The Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017, Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos — Story 2: Corporate Tax Cut Bill Will Pass By December 22, 2017 — Definitively Not Fundamental Tax Reform For The Middle Class — Replace Income Tax System with A Single Broad Based Consumption Tax Replacing All Federal Income Based Taxes — Videos — Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

Posted on December 11, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Bombs, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Cruise Missiles, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Drones, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Employment, European History, Federal Communications Commission, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Genocide, Government, Government Dependency, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Killing, Knifes, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Lying, Media, Middle East, MIssiles, National Interest, National Security Agency, Networking, News, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Religion, Rifles, Rule of Law, Scandals, Spying, Success, Surveillance and Spying On American People, Surveillance/Spying, Syria, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Terror, Terrorism, Trade Policy, Trump Surveillance/Spying, Turkey, Unemployment, United States of America, Videos, Violence, War, Weapons, Weather, Wisdom, Yemen | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1010, December 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1009, December 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1008, December 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1007, November 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1006, November 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1005, November 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1004, November 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1003, November 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1002, November 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 1001, November 14, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 1000, November 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 999, November 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 998, November 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 997, November 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 996, November 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 995, November 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 994, November 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 993, November 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 992, October 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 991, October 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 990, October 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 989, October 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 988, October 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 987, October 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 986, October 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 985, October 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 984, October 16, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 983, October 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 982, October 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 981, October 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 980, October 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 979, October 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 978, October 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 977, October 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 976, October 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 975, September 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 974, September 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 973, September 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 972, September 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 971, September 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 970, September 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 969, September 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 968, September 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 967, September 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 966, September 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 965, September 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 964, September 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 963, September 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 962, September 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 961, September 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 960, September 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 959, September 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 958, September 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 957, September 5, 2017

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Story 1: Labor Participation Rate In November 2017 Remained At 62.7% with Over 95.4 Million Not in Labor Force With 160.5 Million In Labor Force –U-3 Unemployment Rate Hit Low 4.1% and U-6 Unemployment Rate Rose To 8.0% — Total Non-farm Payroll Jobs Added 228,000 — Videos —

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US economy adds 228K jobs in November

Analyzing The November Jobs Report Compared To Previous Years | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

U.S. economy continues its strong performance

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn: Tax Reform Will Help Us Drive Real Wage Growth | CNBC

CNN’s Christine Romans Highlights November’s Really Good Jobs Numbers

Larry Kudlow: Jobs Report Shows We Are On Front End Of “Very, Very Strong Rebound In Manufacturing”

Panel on Strong November Jobs Report; 228K Jobs Added. #Economy #Jobs #Report #November

Stockman: Here’s Why Today’s Jobs Report Is Nothing to Celebrate

Alan Greenspan // We are about to go from stagnation to ‘stagflation’

Ep. 307: Trump Continues What He Once Called the Biggest Hoax in American Politics

The Reason Trump is President – Peter Schiff

 

Civilian Labor Force Level

160,529,000

 

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey

 

Series Id:           LNS11000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 142267(1) 142456 142434 142751 142388 142591 142278 142514 142518 142622 142962 143248
2001 143800 143701 143924 143569 143318 143357 143654 143284 143989 144086 144240 144305
2002 143883 144653 144481 144725 144938 144808 144803 145009 145552 145314 145041 145066
2003 145937(1) 146100 146022 146474 146500 147056 146485 146445 146530 146716 147000 146729
2004 146842(1) 146709 146944 146850 147065 147460 147692 147564 147415 147793 148162 148059
2005 148029(1) 148364 148391 148926 149261 149238 149432 149779 149954 150001 150065 150030
2006 150214(1) 150641 150813 150881 151069 151354 151377 151716 151662 152041 152406 152732
2007 153144(1) 152983 153051 152435 152670 153041 153054 152749 153414 153183 153835 153918
2008 154063(1) 153653 153908 153769 154303 154313 154469 154641 154570 154876 154639 154655
2009 154210(1) 154538 154133 154509 154747 154716 154502 154307 153827 153784 153878 153111
2010 153484(1) 153694 153954 154622 154091 153616 153691 154086 153975 153635 154125 153650
2011 153263(1) 153214 153376 153543 153479 153346 153288 153760 154131 153961 154128 153995
2012 154381(1) 154671 154749 154545 154866 155083 154948 154763 155160 155554 155338 155628
2013 155695(1) 155268 154990 155356 155514 155747 155669 155587 155731 154709 155328 155151
2014 155295(1) 155485 156115 155378 155559 155682 156098 156117 156100 156389 156421 156238
2015 157022(1) 156771 156781 157043 157447 156993 157125 157109 156809 157123 157358 157957
2016 158362(1) 158888 159278 158938 158510 158889 159295 159508 159830 159643 159456 159640
2017 159716(1) 160056 160201 160213 159784 160145 160494 160571 161146 160381 160529
1 : Data affected by changes in population controls.

 

Labor Force Participation Rate

62.7%

Series Id:           LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status:  Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.3 67.1 67.1 66.9 66.9 66.9 66.8 66.9 67.0
2001 67.2 67.1 67.2 66.9 66.7 66.7 66.8 66.5 66.8 66.7 66.7 66.7
2002 66.5 66.8 66.6 66.7 66.7 66.6 66.5 66.6 66.7 66.6 66.4 66.3
2003 66.4 66.4 66.3 66.4 66.4 66.5 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 65.9
2004 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 66.0 66.1 66.1 66.0 65.8 65.9 66.0 65.9
2005 65.8 65.9 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0
2006 66.0 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.1 66.2 66.3 66.4
2007 66.4 66.3 66.2 65.9 66.0 66.0 66.0 65.8 66.0 65.8 66.0 66.0
2008 66.2 66.0 66.1 65.9 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.1 66.0 66.0 65.9 65.8
2009 65.7 65.8 65.6 65.7 65.7 65.7 65.5 65.4 65.1 65.0 65.0 64.6
2010 64.8 64.9 64.9 65.2 64.9 64.6 64.6 64.7 64.6 64.4 64.6 64.3
2011 64.2 64.1 64.2 64.2 64.1 64.0 64.0 64.1 64.2 64.1 64.1 64.0
2012 63.7 63.8 63.8 63.7 63.7 63.8 63.7 63.5 63.6 63.8 63.6 63.7
2013 63.6 63.4 63.3 63.4 63.4 63.4 63.3 63.3 63.3 62.8 63.0 62.9
2014 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.8 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.8 62.9 62.9 62.7
2015 62.9 62.7 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.6 62.6 62.6 62.4 62.5 62.5 62.7
2016 62.7 62.9 63.0 62.8 62.6 62.7 62.8 62.8 62.9 62.8 62.6 62.7
2017 62.9 63.0 63.0 62.9 62.7 62.8 62.9 62.9 63.1 62.7 62.7

Unemployment Level

6.6 Million

 

Series Id:           LNS13000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Level
Labor force status:  Unemployed
Type of data:        Number in thousands
Age:                 16 years and over

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 5708 5858 5733 5481 5758 5651 5747 5853 5625 5534 5639 5634
2001 6023 6089 6141 6271 6226 6484 6583 7042 7142 7694 8003 8258
2002 8182 8215 8304 8599 8399 8393 8390 8304 8251 8307 8520 8640
2003 8520 8618 8588 8842 8957 9266 9011 8896 8921 8732 8576 8317
2004 8370 8167 8491 8170 8212 8286 8136 7990 7927 8061 7932 7934
2005 7784 7980 7737 7672 7651 7524 7406 7345 7553 7453 7566 7279
2006 7064 7184 7072 7120 6980 7001 7175 7091 6847 6727 6872 6762
2007 7116 6927 6731 6850 6766 6979 7149 7067 7170 7237 7240 7645
2008 7685 7497 7822 7637 8395 8575 8937 9438 9494 10074 10538 11286
2009 12058 12898 13426 13853 14499 14707 14601 14814 15009 15352 15219 15098
2010 15046 15113 15202 15325 14849 14474 14512 14648 14579 14516 15081 14348
2011 14013 13820 13737 13957 13855 13962 13763 13818 13948 13594 13302 13093
2012 12797 12813 12713 12646 12660 12692 12656 12471 12115 12124 12005 12298
2013 12470 11954 11672 11752 11657 11741 11350 11284 11264 11133 10792 10410
2014 10240 10383 10400 9705 9740 9460 9637 9616 9255 8964 9060 8718
2015 8962 8663 8538 8521 8655 8251 8235 8017 7877 7869 7939 7927
2016 7829 7845 7977 7910 7451 7799 7749 7853 7904 7740 7409 7529
2017 7635 7528 7202 7056 6861 6977 6981 7132 6801 6520 6610

