Archive for February, 2012

San Jose Makes Up Fhony Budget Too Steal From City Pensions


San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a Democrat, is pushing a ballot measure that would cut city employee pensions and is basing his case on a pension liability number that was made up, he was told not to use, and overstates the real liability by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. Reed based his claims of a crisis on a figure of a $650 million city contribution to pension costs for the next five years on a comment from Russell Crosby, director of retirement services for the city of San Jose. Crosby has since said that he made the number up off the top of his head and that he told Reed not to use the number. The number overestimates the actual costs by more than $200 million. The San Jose Police Officers’ Association, San Jose Firefighters Local 230, and the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 have since filed an ethics complaint against Reed and others for misleading the public.

Affected San Jose workers and citizens have already given up pay and benefits that will save the city more than $340 million over the next four years. They have already proposed a solution that would save the city nearly half a billion dollars more. Reed and the city council are ignoring the proposed solution and Reed has refused to back down from his support for the $650 million lie. Instead they are focused on a ballot initiative that the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees say is unconstitutional. Reed and the council can withdraw the initiative at their March 6 meeting.

Those who oppose Reed’s scheme can take action.

Tags: AFSCME, American Federation of State County
and Municipal Employees, Chuck Reed, Labor, pensions, San Jose

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Colorado’s New Public Disservice Adversiting Campaign


By Amy Mall, NRDC

This post was originally published at Switchboard, NRDC’s staff blog

There is something unusual about the latest newspaper and radio advertisements from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA). While there is nothing new about the oil and gas industry spending money to convince Americans that fracking is safe, what sets the latest ads apart from typical industry propaganda is that the spokesperson in these ads is Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

In the radio ad, the Governor states that Colorado has not had “one instance of groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing” since Colorado enacted some new rules in 2008. It’s true that Colorado’s 2008 rules were a vast improvement compared to the previous rules.

But that doesn’t mean that the rules are strong enough, that all fracking activities are safe in Colorado, or that human health and the environment are sufficiently protected. The 2008 rules were a step in the right direction, but did not go far enough to protect communities and their citizens from dangerous air pollution, groundwater contamination, and enormous amounts of toxic waste.

In Colorado, archaic rules allow toxic oil and gas facilities to be as close as 150 feet to a child’s bedroom window. These operations can be in someone’s backyard and on their property without consent if a family does not own the rights to the oil and gas beneath its land–and most Coloradans do not.

The COGA ads tout the latest Colorado rule requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals. While disclosure is essential to preserve the public’s right to know about chemicals in their community, and NRDC calls for nationwide disclosure of fracking chemicals for better regulation of this industry, disclosure is only one part of what’s needed in a comprehensive regulatory structure to protect health and the environment from the dangers of fracking. Disclosure alone does not prevent drinking water contamination–rather it lets citizens know what chemicals might be in their drinking water after it has been contaminated. And many of the chemicals can still be kept secret by oil and gas companies.

The risks are real. From 2009-2011, there were more than a thousand spills related to oil and gas operations in Colorado–many of which impacted groundwater and/or surface water with potentially highly toxic materials. Last September, the Denver Post reported that four oil and gas companies alone had 350 spills in Colorado in less than two years. The Post highlighted one spill that contaminated groundwater with benzene–a known carcinogen. In 2010, a Las Animas County landowner found approximately 500 gallons of grayish brown murky water in his cistern that he believes is linked to nearby hydraulic fracturing. This family has extensive water testing documentation going back many years, verifying that their water was always clean and clear until the nearby fracking took place.

The newspaper ad states it is ”brought to you as a public service,” which makes it sound like a “public service announcement,” but this is misleading. While the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission decided that it is okay for elected officials to use their personal credibility and the position of their office to better educate the public on issues relating to their government position, in its decision, the Ethics Commissions used examples of public service announcements that discuss the importance of voting, filling out the census form, retrieving unclaimed property, and discouraging the illegal use of alcohol.

None of those examples promote one industry or mislead the public with a false sense of security about considerable and well-documented public health and environmental threats.

What’s needed in Colorado and across the nation are strong rules to protect drinking water sources, clean air, healthy communities,and wildlands from the threats of oil and gas development at all stages of the extraction process. Ads that ignore, and appear to try to hide, very real risks are not only a disservice to the public, but will only prolong the public’s distrust of the oil and gas industry and underscore the justifiable demands of communities to keep the industry out of their backyards and schoolyards. Instead of ads that appear to promote the oil and gas industry without acknowledging and addressing the risks, we hope Governor Hickenlooper will instead focus his energy on new and stronger protections for Colorado’s clean water, clean air, and quality of life.

