Wow. So this is what a responsive government looks like.
Rupert Murdoch is "not a fit person" to exercise stewardship of a major international company, a committee of MPs has concluded, in a report highly critical of the mogul and his son James's role in the News of the World phone-hacking affair.
The Commons culture, media and sport select committee also concluded that James Murdoch showed "wilful ignorance" of the extent of phone hacking during 2009 and 2010 ? in a highly charged document that saw MPs split on party lines as regards the two Murdochs.[..]
Rupert Murdoch, the document said, "did not take steps to become fully informed about phone hacking" and "turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications".
The committee concluded that the culture of the company's newspapers "permeated from the top" and "speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International".
That prompted the MPs' report to say: "We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of major international company."
That's gotta sting a bit. Murdoch shuttered the News of the World last summer as the realization that the publication was routinely phone tapping celebrities, politicians and subjects of their reporting, like Milly Dowling. The thirteen year old was abducted and murdered in 2002. But for six agonizing months, her parents held onto the hope that Milly might be alive, because messages on her mobile phone were being accessed and deleted by a News of the World employee who wanted keep it from maxing out on memory.
It's not clear how binding this report is, nor what impact it will have on Murdoch's broadcasting license of acquisition BSkyB.
Off the back of phone hacking and policy bribery allegations targeted at News Corp-owned News International, Ofcom decided to launch an investigation into whether Murdoch's News Corp is "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting license in the UK, which it and he does through ownership of BSkyB.
The "fit and proper" assessment comes from the Broadcasting Act 1990 and offers discretion to Ofcom in its judgement as to whether a media owner or operator meets this requirement.
It is the use of the phrase "not a fit person" in the select committee report Tuesday that may suggest the MPs who wrote it and voted to back the report's conclusions are themselves broadcasting a strong signal to Ofcom to revoke BSkyB's license.
Our buddies at TPM have the report in its scathing entirety.
For a few years, this stock was the best investment in clean energy, according to many investors and analysts. Bar none. The company boasted intriguing technology, stunning sales growth and robust profits.
Now, by one measure, it's the single worst clean energy investment on the stock market: The company lost investors nearly $15 billion in the past two years, in what must rank as the … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: The Most Hated Stock on the Market Right Now Could Have 60% Upside
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When I was a kid, I was plagued by nightmares. One scary TV show, and boom, I'd wake up paralyzed with terror after a night in which animal-headed people tried to kill me all night, or Nazis pursued me through the streets of New York. After awhile, my little brothers knew to protectively chase me away from the television if something even faintly Hitchcockian came on; while they'd watch, I'd hunker down in my bedroom with Anne of Green Gables or, later, Tolstoy. My basic aversion to, or caution about, horror movies and scary books lasted well into my adulthood, until I learned how to tune down the fear and sleep through the night. But horror is a taste that I've never fully developed.
All of which is to say that I haven't ever been a Stephen King reader or viewer?until yesterday, when he jumped on the Warren Buffett bandwagon with his Daily Beast blast, "Tax Me, For F@%&?s Sake!" Here's the gist:
At a rally in Florida (to support collective bargaining and to express the socialist view that firing teachers with experience was sort of a bad idea), I pointed out that I was paying taxes of roughly 28 percent on my income. My question was, ?How come I?m not paying 50??...
Cut a check and shut up, they said....
Tough shit for you guys, because I?m not tired of talking about it. I?ve known rich people, and why not, since I?m one of them? The majority would rather douse their dicks with lighter fluid, strike a match, and dance around singing ?Disco Inferno? than pay one more cent in taxes to Uncle Sugar. It?s true that some rich folks put at least some of their tax savings into charitable contributions. My wife and I give away roughly $4 million a year to libraries, local fire departments that need updated lifesaving equipment (Jaws of Life tools are always a popular request), schools, and a scattering of organizations that underwrite the arts. Warren Buffett does the same; so does Bill Gates; so does Steven Spielberg; so do the Koch brothers; so did the late Steve Jobs. All fine as far as it goes, but it doesn?t go far enough.
