Posts tagged ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’

Obamacare Won’t Get Repealed States Must Now Act

Obamacare won't be repealed. States now must act. (via The Christian Science Monitor)

Mitt Romney declared many times during his campaign that he’d “repeal Obamacare on day one” of his presidency. But as House Speaker John Boehner said this week, “the election changes that.” The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare,” as everyone now calls it –…

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Civil Rights Under the Democratic/Republican Uni-Party | New Progressive Alliance

Civil Rights Under the Democratic/Republican Uni-Party | New Progressive Alliance.

Submitted by ed2291 on November 9, 2011 – 11:47am

In our history there have been times when civil rights have been suspended, such as the Civil War and World War II, but they have always been during the War only and some sort of due process remained. What we have now is a situation worse by both the length – over ten years – and extent of deprivation of constitutional rights. We should examine just some of the specifics.

Wikipedia says, “Extraordinary rendition and irregular rendition describe the abduction and extrajudicial transfer of a person from one nation to another. “Torture by proxy” is used by some critics to describe situations in which the United States has transferred suspected terrorists to countries known to practice torture.” This goes to our very soul as a country. Of course it has been shown that torture does not work, but it should be obvious to everybody that this is wrong. Bush started this and Obama openly continues it.
Obama can give everyone in Gitmo their day in court. Restoring habeas corpus is totally at his discretion, and he has chosen not to.
For over half of his first term in office Obama had defended the DOM in court.
Guantanamo remains open.
The Patriot Act was renewed for another four years with no significant objection from either republicans or democrats. This means 13 straight years of restricted Civil Rights through the suspension of the constitution. Both Bush and Obama have authorized spying and in some cases killing American citizens. Both republicans and democrats in Congress voted overwhelmingly for it. Congress then by an overwhelming majority passed the National Defense Authorization Bill further suspending the US Constitution and Obama signed it.

Obama has been far more active than Bush in using the DOJ to imprison whistleblowers such as DeChristopher for exposing an illegal fossil fuel land grab, Manning for wikileaks exposing the lies of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and Thomas Drake for exposing the dishonesty and corruption of the NSA.

The recent agreement shoved down the throats of 49 State Attorney Generals immunized banks from being charged with manufacturing evidence, and using both forgery and perjury to illegally foreclose on homes. This brings into question whether the rule of law can still be enforced in this country.

If it was wrong under Bush, it is still wrong under Obama. If it is wrong for republicans, it is still wrong for democrats. The solution is simple. Go back to the constitutional guarantees we had prior to 2001. Obama with the enthusiastic support of the democrats has maintained or expanded all civil rights violations Bush started. We should not ignore this and support him just because he is a democrat. Real change will come only when we abandon the two party system.

1-Criminalizing free speech
2-“Obama bans war criminals, except our own”
3-Did Obama Order Tar Sands Protesters Jailed?
4-Obama’s FBI Targets Ant
5-Bush 2.0: 100 Ways Barack Obama Is Just Like George W. Bush
6-President Obama Has All The Legal Authority He Needs To Make Recess Appointments Right Now
7-Dept. of Interior Recommended Federal Charges vs. DADT Protesters – 3 Hours Before They Demonstrated
8-Torture Decriminalized: How the State Department Provides Space for the Culpables’ Book Tours
9-Department of Justice Files Writ of Mandamus Against Judge in Dan Choi Case
10-Department of “Justice”?
11-The ACLU on Obama and Core Liberties
12-BART Police Arrest Journalists, Cite KGO, KTVU at BART Protest. Homeland Security Present
13- Targeted Killing Program: America’s Shameful Response to 9/11
14-DoD Persecutes Guantanamo Guard Who Talked About the Torture
15-Choi Legal Team Responds to DoJ Petition for Writ of Mandamus
16-Freedom Is Not Free at the State Department
17-Obama: A disaster for civil liberties
18-Free Speech and Civil Liberties in the PR Age of Obama
19-Obama DoJ Trying to Codify Lying to Judges Over FOIA-Requested Docs Now: WTF?
20-Obama Witch Hunt Against Polar Bear Scientists Takes New Twist – 2nd Scientist Asked to Take Lie Detector Test
21-GOP and Tea Party on Obama’s Foreign Policy “Successes”
22-Bookburning USA: Obama’s Traitor Troops Trash OWS Library as his EPA Awards Book-Burners for Outstanding Recycling
23-Feds Raid Washington State Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
24-Homeland Security Coordinated 18-City Police Crackdown on Occupy Protest
25-The Sound of Democrat’s Silence on Civil Liberties
26-You Can Crush the Flowers, But You Can’t Stop the Spring
27-Thought Crime in Washington
28-Passing Defense Senate Bill: Dianne Feinstein’s Tortured Explanation
29-The Obamanable President: UPDATED
30-Obama and the Rule of Law
31-Obama Crowned Himself on New Year’s Eve
32-ACLU trashes Obama over indefinite detention and torture act
33-2012′s Civil Liberties Apocalypse Has Already Happened
34-ACLU Sues Obama Administration over Assassination Secrecy
35-Repulsive Progressive Hypocrisy
36-The White House’s Dangerous Dance With the Birth Control Mandate
37-George Will Stands Up for Justice in the Don Siegelman Case
38-URGENT Immediate Action Needed! Help Prevent Obama’s Goons from Further Torturing US Rights Observers in Bahrain
39-Obama Administration Asks Supreme Court to Dismiss ACLU Challenge to Warrantless Wiretapping Law
40-Those Weak Losers Who Care about “Law”
41-Pity the Poor Judges
42-Foreclosure Settlement a Failure of Law, a Triumph for Bank Attorneys
43-WikiLeaks: Disgraced Judge Said He Was Targeted for Investigation After Ruling Against Halliburton
44-Murder Is Legal, Says Eric Holder
45-HR 347: The Anti-Occupy Law
46-Weaponizing the Body Politic
47-Obama’s Vile Assassination Doctrine
48-Obama Justice Department Suffers a Monumental Failure
49-Legal Experts Destroy Rationale for Obama’s Assassination Policy … And Slam Democrats for Supporting It
50-Obama Signs Anti-protest Trespass Bill
51-The Terrorists are Winning: The Erosion of Civil Liberties in America
52-Sending Americans Into Exile — the Obama Way
53-Obama’s Personal Role in a Journalist’s Imprisonment
54-Anti-Occupy Bill (H.R. 347) Unanimously Passed and Signed By POTUS
55-New Obama Executive Order Seizes U.S. Infrastructure and Citizens for Military Preparedness
56-A New Age of Enemies
57-Where is Obama as Police Brutalize Citizens?
58-What About Misconduct in the Don Siegelman Prosecution?
59-Native Americans Protest Keystone XL From A Cage –
Activists compelled to stay in enclosure miles from President’s pro-oil event
60-Tim DeChristopher Transferred Out of “The Hole”, But Questions Remain
61-New Counterorrism Guidelines Gives Authorities Vast Access to Private Info of Innocent Americans
62-US Government Keeping Data on Americans with No Connection to Terrorism
63-The Obama DOJ and Strip Searches
64-75% of Americans Support Workplace Protections for GLBT Folks. Obama is not one of them.
65-Legal Atrocities
66-Creating a Prison-Corporate Complex
67-Investors Want Disclosure of Corporate Political Contributions and Lobbying Expenditures
68-Supreme Court: Law Says Organizations Cannot be Sued for Torture
69-Torture on Trial
70-More Federal Judge Abdication
71-Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors’ Prisons
72-Labor Dept. Cancels Child-labor Proposal
73-Income Inequality: Physical Health and Life Expectancy
74-On Memorial Day Weekend, America Reckons with Torture
75-Obama’s War: Criminalize the Left
76-FOIA Revelations Show Administration Role In Occupy Crackdown
77-Obama Defies Federal Court Ban On NDAA Indefinite Detention
78-How Pensions Violate Free Speech
79-The Great Charter, Its Fate, and Ours
80-Feds Wait Until Late Friday To Admit That, Yeah, They Ignored The 4th Amendment
81-Obama Administration Stonewalling UN Questions about Abuse of Occupy Protesters
82-Impunity at Home, Rendition Abroad: How Two Administrations and Both Parties Made Illegality the American Way of Life
83-John Cusack & Jonathan Turley on Obama’s Constitution