U-3 Unemployment Rate

4.1%

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 4.0 4.1 4.0 3.8 4.0 4.0 4.0 4.1 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.9
2001 4.2 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.5 4.6 4.9 5.0 5.3 5.5 5.7
2002 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.9 6.0
2003 5.8 5.9 5.9 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 5.8 5.7
2004 5.7 5.6 5.8 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.4 5.4
2005 5.3 5.4 5.2 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.0 5.0 4.9
2006 4.7 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.6 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4
2007 4.6 4.5 4.4 4.5 4.4 4.6 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.7 5.0
2008 5.0 4.9 5.1 5.0 5.4 5.6 5.8 6.1 6.1 6.5 6.8 7.3
2009 7.8 8.3 8.7 9.0 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.8 10.0 9.9 9.9
2010 9.8 9.8 9.9 9.9 9.6 9.4 9.4 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.8 9.3
2011 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.1 9.0 9.0 9.0 8.8 8.6 8.5
2012 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.2 8.1 7.8 7.8 7.7 7.9
2013 8.0 7.7 7.5 7.6 7.5 7.5 7.3 7.3 7.2 7.2 6.9 6.7
2014 6.6 6.7 6.7 6.2 6.3 6.1 6.2 6.2 5.9 5.7 5.8 5.6
2015 5.7 5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.3 5.2 5.1 5.0 5.0 5.0 5.0
2016 4.9 4.9 5.0 5.0 4.7 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.9 4.8 4.6 4.7
2017 4.8 4.7 4.5 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.1 4.1  U-3

U-6 Unemployment Rate

8.0%

 

Series Id:           LNS13327709
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title:        (seas) Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of all civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers
Labor force status:  Aggregated totals unemployed
Type of data:        Percent or rate
Age:                 16 years and over
Percent/rates:       Unemployed and mrg attached and pt for econ reas as percent of labor force plus marg attached

Download:
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2000 7.1 7.2 7.1 6.9 7.1 7.0 7.0 7.1 7.0 6.8 7.1 6.9
2001 7.3 7.4 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.9 7.8 8.1 8.7 9.3 9.4 9.6
2002 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.7 9.5 9.5 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.6 9.7 9.8
2003 10.0 10.2 10.0 10.2 10.1 10.3 10.3 10.1 10.4 10.2 10.0 9.8
2004 9.9 9.7 10.0 9.6 9.6 9.5 9.5 9.4 9.4 9.7 9.4 9.2
2005 9.3 9.3 9.1 8.9 8.9 9.0 8.8 8.9 9.0 8.7 8.7 8.6
2006 8.4 8.4 8.2 8.1 8.2 8.4 8.5 8.4 8.0 8.2 8.1 7.9
2007 8.4 8.2 8.0 8.2 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.4 8.8
2008 9.2 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.7 10.1 10.5 10.8 11.0 11.8 12.6 13.6
2009 14.2 15.2 15.8 15.9 16.5 16.5 16.4 16.7 16.7 17.1 17.1 17.1
2010 16.7 17.0 17.1 17.1 16.6 16.4 16.4 16.5 16.8 16.6 16.9 16.6
2011 16.2 16.0 15.9 16.1 15.8 16.1 15.9 16.1 16.4 15.8 15.5 15.2
2012 15.2 15.0 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.8 14.6 14.8 14.4 14.4 14.4
2013 14.5 14.4 13.8 14.0 13.8 14.2 13.8 13.6 13.7 13.6 13.1 13.1
2014 12.7 12.6 12.6 12.3 12.1 12.0 12.2 12.0 11.8 11.5 11.4 11.2
2015 11.3 11.0 10.9 10.8 10.7 10.5 10.3 10.2 10.0 9.8 9.9 9.9
2016 9.9 9.8 9.8 9.7 9.7 9.6 9.7 9.7 9.7 9.5 9.3 9.2
2017 9.4 9.2 8.9 8.6 8.4 8.6 8.6 8.6 8.3 7.9 8.0

Employment Situation Summary

Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until                  USDL-17-1616
8:30 a.m. (EST) Friday, December 8, 2017

Technical information:
 Household data:       (202) 691-6378  *  cpsinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/cps
 Establishment data:   (202) 691-6555  *  cesinfo@bls.gov  *  www.bls.gov/ces

Media contact:         (202) 691-5902  *  PressOffice@bls.gov


                         THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- NOVEMBER 2017


Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November, and the unemployment 
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. 
Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, 
and health care.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in November, and the number of unemployed 
persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate 
and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.5 percentage point and 799,000, 
respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers increased to 15.9 
percent in November. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7 
percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (7.3 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics 
(4.7 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially 
unchanged at 1.6 million in November and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed. 
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 275,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent in November and has shown no 
clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent, 
changed little in November and has shown little movement, on net, since early this year. 
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as 
involuntary part-time workers), at 4.8 million, was essentially unchanged in November but 
was down by 858,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time 
employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they 
were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In November, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 
451,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals 
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job 
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not 
searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 469,000 discouraged workers in November, down by 
122,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers 
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for 
them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November 
had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities. 
(See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November. Employment continued to 
trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. Employment 
growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly 
gain of 187,000 in 2016. (See table B-1.)

Employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend in November 
(+46,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs. 

In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment rose in 
machinery (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), computer and electronic products 
(+4,000), and plastics and rubber products (+4,000). Since a recent low in November 2016, 
manufacturing employment has increased by 189,000.

Health care added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health 
care services (+25,000), which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers. 
Monthly employment growth in health care has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared 
with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016. 

Within construction, employment among specialty trade contractors increased by 23,000 in 
November and by 132,000 over the year.  

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade, 
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality, 
and government, changed little over the month. 

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour 
to 34.5 hours in November. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.9 hours, and 
overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory 
employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and 
B-7.)

In November, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose 
by 5 cents to $26.55. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 64 cents, or 
2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory 
employees rose by 5 cents to $22.24 in November. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised up from +18,000 
to +38,000, and the change for October was revised down from +261,000 to +244,000. With 
these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 3,000 more than 
previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from 
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the 
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 170,000 over 
the last 3 months. 

_____________
The Employment Situation for December is scheduled to be released on Friday, January 5, 
2018, at 8:30 a.m. (EST).


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |               Revision of Seasonally Adjusted Household Survey Data                  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | In accordance with usual practice, The Employment Situation news release for December|
   | 2017, scheduled for January 5, 2018, will incorporate annual revisions in seasonally |
   | adjusted household survey data. Seasonally adjusted data for the most recent 5       |
   | years are subject to revision.                                                       |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|


    ______________________________________________________________________________________
   |                                                                                      |
   |        Conversion to the 2017 North American Industry Classification System          |
   |                                                                                      |
   | With the release of January 2018 data on February 2, 2018, the establishment survey  |
   | will revise the basis for industry classification from the 2012 North American       |
   | Industry Classification System (NAICS) to 2017 NAICS. The conversion to 2017 NAICS   |
   | will result in minor revisions reflecting content changes within the mining and      |
   | logging, retail trade, information, financial activities, and professional and       |
   | business services sectors. Additionally, some smaller industries will be combined    |
   | within the mining and logging, durable goods manufacturing, retail trade, and        |
   | information sectors. Several industry titles and descriptions also will be updated.  |
   |                                                                                      |
   | Approximately 4 percent of employment will be reclassified into different industries |
   | as a result of the revision. Details of new, discontinued, and combined industries   |
   | due to the 2017 NAICS update, as well as changes due to the annual benchmarking      |
   | process, will be available on January 5, 2018.                                       |
   |                                                                                      |
   | For more information on the 2017 NAICS update, visit www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/.  |
   |______________________________________________________________________________________|



 

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted

HOUSEHOLD DATA
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017
Nov.
2017
Change from:
Oct.
2017-
Nov.
2017

Employment status

Civilian noninstitutional population

254,540 255,562 255,766 255,949 183

Civilian labor force

159,456 161,146 160,381 160,529 148

Participation rate

62.6 63.1 62.7 62.7 0.0

Employed

152,048 154,345 153,861 153,918 57

Employment-population ratio

59.7 60.4 60.2 60.1 -0.1

Unemployed

7,409 6,801 6,520 6,610 90

Unemployment rate

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Not in labor force

95,084 94,417 95,385 95,420 35

Unemployment rates

Total, 16 years and over

4.6 4.2 4.1 4.1 0.0

Adult men (20 years and over)