What charitable 1 percenters can?t do is assume responsibility?America?s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts. Charity from the rich can?t fix global warming or lower the price of gasoline by one single red penny....
The Koch brothers are right-wing creepazoids, but they?re giving right-wing creepazoids. Here?s an example: 68 million fine American dollars to Deerfield Academy. Which is great for Deerfield Academy. But it won?t do squat for cleaning up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, where food fish are now showing up with black lesions. It won?t pay for stronger regulations to keep BP (or some other bunch of dipshit oil drillers) from doing it again. It won?t repair the levees surrounding New Orleans. It won?t improve education in Mississippi or Alabama. But what the hell?them li?l crackers ain?t never going to go to Deerfield Academy anyway. Fuck ?em if they can?t take a joke.
For years, Stephen King has been beloved in Maine for the way he gives his millions back to the community. My wife, who grew up relatively near his house in Bangor, regularly points out how spectacular he's been to the community. She writes, "He built a $1.2 million dollar youth baseball complex in 1991. In the early nineties, his donation to the University of Maine Swim Team saved the program from elimination from the school's athletics department. He has donated to local YMCA and YWCA programs have allowed renovations and improvements. He annually sponsors a number of scholarships for high school and college students. He donated money to bring Air National Guard members home for Christmas a few years ago before they were shipped to Afghanistan. Recently he gave a $70,000 donation for fuel assistance to low income people in Maine." That last one was because the federal government cut fuel assistance, and he stepped in. But as he puts it, why should the overwhelmingly poor and working-class folks in the non-Kennebunkport regions of Maine be dependent on the kindness of one dude who actually got rich there? What about the freezing people in northern New Hampshire: who's their rich savior? Here's King responding to Mitt Romney's attitude about his own wealth:
What some of us want?those who aren?t blinded by a lot of bullshit persiflage thrown up to mask the idea that rich folks want to keep their damn money?is for you to acknowledge that you couldn?t have made it in America without America. That you were fortunate enough to be born in a country where upward mobility is possible (a subject upon which Barack Obama can speak with the authority of experience), but where the channels making such upward mobility possible are being increasingly clogged. That it?s not fair to ask the middle class to assume a disproportionate amount of the tax burden. Not fair? It?s un-fucking-American is what it is. I don?t want you to apologize for being rich; I want you to acknowledge that in America, we all should have to pay our fair share.
There's more. Go read it (Then come back and donate to The Prospect, where you can get more in-depth analysis on all the issues above.).
Now that we're fighting over just how great it was that Barack Obama gave the order for Seal Team 6 to go in and get Osama Bin Laden, Mitt Romney has given what is probably the most politically wise answer to the question of whether he would have ordered the raid, "Of course." But then he added, "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order." As James Fallows correctly notes, on the substance of the question, Romney's remark is incredibly stupid:
Jimmy Carter did indeed make a gutsy go/no-go call. It turned out to be a tactical, strategic, and political disaster. You can read the blow-by-blow in Mark Bowden's retrospective of "The Desert One Debacle." With another helicopter, the mission to rescue U.S. diplomats then captive in Teheran might well have succeeded -- and Carter is known still to believe that if the raid had succeeded, he would probably have been re-elected. Full discussion another time, but I think he's right. (Even with the fiasco, and a miserable "stagflation" economy, the 1980 presidential race was very close until the very end.)
But here's the main point about Carter. Deciding to go ahead with that raid was a close call. Carter's own Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, had opposed the raid and handed in his resignation even before the results were known. And it was a daring call -- a choice in favor of a risky possible solution to a festering problem, knowing that if it went wrong there would be bad consequences all around, including for Carter himself. So if you say "even Jimmy Carter" to mean "even a wimp," as Romney clearly did, you're showing that you don't know the first thing about the choice he really made.
