Category Archives: Corporate Personhood

Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut”

Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit. Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed.

by Justin Elliott and Robert Faturechi. Published 8-11-2021 by ProPublica

Image: Pixafree.org/CC BY-SA 3.0

 

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

 

Series:
The Secret IRS Files

Inside the Tax Records of the .001%

 

In November 2017, with the administration of President Donald Trump rushing to get a massive tax overhaul through Congress, Sen. Ron Johnson stunned his colleagues by announcing he would vote “no.”

Making the rounds on cable TV, the Wisconsin Republican became the first GOP senator to declare his opposition, spooking Senate leaders who were pushing to quickly pass the tax bill with their thin majority. “If they can pass it without me, let them,” Johnson declared. Continue reading

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‘This Is What Bipartisanship Looks Like’: Vicious Fire Tornado Caught on Film in California

“Climate policy isn’t about imagining a spectrum from left to right and finding the sweet spot in the middle. It’s a zero-sum battle with physics.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-8-2021

The National Weather Service shared video footage captured by the U.S. Forest Service showing a firenado that formed over the Tennant Fire in California’s Siskiyou County on June 29, 2021. Photo: U.S. Forest Service

Responding to dramatic footage that went viral Thursday of a so-called “fire tornado” unleashed recently in North California, a longtime aid of Sen. Bernie Sanders said the event—viewed through a political prism—could be seen symbolically as the destructive result of corporate-friendly policies in Washington, D.C. masquerading as bipartisanship while the world burns amid an intensifying climate emergency.

“This is what bipartisanship looks like,” tweeted Warren Gunnels, currently the staff director for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, which is chaired by Sanders. Continue reading

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200+ Groups to Congress: ‘No Water Privatization’ in Any Infrastructure Deal

“We urge you to reject this proposed water privatization scam and fight for a bold package that provides the support our communities need. Do not compromise on water.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-1-2021

Progressive advocacy groups are urging the White House and Congress to exclude water privatization provisions from any federal infrastructure package. Photo: Matthew Bowden – www.digitallyrefreshing.com

 

In a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday, 218 organizations urged against water privatization “in all its forms” and called on federal lawmakers to enact a “bold, uncompromising infrastructure package.”

The letter (pdf), sent to top Democrats and Republicans, was organized by Food & Water Watch, which has repeatedly criticized privatization provisions that the White House and members of Congress are considering for a bipartisan infrastructure deal that Democrats plan to pass alongside a broader reconciliation package. Continue reading

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‘Bombshell’ Secret Footage of ExxonMobil Lobbyists Sparks Calls for Action by Congress

“We demand Congress immediately investigate Exxon and fossil fuel companies’ climate crimes, and make polluters pay for their destruction,” said a 350.org campaigner.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-30-2021

Keith McCoy, a senior director in ExxonMobil’s Washington, D.C. government affairs team, was secretly recorded by Unearthed, Greenpeace U.K.’s investigative journalism arm. (Photo: Screenshot/Unearthed via Channel 4 News)

While ExxonMobil’s decades of sowing public doubt about climate science and the impact of fossil fuels have provoked various lawsuits, secretly recorded videos released Wednesday expose how the company continues to fight against U.S. efforts to tackle climate emergency.

Published by Unearthed, Greenpeace U.K.’s investigative journalism arm, and the British Channel 4 News, the footage of ExxonMobil lobbyists sparked new calls for congressional action to hold the oil and gas giant accountable. Continue reading

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Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, “will go directly into the pockets” of Big Pharma shareholders.

By Jon Queally staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-13-2021

Photo: James Bullock/Twitter

As leaders of the G7 were criticized for failing to rise to the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic during their summit in the United Kingdom this weekend, Oxfam International on Saturday warned that failure of the world’s richest nations to fully embrace a lifting of intellectual property protections for life-saving vaccines could ultimately raise the cost of administering shots to the entire world by as much as $74 billion with most of that money going directly into the wallets of pharmaceutical companies and their wealthy shareholders.

