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A few well-written words can convey a wealth of information, particularly when there is no lag time between when they are written and when they are read. The IPS blog gives you an opportunity to hear directly from IPS scholars and staff on ideas large and small and for us to hear back from you.

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House Hearing on Tax Havens: Possible "Purple" Issue?

June 13, 2013 ·

Could tax havens be an issue that the right and left agree on in Congress?When the Republican chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee called a June 13 hearing on tax havens, he expressed concerns that echoed those of many progressives.

Among the general public, opposition to this form of tax avoidance cuts across the political spectrum. Small business owners (who don’t tend to have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands) are particularly upset about the practice, which costs the U.S. Treasury an estimated $100 billion a year.

But could tax havens become a “purple” issue on Capitol Hill? 

In his opening statement at the hearing, Committee Chair Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) said: “There is widespread agreement amongst academics, economists, and lawmakers that these practices are both unfair to taxpayers who aren’t able to engage in the strategies and harmful to the U.S. economy.”

Testimony at the hearing suggested abuse of tax havens harmed not only the U.S. economy but those of our major trading partners as well. University of Southern California Law School Professor Edward Kleinbard reported that 37 percent of the income of the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations was taxed at rates less than 5 percent and spoke of companies “siphoning off profits” that are taxed neither in the home country nor the host country.

Pascal Saint-Amans, who directs the tax policy department of  the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), observed that corporations are finding their way around bi-lateral global tax treaties by routing that trade through a third nation that is not party to the treaty. “In order for changes to the rules and international standards to be effective, greater transparency will be needed,” Saint-Amans told the Committee. British Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to call upon leaders of the G8 to address ways to curtail tax haven abuse and improve tax transparency at their meetings in Northern Ireland next week.

Meanwhile U.S. multinational corporations continue to make lobbying for corporate tax reform a high priority. Fix the Debt, a corporate pro-austerity lobby group, is calling on Congress to adopt “pro-growth tax reform” including a territorial tax system. This reform would increase incentives to exploit tax havens by permanently exempting U.S. corporations’ foreign earnings from U.S. federal income taxes.

Fix the Debt members, who collectively have shifted more than half a trillion dollars offshore, stand to gain as much as $173 billion in tax windfalls if a territorial system is adopted, according to Corporate Pirates of the Caribbean, a just-released report by the Institute for Policy Studies.

Professor Kleinbard worried that a system of “unprotected territoriality” like that favored by Fix the Debt and other corporations “heavily subsidizes foreign investment, at the expense of our own domestic economy.” Kleinbard is not alone in his concerns: a poll sponsored by the American Sustainable Business Council and Main Street Alliance found that 85 percent of America’s small business owners opposed a territorial tax system, including 67 percent of small business owners who self-identified as Republicans.

Ending the gaming of the tax code and restoring confidence in the basic fairness of the tax system is not a Democratic nor a Republican issue. It is not even just an American issue. It is something we all can agree on, and ought to be a first step toward a healthier society, a strong economy, and a business climate which allows all companies – large and small – to prosper.

This Week in OtherWords: June 12, 2013

June 12, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Timothy Karr discusses the surveillance scandal (Spygate?). We're also running immigration op-eds by the Sierra Club's Michael Brune and a mom who wants the ongoing reform efforts to include stronger protections for au pairs. Are you looking for something with a Flag Day angle? Scott Klinger urges U.S. corporations to stop flying the Jolly Roger.

If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Dancing Around the First and Fourth Amendments / Timothy Karr
    The government can keep us safe from terrorism without stifling free speech, invading everyone's privacy, and seizing our data.
  2. A More Sustainable Future for Us All / Michael Brune
    The Sierra Club strongly supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  3. A Radioactive Waste of Money / Mia Steinle
    The federal government should stop building a pointless $7.7 billion facility to convert plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors.
  4. It’s Time Corporations Flew Old Glory Instead of the Jolly Roger / Scott Klinger
    Instead of gaming the tax system to boost corporate profits, American business leaders need to start investing more in this nation.
  5. Showing Our Caregivers We Care About Them
    The immigration reform bill now pending in the Senate would protect au pairs against human trafficking and abusive recruitment practices before they even arrive.
  6. Stripping Detroit of Its Remaining Riches / Donald Kaul
    The state-appointed emergency manager may be on the verge of selling the local art museum's masterpieces to pay the city's bills.
  7. The Day the Music Stopped / Sam Pizzigati
    A banker's squeeze-play has silenced an entire orchestra.
  8. Casting a Spotlight on Frankenfoods / Jill Richardson
    A legislative victory in Connecticut is the first for American consumers who are demanding the right to know if our food is genetically engineered.
  9. Catching Monsanto’s Drift / Jim Hightower
    Frankenwheat crops are sprouting like weeds in Oregon.
  10. Egging On North Korea / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    The saber-rattling is mutual.
  11. Pirates of the Cayman Islands / Khalil Bendib

    Pirates of the Cayman Islands, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib


    Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies OtherWords.org

This Week in OtherWords: A Spotlight on Poverty

June 5, 2013 ·

his week in OtherWords, Jill Richardson puts her own brush with food stamps into a broader context, Jim Hightower lampoons a rich Tennessee lawmaker who wants to slash spending on the program but pockets plenty of farm subsidies, and Marc Morial calls for raising the minimum wage. Donald Kaul, meanwhile, bids Michele Bachmann a not-so-fond farewell.

