Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hillary Clinton pays a lot in taxes. She’s proposing to pay even more.

By Jon Perr
Sunday Feb 07, 2016 · 2:42 PM EST

As his presidency neared its end, George W. Bush unveiled his plans for life after the White House. "I'll give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers," the multi-millionaire told Robert Draper, adding, "I don't know what my dad gets—it's more than 50-75" thousand dollars a speech, and "Clinton's making a lot of money."

As it turns out, both Bill and Hillary Clinton have been making a lot money. But while Bush gets up to $175,000 for his behind-closed-doors speeches to groups like the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America, the similarities end there. As a share of their earnings, the Clintons give much more to charity and pay much more in taxes. And if candidate Hillary Clinton gets her way, she and Bill will be paying even more.

As the issue of Secretary Clinton's speaking fees heated up after this week's Democratic debate with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, CNN documented the windfall:

Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows.

In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks.

To be sure, those audiences and those dollar figures don't exactly present the greatest optics for Hillary Clinton. But more context, which CNN itself reported last year, tells a somewhat different story. Unlike most wealthy Americans (and wealthy presidential candidates, "she and her husband paid an effective federal tax rate of 35.7 percent and a combined federal, state, and local effective rate of 45.8 percent last year."

In a lengthy statement and on her campaign website, Clinton detailed that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, paid more than $43 million in federal taxes from 2007 to 2014, over $13 million in state taxes and donated nearly $15 million to charity over the same period.

As it turns out, the Clintons have now released 38 years of tax returns going back to Bill's first campaigns in Arkansas. And the contrast with the GOP's last presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, is quite stark. Romney released just two years of returns. Mitt, whose fortune was valued a quarter-billion dollars back in 2008, summed up his last decade of payment to Uncle Sam this way four years ago:

"Every year, I've paid at least 13 percent, and if you add, in addition, the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent."

Remember, too, that Romney and every one of the 2016 Republican candidates would dramatically cut the Clintons' tax bill. One person who wouldn't is Hillary Clinton herself. While the GOP field promises to slash the top income tax rates, eliminate the estate tax and even (like Marco Rubio) end capital gains and dividend taxes, Clinton would increase them all. In addition to supporting the "Buffett Rule" ensuring that those earning over a million dollars a year, Secretary Clinton has called for a 4 percent tax surcharge on all income (not just from salaries and wages) over $5 million a year. Candidate Hillary Clinton, it is clear, is determined to raise President Hillary Clinton's tax bill to the IRS.

Now, you can argue that Hillary's practice of extracting large sums of cash from the financial sector is indefensible. (At best, as Paul Waldman suggests, Hillary could make the boastful claim that "I'm worth it.) But if nothing else, she might start by borrowing from Bill's script. As he put it in 2004:

"You might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me. But soon as I got out and made money, I began part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I'd be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress. I almost sent them a thank-you note for my tax cuts - until I realized that the rest of you were paying for the bill for it, and then I thought better of it."

AT&T fights to keep your internet as slow as possible

By Joan McCarter
Monday Feb 08, 2016 · 9:01 PM EST

Last February, the Federal Communications Commission made history by taking sweeping action to promote a fast, fair, and open internet. Their net neutrality ruling made the most headlines, but a second ruling preventing states from blocking localities seeking to develop municipal broadband was nearly as huge. Both have been fought tooth and nail—and taken to court—by industry. That's made Chattanooga, Tennessee, ground zero in a war financed by AT&T.

Chattanooga, Tenn., is more than 2,400 miles from Silicon Valley, but residents of the Southern city have access to broadband that's 50 times faster than the majority of Internet connections in technology's capital. Why, you ask? Chattanooga's municipally owned electric utility, EPB, provides its broadband Internet.

Chattanooga's neighbors would like to set up a similar arrangement, but AT&T, which delivers much slower broadband in the area — when it delivers at all — is trying to block the plan, saying the government should not compete with private enterprise.

Angry Tennessee consumers and legislators aren't backing down. "Don't fall for the argument that this is a free market versus government battle. It is not. AT&T is the villain here, and so are the other people and cable," said Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R-Tenn.) at a community rally, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Just let that sink in for a second—Chattanooga residents enjoy broadband 50 times faster than Silicon Valley, and it's a local government that provided it. Which makes AT&T's claim that government interference is what's getting in the way of their advancing technology ring pretty hollow. In the news article referenced above, an AT&T flak, Daniel Hayes, actually said "[p]olicies that discourage private-sector investment put at risk the world-class broadband infrastructure American consumers deserve and enjoy today." As if AT&T were actually providing world-class broadband. As if AT&T gave a flying fig about providing world-class broadband to the millions of people who are trapped in markets where it has a stranglehold. They care even less about people in rural communities that don't have service at all.

What AT&T is trying to do in Chattanooga definitely has an impact on the rest of the nation—they want to put a stop to municipal broadband there. They want to bully other states and localities and prevent them from doing what Chattanooga has done—actually deliver world-class broadband, with no profit at all going to AT&T.

Good Job, Guys: Yet Another Anti-Abortion Sting Video Shows Nothing At All

Anna Merlan
Yesterday 5:30pm

The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress, whose founder is under indictment, released a new undercover video Monday of conversations with people who work for the National Abortion Federation. The CMP claims the video shows a NAF employee agreeing to a “kickback arrangement to split the money from fetal parts,” which is not what their video actually shows.

On Friday, San Francisco federal judge William Orrick ordered the CMP not to release footage they shot undercover at an NAF annual meeting, pointing in part to the “documented, dramatic increase” in harassment and threats against abortion providers after the CMP started releasing its videos. The judge also said the tapes had “limited public interest” and showed “no evidence of criminal activity” by NAF members. The injunction ordered by the judge will stand until a lawsuit brought by the NAF against the Center for Medical Progress is decided.

Apparently upset, Daleiden and the CMP released a new video today. It accuses the NAF and Planned Parenthood of orchestrating “an attack on the First Amendment” and purports to show a very damning conversation that isn’t at all. More than anything, it seems to show how the CMP is spinning their wheels as the shaky case they’ve tried to build against Planned Parenthood and its affiliates begins to fall apart.

The new video wasn’t taken at the NAF’s annual meeting, but at a conference held by the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. (That means the CMP isn’t violating the injunction).

The video was shot by the “actor” working for the CMP, wearing a hidden camera (it is likely Sandra Merritt, the other CMP person who has been criminally indicted). In it, she says that her fake fetal tissue company, BioMax Procurement Services, donates money back to the abortion clinics they work with:

Actor: We do donate the fees that we get from our researchers, we give a portion back to the clinics as just a thank you for letting us come in.

NAF employee: Oh wow, yeah, it definitely sounds like something some of our members would be interested in.

A donation from a private company to an abortion clinic would be perfectly legal, actually. Reimbursement for expenses would also legal. A direct “kickback” scheme—BioMax paying clinics for fetal tissue beyond reimbursement costs—would be illegal. But again, the only person suggesting anything that would even come close to that is the person working undercover for the CMP.

Read more

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