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Economy

Paradise Papers: How offshore tax havens are worse than you think

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Wilbur Ross

There’s a dirty little secret many ultra-rich people would never want revealed: most of them pay lower percentages in actual taxes relative to their overall wealth than average middle class Americans. No, this is not a call for socialism nor is it a rant about how unfair the system is. Frankly, I don’t blame people for wanting to keep more of the money they earn. However, I do take offense at the lack of transparency they embrace as their efforts to save money also shield their dealings and motivations.

When Joe Blow Billionaire uses a tax haven, it’s smart money. That’s not to say it’s right that they can keep large percentages of their money hidden from the government in ways that middle class Americans cannot, but it’s not their fault the system is broken. We shouldn’t expect them to willingly pay more when they’re given legal avenues to avoid it. Those who complain from a socialistic perspective about the use of tax havens are the same people who would use those havens if they had the money. Ultra-liberal semi-socialist Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Prime Minister, would probably side with anyone who complained about how unfair it was unless they were aware that he took advantage of it himself.

The real problem isn’t that money can be protected for the rich. Where we get into real trouble is when politicians do it. Again, they have the right to protect their money, but they should not be allowed to shield their motivations. When a public official has secret investments, it’s impossible to know if their decisions aren’t being influenced by personal gain or loss.

Public disclosure of investments allows us to know if Senator X has ulterior motives for their actions. Let’s say Senator X has investments in an American sugar company. Americans should know this in case he’s voting on a bill to save sugar subsidies. Conflict of interests are easier to see when all of their money is in public view. When they hide their money offshore, their investments (and therefore their interests) are kept from the people they’re supposed to represent.

An example of this may be coming to light with the recent Paradise Papers release. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was listed in the Paradise Papers as having a stake in a company that does business with a gas producer partly-owned by Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. As you can see, it’s already a distant but not completely indirect connection, though one can easily argue that it’s not a close enough connection to get Robert Mueller’s interests piqued. Nevertheless, this is an investment that was previously unknown because it was done through secretive offshore accounts.

We must have a reasonable expectation that the people we elect as well as the people who are put into bureaucratic offices are untainted. Ross has direct influence over trade and manufacturing policy. He should be the last person in DC to be heavily invested in foreign interests hidden from the people. Again, let’s not jump to conclusions or call for President Trump to get rid of Ross, but the fact that questions now have to be asked is a black eye for the Trump administration.

Tax havens are unfair, but that’s not as big of a problem as most believe. The real issue is transparency. Anyone in public office who utilizes offshore accounts or investments to hide their money should be put under the microscope. If we don’t know their private motivations, we can’t trust their public actions.

Further Reading

Trump commerce secretary’s business links with Putin family laid out in leaked files

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/trump-commerce-secretary-wilbur-ross-business-links-putin-family-paradise-papersRoss, a billionaire and close friend of Trump, retained holdings in Navigator after taking office this year. The relationship means he stands to benefit from the operations of a Russian company run by Putin’s family and close allies, some of whom are under US sanctions.

Corporate records show Navigator ramped up its relationship with Sibur from 2014, as the US and EU imposed sanctions on Russians. The measures followed Putin’s aggression in eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Navigator has collected $68m in revenue from its Sibur partnership since 2014.

Former liberal who recently realized I've been a #Federalist the whole time. GOP fooled me into hating what I thought was conservatism. Now I see the light.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Douglas Olson

    November 6, 2017 at 11:22 am

    I will even go one further. If a politician is to have any say on tax policy, particularly income taxes, they need to be transparent on how much an on what income they pay taxes on. For example, if a politician wants to increase the payroll tax but all of their income is from dividends, then the warning bells should be ringing. Right Trump?

    Maybe it is time we stop taxing income at different rates. If we do, and those living off dividend income have to pay the same rate as those paying in payroll taxes, then I would bet that all those rich folks will start complaining about taxes. Right Buffet?

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Economy

Will GOP stop Trump’s trade war as the Constitution requires?

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When Donald Trump announced YUGE tariffs on imported solar panels and residential washing machines back in January, he launched a trade war reminiscent of 1800’s protectionism and laid the foundation for higher prices for American consumers, along with the loss of thousands upon thousands of jobs.

Unfazed by historic evidence that such trade wars inevitably lead to economic disaster, Trump proceeded with a second round of attacks on the free market in March by imposing across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum, complete with his personal assurance that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

While Trump initially suspended steel and aluminum tariffs against the EU, Mexico, and Canada–providers of roughly fifty percent of steel imports to the US–he announced this past Friday that the tariffs are back on. And for good measure, he issued an additional threat to Germany that he would completely ban the import of luxury cars if they chose to retaliate with tariffs of their own against US goods.

