Indeed, almost three-fourths of the top 100 federal "small" business contractors in fiscal year 2011, were actually large companies, says the report highlighted by the Project on Government Oversight. ...
"Misrepresenting your firm as a small business is a felony, but the SBA has NEVER prosecuted a single offender," it says on the league's website. An SBA spokesman emailed the following statement from John Shoraka, the agency's Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development: ...
Spokesmen for Lockheed Martin, IBM and AT&T did not return emails seeking comment.
Companies often take out insurance policies for their pension and 401k plans to protect them against breaches of fiduciary trust. Typically, this might be to protect them against someone like the company treasurer or a payroll clerk who steals the money that was supposed to go into the pension plan or 401k plan for the benefit of the employees.
IBM tried to file a claim against their insurance policy to get them to pay for part of the Cooper settlement. IBM tried to claim that by amending the plan such that it contained age discrimination, IBM breached its fiduciary duty and therefore the plaintiff's legal fees, which IBM had to pay as part of the settlement, should be covered by insurance.
There was some disagreement between IBM and the insurance company over the language in the policy that describes what is covered. The insurance company refused to pay and so it wound up in court. The initial court decision went in IBM's favor since the legal precedent is that when language is unclear in a policy, the decision should go in the insured party's favor.
But the appeals court disagreed and said that since the Cooper suit had nothing to do with fiduciary duties, and that the role IBM played in changing the plans had nothing to do with fiduciary duties, the claim is not valid.
The bottom line is that the insurance company does not have to pay IBM.
Cons: 1) Too process focused. And the processes take so much time. The people who are conducting the processes are horrible, for the most part. They are outsourced, they don't listen and you end up having to explain, and explain. So frustrating and such a waste of time. 2) Mgmt: The FSL, First Line Leader, they are so incompetent. Their sole reason for being to to micromanage you, give you zero support, hit you with a stick to make sure that they don't get 'the stick' from their manager. FSL's don't give a rat's a__ about you. It's all about them and checking off their list of duties so that they don't get yelled at. Horrible, horrible experience. 3) Zero team work encouraged. IBM and team work don't go together. It's dog eat dog. You're on your own. 4) IBM acquires many companies. They say they retain the employees, however, what they do is give you a list of accounts that no one has ever succeeded in and then if you don't sell in 6 months they really put the pressure on you to get you to leave. They want you to leave on you own vs. terminating you. By leaving on your own accordance it makes IBM look like they aren't shedding employees! Except, who wants to volunteer to leave? Horrible, horrible culture. 5) Work-Life Balance? At IBM? I don't think so. They work you to death. You can't work hard enough to please anyone. 6) Very cheap company. The laptops they provide, have major issues weekly. This causes you to spend time on the help desk, with level 1 support who are not helpful at all. Then they escalate to level 2, they try to help. Finally, you need to have level 2 send a ticket to the local IBM office so that you can come in and get you laptop fixed. By fixed, you send it overnight back to Tennessee, they send out a replacement. This replacement needs to have your hard drive loaded on it. This takes a couple of hours with you at the local IBM office. It's crazy!!!!! It's a terrible, terrible system. 7) They treat experienced sale people like new grads just starting out in sales. Stupid training that involves role play of a sales call, have to have room mates at overnight meetings. Horrible!!!!!!
Advice to Senior Management: IBM, get over yourself!
Thanks to New Deal policies and companies' initiatives in the '30s to ensure that workers' pensions were safe, at least two generations grew up under the assumption that if they had a job with an established company, a retirement plan would help pay future bills. Many of today's workers' parents and grandparents left the workforce with some type of employer-provided income—from the time they retired until their death.
Employer-sponsored pension plans, combined with Social Security benefits and, more recently, defined contribution plans, have truly turned retirement into the "golden years" for millions of workers. So until the past decade, workers didn't put much thought into saving for retirement, much less worrying about it.
Under the back-room deal that was rushed to a vote today, federal employees hired after Dec. 31, 2012 will pay 3.1 percent of their salary toward their pensions – a four-fold increase from the current rate. New members of Congress will pay the same rate as new federal employees, but they will be able to retire at age 50 with 20 years of service without the significant penalty most federal employees receive for retiring early.
Weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Labor issued final rules that require 401(k) plan providers to disclose fees they charge as well as benefits they might receive from mutual funds. Employers also will be under the gun to terminate plan providers who fail to disclose the needed information. The change takes place in July. ...
According to national retirement experts, there are plans where participants lose 3, 4, even 5 percent of earnings each year to fees.
