Perspectives; Thoughts; Comments; Opinions; Discussions

Posts tagged ‘the economy’

Utility Company Wants to Cut Rates for Millions After Trump Tax Cuts


By Randy DeSoto | January 11, 2018 at 11:13am

URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournalism.com/utility-company-wants-cut-rates-millions-customers-trump-tax-cuts/

Arizona’s largest utility company is seeking permission to cut rates to its more than one million customers as a result of the Republican tax reform bill passed last month. The public corporation joined one of New England largest providers — serving liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s Massachusetts — in announcing it will do the same.

The news came as Walmart became another of a plethora of companies that will pay $1,000 bonuses and other benefits to its employees due to the windfall it will reap as a result of the corporate tax rate being lowered from 35 percent to 21 percent.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Arizona Power Service is seeking permission from regulators to cut bills by $119 million a year, effective on Feb. 1. Residential customers will see their monthly decrease by an average of $4.68 per month.

APS said more cuts could follow once the tax bill’s effects become more clear, according to the AP.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts-based utility Eversource, which serves over 3 million customers, announced earlier this month it wants to lower its rates as well.

“We believe it’s important that our customers reap the benefit of a lower tax rate,” Eversource Massachusetts Electric Operations President Craig Hallstrom said in a statement, according to WBUR. “As a regulated power company our rates are based on our costs, including federal taxes, so if taxes are reduced ultimately costs are reduced and that benefits our customers.”

Eversource seeks to reduce its rates by $35.4 million in eastern Massachusetts and lower its recently approved increase for the western part of the state from $24.8 million to $16.5 million.

The Bay State’s Democrat Attorney General Maura Healey is calling on all utilities serving Massachusetts residents to do the same.

On Wednesday, Fox News host Bret Baier questioned Warren, an outspoken critic of the GOP tax plan and President Donald Trump, about the decision by Eversource to lower its rates.

“Good for them. I’m delighted to hear that,” she replied, but added that she would move to change the new tax law if Democrats take back Congress in November.

“You’ve got to take out the parts that are giveaways to big corporations that right now, the Republicans plan for hardworking families to eventually pay for,” Warren said. “It is a $1.5 trillion that the Republicans gave away to billionaires and to giant corporations.”

“I want those breaks to go to hardworking families, not to a bunch of rich folks,” she added.

At his first Cabinet meeting of 2018 on Wednesday, Trump touted the benefits Americans at all income levels are already experiencing as a result of the tax law, including some that were unforeseen.

“Since that tax cut was enacted more than one million workers have received a tax cut bonus. Something that frankly no one even thought about,” he said. “We just knew a lot of good things were going to happen.”

“I must say AT&T was the first one, and they did it, $1,000 per employee,” he added. “They have hundreds of thousands of employees. And many companies followed immediately thereafter. Millions of employees in this country are getting $1,000 and more in some cases. Tax bonuses because of the tax cuts.”

He also pointed out the plan specifically targets working Americans by nearly doubling the standard deduction, making the first $12,000 earned income tax-free for individuals, and the first $24,000 for married couples. Additionally, the law doubles the child income tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted out the announcement by Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, that it was raising its U.S. minimum wage to $11 per hour and issuing a bonus of up to $1,000 to employees as a result of the lower corporate tax rates.

The corporation also plans to expand maternity and parental leave benefits.

Trump Returning to US with Over $250 Billion in Deals, China Announces ‘This Is Truly A Miracle’


Reported By Jack Davis | November 9, 2017 at 12:49pm

URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournalism.com/trump-returning-to-us-with-over-250-billion-in-deals-china-announces-this-is-truly-a-miracle/?

President Donald Trump announced Thursday roughly $250 billion in deals between American businesses and China. On his final day in Beijing, Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping oversaw a ceremony in which corporate giants such as Boeing and Qualcomm signed multibillion-dollar deals.

“This is truly a miracle,” China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said at a news briefing in Beijing.

Trump said Thursday he was looking forward to a change in the U.S.-China relationship.

“Discussing trade … knowing that the United States really has to change its policies because they’ve gotten so far behind on trade with China and frankly with many other countries,” he said.]

“And I have great respect for you with that because you’re representing China. But it’s too bad that past administrations allowed it to get so far out of kilter. But we’ll make it fair and it’ll be tremendous to both of us.”

Trump went out of his way to avoid alienating his host.

“Both the United States and China will have a more prosperous future if we can achieve a level economic playing field. Right now, unfortunately, it is a very one-sided and unfair one. But — but I don’t blame China,” he said. 

“After all, who can blame a country for being able to take advantage of another country for the benefit of its citizens? I give China great credit,” he said.

Trump did not cite former President Barack Obama by name, but he had him in mind.

