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Tags: N Korea | Sends | Nuclear | Aid | Iran | Congress Derails Obamas Trains | GE’s 9-Foot Tax Dodge

N. Korea Sends Nuclear Aid to Iran; Congress Derails Obama’s Trains; GE’s 9-Foot Tax Dodge

By    |   Sunday, 20 November 2011 12:57 PM EST

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Corporate Income Taxes 'Absolutely' Cost U.S. Jobs
2. Report: Hundreds of N. Koreans Work on Iran's Nukes
3. AIPAC Urges 'Devastating' Iran Sanctions
4. Forbes Reveals America's 'Dirtiest Cities'
5. Congress Kills Obama's High-Speed Rail Program
6. GE Filed 9-Foot-Tall IRS Return to Dodge U.S. Taxes

1. Corporate Income Taxes 'Absolutely' Cost U.S. Jobs

The corporate tax rate in the United States is the highest in the developed world and places U.S.-headquartered corporations at a tremendous disadvantage in the global marketplace, according to a new report.

"The costly U.S. corporate tax structure is driving competitive, profit-seeking corporations to minimize their tax exposure and defer income overseas to lower-tax countries," states the report from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

"Unless the United States reforms its corporate tax system, the country will fall further behind in global competitiveness."

President Barack Obama has said the high tax rate "makes no sense and has to change," and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan agrees that the tax system is stifling America's fiscal goals.

"The President and Chairman Ryan are correct," the report observes, adding that without an overhaul of the tax system, America "will continue to lose jobs to countries with lower taxes."

The federal government's corporate tax rate is 35 percent on corporations that earn profits of more than $18.3 million, and the effective tax rate — which takes into account all deductions and credits — is 29 percent.

In contrast, the average corporate tax rate in the 34 nations belonging to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is just 23.4 percent, and their effective rate is 20.5 percent.

The only country with a higher corporate tax rate than the U.S. is Japan, but Tokyo plans to reduce its statutory rate by about 5 percent in the near future.

The tax rate is below 10 percent in Switzerland, below 15 percent in Ireland, and at or below 20 percent in 12 other countries, including Canada and Germany.

As recently as 1990, the OECD average rate was 41.1 percent, but since then rates have continued to fall while in the U.S. rates have stagnated.

The high rate in America encourages corporations to keep their profits overseas to take advantage of lower rates in other countries. That shifts billions of dollars in profits away from the United States, money that could be used to create American jobs.

In fact, during the 2000s major multinational corporations reduced U.S. jobs by 2.9 million while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million.

"Not all of these jobs were cut and outsourced specifically because of the corporate tax system. But was that system a contributing factor? Absolutely," the Mercatus Center observed.

The report concludes: "If the United States is to be competitive in the future, some level of corporate tax restructuring has to occur.

"To protect American jobs and secure future fiscal stability, the United States must slash its corporate tax rate."

Editor's Note:

2. Report: Hundreds of N. Koreans Work on Iran's Nukes

North Korean nuclear and missile experts have been sent to Iran to help Tehran's nuclear weapons development program, according to a diplomatic source.

"Hundreds of North Korean nuclear and missile engineers have been working at more than 10 sites [in Iran], including Natanz and Qom," the source told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

According to Yonhap, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, "has a track record of accurate information."

"The North Koreans are visiting Iran via third countries and many of them are being rotated in every three to six months," the diplomatic source disclosed.

"The North Korean experts are from the country's so-called Room 99, which is directly supervised by the North's ruling Workers' Party Munitions Industry Department." Room 99 "is widely believed to be engaged in exports of weapons and military technology."

A South Korean official said the source's allegations are "not a matter that the government can officially confirm."

But reports surfaced late last year that Mohammad Reza Heydari, a former Iranian diplomat who defected to the West earlier in 2010, said he saw many North Korean technicians in Iran between 2002 and 2007 working on the country's nuclear program, according to Yonhap.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and both Pyongyang and Iran are under United Nations sanctions for their nuclear programs.

Reacting to the Yonhap report, the Iranian embassy in South Korea told the agency it "categorically rejects such allegations," calling the report a "sheer lie and blatant accusation" against Iran.

Editor's Note:

3. AIPAC Urges 'Devastating' Iran Sanctions

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has sent an email warning about Iran's nuclear weapons program and urging support for a bill to stiffen sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The email signed by Jonathan E. Missner, AIPAC's director of national affairs and development, and addressed to "Dear Friend of Israel" begins: "Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued an unprecedented report that confirms Iran is closing in on the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

"This alarming report comes on the heels of the discovery last month that Iran was behind a foiled plot to attack Saudi and Israeli targets on U.S. soil.

"These wakeup calls further indicate the need for the United States and our allies to act with devastating new sanctions on Iran now. These sanctions are needed to prevent the nightmare scenario this nuclear-armed regime would pose."

AIPAC asks recipients to send an email urging their representative to vote for the Iran Threat Reduction Act when it comes to the House floor. The bill would impose tough new sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran and establish as law that it is U.S. policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

AIPAC also asks for online contributions in support of the organization's work with Congress and the administration "to ensure these vital Iran sanctions are enacted without delay."

The email states: "The time to act is now. Iran is nearing a tipping point in its illicit nuclear pursuit and will only be further emboldened if it is allowed to acquire a nuclear weapons capability."

Editor's Note:

4. Forbes Reveals America's 'Dirtiest Cities'

Seven of the 10 most polluted cities in the United States are in California, according to Forbes magazine — but notoriously smoggy Los Angeles is not at the top of the list.

"California has gone to extremes to improve the state's air quality, pushing out coal-fired power plants and implementing the strictest auto emissions standards in the nation," Forbes observes.