I'd also note that the order that Carter gave was substantially riskier than the one Obama gave. Rescuing 52 civilian hostages from where they were being held in downtown Tehran would have been much, much harder than killing one man in a house in Abbottabad, even if the helicopters hadn't crashed in that sandstorm in the desert. As bad as it would have been if things had gone wrong in Pakistan, the potential for disaster involved in the Iran operation?like the hostages being killed, or being executed after a failed raid?was even higher.
Furthermore, Romney wants to make it seem like Obama's decision was a no-brainer, but it wasn't. The evidence that Bin Laden was in fact in that compound was persuasive, but not iron-clad, which is why some very senior advisers argued against the commando raid. The safer route would have been to just keep the compound under surveillance, or drop a bomb on it. Ordering the raid raised the risk of a disaster considerably. And indeed, that almost happened, when one of the helicopters crashed in the compound and had to be destroyed by the Seals.
Maybe Romney would have made the same decision Obama made, and maybe he wouldn't have. We don't know. But if Romney is trying to convince us he's more of a badass than Jimmy Carter, he's got a ways to go.
Scott Brown and his Obamacare-insured daughter, Ayla. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)Like a a couple of million other American families Sen. Scott Brown's family has been helped by the Affordable Care Act by being able to keep his 23 year old daughter on his Senate health insurance plan. But he's probably among very few of those millions who want to take it away and might be in a position to do so.
Brown said the extended use of his congressional coverage is not inconsistent with his criticism of the federal law, enacted over his objection after he won a special election in 2010, because the same coverage could be required by individual states.Massachusetts just happens to be one of the states that has extended that option, though it's not as comprehensive as the ACA, and Brown voted for those reforms when he was in the state senate. But it's very convenient for Brown now. His daughter could still be covered if he gets his political way and helps repeal Obamacare, but other people's adult children are shit out of luck.
On the campaign trail this year, Brown has said he still wants to repeal the law, which he argues is inferior to the health care law enacted by Massachusetts in 2006.
?I?ve said right from the beginning, that if there are things that we like, we should take advantage of them and bring them back here to Massachusetts,?? the senator said.
How very Republican of him.
Every time Washington goes through a new bout of deficit hysteria, it's important to remember that most of the politicians warning about the dangers of the annual deficits or the national debt don't really care about them.[...]
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Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman rebutted the right-wing talking point claiming the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. He's right: Studies have concluded that U.S. rates are similar to other countries, and the Congressional Research Service has found that a reduction in corporate taxes would have a limited impact on growth.
Krugman Responds To Claim That Corporate Taxes Are The Highest In The World: "Nothing You Said About Business Taxes Is Actually True." On the April 29 edition of This Week with George Stephanopoulos, former Republican senatorial candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO claimed that the United States has "the single highest business tax rate the in the world," and that high taxes cause job losses and stalls economic growth. Krugman responded that none of Fiorina's claims was "actually true":
KRUGMAN: Nothing you said about business taxes is actually true.
FIORINA: Everything I said about business taxes is true.
KRUGMAN: We can have that discussion in one place, but it's not true.
FIORINA: This isn't an academic discussion, it's clear here.
KRUGMAN: If you look at the actual tax collections in the United States on business, they're lower than other advanced countries. And if you look at the alleged finding that high business taxes cause job losses in states, it goes way on even the -- kick the tires even slightly and the whole thing falls apart. It's just not true. [ABC, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, 4/29/12]
CRS: U.S. Has A Slightly Lower "GDP Weighted Average" Corporate Tax Rate Than Other OECD Countries. A March 31, 2011, Congressional Research Service (CRS) report titled "International Corporate Tax Rate Comparisons and Policy Implications," compared the weighted average of corporate tax rates in the United States and in other countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It found that the United States has an effective corporate tax rate of 27.1%, compared to the OECD (excluding the United States) average of 27.7%. From the report:
If tax rates are not weighted, then a small economy, such as Iceland, can have the same effect on the average of international rates as a large economy, such as Germany or Japan. In general, smaller countries tend to have lower tax rates and thus unweighted averages are lower than weighted averages in most cases. In the results presented in this report, both weighted and unweighted averages are reported, but weighted averages are more relevant to making comparisons of measures of the tax burden on capital deployed around the world.