4.3 3.9 3.8 3.7 -0.1

Adult women (20 years and over)

4.2 3.9 3.6 3.7 0.1

Teenagers (16 to 19 years)

15.2 12.9 13.7 15.9 2.2

White

4.2 3.7 3.5 3.6 0.1

Black or African American

8.0 7.0 7.5 7.3 -0.2

Asian

3.0 3.7 3.1 3.0 -0.1

Hispanic or Latino ethnicity

5.7 5.1 4.8 4.7 -0.1

Total, 25 years and over

3.9 3.5 3.3 3.3 0.0

Less than a high school diploma

7.9 6.5 5.7 5.2 -0.5

High school graduates, no college

4.9 4.3 4.3 4.3 0.0

Some college or associate degree

3.9 3.6 3.7 3.6 -0.1

Bachelor’s degree and higher

2.3 2.3 2.0 2.1 0.1

Reason for unemployment

Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs

3,542 3,359 3,227 3,159 -68

Job leavers

934 738 742 751 9

Reentrants

2,266 2,079 2,006 2,029 23

New entrants

728 669 629 691 62

Duration of unemployment

Less than 5 weeks

2,415 2,226 2,129 2,250 121

5 to 14 weeks

2,133 1,874 1,942 1,878 -64

15 to 26 weeks

1,073 963 853 927 74

27 weeks and over

1,856 1,733 1,621 1,581 -40

Employed persons at work part time

Part time for economic reasons

5,659 5,122 4,753 4,801 48

Slack work or business conditions

3,485 3,121 2,952 2,983 31

Could only find part-time work

1,902 1,733 1,629 1,559 -70

Part time for noneconomic reasons

21,059 21,011 20,923 21,018 95

Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)

Marginally attached to the labor force

1,932 1,569 1,535 1,481

Discouraged workers

591 421 524 469

– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted

ESTABLISHMENT DATA
Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Category Nov.
2016
Sept.
2017
Oct.
2017(P)
Nov.
2017(P)

EMPLOYMENT BY SELECTED INDUSTRY
(Over-the-month change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

164 38 244 228

Total private

178 50 247 221

Goods-producing

35 26 34 62

Mining and logging

7 4 1 7

Construction

28 13 10 24

Manufacturing

0 9 23 31

Durable goods(1)

3 6 13 27

Motor vehicles and parts

1.4 -3.1 -0.8 1.7

Nondurable goods

-3 3 10 4

Private service-providing

143 24 213 159

Wholesale trade

5.6 7.3 8.0 3.4

Retail trade

-12.9 11.7 -2.2 18.7

Transportation and warehousing

21.8 18.3 7.6 10.5

Utilities

0.3 0.6 0.1 -0.2

Information

-12 -5 -8 -4

Financial activities

12 12 7 8

Professional and business services(1)

46 30 54 46

Temporary help services

25.5 10.1 17.9 18.3

Education and health services(1)

31 23 24 54

Health care and social assistance

28.2 8.3 34.6 40.5

Leisure and hospitality

44 -75 104 14

Other services

7 1 18 9

Government

-14 -12 -3 7

(3-month average change, in thousands)

Total nonfarm

179 128 163 170

Total private

178 122 160 173

WOMEN AND PRODUCTION AND NONSUPERVISORY EMPLOYEES
AS A PERCENT OF ALL EMPLOYEES(2)

Total nonfarm women employees

49.6 49.5 49.5 49.5

Total private women employees

48.2 48.1 48.1 48.1

Total private production and nonsupervisory employees

82.3 82.4 82.4 82.4

HOURS AND EARNINGS
ALL EMPLOYEES

Total private

Average weekly hours

34.3 34.4 34.4 34.5

Average hourly earnings

$25.91 $26.53 $26.50 $26.55

Average weekly earnings

$888.71 $912.63 $911.60 $915.98

Index of aggregate weekly hours (2007=100)(3)

105.8 107.4 107.7 108.2

Over-the-month percent change

-0.1 0.0 0.3 0.5

Index of aggregate weekly payrolls (2007=100)(4)

131.0 136.3 136.4 137.3

Over-the-month percent change

-0.2 0.5 0.1 0.7

DIFFUSION INDEX
(Over 1-month span)(5)

Total private (261 industries)

51.5 60.9 65.1 63.0

Manufacturing (78 industries)

48.7 59.0 62.2 59.0

Footnotes
(1) Includes other industries, not shown separately.
(2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries.
(3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours.
(4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls.
(5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment.
(P) Preliminary

NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2016 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.

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Precision sacrificed for speed as GOP rushes ahead on taxes

5 tax issues Republicans need to resolve in conference

Now that the Senate and the House have passed two tax bills, there are some crucial differences they need to resolve in conference.

 December 10 at 6:42 PM
Republicans are moving their tax plan toward final passage at stunning speed, blowing past Democrats before they’ve had time to fully mobilize against it but leaving the measure vulnerable to the types of expensive problems popping up in their massive and complex plan.Questionable special-interest provisions have been stuffed in along the way, out of public view and in some cases literally in the dead of night. Drafting errors by exhausted staff are cropping up and need fixes, which must be tackled by congressional negotiators working to reconcile competing versions of the legislation passed separately by the House and the Senate.And the melding process underway has opened the door to another frenzy of 11th-hour lobbying as special interests, including President Trump’s rich friends, make one last dash for cash before the final bill speeds through both chambers of Congress and onto Trump’s desk. Passage is expected the week before Christmas.

Veterans of congressional tax overhauls, particularly the seminal revamp under President Ronald Reagan in 1986, have been stunned and in some cases outraged at how swiftly Republicans are moving on legislation that touches every corner of the economy and all Americans. And although GOP leaders make no apologies, some in their rank and file say that the process would have benefited from a more deliberate and open approach.

“I think it would have looked better if we had taken more time and had more transparency, had more open committee hearings,” said freshman Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.).

“Having said that, the goal that everybody had was to reduce the tax rates. . . . So at the end of the day the goal is going to be achieved, but we could have done it in a more transparent manner that probably would have given the voters that are being polled a little more confidence,” Comer said, referring to the effort’s poor showing in opinion surveys.

It has been a little more than a month since the $1.5 trillion legislation was introduced in the House, and in that short time it has cleared the two key committees in the House and Senate and won approval on the floors of both chambers, all without a single Democratic vote. If Trump signs the bill as planned before Christmas, that would mean a journey of less than two months between introduction and final passage.

The specific legislation that probably will become law, sold as a middle-class tax cut but featuring a massive corporate rate reduction at its center, is moving from release toward passage without any hearings, unusual for a bill of such magnitude. And as it tumbled along it picked up some startling new features, to the surprise of affected industries, Democrats and in some cases Republicans themselves.

Some of the most notable changes came in the hours before the Senate’s passage of its version of the plan, which happened about 1:50 a.m. Dec. 2.

The final vote was preceded by hours of inaction as Republicans fine-tuned their legislation behind closed doors, while fuming Democratic staffers ate Chinese food and pored over versions of the bill and lists of amendments that had been leaked by lobbyists on K Street before Republicans had made anything public.

As they got additional drafts of the bill, Democrats were incensed at some of what they found, including new breaks for the oil and gas industry, and a provision that appeared aimed specifically at helping Hillsdale College, a small liberal arts college in Michigan that doesn’t accept federal funding and has a large endowment funded by wealthy conservatives — including the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

An angry Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stood on his chamber’s floor to declare that “the federal treasury is being looted.” In their one victory of the debate, Democrats offered an amendment to strike the Hillsdale provision, and with the help of four Republicans it passed.

Democrats weren’t the only ones surprised by what was in the bill. Republicans and the business community were stunned when the final Senate version restored the alternative minimum tax for corporations. The tax, aimed at keeping companies from shirking their tax duties entirely, had been repealed in the House bill and earlier versions of the Senate measure.

Restoring the corporate alternative minimum tax created $40 billion in revenue for the bill, which helped Republicans come in under complex budgetary guidelines saying the legislation can’t go over the $1.5 trillion the GOP has agreed to add to the deficit over the next decade. Still, some Republicans professed not to know how the change had come about.

And under the new tax code the GOP bill would create, including the alternative minimum tax could have the unintended consequence of preventing companies from using other deductions, including the popular research and development tax credit.

