Ahhhhh, it's good to know. The IRS "accidently" targeted conservative groups because they were trying to be "more efficient." Indeed.
A bipartisan Congressional panel yesterday released its findings regarding Apple's international tax regime and, specifically, how it was able to pay a relatively low tax rate when the U.S. corporate statutory tax rate is 35% (the highest in the developed world). The investigation turned up no wrongdoing, and that Apple follows the letter of the law and pays every dime of its legally-required taxes.
Nonetheless, Congress summoned Apple CEO Tim Cook in front of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations to testify on Apple's tax compliance. The Congressional report found that, had Apple not shifted its profits to other subsidiaries around the word,
Over all, Apple’s tax avoidance efforts shifted at least $74 billion from the reach of the Internal Revenue Service between 2009 and 2012, the investigators said. That cash remains offshore, but Apple, which paid more than $6 billion in taxes in the United States last year on its American operations, could still have to pay federal taxes on it if the company were to return the money to its coffers in the United States.
Sen. Rand Paul, who is not the chair or ranking member of this morning's committee, offered an unconventional opening statement for the record. "Frankly, I'm offended by the tone and tenor of this hearing," Sen. Paul Said. "Tell me a politician up here that doesn't try to minimize their taxes... Instead of Apple executives, we should have brought in here a giant mirror."
"I frankly think that the committee should apologize to Apple," Paul said.
Sen. Paul said that he was also "offended by the spectacle of dragging in executives that aren't doing anything illegal," a framing that subcommittee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) took issue with.
"We did not drag them in front of this subcommitee," Levin said. "This subcommittee is not going to apologize to Apple."
Sen. Paul also took to Twitter to express his outrage.
Instead of examining our broken tax system, the US Senate is about to harass Apple-one of the greatest business success stories in history.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
I am offended by a $4 trillion government bullying, berating and badgering one of America's greatest success stories.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
I am offended by the spectacle of dragging in here executives from Apple using the brute force of government to bully a great success story.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
To US Senate: I say, instead of Apple executives, you should have brought in a giant mirror if you want to see who is responsible.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
Today we could vote to lower the corporate income tax but we won't. Today we could vote to let profits come home at 5% but we won't.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
Instead of doing the right thing we drag businessmen and women in here to berate them for trying to maximize their profits for shareholders.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
Money goes where it is welcome. If you want more money to be earned in the United States, make profit welcome here.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
Apple has done more to enrich people's lives than politicians will ever do.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
To the Apple executives here, I apologize for this theater of the absurd.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
I will do everything in my power to make our tax code simpler. I will not be a party to witch hunts that mistake cause for effect.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
If there is anyone to blame here it is not Apple, it is Congress and the tax code it created.— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) May 21, 2013
Following the attack in Benghazi, senior State Department officials close to Hillary Clinton ordered the removal of a mid-level official who had no role in security decisions and has never been told the charges against him. He is now accusing Clinton’s team of scapegoating him for the failures that led to the death of four Americans last year...“The overall goal is to restore my honor,” said Maxwell, who has now filed grievances regarding his treatment with the State Department’s human resources bureau and the American Foreign Service Association, which represents the interests of foreign-service officers...“I had no involvement to any degree with decisions on security and the funding of security at our diplomatic mission in Benghazi,” he said.
The State Department declined to comment on the reasons that Maxwell and the other officials were placed on administrative leave, or on what the four were told about the reasons for the decision. It did confirm that the ARB did not recommend direct disciplinary action because it didn’t find misconduct or a direct breach of duty by the officials...Since the leave is not considered a formal disciplinary action, Maxwell has no means to appeal the status, as he would if he had been outright fired. To this day, he says, nobody from the State Department has ever told him why he was singled out for discipline. He has never had access to the classified portion of the ARB report, where all of the details regarding personnel failures leading up to Benghazi are confined. He also says he has never been shown any evidence or witness testimony linking him to the Benghazi incident.
Soon after being removed from his job, Maxwell was visited at his home late one evening and directed to sign a letter acknowledging his administrative leave and forfeiting his right to enter the State Department. He refused to sign, responding in writing that it amounted to an admission he had done something wrong. “They just wanted me to go away but I wouldn’t just go away,” he said. “I knew Chris [Stevens]. Chris was a friend of mine.” The decision to place Maxwell on administrative leave was made by Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills, according to three State Department officials with direct knowledge of the events. On the day after the unclassified version of the ARB’s report was released in December, Mills called Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones and directed her to have Maxwell leave his job immediately...One State Department official close to the issue told The Daily Beast that Clinton’s people told the leadership of the NEA bureau that Maxwell would be given another job at State when the Benghazi scandal blew over. Maxwell said Jones assured him he would eventually be brought back to NEA as a “senior advisor,” but that Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff, reneged.