But "lots of people and too many cars means California still has seven big cities that rank among the most polluted in the nation."

Forbes based its rankings on the American Lung Association's State of the Air 2011 report.

According to that report, the most hazardous breathing in the United States is in Bakersfield, Calif., which is hot, dusty, and adjacent to the state's biggest oil fields. Bakersfield has 60 days a year of unhealthy air, 10 times the level considered acceptable. The city is No. 1 in year-round particulate pollution, and No. 2 in ozone pollution.

Los Angeles is second on the dirtiest cities list, and No. 1 in ozone pollution, followed by Visalia-Porterville, Calif., located in the San Joaquin Valley where a ring of mountains traps a stagnant mixture of ozone and particulate matter, Forbes explains.

Fresno, Calif. — another San Joaquin Valley city — is next, followed by Pittsburgh, Pa., which is downwind of coal-fired power plants.

Rounding out the 10 dirtiest cities are Modesto, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; Phoenix, Ariz.; San Diego, Calif.; and Sacramento, Calif.

Forbes also compiles a list of America's healthiest cities, taking into consideration not only air quality but other factors including citizens' diet and exercise practices and incidence of diseases.

Minneapolis, Minn., tops the healthiest cities list, followed by Washington, D.C.; Boston, Mass.; Portland, Ore.; and Denver, Colo.

Editor's Note:

5. Congress Kills Obama's High-Speed Rail Program

Congress delivered a sharp rebuke to President Barack Obama by voting on Thursday to shut down funding for his signature high-speed rail program.

The House voted 298-121 to approve a $182 billion spending bill aimed at averting a government shutdown. The measure eliminates any funding for high-speed trains. The Senate later approved the bill.

Obama had requested $8 billion in fiscal 2012 for the trains, and $53 billion over six years.

The bill signals "an end to the president's misguided high-speed rail program, but it is not the end of American high-speed rail," said Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's railroad subcommittee.

He said the future of high-speed rail in America will be in the Northeast rail corridor connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, rather than the national network envisioned by Obama.

Supporters of high-speed rail, however, insist that the vote in Congress has not completely derailed the program. It's possible that money from other transportation programs could be steered to high-speed rail.

"If you think we are giving up that easily, you got another think coming," Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., told the Buffalo News.

Slaughter has led the fight for high-speed rail in upstate New York, but the loss of funding means a planned high-speed line between Buffalo and Albany will get no new money in the coming year.

Since Obama took office, his administration has steered more than $10 billion to rail projects around the country.

The biggest project is in California — a proposed high-speed line between San Francisco and the Los Angeles area. The project was originally estimated to cost $45 billion and to be completed by 2020, but new estimates put the price tag at nearly $100 billion, with a completion date of 2034.

Also, the one-way fare between the two cities was originally predicted to be $55, making it cheaper than flying. But ticket price estimates rose to $105 by April, observed Adam B. Summers, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation.

He pointed out that ridership estimates are projected as high as 117 million passengers per year. Yet the entire Amtrak system, which includes more than 500 destinations and 21,000 miles of track, serves just 27 million passengers a year.

Some of the $10 billion already earmarked for rail projects will go to Illinois, which is spending more than $3 billion to add three trains daily to the current five between Chicago and St. Louis. As the Insider Report disclosed earlier this year, the project will increase the average speed of trains on the line from 51.6 miles per hour to 56.8 mph, saving travelers just 30 minutes on the current 5 1/2-hour trip.

And Washington State is spending $700 million to add two trains per day to the current three between Seattle and Portland, Ore., and boost speeds from 53.4 mph to 56.1 mph. That will save travelers 10 minutes on the current 3 1/2-hour trip.

Editor's Note:

6. GE Filed 9-Foot-Tall IRS Return to Dodge U.S. Taxes

New disclosures about General Electric's corporate tax filing show the extent to which a major American corporation will go to in order to avoid paying its share of U.S. taxes.

It was revealed earlier this year that GE, the largest corporation in America, paid no taxes on $14 billion in profits in 2010.

Now a GE tax officer reveals that the corporation's federal tax return numbered an astounding 57,000 pages. If it was printed out and stacked, the pile would stand 9 feet high.

The size of the return came to light when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan argued for corporate tax reform at a recent town hall meeting, according to the Weekly Standard.

"GE was able to utilize all of these various loopholes, all of these various deductions," the Wisconsin Republican said.

Of GE's profits, $9 billion came from overseas, outside the jurisdiction of American tax law. And the corporation wasn't taxed on $5 billion in U.S. profits because it exploited numerous deductions and tax credits, including breaks for investments in green energy.

"I asked the GE tax officer, 'How long was your tax form?'" Ryan said. "He said, 'Well, we file electronically. We don't measure pages.'"

Ryan asked for an estimate, which turned out to be 57,000 pages.

The solution, according to Ryan: "Get rid of those loopholes and lower tax rates by a corresponding amount. Don't lose revenue, but for every loophole you pull out, and deny a company from being able to get this little carve-out, you can lower the rates so we can be more competitive with our competitors overseas."

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Insider ReportHeadlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Corporate Income Taxes 'Absolutely' Cost U.S. Jobs 2. Report: Hundreds of N. Koreans Work on Iran's Nukes 3. AIPAC Urges 'Devastating' Iran Sanctions 4. Forbes Reveals America's 'Dirtiest Cities' 5. Congress...
N Korea,Sends,Nuclear,Aid,Iran,Congress Derails Obamas Trains,GE’s 9-Foot Tax Dodge
Sunday, 20 November 2011 12:57 PM
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