Barack Obama

White House Plan to Close Special Interest Tax Loopholes Is the Right Approach to Reform, But Details Matter

The President has put forward the beginnings of a tax reform plan that takes the right approach, but is still missing critical details.
America needs a level playing field where businesses succeed by being more productive and innovative, not by hiding profits in the Cayman Islands or other tax havens. By ending special-interest tax preferences, the administration plan could help the economy and reduce debt, while addressing public outrage about large companies dodging their taxes.
The current system serves nobody except the relatively few companies that can most exploit these loopholes and the armies of tax lawyers and lobbyists that must be hired to play this destructive game.”
The President’s plan includes very promising proposals. If the details include reforms such as complete reporting of all profits and taxes paid, clear cut rules to end profit shifting to bogus off-shore subsidiaries and enforceable minimum rates to deter tax avoidance gamesmanship, then this plan will fulfill its promise.
Preventing firms from sheltering profits overseas will encourage companies to keep their business here.  We were encouraged to see some of the revenue raised put toward clean energy. We urge that loophole closing is pursued aggressively and that additional revenue will be put toward some combination of reducing the public debt and reducing severe cuts to public priorities.

What Do Jon Stewart, Elizabeth Warren, and Barack Obama Have In Common?

It’s been a big week for calling out corporate tax dodgers.

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called for an economy where “everyone plays by the same set of rules” and where companies can’t avoid taxes by shifting profits overseas. He acknowledged what we’ve been saying for a long time which is that special interests have long played by a different set of rules than the rest of us – ones they’ve helped create, I might add.

That same night, Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren went on the Daily Show and called out 30 corporations that a recent Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group (PennPIRG) and Citizens for Tax Justice study found paid more to lobby Congress than they did in federal income taxes between 2008 and 2010. When Warren told this to John Stewart on the Daily Show, it made the usually unflappable comedian’s jaw drop.

The special treatment that special interests have won over the years is on full display when it comes to our tax code. While small businesses and ordinary taxpayers pay taxes on the income they earn, companies like GE and Wells Fargo have so deftly manipulated the tax code that they paid no taxes on billions of dollars in profits between 2008 and 2010. In fact, they actually got tax rebates from Uncle Sam on tax day. While it may sound criminal, it’s all perfectly legal.

Most taxpayers can’t employ hoards of tax lawyers to manipulate the tax system or hire an army of lobbyists to craft the tax code in their favor. Warren put it best during her Daily Show interview: “Washington now works for those who can hire an army of lobbyists and an army of lawyers.” The “Dirty Thirty” companies identified by PennPIRG and CTJ all told spent nearly half a billion dollars lobbying Congress on tax policy and other issues over the three year period of the study. “They hire those people to make [the tax code] onerous so they can worm their way through,” as Stewart rightly asserted.

President’s Recess Appointment Gives Watchdog Teeth It Needs To Protect Consumers From Wall Street Financial Shenanigans

By Edmund Mierzwinski and Alana Miller

Kudos to President Obama for standing up for consumers this week by making a recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The President’s action means that the CFPB now has all its powers to protect the public from unfair financial practices, whether by banks or other financial firms, such as payday lenders and credit bureaus.

Since July 21, the CFPB – a centerpiece of the 2010 Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – had been up and running, but only with partial powers. It is the nation’s first federal financial regulator with only one job – protecting consumers, including seniors, students and servicemembers, from unfair financial practices.

Now with a director in place, the CFPB has additional abilities that kick in, including the right to supervise payday lenders, mortgage companies, credit bureaus, debt collectors, private student lenders and other non-banks. It also now has additional powers over banks and credit card companies.

Along with civil rights, labor, senior and consumer groups, PennPIRG had long urged the Senate to confirm Cordray, the former Ohio Attorney General, to direct the CFPB. Recently, 37 state Attorneys General, on a bi-partisan basis, had sent a letter to the Senate urging confirmation.

Yet, at the behest of both the Wall Street banks and the payday lenders, some Senators had opposed confirmation of any CFPB director. 45 Senators, including Pennsylvania’s own Senator Toomey, had written the President in May and told him that they would block confirmation of any director until and unless the CFPB’s independence and authority were first restricted. Then, on December 8th, 45 Senators blocked Cordray’s nomination. They wanted the CFPB weak and powerless and with a tin cup in hand.

"Beyond Obama" - A Day in Solidarity With African People November 6th

Group Challenges Racial Divide in U.S.