A CNN/ORC International survey released Sunday morning also indicates that congressional Republicans are not overplaying their hand when it comes to their reaction to the three controversies that have consumed the nation’s capital over the past week and a half. And the poll finds that a majority of Americans take all three issues seriously…According to the poll, 44% say statements made by the Obama administration soon after the attack were an attempt to intentionally mislead the public. Half of those questioned say those statements reflected what the Obama administration believed, at the time, had occurred. But 59% now say that the U.S government could have prevented the attack in Benghazi, up 11 points from last November. And only 37% say that congressional Republicans are overreacting in their handling of the matter, with 59% saying they’ve reacted appropriately.
Making a brief statement to the American people in the White House Tuesday, President Obama reassured people in Oklahoma that all resources have been deployed to help in tornado recovery efforts and that Americans will open their hearts and homes to those who lost everything.
"There will be enormous grief that has to be absorbed," Obama said. "The country will travel with you."
Last night Obama declared parts of Oklahoma a disaster zone.
The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of Oklahoma and ordered Federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and tornadoes beginning on May 18, 2013, and continuing.
The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding also is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work in the counties of Cleveland, Lincoln, McClain, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Sandy Coachman as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.
FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties may apply for assistance by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.
With numerous scandals plaguing the Obama White House, Americans are turning into Fox News and turning off MSNBC.
The scandals of the Obama administration seem to be hurting not just the White House but MSNBC as well while Fox News Channel scored its second-best week of the year. After double-digit gains during last year’s presidential election, May 13-17 saw the progressive-aligned “Lean Forward” news network hit new lows as the IRS scandal erupted and revelations that the Justice Department secretly obtained AP records became public. With 350,000 viewers on average and 94,000 among the adults 25-54 demo, MSNBC had its least-watched and lowest-rated total-day results of the year last week. That was also the lowest total-day demo result the network has had since the week of June 26-July 2, 2006, when MSNBC pulled in just 83,000 viewers among adults 25-54, according to Nielsen data.
Last week’s total day results were down 17% in viewers and 22% among the demo from the comparable May 14 to May 18 week of last year. In primetime, the numbers were even worse for MSNBC as a steady decline from the beginning of the year continued.
As the sun begins to rise in Moore, Oklahoma we're starting to see the absolutely incredibile damage an EF4 tornado with 200 MPH winds did yesterday.
Officials have confirmed at least 91 people have been killed in the Moore tornado Monday.
The medical examiner’s office confirmed at least 233 people have been injured.
That number is expected to rise as recovery efforts continue Tuesday morning and daylight arrives.
The tornado claimed an unconfirmed number of children at Moore’s Plaza Towers Elementary.
Children at Plaza Towers Elementary were reportedly in a hall way when the tornado hit, water lines broke and many of them drowned.
Seven young children drowned after becoming trapped in their school’s basement when it suffered a direct hit from a tornado in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, it has emerged.
President Obama has declared Oklahoma a disaster zone and will speak at 10 a.m. EST about the storm damage.
Obama has ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts. Individuals and business owners affected by the disaster may apply for federal grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs.
The president promised federal assistance in a phone conversation earlier Monday with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent a special team to Oklahoma's emergency operations center to help out and dispatch resources.
Time lapse video of the tornado:
How you can help:
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has several shelters open in Oklahoma and Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles have begun delivering hot meals throughout the affected areas. The Red Cross is also working to link loved ones in Moore who are OK through a website called Safe and Well. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, donate online, or donate by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.
The Salvation Army is activating disaster response teams and mobile feeding units to help residents and rescuers in Moore, Okla., as well as in other locations in the Plains and the Midwest that were impacted by tornadoes. Donate online or text STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts or make a donation by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If you’re sending a check make sure you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK., 73157.
Los Angeles-based international relief agency Operation USA announced it’s providing emergency aid where needed to community-based health organizations across Oklahoma. Donate online, by phone at 1-800-678-7255, or by check made out to Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036. You can also donate $10 by texting AID to 50555. Corporate donations of bulk quantities of disaster-appropriate supplies are also being requested.
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief
Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief says it has deployed at least 80 volunteers to respond to severe weather in Oklahoma. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO’s Disaster Relief ministry online or call (405) 942-3800. You may also send checks to: BGCO Attn: Disaster Relief 3800 N. May Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73112.
As Katie wrote earlier, the President Obama's Department of Justice secretly monitored the e-mails, phone calls and even physical movements of Fox News reporter James Rosen, even going so far as to suggest that Rosen broke the law.
Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker posted the full 44-page search warrant that details the allegations against both James Rosen former State Department employee Stephne Jin-Woo Kim. It's chilling - perhaps none more so than page 26, which details the innocuous relationship between Rosen and Kim:
Particularly part (b) here, where the Justice Department somehow sees malice in a reporter "employing flattery and playing to Mr. Kim's vanity and ego." In other words, any investigative reporter who plays nice with a potential source might be subject to getting their records searched by the Department of Justice.
