aren’t successful.

With this cartoon, I am also trying to show just how annoying and unreasonable Ferguson cops must seem to people who live there.

Get a signed print of this cartoon from the artist. Or follow Jen on Twitter.

Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap: Back for 2014!

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 08:39
Given the fact that we, as of today, precisely nine weeks out from the Big Electoral Enchilada, now is as good a time as any to re-launch a feature that has graced Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections for the past few cycles: the Daily Kos Elections Polling Wrap.

The decision to launch the Wrap this week is in conjunction with the debut of a project that we here at DK Elections are enormously excited about: our Daily Kos Elections Poll Explorer, which launched on Monday.

From now until the first full week in October, we will feature these two data-driven efforts twice a week. You will find the Poll Explorer on Mondays and Thursdays, with the Polling Wrap coming on Tuesdays and Fridays. Once the election season really kicks off in earnest in the final month, you will see us ramp up the coverage here, with both features coming to you three days a week, on alternating days.

For the inaugural edition of the Wrap, we will explore something that came up in the comments of the inaugural Poll Explorer, which is a bit of a glut of Republican sponsored-data in the 2014 data thus far. Some asked if that might bias the polling model we debuted yesterday. Others offered, as has been offered before, that GOP pollsters generally suck.

While both of those things may well be valid points, beyond the jump I will explain why Democrats should also be at least a little bit concerned about that data glut.

But we'll address that in a bit. For now, though, on to the numbers, which is a listing of all the general election polls released to the public in the last five days (Aug 21-25):

AK-Sen (Rasmussen): Dan Sullivan (R) 47, Sen. Mark Begich (D) 45

AR-Sen (Opinion Research for the AR Dem Party): Sen. Mark Pryor (D) 46, Tom Cotton (R) 41

GA-Sen (Landmark/Rosetta Stone): Michelle Nunn (D) 47, David Perdue (R) 40

MN-Sen (SurveyUSA): Sen. Al Franken (D) 51, Mike McFadden (R) 42

OR-Sen (Moore Information for Richardson): Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) 47, Monica Wehby (R) 38

WV-Sen (Rasmussen): Shelley Moore Capito (R) 50, Natalie Tennant (D) 33

WY-Sen (Rasmussen): Sen. Mike Enzi (R) 63, Charlie Hardy (D) 27

AR-Gov (Opinion Research for the AR Dem Party): Mike Ross (D) 44, Asa Hutchinson (R) 44

CT-Gov (Rasmussen): Tom Foley (R) 45, Gov. Dan Malloy (D) 38

GA-Gov (Landmark/Rosetta Stone): Jason Carter (D) 44, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) 40

MA-Gov (Social Sphere): Martha Coakley (D) 41, Charlie Baker (R) 34

MA-Gov (Social Sphere): Charlie Baker (R) 34, Steve Grossman (D) 32

MA-Gov (Social Sphere): Charlie Baker (R) 40, Don Berwick (D) 22

MD-Gov (OnMessage for Hogan—R): Anthony Brown (D) 45, Larry Hogan (R) 42

MN-Gov (SurveyUSA): Gov. Mark Dayton (D) 49, Jeff Johnson (R) 40

OR-Gov (Moore Information for Richardson): Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) 45, Dennis Richardson (R) 41

OR-Gov (OnMessage for the RGA): Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) 42, Dennis Richardson (R) 38

WY-Gov (Rasmussen): Gov. Matt Mead (R) 55, Pete Gosar (D) 34

IA-01 (The Polling Company for Blum): Pat Murphy (D) 40, Rod Blum (R) 35

WV-02 (Public Opinion Strategies for Mooney): Alex Mooney (R) 40, Nick Casey (D) 28, Others 13

A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump ...

Alleged audio of Michael Brown shooting has surfaced

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:29

While it has not been verified, an alleged audio recording of the shooting of Michael Brown, the unarmed teenager shot down by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, has surfaced:

A man who lives near the scene of the shooting says he inadvertently recorded the shots that killed Brown, his lawyer, Lopa Blumenthal, told CNN. The man, who wished to remain unidentified, was recording a video chat with a friend when gunfire rang out in the background. Blumenthal said her client has already been interviewed by the FBI about the recording. On the tape, you can hear six shots being fired, a short pause and than an addition four or five shots. An autopsy report released last week said that Brown was shot at least six times.

For more discussion on this, see justiceputnam's diary.