Oxfam calculates that if patent protections were waived by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and vaccine production ramped up worldwide people in low- and middle-income nations could be adequately vaccinated for an estimated cost of $6.5 billion, but that if pharmaceutical companies are allowed to retain their for-profit stranglehold on production and distribution that cost would soar to $80 billion. Continue reading

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‘This Is Climate Denial’: Biden Goes to Bat for Massive Alaska Drilling Project Approved Under Trump

“Burning that oil would create nearly 260 million metric tons of CO2 emissions—about the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-27-2021

A map showing the location of the Willow Master Development Plan. Graphic: Bureau of Land Management

The Biden administration is facing backlash from climate activists and scientists after filing a court brief Wednesday in defense of a major Trump-era Alaska drilling project that’s expected to produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil a day over a 30-year period—a plan that runs directly counter to the White House’s stated goal of slashing U.S. carbon emissions.

“This is a complete denial of reality,” said Jean Flemma, director of the Ocean Defense Initiative and former senior policy adviser for the House Natural Resources Committee. “The project is expected to produce about 590 million barrels of oil. Burning that oil would create nearly 260 million metric tons of CO2 emissions—about the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants.” Continue reading

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Report Reveals Major Corporations Are Funding Lawmakers Behind Anti-Democracy Bills

“It is now more urgent than ever to build a just transition away from fossil fuels and fight off attacks against protest and our freedom to vote, so that we can have a planet our communities can thrive on.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-10-2021

Washington, DC erupts in celebration following the defeat of Donald Trump. Photo: Heartland Alliance

Numerous corporations have funded the political action committees of state lawmakers backing the recent spate of anti-voter and anti-protest bills, even as many of the companies have spoken out in defense of voting rights and democracy, a report published Monday by Greenpeace USA revealed

The report (pdf)—entitled Dollars vs. Democracy: Companies and the Attack on Voting Rights and Peaceful Protest—says that 44 state lawmakers sponsored at least one anti-protest bill and one anti-voter bill in the past year. It also reveals that 53 of the 100 top corporate donors to lawmakers sponsoring anti-voter bills also rank among the top 100 contributors to anti-protest measures. Continue reading

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200+ Groups From 67 Nations Demand ‘Transformational Change’ at Corporate-Friendly WTO

“The WTO’s hyperglobalization rules shaped a global economy that is not working for most people, and it’s due time to replace them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-28-2021

WTO Headquarters. Screenshot: Sky News

More than 200 environmental groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations from 67 nations sent a letter to global heads of state on Wednesday demanding “transformational change” at the World Trade Organization, a relatively new institution that critics say is structurally inadequate and much too corporate-friendly to confront the planet’s most pressing challenges.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how the WTO model exacerbates insecurity, inequality, and instability,” argues the coalition, which includes Public Services International, Third World Network-Africa, and Public Citizen. “Legitimate global commercial rules should facilitate the improvement of the livelihoods, health, and wellbeing of all people around the world and the long-term survival of the planet. The WTO system has not met these goals: It was never fit for purpose and certainly is not now.” Continue reading

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Pressure Campaign Kicks Off in US to Force Big Pharma and Biden to End Vaccine Apartheid

The absence of a WTO patent waiver, say public health advocates, “means we won’t end the pandemic, millions of people will die, and the global economy will suffer.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-22-2021

“Pfizer has spent the past year making billions of dollars in profits while people continue to die from Covid-19,” tweeted Health GAP on April 22, 2021. “It’s time to #FreeTheVaccine so the whole world has access to these life-saving vaccines!” (Photo: Twitter screengrab via Health GAP)

As vast global inequalities in access to Covid-19 vaccines exacerbate the ongoing pandemic, a coalition of progressive groups in the U.S. kicked off a week of action Thursday to urge President Joe Biden to support a temporary suspension of patent protections and to pressure pharmaceutical corporations to share technology in order to maximize the worldwide production of life-saving doses.

In the coming days, public health campaigners will gather at the headquarters of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson in an attempt to push the major drugmakers to share relevant technology through the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool. Continue reading

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Democratic Lawmakers Urge Barrett to Recuse Herself From Koch Dark Money Case

The members of Congress note that Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded advocacy group, mounted a “full-scale campaign” in support of the justice’s confirmation.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-20-2021

Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing. Screenshot: C-SPAN

Three Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday urged U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett to recuse herself from a pending case revolving around the nonprofit arm of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded political advocacy group that spent heavily to ensure Barrett’s confirmation to the bench last October.

In a letter (pdf) to Barrett, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) argue that Americans for Prosperity’s big spending campaign in support of the newest justice’s confirmation casts serious doubt on whether she can be impartial in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Rodriquez. Continue reading

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