Rich Rig Taxes, Run U.S.

For the Wealthiest, a Private Tax System That Saves Them Billions
The very richest are able to quietly shape tax policy that will allow them to shield billions in income.
By NOAM SCHEIBER and PATRICIA COHEN  DEC. 29, 2015  source

 

Daniel S. Loeb, shown with his wife, Margaret, runs the $17 billion Third Point hedge fund. Mr. Loeb, who has owned a home in East Hampton, has contributed to Jeb Bush’s super PAC and given $1 million to the American Unity Super PAC, which supports gay rights. CreditLeft: Patrick McMullan Company; Right: Doug Kuntz

WASHINGTON — The hedge fund magnates Daniel S. Loeb, Louis Moore Bacon and Steven A. Cohen have much in common. They have managed billions of dollars in capital, earning vast fortunes. They have invested large sums in art — and millions more in political candidates.  Moreover, each has exploited an esoteric tax loophole that saved them millions in taxes. The trick? Route the money to Bermuda and back.

With inequality at its highest levels in nearly a century and public debate rising over whether the government should respond to it through higher taxes on the wealthy, the very richest Americans have financed a sophisticated and astonishingly effective apparatus for shielding their fortunes. Some call it the “income defense industry,” consisting of a high-priced phalanx of lawyers, estate planners, lobbyists and anti-tax activists who exploit and defend a dizzying array of tax maneuvers, virtually none of them available to taxpayers of more modest means.

In recent years, this apparatus has become one of the most powerful avenues of influence for wealthy Americans of all political stripes, including Mr. Loeb and Mr. Cohen, who give heavily to Republicans, and the liberal billionaire George Soros, who has called for higher levies on the rich while at the same time using tax loopholes to bolster his own fortune.

All are among a small group providing much of the early cash for the 2016 presidential campaign.

Operating largely out of public view — in tax court, through arcane legislative provisions and in private negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service — the wealthy have used their influence to steadily whittle away at the government’s ability to tax them. The effect has been to create a kind of private tax system, catering to only several thousand Americans.

The impact on their own fortunes has been stark. Two decades ago, when Bill Clinton was elected president, the 400 highest-earning taxpayers in America paid nearly 27 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to I.R.S. data. By 2012, when President Obama was re-elected, that figure had fallen to less than 17 percent, which is just slightly more than the typical family making $100,000 annually, when payroll taxes are included for both groups.

The ultra-wealthy “literally pay millions of dollars for these services,” said Jeffrey A. Winters, a political scientist at Northwestern University who studies economic elites, “and save in the tens or hundreds of millions in taxes.”

Some of the biggest current tax battles are being waged by some of the most generous supporters of 2016 candidates. They include the families of the hedge fund investors Robert Mercer, who gives to Republicans, and James Simons, who gives to Democrats; as well as the options trader Jeffrey Yass, a libertarian-leaning donor to Republicans.

Mr. Yass’s firm is litigating what the agency deemed to be tens of millions of dollars in underpaid taxes. Renaissance Technologies, the hedge fund Mr. Simons founded and which Mr. Mercer helps run, is currently under review by the I.R.S. over a loophole that saved their fund an estimated $6.8 billion in taxes over roughly a decade, according to a Senate investigation. Some of these same families have also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to conservative groups that have attacked virtually any effort to raises taxes on the wealthy.
For the Richest, Lower Taxes
The average tax rate for the ultra-wealthy has fallen dramatically.

Top 400 earners

While Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have pledged to raise taxes on these voters, virtually every Republican has advanced policies that would vastly reduce their tax bills, sometimes to as little as 10 percent of their income.

At the same time, most Republican candidates favor eliminating the inheritance tax, a move that would allow the new rich, and the old, to bequeath their fortunes intact, solidifying the wealth gap far into the future. And several have proposed a substantial reduction — or even elimination — in the already deeply discounted tax rates on investment gains, a foundation of the most lucrative tax strategies.

“There’s this notion that the wealthy use their money to buy politicians; more accurately, it’s that they can buy policy, and specifically, tax policy,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities who served as chief economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “That’s why these egregious loopholes exist, and why it’s so hard to close them.”

Louis Moore Bacon, shown with his wife, Gabrielle, is the founder of a highly successful hedge fund and a leading contributor to Jeb Bush’s super PAC. Among his homes is one on Robins Island, off Long Island.CreditLeft: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg News, via Getty Images

 

 

“We do have two different tax systems, one for normal wage-earners and another for those who can afford sophisticated tax advice,” said Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of San Diego who studies the intersection of tax policy and inequality. “At the very top of the income distribution, the effective rate of tax goes down, contrary to the principles of a progressive income tax system.”

Aticle continues . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicholas Confessore contributed reporting and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

Horseback Riding Therapy

Susan volunteers at Partners for Progress which provides riding therapy for special needs kids, guided by physical and occupational therapists. Besides assisting on rides, she grooms and and exercises horses.  Now she has resumed riding herself. This picture is from a show in which clients performed.      RJN                 pfp show

Shannon is the rider,  She has no use of her legs and some other challenges, but she won first place in this class.  Sara, a volunteer is leading.  Dustin is staff at PFP, the director’s son.  I am the other side walker.  They loaned me a PFP show shirt, however was a man’s XXL, I have miles of it tucked in my jeans.  Ty is a horse new to the barn on loan.   Susan

“Adorable” Little Purple Squid

 

Adorable Stubby Squid Found Off the Coast of Southern California
Researchers aboard the E/V Nautilus happened across a particularly cute stubby squid

By Jason Daley
SMITHSONIAN.COM 
AUGUST 17, 2016

VIDEO at source

Scientists try to maintain their composure when conducting research. But researchers aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus couldn’t help but get excited when they happened upon a goofy-looking, googly eyed purple squid while mapping the seafloor off southern California last week.

The creature was a stubby squid, Rossia pacifica, a species that lives in the Pacific ocean from Japan to southern California. The creature was just sitting out in the open on the sea floor when the crew spotted it. “It looks so fake,” one of the researchers says in a video of the encounter. “It looks like some little kid dropped their toy.”

The creature does look strange, like its eyes were painted on its bright purple body by a child. But Samantha Wishnak, a science communication fellow aboard the E/V Nautilus, tells Kacey Deamer at Live Science that things only get weirder from there. “They actually have this pretty awesome superpower, they can turn on a little sticky mucus jacket over their body and sort of collect bits of sand or pebbles or whatever they’re burrowing into and make a really nice camouflage jacket,” she says. “When they go to ambush something and prey on something, they’re able to sort of turn off that mucus jacket.”

The researchers were lucky, says Wishnak, to see the little squid out in the open since the nocturnal predator typically hides in the sediment in its jacket waiting for prey. She also says most of the scientists watching the feed from the ROV were geologists and ecologists unfamiliar with deep sea species, so they were much more excited to see the crazy-looking creature than seasoned marine biologists. Biologists watching the video feed on shore identified the little squid.

The E/V Nautilus is a research vessel funded by Titanic discoverer Robert Ballard’s nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust. Its mission is to map and research little-explored regions of Earth’s oceans, often streaming live footage of their research to scientists and ocean lovers around the world.

The Nautilus, along with NOAA’s deep sea research vessel, the Okeanos Explorer, has provided a steady stream of images and video, capturing spectacular deep sea creatures in recent months. Just two weeks ago, Nautilus made headlines by discovering a strange purple orb in California’s Channel Islands, which may be a new species of pleurobranch, a genus of sea slugs. Researchers also documented a ghost-like octopus in Hawaii. And in May, the Okeanos ventured to the Challenger Deep, the deepest spot in the ocean, and found dozens of new and interesting species, including an animated-looking glowing jellyfish.

The Nautilus is now leaving southern California for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary outside San Francisco where it will explore the wreck of the aircraft carrier USS Independence as well as venture through deep sea habitats and coral.

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Description

The stubby squid is a small species growing to a maximum mantle length of about 5 cm (2.0 in) and a total length of 11 cm (4.3 in), with females being larger than males. The head bears eight short arms, a pair of retractable tentacles and two large eyes. The first pair of arms is shorter than the others and the third pair the longest. The arms are circular in cross-section and each bears up to four rows of suckers on the middle section and two rows elsewhere. In the male the tips of the first pair of arms are hypercotyli, secondary reproductive structures which are modified for handling spermatophores (bundles of sperm). The tentacles have club-shaped tips with suckers and retract into pits in the head. They can be as long as the body when fully extended. The mantle (body) is not fused to the head and is flattened dorso-ventrally and rounded at the back. It does not contain the cuttlefish bone typical of cuttlefish in the family Sepiidae. There are two large semi-circular fins with wide bases on either side of the mantle. The upper surface of this bobtail squid is normally a reddish-brown colour with a scattering of small brown or yellowish spots, but can change to greyish-green when the animal is startled.  Wikipedia

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/adorable-stubby-squid-found-southern-california-180960160/#ZFUCuLrVKMjMgLbf.99

Blog Business

Thanks to John, we know how busy the blog has been.

Busiest months this year have been:                                                                 January–87 visits        April–87 visits      June–107 visits

REPLIES from blog visitors are always interesting, and I appreciate them.

WE NEED  posts from anyone and everyone.  Got a funny, strange, or personally important story?  Please write it up, send it to me.  I’ll edit and post it, and everyone will enjoy it.

RJN

Manatees

 

VIDEO with lots of details about manatees.

 

Image result for photos manatee

For a long time I had wanted to see manatees, big slow plant-eating mammals  in the coastal waters around Florida.  A few years ago Alice and I were Florida for a Penn State bowl game in Orlando when a cold snap hit that whole part of the state.

Manatees cannot tolerate water temperature below 68 degrees; they suffer stress that can be fatal.  When they are not near a source of warm water like a nuclear plant, they swim up rivers toward warm springs.  As we were looking around the area, we happened on a state park where about 30 manatees were lying  side-by-side in a stream, trying to stay warm.

In another place, on the coast, we found a place where people care for injured manatees.  Among other problems manatees have are careless power boat drivers who run over them,  propellers tearing up their backs.

RJN

 

 

 

“Never expected to see this day”

 

Delegate to Democratic Convention was born before women achieved the national right to vote in 1920.

At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, 102-year-old Geraldine (Jerry) Emmett excitedly announced that Arizona cast 51 votes for Hillary Clinton, after spending decades in political activism.

Jerry Emmett, Arizona's oldest delegate, announced that the state cast 51 votes for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.
 Read more at source.
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After a hard-fought series of votes in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures, the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920. It states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  Wikipedia  has a thorough article on women’s long struggle for the right to vote.

The Donald Wins in Bankruptcies

When Trump’s casino in Atlantic City went bankrupt, lots of workers and contractors got stiffed.  Asked about this, The Donald said, “I did what was best for my company”.

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Photo

A deputy New Jersey attorney general wrote in 2007 that Donald J. Trump’s flagship casino, the Taj Mahal, had reported that it paid $2.2 million in alternative minimum assessment tax in 2003, which was not true. It had paid only $500 in income taxes. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

By the time Chris Christie became governor of New Jersey, the state’s auditors and lawyers had been battling for several years to collect long-overdue taxes owed by the casinos founded by his friend Donald J. Trump.

The total, with interest, had grown to almost $30 million. The state had doggedly pursued the matter through two of the casinos’ bankruptcy cases and even accused the company led by Mr. Trump of filing false reports with state casino regulators about the amount of taxes it had paid.

But the year after Governor Christie, a Republican, took office, the tone of the litigation shifted. The state entertained settlement offers. And in December 2011, after six years in court, the state agreed to accept just $5 million, roughly 17 cents on the dollar of what auditors said the casinos owed.

Tax authorities sometimes settle for lesser amounts to avoid the costs and risks of further litigation, legal experts said, but the steep discount granted to the Trump casinos and the relationship between the two men raise inevitable questions about special treatment.

“You can’t tell whether there’s something problematic, but it’s pretty striking that this one was written down so much,” said David Skeel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who specializes in bankruptcy law and reviewed the case at the request of The New York Times.

The refusal by Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, to release his personal income tax returns has become a growing issue in the campaign. He has also boasted of his success in lowering his tax burden as a businessman, declaring last year in an interview on Fox News that only “a stupid person, a really stupid person, is paying a lot of taxes.”

By that measure, the deal with New Jersey looks remarkably shrewd. The casinos did far better, for example, than those that benefited from a program Mr. Christie introduced in 2014 under which the state agreed to consider reducing penalties for delinquent taxpayers but only if they caught up on all overdue taxes and interest.

Public records do not create a clear picture of how the agreement was reached. A spokeswoman for Mr. Trump said she would be in touch regarding questions sent to her. But she did not reply further or respond to subsequent messages.

Photo

 
Mr. Trump and Gov. Chris Christie at a campaign rally in Texas in February. Mr. Trump has given Mr. Christie, a longtime friend, the task of heading his transition committee. CreditCooper Neill for The New York Times

Brian Murray, a spokesman for Mr. Christie, said the governor had not been aware of the tax dispute and, therefore, could not comment on the terms of the settlement.

The Times discovered the agreement during a review of the thousands of documents filed in the bankruptcies of Mr. Trump’s casinos. The taxes went unpaid from 2002 through 2006, during which time Mr. Trump was leading the company as chairman and, until 2005, as its chief executive. He reaped millions of dollars in fees and bonuses from the company, even as it underperformed competitors, lost money every year and saw its stock collapse.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Christie met in 2002, when Mr. Christie was the United States attorney for New Jersey. Mr. Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry, then a federal judge in the state, had mentioned to Mr. Christie that her famous brother would like to meet him. They struck up a friendship. Mr. Christie was invited to Mr. Trump’s third wedding in 2005, and Mr. Trump was a prominent guest at Mr. Christie’s inauguration in 2010. They have double dated with their wives.

Their bond has occasionally included financial largess from Mr. Trump. His foundation made large donations to the Drumthwacket Foundation, which finances maintenance and improvements to New Jersey’s historic governor’s residence, after Mr. Christie became its honorary chairman. Mr. Trump also made large contributions to the Republican Governors Association when Mr. Christie was its chairman.

After attacking Mr. Christie during the recent Republican primary contest, Mr. Trump seriously considered choosing him as his running mate before picking Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana. But Mr. Christie has remained a vocal supporter and was given a prominent speaking role at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, and Mr. Trump has given his friend the task of heading his transition committee.

“Donald and I, along with Melania and Mary Pat, have been friends for over a decade,” Mr. Christie said when he endorsed Mr. Trump in February. “He has been a good and loyal friend.”

The state corporate tax at the center of the dispute went into effect in 2002. It was called the alternative minimum assessment and was created, in part, to prevent businesses from avoiding taxes through accounting maneuvers.

An executive with the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey testified at a state hearing in 2003 that Atlantic City casinos saw their state tax liability quadruple, primarily because of the new alternative minimum tax, during its first year. But the Trump casinos decided the tax did not apply to them, according to court filings.

After the Trump casinos filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004 for the third time, state officials noticed the company had not been filling out the required schedule for the minimum tax assessment. The Trump casinos had reported losing money and paid a little more than $600,000 in state income taxes in 2002, and only $1,500 in 2003. State auditors determined that the Trump casinos should have paid $8.8 million in alternative minimum taxes for those two years, according to court records.

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Inside the Trump Taj Mahal. Though he was pushed out of running the company he founded, Mr. Trump said he would stay “very involved” with the casino company that would continue to bear his name. CreditMark Makela for The New York Times

The company filed an administrative protest with the state, but it was rejected. The company’s lawyers continued to fight the state’s claim in bankruptcy court, arguing that the tax was unconstitutional and that it should not apply to the Trump casinos because they were organized as partnerships.

State lawyers also found other irregularities in the company’s tax filings.

In February 2007, Heather Lynn Anderson, a deputy attorney general who specializes in tax cases, filed papers in court saying auditors had discovered discrepancies that raised “numerous additional questions regarding the accuracy” of the Trump casinos’ tax returns. The company had reported lower revenue figures on its tax returns, for example, than on filings with the State Casino Control Commission. Ms. Anderson also wrote that Mr. Trump’s flagship casino, the Taj Mahal, had reported to the casino commission that it paid $2.2 million in alternative minimum assessment tax in 2003, which was not true. The company had paid only $500 in income taxes.

The state’s claim still had not been resolved by early 2009, when the Trump casinos filed for bankruptcy protection yet again. By then, the state said the total due, with interest, had risen to $29.4 million.

Mr. Christie’s name actually appeared in the bankruptcy cases during those years, when he was the United States attorney for New Jersey, and more than a dozen briefs were filed under his name as representing the federal Internal Revenue Service in its own claims against the Trump casinos. But the case was handled by an I.R.S. lawyer. Mr. Murray, the governor’s spokesman, said Mr. Christie had no supervisory role in pursuing the agency’s claims.

After Mr. Christie became governor, his friendship with Mr. Trump occasionally made celebrity news. In March 2011, The New York Post’s gossip column, Page Six, reported that the two men and their wives double dated at Jean-Georges, a luxury restaurant in Mr. Trump’s tower at Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

By then, Mr. Trump had been pushed out of running the company he founded, after his efforts to hang on through bankruptcy were thwarted by investors. But he still had financial ties to the company.

When he testified in support of the plan to reorganize the company without his direct leadership, Mr. Trump said he would stay “very involved” with the casino company that would continue to bear his name. He remained a large shareholder, controlling 10 percent of the company’s stock. And in October 2011, the company announced it had entered a joint venture with Mr. Trump and his daughter Ivanka to pursue online gambling should it become legal.

“We think we have the hottest brand there is, the Trump brand, my personal brand,” Mr. Trump told The Associated Press. “We think it’s going to do phenomenally well.”

(The joint venture agreement expired before New Jersey approved online gambling in 2013.)

Around the same time, the tone of the tax litigation softened. Ms. Anderson notified the judge in the case that the two sides were in settlement discussions. On Dec. 5, 2011, New Jersey and the Trump casino company filed a settlement agreement with the court showing that the state would accept $5 million, paid in two installments, on a tab of about $30 million.

National Polling Average

Aug 16, 2016, 1:29 PM ET

Hillary Clinton   45%

Donald J. Trump   39%

 

By the time of the settlement, the industry was suffering a long slide that had started in 2006. The Trump company had just sold one of its casinos, Trump Marina Hotel Casino, for $38 million.

A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, Leland Moore, said the settlement was approved largely because of the risks of continuing to fight in bankruptcy court and the “concerns about the future ability of the casinos to pay their tax debts.”

The Trump casinos may not have been able to afford their long overdue taxes, but they did not turn suddenly spartan, either. They continued to rent a helicopter from Mr. Trump for $390,000 a year, until they filed for bankruptcy again in 2014.

Mr. Moore declined to release the titles of officials who approved the settlement, except to say it was agreed to by officials from both the attorney general’s office and the State Division of Taxation.

Mr. Christie was close to the attorney general at the time, Paula T. Dow, whom he had appointed and who worked for him as a prosecutor at the United States attorney’s office. A week after the settlement was signed, Mr. Christie announced that he was appointing Ms. Dow to the counsel’s office of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey until he could find her the judgeship that she desired.

“I think you all know that Paula Dow has been one of my most trusted advisers for the last 10 years,” Mr. Christie said at the time.

The Trump casinos did agree to pay more than $1 million in other taxes that the state sought in the bankruptcy cases.

Ms. Anderson, the deputy attorney general, had also prevailed over the Trump casinos in a separate case in which the company had sought a $2.7 million refund of sales taxes. She declined to discuss the cases. But her husband, Joseph Rival, has made his thoughts publicly known. He once referred to Mr. Trump as a “tax cheat” in a Twitter post. Another Twitter commenter pushed him to say which tax Mr. Trump had cheated. Mr. Rival, a conservative voter, wrote: “The State of New Jersey. He had to pay up millions, I know the lawyer that beat him.”

On another date, he posted, “My wife’s beaten him in tax court more than once.”

The settlement was one of the last disputes in that bankruptcy case, and it was finally closed in January 2012.

The following month, Page Six reported that the Christies and the Trumps were again double dating at Jean-Georges.

