Trump & Republican Dirty Fuel Pimps Hand Over $20 Billion-a-Year of Taxpayer Subsidies

❝ Millions of Americans may be struggling to pay routine household bills, but still US taxpayers are handing out a whopping $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies a year.

This is the major finding of a new report Dirty Energy Dominance: Dependent on Denial published by Oil Change International today.

Subsidies are where the government gives financial incentives to artificially lower the cost of production or consumption of fossil fuels to encourage more drilling or oil, gas, or coal use.

❝ …The irony gets worse. There is something morally wrong with a billionaire-led Administration handing out money to rich executives, when this money could help America’s poorest and most at need.

The cost of the subsidies to American taxpayers is equivalent to the projected 2018 budget cuts from Trump’s proposals to slash 10 public programs and services, including supports for America’s most vulnerable children and families…

❝ The US spent on average $2.5 billion annually subsidizing the exploration of new fossil fuel resources in 2015 and 2016, even though the science clearly shows that fossil fuel expansion must stop immediately in order to meet internationally recognized climate goals.

Government giveaways in the form of permanent tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry – one of which is over a century old – are seven times larger than those to the renewable energy sector.

So, the Clown Show in Congress continues to cut subsidies to homeowners trying to save on energy costs with solar and other green alternatives – while perpetuating the taxpayer handout to oil and coal companies. Mail me a penny postcard when the crew in DC grows enough backbone to stand on their own and oppose the profit-hungry crooks they really work for.

Our government’s commitment to for-profit prisons wants to lock up more mothers and children

Immigration and Customs Enforcement is striking deals with private prison companies to lock up a “guaranteed minimum” of mothers with their children in euphemistically-termed family detention centers.

The 2009 congressional mandate for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to keep a minimum of 34,000 people minimum locked up at any given time is already well-established. But a new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Detention Watch Network reveals that this federal quota rests, in part, on aggressive deals with companies in the business of locking up families…

According to the investigation, which based its findings on documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, such local quotas are “even more widespread than previously reported, covering at least 24 detention facility contracts,” accounting for at least 12,821 of the 34,000 beds established by the national quota. Ninety-three percent of those beds are in privately-run detention facilities…

Since 2014, the mass detention of families in these prison-like facilities has been a foundation of the Obama administration’s immigration policies toward refugees from Central America, many of whom are fleeing violence and poverty worsened by U.S. policies. The human rights violations at these camps have been condemned by human rights organizations and the bipartisan U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and some have compared them to Japanese internment camps.

❝ “Almost all guaranteed minimums are found in facilities that contract with private prison companies, and ICE actively collaborates with these companies to keep details of their contracts secret,” said Ghita Schwarz, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights…“The public should have a full understanding of how ICE rewards and incentivizes profiteering off the detention of immigrants.”…

One thing is clear: profits are soaring for GEO Group and CCA, the two largest private prison companies in the United States. Both boasted to their shareholders recently that revenues are spiking, thanks in part to the windfall from locking up families.

Cripes. Bad enough we have a government, legislative and executive alike, that maintains bullshit like crop subsidies to agribusiness giants – just because we did do for small farmers in trouble 80 years ago. To see the absurd supply-side myths of Reaganomics perpetuated by a “liberal” White House is dumber than criminal. Privatization of our prison system has achieved nothing for crime reduction or recidivism among ex-cons. It’s only made money for firms who jumped on the Republican bandwagon.

Congress reinforces the myth with our tax dollars. The White House reinforces the corruption of the whole process by maintaining deportation quotas and continuing the sleazy guarantees to provide enough detainees to keep these for-profit prisons in business.

Thanks, NikiV

Do Nothing-Congress did all it could to protect Big Oil

A new report by Oil Change International…demonstrates the huge and growing amount of subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry in the U.S. every year. In 2013, the U.S. federal and state governments gave away $21.6 billion in subsidies for oil, gas, and coal exploration and production.

The value of fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies from the federal government have increased by 45 percent since President Obama took office in 2009 – from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion – a side effect of his Administration’s “All of the Above” energy policy that promotes the U.S. oil and gas boom and amounts to nothing less than climate denial.

President Obama has repeatedly tried to repeal some of the most egregious of these subsidies, but these attempts have been blocked by a U.S. Congress that has been bought out by campaign finance and lobbying expenditures from the fossil fuel industry.