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Posted on February 28, 2012  | Filed Under Global Warming and a New Energy Economy, Protecting America’s Waters | Leave a Comment

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CALIFORNIA’S ENEMIES OF SINGLE PAYER MUST RESIGN [Senators CALDERON,CORREA,VARGAS, PADILLA, RUBIO, WRIGHT]


Enemies of the people; they betrayed their communities Juan Vargas knows better than this he grew up in Imperial Valley and his father worked the fields to feed him. This is the gratitude that he gives to his community where he lived and worked most of his life. They killed Single-Payer Healthcare in California, and we are not going to forgive them for this; this is a crime against the people of California

Health Professionals – $89K

Alex Padilla can be contacted in Sacramento at 916-651-4020 or in Van Nuys at 818-901-5588
Insurance – $137K
Health Professionals – $105K
Pharma – $67K

Michael Rubio can be contacted in Sacramento at 916-651-4016 or in Bakersfield at 661-395-2620
Health Professionals – $94K
Insurance – $36K

Juan Vargas In Sacramento at 916-651-4040 or in Chula Vista at 619-409-7690
Insurance – $115K
Health Professionals – $46K
Pharma – $28K

Rod Wright can be contacted in Sacramento at 916-651-4025 or in Inglewood at 310-412-0393
Insurance – $87K
Pharma – $45K
Health Professionals – $43K

Thank Senator Mark Leno for championing SB 810 at Senator.Leno@Senate.CA.gov. We do not want to tie up his phones. It is important to thank legislators when they champion our cause, and not just spank them when they do not.

Help Build a Stronger Movement – Order SB 810 Postcards, direct new people to our website, and consider becoming a monthly contributor to Single Payer Now.

Please order SB 810 postcards. They ask Governor Brown to pass SB 810. The legislation will again be introduced in 2013. Asking new people to sign a postcard is wonderful way to have a discussion about the merits of single payer healthcare. We add the names to our action alert list to keep activists engaged in the campaign for universal healthcare.

Revised Obama Tax Plan: Higher Dividend Tax On The Wealthy | True Tax Facts | Digg Mynews


It seems out of nowhere, President Obama has made a significant change in his tax plan proposal. Obama’s 2013 budget year now calls for more taxes on the wealthy, specifically a higher tax on dividends.

His new tax plan calls for an increase of the dividend tax to a maximum of 40% for households earning $250,000 a year. Coincidentally, that is equal to the higher maximum income tax rate set to go into effect in 2013.

According to the Obama administration, the increase in the dividend tax rate is needed to pay down the federal deficit and to make the tax code more progressive.

“Choices had to be made,” a senior Obama administration told reporters, explaining the bid to raise more than $200 billion over a decade with the steeper dividend taxes on the wealthy.

In addition to an increase in the dividend tax rate, the Obama administration is proposing to raise the current 15% long-term capital gains tax to 20% for the wealthiest Americans.

If you look closely, the Obama tax plan to tax the rich seems like an election year campaign ploy to win the lower and middle class vote. Fortunately for the wealthy and big corporations, it is extremely unlikely that Obama’s tax provisions will be become law, including his dividend tax increase.

“This is a reversal of what was a very specific policy feature of the first three budgets to keep dividends and capital gains taxed at the same rate,” said Michael Mundaca, a former top Treasury tax official under Obama, now at the accounting firm Ernst & Young.

“Companies may be more likely to retain earnings or seek alternatives ways to distribute their earnings such as by buying back stock,” Mundaca said.

Tax experts believe that big corporations may accelerate 2013 dividend payments into 2012 to dodge tax hikes.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see moving all their 2013 dividends into 2012,” Kies said. “A lot of U.S. companies are sitting on cash.”

source: reuters.com

Tags: budget deficit, dividend tax, dividend tax increase, Income Tax, obama administration, obama tax, obama tax plan, Tax Experts, tax increase, tax plan

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February 13, 2012
Obama Tax Plan Calls For Buffet Rule

After four consecutive years of one trillion dollar-plus deficits, the U.S. administration predicts a budget deficit drop below 1 trillion. That’s what President Obama’s budget plan calls for based on his proposed tax and spending policies.

One of the biggest contributors to reducing the deficit calls for a raise in the income tax rate on the wealthy. The so-called “Buffett Rule” would guarantee that households making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30% of their income in taxes.

This proposal was actually presented by America’s wealthiest businessman, Warren Buffett. To support this tax proposal, he used the real life example that it’s unfair that he (being a billionaire) pay a lower tax rate than his secretary.

The implementation of the Buffet Tax would raise approximately $1.5 trillion dollars. Additional sources of revenue to reduce the deficit would come from a tax reform plan that includes the expiration of the Bush Tax and the elimination of various tax preferences.

Will Obama’s tax plan work, or will it backfire?

Maybe the focus of cutting the deficit should be on creating jobs. New jobs mean more tax revenue and less expenditures to pay the unemployed.

Tags: budget deficit, buffet rule, buffet tax, obama tax, obama tax plan, tax plan, tax proposal, Tax Rate, tax revenue

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February 10, 2012
Free Tax Help For Preparing Your Return

The IRS has a new online tax tool to help low and middle income taxpayers find local sites to get free tax help. The free tax help is made available by individuals in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.

The tool, available 24 hours a day, makes it easier for qualified individuals to find free tax help directly from the Internal Revenue Service. Taxpayers with incomes of $50,000 or less can get their taxes done for free by IRS volunteers. Senior citizens aged 60 and older can get free tax help from volunteers in the Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program.