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This Week In The War On Workers: Rich Kids Get To Go To College, Poor Don’t

In our supposed meritocracy, it isn’t a surprise that kids from high-income families are more likely to graduate from college than kids from low-income families. But, while test scores from eighth grade math are nowhere near the only measure of student merit, it does say a little something about that meritocracy that high-income kids with low eighth grade math scores graduate from college at the same rate as low-income kids with high eighth grade math scores.

And more:

  • If you eat chicken you’ll want to pay attention to this one: The Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing a new inspection system for chicken plants, raising the line speed from 91 chickens per minute to 175 chickens per minute, reducing the number of inspectors, privatizing some current inspection jobs so that the poultry plants are inspecting their own work (do you want to trust them with that?), and spraying chickens with chemicals to kill salmonella and other nasties.
  • Every teacher I know is sick of hearing about how their work days supposedly end at like 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s a ludicrous thing to say—when do people imagine kids’ work gets graded, or lessons get planned? A new survey of teachers offers a reality check: Teachers reported working 53 hours a week on average.
  • Six things rich people need to stop saying.
  • It’s always a big scandal when an NCAA athlete takes a gift … but the NCAA is raking in tons of money on those athletes’ performances.


I don’t often write angry; however, after over a year of listening to Gov. Scott Walker’s bullshit I have had it with that union-busting bastard.

The Wisconsin State Journal, a right wing rag, quotes Walker puppet Cullen Werwie as saying,

“The latest letter from public sector union bosses shows clearly that Democrats and their allies put their politics before everything else, even their own members’ jobs.”

“Union bosses”—I am sick and fucking tired of hearing that nonsensical term. Want to know who the “union bosses” are, Walker? See that guy running the jack hammer fixing the public street? Yeah, that guy. He is the vice president of a union. That woman who took care of me in the hospital after I had neck surgery, she is a union president. That guy driving the snowplow … he is the secretary of the union.

In other words, these “union bosses” you keep talking about are my friends and neighbors. My brother was a “union boss” for a time. He was a carpenter for a local school district. But according to you, he was some big union fat cat. Gov, Walker, you have obviously never met my brother.

It is obvious why the Glorious Grand Poobah of Wisconsin uses terms like “union boss” and “union thug” … it is one hell of a lot easier to demonize a so-called “union boss” or “union thug” than it is to denigrate a kindergarten teacher. It is time to end the politics of division that the GOP is perpetrating. Shame on the Wisconsin State Journal and other media outlets for not calling Republican politicians to the mat for using these slurs when referring to our friends and neighbors. Teachers, county, municipal and state Workers are not the enemy. People in unions are not the enemy. Stop blaming the working class for the problems your rich fucking friends, I am looking at you Koch brothers, created!

We need to re-frame the unions in the media. If a politician or other rich asshole says “union thug” or “union boss” then we must respond with, “Why are you attacking our friends, neighbors and loved ones?” Turn it around on them make the GOP bastards explain why they are attacking working folks. We need to take the offensive!


Missouri’s Republican Senate candidates may not know what the minimum wage is, but they’re in agreement on one thing: It shouldn’t be raised. No, whatever the minimum wage is, it’s plenty as far as Rep. Todd Akin, businessman John Brunner, and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman are concerned.

The minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, which means $15,080 for a year of full-time work, just under the poverty threshold for a family of two. Of course, these candidates for United States Senate don’t know that. Asked during a radio debate what the minimum wage is and if they’d support increasing it, all three showed just how little they know.

Steelman, the only candidate to offer a specific guess for the minimum wage—getting it wrong at $7.50—offered a slightly garbled version of a classic argument against raising the minimum, that “young people sometimes can’t find jobs because they’re taken by other people and they don’t pay a lower wage … are unable to pay a lower wage because of the minimum wage so that squeezes jobs out.” Akin, too, claimed that raising the minimum wage would cost teenagers the chance to get experience at the low pay they are, according to him, worth.

The line that teenagers won’t be able to get jobs is a multipurpose argument that raising the minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and that teenagers working part-time jobs are the only people making minimum wage anyway. But in fact, this is wrong on both counts: “a majority of minimum wage earners are adults working many hours and living in low-income households,” and studies show “that an increase in the minimum wage has a small—and even positive—impact on employment.”

That set of myths wasn’t Akin’s only objection to raising the minimum wage, though. He actually opposes its existence altogether, saying it’s “Just another example of a wrong thing that the government does. I don’t think the government should be setting the prices or wages on different things, I don’t think that’s the function of the government.”

As for the extremely wealthy Brunner, he didn’t know what the minimum wage is and, clearly taken aback at being asked about something as esoteric as how much businesses must legally pay their workers, and gave a nonsensical, buzzword-laden answer about how his business had always paid more than the minimum wage. Which is … not at all helpful for everyone who doesn’t work for him.

Missouri Republicans sure face a fantastic set of choices.


Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has claimed to have a “laser focus” on jobs. He has failed spectacularly, as you can see in the graph above comparing employment change in six Midwestern states, with Wisconsin lagging dramatically behind its neighbors.

While governors don’t have total control over everything in their states’ economies, when other states in your region of the country post jobs gains and your state struggles to break even in the private sector at the same time as you are laying off public sector workers, leading to an overall loss … well, that’s on you. The Economic Policy Institute’s Doug Hall points out why laying off public sector workers would hurt other workers, too: Goal Thermometer

Because public sector workers are a vital part of every state economy—firefighters, teachers, police officers and department of health officials all buy clothing, groceries, and movie-tickets just like private sector workers—laying them off hurts us all by reducing economic activity, which holds back the recovery.

Walker used jobs to justify his assaults on public workers and his efforts to hand over any possible advantage to big business. But a year of data gives us the big picture: If he was “laser focused” on jobs, apparently that laser was set to “destroy.”

Please, contribute $6 to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to recall Scott Walker.


Trumka and Obama

President Obama with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in August 2010. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Politico’s Joseph Williams sallies forth with a story titled “Labor’s lost love for Obama returns,” a perfect example of how political reporters miss the big questions by trying to fit labor into the standard narratives of political reporting. You see, “After three years of spats, President Barack Obama and the unions have embraced each other again” and “The AFL-CIO became the latest major union to support Obama’s reelection when it endorsed him this week.” (The AFL-CIO, of course, is not a union. It is a federation of unions.) So the story as Politico tells it is unions loved Obama in 2008, then got mad, but then he started talking about jobs and now they just love him again, no questions asked. Why did they get mad in 2009 and 2010? Things like this:

The White House’s failure to communicate its position angered the unions, [a former government official who worked closely with the White House on labor issues] said, but the administration thought defeat on the EFCA was a foregone conclusion.

“Organized labor had the sense EFCA was going to get done,” the former White House aide said. “We thought we’d already lost that fight.”

The thing is, if organized labor “had the sense” the Employee Free Choice Act was on the agenda, it’s because people in the Obama administration told union leaders that was the case. One can question the decision by union leaders to believethe Obama administration on that, particularly as the claim that this union priority would become an administration priority immediately after health care reform was being made at the same time environmental leaders were apparently being told an energy bill would be the next priority. But it’s not like union leaders just decided, on their own, to believe that the White House would support EFCA even as people in the administration were flatly telling them otherwise.

But, according to Politico’s 2012 election narrative, Obama gave some pro-union speeches and pushed some jobs legislation and poof, unions were uncritically back on his side.

And, okay, yeah, maybe the stark comparison between the fierce anti-union positions of the Republican presidential candidates and Obama’s theoretical, if not usually fiercely fought, support for union rights has something to do with it. Maybe it’s that, in the words of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, “Elections are choices. They’re not referendums.” But either way, to hear Politico tell it, 2012 will be 2008 all over again as far as union support for Obama goes.

In fact, the AFL-CIO at least has made a serious point that it will not be campaigning for Obama in 2012 and then relaxing, relying on him to push through the legislation unions care about. Instead, the labor federation will be working in 2012 to prepare union members to keep campaigning, after the elections, for a pro-worker agenda. That’s a significant shift and one that speaks to the clear view that while a second Obama term is necessary if unions and non-union workers alike are not going to be completely trampled starting in 2013, a second Obama term without a strong progressive movement in the interests of working people is in no way sufficient to end the dominance of the top 1 percent.


Mitch Daniels

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (Secret list not shown)

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has been bragging about a secret list. It’s the list of companies that he claims are thinking about moving to Indiana and creating jobs there because of the passage of the state’s new right to work free rider law, and it’s 28 companies long, three of them supposedly committed to moving to Indiana. That sounds like a genuine boost to a state’s economy. The catch is that the only company Daniels has been able to name as having brought jobs to Indiana because of the anti-union law says that’s not actually what happened:

MBC Group President Eric Holloway said Thursday that he always planned to expand his Brookville operations and that a state news release issued two weeks ago mistakenly quoted him as saying “right to work” legislation factored into his decision.