As was the case in March, members of the GOP are threatening to prove they actually have a spine, and there are indications that they might do something this time around to stop Trump before it’s too late.

Sen. Pat Toomey (PA)–for the record, that’s a steel state–will be co-sponsoring Sen. Mike Lee’s bill S.177 to end Trump’s abusive practice of using “national security” to impose tariffs and to return tariff authority back to Congress where it Constitutionally belongs.

Other Republicans joining with Toomey and Lee are Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Corey Gardner (CO), and Ben Sasse (NE).

Besides the fact that tariffs are simply terrible economic and foreign policy, Trump has used the threat of tariffs against China as leverage for his personal financial gain; essentially extorting money from the Chinese government to finance Trump golf courses and hotels in Indonesia and securing a boatload of trademarks for his and Ivanka’s business interests in China.

If passed, S.177 will give the power to approve or disapprove Trump’s tariffs back to Congress, not to mention that it would save the American people from an economic catastrophe.

The only question is, will Republicans do what required to fulfill their Constitutional duty or will they cave to Trumpism in hopes that it will help them in November? The clock is ticking . . .

Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and FacebookSubscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Economy

Obamanomics damaged the economy, and Trumponomics isn’t fixing it

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While Trump and the GOP want you and me to believe that Trumponomics has singlehandedly saved the US economy by reducing taxes and creating jobs, the reality for those of us living in the real world is quite different.

It was Mark Twain who once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” When it comes to politicians in an election year, Mr. Twain could have been describing the Washington establishment owned and operated by the Republicans and Democrats.

No doubt you’ve heard the much-ballyhooed news that unemployment has dropped to its lowest level since 2000, coming in at 3.9%. But just as it was when Obama manipulated unemployment numbers to cover his pathetic economic policies, this recent jobs report has been manipulated to hide the truth about our very unhealthy economy.

Unemployment numbers can change for any number of reasons:

  1. People move from the unemployed category into the employed category
  2. The number of employed grows faster than the number of unemployed
  3. You simply add people to the employed category without changing anyone’s status
  4. You simply stop counting people in the unemployed category, making them magically disappear

When we consider that the number of jobs added in April was 164,000 while the number of unemployed dropped by 239,000, we can conclude that reason #4 is how the latest unemployment rate was manipulated to make things look better than they really are. Unemployment went down because the labor-participation rate fell to 62.8 percent after being 63 percent in February and 62.9 percent in March. Three consecutive months of declines.

Quite simply, when you are no longer working or looking for work, the government no longer includes you as a part of the equation to calculate the unemployment report.

Meanwhile, Trumponomics is also creating a slower growth rate than Trump is claiming while his tax cuts and record government spendingdespite the recent rescission cuts—is creating another threat to the US economy, an apocalyptic debt spiral adding trillions to the already unsustainable national debt.

Obamanomics caused a great deal of damage to the US economy, but Trumponomics isn’t doing anything to repair it; in fact, Trump’s plan will likely destroy what’s left of it.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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Democrats

Forget lowering unemployment, Bernie Sanders will eliminate it!

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During his 2016 Democrat primary campaign, Bernie Sanders was “absolutely sympathetic” to the idea of a universal basic income; however, he felt that his plans for a $15/hr. minimum wage, expanding Social Security to pay for guaranteed healthcare, and providing free college would do more than creating just another government handout.

But now Bernie has apparently found a way to accomplish his goals as well as the goals of the universal basic income crowd.
Yesterday, we learned that the self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist is ready to announce a plan that will guarantee every American “who wants or needs one” a lifetime government job paying at least $15/hr. and proving paid family and medical leave plus retirement, health, and vacation benefits.

While the details are still being worked on, Bernie has admitted that he currently has no idea exactly how much his plan will cost or where the money to pay for it will come from. However, if his 2016 campaign is any indication, the cost will be irrelevant, and the money to pay for it will come from “the billionaires and oligarchs” he refers to as the “top one percent of income earners.”

While it would be tempting to shrug off Bernie’s plan as the rantings of a socialist loon living to the left of the left-wing, we should remember how his Marxist beliefs concerning income inequality caught fire with a generation of Constitutionally ignorant voters raised on the socialist ideology taught in today’s public schools indoctrination centers.

And a poll conducted during the 2016 primary season showed that a majority of millennials rejected capitalism.

Democrats would see a huge voter advantage by creating a new state-run workforce dependent upon them for their jobs. And politicians from both parties would have a new voter-bloc to advance their ideological and political agendas.

Bernie’s plan is being called a guaranteed-jobs program, but the only guarantee it gives us is the destruction of capitalism and Constitutional America.


Originally posted on The Strident Conservative.

 

David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook. Subscribe to receive podcasts of radio commentaries: iTunes | Stitcher | Tune In | RSS

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