Economics: The Donald vs. Hilary

How Did Trump’s And Clinton’s Economic Policy Speeches Compare?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton delivered competing economic speeches this week.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton delivered competing economic speeches this week.   Mary Altaffer and Chuck Burton/AP

Despite the vast differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, there were some striking similarities between the economic speeches they delivered this week. They both spoke in Michigan, where they both talked a lot about manufacturing, with both of them insisting that they would obtain fairer trade deals.

That’s because both candidates are trying to latch onto — and insist that they can alleviate — a pervasive feeling among Americans that they just can’t get ahead, and that it’s related to a fast-changing U.S. economy. The candidates, of course, diverge vastly on many issues, but they also have some surprising areas of agreement.

Below, listen to what they said on five different policy areas, and read how the two candidates differ.


Trade

“That is why I have announced we will withdraw from the deal before that can ever happen. Hillary Clinton will never withdraw from the TPP. She is bought, controlled and paid-for by her donors and special interests. Because my only interest is the American people, I have previously laid out a detailed 7-point plan for trade reform, available on my website. It includes strong protections against currency manipulation, tariffs against any countries that cheat by unfairly subsidizing their goods, and it includes a renegotiation of NAFTA. If we don’t get a better deal, we will walk away.” — Donald Trump

 

“But the answer is not to rant and rave – or to cut ourselves off from the world. That would end up killing even more jobs. The answer is to finally make trade work for us, not against us. So my message, my message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this: I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as President.” — Hillary Clinton

Trump and Clinton had a similar basic message on trade: I’m for trade deals; just not these trade deals.

Trump, for example, said he would “walk away” if a renegotiation of NAFTA didn’t turn out the way he wanted. And as he later added: “Trade has big benefits, and I am in favor of trade. But I want great trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers.” He also warned that the Trans Pacific Partnership would mean a million lost manufacturing jobs.

As for what he would do, in that seven-point trade plan he said he would label China a currency manipulator (people accuse China of manipulating its currency’s value to exports cheap, meaning other countries’ consumers would buy more), crack down on intellectual property theft, and impose tariffs on countries that “cheat.”

Clinton likewise says that she doesn’t want the U.S. “to cut ourselves off from the world” and that trade can “work for us.” But she also — like Trump — had strong words against TPP: “I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election, and I’ll oppose it as President.”

And she had many echoes of Trump in her speech — she said in her speech that she would impose “targeted tariffs” on companies that “break the rules.” Like Trump, she also pointed to currency manipulation and intellectual property theft as a problem.

Trump’s rejection of trade deals fits with one of his own broader campaign narratives: rejecting the establishment. Many Republicans — and, importantly, the Chamber of Commerce, which has given heavy financial support to Republican candidates — support free trade. This is just one way Trump thumbs his nose at more traditional Republican ideas.


Infrastructure

“A big part of our plan will be unleashing the power of the private sector to create more jobs at higher pay. And that means for us, creating an infrastructure bank to get private funds off the sidelines and complement our public investments. $25 billion in government seed funding could unlock more than $250 billion and really get our country moving on our infrastructure plans.” — Hillary Clinton

But we are going to look boldly into the future. We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports and airports. That believe me folks is what our country deserves. American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation.” — Donald Trump

Another area in which Clinton and Trump broadly agree: both want to ramp up infrastructure spending.

Clinton has said she wants to spend $275 billion over five years (with additional private spending, eventually). She’s proposed an infrastructure bank — an idea that has been around in Washington for decades now (at times, with bipartisan support, though it has been more of a Democratic cause in recent years) but that continually fails to gain much traction.

The basic idea is that the government would start a fund — in Clinton’s case, $25 billion — and use it to finance major projects, for example through loans and loan guarantees (this CBO report is a good background). This can help spur new private investment that construction projects do not currently attract, as the left-leaning Center for American Progressexplained in a 2012 report.

Trump likewise in his speech touted infrastructure spending, though he didn’t get into detail. However, he has explained those details elsewhere:he has seemed close to Clinton on the idea that something like an infrastructure bank would be the way to fund those projects, as the Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos wrote earlier this year, with Americans buying “infrastructure bonds.”

However, he has said he wants to spend $500 billion or more on infrastructure, nearly double what Clinton wants to spend. Because interest rates are low right now, he has said, it is a great time to borrow. This puts him at odds with current Republican economic principles, which havefocused more on reducing deficits.