“I’m guessing they just needed something quick to make the bill work,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is one of the conferees charged with blending the two bills together.

Now, as quickly as it reappeared, the corporate alternative minimum tax probably will disappear again. Republican lawmakers widely agree that it doesn’t work and can’t be included, but it remains a mystery where they’ll find revenue to offset that change and pay for others they’re looking to include in the final package.

There has been discussion of moving the corporate rate — slashed from 35 percent to 20 percent by the House and Senate — back up to 22 percent, but the backlash against that proposal has been intense and it probably will be dropped. But revenue must be found somewhere because there are some changes that look nearly certain, including adjusting the new limit on deducting state and local taxes. Both the House and Senate legislation would allow taxpayers to deduct only up to $10,000 in property taxes. Some of Trump’s New York friends have taken exception to that provision and have lobbied the president personally against it.

It’s all part of a breakneck pace of the tax plan that contrasts with the nearly a year-and-a-half that passed between when Reagan unveiled his initial version of the 1986 tax plan and its ultimate passage into law. The less far-ranging tax cuts that President George W. Bush signed in 2001 took four months to become law after the release of Bush’s initial blueprint. And the Affordable Care Act took nearly a year to complete, including a congressional summer recess featuring angry town hall meetings that turned public sentiment sharply against the bill.

Democrats accuse Republicans of whisking the legislation along to avoid extended public scrutiny and prevent them from mounting an offensive at public hearings or over lengthy congressional breaks. The GOP bills have endured neither.

“It’s clear that we could have defeated this bill had we gone through regular order and had any expert witness from any blue state or high-tax state come in,” said Rep. John B. Larson (Conn.), who was a member of Democratic leadership during the much lengthier and more open process of passing the ACA. The provision limiting taxpayers’ ability to deduct state and local taxes hits high-tax areas such as California, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut particularly hard.

“People would have said, ‘Well, wait a minute,’ ” Larson said.

Republican congressional leaders dispute such comparisons, saying that the process on taxes has been going on for years, given that the party has long been debating the idea and an early foundational bill was released by then-Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), former chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, nearly four years ago. House Republicans, led by Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), also campaigned last year on an agenda called “A Better Way,” which featured a tax plank similar in many respects to the bill the House ultimately passed, although it drew scant attention at the time.

“These are relatively small bills, 400 pages or so; they’re not hard to digest. The policy decisions, the thoughtfulness, a lot of these issues we’ve been debating together and apart for years,” said House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.). “Bottom line is the American people have been waiting 30 years. So to paraphrase a hardware store: less talking, more doing.”

Even before the late-night Senate dramatics, the process offered surprises and sudden twists.

A provision repealing an Affordable Care Act requirement for most Americans to carry insurance or pay fines was added to the Senate bill with little warning over the course of an afternoon, a major health policy decision that is projected to leave 13 million more Americans uninsured in a decade but that would give Republicans $330 billion to pay for other things they want to do.

And the release of the House bill stunned manufacturers when they discovered it contained an “excise tax” on purchases from American companies’ foreign subsidiaries that some said could drive them out of business. The provision was watered down before passage by the Ways and Means Committee, but companies are still fighting to keep it out of the final bill, said Nancy McLernon, president of the Organization for International Investment, which represents global companies with U.S. operations. Despite the years-long focus on tax overhaul, such a provision had not been debated — even after companies beat back a different import tax, she said.

The Senate has a different provision that companies like better, but as far as the cost of going from one to the other or how it will all shake out, “It’s all a Rubik’s cube,” McLernon said.

Many lobbyists, Democrats and other observers expect to find the final version of the plan, which could be filed late this week, just as full of surprises as the various iterations that have appeared. But as they gun for a legislative win that has eluded them this year, Republicans show little interest in slowing down to take a closer look.

“The frenzy, and I would call it a frenzy, to get it done and have a Christmas present for America — number one, I think it’s unnecessary; it’s a self-imposed deadline, and number two, it makes the possibility for error much greater,” said Steve Bell, a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center who was staff director of the Senate Budget Committee during the 1986 tax effort. “This is a rush without a reason other than the political desire for a Rose Garden signing ceremony.”

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/precision-sacrificed-for-speed-as-gop-rushes-ahead-on-taxes/2017/12/10/876ab274-dc62-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html?utm_term=.167e53dc0cba

 

The Taxman Cometh: Senate Bill’s Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some

Certain high-income business owners would face backwards incentives; lawmakers work to bridge gap

House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals.
House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their tax bills to get rid of the most contentious proposals. PHOTO: DANIEL ACKER/BLOOMBERG NEWS

WASHINGTON—Some high-income business owners could face marginal tax rates exceeding 100% under the Senate’s tax bill, far beyond the listed rates in the Republican plan.

That means a business owner’s next $100 in earnings, under certain circumstances, would require paying more than $100 in additional federal and state taxes.

As lawmakers rush to write the final tax bill over the next week, they already are looking at changes to prevent this from happening. Broadly, House and Senate Republicans are trying to reconcile their bills, looking for ways to pay for eliminating the most contentious proposals. The formal House-Senate conference committee will meet on Wednesday, and GOP lawmakers may unveil an agreement by week’s end.

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The possible marginal tax rate of more than 100% results from the combination of tax policies designed to provide benefits to businesses and families but then deny them to the richest people. As income climbs and those breaks phase out, each dollar of income faces regular tax rates and a hidden marginal rate on top of that, in the form of vanishing tax breaks. That structure, if maintained in a final law, would create some of the disincentives to working and to earning business profit that Republicans have long complained about, while opening lucrative avenues for tax avoidance.

As a taxpayer’s income gets much higher and moves out of those phaseout ranges, the marginal tax rates would go down.

Consider, for example, a married, self-employed New Jersey lawyer with three children and earnings of about $615,000. Getting $100 more in business income would force the lawyer to pay $105.45 in federal and state taxes, according to calculations by the conservative-leaning Tax Foundation. That is more than double the marginal tax rate that household faces today.

If the New Jersey lawyer’s stay-at-home spouse wanted a job, the first $100 of the spouse’s wages would require $107.79 in taxes. And the tax rates for similarly situated residents of California and New York City would be even higher, the Tax Foundation found. Analyses by the Tax Policy Center, which is run by a former Obama administration official, find similar results, with federal marginal rates as high as 85%, and those don’t include items such as state taxes, self-employment taxes or the phase-out of child tax credits.

The bill as written would provide incentives for business owners to shift profit across calendar years, move personal expenses inside the business and engage in other economically unproductive maneuvers, said David Gamage, a tax-law professor at Indiana University.

“I would expect a huge tax-gaming response once people fully understand how it works,” said Mr. Gamage, a former Treasury Department official, who said business owners have an easier time engaging in such tax avoidance than salaried employees do. “The payoff for gaming is huge, within the set of people who both face these rates and have flexible enough business structures.”

The analyses “raise a valid concern” that lawmakers are examining, said Julia Lawless, a spokeswoman for the Senate Finance Committee.

“With any major reform, there will always be unusual hypotheticals delivering anomalous results,” she said. “The goal of Congress’s tax overhaul has been to lower taxes on the American people and by and large, according to a variety of analyses, we’re achieving that.”

Marginal tax rates are different from average tax rates. A marginal rate is the tax on the edge, or margin, of one’s earnings, and so it reflects what would be the next dollar of income. The average rate is a way of measuring a taxpayer’s total burden.

The Republican bills are trying to reduce both marginal and average tax rates, and for many taxpayers, they do. The marginal tax rates above 100% affect a small slice of households with very particular circumstances. Similar, though smaller, effects occur throughout the tax system.

“This is a big concern,” said Scott Greenberg, a Tax Foundation analyst. “It would be unfortunate if Congress passed a tax bill that had the effect of making additional work and additional income not worthwhile for any subgroup of households.”

Here’s how that New Jersey lawyer’s marginal rate adds up to more than 100%:

The household is paying the 35% marginal tax rate on their income range. Or, they are paying the alternative minimum tax, which operates at the same marginal rate in that income range.

The household is paying New Jersey’s highest income-tax rate, which is 8.97%, and now has to pay all of that because the Republican tax plan wouldn’t let such state or local taxes be deducted from federal income.

The household is also losing a deduction the Senate created for so-called pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S corporations. That 23% deduction is fully available to owners of service businesses like law firms, but only if income is below $500,000 for a married couple.