“We are not a union shop. The effect that this was going to have was not going to affect our decision one way or another,” said Holloway, whose company estimates that its planned $4.1 million expansion will create up to 101 new jobs.

When your evidence that a law is creating jobs is 28 companies you can’t name and one that says the jobs it’s creating have nothing to do with your law, that’s called grasping at straws. Also “making shit up.”


Romney hates unions

To amplify a bit:

  1. Right to work No rights at work laws are terrible for workers.
  2. Mitt Romney is angry at the National Labor Relations Board because, under President Obama, it has been fulfilling its mission of upholding labor law. Sometimes that means companies get in trouble for illegally firing workers or otherwise retaliating against them for exercising their rights. When George W. Bush’s NLRB was routinely favoring business, Republicans were not so outraged.
  3. Can you say “race to the bottom”?
  4. The people of Ohio made clear how they felt about Senate Bill 5.
  5. Union leaders get labeled as “having no interest in a constructive relationship with management” when they lead fights against wage and pension cuts, against making it easier to fire workers or cut their hours—in general, when they try to deny corporations the total control over workers’ lives they want.


Louisiana education protest

Teachers wait to get into the Louisiana Capitol. (@LAEducators)

Education reform bills that would scapegoat teachers rather than actually improving schooling in Connecticut and Louisiana drew rather different demonstrations this week. In Louisiana, many schools canceled classes as teachers traveled to Baton Rouge to protest Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to expand charter schools, make it easier to fire teachers and implement a voucher privatization program. Hundreds of teachers gathered at the state Capitol to lobby against the bill—but they had trouble getting inside:

State policy and legislative security officials conceded that they restricted access to two of the three Capitol entrances usually open to the public. Only staff and credentialed news media and lobbyists could enter through those doors. That left just one entrance, at the top of the front steps, with the assembled teachers funneled through one metal detector.

A Louisiana House committee approved the charter expansion and voucher program, paving the way to take money out of the public schools and lessen accountability.

Connecticut’s Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy has an education plan that’s bad, but not as bad as Jindal’s—corporate education reform superstar Michelle Rhee came to Connecticut to push for its passage, but also told the Hartford Courant that the bill is just “a good first step.” Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization, which claims 15,000 members in the state, joined with other education reform groups to hold a rally in favor of the bill. By contrast with the hundreds who turned out in Louisiana and despite those 15,000 alleged members, this rally drew 75 people.


Thu Mar 15, 2012 at 06:41 AM PDT

Initial unemployment claims drop to 351,000

by Laura Clawson

unemployment initial claims

The Department of Labor is reporting that there were 351,000 initial claims for unemployment last week, dropping 14,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 365,000. This ties a four-year low reached last month and continues the trend of unemployment claims falling below the 375,000 threshold signaling sustained job gains. The four-week moving average, a measure which reduces volatility, was unchanged at 355,750.

The number of people claiming benefits in all state unemployment programs plus the federal emergency extended program for the week ending February 25 was 7,424,040, an increase of 36,392 from the previous week. As Meteor Blades has noted, though, we can expect that number to drop in coming months as reduced eligibility for the extended program kicks in.


Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Hans Pennink/Reuters)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state’s legislature are reported to be close to a deal on public worker pensions. Cuomo had been insisting he would force a state government shutdown rather than bend on his demands, but the New York Daily News reports that a deal may be reached “by the end of the night” Wednesday that includes several key concessions from Cuomo.

Instead of raising the public employee retirement age to 65, as Cuomo wanted, it will go to 63; workers would be eligible for pension benefits after 10 years, as is currently the case, rather than the 12 years Cuomo sought. Firefighters and police are likely to be exempted in some form.

Crucially, the reported deal would omit Cuomo’s desired defined contribution plan, of which the AFL-CIO said in a statement that it “would pull employee contributions out of the Pension system, fail to provide retirement security for those who opt in and turn billions of dollars in administrative fees over to Wall Street in the form of commissions.”

Unions have been organizing against Cuomo’s plan, with AFSCME beginning to run ads on black radio stations urging listeners to contact the governor opposing the pension cuts.


Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 01:50 PM PDT

Latino share of labor force projected to grow

by Laura Clawson

Hispanic share of workforce growth

The quickly growing Latino population in the United States may lag as a share of voters, but it is ahead of other groups as a share of the labor force. Pew’s Rajesh Kochhar examines a Bureau of Labor Statistics projection that between 2010 and 2020, 74 percent of the growth in the American labor force will be Latino workers. During that decade, “Hispanics are expected to add 7.7 million workers to the labor force while the number of non-Hispanic whites in the labor force is projected to decrease by 1.6 million.” If this projection holds, 18.6 percent of the labor force will be Latino in 2020.

Kochhar cites not just the rapid growth of the Latino population due to births and immigration, but the fact that:

The nation’s labor force participation rate—that is, the share of the population ages 16 and older either employed or looking for work—was 64.7% in 2010. Among Hispanics, the rate was 67.5%. There are two main explanations for this gap: Hispanics are a younger population than other groups, and include a higher share of immigrants.

Labor force participation doesn’t necessarily mean employment, though, and the unemployment rate among Latinos was 10.7 percent in February, 2.4 points higher than the overall unemployment rate. But expect the Republican fear-mongering about brown people taking “our” jobs to increase along with the Latino labor force.


Xiomara Perez

Xiomara Perez was fired for taking a bathroom break. (

The attempt by port truck drivers working in Southern California for the Australian-owned Toll Group to join a union has reached the retaliatory firings stage: Xiomara Perez, one of only two women among the 75 truck drivers working for Toll in Southern California, was fired on March 9 for having taken an emergency bathroom break days earlier.

It is illegal for a company to fire a worker for trying to join a union, but it happens all the time. The company doesn’t admit that’s the real reason for the firing, of course. It’s just that coincidentally someone who’s been an outspoken union supporter gets fired for a common practice that doesn’t typically draw any disciplinary action, let alone firing. Companies do this because it removes a leader from the workplace and intimidates other workers who might support the union, and because the penalties for doing so are laughably small. So it’s no coincidence that Xiomara Perez, who exactly fits that description, was targeted (PDF):

On Tuesday March 6th, Xiomara was driving to Rialto with a cargo load andbegan to feel slightly ill, thought she might throw up, and thus made an emergency detour. As a professional driver, Xiomara adheres to U.S. Department of Transportation regulations that require any hauler to pull over if they feel faint, fatigued, etc. – in other words, truckers must use their best judgment to protect their own safety, the public, and the merchandise they carry. She found a McDonald’s she was familiar with where she could freely use the restroom and get a sandwich to settle her stomach to continue her workday. She instantly felt better and got back on the road; the safety diversion took roughly 10 minutes at the most.

A male supervisor quickly questioned her, via radio, about why she had stopped; “Already feeling intimidated, and reluctant to disclose private information about her body functions to a male manager, she made an excuse in order to instead contact a female human resources supervisor.” But when she got back to Toll after delivering her cargo, supervisors inspected her clothes and truck—apparently nothing less than vomit splattered all over would have justified her 10-minute bathroom break. Three days later:

Toll fired Xiomara, citing an unreasonably restrictive work policy prohibiting employees from stopping – even to use a restroom – when delivering a load. Xiomara had asked for the policy in writing but was denied. Many of her co-workers say it is common practice to stop to use the restroom…

A group of Xiomara’s coworkers(PDF) is sending Toll a letter calling for her reinstatement and the Teamsters have filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

Let the Toll Group know its truck drivers aren’t the only ones who are outraged by this firing. Sign our petition calling on the Toll Group to reinstate Xiomara Perez, let truck drivers take bathroom breaks, and stop intimidating union supporters.



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Related Diaries

Workers And NLRB Under Attack

Republicans have accomplished what Democrats and unions never could: they’ve made the National Labor Relations Board a household name.  The NLRB, which in the Bush era churned out anti-union rulings in obscurity, now stars in stump speeches, Congressional hearings, and TV ads.  The day after the Iowa Caucus, Mitt Romney launched a South Carolina TV ad condemning the NLRB as “stacked with union stooges selected by the President.”  He lost the state to Newt Gingrich, who promised South Carolinians that he would seek to unilaterally eliminate the agency.

About the Author

Josh Eidelson
  Josh Eidelson is a freelance journalist and a former five-year union organizer.  He writes weekly pieces on labor…

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As administrators declare there’s no alternative to austerity and corporatization in higher ed, student Occupyers fight back.


Workers at a port in Washington State are reviving strike tactics that have become nearly extinct in American labor struggles—and they may just win.


On New Year’s Eve, labor was bracing for the NLRB, which interprets and enforces labor law, to be rendered comatose for 2012.  An expiring appointment was set to leave the Board one member short of a quorum, and thus unable to rule on any cases.  Senate Republicans had promised to prevent any new appointments.  But Obama acted to keep the agency’s lights on, making three new NLRB recess appointments in defiance of Republican claims that the Senate was in session.

With Obama’s re-election uncertain and pro-labor legislation stillborn, the NLRB’s actions this year may represent the last chance for years at improving the legal regime facing workers seeking to extract a measure of justice from the one percent.  Obama’s appointees did enough last year – investigating aerospace giant Boeing, modestly reforming union election rules, reversing some Bush precedents – to guarantee the hatred of the anti-union Right.  But labor and its advocates will judge the Board on whether it seizes three key opportunities over the coming year.

First, there are workers across America waiting for the NLRB to remedy alleged crimes by their employers.  One of these workers is Elvis Alvira, a Long Island technician who says he began organizing a union at T-Mobile after a manager’s favoritism forced him to work an hour away from his house while his wife was at home coping with a high-risk pregnancy.  Alvira and the majority of his 15 co-workers filed a petition with the NLRB last May seeking to join the Communications Workers of America.

T-Mobile responded with a series of legal challenges that postponed the election for months.  Alvira and the CWA say that delay bought the company seven months to run a classic anti-union campaign: mandatory anti-union meetings, raises and promotions to sway ambivalent workers, and firings of union supporters.  In December, CWA lost the election.  “The anti-union campaign the company put together, along with the eight months waiting for the doggone election, is really what killed it…” says Alvira.  “That whole process, it’s broken…They were able to play the NLRB.”

In cases like these, time is on management’s side – discouraging pro-union activists, distracting their co-workers, and lending ill-gotten employer victories the air of legitimacy.  Under normal circumstances, the NLRB’s process is painfully slow, but its backlog swelled after a 2010 Supreme Court ruling threw out hundreds of decisions reached when the Board had only two members, forcing the current Board to take them up again.  To expedite the process, the NLRB could make greater use of its injunction power, which forces faster resolution of urgent misconduct.  In January, the Board issued its first injunction of the year, against Renaissance Equity Holdings LLC, owner of apartment complex in Brooklyn, which was accused of illegally locking porters and handymen out of their jobs.  But there are hundreds of such cases waiting for NLRB judgment.  CWA President Larry Cohen says Obama’s appointees “need to put themselves in the shoes of these workers,” and clear the back log, even “if they have to work day and night.”

Second, labor is looking to the NLRB to continue exercising its power to issue new rules governing union elections.  The Board began this process last year.  Labor advocates have long charged that companies use spurious legal challenges to buy themselves time for union-busting.  Under new rules effective this April, many such challenges will be heard after the voting rather than before.  This modest reform passed only after the Democrats on the NLRB withdrew other proposed changes, and only after a Republican NLRB member withdrew his threat to resign and deny the Board a quorum.