That's a lot harder than it sounds, as my colleague Adam Zoll explored in this article. Not only does it involve divining what tax rates are apt to be on a macroeconomic level by the time you retire, but you also need to bear your own personal situation in mind. For lower earners who are early in their careers, it's likely that their income tax brackets will be higher in the future than they are today, making Roth contributions and conversions a good bet. For older savers, that might not be the case.
Forty years into that run, the 60-year-old communications specialist for a Wisconsin-based insurance company has worked more than a half-dozen jobs. She's been laid off, downsized and seen the pension disappear with only a few thousand dollars accrued when it was frozen. So, five years from the age when people once retired, she laughs when she describes her future plans. ‘I'll probably just work until I drop,’ she says, a sentiment expressed, with varying degrees of humour, by numerous members of her age group.
Like 78 million other U.S. Baby Boomers, Ms Symons and her husband had the misfortune of approaching retirement age at a time when stock market crashes diminished their 401 (k) nest eggs, companies began eliminating defined benefit pensions in record numbers and previously unimagined technical advances all but eliminated entire job descriptions from travel agent to telephone operator.
At the same time, companies began moving other jobs overseas, to be filled by people willing to work for far less and still able to connect to the U.S. market in real time.
For many of the 44 million Americans with pensions, employers have not set aside enough money to provide them a stable income through retirement. Publicly traded companies face a combined pension shortfall of $458 billion, according to a recent report by the bank Credit Suisse. The cost of rescuing these plans has saddled the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. with a $26 billion deficit, the highest in its 37-year history. The situation will likely worsen as more companies decide they can no longer afford their pension commitments and stick the government with the bill. ...
Congressional Republicans continue to push measures to rewrite the rules for underfunded state and local government pensions, while Democrats — backed by public employee unions — rally to shield those programs from cuts.
But Karen Friedman, policy director at the Pension Rights Center, is trying to shift the lobbying on reforming corporate retirement plans into high gear. Her advocacy group is sponsoring a Wednesday conference on Capitol Hill about restructuring pensions with the Urban Institute, a think tank, and the law firm Covington & Burling. “This is the time to address these issues,” she said, “so that we can ensure that we stop a crisis in the future.”
“No company should get a tax break for outsourcing jobs,” Obama said. He urged helping “manufacturers who set up shop here at home,” particularly technology companies. “And Congress should send me that kind of tax reform right away.”
Consumer advocates there decided to go the ballot initiative route after the insurance industry’s friends in the legislature blocked a bill last year that would do the same thing. Feinstein became the first Californian to sign a petition. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones became the second. To get the measure before voters in November, the advocates, led by Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog, must collect half a million more signatures.
In her San Diego speech before the party faithful, Feinstein pointed out that in the first quarter of this year, the five largest health insurers — UnitedHealth, WellPoint, Aetna, CIGNA and Humana — posted profits of $3.6 billion, 16 percent more than the same period a year earlier. One of the ways those companies were able to achieve such Wall Street-pleasing success was by jacking up the rates on policies bought by individuals and small businesses. While most of these policyholders dug deeper into their pockets to avoid joining the 50 million Americans who are uninsured, many others had no choice but to let their coverage lapse.
As Feinstein noted, thousands of Californians have been forced into the ranks of the uninsured in recent years because of policies being priced beyond the ability of individuals to pay. She said many people in the state had received rate increase notices twice over the past year alone.
The rising cost of health care has made access to adequate, affordable health care coverage problematic for many in this age group. The share of adults age 50 to 64 who are at risk for high health care spending is rising, while the share with employer-sponsored health coverage is declining.
Thirty percent of adults in this age group spend at least 10 percent of their disposable income on health care, compared to 18 percent among adults age 19 to 49. For those buying health insurance in the individual market, the likelihood of high total out-of-pocket health spending is much greater — three in four. The uninsured (8.9 million) outnumber those with public coverage (7.3 million) or those with other private coverage (4.2 million), and their number is growing. There are 3.7 million more uninsured older adults since 2000.
Yet there is a path the Supreme Court could take when it hears the case that could delay for years any resolution of a main point of contention.
Here’s what King should say: “The reason we’ve had a fight over the so-called contraception mandate is because we’re the only wealthy nation in which group health coverage can be obtained only from your employer. If individuals were able to buy group coverage outside the employment setting — without risk of being denied coverage or priced out of the market due to preexisting conditions — this entire blowup would never have happened, because the idea of requiring employers to offer specific kinds of coverage would be irrelevant. To avoid this in the future, and to free American business to focus on competing with China and India rather than on administering a corporate welfare state, do you support moving beyond employer-based health coverage? If so, how specifically would you propose we get there?” ...