Personal Taxes

“And Wall Street corporations, and the super-rich should finally pay their fair share of taxes. That’s why I support the so-called Buffett Rule, because multi-millionaires should not be able to pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries. We should also add a new tax on multi-millionaires, crack down on tax gaming by corporations, and close the carried interest loophole – something I’ve advocated for years.” — Hillary Clinton

Grandfather

Our Dad used to take important mail to the postoffice in the nearby City of
Evanston rather than the one in our little  Village of Skokie.

One time he told my brother Tom and me that he was going to drive to Evanston and we could go along.  We were glad to jump into the car.  A little exciting for kids maybe seven and eight.

In Evanston, Dad pulled to the curb and stopped.  He probably said something like, “Wait here for a few minutes.”  He got out, walked up to the sidewalk, and shook hands with an old man in a long black overcoat.  After they talked for maybe ten minutes,   Dad returned to the car and resumed the errand.  Tom or I said, “Who’s that man, Dad.

Dad answered, “That’s my father,”

Only time I ever saw him.

RJN

Family Business !

 

Image result for water tower chicago photosLoyola’s Lewis Towers is the smaller dark building behind the Water Tower.

 

While I was attending Loyola U. in Chicago, our dad let me work in his office in the Chicago Loop with flexible hours and a fair wage.

 

The Burnham Center in Chicago. Photo by Steven W. Sabourin

 

I enjoyed the mile walk from Chicago and Michigan Avenues to the office at 111 W. Washington St.  Time passed easily with various clerical tasks.  And I liked working alone on Saturday mornings.

Image result for photo old typewriter

 

The two others in the office were secretary Mrs. O’Brien and bookkeeper Mr. Keeley,  Mrs, O’Brien was nice, and good at her job.  All the furniture and equipment in the office was old*, including her typewriter.  *  To shift for a capital letter, one would press the shift key with the little finger, raising the type basket with the little finger.  That wasn’t easy– Mrs, O’Brien  used her thumbs and struck hard.

Image result for friden calculator

Jim Keeley had the one good machine :  A Friden mechanical calculator,  To multiply, it added all the numbers, very fast; to divide it made all the required subtractions:  clickety, clickety, clickety . . .   We had a room full of them at Loyola.  I never caught on to the operation.

Mr. Keeley had been paymaster on some big construction jobs, was a pianist with two grand pianos in his Oak Park apartment.  He hated winter and dreamed of living in California.

Dad could be unpleasant  when something went wrong.**  One time he gave me a handwritten order and said, “Call this in to the pit in Indiana and mail; a confirmation.  Substantial order: 200 railroad cars of #2 sand and 1 car of limestone dust. Seemed like a promotion to me and I made the call.  A little later, Dad called me in to his office, said, “So and so in Indiana just called to tell me that his  boy had ordered his entire year’s production of limestone dust!  Yup, I had switched the numbers.  Dad chewed me out pretty well.

I made my worst mistake once when I was addressing envelopes for invoices prepared by Jim Keeley, sealing and stamping them.  One invoice carried a special price for a special customer in a special situation, supposed to be a secret.  Yup, I mailed it to a different customer who was not getting  special price.  He of course chewed out Dad who in turn laid some very stern language on me.

* Until Dad had his office modernized.

** A long time before Keeley and me, Dad had a bookkeeper who cooked the books to avoid reporting bad monthly news, fearing Dad’s reaction.  Must have been crushing for Dad to find out he had been enjoying a fantasy, maybe adjusting family expenditures accordiingly.  Thereafter, he hired a CPA to close the books each month.

It was fun to walk in the city with Dad.  Sometimes he took me to a hotel for lunch.

Nearby the office, in the Knickerbocker Hotel dining room, I  saw something doubly strange–a black man was eating in the dining room.  He was blind.  Dad said he was a lawyer.

After his army service, my older brother Jim  went to work for Dad.  I know it wasn’t easy.  Dad resisted change, so new ideas like selling the plastic  pipe, now common, were not welcome. Dad tried to run the business from his hospital bed, and it was all on Jim after Dad died.

RJN