Tag Archives: Koch

In Major Tax Speech, Paul Ryan Lays Out Plan to Lavish Rich With Tax Cuts

“Paul Ryan is not serious about tax reform. He’s serious about tax giveaways—for millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-20-2017

Photo: YouTube

After spending months selling a healthcare plan that proposed kicking millions off their insurance and gutting crucial safety net programs, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has now shifted his focus to tax reform, where he hopes to provide significant tax relief to the wealthiest Americans.

On Tuesday, after weeks of failing to offer any details on his ambitious plan to permanently overhaul the tax code, Ryan made his first major pitch to the National Association of Manufacturers—a business advocacy group that has in the past received funding from the Koch brothers. Continue reading

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Conservatives Plot Their Course on the Rising ‘Sea of Red’ in State Capitals

Meeting in private, enthused activists promise that the growing Republican dominance in state government will unleash a wave of laws to cut business taxes, restrict unions and expand school privatization.

By Robert Faturechi, Pro Publica. Published 1-7-2017 by Common Dreams

The Kentucky State Capitol. Photo: Seifler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Shortly after the November election, with the nation’s political attention focused on the Trump transition, an influential advocacy group met outside Washington to discuss how to leverage the extraordinary shift of power to Republicans in the rest of the country.

The American Legislative Exchange Council — a nonprofit better known as ALEC — briefed its members and allied groups on the bright future for its agenda now that Republicans will effectively control 68 of the nation’s 99 state legislative bodies, as well as 33 governor’s mansions. Among other things, group members said they would push bills to reduce corporate taxes, weaken unions, privatize schooling and influence the ideological debate on college campuses. Continue reading

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21 Teens Tell Exxon and Koch Brothers: Get Out of Our Lawsuit

By Our Children’s Trust. Published 12-8-2015 at EcoWatch

Twenty-one young people from around the country are working to keep the world’s largest fossil fuel companies from intervening in their constitutional climate change lawsuit. Last week, the youth opposed the industry’s proposal to intervene as defendants in their case.

The proposed interveners are trade associations for major corporations, including the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)—representing ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Koch Industries and virtually all other U.S. refiners and petrochemical manufacturers—the American Petroleum Institute (API)—representing 625 oil and natural gas companies—and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). 

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“These organizations were not named as defendants in our complaint,” Phil Gregory, of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy said. Gregory serves as one of the attorneys for the youth plaintiffs. “The fossil fuel industry understands how significant our case is. They want to join the federal government in attempting to defeat the constitutional claims asserted by these youth plaintiffs. The fossil fuel industry and the federal government lining up against 21 young citizens. That shows you what is at stake here.”

The lawsuit asserts the federal government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property. It also claims the government failed to protect essential public trust resources by facilitating the exploitation of fossil fuels. The youth have asked the courts to order the federal government to prepare and implement a science-based national climate recovery plan. 

The fossil fuel powerhouses call the youth’s case “extraordinary” and “a direct threat to [their] businesses.” They claim “significant reduction in [greenhouse gas] emissions would cause a significant negative effect on [their] members by constraining the sale of the product they have specialized in developing and selling.” 

Victoria Barrett, 16-year-old plaintiff and fellow with Alliance for Climate Education, is participating in the climate talks in Paris advocating for science-based climate recovery plans. Barrett became a plaintiff because she was tired of the U.S. government sacrificing her future by allowing fossil fuel companies unbridled economic growth.

“Fossil fuel companies continue to show complete disregard for my future and the future of my generation,” Barrett said. “They have put my constitutional right to a certain quality of living at risk and continue to completely bulldoze over any real solutions for a sustainable world. These companies are focused on short-term goals, without thinking of their lasting effects on humanity. Fossil fuels are the energy of the past and I see no reason why these companies would not want to pride themselves in looking to the future.”

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In seeking to join the case, AFPM, API and NAM argue the court should focus on short-term economic benefits over a stable climate and healthy environment for future generations. The industry claims that “reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide levels down to 350 parts per million would abate some of the future risks of climate change, those reductions would nevertheless not be ‘appropriate’ if the future potential benefits would be outweighed by, for instance, enormous losses in productivity and economic development.”