There was a time when Republicans knew employer-based health coverage was an outdated relic. In fact, that time was 2008, when John McCain made a transition to individually purchased coverage the centerpiece of his health plan in the campaign.
In the end, McCain’s plan was fatally flawed for two reasons. First, he didn’t propose insurance market reforms that would enable people with preexisting conditions to be assured coverage as part of a larger pool. And second, McCain didn’t offer the subsidies that millions of poor workers would need to help buy such coverage. But the basic idea of moving past employer-provided care was spot on.
Mitt Romney knows this but pretends not to in his impressively soulless quest for religious voters. Wouldn’t it have been refreshing if he or another GOP candidate had simply said, “Hey, we could avoid this whole contraception mess if we moved past employer-based health care?” Or if we gave employees of Catholic institutions who want access to contraception publicly funded vouchers they could use to buy policies at the new private insurance exchanges Obama’s health reform sets up?
So is health care inflation tamed in the state? We put this question and a few others to four economists: MIT’s Jonathan Gruber (one of the architects of the Mass. health law), Harvard University’s David Cutler (who was in the Clinton administration and advised President Obama), Stuart Altman of Brandeis University (who advised Presidents Nixon and Clinton and candidate Barack Obama) and Meredith Rosenthal (at the Harvard School of Public Health). For clarity, we edited their answers.
Conservatives who oppose health care reform often argue that being uninsured is a consequence of the individual's own personal irresponsibility. Those individuals merely need to shape up and go out and get a job, and then they would have health insurance. The conservatives lose their credibility on this point when the actual data show that 38 percent of low-wage workers, who do go out and get a job, lack health insurance from any source.
Because of such deficiencies in our system reform advocates were able to muster the political support to pass the Affordable Care Act - a half-glass reform. Those who view this as a glass half full celebrate the fact that over half of these uninsured workers will become insured under ACA. The advocates of reform who view this as a glass half empty bemoan the fact that ACA will still leave about 17 percent of low-wage workers without insurance. The diversionary half full, half empty debate is particularly tragic when you consider that a single payer national health program would have brought us a full glass.
Kaiser Permanente received the highest marks among the 13 health plans covered in the survey, ranking 67th. However, it only received an "okay" rating and ranked 87th overall, according to the North Colorado Business Report.
TriCare, Medicare, Aetna, UnitedHealth, Humana, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Shield of California and Cigna all received "poor" ratings. Four plans--Highmark BCBS, Health Net, Medicaid, and Anthem BCBS--received "very poor" ratings and ranked in the bottom seven across all 18 industries, according to a Temkin blog post.
And yet Bertolini, who leads one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies and is a man known for his honesty and willingness to do the right thing, was not raging against government interference nor suggesting that the Affordable Care Act has destroyed his business as it leads America down the road to healthcare disaster. Indeed, Mark offers a considerable measure of praise for Obamacare saying, “For most of what has already been implemented, it has been a pretty good thing.” ...
The notion of creating a “Medicare For All” health care system in America has been on the table ever since Medicare first came into being in 1965. And for just as many years, the battle has raged over whether making such a system available to all Americans would be akin to a capitulation to socialism in a nation that prides itself on its free-market principles or, conversely, a humane and moral step forward for our society. Polls have long shown that when the idea of a “Medicare For All” is suggested, or some other variation of a national health insurance system is put to the public, the results tend to be favorable. However, when the wording of such a poll includes the words ‘socialized medicine’ or suggesting an increase in taxes to pay for the same, the results tend to be very different.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
The federal budget should be a tool to encourage national investment, as it was when Thomas Jefferson purchased Louisiana and when Dwight Eisenhower built our super- highways. These great achievements proved public investment can generate vast returns. Investing in our infrastructure would prove it once again.
Perhaps working Americans do not understand how grave the situation is. A recent Mother Jones article graphically illustrated the problem: in the last 30 years the income of the one-percent has quadrupled and everyone else has experienced no growth. The Washington Post noted that in 2008, the average family income for the bottom 90 percent was $31,244 and that was a 1 percent decline from 1970. During the same period, the top .1 percent saw their income increase by 385% to $5.6 million. (The wealth divide is even more extreme; while the top 1 percent earn 21 percent of the nation's income, they now control 36 percent of our wealth.) ...