“But, in actuality, I do blame past administrations for allowing this out-of-control trade deficit to take place and to grow. We have to fix this because it just doesn’t work for our great American companies, and it doesn’t work for our great American workers. It is just not sustainable. I look forward to working toward that goal and to pursuing fair and lasting engagement,” he said.

Trump pointed out that business connections can help create a more peaceful world.

“The contributions of the business community represented here today are vital to our efforts to ensure peace and prosperity for our two nations. Together, we can unlock a future of opportunity, wealth, and dignity far beyond anybody’s wildest dreams,” he said.

China could invest more than $100 billion into two U.S. energy projects, CNN reported.

The China Energy Investment Corp. agreed to a 20-year $83.7 billion investment in shale gas developments and chemical manufacturing projects in West Virginia.

“The massive size of this energy undertaking and level of collaboration between our two countries is unprecedented,” West Virginia Secretary of Commerce H. Wood Thrasher said in a statement, according to Reuters.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and the Alaskan government will work together to develop the state’s liquefied natural gas industry in a $43 billion project that Alaska says will create up to 12,000 jobs.

Qualcomm signed agreements worth $12 billion with Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, three Chinese handset makers.

Boeing will sell 300 Boeing jets to state-run China Aviation Suppliers in $37 billion deal.

Some said the deals offer a place to start a new trade relationship between the two nations.

“Generally, the sense was that this is all a good thing and that’s great,” said Gentry Sayad, a Shanghai-based lawyer who attended the trade delegation event in Beijing. “Now let’s see what really happens and whether or not the agreements signed during this trip can become a basis for a better bilateral trade relationship going forward.”

FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow


Reported

 
 
 

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.The first decision occurred in October 2010, when the State Department and government agencies on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States unanimously approved the partial sale of Canadian mining company Uranium One to the Russian nuclear giant Rosatom, giving Moscow control of more than 20 percent of America’s uranium supply.

When this sale was used by Trump on the campaign trail last year, Hillary Clinton’s spokesman said she was not involved in the committee review and noted the State Department official who handled it said she “never intervened … on any [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States] matter.”

In 2011, the administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015. That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

The Obama administration and the Clintons defended their actions at the time, insisting there was no evidence that any Russians or donors engaged in wrongdoing and there was no national security reason for any member of the committee to oppose the Uranium One deal.

But FBI, Energy Department and court documents reviewed by The Hill show the FBI in fact had gathered substantial evidence well before the committee’s decision that Vadim Mikerin — the main Russian overseeing Putin’s nuclear expansion inside the United States — was engaged in wrongdoing starting in 2009.

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

Spokesmen for Holder and Clinton did not return calls seeking comment. The Justice Department also didn’t comment.

Mikerin was a director of Rosatom’s Tenex in Moscow since the early 2000s, where he oversaw Rosatom’s nuclear collaboration with the United States under the Megatons to Megwatts program and its commercial uranium sales to other countries. In 2010, Mikerin was dispatched to the U.S. on a work visa approved by the Obama administration to open Rosatom’s new American arm called Tenam.

Between 2009 and January 2012, Mikerin “did knowingly and willfully combine, conspire confederate and agree with other persons … to obstruct, delay and affect commerce and the movement of an article and commodity (enriched uranium) in commerce by extortion,” a November 2014 indictment stated.

His illegal conduct was captured with the help of a confidential witness, an American businessman, who began making kickback payments at Mikerin’s direction and with the permission of the FBI. The first kickback payment recorded by the FBI through its informant was dated Nov. 27, 2009, the records show.

In evidentiary affidavits signed in 2014 and 2015, an Energy Department agent assigned to assist the FBI in the case testified that Mikerin supervised a “racketeering scheme” that involved extortion, bribery, money laundering and kickbacks that were both directed by and provided benefit to more senior officials back in Russia.

“As part of the scheme, Mikerin, with the consent of higher level officials at TENEX and Rosatom (both Russian state-owned entities) would offer no-bid contracts to US businesses in exchange for kickbacks in the form of money payments made to some offshore banks accounts,” Agent David Gadren testified.

“Mikerin apparently then shared the proceeds with other co-conspirators associated with TENEX in Russia and elsewhere,” the agent added.

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven, collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI.

The connections to the current Russia case are many. The Mikerin probe began in 2009 when Robert Mueller, now the special counsel in charge of the Trump case, was still FBI director. And it ended in late 2015 under the direction of then-FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired earlier this year.

Its many twist and turns aside, the FBI nuclear industry case proved a gold mine, in part because it uncovered a new Russian money laundering apparatus that routed bribe and kickback payments through financial instruments in Cyprus, Latvia and Seychelles. A Russian financier in New Jersey was among those arrested for the money laundering, court records show.