The deduction then phases out over $100,000 in income, according to a complex formula, disappearing entirely once income reaches $624,000. Up to that point, each additional dollar of business income faces progressively steeper tax rates because the deduction and its benefit are shrinking rapidly as income goes up.

The provisions also interact with each other in ways that drive up marginal rates. “The central problem here is that there is a large benefit phasing out over a short range,” Mr. Greenberg said.

The Republican bill doubles the child tax credit to $2,000 but phases it out beginning at $500,000 income for joint filers. The credit shrinks by $50 for every $1,000 in income above that, so a married couple with three children faces a higher marginal tax rate when they’re in that phase-out range.

The analysis assumes that the New Jersey lawyer is paying a 3.8% tax on self-employment income.

Pushing marginal rates lower on these households wouldn’t be easy and would require tradeoffs. Republicans could make the phaseout of the business deduction more gentle, spreading it over, say, $200,000, as opposed to $100,000, of income above $500,000. But that would make the tax cuts bigger, and Republicans are already looking for money to offset other changes they are planning.

They could lower the threshold for the child tax credit, but that would reduce tax cuts for households below $500,000.

Under current law, there are some high marginal tax rates for some lower-income households. Some families just above the poverty line can see their earned income tax credits and food stamps going down as their federal and state taxes go up. That combination can create marginal tax rates of around 75%, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Appeared in the December 11, 2017, print edition as ‘Taxman Cometh: Marginal Rates Could Top 100% for Some.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-taxman-cometh-senate-bills-marginal-rates-could-top-100-for-some-1512942118

Tax Reform Under History’s Light


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux

Former Democratic Senator John Breaux.

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

Tax reform’s chances are better in this Congress than at any time in the past 30 years. Thus, comparisons come naturally to the events leading up to the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86). These comparisons are useful for the similarities and the differences, both of which provide insights as to how to assure success today.

One important similarity is TRA86 brought to conclusion a long and detailed debate about tax policy. Our current efforts also rest on a lengthy debate recently brought to the fore. An important difference, however, is TRA86 was enacted as a widely accepted “should do,” whereas tax reform in 2017 is much more of a “must do.”

‘86 tax reform in 30 seconds

TRA86 culminated as a complex debate starting about 10 years prior with the release of Treasury’s “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform” in the waning hours of the Ford administration. Treasury’s “Blueprints” laid out a coherent approach to tax policy, emphasizing simplification and a reduction in tax distortions that were sapping economic growth.

Two years later, in response to a poorly performing economy, Congress adopted the Steiger Amendment, significantly cutting the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act. While often ignored, the Steiger Amendment marked the bi-partisan recognition of tax policy’s importance for economic growth. Pro-growth tax reform was not just for tax geeks anymore.

Federal tax policy debate took on new energy in 1981 with the passage of the landmark Reagan tax cuts, dominated by substantial rate reduction. Following legislation in 1982 and 1984 to readjust tax levels, the stage was set for fundamental tax reform.

A bipartisan consensus regarding sound tax policy evolved through the years leading up to TRA86. This consensus distilled down to the simple mantra of “lower the rates, broaden the base.”  Like the 1981 legislation, TRA86 would reduce tax rates substantially and install a less punitive system of capital consumption allowances. Unlike the 1981 legislation, however, the focus would also be on simplification, on the wide range of areas of the tax code reformed, and especially on revenue neutrality.

This consensus first took concrete form in two highly-detailed proposals out the Reagan Treasury Department, commonly dubbed Treasury I and its improved version, Treasury II, and released in 1984 and 1985 respectively. With these reports laying the groundwork, Congress then took over a year to legislate, finally producing TRA86.

The years between

TRA86 was the product of an extended period of consensus building and analysis. For those new to the debate, today’s strong momentum for comprehensive, pro-growth tax reform may seem to have arisen out of thin air, but, in fact, this debate has ebbed and flowed almost without pause since 1986.

The appetite for tax reform did not die following TRA86, and so consideration naturally moved on to the “next big thing.” For a period, the big thing seemed to be some kind of European-style Value Added Tax (VAT). The VAT momentum quickly petered out, however, and soon revenue pressures shifted the focus of tax policy once again to raising income tax rates, often with distinct “soak-the-rich” overtones. The VAT episode set tax reform’s pattern of ebb and flow for the following years.

Even as the debate toward TRA86 was underway, a very different approach to tax policy appeared in the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. Though the Flat Tax is best known for having a single rate of tax, hence the name, what really distinguishes the Flat Tax is its simplification, the elimination of all taxes on capital income and capital gains, and the adoption of a cash-flow tax on businesses centered on allowing capital purchases to be “expensed,” or deducted immediately.

In the 1990s, as the Flat Tax gained greater acceptance, tax reform topped the national agenda with Steve Forbes leading the charge. But this effort soon deflated along with Forbes’ 1996 presidential campaign.

Tax reform again gained traction briefly after the 2004 election with the release of the superb report of the presidential commission led by former Democratic Senator John Breaux and former Republican Senator Connie Mack. However, this effort, too, led to naught, a victim of competing priorities and a lack of consensus.

Income tax reform was pushed far onto the back burners during President Barack Obama’s tenure. Despite a historically weak economic recovery, the Obama administration expressed little interest in proposals to reduce the tax code’s drag on growth. The Obama administration contented itself with modest tweaks at the edges and otherwise dedicated its efforts to defending the status quo, especially in the area of international tax where global pressures were felt most profoundly.

Tax reform today

Even as years of inaction passed, pressure to reform the federal income tax code rose steadily from all sides. In part, this pressure arose because the U.S. economy was changing rapidly, and the tax code became an ever-worse fit for a modern economy.

In part, the pressure arose because even as America stood pat, America’s major trading partners did not. They were cutting business tax rates steadily and almost all were moving toward a territorial tax system to allow their businesses to compete more effectively in a global business climate of increasing intensity.

Though on the back burner, tax reform continued to simmer in backchannels. Then-House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) advanced a series of thoughtful tax reform proposals as part of his broader efforts to reform Federal tax policy. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) offered his variation on tax reform, differing from but along the same broad lines as the Ryan proposal. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also introduced a major, comprehensive tax reform proposal with his own interpretations, and then released subsequent iterations as comments and critiques soon followed. In these years, though President Obama continued to block tax reform’s path, the debate remained alive and well.

In 2014, former Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) introduced a detailed tax reform proposal. As tax reform would originate in this committee, Camp’s proposal took on greater significance than most. The Camp proposal was intended to serve as a prototype for tax legislation and so offered much more detail and, in some cases, specific options for resolving some of the nagging technical issues in adopting a territorial tax system, for example. However, in the face of President Obama’s determined disinterest, few were willing to contemplate seriously the hard choices the Camp plan laid out and so, again, tax reform was left to simmer on the back burner.

Tax reform played a limited role in the 2016 presidential campaign, with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, largely continuing the defense of the status quo established by President Obama. Meanwhile, the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, suggested a bold change of direction; though, he accompanied it by very few details. Trump’s election, combined with the strong Republican interest in tax reform, quickly moved the issue to the front burner.

The focus on growth

Tax reform today, like its 1986 predecessor, has a long history of debate, evolution, and refinement. TRA86 and the current effort also share an intense focus on improving economic growth, but with one important difference: TRA86 largely responded to a sense borne of the previous, deep recession that the economy needed to be both stronger and more resilient, and that sound tax policy could help. Tax reform was seen as something Congress and the president could and should accomplish.

Tax reform today shares a similar motivation, but with far greater urgency. Just as no business can compete for long if its cost structure substantially exceeds those of its competitors, American businesses cannot continue to compete effectively at home or abroad facing high tax rates, an inadequate capital cost recovery system, and an international tax system long abandoned by competing companies.

American companies are managing to compete successfully today but with ever greater difficulty under the federal tax system. Failure to reform the tax system would not result overnight in significant decline in Americans’ long-run economic prospects. But it would most assuredly do so over the next few years as both financial and human capital is driven overseas.

Tax reform is one task Congress and the president simply have to get right if America is to prosper.

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/tax-reform-under-history-s-light

What History Teaches Us About Tax Reform


Senior Vice President, Economic Policy Division, and Chief Economist
023275_taxreform_atf_08_22_reagan_getty471341025.jpg

[This is part of an ongoing series entitled “The Case for Tax Reform,” which examines the importance of reforming the outdated tax code, and how achieving that goal will advance economic growth, jobs, and prosperity.]

An underperforming economy and mounting international competition have propelled tax reform from topic of discussion to front-burner issue. There is no change in federal policy that offers greater potential to strengthen employment and increase wages for American workers than sound, comprehensive tax reform.