Over the last 30 years, the United States has been looted. The rich and powerful, the 1 percent, have taken a disproportionate share of the economic gains that we've all worked for. As a consequence America is teetering on the brink of Plutocracy. To remedy this inequity and restore Democracy, fundamental changes must be made.
prices. Last week House Speaker John Boehner told Republicans to take advantage of voters' looming anger over prices at the pump. On Thursday House Republicans passed a bill to expand offshore drilling and force the White House to issue a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The tumult prompted the Interior Department to announce on Friday expanded oil exploration in the Arctic.
If prices at the pump continue to rise, expect more gas wars. In fact, oil prices are rising for three reasons -- none of which has to do with offshore drilling or the XL pipeline.
The first, on the supply side, is Iran's decision to cut in oil exports to Britain and France in retaliation for sanctions put in place by the EU and United States. Iran's threat to do this has been pushing up crude oil prices for weeks.
The second, on the demand side, is rising hopes for a global economic recovery -- which would mean increased oil consumption. The American economy is showing faint signs of a recovery. Europe's debt crisis appears to be easing. Greece's pending bailout deal is calming financial nerves on both sides of the Atlantic, and the Bank of England and European Central Bank are keeping rates low. At the same time, China has decided to boost its money supply to spur growth there.
Neither of these would have much effect were it not for the third reason -- overwhelming bets of hedge funds and other money managers that oil prices will rise on the basis of the first two reasons. Speculators have pushed crude oil to $105.28 per barrel, up 35 percent since September. Brent crude, Europe's benchmark, is now $120.37 a barrel -- also worrisome because many East Coast refineries use imported oil.
One theme of the proposal is offering new tax benefits for U.S. manufacturers while raising taxes on U.S. companies with large operations in other countries. ...
U.S. businesses paid $181 billion in corporate income taxes in fiscal year 2011, representing 7.9% of all federal revenue and 1.2% of U.S. gross domestic product—a near-historic low percentage of GDP. The administration believes corporate income taxes will snap back in 2014 to $430 billion, roughly 13.4% of all federal revenue and 2.5% of GDP, because of the recovering economy and expiring tax breaks. Company owners pay billions of dollars more every year in "individual" income taxes, because of how a growing number of firms are structured. ...
For example, many partnerships—including law firms but also, increasingly, other types of businesses—have enjoyed nontaxable status for years. Due to changes in the 1980s and 1990s, those entities have proliferated, and now far outnumber taxable corporations. Instead of being subject to the corporate tax, their owners pay tax on the businesses' earnings through their individual returns. These firms are politically powerful, and a big change in their tax status could be divisive.
The Republican super-Pacs for the four main candidates, Messrs, Romney, Gingrich, Santorum and Ron Paul, the libertarian Texas congressman, together raised $22.1m.
By contrast, Priorities USA, the super-Pac backing Mr Obama, raised just $59,000 in January, something the White House had in mind when it recently announced that administration officials would no longer shun the body and attend its fund raisers.
Mr Adelson, whose net worth is about $25bn, is the biggest single donor for this election to conservative super-Pacs, along with Harold Simmons, a Texas businessman. ...
If, as expected, Mr Gingrich is forced out of the race, Mr Adelson suggested he would support other Republicans to stop Mr Obama’s “socialist-style” policies.
I know, I know. You think Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Mitt Romney are running. They are -- but only because the people listed in the first paragraph have given them huge sums of money to do so. In a sense, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, and Romney are the fronts. Dore et al. are the real investors.
According to January's Federal Election Commission report, William Dore and Foster Friess supplied more than three-fourths of the $2.1 million raked in by Rick Santorum's super PAC in January. Dore, president of the Dore Energy Corporation in Lake Charles, Louisiana, gave $1 million; Freis, a fund manager based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, gave $669,000 (he had given the Santorum super PAC $331,000 last year, bringing Freis's total to $1 million).
Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam provided $10 million of the $11 million that went into Gingrich's super PAC in January. Adelson is chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Texas billionaire Harold Simmons donated $500,000. ...
Mitt Romney's super PAC raised $6.6 million last month -- almost all from just forty donors. Bruce Kovner, co-founder of the New York-based hedge fund Caxton Associates, gave $500,000, as did two others. David Tepper of Appaloosa Management gave $375,000. J.W. Marriott and Richard Marriott gave a total of $500,000. Julian Robertson, co-founder of hedge fund Tiger Management, gave $250,0000. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman gave $100,000.
