Tonite On Virtually Speaking

Tonite at 6ET Click here to listen live or later.

From the Virtually Speaking Media Panel: Dave Johnson & Stuart Zechman – discuss developments of the week; countering the narratives of the legacy media. Informed, lively and informal.

This week: the quandary of corporate income tax, TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), and the principles that inform liberal policy with respect to corporations. Plus political satire from Culture of Truth.

Listen live or later: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2013/05/27/dave-johnson-stuart-zechman-virtually-speaking-sundays
Follow @dcjohnson @Stuart_Zechman

More at http://virtuallyspeaking.us/virtually-speaking-sundays/2013/5/21/dave-johnson-stuart-zechman-vs-sundays

The Virtually Speaking Media Panel: Avedon Carol, Cliff Schecter, David Dayen, Dave Johnson, David Waldman, digby, Gaius Publius, Joan McCarter, Marcy Wheeler, Stuart Zechman

TPP: A Deregulation Treaty Not A Trade Treaty

The upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is using a process that is rigged from the start. It is not being negotiated by governments for the benefit of their people, it is being negotiated by executives (or future executives/lobbyists currently in government) largely for the benefit of the giant corporations they serve. The process has these giant corporations “in the loop” but groups citizens, working people, consumers, the environment, human rights groups and especially democracy are not part of the process. That can only go one way: if you don’t have a seat at the table you are on the table — the meal.

Chile’s TPP Negotiator Quits, Warns Citizens

Rodrigo Contreras, Chile’s lead TPP negotiator recently up and quit to warn people of the dangers this agreement poses to everyone except the giant multinational corporations. In The New Chessboard, (English translation) Contreras warns that the TPP is solidifying multinational corporate control over the Internet, copyrights, patents (especially drug patents), and in particular warns that the giant financial interests are solidifying their current control over the regulatory process. He writes that this will block countries that are trying to “restore the space for applying financial safeguards. In these circumstances it does not makes sense to further liberalize capital flows, depriving us of legitimate tools to safeguard financial stability.”

In particular Contreras warns that smaller countries face a threat from this agreement’s solidifying of the con trol of the giant multinationals, concluding,

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The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Remember the video of the guy in the “pimp costume” who got advice from ACORN employees on how to run his prostitution ring? Turns out the whole story was just a lie, a doctored-video smear job on an important organization. The guy never wore a “pimp costume” and the real, undoctored videos showed that ACORN employees did nothing wrong. But a lie travels around the world before the corporate media bothers to check the facts. The “news” media blasted the story everywhere, and Congress was so outraged they forced ACORN to close its doors. And here we are again.

The corporate media is blasting out the story that the IRS “targeted conservative groups.” Some in the media say there was “IRS harassment of conservative groups.” Some of the media are going so far as claiming that conservative groups were “audited.”

This story that is being repeated and treated as “true” is just not what happened at all. It is one more right-wing victimization fable, repeated endlessly until the public has no choice except to believe it.

Conservative Groups Were Not “Targeted,” “Singled Out” Or Anything Else

You are hearing that conservative groups were “targeted.” What you are not hearing is that progressive groups were also “targeted.” So were groups that are not progressive or conservative.

All that happened here is that groups applying to the IRS for special tax status were checked to see if they were engaged in political activity. They were checked, not targeted. Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.

Once again: Only one-third of the groups checked were conservative groups.

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Apple Avoiding Billions And Billions Of Dollars In Taxes

Apple (like many giant, multinational corporations) has been avoiding paying the taxes they owe to the country by setting up foreign “subsidiaries” in tax-haven countries, and moving jobs and profit centers out of the country. They have accumulated billions upon billions of dollars in these tax havens. Now they want a special tax break to reward them for doing that.

Tomorrow the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code – Part 2 (Apple, Inc.)” with Apple’s Tim Cook. Apple is holding more than $100 billion in tax haven countries, to evade U.S. taxes. At the hearing, Cook (2011 compensation $378 million) is expected to offer a proposal for changes to the corporate tax system.