Taxpayers can access the application by clicking on this free tax help tool link or by going to irs.gov and entering the letters “VITA” in the search box. Next, click on the “Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers” option, then select the “Find a VITA site near you” option.

Once there, an easy-to-use locator prompts users to enter a zip code to search thousands of free tax preparation sites, narrowing the results to a selected radius. VITA sites are listed by location name, address, phone number, days and hours of operation, and the language-assistance options offered. Finally, taxpayers select a specific tax preparation site to get a map to provide step-by-step directions.

More than three million tax returns were prepared by VITA and TCE volunteers in during the 2011 tax season.

The IRS is continually improving its website to provide the latest tax information to taxpayers.

source:irs.gov

Tags: free tax help, irs tax help, irs volunteers, Tax Help, Tax Preparation, VITA

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Revised Obama Tax Plan: Higher Dividend Tax On The Wealthy | True Tax Facts | Digg Mynews.

OccupyKXL: The 99 Percent Takes A Stand With 24 Hours Against Keystone


Brad Johnson posted from ThinkProgress Green on Feb 13, 2012 at 12:30 pm

A broad coalition of the grassroots progressive movement is launching a 24-hour effort to mobilize 500,000 people opposing Republican efforts to approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. GOP senators “plan to file an amendment mandating the project to the Senate transportation package Monday,” the Hill reports. In a Daily Kos diary, 350.org founder Bill McKibben — who led thousands of Americans who got arrested last summer in front of the White House in opposition to the pipeline — explains the “powerful, unified fight” to “keep this pipeline dead“:

We’re going to war at noon eastern today–non-violent war, but a powerful, unified fight against the heart of right-wing power, the fossil fuel industry. We’re out to collect half a million emails in 24 hours telling the Senate: back up the president and keep this pipeline dead. It’s going to be the most concentrated burst of environmental activism this millennium–and it needs you.

This effort includes a diverse coalition of the national environmental movement — including the Environmental Defense Fund, Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and Green For All. As McKibben said, it’s “everyone else who’s ever tried to save a whale, clean a lake, build a park, find a solar job.”

The 24-hour push isn’t just a “green” cause, but one of the American progressive movement. Other organizations participating in the petition drive include MoveOn, Credo, Democracy for America, Public Citizen, Change.org, the Labor Network for Sustainability, and businesses like Patagonia.

Bill McKibben will be on the Colbert Report tonight to discuss the effort to prevent the destruction of our climate for the profit of foreign oil companies.

OccupyKXL: The 99 Percent Takes A Stand With 24 Hours Against Keystone.

Debunking The Notion That Inequality Wouldn’t Impact The Economy | Addicting Info


It’s been claimed — incorrectly — that overall activity would neither be increased nor diminished by how evenly or unevenly money is distributed within our national economy. According to that line, we’d get the same amount of commerce regardless of whether we have a larger share of the pie held by the wealthy or by the lower and middle classes. “Money is money,” or so they say.

Except that in reality, lower average propensity to consume (APC) results from significantly increased real income.1 Who has how much matters because people tend to spend different portions of their income at different levels of wealth. Wealth and income distributions make a significant difference to effective demand. We’re not concerned with what people would like to have if they had enough money; we’re concerned with what people will spend with the money they’re getting. If Warren is a wealthy person and John is a poor person and over time Warren attains a higher share of the available money, total spending — effective demand — generated by those two consumers will drop.

If there’s $1,000,000 of total income between the two at time T1 and Warren gets $950,000 while John gets $50,000 and Warren spends 33.33%2 of income to John’s 100% of income, then total spending by these two individuals at time T1 will be:

T1: $316,635 + $50,000 = $366,635.00

When income ratios shift and there’s an inflation-adjusted $1,000,000 of total income at time T2 and Warren gets $975,000 while John gets $25,000, Warren’s spending ratio (APC) will likely have fallen slightly from the previous propensity, but we’ll stick with 33.33% for simplicity and understatement. Meanwhile, John can’t spend as much as before because John’s available funds have dropped. Even if Warren still spends at the same rate — which is unlikely — then total spending would be:

T2: $325,967.50 + $25,000 = $349,967.50

That would be a drop from time T1 to time T2 of $16,667.50 in inflation-adjusted spending. I’ve picked an arbitrary APC for Warren, but herein we’re just showing the rough effect. The dollar values are merely for illustration of the concept. Even if the exact average amount might vary slightly from the $16,667.50 of our illustration, the point remains that there would be a shortfall. With more of the money shifted to those with a lower APC, you get lower consumption which is to say lower effective demand.

Debunking The Notion That Inequality Wouldn’t Impact The Economy | Addicting Info.

Postal Service Stock Doctrine–“The Elimination Of Post Service”


“The GOPs attempt the privatize the post service to corporations like United Parcel Service or Federal Express meaning you will have to drive to get your mail; it will not be delivered to your home anymore. This is being done for campaign contributions to these corrupt politicians. It’s about what’s on their plate.”