Cheers and Jeers: Tuesday

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:21
C&J Banner


Hey…Love Yer Sig

Kossack "signatures"---you can create your own in your profile page and it appears every time you post a comment---are a way to draw attention to a favorite quote, link or opinion. Every now and then we pop open random comment threads in search of sigs that amuse, provoke or, worst-case scenario, make us think. Here are some we spotted recently:

“Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects.” ― Will Rogers (MugWumpBlues)

"Gentlemen, let's get the thing straight, once and for all. The policeman isn't there to create disorder; the policeman is there to preserve disorder." --Richard J. Daley. (Publius2008)

Sig line graphic Support Thomas Lofgren, progressive candidate for Minnesota house of reps district 20A http://thomaslofgren.us/ (mollyd)

“Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” --Aldo Leopold (ban nock)

Slow thinkers - keep right (Dave the Wave)

"Because inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened." --Terry Pratchett (revsue)

 Follow Connect! Unite! Act! for Kossack event info • Follow Native American Netroots for American Indian History and News (navajo)

'A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit' ---Greek Proverb (Janis b)

"If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition." --Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (Denise Oliver Velez)

No drill, no spill. (scorpiorising)

And this round's winner from NM Ray:
If Money is Speech, Speech isn't Free! I wonder what it is about that that Antonin Scalia cannot understand? My guess: the part that consists of logic.

As always, we bow to your superior sigging ability. Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]

Daily Kos Radio is LIVE at 9am ET!

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:20
Don't know what it is, but I know where it belongs! Right here in the morning post! If the elephant didn't make it clear, we've got a crap-load of stories to choose from this morning!

Plenty more Ferguson fallout, lots to catch up on from the world of the "intelligence community," and a neat little Senate procedural trick noted by The New Yorker that'll probably steam you, if you're into voting and/or transparency.

Here we go!

Daily Kos Radio's Kagro in the Morning show podcasts are now available through iTunes.

Listen LIVE at 9:00 ET, here: The Daily Kos Radio Player

Click this Link to Listen on your iTunes, Winamp or Windows Media Player

Can't see the live stream and/or podcast players in these posts? Do you use NoScript or something similar to control Javascript? Want to? Remember to enable Libsyn and Shoutcastplayer, and you'll see our players every morning!


Listen to Stitcher Help support the show through Stitcher's revenue sharing program. Be one of 5,000 "active listeners" per month, and, well, they send us money. All you need to do, believe it or not, is listen to 30 seconds of a show, once in a month. Seriously! Choose any one of the shows at this link, listen to 30 seconds' worth, and you're on board!

Did you happen to miss our last LIVE show? You can catch it here:

Need more info on how to listen? Find it below the fold.

Economics Daily Digest: Corporations shouldn't get a free pass on tax-dodging

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:01
Economics Daily Digest by the Roosevelt Institute banner

By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

Click here to subscribe to Roosevelt First, our weekday morning email featuring the Daily Digest.

Cutting the Corporate Tax Would Make Other Problems Grow (NYT)

Jared Bernstein counters recent suggestions for eliminating the U.S. corporate income tax by pointing out the extreme difficulty of capturing that revenue through personal income taxes.

  • Roosevelt Take: Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz proposes more viable reforms to the corporate income tax.

Stigmatizing Poor Kids in Our Public Schools (PolicyShop)

Matt Bruenig suggests that free lunch at school is the target of so much ire because it's seen as a "poor people thing," even though public schools are themselves a welfare program.

When Workplace Training Programs Actually Hinder Workers (The Nation)

The low-structure, free-choice-based model of the Workforce Investment Act limits its effectiveness, writes Michelle Chen, since it doesn't allow for prioritizing funding for the best training programs.

Another GOP State May Be Signing up for Medicaid, and the Reason is Obvious (LA Times)

Michael Hiltzik says the money being left on the table is finally proving enough to get Republican governors like Wyoming's to push for Medicaid expansion even though it's part of Obamacare.

Back to School, and to Widening Inequality (Robert Reich)

Kids who live in poor neighborhoods are at a disadvantage when it comes to school funding, writes Robert Reich, so economic inequality hobbles these students from an early age.

Central Banks to Lawmakers: You Try Growing the Economy (WaPo)

Ylan Q. Mui reports that the general attitude coming out of the annual Jackson Hole gathering was that monetary policy can only do so much, and legislatures need to step it up.

Cities Can Ease Homelessness With Storage Units (City Lab)

Kriston Capps looks at an innovative program in San Diego that creates stability by providing homeless people with transitional storage where they can safely leave their belongings each day.

Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Introducing our all meat, no special sauce Poll Explorer

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 07:00
Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest banner Want the scoop on hot races around the country? Get the digest emailed to you each weekday morning. Sign up here. Leading Off:

Poll Explorer: Daily Kos Elections, in connection with Drew Linzer (whose Votamatic site correctly predicted every state's outcome in the 2012 presidential election), is proud to introduce a new poll-aggregating elections model that we call the Poll Explorer. As of Monday, the day we launched the Poll Explorer, the model's expectation is that Democrats have a 47 percent chance of keeping the Senate, with a median result that the party will emerge with 49 seats, a six-seat loss that would hand the chamber to the Republicans. The chart below, known as a histogram, shows the expected distribution of the number of Senate seats based on the most current data:

Compared with other aggregators, the Poll Explorer is an entirely poll-driven model, without adding any sort of historical trends, economic data, or generic ballot modifiers. In addition, the Poll Explorer goes beyond the other aggregators by looking at the nation's gubernatorial races, too. We'll be updating the data every day, so we encourage you to bookmark our continuously updated Senate and gubernatorial and check back on a regular basis. The Poll Explorer doesn't replace the more holistic, gestalt approach we take with our traditional race ratings, but instead offers a purely quantitative complement that is all meat, no special sauce. (David Jarman)

Abbreviated pundit roundup: Michael Brown, climate change and more

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 06:46
Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post looks at Michael Brown's death:
The case of Michael Brown, who was laid to rest Monday, is anomalous only in that it is so extreme: an unarmed black teenager riddled with bullets by a white police officer in a community plagued by racial tension. [...] Fatal encounters such as the one between Brown and Wilson understandably draw the nation’s attention. But such tragedies are just the visible manifestation of a much larger reality. Most, if not all, young men go through a period between adolescence and adulthood when they are likely to engage in risky behavior of various kinds without fully grasping the consequences of their actions. If they are white — well, boys will be boys. But if they are black, they are treated as men and assumed to have malicious intent. Meanwhile, Margaret Sullivan at The New York Times explains that the description of "no angel" used in a NYT piece was "a regrettable mistake":
Two words — “no angel” — have become a flash point for many of the difficult, contentious, entrenched issues that have arisen in Ferguson, Mo. On Twitter, in my email queue and across the Internet, many Times readers are angry and disappointed about the use of those words, which have become yet another Ferguson-related hashtag.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: That choice of words was a regrettable mistake. In saying that the 18-year-old Michael Brown was “no angel” in the fifth paragraph of Monday’s front-page profile, The Times seems to suggest that this was, altogether, a bad kid. [...] “I understand the concerns, and I get it,” Mr. Eligon [the article's author] said. He agreed that “no angel” was not a good choice of words and explained that they were meant to play off the opening anecdote of the article in which Mr. Brown saw an angelic vision. That anecdote “is about as positive as you can get,” Mr. Eligon said, and noted that a better way to segue into the rest of the article might have been to use a phrase like “wasn’t perfect.”

“Hindsight is 20/20. I wish I would have changed that,” he said.

More on the day's top stories below the fold.

Open thread for night owls. Coates: 'No angel'—dubious language of 'morality' about black men

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 22:00
At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates writes Michael Brown's Unremarkable Humanity:

The New York Times has a feature today looking at the brief life of Michael Brown, informing us that he was "no angel." The reasons for this are many. Brown smoked marijuana. He lived in a community that "had rough patches." He wrote rap songs that were "by turns contemplative and vulgar." He shoplifted and pushed a store clerk who tried to stop him. These details certainly paint a portrait of a young man who failed to be angelic. That is because no person is angelic—least of all teenagers—and there is very little in this piece that distinguishes Brown from any other kid his age. […]

And if Michael Brown was not angelic, I was practically demonic. I had my first drink when I was 11. I once brawled in the cafeteria after getting hit in the head with a steel trash can. In my junior year I failed five out of seven classes. By the time I graduated from high school, I had been arrested for assaulting a teacher and been kicked out of school (twice.) And yet no one who knew me thought I had the least bit of thug in me. That is because I also read a lot of books, loved my Commodore 64, and ghostwrote love notes for my friends. In other words, I was a human being. A large number of American teenagers live exactly like Michael Brown. Very few of them are shot in the head and left to bake on the pavement.

The "angelic" standard was not one created by the reporter. It was created by a society that cannot face itself, and thus must employ a dubious "morality" to hide its sins. It is reinforced by people who have embraced the notion of "twice as good" while avoiding the circumstances which gave that notion birth. Consider how easily living in a community "with rough patches" becomes part of a list of ostensible sins. Consider how easily "black-on-black crime" becomes not a marker of a shameful legacy of segregation but a moral failing.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2012Surprise! Firewall between Super PACs and candidates' campaigns doesn't exist:

Super PACS aren't allowed to coordinate their activities with political parties, candidates and candidates' political action committees. They can raise as much money as they want and spend it how they want, but no collaboration between them and campaigns.

Which is a joke. Citizens United's big laugh on us. It wasn't bad enough that plutocrats have poured so much money into political campaigns that democracy now teeters on the precipice, with hordes of elected officials at the state and federal levels little better than sock puppets for various businesses, from oil to banking. At least there were limits on how much campaign contributors could supply. Those are still in place for the parties, candidates and regular PACs. But not for Super PACs. The trade-off supposedly being that they remain outside groups. But it's a political charade. Utterly transparent. And everybody in Washington knows it.

There are rules. But they don't keep outside groups and candidates or their managers from talking to each other about hiring decisions, fundraising, messaging and the like, which makes the rules essentially worthless

Tweet of the Day Norman Rockwell and Today's America .... http://t.co/... via @LiberalEffects

On today's Kagro in the Morning show: Morning chatter included the NYT's use of the by now-infamous "no angel" framing, and Maureen Dowd's absolutely terrible Sunday lede. Greg Dworkin rounds up the latest back-to-war chatter, and peeks under the hood of the New American Foundation. In other news: Obamacare's popular, but the name isn't; Notorious RBG speaks. Surprise! Reporters digging into the records of the Ferguson-area cops who mistreated them find some serious dirt! Revisiting the pundit fumbling of the Perry indictment, and Jon Perr documents of the history of the "criminalization of politics" tripe. Lastly, not only are corporations people, they're militarized cops!

High Impact Posts. Top Comments

A new face brings a different tone to Doctor Who

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 20:30
Peter Capaldi as The Doctor and Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald Things change and almost everything has a beginning and an end. But most people tend to like continuity, legacy, and the stability those concepts evoke. In politics and government, elections and policies are sometimes sold on the nostalgic feelings for things past. In entertainment, the same approach is used with reboots, re-imaginings, prequels, sequels, and character transitions. The $64,000 question always is whether or not the audience will accept new faces in place of the old ones. Sometimes it can be a horrible debacle that is the very definition of a "jump the shark" moment. But sometimes it works and works well.

Doctor Who has made those transitions work over the past 50 years. The show is a staple of British pop-culture and watched around the globe. This weekend saw the introduction of Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor (although technically he's the Thirteenth or even Fourteenth, depending on how you count them). So how is this new doctor and what might be in store for him?

Follow beneath the fold for more ....

For some federal programs, 'married' isn't enough for benefits

Mon, 08/25/2014 - 16:58
Gay marriage supporter Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in anticipation of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the cases against California's gay marriage ban known as Prop 8 and the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), outside the court building in Washington, June 24, 2013. The court did not release its rulings on either case Monday. Picture taken with fish-eye lens. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW) - RTX10ZCW There are lot of good reasons for marriage equality to be federalized at this point, but among the most compelling legal arguments is that the patchwork of equality in the U.S. now is creating confusion and hardship for thousands of couples. That's because three federal programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board all interpret a section of U.S. code known as Title 38 to rely on a couple’s state of residence when making benefits decisions. If a couple is married in one state, but resides in another that doesn't recognize that marriage, the marriage doesn't exist in the eyes of these agencies.

Here's some examples of what can happen because of that.

Air Force Capt. Carlos Wilkinson, who married his same-sex partner on July 27, 2013, a month and a day after the Windsor ruling. The couple married in California but now lives in Nevada, where gay marriage is not legal.

When Wilkinson and his husband, Wray, applied for a VA backed home loan in 2013, the VA said it could guaranty only half the funds, due to Nevada’s marriage laws. If Wilkinson had filed as a single applicant or was in a heterosexual marriage, the VA would have backed the entire loan. […]

In North Carolina, for example, Richard Jernigan is hoping for a spousal supplement through his retired husband’s Social Security benefits.

Jernigan inherited his mother’s house, but he said the home needs constant repairs and maintenance. He earns about $150 a month auditing customer service through a mystery shopper program. Social Security adds another $600 to the couple’s monthly income, but the amount could be about 25 percent higher with a spousal supplement.

“That money would be a tremendous help,” Jernigan said. “We are literally in a state of poverty, and yet we don’t qualify for any of the other assistance because they don’t count us as married.”

A number of bills have been introduced in the House and Senate—all from Democrats—to rectify this federal discrimination, discrimination presumably struck down by the Supreme Court when it struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act defining marriage as only between a man and a woman for federal benefits purposes in the Windsor case. But since the Court didn't rule on whether states have to recognize marriages from other states. The Court is going to have to ultimately decide this one, since there's no way a broken Congress will deal with it any time soon. But this ongoing disparity under the lawmakers for an even more compelling case for all of the challenges winding their way to the Supreme Court.