The OECD excludes some large countries, such as China and Brazil. Table 2 provides the statutory and effective tax rate comparisons for the 15 largest countries, which account for three quarters of world gross domestic product (GDP). The results are similar to those in Table 1 with the weighted average about 1 percentage point higher. With the production activities deduction the rates differ by 5.6 percentage points. The effective rate is the same.
Other Studies Agree That The Effective Corporate Tax Rate In The U.S. Is Similar To That In Other Countries. In addition to the CRS report, which cites several studies, the Government Accountability Office, the Treasury Department, and the World Bank have all found that the U.S. corporate tax rate is in line with that of other industrialized countries. [Media Matters, 3/31/09]
CRS: A Tax Cut Of Ten Percentage Points Would Lead To "Increase Of Less Than Two-Tenths Of 1 Percent Of Output." From the March 31, 2011 CRS report:
Regardless of tax differentials, could a U.S. rate cut lead to significant economic gains and revenue feedbacks? Because of the factors that constrain capital flows, estimates for a rate cut from 35% to 25% suggest a modest positive effect on wages and output: an eventual one-time increase of less than two-tenths of 1% of output. Most of this output gain is not an increase in national income because returns to capital imported from abroad belong to foreigners and the returns to U.S. investment abroad that comes back to the United States are already owned by U.S. firms. [Congressional Research Service, 3/31/11]
CRS: Any Gains In Output Would Be Offset By Reaction Of Other Countries. The CRS report found that any U.S. rate reduction might trigger a global reduction of corporate tax rates around the world, creating a situation in which "none will gain capital, but all will lose revenue." From the report:
An important policy issue for the United States is whether other countries might react to a U.S. rate reduction. Evidence shows that the initial cut in corporate tax rates around the world may have been triggered by the cut in the U.S. corporate tax rate from 48% to 35% from 1986 to 1988 as a result of the Tax Reform Act of 1986.
If one country cuts its tax rate, it attracts capital from other countries, which benefits labor and possibly overall national welfare, at the expense of other countries, as discussed above. However, if all countries cut their tax rates, none will gain capital but all will lose revenue. [Congressional Research Service, 3/31/11]
CRS: Proposed Rate Cut Would Lead To $1.2 Trillion To $1.5 Trillion Loss In Revenue. The CRS report found that a 35 percent to 25 percent corporate tax rate reduction would reduce revenue by $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over a 10 year period. Positive economic effects on output would only reduce these revenue cuts by 5-6 percent:
The revenue cost of such a rate cut is estimated at between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Revenue feedback effects from increased investment inflows are estimated to reduce those revenue costs by 5%-6%. Reductions in profit shifting could have larger effects, but even if profit shifting disappeared entirely, it would not likely offset revenue losses. In any case, it seems unlikely that a rate cut to 25% would significantly reduce profit shifting given these transactions are relatively costless and largely constrained by laws, enforcement, and court decisions. [Congressional Research Service, 3/31/11]
Fox's Cavuto: "When It Comes To Who Pays The Highest Taxes, [The World] Can't Hold A Cash-Collecting Candle To [The United States]." From the April 2 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
NEIL CAVUTO (host): Well look at these guys, they are the heavies of our hemisphere, and take a wild guess who has the heaviest tax load? And not just in our neck of the woods. Today I am talking the world.