Cook’s proposal is likely to be for a “tax repatriation holiday” and a “territorial tax system,” both of which mean giant, multinational companies like Apple will pay less in taxes, people like Cook will have even more money, and We the People will end up with higher taxes, fewer good schools and good roads and police and teachers and the other things government does to make our lives better. As a bonus, this makes giant multinationals that move jobs and profits overseas even more competitive against smaller American companies that keep jobs and profits here and do not have foreign “subsidiaries” located in tax havens.

New Report On Apple’s Tax Avoidance

Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the AFL-CIO held a conference call today to talk about a new report by CTJ, “Apple Holds Billions of Dollars in Foreign Tax Havens,” documenting Apple’s offshore tax avoidance. The report states that,

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Deficit Fixed. Now Fix The Job Gap, Wage Gap And Trade Gap

The deficit is now down 60 percent as a percent of gross domestic product. It is down more than the deficit hawks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles asked for. This rapid reduction is seriously hurting the economy and jobs, but demands for cuts continue. It is time for Congress and the President to “pivot” to focusing on our real problems: the jobs gap, the wage gap and the trade gap.

Mythical Deficit Problem Solved

The “deficit problem” is man-made. When Bill Clinton was president we were paying off the debt. George W. Bush turned Clinton’s budget surpluses right around, calling deficits “extremely positive news” because they would later force cuts in government. Ronald Reagan’s “strategic deficits” began a strategy to make the borrowing appear so bad that the public would be panicked into allowing cuts in the things government does to make our lives better – so the wealthy few could have even more wealth and power. (Reagan tripled the national debt, Bush doubled it again.)

So after Bush we had a problem. When ‘W’ left office the budget deficit was $1.4 trillion. Then after Obama took office Wall Street and the right started terrifying the public about deficits and outlining their “solutions”: Cut government, cut regulation of the giant corporations, cut entitlements, cut investment in infrastructure, privatize public assets, cut the safety net, etc… Cut the things that government does to make our lives better (government spending) and cut the things government does to protect us from the immense power of the insanely wealthy and their giant corporations.

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Phony IRS “Scandal” — We’ve Been O’Keefe’d Again

See also: The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Guess what. We’ve been O’Keefe’d again. It turns out that the “IRS Targeted Conservatives” story is just one more made up, phony, right-wing victimization fantasy lie.

James O’Keefe is the guy who made a video supposedly showing him in a “pimp costume” getting advice from ACORN employees on ow to run a prostitution ring. Except the video was doctored, he never wore a “pimp costume” and ACORN employees never did any such thing. But the story sounded good … so it went wide and ACORN was defunded by Congress.

And here we go again. It turns out the IRS was NOT singling out “Tea Party” groups for audits. The IRS was scrutinizing ALL groups applying for c4 status by asking additional questions. No audits. And only SOME (1/3) of those groups were conservatives — OTHERS were liberal, etc. Doesn’t matter, the right put out a victimization story making it sound like only conservatives were targeted for political reasons. (And Christians are a persecuted minority, Whites are discriminated against, etc.) The “mainstream” news media picked up and spread the lie, and here we are.

Again: Only 1/3 of the organizations that received extra scrutiny were conservative. The rest are not identified, but liberal and progressive organizations are reporting that their applications received the same scrutiny as conservatives. (And by the way almost 70% of the applications that were flagged WERE engaged in campaign activity that would disqualify them from c4 status.)

See:

Bloomberg News: IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row

Daily Kos: Liberal groups received same IRS letter that ignited Tea Party outrage

Washington Monthly: Two Rather Important Details About the IRS “Scandal”

From the Inspector General’s report on what happened, page 8:

Figure 4 shows that approximately one-third of the applications identified for processing by the team of specialists included Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 in their names, while the remainder did not. According to the Director, Rulings and Agreements, the fact that the team of specialists worked applications that did not involve the Tea Party, Patriots, or 9/12 groups demonstrated that the IRS was not politically biased in its identification of applications for processing by the team of specialists.

Look at how MANY of us fell for one more “pimp costume” story.

James O’Keefe never wore a “pimp costume” into an ACORN office, and conservative groups were not singled out for scrutiny by the IRS. But because of the right’s ability to spread these smears both are now firmly “true” in the public mind. Partly because the rest of us fell for it and helped amplify it.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

See also: The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives

Upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership Looks Like Corporate Takeover

You will be hearing a lot about the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. TPP’s negotiations are being held in secret with details kept secret even from our Congress. But giant corporations are in the loop.