Reviewing and respecting the lessons from the last major tax reform over thirty years ago illuminates the road ahead, and provides lessons for how to raise our odds of success. Time provides a dimension worth exploring for similarities and contrasts between 1986 and today. Specifically, the time leading up to the effort, and the time needed for Congress to act.

The Historical On Ramp to Tax Reform

President John F. Kennedy understood the dampening economic effects of high tax rates. Though he died before seeing his program enacted, his successor, President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the program through Congress and thus the 1964 tax bill is commonly referred to as the “Kennedy tax cuts.” The 1964 bill centered on significant tax rate reductions to achieve a substantially stronger economy.

Thereafter, budget pressures from the Vietnam War and Great Society programs reoriented tax policy once again toward ever-higher tax rates accompanied by a steady accretion of deductions and credits to blunt the effects of higher rates on politically favored constituencies. This process continued unabated into President Jimmy Carter’s administration and not surprisingly coinciding with a languishing economy.

Even as tax rates climbed and new distortions filled the tax code, a countermovement arose. In the final moments of the Ford Administration, Secretary William E. Simon released a landmark Treasury report directed by one of the era’s great economists, David Bradford, called “Blueprints for Basic Tax Reform,” guiding concepts of sound tax policy for years to come.

As the economy struggled and President Carter stood by, Congress took the initiative. With strong, bipartisan support over Carter’s objections, Congress substantially cut the capital gains tax rate as part of the 1978 Revenue Act, marking the first step in a change in tax philosophy culminating in the 1986 Tax Reform Act (TRA86).

Senator Bill Roth (R-DE) and Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY) then picked up tax reform’s guidon, leading the charge for lower tax rates. At the same time, a second dimension in tax policy gained steam – the need for a less punitive capital cost recovery system. This debate was led largely outside Congress by the likes of Charls Walker and Ernie Christian, former Ford Administration Treasury hands, and Norman B. Ture, later Treasury undersecretary under Ronald Reagan.

Spurred by a recession wrought by a disinflationary monetary policy, the tax debate quickly came to a head in the 1981 “Reagan tax cuts.” The 1981 bill cut tax rates and instituted a vastly superior capital cost recovery system among other reforms. In the process, the bill cut revenues far more than Reagan proposed.

Though the 1981 bill was championed by a Republican president, it enjoyed widespread Democratic support. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means introduced and pushed the legislation to passage, joined by almost half the House Democrats and almost a third of Senate Democrats.

The magnitude of the 1981 tax cuts proved politically unsustainable and were quickly followed by a series of tax hikes reversing some of the 1981 revenue reductions. Having settled the issue of how much to tax, the stage was now set for the 1986 reform and deciding who and how to tax.

Building Toward the 1986 Tax Reform Act

At about this time a fundamentally different approach to tax policy appeared: the Hall-Rabushka Flat Tax. The Flat Tax’s popularity often associates with the simplicity of imposing a single tax rate. However, the real revolution it offered was not the single tax rate,but  what is subject to tax. Despite appearing as a traditional income tax, the Flat Tax was something quite new as it explicitly eliminated tax on investment income and imposed a simple cash flow tax on all businesses, thus adopting the principle of expensing, or allowing a full and immediate deduction for capital purchases.

The Flat Tax was too radical to gain wide acceptance in the early 1980s, but a vigorous bipartisan debate harkening back to Bradford’s 1976 “Blueprints” continued nonetheless. The 1981 tax cuts worked as intended to launch a powerful economic recovery, but memories of poor economic performance under Carter still lingered. A broad, bipartisan consensus championed faster economic growth by reforming the tax code to reduce the distortions to economic decision making it caused and the resulting misallocation of basic resources.

The basic strategy was to lower rates as in the 1981 Act, only further, and to implement a sound cost recovery system as in the 1981 Act. In contrast to 1981, however, the new strategy included a determined effort to “broaden the tax base” by eliminating distorting loopholes and tax credits, thereby intending the overall bill to be revenue neutral. .

The Treasury Department under Secretary Don Regan took the first big step in 1984 with the release of a densely packed 275 page proposal for comprehensive tax reform, dubbed “Treasury I”. While many aspects were well-received, as with most prototypes, Treasury I contained flaws, some of which Treasury addressed in 1985 with “Treasury II”.

Tax reform was off and running in Congress with the release of Treasury II, but the road  was by no means easy. Time and again Reagan had to give Congress another not-always-gentle push. The greatest peril demanding Reagan’s firm hand came when Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bob Packwood (R-OR) realized he couldn’t pass tax reform on the path it was on. Ironically, the man who had repeatedly saved tax reform, President Reagan, was also now tax reform’s biggest obstacle.

The Price for Overcoming the Greatest Hurdle

Reagan was forced into pushing for the most rate reduction possible. Initially he drew the line at 25 percent for individuals and he held firm for much of the debate. Like most policy, tax reform involves trade-offs and Packwood just couldn’t find enough obvious base broadeners he could economically or politically trade off to hit a 25 percent rate.

Something had to give. At first the rate crept up to 26 and then to 28 percent. But at 28 percent, Reagan would go no further.

As Reagan urged Packwood to press on, Packwood had to get creative. He took fairly innocuous existing individual and corporate minimum taxes and expanded them into full-fledged parallel tax systems; voila, massive back-door base broadening. Packwood’s new Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), while a superb example of terrible tax policy, had as its one redeeming feature: it raised enough money in a sufficiently confusing manner to hit the 28 percent rate without creating too many political problems, at least not for the duration of the debate. Three months later, the final bill passed the Senate.

Packwood’s AMT offers an important lesson for tax reform today. As important as low tax rates are for economic growth, policy makers and the public need to be honest about the tradeoffs involved. The broadest possible tax base capable of garnering sufficient political support can only raise so much revenue at a targeted tax rate. Demand an even lower tax rate and something (or someone) else will have to give and very likely pro-growth tax policy will suffer as a consequence.

Back to the Present

With respect to time, the current tax reform debate parallels that of 1986 closely. TRA86 concluded a lengthy, evolutionary process regarding accepted beliefs about sound, pro-growth tax policy. That process distilled to the lowest possible rates and applied to a simple, broad tax base, while allowing for a depreciation system for capital costs minimizing the anti-investment aspects of an income tax.

Tax reform today shares these traits, both with respect to the substance of reform – low rates, broad base, and today, expensing – and with respect to time. Like the 1986 episode, tax reform today reflects the product of many years of debate regarding the design of pro-growth tax policy, an evolution that began in 1986.

In one other critical respect regarding time, TRA86 and the current effort offer stark contrasts. Where the legislative starting gun on TRA86 went off in 1984 and the effort then proceeded for over two years, Congress in 2017 will have only a handful of months from introduction to tax reform’s final passage. This difference in time will have significant implications for how Congress defines “comprehensive” as they work toward pro-growth tax reform.

Read Part 2: Tax Reform Under History’s Light

https://www.uschamber.com/above-the-fold/what-history-teaches-us-about-tax-reform

 

Story 3: Defeating The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria By Bombing Them To Death — ISIS Free? — Videos

ISIS defeated in Iraq, officials say

Eric Shawn reports: ISIS defeated, but will it last?

Iraq celebrates ISIS defeat, US claims fight isn’t over

 

Total victory over ISIS in Syria

ISIS Breaking news: No Islamic State has been defeated- BBC news Nov 2017

Iraqi military take part in spectacular parade celebrating victory over ISIS

Report: ISIS militants moving to remote deserts

Ralph Peters on the fight against ISIS and Iran’s influence

Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

ISIS Surrounded: Trump’s Plan to ‘Annihilate’ the Islamic Caliphate

This Iran-backed militia helped save Iraq from ISIS. Now Washington wants them to disband

Iraqi Christian on life after ISIS destroyed his church

Trump WH announces shift in strategy to defeat ISIS

Peters: Fall of ISIS in Iraq is imminent, but what’s next?

Tillerson: ISIS will be defeated

Trump, Mattis turn military loose on ISIS, leaving terror caliphate in tatters

Hundreds of ISIS fighters had just been chased out of a northern Syrian city and were fleeing through the desert in long convoys, presenting an easy target to U.S. A-10 “warthogs.”

But the orders to bomb the black-clad jihadists never came, and the terrorists melted into their caliphate — living to fight another day. The events came in August 2016, even as then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump was vowing on the campaign trail to let generals in his administration crush the organization that, under President Obama, had grown from the “jayvee team” to the world’s most feared terrorist organization.