In a January interview with the Associated Press, NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce announced his intention to revive other proposed election changes left on the cutting room floor last year.  Among these remedies is a requirement that employers provide more employee contact information to unions – including e-mail addresses – and provide it earlier in the process.  Even with last year’s changes, former NLRB General Counsel Fred Feinstein says the process is “not balanced, because employers have hugely more access to the workforce.”  Putting more employee info in unions’ hands, and sooner, would be one step towards addressing the imbalance.

Third, like the Supreme Court, the NLRB’s rulings on precedent-setting cases determine what labor law means: what it protects, what it prohibits, and to whom it applies.  How the Board handles some of the cases in front of it this year will help determine the relevance of the NLRB – and the law it enforces – in a twenty-first-century economy where employment relationships are often opaque or indirect.  Graduate student employees at New York University, who do a substantial portion of university teaching but were ruled not to be workers by George Bush NLRB appointees, petitioned in 2010 for an election to win back union recognition.  Similarly, airport shuttle bus drivers have asked the Board to reject their employers’ claims that they are “independent contractors” ineligible for unionization.  Historian Jennifer Klein says these cases illustrate a trend: “Fewer and fewer workers are considered to be employees” covered by many NLRB protections.  Thus the right Elvis Alvira exercised – to force a union election by signing up his co-workers – doesn’t exist for a growing number of Americans.  Pro-labor rulings this year could reverse that trend.

Whatever the NLRB does, Republicans will keep attacking it. Congressman Elijah Cummings, the Ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, says Republicans “have tried to use every kind of leverage that they could think of” to weaken the NLRB.  That includes blocking its appointments, threatening its budget, and demanding its internal documents.  Cummings says the Board is “more vulnerable” as a result.

That’s smart politics, says University of Texas professor Julius Getman, because it allows the GOP to frame an assault on workers as a move against “big government.”  Feinstein, who was the NLRB’s top prosecutor under President Clinton, says such attacks are also effective at discouraging Democratic appointees and career staff from acting in defense of workers.  “People become concerned…” says Feinstein.  “People are shaken by that, and we felt like that caused people to sort of pull in their wings a bit.”

Continued right-wing fury at the NLRB is certain, and it will remain white-hot until Republicans return to the White House and ratchet the Board back to the right.  In the meantime, Obama’s new appointees face a choice: be cowed by right-wing hatred, or do something to earn it.

How To Find An American Police State

This article originally appeared at To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from Click here to catch Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Salisbury discusses post-9/11 police “mission creep” in this country, or download it to your iPod here.   At the height of the Occupy Wall Street evictions, it seemed as though some diminutive version of “shock and awe” had stumbled from Baghdad, Iraq, to Oakland, California. American police forces had been “militarized,” many commentators worried, as though the firepower and callous tactics on display were anomalies, surprises bursting upon us from nowhere.

About the Author

Stephan Salisbury
  Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia  Inquirer. His most recent book is Mohamed’s  Ghosts:…

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Far from winning votes, “Muslim-bashing” alienates large swaths of the electorate—even as it hardens an already hard core on the right.


Gunned down in Tucson, shot to death at the Pentagon and blown away at the Holocaust Museum, as well as in Wichita, Knoxville, Pittsburgh, Brockton and Okaloosa County, Florida, the landscape of America is littered with bodies.


There should have been no surprise. Those flash grenades exploding in Oakland and the sound cannons on New York’s streets simply opened small windows onto a national policing landscape long in the process of militarization—a bleak domestic no man’s land marked by tanks and drones, robot bomb detectors, grenade launchers, tasers and most of all, interlinked video surveillance cameras and information databases growing quietly on unobtrusive server farms everywhere.

The ubiquitous fantasy of “homeland security,” pushed hard by the federal government in the wake of 9/11, has been widely embraced by the public. It has also excited intense weapons- and techno-envy among police departments and municipalities vying for the latest in armor and spy equipment.

In such a world, deadly gadgetry is just a grant request away, so why shouldn’t the 14,000 at-risk souls in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, have a closed-circuit-digital-camera-and-monitor system (cost: $180,000, courtesy of the Homeland Security Department) identical to the one up and running in New York’s Times Square?

So much money has gone into armoring and arming local law-enforcement since 9/11 that the federal government could have rebuilt post-Katrina New Orleans five times over and had enough money left in the kitty to provide job training and housing for every one of the record 41,000-plus homeless people in New York City. It could have added in the growing population of 15,000 homeless in Philadelphia, my hometown, and still have had money to spare. Add disintegrating Detroit, Newark and Camden to the list. Throw in some crumbling bridges and roads, too.

But why drone on? We all know that addressing acute social and economic issues here in the homeland was the road not taken. Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security alone has doled out somewhere between $30 billion and $40 billion in direct grants to state and local law enforcement, as well as other first responders. At the same time, defense contractors have proven endlessly inventive in adapting sales pitches originally honed for the military on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the desires of police on the streets of San Francisco and Lower Manhattan. Oakland may not be Basra but (as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld liked to say) there are always the unknown unknowns: best be prepared.

All told, the federal government has appropriated about $635 billion, accounting for inflation, for homeland security–related activities and equipment since the 9/11 attacks. To conclude, though, that “the police” have become increasingly militarized casts too narrow a net. The truth is that virtually the entire apparatus of government has been mobilized and militarized right down to the university campus.

Perhaps the pepper spray used on Occupy demonstrators last November at University of California–Davis wasn’t directly paid for by the federal government. But those who used it work closely with Homeland Security and the FBI “in developing prevention strategies that threaten campus life, property, and environments,” as UC Davis’s Comprehensive Emergency and Continuity Management Plan puts it.