In a declaration on behalf API’s motion to intervene, Howard Feldman claims, “A sudden and significant reduction in allowable GHG emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels could have a significant negative effect on the profitability of many of API’s members.” However, Jack Gerard, API’s president and CEO, presented a different picture in a press release on API’s website: “The facts are clear … by embracing our nation’s energy renaissance, we can lower costs, clean the air and create more jobs here at home while providing an example to the world.”

AFPM echoed API’s concern in a declaration of David Friedman of AFPM, stating, “If Plaintiffs succeed in eliminating or massively reducing U.S. conventional fuel consumption and imposing other severe restrictions on GHG emission limits, the impact on AFPM’s members will be significant and varied.” 

“We oppose the world’s largest fossil fuel polluters, including Exxon and Koch Industries, arguing that young people don’t have a constitutional right to life if it means reducing fossil fuel use,” said Julia Olson, executive director for Our Children’s Trust, also counsel in the litigation.

“Given what our president just said at the UN climate talks in Paris, a renewed alignment between our government and the fossil fuel industry could not be less welcome. This case asks the court to order what the industry fears most: a national plan using the best science we’ve got to try to leave clean air and a healthy climate to our kids.”

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7 Candidates for Corporate Rip-Off of the Year

Published on Monday, November 24, 2014 by Common Dreams

By Paul Buchheit

When corporations write their own rules, it's no wonder the common good is kicked to the curb. Image from occupy.com via FaceBook.

When corporations write their own rules, it’s no wonder the common good is kicked to the curb. Image from occupy.com via FaceBook.

There are so many to choose from. Every one of these selections is an act of corporate treachery that takes billions of dollars from the American people.

Continue reading

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Insufficient Funds – Kinky In Kansas

Sam Brownback. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sam Brownback. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

For the last four years, we’ve been watching an interesting (yet totally predictable) political and economic experiment play out in Kansas. After the 2010 elections, which saw Republicans win super-majorities in both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s race, Governor Sam Brownback put into place the economic and social policies promoted by the evangelical conservative and/or Tea Party movements.

As anybody with half a brain could have predicted, this hasn’t turned out so well. Over just one three month period (from April through June of this year), tax revenues were $334 million short of expectations. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the state’s credit rating. The Kansas Supreme Court found the level of funding for education unconstitutional. This is not a good place for Brownback to be, considering that the Kansas Constitution requires a balanced budget.

How are they addressing this problem of insufficient funds? On Thursday, the Brownback administration claimed to have found an estimated $101 million in savings. Budget Director Shawn Sullivan said the savings include lower costs in healthcare expenses for state employees than was projected and standardizing computer systems across the state government. The Kansas Division of Budget told seven state agencies to evaluate whether they can operate more efficiently; it’s funny how the agencies singled out for this include the Department for Aging and Disability Services, the Department of Health and Environment, the Department for Children and Families and the Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. They’re also having a sex toy auction – a what?

Yes- you heard us correctly. Earlier this week, a Kansas state official said that thousands of sex toys seized by the revenue department would be auctioned off. The items were seized in a four-county raid on a Kansas company known as United Outlets LLC. Why the raid? Because the owner, Larry Minkoff, owed $164,000 in unpaid income and sales taxes.

Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley said about the news: “Brownback is so desperate to fill the massive hole in the state budget caused by his reckless income tax cuts that the state of Kansas is now in the porn business.” The double entendre was probably unintentional, but we digress…

Four years ago, Sam Brownback was hailed as a shining star in conservative circles; the poster child of the evangelical right. With his implementation of a God, guns and unfettered free market agenda, he would show the rest of the nation how a state run by those principles was bound to succeed beyond everybody’s wildest dreams, or so the conservative talking heads would lead us to believe.

Instead, Kansas these days is running budget shortfalls in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and needs to sell sex toys to help pay down its debt. The irony is staggering.

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Not in His Front Yard!

Photo from Occupy Wall Street, courtesy Osha Karow via Twitter

Photo from Occupy Wall Street, courtesy Osha Karow via Twitter

March 2, 2014: Approximately 1,000 activists rallied outside the White House in Washington DC to demonstrate their opposition to Keystone XL being approved. After hearing President Obama decry foreign governments for not allowing the voices of the people to be heard in front of their nation’s capital buildings, we watched as 398 of these protestors, on American soil, were arrested and hauled off by the busloads. It seems that protesting in front of our White House is only allowed if your protest is something supported by certain politicians, such as the Tea Party rallies we saw a few years ago. Or, perhaps it is because they protested in front of the United States White House, whose administration tells the international community how democratic we are by removing the protestors when they appear. We will hear the usual plausible excuses – blocking a sidewalk, affixing signs or themselves to the White House fence, and other reasons that make it “acceptable” to arrest peaceful protestors in Washington, DC.

Chelsea Clinton was the first to be arrested on 3-2-2014 in front of the White House while protesting approval of Keystone XL. Photo courtesy Anonymous, via YourAnonNews Twitter feed.

The first arrest on 3-2-2014 in front of the White House while protesting approval of Keystone XL. Photo courtesy Anonymous, via YourAnonNews Twitter feed.

On March 7, the window for making public comment on the possible approval of Keystone XL closes. Have you made your comment on “regulations.gov” to weigh in? The following are my comments, as posted on the site. There were only 8,147 comments at the time I posted mine. That is an incredibly small amount for the size of the population that will be affected if this project is approved. For more information on how to participate, see our Welcome page. If you have posted your public comment, we invite you to share your thoughts in a “Reply” below as well.

Dear President Barack Obama,

Hundreds of people zip tied to the White House fence and doing a die-in to protest Keystone XL. Photo from Jenna Pope, via Twitter

Hundreds of people zip tied to the White House fence and doing a die-in to protest Keystone XL.
Photo from Jenna Pope, via Twitter

The decision you are about to make regarding Keystone XL will make history – regardless of which side the final outcome favors. Please consider the following before making a decision that can not be withdrawn once implemented.

The proposed path of this pipeline crosses sacred land of indigenous people, who have pledged to lay their bodies on the ground to prevent this affront to their land, people, culture and lawful agreements that would be broken. What appears to us as worthless sand and rocks can not be disregarded simply because we wish to break yet another promise to the original American people.

In a recent speech, John Kerry stated that climate change is a top priority of the State Department. As such, we are just beginning to see severe weather, and conditions will worsen in the coming years. The path of this pipeline crosses tornado alley, runs along the edge of the world’s largest super volcano that is 40,000 years overdue for an eruption, and runs through land that is experiencing a huge surge in earthquakes that are growing in intensity and frequency. The proposed pipeline is not designed to withstand these possible disasters, nor would it withstand multiple conditions of any of these factors.

As was seen recently in Mayflower, Arkansas, the oil industry is still recalcitrant in managing spills and leaks. They have invested virtually nothing from their billions in profits to develop better disaster management and safety standards for existing or proposed pipelines. They are slow to react, deny the extent of damage, and attempt to shirk the expenses involved for the cleanup. Denial of landowner claims and refusal to release information to the public when spills occur are common place.

The studies conducted by ERM that the State Department says will be considered are invalid because they were conducted with gross conflict of interest. The State Department knew this and redacted the information in hopes the population would not find out that TransCanada, Koch Industries and Shell Oil hired the contractor to do the “study” that supports their efforts to get the project approved.

America is not a sewer line for the world’s filthiest oil. If Canada wants to ship this filth to the world markets, they should do so from their own shores, This entire controversy exists because even the Canadian people are not dumb enough to allow this pipeline to cross their land. Please do not give the international community yet another reason to think of us as “dumb Americans.”

Photo from Adam Greenberg, via Twitter

Photo from Adam Greenberg, via Twitter

Mr, President, you expressed deep alarm and concern over the protests and demonstration in Ukraine and now in Venezuela. Have you considered that you will see large mass protests on American soil if this pipeline is approved? How will those protesters be treated? Will they be met with the militarized police forces we saw attack the Occupy movement just two years ago? Mr. President, the whole world is watching.

Make history the right way, by choosing a sustainable, energy-efficient future for our country and our environment over the dangers presented in pursuit of profits by a huge international corporation. Once sold, this can not be bought back at any price.

As an ending note, and not included in my public comment, comes the question of how President Obama would react if it were Sasha and Malia being arrested in front of the White House. If it can happen to these young people, it can happen to them. And did this event get coverage by the main stream media? This is NOT what democracy looks like…

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