Welcome everyone I'm Neil Cavuto, and it's official, with apologies to our neighbor from the north and our neighbor to the south, when it comes to who pays the highest taxes, they can't hold a cash-collecting candle to us. Actually no one can. Fox on top of America on top of the most taxed countries on earth. Japan, relinquishing the title after cutting its top corporate tax rate yesterday, leaving us all by our tax-gouging lonesome selves this first business day in April with a combined federal-state top rate of 39.2 percent. Rates in Mexico and Canada are far lower, and those countries are seeing economies grow far faster. They also have lower jobless rates. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4/2/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Perino On U.S. Corporate Tax Rate: "We're Number One, But It's Not Something To Necessarily Brag About." From the April 2 edition of Fox News' The Five:
DANA PERINO (co-host): OK, so I wasn't here Friday, and I think Eric had pointed this out, but today is the actual day that we're number one. But it's not necessarily something to brag about. This is -- these are foam fingers from -- wave 'em that guy, everybody -- the RATE Coalition, which is Reforming America's Taxes Equitably. Today at midnight, America became the number one highest corporate tax rate in the world. They're having a contest on Facebook, and so we really want to get on it. And so check out RATECoalition.com. [Fox News, The Five, 4/2/12, via Media Matters]
Heritage: "No Fooling: U.S. Now Has Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World." From a March 30 post on The Heritage Foundation's blog titled "No Fooling: U.S. Now Has Highest Corporate Tax Rate in the World":
This April Fool's Day, the joke is on all of us. That's because as of April 1, the U.S. now has the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
Our high corporate tax rate has long made the U.S. an uncompetitive place for new investment. This has driven new jobs to other, more competitive nations and meant fewer jobs and lower wages for all Americans.
Other developed nations have been cutting their rates for over 20 years. The U.S. did nothing. [The Heritage Foundation, 3/30/12]
AEI: "Who's The April Fool? US Combined Tax Rates Highest In Developed World." From an April 1 American Enterprise Institute post titled "Who's the April Fool? US combined tax rates highest in developed world":
April 1 may be a day for jokes, but on Sunday Japan ceded to the United States a distinction that is no laughing matter: the highest combined statutory corporate tax rate (state, local, and federal) in the developed world.
The United States already resided in first place for its high federal statutory rate. But with Japan's action to reduce its federal rate even lower, their combined rate is less than the United States'.
Since the 1980s, other developed economies have been steadily lowering their tax rates, but the United States has not cut its top federal statutory rate since 1993. In the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States is also on the high end for effective tax rates, which are the best indicators for capital investors of their true tax liability. [American Enterprise Institute, 4/1/12]
The Obama campaign's newest television ad serves up its toughest paid media attack yet, going after Romney's history of sending jobs overseas and saying his record of outsourcing is "exactly what you'd expect from a guy with a Swiss bank account." It'll air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, and as Greg Sargent points out, it is part of an effort to brand Mitt Romney is the living embodiment of top-heavy trickle-down economics.
The ad goes after Romney's record as CEO and as governor as well as the positions he's taken during the campaign, but it isn't a purely a negative spot. It begins by rebutting a an anti-Obama attack ad from the pro-Romney Americans for Prosperity, arguing that the attack ad represents an effort by oil interests to defeat President Obama because he supports closing tax loopholes for big oil and favors green energy programs. That sets up with the contrast with Romney's top-down, corporate-centric economic plan. The basic story: one guy is on your side, the other guy isn't.
The ad is the second example in as many weeks of the Obama campaign taking the fight to Romney. Last week, it was the web video about the bin Laden raid and in the ensuing debate, Romney was reduced to trying to convince people that he would have done the same thing President Obama did. Now Romney will have to choose between ignoring this new line of attack, leaving the Obama campaign's characterization of his record uncontested, or trying to rebut it?which would risk making his personal background the focus of the campaign before he's had an opportunity to define himself in his own terms. Either way, it's a tough spot for him, which probably explains why he'll be praying for crappy economic news.
Initial reactions from both sides of the pond to Parliament's scathing report on Rupert Murdoch.[...]
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A spokesperson for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who has called for the FBI investigation into whether News Corp. engaged in similar tactics in the U.S., tells TPM: "Senator Rockefeller is just as concerned today as he was last year as to whether[...]
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