In addition to exploration and production subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies, the U.S. government also provides billions of dollars of additional support to the fossil fuel industry to lower the cost of fossil fuels to consumers, finance fossil fuel projects overseas, and to protect U.S. oil interests abroad with the military.

Finally, while the fossil fuel industry enjoys record profits, U.S, taxpayers will pay the bill for external health and environmental costs from local pollution and climate change impacts.

Big Oil is an equal-opportunity purchaser of political loyalty. It doesn’t matter which of the two TweedleDee or TweedleDumber parties you belong to. Show the least inclination to favor fossil fuel anything and you will be awash in campaign contributions, “independent” supporters and PACs.

It’s the American Way.

Thanks, Mike

3 of the Marlboro cowboys have now died of chronic lung disease


Dead of COPD

Eric Lawson, who portrayed the rugged Marlboro man in cigarette ads during the late 1970s, has died. He was 72.

Lawson died on 10 January at his home in San Luis Obispo of respiratory failure due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, his wife, Susan Lawson, said on Sunday…

A smoker since age 14, Lawson later appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man and an Entertainment Tonight segment to discuss the negative effects of smoking. Ms Lawson said her husband was proud of the interview, even though he was smoking at the time and continued the habit until he was diagnosed with COPD.

“He knew the cigarettes had a hold on him,” she said. “He knew, yet he still couldn’t stop.”

Three of the actors appearing in adverts for Marlboro cigarettes have died of smoking-related diseases. They include David Millar, who died of emphysema in 1987, and David McLean, who died of lung cancer in 1995.

The ongoing question about ignorant vs stupid is pretty easy for this one. The American people have been made thoroughly aware of the dangers of smoking for decades. Everyone knows someone who died or is dying from lung cancer, COPD, some illness encouraged by smoking. Yet, many continue. Young people are encouraged to start.

Tobacco farmers are still getting subsidies from Congress.

Norway’s oil industry supports electric vehicles – as well as government pensions

Norway is Europe’s undisputed electric vehicle leader. It is also Europe’s largest oil producer. The way these two facts intertwine is what The Globe And Mail calls “ironisk,” the Norwegian word for, well, you can probably guess.

That irony has some interesting highlights. The Tesla Model S was the best-selling car in Norway last month. Meanwhile, in the 70 oil fields in the waters around the Northern European country are producing two million barrels of oil per day…Norway exports a lot of oil and puts the money into something called the Government Pension Fund, which is now worth more than $725 billion US. Some of that money is “recycled,” as it were, into government subsidies for electric vehicles. Or, as The Globe And Mail puts it, “Norway’s present and future rest solely on everyone else in the world not buying Tesla Model S cars or electric vehicles of any sort.”

It’s not that dramatic, we don’t think, but Norway’s shunning of and reliance on the oil industry is a story worth investigating. Especially since the EV subsidies are much bigger there than most other places. Reuters said back in March that the total incentives (purchase subsidies, road toll exemptions, free parking, etc.) for EVs can total up to $8,200 per car, per year. We can only imagine what the sales numbers would be in the US if the American’s offered something similar.

Not surprising to someone who knows much Euro history, the essential political divisions between Conservative and Labor. Both flavors understanding the responsibility which government assumes to the whole population. The American split between Republicans dedicated to the most regressive segments of Big Business – perfectly willing to screw the whole population including small biz owners – and Democrats dedicated to trial lawyers and lobbyists for successful technologies below the Chamber of Commerce top tier.

Both sides of the pond are capable of more or less successful wings of Left political organizations, though the success of Greens in Europe so far has nothing comparable in the US. Both sides of the pond are capable of ultra-nationalist fascist dedication to the most reactionary industries – adopting populist lies common to Brown Shirts and the Tea Party…ignoranuses useful for their predilection towards violence and led around by the nose by the very power brokers they blame for a portion of their ills.

Understanding that government, bureaucrats, public servants all serve the needs of the whole country is a portion of modern capitalism that never especially made it to our shores. While Communists and Social Democrats in Europe could be counted on to press ethical standards on government and industry alike, comparable ideological streams never had much success at the same task here.

Taxpayer subsidies turn farmers Into fat cats

A Depression-era program intended to save the nation’s farmers from ruin has grown into a 21st-century crutch enabling affluent growers and financial institutions to thrive at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Federal crop insurance encourages farmers to gamble on risky plantings in a program that has been marred by fraud and that illustrates why government spending is so difficult to control.