Bottom line: Whoever emerges as the GOP standard-bearer will be deeply indebted to a handful of people, each of whom will expect a good return on their investment.
The idea that spending reductions slow, rather than spur the economy is what Paul Krugman, The Times editorial board, and many liberal economists have been advancing since the downturn. (Simply put: You can’t cut your way to growth.) It’s also in keeping with the Obama administration’s arguments. As Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff said recently on Meet the Press, “I think that there’s pretty broad agreement that the time for austerity is not today…Right now we have a recovery that’s taking root and if we were to put in an austerity measures right now, it would take the economy in the wrong way.”
Actually, there is no “broad agreement:” The Republican political establishment considers such ideas heresy. Andy Roth of the Club for Growth, called Mr. Romney’s admission “hogwash.” And within hours of the gaffe, campaign spokesman Ryan Williams stepped in to assure voters that Mr. Romney “believes that budget cuts—especially in the context of President Obama’s unprecedented spending explosion—are a step in the right direction.”
The BGOV Barometer shows that, over the five decades since John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, $1,000 invested in a hypothetical fund that tracks the Standard & Poor's 500 Index (SPX) only when Democrats are in the White House would have been worth $10,920 at the close of trading yesterday.
That's more than nine times the dollar return an investor would have realized from following a similar strategy during Republican administrations. A $1,000 stake invested in a fund that followed the S&P 500 under Republican presidents, starting with Richard Nixon, would have grown to $2,087 on the day George W. Bush left office.
Hedge funds managers and private equity executives pay a different tax on their profits--which often comprise the bulk of their income --than most wage earners pay on their regular income. Hedge fund and private equity gains are taxed as “carried interest" at 15 percent. The Obama administration proposal would tax these profits at regular income rates of up to 35 percent.
“Currently, many hedge fund managers, private equity partners, and other managers in partnerships are able to pay a 15 percent capital gains rate on their labor income,” a relevant section of the proposal reads. “This tax loophole is inappropriate and allows these financial managers to pay a lower tax rate on their income than other workers.”
Coincidence? We report, you decide.
And anyone who doesn't believe that gas prices affect election results might want to ask former President Jimmy Carter. If the 1980 election hadn't turned out the way it did we might be living in a very different world.
Today gas prices continue to rise, despite the fact that demand for oil is lower than it's been in the last fifteen years. Are speculators affecting our fate again? That's the subject of heated technical debate, although I find the evidence very compelling. But here's something to consider: The prime suspects for oil speculation -- Goldman Sachs, the Koch Brothers, etc. -- are the people who are fighting tooth and nail to make sure government never has the power to investigate their actions.
According to the report released Thursday by U.S. Budget Watch, a project of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich would do the most damage to the nation’s finances, offering tax and spending policies likely to require trillions of dollars in fresh borrowing.
Both men have proposed to sharply cut taxes but have not identified spending cuts sufficient to make up for the lost cash, the report said. By 2021, the debt would rise by about $4.5 trillion under Santorum’s policies and by about $7 trillion under Gingrich’s plan, pushing the portion of the debt held by outside investors to well over 100 percent of the overall economy, the study said. ...
The report does not include an analysis of President Obama’s latest spending blueprint, which seeks to reduce borrowing by $3 trillion by 2021. Budget Watch plans to analyze Obama’s request in future reports.
Worries about high-speed trading have been mounting inside the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for years, but Ms. Schapiro's remarks indicate a heightened sense of concern and suggest the agency could take aggressive action to rein in the practice. High-frequency trading firms move in and out of stocks rapidly using powerful computers. ...
The SEC also is weighing imposing fees on order cancellations, which constitute "a vast majority of orders" submitted by high-frequency firms, Ms. Schapiro said. An estimated 95% to 98% of orders submitted by high-speed traders are canceled as the firms rapidly react to shifts in prices across the stock market, according to Tabb Group, which tracks trends in electronic trading. The possible fee, previously mentioned in a joint advisory committee of the SEC and CFTC, would likely be a tiny fraction of a cent per canceled order, experts say.
The story so far: Last month, The New York Times published a front-page article highlighting working conditions at a factory in China owned by Foxconn Technology, where Apple’s products are built. The problems included fatal accidents and employees injured while using a toxic chemical that can cause nerve damage. (Although Apple is the poster child for Foxconn, just about all of our electronics are made in the same Chinese factories, as the Times article noted. Foxconn also builds products for Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Asus, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Intel, I.B.M., Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Netgear, Nintendo, Nokia and Vizio. The Xbox, the PlayStation and the Amazon Kindle are made here.) The article set off a firestorm of protest, petitions and demonstrations. ...