What: Conference
When: Saturday, November 6, 1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Contact: Harris Daniels, 857-233-7508

On Saturday, November 6, the African People’s Solidarity Committee will hold a public event entitled, “Beyond Obama: Seeking real solutions to the growing racial divide in the US.” The conference will feature presentations by leaders of the “Black is Back!” Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations; Friends and Family of Mumia Abu Jamal; the Black Agenda Report; and the Harlem Tenants Council. It is the culmination of an effort to raise $10,000 for the Uhuru Movement’s black community justice campaigns.

Enough Is Enough: Joe Sestak for U.S. Senate

The backslide to the right stops here, if you want it.

Every election has results, so every election counts, but this year’s Senate election in Pennsylvania counts more than most.

Joe Sestak’s campaign for U.S. Senate has taken on national resonance because the Democrats who swept into office in 2008, capturing the White House and both houses of Congress, have stopped acting like Democrats and have certainly lost the mojo that should go along with such a historic victory.

As MoveOn rightly states in their endorsement of Sestak Friday:

Joe Sestak has a strong record in Congress, supporting health care reform, clean energy, and a woman's right to choose. If he wins the primary on Tuesday, it'll send a powerful message that voters want Democrats in Congress who'll proudly lead the fight for progressive legislation.

This is my response to Barack Obama on Jay Leno's show

MUSIC IS OUR OIL presents "THE BETA TEST" concert



Exxon will give Philadelphia's Free Gas, A FREE Concert, and the opportunity to meet Barack Obama.


Tonight, AFL-CIO Leader Tells You How

For years the Democratic Party lost ground among working-class, white, males. These voters make up more than half of the electorate and many political scientists believe that the appeal of social conservative issues by the Republicans has helped convince them to vote against their own economic self-interest.

The Wall Street Journal reports today though, that an AFL-CIO effort called Working America, combined with the Obama 50 state strategy may have shifted enough of these voters into the blue column to turn the tide….

AFL Insider Addresses Election Strategy, TOMORROW!

On Tuesday, October 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm Jonathan Hiatt, the General Council for the AFL-CIO will address a small group of labor lawyers, unionists and law students about this critical election and what comes after November 4. Mr Hiatt will discuss topics such as the Employee Free Choice Act, the election, immigration and the Wall Street credit problems.

This event is a great place to mingle with leaders in the field of law, politics and labor. The event which is hosted by Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez will be in the City Hall Caucus Room, Room #400. Snacks and refreshments will be served. Tickets are $50 but call for low-income and student tickets that as affordable as $20. Space is extremely limited so be sure to reserve your ticket today by calling Fabricio at Jobs with Justice at 215-670-5855. A portion of the proceeds from this event will go to support Jobs with Justice.

Obama Rising, and Turning the Suburbs Blue

The Daily News reports today that Obama is up 45-38 in Registered voters in PA. (The one concern I have about this poll is that it seems to have been out in the field for 6 days, which is pretty abnormal.) And Quinnipac conducted a poll before and after the first debate. Before the first debate, Obama was up 6. After the debate, Obama was up.... 15!

After seeing the race tighten in PA, it appears that Obama is reestablishing his lead. has not added the poll yet to its average, but Real Clear Politics has, and in their poll of polls from September 21st through today, Obama is up by an average of 7.7 points. The best political forecasting site ever- Five Thirty Eight- has Obama winning PA 86% of the time.

Additionally, in a development that could have long term implications, Obama continues to turn the PA suburbs blue. Remember after the PA Primary, when the PA GOP said that the Dem gains in registration were all because of the primary, and that people would switch back?


Both Montgomery and Bucks counties have flipped from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority. And in Chester and Delaware counties, the Republican-registration edges have shrunk substantially.

The changes are largely attributed to the Obama campaign, which has had thousands of volunteers knocking on doors and registering voters throughout the state leading up to both the primary- and general-election-registration deadlines.


As of Sept. 22, there were 17,811 more Democrats than Republicans in Montgomery County. In 2004, there were 54,522 more registered Republicans.

In Bucks County the Democrats now have an advantage of 8,235 voters. Four years ago, there was a Republican edge of 34,836.

In Delaware County, the Republicans now have a 24,660 registration advantage, compared with a 99,713 majority in 2004. And in Chester, the Republicans hold a 29,930 advantage, down from 71,654 in 2004.