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap. But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged. The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

By that time, the criminal cases against Mikerin had been narrowed to a single charge of money laundering for a scheme that officials admitted stretched from 2004 to 2014. And though agents had evidence of criminal wrongdoing they collected since at least 2009, federal prosecutors only cited in the plea agreement a handful of transactions that occurred in 2011 and 2012, well after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United State’s approval.

The final court case also made no mention of any connection to the influence peddling conversations the FBI undercover informant witnessed about the Russian nuclear officials trying to ingratiate themselves with the Clintons even though agents had gathered documents showing the transmission of millions of dollars from Russia’s nuclear industry to an American entity that had provided assistance to Bill Clinton’s foundation, sources confirmed to The Hill.

The lack of fanfare left many key players in Washington with no inkling that a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme with serious national security implications had been uncovered.

On Dec. 15, 2015, the Justice Department put out a release stating that Mikerin, “a former Russian official residing in Maryland was sentenced today to 48 months in prison” and ordered to forfeit more than $2.1 million.

Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told The Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told The Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

“Not providing information on a corruption scheme before the Russian uranium deal was approved by U.S. regulators and engage appropriate congressional committees has served to undermine U.S. national security interests by the very people charged with protecting them,” he said. “The Russian efforts to manipulate our American political enterprise is breathtaking.”

Indictment Affidavit by M Mali on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/361782806/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-1KruSlw1gQLLv68Bb1ZB&show_recommendations=true

 

Warrant Affidavit by M Mali on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/361783030/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-N455a4bz5qQFSYWLdHvG&show_recommendations=true

 

 

Mikerin Plea Deal by M Mali on Scribd

https://www.scribd.com/embeds/361783782/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&access_key=key-9FqAb64N1wtBrEk5gxzZ&show_recommendations=true

Corporate Tax Cut Will Raise Middle-Class Wages


Reported 

URL of the original posting site: https://www.westernjournalism.com/corporate-tax-cut-will-raise-middle-class-wages/?

Advertisement – story continues below

A study released Monday by Kevin Hassett, President Donald Trump’s chief economist, gives a boost to Trump’s proposed corporate tax cut. The study shows that if the tax cut is implemented, the average family could see an income boost in the thousands of dollars.

The tax cut would lower the current rate of 35 percent to 20 percent. Based on “conservative estimates,” this decrease would boost the average household income by $4,000, the paper said. But more “moderate estimates” reveal increases of $9,000 per family.

“Put simply, capital deepening, which brings additional returns to the owners of capital, brings substantial returns to workers as well,” said the paper, which studied evidence from other countries that have lowered their corporate tax rates.

But Democrats have disapproved of Trump’s proposed tax cut from the start. They believe it will not benefit ordinary families, but only business themselves.

The new study will allow Republicans to offer a rebuttal.

Hassett, the chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, insists that American families would benefit the most from significantly lower corporate tax rates, more so than the companies themselves.

Advertisement – story continues below

“America’s broken corporate tax system creates incentives for firms to hold their money outside of our borders,” Hassett told reporters on Sunday, according to the Washington Examiner. “When firms hold their money overseas rather than invest them in America, they’re holding down the productivity of the American economy and the wages of American workers.”

The United States has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world, leading many companies to keep their profits abroad in lower-tax countries to avoid significant tax hits back home.

By cutting the tax rate, the idea is that companies would then invest more within the United States. This would cause a boost in productivity throughout the country.

This productivity would then boost wages, according to Hassett’s study.

“More assets like machines let workers produce more, and when workers can produce more, businesses can afford to pay their workers more,” Hassett said, as reported by The Hill. 

But some economists and tax policy experts have voiced their concerns about the tax cut directly benefiting workers. Although they agree this would attract companies to invest more in the United States economy, they cannot predict how much money will bring back home. There is also concern over what corporations will do with their tax savings.

Trump announced his tax proposal during a September a speech in Indianapolis. Calling it a “revolutionary change,” he said it would boost wages to “levels that you haven’t seen in many years,” according to The New York Times. 

China Announces It Will Implement Tough Sanctions Against North Korea


Reported 

URL of the original posting site: http://www.westernjournalism.com/china-announces-will-implement-tough-sanctions-north-korea/

For the second time in recent days, China took a major step to put pressure on North Korea to resolve its standoff with the United States over North Korea’s missile development efforts. The Chinese government announced Monday it will implement the sanctions that were imposed against North Korea by the United Nations on Aug. 5.

The Security Council sanctions block nations from accepting North Korea’s primary exports, including coal, iron, iron ore, lead and seafood. The sanctions also target other revenue streams, such as banks and joint ventures with foreign companies. The sanctions could cost North Korea a third of its $3 billion annual export revenue.

Although China did not block the sanctions at the U.N., it was unclear until the announcement whether China, which is North Korea’s largest trading partner, would implement them. China also faces possible action from President Donald Trump, who has said he may order an investigation into allegations of unfair Chinese trade practices.

