Tag Archive: David Cay Johnston

Aug 09 2016

From Sheer Lunacy Back To Just Insanity

After a disastrous week the GOP presidential candidate, alleged billionaire, Donald Trump introduced his economic advisors, a veritable who’s who of what’s wrong with the US economy as pointed out by economist RJ Eskow. Trump’s team isn’t just monochromatic and male. At least four, and perhaps as many six, of the men are billionaires. They …

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May 29 2013

The Case for Investing in the Infrastructure

Journalist David Cay Johnston, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and MSNBC host Ed Schultz all agree that now is the time, and in some cases past time, to invest in the collapsing and crumbling bridges, road, rails and public buildings.

Pay to Fix America’s Crumbling Infrastructure Now, or Pay More Later

by David Cay Johnston

The I-5 disaster in Seattle reflects the dire state of our bridges and highways. But it may never be cheaper to replace these aging arteries than it is now.

“We cannot hope to have an A+ economy with a C-level infrastructure,” said James Chae, president of the (American Society of Civil) engineering society’s Seattle section. [..]

State and local governments spent $156 billion on highways in 2010, roughly a penny out of each dollar of America’s gross domestic product.

Right now, governments can borrow at the lowest interest rates in 700 years. Roughly 25 million people are involuntarily forced into part-time work, are looking for work, or have given up because they cannot find a job.

We must either update our infrastructure or face a future that is both more dangerous and poorer, as more bridges collapse, pipelines leak and explode, and the movement of goods and people becomes less efficient. We could increase our spending and reap big dividends in jobs and the taxes they generate, improved safety, and a more efficient economy.

Why put off until tomorrow what is cheaper to do today?

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, host of “The Ed Show,” discussed the problem of cutting spending on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure with Sen. Brown.

Dec 11 2012

The Real Financial Crisis: Income Disparity and Poverty

Steve Kornacki, MSNBC host sitting in for Chris Hayes on Sunday’s Up with Chris Hayes, discussed the political posturing on fiscal negotiations with David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winner and distinguished visiting lecturer at the Syracuse University College of Law; Joan Walsh, MSNBC political analyst, editor at large of Salon.com; Laura Flanders, founder of GritTV; Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress; and Avik Roy, former member of Mitt Romney’s health care policy advisory group, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Unlike the usual talk show, where right wing talking points are rarely challenged, Up pushes back and debunks those memes for the hollow myths and out right lies they are. This panel talks head on how income disparity and poverty are the real financial crisis and the insanity of “shared pain.” Topics about taxes on Wall Street transactions, defense cuts and closing loop holes that only benefit the wealthy were mentioned. You won’t hear that on “Meet the Press” or “ABC’s This Week”.

Heather at Crooks and Liars pointed out the conversation in the second video and responses in the third video to Avik Roy arguing how things are different now that when Bill Clinton was president and the nonsense that the rich already pay too much in taxes. The responses from the panel shredded Roy’s talking points. Here are just some of the comments from the panel:

   DAVID CAY JOHNSTON: The average income of the bottom 90 percent of Americans has fallen back to the level of 1966 when Johnson was president, and the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent have gone in today’s dollars from 4 million to 22 million. In 2010, the first year of the recovery, 37 percent of all of the increased income in the entire country went to 15,600 households.

   We have created a privatized system to redistribute upwards and the reason people at the top are sharing a larger share of the income taxes because their incomes are growing at this enormous rate, but their burden is falling. And to suggest we don’t need to raise more revenue by applying it to people who are a success depends on this government, on living in this society, with its rules that make it possible to make that money is just outrageous. It is arguing that we should burden the poor and help the rich.

   […]

   LAURA FLANDERS: No, you’re right. we have 50, 5-0 million Americans living in poverty at this point with food stamp help for many of them. We’ve got 9 million Americans over the age of 50 who are food insecure. One in three of us have no savings whatsoever.

   I mean, you talk the Johnson years, in that period, ’65 to ’73 the war on poverty reduced poverty by 43 percent. We know how to do it. It works. That’s what we should be talking about. We are in a crisis where we’re going to see stimulus. We’re going to see stimulus of poverty and hunger in this country and it’s shameful. And again, going back to ’63, you had more than 60 percent of Americans, I think even in1983, 60 percent of Americans had private pension plans. Now, it’s under 20 percent.

   So these elders that you’re talking about, young people with greater unemployment than ever before. I mean, this is the stuff that we want to be talking about after the last election, children and poverty are exploding.

   JOAN WALSH: And also… we need higher tax rates for the tippy top earners because everybody likes to talk about building the middle class or rebuilding the middle class. Well, the top tax rate that the middle class we in the ’40s,’ 50s and ’60s. The top marginal rate was in the 90’s. I’m not saying you should go back to that, but you can’t say at 37 percent.