OIR_CROFT

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft said the Trump administration has put a strong leadership team in place  (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy McKithern)

“I will…quickly and decisively bomb the hell out of ISIS,” Trump, who would name legendary Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense, promised. “We will not have to listen to the politicians who are losing the war on terrorism.”

ISIS CURSED, MOCKED IN MOSUL, WHERE OLD CITY REMAINS A HAUNTED WASTELAND

Just over a year later, ISIS has been routed from Iraq and Syria with an ease and speed that’s surprised even the men and women who carried out the mission. Experts say it’s a prime example of a campaign promise kept. President Trump scrapped his predecessor’s rules of engagement, which critics say hamstrung the military, and let battlefield decisions be made by the generals in the theater, and not bureaucrats in Washington.

“I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

– U.S. Marine Col. Seth Folsom

At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.

OIR_FOLSOM

Lt. Col. Seth Folsom credits the cooperation between Iraqi Security Forces and the U.S-led coalition for the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq.  (Courtesy U.S Army)

The terror organization now controls just 3 percent of Iraq and less than 5 percent of Syria. Its self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be injured and holed up somewhere along the lawless border of Syria and Iraq.

ISIS remains a danger, as members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region, in Europe and possibly in the U.S. These cells will likely present a terrorist threat for years. In addition, the terrorist organization is attempting to regroup in places such as the Philippines, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.

But the military’s job — to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis waits to greet Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, upon his arrival at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Mattis, a US Marine Corps general, said there would be no White House micromanaging on his watch  (Associated Press)

“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”

President Trump gave a free hand to Mattis, who in May stressed military commanders were no longer being slowed by Washington “decision cycles,” or by the White House micromanaging that existed President Obama. As a result of the new approach, the fall of ISIS in Iraq came even more swiftly than hardened U.S. military leaders expected.

“It moved more quickly than at least I had anticipated,” Croft said. “We and the Iraqi Security Forces were able to hunt down and target ISIS leadership, target their command and control.”

OIR_SOFGE1

U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Robert Sofge said the military now has a clear mandate  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Cole Erickson)

IRAQI KURDS STILL LOVE US DESPITE ITS OPPOSITION TO KURDISH INDEPENDENCE, SAYS KURDISH LEADER

After the battle to liberate Mosul – ISIS’ Iraqi headquarters – was completed in July — the U.S.-led coalition retook Tel Afar in August, Hawija in early October and Rawa in Anbar province in November.

Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, agreed. He wasn’t expecting his part of the campaign against ISIS to get going until next spring and figured even then, it would then “take six months or more.”

Instead, ISIS was routed in Al Qaim in just a few days.

mosul

Mosul, and several other cities liberated by ISIS, were largely destroyed in the fighting.  (Fox News/Hollie McKay)

“We really had one mandate and that was enable the Iraqi Security Forces to defeat ISIS militarily here in Anbar. I feel that we have achieved that mission,” Folsom said. “I never felt constrained. In a lot of ways, I felt quite liberated because we had a clear mandate and there was no questioning that.”

Brig. Gen. Robert “G-Man” Sofge, the top U.S. Marine in Iraq, told Fox News his commanders have “enjoyed not having to deal with too many distractions and there was no question about what the mission here in Iraq was.”

OIR_

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool was skeptical of Trump at first, but says success on the ground has been swift  (Fox News/Hollie McKay )

“We were able to focus on what our job was without distraction and I think that goes a long way in what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said.

Sofge said criticism that loosening rules of engagement put civilians at risk is “absolutely not true.”

OIR_dillon

Col. Ryan Dillon. Combined Joint Task Force – Inherent Resolve Spokesman  (Photo by CJTFOIR)

“We used precision strikes, and completely in accordance with international standards,” he said. “We didn’t lower that standard, not one little bit. But we were able to exercise that precision capability without distraction and I think the results speak for themselves.”

The U.S.-led coalition said this week the Coalition Civilian Casualty Assessment Team has added 30 new staffers to travel throughout the region. It said military leaders continue to “hold themselves accountable for actions that may have caused unintentional injury or death to civilians.”

The coalition also said dozens of reports of civilian casualties have been determined to be “non-credible,” and just .35 percent of the almost 57,000 separate engagement carried out between August 2014 and October 2017 resulted in a credible report of a civilian casualty.

In addition to air support, the U.S.-led strategy also includes training and equipping Iraqi troops on the ground.

While the Trump administration’s success is often underplayed in the U.S. media, it is obvious on the ground in Iraq, according to a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, Yahya Rasool.

“I was not optimistic when Trump first came to the office,” Rasool said. “But after a while I started to see a new approach, the way the U.S. was dealing with arming and training. I saw how the coalition forces were all moving faster to help the Iraq side more than before. There seemed to be a lot of support, under Obama we did not get this.”

FILE - This file image made from video posted on a militant website July 5, 2014, purports to show the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq during his first public appearance. Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appears to be still alive, a top U.S. military commander said Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, contradicting Russia’s claims that it probably killed the top counterterror target months ago.(Militant video via AP, File)

Al-Baghdadi, who once ruled a caliphate the size of California, is now inn hiding and likely badly injured

Despite the victories on the battlefield, U.S. officials cautioned much work remains to be done.

“ISIS is very adaptive,” noted Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led coalition spokesman. “We are already seeing smaller cells and pockets that take more of an insurgent guerrilla type approach as opposed to an Islamic army or conventional type force. So we have got to be prepared for that.”

He said as a result the coalition is “adjusting some training efforts” so the Iraqi forces — upwards of 150,000 have already undergone training — are equipped to address such threats and ensure long-term stability.

Folsom said “the worst thing we could do” is not finish the job.

“If a country becomes a failed state, if it becomes a lawless region, you begin to set the conditions for what happened in the years before 9/11,” he said. “In those ungoverned spaces where we don’t know what is going on, that is where those seeds of extremism begin to blossom.”

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 956, August 31, 2017, Part 2 of 2, Story 1: President Trump’s Tax Speech — Very Light On Specifics — Let Congress Fill in The Details — Formula For Failure — Tax Rate Cuts Are Not Fundamental Tax Reform — A Broad Based Consumption Tax Such as The FairTax or Fair Tax Less Not Even Mentioned — What Good Is Dreaming It If You don’t actually do it! — Videos —

Posted on September 1, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking System, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Countries, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Health Care Insurance, History, House of Representatives, Human Behavior, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Independence, Investments, IRS, Labor Economics, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, Media, Medicare, Monetary Policy, National Interest, Natural Gas, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Rule of Law, Scandals, Senate, Social Security, Success, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Trade Policy, U.S. Dollar, Unemployment, United States Constitution, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wall Street Journal, War, Wealth, Welfare Spending, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Part 2 of 2 Story 1: President Trump’s Tax Speech — Very Light On Specifics — Let Congress Fill in The Details — Formula For Failure — Tax Rate Cuts Are Not Fundamental Tax Reform — A Broad Based Consumption Tax Such as The FairTax or Fair Tax Less Not Even Mentioned — What Good Is Dreaming It If You don’t actually do it! — Videos —

FULL. President Trump speech on tax reform in Springfield, Missouri. August 30, 2017.

Special Report with Bret Baier 8/30/17 – Special Report Fox News August 30, 2017 TRUMP TAX REFORM

Destroy Trump Media – President Trump Pitches Tax Reform Plan – Kellyanne Conway – Hannity

President Trump’s tax plan

Will US Markets Finally Get Tax Reform – 29 Aug 17 | Gazunda

Keiser Report: The bizarre decade (E1117)

Ben Shapiro: Donald Trump outlines his tax reform plan (audio from 08-31-2017)

Dan Mitchell on GOP Tax Reform Wrangling, Part I

Dan Mitchell on GOP Tax Reform Wrangling, Part II

Dan Mitchell Discussing the Fate of Tax Cuts and Tax Reform

How Trump’s tax plan impacts average Americans

Trump’s Tax Cut Plan Alienates His Base

Cohn Says White House Is Concerned About U.S. Wages

Gary Cohn on the Trump administration taking on tax loopholes

As White House Cracks Show, Are Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn Headed Out? | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Gary Cohn’s take on tax reform

Limbaugh Airs Montage Of The ‘3 LIES’ Media Said After Trump’s Tax Speech

Trump’s tax cuts will be done before Thanksgiving: Grover Norquist

Donald Trump Is To Give Speech On Tax Reform But He Has No Tax Reform Plan | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Detail

Mark Levin: Donald Trump gave a good speech on tax reform (August 30 2017)

Why U.S. Tax Reform Isn’t Likely in 2017

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Honda – “Impossible Dream” Power of Dreams Advert Full

 

Trump’s Tax Reform Plan Targets Middle-Class Tax Complexity

Policy director at Competitive Enterprise Institute

President Trump visited Missouri to talk about tax reform, stressing simplicity and middle-class tax relief and “plans to bring back Main Street by reducing the crushing tax burden on our companies and on our workers.”