“It is obviously improper to use one thing as a tool to imposing pressure on another thing,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday. “There will be no winner from a trade war, it will be lose-lose.”

Advertisement – story continues below

China’s action to implement the sanctions came days after a state-run newspaper said that if North Korea attacks the United States, it will fight any war that results on its own.

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” the Global Times editorial said.

Throughout the escalation of tensions between the United States and North Korea, China has called for restraint.

“The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement Friday.

“China hopes that all relevant parties will be cautious in their words and actions, and do things that help to alleviate tensions and enhance mutual trust, rather than walk on the old pathway of taking turns in shows of strength, and upgrading the tensions,” he said.

Writing in The Washington Post, David Von Drehle said China needs to emerge from the North Korean-American showdown with a win.

” … the audience of greatest concern to China — namely, the other leading countries in the region, including Japan, India, Australia, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam — faces the urgent question of whether they can trust a rising China to share in safeguarding their sphere. If the problem of Kim isn’t defused, those nations are sure to seek even deeper alliances with the United States while building their own military capacity. China’s regional influence will shrink rather than grow,” he wrote.

Trump Administration Announces Progress In War On Regulations


Reported 

URL of the original posting site: http://www.westernjournalism.com/trump-administration-announces-progress-war-regulations/

The long arm of government regulation has grown considerably shorter in the first months of the Trump administration. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said regulatory reform is intended to address “that slow cancer that can come from regulatory burdens that we put on our people.”

Federal agencies have withdrawn 469 regulations that had been proposed by the Obama administration last fall, according to information from the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. That total included 19 regulations with an economic impact of $100 million or more, the White House said.

The White House said 391 regulations have been delayed for further evaluation and consideration.

According to the White House, during the final five months of fiscal 2016, the Obama administration put in place rules that imposed $6.8 billion in annual costs on the economy. The White House said rules imposed in the Trump administration’s first five months have imposed no costs.

“It’s really the beginning of a kind of fundamental regulatory reform,” Neomi Rao, head of the office, said Wednesday.

Some Trump administration rules are devoted to killing other rules. For example, the Interior Department plans to reduce the paperwork burden for outdoorsmen, fish restoration programs and Native American tribes, while the Labor Department wants to change the approval process for new apprenticeship programs.

There is a substantial withdrawal and rollback of proposed regulatory actions,” Rao said. “It is also important to note that what we are doing now is in some ways fulfilling a number of longstanding principles that other presidents have always talked about.”

Trump’s approach to regulations has been cheered by business.

“We just got through eight years of a regulatory onslaught, aimed at curtailing oil and gas production. So we are very supportive of the administration’s efforts to roll back regulation,” said Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance, which represents oil and gas drillers in Western states.

Rao noted that while reducing regulations is a major goal of the Trump administration, it cannot be done instantly.

“Deregulation is going to take time,” she said. “It is not something you can just do at the snap of a finger.”

“Agencies want to move quickly to get things done, to fulfill their priorities,” she said, adding that her office would be working with agencies to be sure they follow the law and are “doing things the right way.”

Former Clinton Staffer Pays Trump Unexpected Compliment


Reported 

URL of the original posting site: http://conservativetribune.com/former-clinton-top-staffer-trump/

Advertisement – story continues below

President Donald Trump’s economic policies have had a positive impact on the American business climate, and his allies aren’t the only ones who have noticed. In fact, Mack McLarty, the chief of staff for former president Bill Clinton, recently suggested during an MSNBC interview that Democrats should adopt a more Trump-like message when it comes to jobs and the economy.

McLarty argued that instead of just being anti-Trump, Democrats needed to “stand for something,” including a serious approach to strengthening the economy.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the message should be a real focus on jobs and how were really going to broaden and strengthen this economy,” McLarty said. “President Trump has proposed some ways to do that in terms of infrastructure development and tax reform, all hard but doable.”

The former Clinton staffer was commenting on responses to a question a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll that indicated only 37 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party stands for something, and 52 percent think the Democrats only stand against Trump.

“They’ve got to do more than just stand against Trump,” McLarty said. “I think it’s always difficult when you’re in the minority to come out with a coherent, broad message.”

So far, however, the message from Democrats has been fairly simple: “Trump is bad.” In fact, current Democrat lawmakers have spent the majority of the year finding ways to undermine Trump’s presidency or poke holes in the legitimacy of his election.

It’s easy to say that you disagree with someone’s political stance, but simply disagreeing with the president won’t — or shouldn’t — be enough to get you elected. Instead, you must have solid, effective policy ideas of your own. Unfortunately for Democrats, they’re still clinging to the same failed policies that plagued the country under former President Barack Obama’s administration.

And as we saw in the 2016 presidential election, those policies won’t get you elected anymore — which is probably why McLarty is advising his party to look to Trump for inspiration on how to appeal to voters.

H/T The Daily Caller

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: