Republican Leaders Push Back Against Global Business Tax

Mike Crapo and Kevin Brady

Republican lawmakers are pushing back against the Biden administration’s plan to join a global compact implementing a tax on U.S. corporations regardless of where they operate.

One hundred and thirty six136 countries agreed Friday to implement a global business tax, and G-7 finance leaders agreed to the plan Saturday. President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen praised the plan.

Proposed by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organization, the global tax is necessary to respond to an “increasingly globalized and digital global economy,” OECD said.

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‘We Will Use the Full Range of Tools’: Trade Representative Says U.S. Will Enforce Phase One Trade Deal with China

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, sign the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said the Biden administration would enforce the Phase One trade agreement negotiated by the Trump administration with China while giving a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Monday.

“For too long, China’s lack of adherence to global trading norms has undercut the prosperity of Americans and others around the world,” Tai said in prepared remarks. “China made commitments that benefit certain American industries, including agriculture, that we must enforce.”

China has fallen short on the purchase totals it agreed to as part of the agreement, increasing its purchases by only 69% as of July 2021, according to the non-partisan Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).

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Facebook Whistleblower Says Company ‘Paying for Its Profits with Our Safety’

Facebook knowingly chooses to prioritize its profits over the safety of its users, Frances Haugen, a whistleblower and former Facebook employee, said in an interview with “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“The thing I saw at Facebook over and over again was there were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Haugen told Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” Sunday night. “And Facebook, over and over again, chose to optimize for its own interests, like making more money.”

Haugen, a former Facebook product manager, leaked thousands of internal company documents to The Wall Street Journal last month which detail the inner workings of the company. The leaked documents showed that Facebook employs a separate content review system for high-profile accounts, the company has conducted research into the harms its Instagram platform has on teen users, and it stokes controversy by boosting inflammatory content.

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Businesses Push Back Against Biden Plan to Track All Bank Transactions over $600 Through the IRS

Joe Biden outside

A major component of President Joe Biden’s plan to raise revenue to pay for his trillions of dollars in new federal spending is now under fire from trade associations across the country.

The Biden administration has made clear its plan to beef up IRS auditing by expanding the agency’s funding and power. Biden’s latest proposal would require banks to turn over to the Internal Revenue Service bank account information for all accounts holding more than $600.

In a sharp pushback against the proposal, more than 40 trade associations, some of which represent entire industries or economic sectors, signed a letter to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., raising the alarm about the plan.

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Rising Inflation Could Mean Largest Social Security Increase Since 1983

Person counting cash

Rising inflation and the price increases that come with it may lead to the highest raise for senior citizens in decades.

The Senior Citizens League predicted Thursday that the annual cost-of-living adjustment for 2022 Social Security payments could be the highest since 1983. The prediction comes as federal data this week showed two major signs of inflation, continuing a trend that has worsened this year.

“The estimate is significant because the COLA is based on the average of the July, August and September CPI data,” said Mary Johnson, a Social Security policy analyst for The Senior Citizens League. “With one third of the data needed to calculate the COLA already in, it increasingly appears that the COLA for 2022 will be the highest paid since 1983 when it was 7.4%.”

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Farmers Cry Foul over Biden’s Death Tax Proposal

Woman with ball cap on, out in the fields of a farm

President Joe Biden has proposed amending the inheritance tax, also known as the “death tax,” but farmers around the country are raising concerns about the plan.

In the American Families Plan introduced earlier this year, Biden proposed repealing the “step-up in basis” in tax law. The stepped-up basis is a tax provision that allows an heir to report the value of an asset at the time of inheriting it, essentially not paying gains taxes on how much the assets increased in value during the lifetime of the deceased. This allows heirs to avoid gains taxes altogether if they sell the inheritance immediately.

Under Biden’s change, heirs would be forced to pay taxes on the appreciation of the assets, potentially over the entire lifetime of the recently deceased relative. 

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Critics Pan Biden Order Calling for Half of U.S. Vehicle Sales to Be Electric by 2030

Electric car being charged

A new executive order from the Biden administration has accelerated the timeline for electric vehicles and raised questions about the economic impacts of the transition away from gas-powered vehicles.

President Joe Biden signed the executive order Thursday aimed at making 50% of vehicles zero emission in the U.S. by 2030, an aggressive push toward electric vehicles. About 2% of new cars sold each year in the U.S. are currently electric, according to the Pew Research Center.

“The Executive Order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis,” the White House said.

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Study: Democrats’ Capital Gains Tax Hike Could Cost More Than 745,000 Jobs

Chris Van Hollen

A new Democratic proposal to increase the capital gains tax could cost 745,000 jobs, a study published by the Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) projects.

The Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act, which would tax unrealized capital gains when heirs inherit assets, among other things, would have a “significantly negative impact” on the economy, including average job losses of 745,000 over 10 years, the report found.

The analysis, conducted for the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, found that sustained annual job losses from eliminating a tax benefit on appreciated assets known as the step-up in basis could eliminate between 537,000 to 949,000 jobs, with models predicting a base of 745,000 lost jobs through 2030.

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Georgia to Issue Licenses to Companies for Medical Marijuana Production

Zane Bader

The Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission will pick six companies to start producing the plant for medical uses in the state.

Nearly 70 companies applied for licenses to grow marijuana and convert it to oil to treat various illnesses. Once the commission approves them, the companies could be looking at paying up to $200,000 in licensing fees to the state. They will have one year to get product to thousands of Georgians who have been waiting for more than five years.

Patients with a Low THC Oil Registry card legally can purchase up to 20 fluid ounces of the THC oil from licensed dispensaries or pharmacies under legislation signed into law by former Gov. Nathan Deal in 2015. However, without guidelines and a medical marijuana marketplace, the 14,000 registered patients in Georgia have no way of legally obtaining the oil.

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Rental Car Companies Across U.S. Struggle to Replace Diminished Fleets

Blue sedan during sunset at dealership in lot

The country is opening up and travel is increasing, but visitors are finding the rental car landscape a bit empty.

Rental car companies are continuing to have a hard time keeping up with demand after selling off fleets to stay afloat during the pandemic.

“The fundamental thing that’s causing it is the very rational corporate response to the pandemic and the almost shutting down of international and domestic travel for most of 2020 and the first half of 2021,” Gregory Scott, spokesperson for the American Car Rental Association (ACRA), told The Center Square. “Airport rentals dropped 70-90% in March and April of last year, and as a result there were literally tens of thousands of vehicles sitting unrented and unwanted because people stopped traveling.”

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Federal Reserve Chair: Inflation to be ‘Elevated for Months’

Jerome Powell

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell tried to calm lawmakers’ fears about rising inflation but also said it would probably remain elevated for months to come.

Testifying before Congress this week, Powell said the Federal Reserve was willing to step in to address the situation, but that inflation should level out next year.

“As always, in assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, we will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook and would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if we saw signs that the path of inflation or longer-term inflation expectations were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal,” Powell said in his prepared testimony.

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Lumber Demand Drives Georgia Home Prices Higher

A beige house in a suburban community during the day

A spike in lumber prices has compounded the state’s housing crisis, Georgia housing advocates said.

The price of lumber increased by 300% this spring compared with the same time last year, reports show. The building material reached an all-time high of $1,515 per thousand board feet on May 28.

The price of oriented strand board, which is most often used for sheathing, has increased by 400% since last spring.

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Georgia Long-Term Care Facilities Face Financial Hardship from Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a financial toll on Georgia’s long-term care facilities, officials said.

Devon Barill, communications director for the Georgia Health Care Association and Georgia Center for Assisted Living (GHCA/GCAL), said the facilities have faced increased expenses and revenue losses from caring for the state’s most vulnerable population.

While COVID-19 can lead to severe complications in older people and those with underlying issues, the congregated facilities are often home to the elderly and people who require supportive care.

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U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against NCAA on Payment for College Athletes

Paying college athletes has been a hotly debated topic for years, but now the U.S. Supreme Court has released a ruling on the issue.

A group of current and former student athletes brought the lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, arguing that the organization violated antitrust laws when it prevented student athletes from accepting certain education-related benefits.

The case, filed in 2018, challenged the NCAA and the biggest conferences including the Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and ACC. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the students Monday, saying the NCAA could not deny those benefits, which could include things like “scholarships for graduate or vocational school, payments for academic tutoring, or paid posteligibility internships.”

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Atlanta Area Among Country’s Fastest-Growing New Home Construction Markets

Light trails on a suburban highway

A recent National Association of Realtors report shows the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta metro area is experiencing new-home growth amid a national housing shortage.

The area ranked fourth in the country for metro areas with the most single-family home building permits over the past year.

Metro Atlanta real estate agent Allahva Panton has seen a large increase in real estate sales in the Atlanta area, but not so much in Sandy Springs or Alpharetta.

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Migration Study Shows Big Cities Continue Losing Population During First Quarter

U-Haul truck

Americans in the first quarter of 2021 continued their 2020 pattern of moving from expensive, densely populated areas to warmer, more tax-affordable states, according to a new study from Updater Technologies.

Updater Technologies is an online platform that allows people to use a centralized hub for moving, including finding a moving company, connecting internet and utility services and updating their address. The company says the inbound and outbound data it uses is more reliable than tabulating mail forwarding forms because it captures fully completed permanent moves in real time. It also indexes cities and states based on population, since using raw numbers would skew toward the most populated areas based on sheer volume.

Out of roughly 300,000 household moves during the first quarter, only 16 states had a greater percentage of inbound moves than outbound: Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia and Maine.

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Businesses, Republicans Raise the Alarm over Biden Taxes

Local icecream shop with chalkboard menu

As President Joe Biden promotes his several trillion dollars in proposed federal spending, Republicans and small businesses are raising the alarm, arguing the taxes needed to pay for those spending plans are a threat to the economy.

The House Ways and Means Committee met Thursday to discuss infrastructure development and in particular the impact of proposed tax increases to pay for it. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking member on the committee, argued that only 7% of Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill goes to infrastructure and that raising taxes would incentivize employers to take jobs overseas.

“As bad as the wasteful spending is, worse yet, it’s poisoned with crippling tax increases that sabotage America’s jobs recovery, hurts working families and Main Street businesses, and drives U.S. jobs overseas,”  Brady said. “We cannot fund infrastructure on the backs of American workers.”

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Republicans Release Plan to Address Growing Inflation Under Biden Administration

High gas prices

Congressional Republicans grabbed headlines this week after releasing an aggressive budget they say would cut taxes and spending, but key measures in the plan also would address one of the country’s most serious economic problems.

The House’s Republican Study Committee released a budget that lays out several measures to deal with inflation, a growing concern among economists after the latest federal data showed a spike in consumer prices. Notably, the index for used cars and trucks rose 10%, the largest one-month increase since BLS began recording the data in 1953. Food and energy costs rose 0.9% in the month of April, prescription drugs rose 0.5%, and gasoline rose 1.4% during the same month. The energy cost index rose 25% in the previous 12 months.

Republicans on the committee say their plan would address concerns over inflation by balancing the budget within five years, thereby eliminating the need to monetize debt, a process where the federal government prints money to make payments on what it owes. The national debt has soared to more than $28 trillion and is expected to continue climbing under President Joe Biden’s new spending plans.

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Kemp Extends Suspension of Georgia Gas Tax by a Week

"Sorry out of service" bag covering gas pump

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp extended the state’s temporary suspension of the fuel tax through May 22 as Colonial Pipeline works to become fully operational after a cyberattack.

Kemp issued an executive order Monday that suspended the gas tax, increased weight limits for trucks transporting fuel and prohibited price gouging. The order was set to expire Saturday before Kemp extended it Friday.

“While Colonial Pipeline is now operational, the company has informed the public that it will be a few days until full service is available statewide,” Kemp said in a statement. “This executive order will ensure fuel supply chains have every resource needed to deliver gas quickly and safely, and that Georgians aren’t hit with state gas taxes at the pump during this shortage. I continue to ask Georgians to only purchase the fuel they need for essential travel through the upcoming weekend.”

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Economic Development Roundup: Charging Station Producer Heliox Opening Headquarters in Georgia

Black, electric car being charged at charging station

E-mobility charging systems producer Heliox is establishing its North American headquarters in Atlanta, creating more than 70 clean-energy jobs, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said.

Netherlands-based Heliox makes fast-charging systems for electric vehicles. It has installed more than 1,600 fast-charging points worldwide.

The headquarters is expected to open June 1 and will include a campus for research and development and corporate offic

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More Rural Georgia Counties to Get Internet Upgrade under Private-Sector Deal

Workers installing broadband internet

More rural Georgians are expected to gain access to high-speed internet under a private-sector partnership announced this week by Conexon Connect.

