Debt & Taxes
House GOP Unveils $983 Billion Plan to Avoid Gov Shutdown
Monday, March 4, 2013 - 5:54pm
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The House GOP introduced a $982 billion bill to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and prevent a shutdown on March 27, when the continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires. The bill keeps the $85 billion in sequestration cuts in place, but shifts $10.4 billion into the Pentagon's budget to cushion the blow of the sequester. It also contains several other provisions meant to reduce the effects of sequestration on the domestic side, including maintaining staffing levels for border patrol agents and maintaining funding for FEMA.  -   Read more at The Hill

TAX BREAK FOR CORPORATIONS COULD BE COSTING BILLIONS      Major U.S. corporations avoid paying federal taxes by taking advantage of a tax break specifically designed to help cities and states pay for roads, bridges and schools, according to a new analysis by The New York Times. Chevron Corporation, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Barclays, among others have received a combined $65 billion in qualified private activity bonds since 2003 to finance office building construction and other projects, without having to pay federal taxes on the interest.  According to budget analysts, these bonds are basically acting as a government subsidy in the form of foregone tax revenue, and could be costing the federal government billions of dollars a year. -  Read more at The New York Times

WEALTHIEST AMERICANS DRIVING SPENDING       Consumer spending is up, but only among the wealthiest households. According to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, people in the top half of the income distribution are carrying the load of consumer spending. “They're spending enough to keep the economy moving," Zandi said. Meanwhile, recent tax hikes and soaring gas prices are forcing lower income households to hold back. But this isn’t necessarily bad news for the economy, as the top 20 percent of earners account for about 38 percent of all spending, according to data from the Department of Labor.   -  Read more at The Wall Street Journal

RICH AMERICANS PAY HISTORICALLY HIGH TAX RATE     The wealthiest Americans are paying some of the highest federal tax bills in decades, while the rest of the country pays historically low rates. In 2013, families with incomes in the top 20 percent of the country will pay an average of 27.2 percent of their income in federal taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. The top 1 percent of households, earning more than $1.4 million annually, will pay an average of 35.5 percent. This combined rate includes income, payroll, corporate and estate taxes, and is among the highest since 1979. Meanwhile, many families in the bottom 20 percent won’t pay any federal taxes, since they will claim more in tax credits than they owe in taxes, giving them a negative tax rate. -   Read more at the Associated Press

OBAMA NOMINATES THREE CABINET MEMBERS     President Obama today nominated MIT professor Ernest Moniz to be the next energy secretary, Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and Sylvia Mathews Burwell to be the new director of  Office of Management and Budget. Moniz is expected to face questions over the president’s energy policy, including his support for nuclear power. McCarthy can expect to be grilled by Republicans over the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon emissions, fracking and a slew of other issues. And Burwell will likely face a tough confirmation hearing over the sequester, entitlement spending and the consecutive trillion dollar deficits under Obama.  -   See the president’s announcement here

Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.