And the cost is increasing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year spent about $14 billion insuring farmers against the loss of crop or income, almost seven times more than in fiscal 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The arrangement is a good deal for everyone but taxpayers. The government pays 18 approved insurance companies to run the program, pays farmers to buy coverage and pays the bills if losses exceed predetermined limits…

“We have been subsidizing some of the farmers who least need it in a way that is really costing taxpayers a lot of money,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat of New Hampshire. “We’re never going to solve our budget challenges if that’s what we’re doing…”

And the program’s been vulnerable to fraud, notably in North Carolina where a network of insurance agents, claims adjusters and farmers bilked the government of close to $100 million over more than a decade.

RTFA. It does a great job of describing in detail how Congressional corruption, crony capitalism, lifts the median income for farm families 70% higher than the rest of working America.

More important – for Congressional creeps – more than 40 corporate groupings deriving profit from farming provide millions in campaign funds via lobbying the House and Senate.

Read this thoroughly. holler at your elected officials. Evaluate the patent leather lies they tell you for what they really are.

Farmer Fincher – in Congress – has collected million$ in subsidies – wants cuts in the food stamps program

A Tennessee congressman who supports billion of dollars in cuts to the food stamp program is one of the largest recipients of federal farm subsidies, according to new annual data released by a Washington environmental group.

Using Agriculture Department data, researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that Representative Stephen Fincher, a Republican and a farmer from Frog Jump, Tenn., collected nearly $3.5 million in subsidies from 1999 to 2012. The data is part of the research group’s online farm subsidy database from which the group issues a report each year.

In 2012 alone, the data shows, Mr. Fincher received about $70,000 in direct payments, money that is given to farmers and farmland owners, even if they do not grow crops. It is unclear how much Mr. Fincher received in crop insurance subsidies because the names of people receiving the subsidies are not public. The group said most of the agriculture subsidies go to the largest, most profitable farm operations in the country. These farmers have received $265 billion in direct payments and farm insurance subsidies since 1995, federal records show.

During debate on the farm bill in the House Agriculture Committee last week, Mr. Fincher was one of the biggest proponents of $20 billion in cuts to food stamps in the legislation. At times he quoted passages from the Bible in defending the cuts…

Scott Faber, vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, said that Mr. Fincher was being hypocritical. “Not only is he advocating deep cuts to other people’s money while he is getting subsidies, he also voted to increase the subsidies that he benefits from,” Mr. Faber said…

The most significant change in both the House and Senate bills is the end of direct payments, which cost taxpayers about $5 billion a year.

Both the House and Senate bills would use the savings from eliminating direct payments to increase financing for crop insurance, a federally subsidized program that pays 62 percent of the premiums for farmers and covers decreases in crop yields or revenue. About $1.3 billion a year is paid to 15 insurance companies to sell and process the policies…

Food stamps would receive a $4.1 billion cut in the Senate farm bill. An amendment by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, to reverse the cuts by using money from the crop insurance program was soundly defeated after a passionate plea by Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, who called crop insurance vital to farmers.

Someone in Washington, DC, please mail me a penny postcard when Congress decides to subsidize premiums to insure how I make my living.

Meanwhile, the sight, sound and smell of a hypocrite like Congressman Fincher is more than any American should have to bear. The aroma of fermenting pig manure is easier to take than a con artist who hustles the American taxpayer for subsidies – then whines about families trying to get by on food stamps like they’re some kind of danger to national freedom.

He should get an honest job.

Want to cut the debt? Try cutting off the corporate welfare queens


Click to enlarge

In previous installments, we’ve noted that we could more than offset the need for the “sequestration” budget cuts by doing any one or combination of the following:

Ending massive subsidies to the giant banks
Reducing fraud and waste
Ending the failed drug war
Ending subsidies to the nuclear industry
Stopping the counter-productive quantitative easing by the Fed
Here’s another way to offset the need for budget cuts: cut off the welfare queens. (Jamie Dimon – shown above- and the other Wall Street queens are the largest recipients of welfare.)

Liberals and conservatives agree that we should stop subsidizing the fatcats. For example, the conservative Cato Institute points out that corporate welfare amounts to almost $100 billion per year. Cato notes:

Corporate welfare often subsidizes failing and mismanaged businesses and induces firms to spend more time on lobbying rather than on making better products. Instead of correcting market failures, federal subsidies misallocate resources and introduce government failures into the marketplace.