Apr 17 2012

Why The States Are So Broke

Not only do major corporations pay zero federal tax but they collect state taxes from workers and don’t turn them over to the state governments for years on the presumption that the corporations will keep and create jobs in those states. All perfectly legal and with the states’ blessing.

David Cay Johnston: Taxed by the boss

Across the United States more than 2,700 companies are collecting state income taxes from hundreds of thousands of workers – and are keeping the money with the states’ approval, says an eye-opening report published on Thursday.

The report from Good Jobs First, a nonprofit taxpayer watchdog organization funded by Ford, Surdna and other major foundations, identifies 16 states that let companies divert some or all of the state income taxes deducted from workers’ paychecks. None of the states requires notifying the workers, whose withholdings are treated as taxes they paid.

General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and AMC Theatres enjoy deals to keep state taxes deducted from their workers’ paychecks, the report shows. Foreign companies also enjoy such arrangements, including Electrolux, Nissan, Toyota and a host of Canadian, Japanese and European banks, Good Jobs First says.

Why do state governments do this? Public records show that large companies often pay little or no state income tax in states where they have large operations, as this column has documented. Some companies get discounts on property, sales and other taxes. So how to provide even more subsidies without writing a check? Simple. Let corporations keep the state income taxes deducted from their workers’ paychecks for up to 25 years.

Where Are Workers’ Taxes Actually Going? Report: State Withholding Taxes Increasingly Pay for Corporate Subsidies Rather than Public Services

Paying Taxes to the Boss traces the rise of 22 subsidy programs derived from personal income taxes (PIT) that together cost about $684 million a year. “These programs are justified in the name of job creation, but they often end up subsidizing companies to move existing jobs from one state to another. In other cases, they go to employers that threaten to move unless they get paid to stay put,” said Philip Mattera, research director of Good Jobs First and principal author of the report.

“We recommend that states seriously consider abolishing PIT-based subsidies. Short of that, we urge Truth in Taxation: that companies be required to disclose the details of how much money is going where on every pay stub of affected workers,”  LeRoy added. [..]

The programs work in various ways. Some allow employers to immediately retain (and never remit to the state) a large portion of the withholding taxes generated by designated new or retained workers. Some provide cash rebates or grants calculated the same way. Others provide credits against corporate income taxes or other business levies, with the value of those credits based on the withholding taxes of new or retained workers. (Some of these credits are cash-refundable if the credit exceeds the company’s tax liability.)  The share of withholding taxes diverted into subsidies can be as high as 100 percent (such as EDGE tax credits in Illinois and Indiana) and the duration can be as long as 25 years (such as Mississippi’s Withholding Rebates). Twelve programs divert 75 percent or more of withholding, and 18 do so for ten years or longer.

And then they cut programs for the poor and go begging to Federal government for “ear marks.”

Apr 17 2012

The Buffett Rule

Income equality in the United States continues to widen between the 99% and the 1%. It was one of the main issues that Occupy Wall St. brought to the forefront of the conversation on the economy and the phony concern over the deficit. One of the big issues is tax inequality, the poor and middle class pay a greater percentage of their income to the government than do the top earners. President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have proposed a minimum tax of 30 percent to individuals making more than a million dollars a year, called the Buffet Rule, after billionaire Warren Buffet who thinks that it is unfair that he pays less in taxes than his secretary. Although it has been pointed out that revenue generated from the increase would only minimally help reduce the deficit, it is wildly popular with 67% of Americans in support of its passage. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the votes in the Senate to even get to the floor for a vote. Even if it did it would never see the light of day in the intransigent House. We mustn’t tax the job creators who haven’t created jobs in the US for over a decade. We must continue to allow millionaires, like Romney, to give their children millions as a gift tax free, thanks to a tax loophole on “carried interest,” presumably one of the loopholes that would have been closed:

When the Romney campaign disclosed in December that the couple’s five sons had a $100 million trust fund, I suspected that, in setting up the fund, the Romneys used a tax strategy that allows some very rich people to avoid paying gift taxes. But it was impossible to know if this was the case without seeing their tax returns going back years. [..]

Reuters emailed the Romney campaign spokeswoman to ask how much the Romneys paid in gift taxes on assets put into the sons’ trust over the last 17 years. The spokeswoman, citing Brad Malt, the Romney family tax lawyer, answered: none.

The idea that someone could pay zero gift taxes on contributions to a $100 million trust fund may surprise people who have heard arguments that the wealthy are overburdened by gift and estate taxes. But the Romneys’ gift-tax avoidance strategy is perfectly legal.

A good discussion on whether Obama’s ‘Buffett Rule’ would bridge tax divide was had on MSNBC’s Up with Chis Hayes with University of Pennsylvania Wharton professor Betsey Stevenson, Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston, former Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va., and Demos Vice President Heather McGhee.

This bill had very little chance of passing and was in all reality merely a political gambit to make the Republicans look like they are out of touch with the average American voter. How well that will work this early in the campaign remains to be seen.