Conexon Connect is collaborating with Middle Georgia EMC to provide broadband access to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses in Dooly, Houston, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox and Ben Hill counties.

“Our members have waited long enough for high-speed access to make telemedicine, remote learning, working from home and videoconferencing with loved ones a reality on a daily basis,” Middle Georgia EMC President and CEO Randy Crenshaw said. “Connect is making it possible for our cooperative to deliver this vital service at last. We are ready to show them all the opportunities that open up in a more connected community.”

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Report: Three-Fourths of All 2019 Property Insurance Suits in U.S. Were Filed in Florida

In 2019, Florida homeowners accounted for 8.16 percent of the nation’s property insurance claims, but more than 76 percent of property insurance lawsuits lodged against insurers.

Pointing to this “disparity,” Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier in a five-page April 2 letter to House Commerce Committee Chair Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-Spring Hill, outlined four proposals to reduce property insurance litigation.

Insurers cite rampant litigation, ballooning reinsurance costs, “loss creep” from 2017-18 hurricanes and coastal flooding as a “perform storm” of coalescing factors leading to double-digit property insurance rate hikes that Florida businesses and 6.2 million homeowners are seeing or will see when renewing policies.

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Poll: Support for School Choice Increases After COVID Shutdowns

Classroom full of kids, that are being read a book

After states shut down schools and forced families into virtual learning, parents and families found new ways to provide K-12 education to their children. While doing so, support for school choice options soared, a new poll from Real Clear Opinion Research found.

Among those surveyed, 71% said they support school choice, which is defined as giving parents the option to use the tax dollars designated for their child’s education to send their child to the public or private school that best serves their needs. Across all racial and ethnic demographics, an overwhelming majority expressed support for school choice: Blacks (66%), Hispanic (68%), and Asian (66 percent).

These results “were the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters,” the survey states.

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Surveys: 46 Million People Can’t Afford Health Care, Majority of Hospitals Not Providing Pricing Transparency

Assorted color syringes.

An estimated 46 million people — or 18% of the country — would be unable to pay for health care if they needed it today, a recent poll conducted by Gallup and West Health found.

In another survey by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. have yet to comply with a transparency ruling implemented this year that would help patients shop around for the most affordable prices.

Gallup’s findings are based on a poll conducted between February 15 and 21 among 3,753 adults with a margin of error of 2%.

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Georgia Legislature Approves $27B Budget for New Fiscal Year

Blake Tillery

The Georgia General Assembly has approved a $27.2 billion spending plan for the 2022 fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The Senate and House agreed to spend more money on health care, education, transportation, state positions, internet access and economic initiatives.

The House approved the measure, 148-21, late Wednesday night after it cleared the Senate unanimously, 52-0. Lawmakers now must send the proposal for state spending through June 30, 2022, to Gov. Brian Kemp for consideration.

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Brian Kemp Asks Joe Biden to Overturn Trade Commission Ruling to Help Northeast Georgia

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp this week asked U.S. President Joe Biden to overturn the International Trade Commission ruling against SK Innovation to save thousands of jobs in northeast Georgia directly tied to the project. Kemp formally requested this in a letter Friday. He attached a copy of his letter to the president in an emailed press release.

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Missouri House Sends Bill Clipping Health Officials’ Emergency Powers to Senate

A bill that would require local governments to approve extensions of public health emergency orders after 15 days is ready for adoption by the Missouri House.

House Bill 75, sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy, was perfected Wednesday in a floor debate and awaits only a floor vote to be transferred to the Senate, where a raft of similar bills are matriculating in committees.

HB 75, which has already passed through the House Special Committee on Small Business and Rules – Legislative Oversight committees, would allow local public health officials to order a closure for no more than 15 days.

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Ohio Prosecutors Support Bill to Force Convicted Rioters to Pay for Damages

Last summer, millions of dollars in taxpayer money were spent in response to protests that turned violent throughout Ohio. A bill proposed in the Ohio Senate looks to make sure those responsible will pay for it.

Senate Bill 41, currently being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, calls for restitution from those who are convicted of property damage during riots, including vandalism. The restitution would pay the expenses of police and emergency crews who have to respond to riots. The bill also allows the government to take possession of any property left behind by those who end up convicted.

State Senator Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, is sponsoring the bill. Lou Tobin, the Executive Director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, offered his support before the committee recently.

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