I’m sure the Metropole condo will be lovely, and I do like the location at 15th and P, but who’s really going to want to spend $6 million on a five bedroom Logan Circle condo? It just doesn’t seem plausible to me; DC doesn’t really have the young rich hedge fund demographic that might buy something like that.
Cayman Islands Subsidiary Allows Pentagon Contractor Assisting War In Iraq To Avoid Millions In Taxes
The Boston Globe recently revealed that two Defense Department contractors operating in Iraq — KBR and MPRI — have avoided paying hundreds of millions of dollars in federal Social Security and Medicare taxes by hiring its employees through “shell companies” based in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Today, the AP reveals a third contractor assisting the U.S. military’s mission in Iraq that is also dodging Social Security and Medicare taxes. Immediately after winning a DoD contract worth more than $2 billion nearly ten years ago, Combat Support Associates established CSA Ltd. in the Cayman Islands allowing it to avoid paying the taxes and evade scrutiny from the U.S. government:
The subsidiary, CSA Ltd., now employs about 2,000 American citizens in Kuwait, where they support U.S. forces moving in and out of Iraq. Yet as a foreign corporation doing work outside the United States, CSA Ltd. does not pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for these workers.
In fact, according to the AP, “company officials” have acknowledged their immunity from U.S. law, noting that CSA Ltd. “is outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, so federal labor rules and anti-discrimination laws don’t apply either.” Indeed, the Globe noted that because of such practices, “workers cannot receive unemployment compensation when their jobs end and may be deprived of other protections under US law.”
But Congress has taken notice of these contractors’ unethical practices. The House passed a bill last month — despite Republican opposition — to “stop federal contractors from using foreign subsidiaries to evade Social Security and other employment taxes.”
In the meantime, companies such as KBR, MPRI and CSA Ltd. continue to avoid paying millions in taxes:
The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates shutting the employment tax loophole would bring in about $846 million in revenue over 10 years. That figure could be higher, lawmakers say, since it’s unclear how widespread use of the opening is.
Indeed, assuming that the American employees of CSA Ltd. make only $30,000 per year (online job ads place salaries much higher), the company would still “owe about $4.6 million in employment taxes.”
Many people blame the bubble and bust on investors — both amateur and professional — who speculated in new homes. “I think that was part of the mistake that the builders made, was that they allowed investors to come in and buy,” Abdullah said. “Allowed them to buy tracts of homes, you know, five, six, 10 houses, and they bought them on speculation.”
What’s the mistake here. Builders bought a bunch of cheap land, then built houses on it, then resold the houses to speculators willing to pay a premium above construction costs despite the lack of objective supply constraints. That’s a savvy business strategy, not a mistake. The people who made the mistake were the ones who bought the houses, not the ones who sold them.
It’s the biggest hack trick in the book, but my cab driver remarked as we cruised toward LAX that there’d been less congestion in Orange County recently. He attributed this to the high price of gasoline, and said that people were car pooling more on the way to work, having one friend pick up another en route to socializing rather than everyone taking separate vehicles, and even taking the bus (though he limited this option to “poor Latinos”) in order to save money.
They say you should remember that “data” is not the plural of “anecdotes” but in journalism school you learn that there’s a cab driver exception to this rule. This is especially the case when cab-based anecdotes fit the writer’s preconceived political views. Ergo, people actually have somewhat more flexibility in terms of how much they drive than is often realized. So let’s hear it for higher gas taxes, and for Orange County to spend money building bike lanes and providing more frequent bus service.
The White House press corps gave Bush administration spokesman Gordon Johndroe a tough time in today’s press gaggle. Of the 15 total questions asked during the briefing, 10 were regarding the upcoming wedding of President Bush’s daughter Jenna. Here are some of the most hard-hitting of the bunch:
– Is Barbara there already?
– We’re all concerned about getting some kind of a readout after the event. Do you expect us to get anything?
– Was 41 on board today?
– Is he going to be doing his normal activities down at the ranch this weekend, since there’s this big affair — like, is he going to go — probably do the exercise and the chopping of the cedar and all that stuff, or is that pretty much on hold this weekend?
– Are they — is the Bush family hosting a rehearsal dinner since — with the Hagers?
– What is [Bush] going to do today?
With important questions like these, its shocking that it took 14 days for a reporter to ask about Bush’s approval of torture.
You read stuff like this and really feel sorry for University of Tennessee students (see also). It’s fine for Glenn Reynolds to have as low an opinion of Barack Obama as he likes, but it seems to me that law professors should have some idea of what a “socialist view of government” consists of. I’m pretty sure Reynolds knows that Obama’s not proposing the nationalization of industry or collective ownership of the means of production, so he must be confused about socialism.
Michael Calderone and Avi Zenilman: “‘Deafening silence’ from networks on military analysts”. It’s as if The New York Times‘ famous ability to set the agenda for TV news magically evaporates when wholesale corruption on the part of TV news becomes the story. They were complicit in lying to the public, they got caught, and they’re not even slightly embarrassed or ashamed.
FLASHBACK: O’Reilly Said That Not Disclosing Pundits’ Political Ties Was A ‘Collapse Of Ethical Standards’
Yesterday, Karl Rove appeared on Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor where he was greeted by host Bill O’Reilly as the network’s “political guy.” O’Reilly asked Rove to help him come up with questions for his interview with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), which airs tonight. The weak brainstorming session eventually devolved into an unabashed love fest of McCain:
ROVE: I think you ought to ask McCain why he is so reticent to talk about himself personally. … He’s the most private person I’ve ever seen in my life.
O’REILLY: And he — but he’s wrote books on it. See, that’s the inconsistency. … He writes it in a book, but he won’t go out and talk. I think he may be shy about it.
ROVE: Well, and it’s something – there’s an admirable reticence in him. But yes, he may be comfortable having Mark Salter pry it out of him and put it in a book.
O’Reilly ended the segment by saying McCain should take his lead and “bloviate all over the place about how great you are.” Watch it:
It’s not surprising that Rove wants McCain to talk about his background more, since he allegedly helped orchestrate the senator’s biography tour. Of course though, Rove’s ties as an informal adviser, avid supporter, and maxed out donor to the McCain campaign were once again never identified.
O’Reilly’s refusal to disclose Rove’s ties is hypocritical. In 2004, he criticized CNN for keeping on Paul Begala and James Carville as commentators, even though they had ties to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-PA) presidential campaign. MSNBC’s Dan Abrams reported in September 2004:
Fox commentator Bill O’Reilly writes that this is evidence of the “collapse of CNN’s ethical standards.” That if he, O’Reilly, “signed on with Bush/Cheney 2004 the media mob would have stormed the Fox castle.”
The Obama Watch may be over, but unfortunately, the Rove Watch continues…
Transcript: Read more
The fading hopes for the Lieberman-Warner climate bill have all but ended (see E&E News, “Sponsors lower expectations for Lieberman-Warner bill,” subs. req’d, reprinted below).
Serious climate legislation had been in critical condition for some months (see “Boucher lets conservatives block House climate bill” and “Don’t hold your breath on Lieberman-Warner passing in 2008.”). Doctors and family members finally pulled the plug this week, and the patient appeared to lose all vital signs. The coroner listed the cause of death as “apathy.”
The only hope for revival now rests in the faint possibility that Lieberman-Warner turns out to be either an immortal cop, a vampire private detective or possibly a relentless, indestructible killing machine from the future that had taken on the guise of so-so climate legislation in an effort to fulfill its mission of ruining life on this planet for homo “sapiens.” [Note to self: That was a bit harsh.]
More seriously, too many Senators simply wanted to do too much watering down of L-W, plus we have the little-known provision of the Constitution that says all pieces of legislation aimed at sparing billions of people from unimaginable misery must receive 60 votes. The messy details are below:
John McCain wants Hispanic America to remember that he’s not from the “I hate you and blame you for all the country’s problems” wing of the GOP:
I think it’s a pretty shrewd ad. Unlike white or black Anglos, Latino voters tend to eschew culture-based voting and instead act the way Thomas Frank thinks everyone should act with the poorer ones being Democrats and the richer ones being Republicans, and so the overall edge going Democratic given the income distribution. The risk for Republicans is that the orgy of hate we saw from their side in 2006-2007 will push many more prosperous Hispanics over to the Democratic side. McCain’s mission is to communicate “I’m not a racist” to his most likely Hispanic supporters, and given the tendency of small business owners everywhere to love the GOP a specific focus on small business seems smart.