If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

Here's a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon.

  1. None of My Business / Chris Schillig
    We have a cockeyed view of poverty in America.
  2. Prosperity for All / Richard Kirsch
    The economy that matters is measured by whether enough Americans hold decent jobs, not the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  3. Boosting the Economy from the Bottom Up / Marc Morial
    It's time to raise the minimum wage and peg it to inflation.
  4. Michele Bachmann Bows Out / Donald Kaul
    Her most hilarious accomplishment was being named to the House Intelligence Committee.
  5. The Wealthy’s Free Pass / Sam Pizzigati
    Our tax code pads the bottom line of the Americans who need help the least.
  6. Feeding the Economy / Jill Richardson
    The government should expand the food stamp program, not shrink it.
  7. A Frog-Jumping Double Standard on Food Subsidies / Jim Hightower
    Millionaire lawmaker Stephen Fincher is pushing for cuts to food stamps and increases in subsidies that will pad the Tennessee Republican's own bottom line.
  8. Cleaning Up Our Portfolios / Emily Schwartz Greco and William A. Collins
    A new movement is putting pressure on people and institutions to dump their investments in dirty energy companies.
  9. Food Stamps SOS / Khalil Bendib 

    Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies OtherWords.org
    Food Stamps SOS, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib 
This Week in OtherWords: May 29, 2013

May 29, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Bob Lord points to the larger story behind Apple's outrageous-without-being-illegal tax record and Jess Hunter-Bowman notes that Latin America is leading the way toward a more rational drug policy.

Here's a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon. As always, these materials are available for use at no charge in newspapers and new media under a Creative Commons license. Editors may find information about that on our website or contact me with any questions at OtherWords[ AT ]ips-dc.org.

If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do.

  1. Charting a New Course on Illegal Drugs / Jess Hunter-Bowman
    After 40 years of failing to stem the drug trade, there's a global conversation about new approaches.
  2. The Irish Tax Blight / Bob Lord
    Apple has illuminated how corporations can easily avoid taxation as our economy becomes more global.
  3. How to Help Syria Now / Chris Toensing
    Washington should step up diplomacy and humanitarian aid rather than taking a more belligerent stance.
  4. Oklahoma’s Biblical Irony / Donald Kaul
    Sen. Coburn's underlying logic goes to the heart of the snake oil that Republicans are selling the American people these days.
  5. These Hedges Need Trimming / Sam Pizzigati
    Are hedge funds a financial service or a racket?
  6. How I Fell for Farmers’ Markets / Jill Richardson
    Eaters everywhere across America are discovering the joy of buying directly from local farmers.
  7. The New Face of Poverty in America / Jim Hightower
    The suburbs have become the fastest-growing home of American poverty.
  8. Neglecting Mother Nature / William A. Collins
    There's no clear sense of urgency regarding the environment in the United States today.
  9. Oklahoma’s Silly Goose / Khalil Bendib cartoon

    Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies OtherWords.org
    Oklahoma's Silly Goose, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib 
This Week in OtherWords: May 22, 2013

May 22, 2013 ·

This week in OtherWords, Martha Burk weighs in on the military's lackluster efforts to stop sexual assaults within the ranks and Donald Kaul reviews the Obama administration's outbreak of scandals.

Here's a clickable summary of all our latest commentaries and a link to our new cartoon. We're also featuring Jim Hightower's take on Budweiser's latest marketing maneuver on our blog.

If you haven't already subscribed to our weekly newsletter, please do. 

  1. Our Women in Uniform Deserve Better / Martha Burk
    The Pentagon has a systemic problem with foxes guarding henhouses when it comes to doing battle with the military's sexual assault problem.
  2. With Americans Moving Forward on Gay Rights, Why Won’t the GOP? / Drew Courtney
    Congress will soon debate something the rest of America decided years ago: whether or not it’s okay to fire people for being gay.
  3. Faking Farm Savings / Ryan Alexander
    It's a time-honored tradition in Washington to do as little as possible and look good while (not) doing it.
  4. Scandal Season at the Obama White House / Donald Kaul
    If Karl Rove is running a social welfare outfit, I'm the Queen of Romania.
  5. Money Still Can’t Buy Happiness / Sam Pizzigati
    And we finally have a nation that's taking that reality to heart.
  6. Censoring Our Food / Jill Richardson
    If farms and slaughterhouses are rife with repulsive and sadistic abuses, why should we pass laws to help hide it?
  7. The New Crime of Eating While Homeless / Jim Hightower
    By outlawing dumpster diving, Houston is making life impossible for the most vulnerable.
  8. Cannon Fodder, 21st Century-Style / William A. Collins
    If the IEDs, PTSD, and risk of sexual assault don't get you, the disillusionment will.
  9. The Pentagon’s Assault Guidelines / Khalil Bendib cartoon

    Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies OtherWords.org



    Military Assault Guidelines, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib 
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