Over at Hot Air, Allahpundit wrote of top Democrats getting fed up with Eric Holder's scandal-plagued Department of Justice:
[S]capegoating Holder for Obama’s anti-leak practices might help liberal O-bots resolve the cognitive dissonance between their idealized view of the Unicorn Prince as a champion of good government and the unpleasant daily reality. Blame Holder, boot him out, and then they can gaze once again at O as the fantasy president they wished he was.
Press Secretary Jay Carney had nothing to say in today's White House press briefing, refusing to answer any question that he deemed even tangentially related to these new allegations of the Department of Justice that were brought to light. It's been his standard practice when dealing with scandal, but today's was a stunning display of obfuscation. The daily press briefings are becoming must-watch affairs, with even the mainstream media increasingly fed up with the Obama Administration.
The Associated Press' summary led with "Obama budget cuts deficits by $1.1 trillion" but, as Nick Gillespie points out, delving down into the actual numbers yields some worrying results. The short-term deficit is larger than the CBO's baseline, and the long-term budget only cuts the deficit relative to the baseline by - you guessed it - massive tax hikes.
Chiefly because of spending increases his budget proposes, Obama's fiscal plan would make next year's deficit $115 billion higher than the $560 billion shortfall that the budget office estimates for 2014 without the president's policies. Republicans criticized that and contrasted the $542 billion deficit Obama's budget would leave in 2023 with the spending plan approved by the GOP-run House, which relies on deep spending cuts to achieve balance by that year.
The congressional report said to achieve his $1.1 trillion in savings over the next decade, Obama relies on $974 billion in higher revenue and $172 billion in spending cuts. That is nearly a 6-1 ratio.
Obama's major revenue-raising proposals include limiting some deductions and exclusions for some higher-earning taxpayers, raising $493 billion over the decade; boosting tobacco taxes by $83 billion; and raising estate and gift taxes by $77 billion, the budget office said.
Moreover, the largest spending cut in President Obama's budget comes from winding down overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. A quirk of the federal budget causes the CBO to assume that OCOs would never cease. So President Obama uses the over $600 billion in budget "savings" from winding down overseas wars and puts it towards more spending programs. In total, as the AP reported, there's $172 billion in spending cuts - which means that most of that war draw-down "savings" are put towards more spending.
President Obama's budget is pretty typical for what we know about his economic philosophy. He's a Keynesian, which means the short-term deficit reduction makes sense. He also doesn't think that America's long-term entitlement problems are actually problems that need addressing - so his failure to address them, and then allow budget deficits and debt to rise in the medium- and long-term, also makes sense. While you may have read that President Obama's budget gets the deficit under control, it's mostly a one-time occasion that is predicated by an economic recovery and President Obama's tax hikes.
Even MSNBC can't fully turn a blind eye to how things seem to keep "evolving" in the briefing room these days. So we're clear, Carney's new version of events is that top-level White House officials knew about the Inspector General's investigation into the IRS for some time, but chose not to inform the president about it. He claims that President Obama's chief of staff, top lawyer, and Treasury Secretary all knew this political megabomb was about to detonate, but decided their boss didn't need to know about it. I'm...struggling to believe that, but at least it's spawned an amusing Twitter hashtag, #WhatArentTheyTellingObama. Just to keep the "who knew what?" inquiries straight, there are two basic questions pertaining to White House knowledge of the IRS scandal that remain unresolved, both of which have inched closer to the president's door in recent days. The first involves when Team Obama -- within the administration or at the campaign -- first knew about the practice of IRS targeting. Carney and the president were both a bit cagey on this point last week, then numerous media outlets reported on Friday that high-ranking administration officials at Treasury found out about the targeting scheme in June of 2012. That would be roughly six months before the election, in case that wasn't clear. Did Treasury brass fail to impart that knowledge to anyone else? Really? The second question is when, specifically, the president himself knew about the Inspector General's report (and therefore, the scandal).
Obama has intimated that his first whiff of the entire scandal came in the form of media reports two Fridays ago. Even if Obama wasn't aware of the scheme before the election (I'm not fully convinced of this), doesn't it seem suspicious that virtually everyone around him did know about the impending IG findings, yet he was scrupulously frozen out of the loop? Carney acknowledged that Obama has repeatedly met with in-the-know subordinates over the last month, insisting that none of them breathed a word about it (and for or another interesting wrinkle about Obama's appointment schedule and the IRS scandal, read this). If that's the case, it looks like the White House has been working awfully hard to insulate the president from some real nastiness -- which begs the question posed in the above hashtag. Cloistered aloofness doesn't look great on any president; it's possible that the White House has concluded it's still the least damaging posture for him to adopt.
You decide. Jeffrey Lord, at the American Spectator, examined White House visitor logs and found a very interesting fact:
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
Coincidence? It would be interesting to know, with the union president who visited President Obama -- Colleen Kelly -- under oath. Read the whole story here.
Carney: Okay Fine, Senior Officials Knew the IRS Report was Coming, but Nobody Told Obama | Guy Benson