Economy & Budget

Uncertainty and unpredictability in state corporate income taxes

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. But few Americans realize the scope and breadth of the taxes businesses pay and how uncertain and unpredictable that tax burden has become.

Most Americans would be shocked to learn that the 50 states have 50 different sets of standards for determining when an out-of-state corporation is subject to a state’s corporate income tax. These rules are so vague and unclear that costly litigation is often unavoidable. It is deplorable -- embarrassing even -- that the most advanced and sophisticated economy on the planet labors under such a confusing, uncertain and unfair system. 

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To stop insider trading in DC, shrink government

Widespread outrage over the recently passed STOCK Act, however justified, is misplaced, as it is directed toward a symptom, not the disease. The disease is the ever-growing micromanagement of the economy by the federal government. You can’t cure a cold by blowing your nose, and you can’t “cure” Washington by trying to restrict information flows.

Inside political information is valuable because legislative actions can have huge effects on industries, and there are few industries these days that don’t face political risks or opportunities in Washington. Subsidies, bailouts, taxes, regulations governing how you can do business---these are just a few of the ways in which Washington can make life miserable (or pleasant) for a corporation.

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Standing up for our veterans

America is blessed with the strongest and most capable military in the world. Our service members execute challenging missions in the most complex environment on earth. They leave the military with skills that our economy needs to compete. It is our responsibility to take care of them when they return. Unfortunately, upon returning home, many of our veterans discover that even though they have the training to perform a wide variety of jobs, the system often times fail to recognize that training. This can delay a veteran’s transition into civilian life by requiring them to obtain redundant certifications which cost time and money and can prevent them from acquiring the good paying jobs they deserve.
 
Many states, including Washington, Virginia, and Utah have passed legislation to take their military training into account. We’re simply calling on the federal government to do the same. The Veterans Skills to Jobs Act would cut through the red tape and make government more efficient by allowing relevant military training to satisfy certification requirements for Federal licenses. There is no reason why a veteran who is certified to work on airplanes in Afghanistan should have to take redundant trainings to work on the same planes right here at home.

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Ryan's budget jeopardizes America's national security

The Ryan-Republican budget, released yesterday and endorsed by Gov. Romney, claims to make America’s national security “government’s number one priority.” Unfortunately, the numbers say otherwise.

Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget slashes the very national security tools that made America the world’s superpower in the first place. In so doing, Ryan’s budget manages to forget the lessons of our past, ignore the realities of present conflicts and dangerously misunderstand the challenges we face in the 21st Century.

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Ryan budget hits vulnerable Americans hardest

It has been said time and time again that a budget is a moral document: a statement of our values and priorities as a nation. Last week the House Budget Committee passed a FY 2013 budget resolution that shamelessly cut taxes for oil companies and the wealthiest Americans, will destroy several million American jobs, and ends the Medicare guarantee for many current and all future beneficiaries. I will refrain from making judgments on the morality of those favoring this Ryan Republican Budget plan and instead say that this budget is a highly irresponsible, unjust fiscal plan for our nation. It benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Of the nondefense budget cuts presented in the Republican Budget, 62 percent is cut from programs for lower-income Americans, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. The cuts come from Medicaid, SNAP, WIC, school aid, Pell Grants, Head Start, and job training programs, among other things. These programs aid the hardest hit by the economic crisis, as well as the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

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Upcoming vote in Senate could raise gas prices

On Thursday President Obama addressed high gas prices noting, “I understand what folks are going through because it wasn’t that long ago that I was having to fill up my gas tank … and it takes a big bite out of folks’ paychecks.” The president may understand the hardships many Americans are facing, but this policy stance indicates that he simply doesn’t care.

Despite the president’s appeal to Americans in distress, he continues to call for discriminatory tax increases on the companies that produce, refine, and transport gasoline. This added expense will be absorbed by consumers at local gas stations. This week, the U.S. Senate will get the opportunity to oppose the president’s reckless agenda to increase the price of gasoline.

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Bernanke vs. gold: a rebuttal

Nearly a decade after he left academia for the Federal Reserve and put his easy-money stamp on the nation’s central bank, Ben Bernanke went back to school Tuesday to take on the gold standard. In his first of four planned lectures to George Washington University undergraduate students, the Fed chairman delved into the history of the institution he runs and in the process delivered a rebuttal to the monetary reform that has gained traction in the conservative movement and the Republican presidential nomination race. Business Insider’s Joe Weisenthal wrote that Bernanke “just murdered” the gold standard.

Only for an impressionable mind, of which there may have been a few in his audience of college students and reporters. Bernanke framed his critique from a somewhat odd premise: in the history of the Fed, the gold standard was “an alternative to the central bank.” While that is Ron Paul’s model today, the Fed was actually designed and opened under the fully-functioning classical gold standard. As a recent report on U.S. monetary history from the Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee notes, the Federal Reserve System was created in 1913 with “A monetary policy mandate to provide an ‘elastic currency’ within the context of a gold standard to combat the form-seasonal elasticity problem” (italics added).

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Fight for small businesses, protect our community pharmacies

The Federal Trade Commission will soon make its final decision on the $29.1-billion merger of two of the largest pharmacy benefit managers in the country. While concerns have been expressed about this specific merger, particularly its impact on mail order and specialty pharmacies, the debate raises much broader concerns about jobs, the economy, protecting small businesses, and ensuring that our loved ones have the best possible access to high quality health care.

Our nation continues to struggle through one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. Unemployment (8.3 percent in February) has now been above 8 percent for 37 consecutive months. A recent report from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 23.5 million people were either unemployed or underemployed. Turning the economy around and reversing the course of chronically high unemployment demands stronger solutions to allow small businesses to grow and thrive.

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Dodd-Frank's unintended consequences

A key goal of Congress in enacting the Dodd-Frank Act was to increase transparency into the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market, which many lawmakers had blamed for igniting the financial crisis and nearly bringing down the global financial system. 

It’s ironic, then, that some provisions in the law attempt to solve problems that did not exist – and, in doing so, have created several new problems that threaten to undermine data sharing among regulators globally and their ability to mitigate systemic risk in this market.

The first issue, indemnification, is an immediate problem. Dodd-Frank requires U.S.-based trade repositories to receive a written indemnification agreement from non-U.S. regulators before sharing critical market data with them. However, many regulators worldwide have indicated that they would be unable or unwilling to provide such an agreement because the concept of indemnification is unfamiliar to many of them and inconsistent with their traditions and legal structures. 

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Congress is in need of strong medicine

Everyone inside the Beltway knows that Congress is in dire need of strong medicine, and 90 percent of Americans agree. Congress as a whole is less popular than it’s been since polling was invented. Unfortunately, too few of my colleagues are listening and focusing their efforts on healing the sick branch of government. 
 
I’ve been working on fundamental reforms in Congress for many years, including a book published in 2006 and a major speech at Harvard last year. I am delighted that we have a rare chance this year to turn reform ideas into reality. 

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