Anyway, for me, two new sources of light were trained on the Foxconn situation: a TV broadcast and an e-mail. ABC’s “Nightline” was invited to visit Apple’s production lines at Foxconn. Its correspondent, Bill Weir, was allowed to interview any worker, on camera or off, in the factory or outside. On Tuesday night, ABC broadcast its report. You can watch it online.
The conclusion? Most of these candidates are guilty of making overzealous promises to cut taxes without detailing specific or sufficient ways to pay for them. “None of the numbers are ever going to be perfect and none of the best scorers in the whole city [of Washington] can ever get all this perfect,” said Maya MacGuineas, CRFB’s president, who says her organization’s analysis is still a work in progress. “But it’s clear that you can say tax cuts don’t pay for themselves.”
Gingrich, the study finds, is the worst offender when it comes to inflating deficits. When taken together, his commitments to slash education spending and social welfare programs would not be enough to counteract the effects of his plans to cut taxes for the wealthy and introduce private Social Security retirement accounts. Under his policies, the national debt would rise by about $7 trillion over two terms in office, mostly as a result of his plans to cut the top corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 12.5 percent, eliminate estate and capital gains taxes, and replace the current tax code with an optional 15 percent flat tax.
Some homeowners will qualify for $3 billion in interest refinancing, something the banks have resisted since the ongoing depression began in late 2008.
What about those who got kicked out of their homes illegally? They split a pool of $1.5 billion. Sounds impressive. It's not. Mark Zuckerberg is worth $45 billion.
"That probably nets out to less than $2,000 a person," notes The Times. "There's no doubt that the banks are happy with this deal. You would be, too, if your bill for lying to courts and end-running the law came to less than $2,000 per loan file." ...
Tens of millions of homeowners have seen the value of their homes plummet since the housing crash. (The average home price fell from $270,000 in 2006 to $165,000 in 2011.) Those who are underwater tended not to have had much equity in their homes in the first place, having put down low downpayments. Why single them out for special assistance? Shouldn't people who owned their homes free and clear and those who had significant equity at the beginning of crisis get as much help as those who lost less in the first place? What about renters? Why should people who were well-off enough to afford to buy a home get a payoff ahead of poor renters?
The biggest fairness issue of all, of course, is one of simple justice. If you steal someone's house, you should go to jail. If your crimes are company policy, that company should be nationalized or forced out of business. Your victim should get his or her house back, plus interest and penalties. You shouldn't pay less than a speeding ticket for stealing a house.
The Supreme Court, in its conservative-movement-created wisdom, has ruled that billionaires and corporations -- even subsidiaries of foreign corporations -- can spend unlimited amounts in our elections. This has led to the super Pacs, where just a few billionaires and companies now dominate the elections and the things the candidates say and the policies they promote. And it is most of that money is used to run negative ads that run down candidates and destroy the public's faith in government and democracy.
This new election-funding system has our candidates trolling for billionaire and corporate dollars instead of coming up with policies and positions that serve the people. Did you think Republicans were talking about billionaires as "job creators" because it would get them votes? No, it is because vain, wealthy, greedy billionaires like to be described that way, and those politicians are trying to get them to loosen their wallets. Even if they lose the election they are looking for rewards -- lucrative jobs -- later. ...
The top 1% also own 50.9% of all stocks, bonds, and mutual fund assets. The top 10% own 90.3%.
However, a look at the biggest overall donors reveals who have been the biggest supporters of this whole campaign and the outsized level of support they've provided — and some indication of how they hope the race will play out. The limit on individual contributions that can go directly to a candidate is $2,500, but when giving to a super PAC the sky is the limit. And a handful of wealthy individuals have already crossed the $1 million threshold in giving.
By far the most generous contributor is Harold Simmons of Texas, though he has not played favorites during this election cycle. He gave more than $1 million to Rick Perry's super PAC last year (before he dropped out of the race), threw $500,000 to Newt Gingrich in December, quickly pivoted with a $100,000 check to the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future PAC, then went back to Gingrich with another $500,000 check. Perhaps he got confused by the names of the competing PACs — Restore Our Future (Romney) versus Winning the Future (Gingrich). Or as some have pointed out, anyone giving money to Gingrich at this point is really supporting Romney, since Newt's refusal to quit actually undermines Rick Santorum's chances.
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