While corporate welfare may be popular with policymakers who want to aid home-state businesses, it undermines the broader economy and transfers wealth from average taxpaying households to favored firms. Corporate welfare also creates strong ties between politicians and business leaders, and these ties are often the source of corruption scandals in Washington. Americans are sick and tired of “crony capitalism,” and the way to solve the problem is to eliminate business subsidy programs.

Cato also notes:

The federal government continues to subsidize some of the biggest companies in America. Boeing, Xerox, IBM, Motorola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, and others have received millions in taxpayer-funded benefits …. In addition, the federal crop subsidy programs continue to fund the wealthiest farmers.

RTFA for sufficient detail about federal subsidies to country club crony capitalists to melt your brain. If anyone in Congress had a conscience or something even vaguely approaching ethical standards – this would have been resolved long ago. Some of this crap results from “temporary” measures put in place 20 years ago and never rescinded.

Think Congress left corporate subsidies out of the Fiscal Cliff bill?

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Throughout the months of November and December, a steady stream of corporate CEOs flowed in and out of the White House to discuss the impending fiscal cliff. Many of them, such as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, would then publicly come out and talk about how modest increases of tax rates on the wealthy were reasonable in order to deal with the deficit problem. What wasn’t mentioned is what these leaders wanted, which is what’s known as “tax extenders”, or roughly $205 Billion of tax breaks for corporations. With such a banal name, and boring and difficult to read line items in the bill, few political operatives have bothered to pay attention to this part of the bill. But it is critical to understanding what is going on…

Most tax credits drop straight to the bottom line – it’s why companies like Enron considered its tax compliance section a “profit center”. A few hundred billion dollars of tax expenditures is a major carrot to offer. Surely, a modest hike in income taxes for people who make more than $400k in income and stupid enough not to take that money in capital gain would be worth trading off for the few hundred billion dollars in corporate pork. This is what the fiscal cliff is about – who gets the money. And by leaving out the corporate sector, nearly anyone who talks about this debate is leaving out a key negotiating partner…

Here are a couple of the goodies. There actually is a generalized tax credit or two worth keeping. Most of these plain-and-simple suck tax dollars that could do something otherwise useful.

1) Help out NASCAR – Sec 312 extends the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property”, which is to say it allows anyone who builds a racetrack and associated facilities to get tax breaks on it. This one was projected to cost $43 million over two years.

3) Disney’s Gotta Eat – Sec. 317 is “Extension of special expensing rules for certain film and television productions”. It’s a relatively straightforward subsidy to Hollywood studios, and according to the Joint Tax Committee, was projected to cost $150m for 2010 and 2011.

5) Subsidies for Goldman Sachs Headquarters – Sec. 328 extends “tax exempt financing for York Liberty Zone,” which was a program to provide post-9/11 recovery funds. Rather than going to small businesses affected, however, this was, according to Bloomberg, “little more than a subsidy for fancy Manhattan apartments and office towers for Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp.” Michael Bloomberg himself actually thought the program was excessive, so that’s saying something. According to David Cay Johnston’s The Fine Print, Goldman got $1.6 billion in tax free financing for its new massive headquarters through Liberty Bonds.

You get the idea. RTFA. Recognize for the umpteenth time the hacks in Congress can’t pass up a single opportunity to kiss butt for the folks picking up the tab for their political campaigns.

Republicans offer $5 billion subsidy to AgriBiz — cut $16 billion from food stamps

Farmers would get another round of the $5 billion a year “direct payment” subsidy, targeted by reformers as wasteful spending, in a Republican-drawn offer of disaster aid for farmers hurt by the worst drought in half a century…

The direct payment, paid to cotton, grain and soybean growers regardless of need, was marked for elimination in farm bills in the House and Senate this year. Budget hawks and environmentalists said the direct payment is wasted money, considering the farm sector enjoys boom times and the huge federal deficit.

An advocate for small farmers, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, called for the House to “vote down this dirty extension bill.” The bill would cut soil and water conservation programs while keeping the direct payment, it said…

Food stamps for the poor would be cut by $16 billion in the House farm bill, the largest cuts since the 1990s. Democrats want to eliminate the food stamp cuts while some Republicans want deeper cuts throughout the farm bill.

RTFA for the details. It stinks like old fish on ice. Exactly what we have come to expect from Republicans and the Kool Aid Party.