Government budgets at every level now include allocations aimed at fighting an ephemeral “War on Terror” in the United States. A vast surveillance and military buildup has taken place nationwide to conduct a pseudo-war against what can be imagined, not what we actually face. The costs of this effort, started by the Bush administration and promoted faithfully by the Obama administration, have been, and continue to be, virtually incalculable. In the process, public service and the public imagination have been weaponized.

Farewell to Peaceful Private Life

We’re not just talking money eagerly squandered. That may prove the least of it. More importantly, the fundamental values of American democracy—particularly the right to lead an autonomous private life—have been compromised with grim efficiency. The weaponry and tactics now routinely employed by police are visible evidence of this.

Yes, it’s true that Montgomery County, Texas, has purchased a weapons-capable drone. (They say they’ll only arm it with tasers, if necessary.) Yes, it’s true that the Tampa police have beefed up the force with an eight-ton armored personnel carrier, augmenting two older tanks the department already owns. Yes, the Fargo police are ready with bomb detection robots and Chicago boasts a network of at least 15,000 interlinked surveillance cameras.

New York City’s 34,000-member police force is now the ground zero of a growing outcry over rampant secret spying on Muslim students and communities up and down the East Coast. It has been a big beneficiary of federal security largesse. Between 2003 and 2010, the city received more than $1.1 billion through Homeland Security’s Urban Areas Security Initiative grant program. And that’s only one of the grant programs funneling such money to New York.

The Obama White House itself has directly funded part of the New York Police Department’s anti-Muslim surveillance program. Top officials of New York’s finest have, however, repeatedly refused to disclose just how much anti-terrorism money it has been spending, citing, of course, security.

Can New York City ever be “secure”? Mayor Michael Bloomberg boasted recently with obvious satisfaction: “I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh-largest army in the world.” That would be the Vietnamese army actually, but accuracy isn’t the point. The smugness of the boast is. And meanwhile the money keeps pouring in and the “security” activities only multiply.

Why, for instance, are New York cops traveling to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Newark, New Jersey, to spy on ordinary Muslim citizens, who have nothing to do with New York and are not suspected of doing anything? For what conceivable purpose does Tampa want an eight-ton armored vehicle? Why do Texas sheriffs north of Houston believe one drone—or a dozen, for that matter—will make Montgomery County a better place? What manner of thinking conjures up a future that requires such hardware? We have entered a dark world that demands an inescapable battery of closed-circuit, networked video cameras trained on ordinary citizens strolling Michigan Avenue.

This is not simply a police issue. Law enforcement agencies may acquire the equipment and deploy it, but city legislators and executives must approve the expenditures and the uses. State legislators and bureaucrats refine the local grant requests. Federal officials, with endless input from national security and defense vendors and lobbyists, appropriate the funds.

Doubters are simply swept aside (while legions of security and terrorism pundits spin dread-inducing fantasies), and ultimately, the American people accept and live with the results. We get what we pay for—Mayor Bloomberg’s “army,” replicated coast to coast.

Budgets Tell the Story

Militarized thinking is made manifest through budgets, which daily reshape political and bureaucratic life in large and small ways. Not long after the 9/11 attacks, then–Attorney General John Ashcroft, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, used this formula to define the new American environment and so the thinking that went with it: “Terrorist operatives infiltrate our communities—plotting, planning, and waiting to kill again.” To counter that, the government had urgently embarked on “a wartime reorganization,” he said, and was “forging new relationships of cooperation with state and local law enforcement.”

While such visionary Ashcroftian rhetoric has cooled in recent years, the relationships and funding he touted a decade ago have been institutionalized throughout government—federal, state, and local—as well as civil society. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security, with a total 2012 budget of about $57 billion, is the most obvious example of this.

That budget only hints at what’s being doled out for homeland security at the federal level. Such moneys flow not just from Homeland Security, but from the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Commerce Department, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense.

In 2010, the Office of Management and Budget reckoned that thirty-one separate federal agencies were involved in homeland security-related funding that year to the tune of more than $65 billion. The Census Bureau, which has itself been compromised by War on Terror activities—mapping Middle Eastern and Muslim communities for counter-terrorism officials—estimated that federal homeland security funding topped $70 billion in 2010. But government officials acknowledge that much funding is not included in that compilation. (Grants made through the $5.6 billion Project BioShield, to offer but one example, an exotic vaccination and medical program launched in 2004, are absent from the total.)

Even the estimate of more than $635 billion in such expenditures does not tell the full spending story. That figure does not include the national intelligence or military intelligence budgets for which the Obama administration is seeking $52.6 billion and $19.6 billion respectively in 2013, or secret parts of the national security budget, the so-called black budget.

Local funding is also unaccounted for. New York’s Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly claims total national homeland security spending could easily be near a trillion dollars. Money well spent, he says—New York needs that anti-terror army, the thousands of surveillance cameras, those sophisticated new weapons and, naturally, a navy that now includes six drone submarines (thanks to $540,000 in Homeland Security cash) to keep an eye on the terrorist threat beneath the waves.

And even that’s not enough.

“We have a new boat on order,” Kelly said recently, alluding to a bullet-proof vessel paid for by, yes, Homeland Security (cost unspecified). “We envision a situation where we may have to get to an island or across water quickly, so we’re able to transport our heavy weapons officers rapidly. We have to do things differently. We know that this is where terrorists want to come.”

With submarines available to those who protect and serve (and grab the grant money), a simple armored SWAT carrier should hardly raise an eyebrow. The Tampa police will get one as part of their security buildup before the city hosts the Republican convention this summer. Tampa and Charlotte, which will host the Democratic convention, each received special $50 million security allocations from Congress to “harden” the cities.

Marc Hamlin, Tampa’s assistant police chief, told the Tampa city council that two old tanks, already owned and operated by the police, were simply not enough. They were just too unreliable. “Thank God we have two, because one seems to break down every week,” he lamented.

Not everyone on the council seemed convinced Tampa needed a truck sheathed in 1.5-inch high-grade steel, and featuring ballistic glass panels, blast shields and powered turrets. City Council Vice Chairwoman Mary Mulhern claimed she found the purchase “kind of troubling,” a sign that Tampa is becoming “militarized.” Then she voted to approve it anyway, along with the other council members. Hamlin was pleased. “It’s one of those things where you prepare for the worst, and you hope for the best,” he explained.

When Mulhern suggested that some of the windfall $50 million might be used to help the city’s growing homeless population, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn set her straight. “We can’t be diverted from what the appropriate use of that money is, and that is to provide a safe environment for the convention. It’s not to be used for pet projects or things totally unrelated to security.”

Tampa will also be spending more than $1 million for state of the art digital video uplinks to surveillance helicopters. (“Analog technology is almost Stone Age,” commented one approving council member.) Another $2 million will go to install sixty surveillance cameras on city streets. That represents an uncharacteristic pullback from the city’s initial plan to acquire more than 230 cameras as well as two drones at a cost of about $5 million. Even the police deemed that too expensive—for the moment.

All of this hardware will remain in Tampa after the Republicans and any protestors are long gone. What use will it serve then? In the Tampa area, the armored truck will join the armored fleet, police officials said, ferrying SWAT teams on calls and protecting police serving search warrants. In the past, Hamlin claimed, Tampa’s tanks have been shot at. He did not mention that crime rates in Tampa and across Florida are at four-decade lows.

The video surveillance cameras will, of course, also stay in place, streaming digitized images to an ever-growing database, where they will be stored waiting for the day when facial recognition software is employed to mix and match. This strategy is being followed all over the country, including in Chicago, with its huge video surveillance network, and New York City, where all of Lower Manhattan is now on camera.

Tampa has already been down this road once in the post-9/11 era. The city was home to a much-watched experiment in using such software. Images taken by cameras installed on the street were to be matched with photographs in a database of suspects. The system failed completely and was scrapped in 2003. On the other hand, sheriffs in the Tampa Bay area are currently using facial recognition software to match photographs snapped by police on the street with a database of suspects with outstanding warrants. Police are excited by that program and look forward to its future expansion.

The Rise of the Fusion Centers

Homeland Security has played a big role in creating one particularly potent element in the nation’s expanding database network. Working with the Department of Justice in the wake of 9/11, it launched what has grown into seventy-two interlinked state “fusion centers”—repositories for everything from Immigration Customs Enforcement data and photographs to local police reports and even gossip. “Suspicious Activity Reports” gathered from public tipsters—thanks to Homeland Security’s “if you see something, say something” program—are now flowing into state centers. Those fusion centers are possibly the greatest facilitators of dish in history and have vast potential for disseminating dubious information and stigmatizing purely political activity. And most Americans have never even heard of them.

Yet fusion centers now operate in every state, centralizing intelligence gathering and facilitating dissemination of material of every sort across the country. Here is where information gathered by cops and citizens, FBI agents and immigration officers goes to fester. It is a staggering load of data, unevenly and sometimes questionably vetted, and it is ultimately available to any state or local law-enforcement officer, any immigration agent or official, any intelligence or security bureaucrat with a computer and network access.

The idea for these centers grew from the notion that agencies needed to share what they knew in an “unfettered” environment. How comforting to know that the walls between intelligence and law enforcement are breached in an essentially unregulated fashion.

Many other states have monitored antiwar activists, gathering and storing names and information. Texas and other states have stored “intelligence” on Muslims. Pennsylvania gathered reports on opponents of natural gas drilling. Florida has scrutinized supporters of presidential candidate Ron Paul. The list of such questionable activities is very long. We have no idea how much dubious data has been squirreled away by authorities and remains within the networked system. But we do know that information pours into it with relative ease and spreads like an oil slick. Cleaning up and removing the mess is another story entirely.

Anyone who wants to learn something about fusion center funding will also find it maddeningly difficult to track. Not even the Homeland Security Department can say with certainty how much of its own money has gone into these data nests over the last decade. The amounts are staggering, however. From 2004 to 2009 alone, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that states used about $426 million in Homeland Security Department grants to fund fusion-related activities nationally. The centers also receive state and local funds, as well as funds from other federal agencies. How much? We don’t know, although GAO data suggest state and local funding at least equals the Homeland Security share.

Yet, as Tampa, New York City and other urban areas bulk up with high-tech anti-terrorism equipment and fusion centers have proliferated, the number of even remotely “terror-related” incidents has declined. The equipment acquired and projects inaugurated to fend off largely imaginary threats is instead increasingly deployed to address ordinary criminal activity, perceived political disruptions and the tracking and surveillance of American Muslims. The Transportation Safety Administration is now even patrolling highways. It could be called a case of mission creep, but the more accurate description might be bait-and-switch.

The chances of an American dying in a terrorist incident in a given year are one in 3.5 million. To reduce that risk, to make something minuscule even more minuscule, what has the nation spent? What has it cost us? Instead of rebuilding a ravaged American city in a timely fashion or making Americans more secure in their “underwater” homes and their disappearing jobs, we have created militarized police forces, visible evidence of police-state-style funding.

[Note on Sources and Further Reading: The following documents can all be found in pdf format by clicking on “here”: the UC Davis Comprehensive Emergency Management plan here, Census Bureau figures on Homeland Security spending here, a report on questionable fusion center actions here, the GAO report on fusion centers here, a report on the decline in the terrorist threat here and Congressional testimony favoring counterterrorism “mission creep” here.]

March 5, 2012       


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 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.”


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 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.

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.