April 17, 2005

The Biggest Tax Cheats
Corporate tax thieves make off with hundreds of billions a year.
By Robert Kuttner

How can we possibly reduce the federal deficit and find enough money for high-quality public services without raising everyone's taxes?

Actually, there's a remarkably easy solution. The government just needs to get serious about collecting money from tax cheats. And this doesn't mean audits of ordinary taxpayers or mom-and-pop businesses -- that's not where the big cheating is.

Much of it is in the form of very complex tax shelters, deliberately designed to make the tax evasion techniques so complicated that auditors have trouble figuring out what's legal and what isn't. Much of the rest happens overseas, where affiliates of U.S. corporations arrange to book their profits in tax havens with which the United States has no enforcement treaty. more....

April 16, 2005

With the estate tax repeal, things would get even worse:
It's better to be poor in Norway than in the US
By David R. Francis

Except for the citizens of a few tiny oil kingdoms and Luxembourg, Americans on average live better than anybody else.

Germans? Forget it. Americans' standard of living is 30 percent higher. The British? The gap's even wider.

But if the United States is so rich, critics ask, how come its poor are poorer than almost anywhere else in the developed world? more....

April 15, 2005

House Passes Bankruptcy Bill; Overhaul Now Awaits President's Signature
By STEPHEN LABATON

The House overwhelmingly approved a major overhaul of the nation's bankruptcy laws on Thursday, completing Congressional action on the measure and sending it to President Bush.

The 302-to-126 vote adopted the first significant revision of the bankruptcy laws in 27 years and is the culmination of years of intensive lobbying by the nation's largest banks, credit card companies and retailers, who have complained about what they say is a rising tide of abusive bankruptcy filings. Advertisement

It is a victory for Mr. Bush, who supported the measure, and a setback for civil rights, labor and consumer organizations. They say the new law will be a huge giveaway to special interests at the expense of middle- and lower-income families. more....

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House To Pass Bill, Americans To Pay
April 14, 2005

A bipartisan majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is set to pass a bill today that will make it more difficult for average Americans suffering from financial misfortune to declare bankruptcy. The credit card industry, which took in $30 billion in profits last year and doled out more than $7.8 million to candidates in the 2004 election cycle, has lobbied relentlessly for the bill, pushing the fiction that bankruptcies occur because of "irresponsible consumerism" (in bill sponsor Charles Grassley's (R-IA) words). In fact, "ninety percent of all bankruptcies are triggered by the loss of a job, high medical bills or divorce." In recent years, personal bankruptcy rates have shot to record highs amid a weak labor market and declining health insurance coverage. The bill is set to create several "new hurdles" that will make it harder and more expensive for Americans to recover from such episodes, while failing to stop the actual abuses that plague the system. more....

April 14, 2005

The Billionaires for Bush are dancing in the streets over this one.

House Passes Permanent Estate Tax Repeal

The House voted 272 to 162 yesterday to permanently repeal the estate tax, throwing the issue to the Senate where negotiations have begun on a deep and permanent estate tax cut that can pass this year, even if it falls short of full repeal.

---snip---

By a 194 to 238 vote, the House rejected a Democratic counteroffer, which would have shielded $3.5 million of an estate's value from taxation, enough to exempt 99.7 percent of estates from the inheritance tax, according to the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center. Members then approved the measure, strongly backed by the White House, that would make a full repeal permanent. The repeal is scheduled to take effect in 2010, then disappear in 2011.

The real fight will come in the Senate, where repeal supporters still appear just short of the 60-vote majority needed to break a promised Democratic filibuster. more....

April 13, 2005

Let Them Eat Bombs

The doubling of child malnutrition in Iraq is baffling
by Terry Jones

A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.

This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.

It now appears that, far from improving the quality of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering. more....

April 12, 2005

This is from Arianna Huffington's blog:

Bushes In The Hood: W Fights Gangs With Budget Cuts And Photo Ops

Over the next week or so, House and Senate negotiators will try to hammer out the differences in their competing budgets. Among the major bones of contention: disagreements over how deeply to cut Medicaid; whether to make President Bush's expiring first-term tax cuts permanent; and whether to go along with the president's proposal to slash funding for a wide range of programs related to homeland security.

No, President Bush is not gutting the Department of Homeland Security. The problem is Bush's definition of homeland security. Apparently, it doesn't include things like the safety of our streets. Especially the streets of our inner cities, which have become war zones.

After plummeting during the 1990s, gang violence is making a bloody comeback all across America, with gang-related homicides up 50 percent since 1999. According to Justice Department estimates, there are about 21,500 gangs nationwide with over 730,000 members. And these gangs are no longer confined to Los Angeles and New York. Cities like Denver, Portland, Salt Lake City and Tulsa have all seen dramatic surges in gang-related criminal activity.

And how has our tough-on-security president responded? By proposing to cut close to a billion dollars from programs designed to help anti-gang efforts. more....

April 11, 2005

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARA.
I love you.
(Click on icons to see larger images.)

fletcher by barbara icon
April 17, 2005


guggenheim icon
April 16, 2005


brick wall with posters icon
April 15, 2005


central park icon
April 14, 2005


storefront icon
April 13, 2005


subway elevator operator icon
April 12, 2005


barbara icon
April 11, 2005


Archives

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April 4, 2005 - April 10, 2005

No War in Iraq march.
San Francisco, Ca., January 18, 2003
San Francisco, Ca., February 16, 2003

Klezmatics
Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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