If those trends continue, that will mean big things for progressive politics in PA. For example, I think those GOP Senators from the Philly suburbs may want to consider what this means for their political future, as they decide on whether or not to kill universal health care in Pennsylvania...

Loserville: Obama Is Channeling Kerry and Gore

This is an interesting article by a Philly writer.


Loserville: Obama Is Channeling Kerry and Gore

by Dave Lindorff

Well, it’s happened, and it’s no surprise.

Barack Obama, the prospective Democratic presidential candidate, has managed to turn a 5-8 point lead over prospective Republican opponent John McCain into a 5-point deficit—a double-digit slide—in just two and a half months following a campaign that had voters really excited over his candidacy.

How did he manage this feat (which is documented in the latest Reuters/Zogby poll)? Simple: he followed the tried-and-true strategy of Democratic centrist advisers who have increasingly dominated his campaign since the end of the primaries, and who have a proven track record of producing Democratic electoral disasters now for several decades.


1. The AP reports that three high school football players will stand trial in the beating death of an illegal immigrant man in central Pennsylvania. Helen Gym wrote last month about the shameful delay in bringing those charges, even though there was an eyewitness to the crime.

2. New day, old ways: the Daily News says that the Obama campaign will hand out street money for Election Day, unlike in the May primary. I like this part of the article:

"They told me there are going to be resources here," Brady said. "That's what we do in Philadelphia; we pay people to work. They understand that."

Craig Schirmer, Pennsylvania director for the Obama campaign, would not talk about street money. But he did say that the campaign would be working closely with the local Democratic apparatus.

"As a campaign, we really are enjoying working with Congressman Brady and Mayor Nutter and Congressman Fattah," he said.

3. I won't link anything that will ruin the result, but you can watch Jose Garces (chef-owner of Amada and the brand-new crazy-fantasy-land Distrito) face off with maybe the most annoying man ever, Bobby Flay, again on Thursday, August 21, at 9pm on the Food Network.

Fun With Numbers

Some numbers were running through my head this morning:

  • PA Democratic Registration Advantage, November 1998: 442,671.
  • PA Democratic Registration Advantage, May 2008: 1,014,052
  • Percent of Pennsylvania House Reps that are Democratic: 50.2%
  • Percent of Pennsylvania Senators that are Democratic: 42%

Dear Pennsylvania Democratic Party and activists: Get it together. A basic tie in the House and a huge GOP majority in the Senate is a sad commentary on the state of the PA Democratic party.


  • Number of passwords that the City Commissioners determined they could give out to view election returns: 150
  • The number of passwords that Vince Fumo had by himself: 10
  • The number of Philadelphia citizens who have now requested their own password within the last 5 days: 327

For those people who submitted them Friday, you should hear something by Friday (5 business days), and a final decision within thirty days.


  • Days until the November Election: 104
  • Average PA Poll Lead for Barack Obama: 9.7%
  • Number of pundits who have stated the obvious, that Barack Obama is going to kick John McCain's ass in PA: 0(?)

I am not saying we don't need to work hard here to get this done, because we do. But, as long as we do, McCain may as well not run an ad in PA.

What else is going on?

Superdelegates, end this thingy!

Back in the day, I was a huge Clinton supporter (by the way, back in the day was like last year), today that has changed. Clearly, Obama has demonstrated that he can do well in the general election. If you examine the coalition of folks that he has brought together, i.e., blacks, whites, young, not so young, Independents, and Republicans (Operation Chaos not withstanding), there is no way that you can reasonably conclude that he is less, not more likely to do well as a candidate in November.

Also, contrary to political spin, the base is uber-important. Given Hillary's early support of the Iraq war, this is an achilles heel for her. White rural Republicans will not vote for a D in November. Period. We will need overwhelming support from our base. Obama has proven that he can not only rally the base, but he can reach beyond it, which is not too shabby for a general.

Yo Bob Brady: Help us End the Presidential Contest

As the Democratic contest continues on, the media has finally picked up on a simple fact: that apart from an absolute avalanche of super delegates supporting her (which will not happen), Hillary Clinton cannot win this nomination. So, while she sends around NRA-like mailings against Obama (oh, the irony), we wait for the inevitable to become clear.

One of the remaining undeclared super delegates- Bob Brady- has to my knowledge not officially announced he is voting for Obama. He did announce, however, he would support who the voters of his district supported. That was Obama, by a wide margin.

So, Rep. Brady, get going. You know all about healing political parties, right? It is time to come out for Senator Obama officially, and start that process before it is too late.

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