Flanked by military servicemen and women, President Obama this morning challenged Congressional Republicans to agree to further tax increases in order to avoid the $85 billion sequester cuts he signed off on last year. The cuts are scheduled to begin on March 1 and represent a 5 percent across the board reduction in defense and domestic spending next week. "Are you willing to see a bunch of emergency responders lose their jobs because you want to protect some special interest tax loophole?" Obama asked, adding that the cuts are "not an abstraction… People will lose their jobs…We’ve got a few days — Congress can do the right thing.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
$30M FOR COPS IN SCHOOLS? A handful of House Republicans unveiled a plan to spend $30 million a year to help put police officers in schools across the country as a response to last December’s massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The measure’s chief sponsor, freshman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., says the spending would be offset by unspent funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget. Meadows’s bill is in step with NRA president Wayne LaPierre’s call to have armed guards posted at every school in the country. President Obama also favors increased security in the nation’s schools. - Read more at The Hill
ONLINE SALES TAX GAINING STEAM Lawmakers are eyeing an online-sales tax measure as part of a broader tax reform package. The Marketplace Fairness Act, which imposes a sales tax on online businesses earning $1 million or more a year, was reintroduced last week as a smaller piece of a larger tax overhaul package. Currently, states can only collect sales taxes from retailers physically operating in their state. Advocates say this measure would close unfair loopholes that benefit large online retailers over local stores. - Read more at The Hill
SIMPSON-BOWLES REDUX Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, co-chairmen of Obama’s 2010 bipartisan fiscal commission in 2010, are back with a new framework they say will cut the country's deficits by $2.4 trillion over the next ten years, a more ambitious proposal than the president’s blueprint, which aims to trim another $1.5 trillion in savings over the coming decade.
The plan includes enacting tax reform that minimizes tax expenditures, reducing Medicare and Medicaid spending by cutting payments to providers, increasing premiums for high earners and changing incentives for providers and beneficiaries. It also includes using chained CPI, a less generous cost of living adjustment than the one now being used for Social Security and other entitlements, and curbing farm subsidies.
Read more at The Fiscal Times
FACEBOOK TAXBREAK SPARKS OUTRAGE The Internet erupted in outrage after Citizens for Tax Justice reported that social media behemoth Facebook would receive $429 million in tax refunds this year, after the company scored more than $1 billion in profits last year. The tax research and advocacy group reports that Facebook is getting the hefty refund because of a $1.03 billion tax break. According to the Los Angeles Times, the tax break was a result of Facebook awarding its employees stock when the company went public in 2012. Read more at The Los Angeles Times