TPP is a “trade” agreement between several Pacific-rim countries that is actually about much more than just trade. It will be sold as a trade agreement (because everyone knows that “trade” is good) but much of it appears to be (from what we know) a corporate end-run around things We the People want to do to reign in the giant corporations — like Wall Street regulation, environmental regulation and corporate taxation.

One-Sided Process

The TPP process appears to be set up to push corporate interests over other interests. The TPP is being negotiated in secret, so what we know about it comes from leaked documents. Even our Congress is being kept out of the loop. But 600 corporate representatives are in the loop while representatives of groups that protect working people, human, political and civil rights and our environment are largely not in the loop.

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Next Week’s Opportunity To Get Our Labor Board Operating Again

President Obama has nominated five people to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Two are Republicans. All are waiting for confirmation by the Senate. Let your Senators know these nominees should be confirmed so the NLRB can get back to work.

What Is The NLRB?

The NLRB is the agency that “safeguards employees’ rights to organize and to determine whether to have unions as their bargaining representative. The agency also acts to prevent and remedy unfair labor practices committed by private sector employers and unions.”

The NLRB supervises elections to form or decertify unions in the workplace. It investigates charges that employees, unions or employers violated rules over labor practices and rules on the charges. It works to get problems resolved rather than taken to court. And finally, when the NLRB has issued a ruling that is ignored it can take the parties to court.

But if the NLRB is prevented from operating there is no one to make sure that the rules for labor practices are being enforced. This hurts workers and companies.

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Wait, We Outsource Military Supply Contracts To CHINA?

We give away our jobs and factories and industries to China. Some geniuses apparently thought that meant we should also let our military security be contracted out to China as well.

A new report from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM), Remaking American Security, Authored by Brig. Gen. Adams (US Army, Retired) looks at supply chain weaknesses and chokepoints, to see how vulnerable our security is to disruption by China and other “potentially unreliable” foreign suppliers.

Yes, we farm out critical defense supply contracts to that China, the country that has been hacking into our computers.

Take a look at AAM’s landing page for the report, Report Says U.S. Military Dangerously Dependent on Foreign Suppliers to see the Executive Summary and links into the report.

Conclusion: Our “over-reliance on foreign suppliers for critical defense materials” means that the country is dangerously dependent on “potentially unreliable” foreign suppliers for the raw materials, parts, and finished products needed to defend America.

Here is just one example from the report: “The United States is completely dependent on a single Chinese company for the chemical needed to produce the solid rocket fuel used to propel HELLFIRE missiles.”

Solutions: This is so important that I am going to list the entire summary of conclusions, details are available in the report and condensed on a separate PDF.

But first, I want to point out that following these recommendations will also increase our own job base, reduce our massive trade deficit and strengthen our economy.

  • Increasing long-term federal investment in high-technology industries, particularly those involving advanced research and manufacturing capabilities;
  • Properly updating, applying, and enforcing existing laws and regulations to support the U.S. defense industrial base;
  • Developing domestic sources of key natural resources that our armed forces require;
  • Ensuring that defense industrial base concerns are considered at the highest levels when formulating the U.S. National Military Strategy, National Security Strategy and throughout the Quadrennial Defense Review process;
  • Building consensus among government, industry, the defense industrial base workforce, and the military on the best ways to strengthen the defense industrial base;
  • Increasing cooperation between federal agencies and between government and industry to build a healthier defense industrial base;
  • Strengthening collaboration between government, industry, and academic research institutions to educate, train, and retain people with specialized skills to work in key defense industrial base sectors;
  • Crafting legislation to support a broadly representative defense industrial base strategy;
  • Modernizing and securing defense supply chains through networked operations that provide ongoing communications between prime contractors and the supply chains they depend on; and
  • Identifying potential defense supply chain chokepoints and planning to prevent disruptions.

Please visit AAM’s page on this report, and if you can please read the report.

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This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF. Sign up here for the CAF daily summary