Noting the elimination of “dozens of loopholes,” special interest carve-outs, and the reduction of brackets and rates that Congress achieved three decades ago, Trump said, “the foundation of our job creation agenda is to fundamentally reform our tax code for the first time in more than 30 years. I want to work with Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, on a plan that is pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-worker — and pro-American.”

We’re about to re-enter Obamacare repeal-style complexity and venom, but it’s important, I think, for the public to see the tax reform debate as something other than a campaign to benefit business. The U.S. does have comparatively high corporate tax rates. And the Econ 101 lesson on tax incidence shows that consumers pay much of the corporate tax, not the company.

It’s probable some Democrats would like to reform the tax code, especially come 2016, but the zero-tolerance of Trump, such as that seen at the Commonwealth Club when Sen. Diane Feinstein was barely favorable toward him, prevails.

But things can turn on a dime, as the response, likely bipartisan, to Hurricane Harvey may further show. And separately the controversial debt limit needs to be addressed no matter what (hopefully with parallel cuts in regulatory costs), and that debate will influence the trajectory of tax reform.

My broader point here though is is that taxation is just the beginning of the story when it comes to the complexity of regulatory compliance. The economy marinates in compliance burdens to service noble ends, but sometimes serve regulators instead. Trump characterized the Internal Revenue Service’s unfairness to the typical taxpayer like this:

The tax code is now a massive source of complexity and frustration for tens of millions of Americans.

In 1935, the basic 1040 form that most people file had two simple pages of instructions. Today, that basic form has one hundred pages of instructions, and it’s pretty complex stuff. The tax code is so complicated that more than 90 percent of Americans need professional help to do their own taxes.

This enormous complexity is very unfair. It disadvantages ordinary Americans who don’t have an army of accountants while benefiting deep-pocketed special interests. And most importantly, this is wrong.

There’s solid backup for what Trump’s talking about in terms of pubic burdens, even if some are disinclined  to reckon with it, or if their allegiances require professing public disdain for corporations (one of the great democratizing forces in human history, but that’s another story).

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) agrees, I think, that Trump’s example of the IRS is a good one. In the course of a project I have of compiling examples of government proclamationsthat are not laws from Congress, nor even formal regulations from agencies, but instead “memoranda” and “guidance,” the IRS emerged as a leading “offender.”

A September 2016 GAO report called  “Regulatory Guidance Processes: Treasury and OMB Need to Reevaluate Long-standing Exemptions of Tax Regulations and Guidance,” looked at the Internal Revenue Service’s hierarchy of law, regulations, guidance, and explanatory material with respect to communicating interpretation of tax laws to the public.

It’s an eye-opener.

A pyramid diagram presented by GAO was topped by the Internal Revenue Code, as passed by Congress. Beneath that, in widening stages, one finds “Treasury Regulations,” “Internal Revenue Bulletins,” (IRB), “Written Determinations,” and “Other IRS Publications and Information.” The IRS regards the bulletins as generally authoritative, while determinations tend to apply to individual taxpayers.

That’s a lot of public guidance, difficult to absorb.

As the GAO explains:

Treasury and IRS are among the largest generators of federal agency regulations and they issue thousands of other forms of taxpayer guidance. IRS publishes tax regulations and other guidance in the weekly IRB. Each annual volume of the IRB contains about 2,000 pages of regulations and other guidance documents.

From 2013 to 2015, each annual Internal Revenue Bulletin edition contained some 300 guidance documents; back in 2002-2008, about 500.

When one sees such document proliferation from the IRS, an impartial observer might surmise the time for tax reform and simplification has arrived.

Likewise, when regulatory guidance multiplies that applies to various sectors—like finance, Internet, health care—one might similarly conclude the time has come for Congress to enact regulatory liberalization. Trump mentioned cutting the overall federal regulatory burden in the Missouri speech, too.

We knew it all along, but paying taxes also requires paying a lot of attention to regulations. In more ways than one, tax reform and regulatory reform go hand in hand.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/waynecrews/2017/08/30/trumps-tax-reform-plan-targets-middle-class-tax-complexity/#31fda3736ef8

Ann Coulter goes off on Trump over taxes, saying he delivered his ‘worst, most tone-deaf speech’

Conservative author Ann Coulter rebuked President Donald Trump over his speech on Wednesday in which he rolled out the broad outline of his tax reform plan.

In a slew of tweets on Wednesday, the firebrand conservative pundit said the president’s focus on simplifying the tax code and lowering business taxes to 15% was missing an opportunity to prioritize some of his more incendiary, but unique, policy objectives, including building a southern border wall and deporting immigrants living in the US without permission.

This isn’t a “once in a lifetime” shot at tax cuts! EVERY GOP cuts taxes! This is “once in a lifetime” shot to save US: Wall & deportations!

Bush cut taxes! Did it create millions of jobs? Nope. The rich pocketed their tax cut & sent jobs abroad, hired guest workers. F– them.

It’s so obvious Trump’s only getting polite applause for tax cuts. Want to get the crowd hollering, @realDonaldTrump? Talk about THE WALL!

It’s like Night of the Living Dead watching our beloved @realDonaldTrump go to DC & start babbling the same old GOP nonsense on tax cuts.

Tax cuts are a 2d term issue. 1st term: BUILD THE WALL, End DACA, Deport Illegals, No Refugees, No Muslims, Immigrn Moratorium. SAVE USA!

Cutting taxes doesn’t do a damn thing for wages if you allow businesses to keep bringing in cheap foreign labor!

To create jobs for AMERICANS, no more cheap foreign workers, CUT REGULATIONS & cut corporate taxes. (NOT income taxes.)

Coulter particularly singled out the similarities between Trump’s plan and a hypothetical plan that other Republicans like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would’ve put forward.

This speech could have been given by Jeb! — except even he wouldn’t have talked about the govt helping yuppie women with child care costs.

Oh stop pretending this is about letting “families” keep more of their money. HALF OF AMERICANS DON’T PAY TAXES! This is for Wall Street.

Indeed, beyond the prominent former Wall Street figures playing key roles in overhauling the tax code, Trump’s administration has absorbed some financial figures from Bush’s policy world.

Notably, Bush’s former senior policy director Justin Muzinich joined the Treasury Department in March to work closely with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on “major policy initiatives” and on tax reform.

Over the past several months, Coulter has increasingly criticized Trump and mocked him on social media and in interviews, saying that he has not fulfilled his anti-immigration campaign promises.

“The millions of people who haven’t voted for 30 years and came out to vote for Trump, thinking, ‘Finally, here’s somebody who cares about us’ — Nope!” Coulter told The Daily Beast after former chief strategist Steve Bannon left the White House earlier this month. “Republicans, Democrats — doesn’t matter. Jeb exclamation point, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton — doesn’t matter. Goldman Sachs is running the country.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/ann-coulter-trump-taxes-speech-2017-8

 

Who Pays Income Taxes?

The charts below illustrate the share of taxes paid by income percentiles for Tax Year 2014, the most recent set of data available from the IRS. NTUF has broken down the federal share of income taxes by gross income to show how much each bracket contributes yearly.

For more information:

 

https://e.infogr.am/38b876d9-6c59-4a84-8b02-1ed223f6a454?src=embed

https://www.ntu.org/foundation/page/who-pays-income-taxes

Trump Hits The Road To Promote Tax Cuts (Details To Come)

President Trump participates in a tax overhaul kickoff event at the Loren Cook Company in Springfield, Mo., on Wednesday.

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 5:25 p.m. ET

President Trump called for a major rewrite of the U.S. tax code during a visit to Springfield, Mo., on Wednesday afternoon. The speech came a day after Trump’s trip to Harvey-hit Texas and is the first in what is expected to be a series of traveling sales pitches on taxes from the president.

But the White House is not ready to spell out what the rewrite will look like or what kind of price tag it will carry. Trump spoke in broad terms about creating a tax system that favors middle-class Americans and keeps business in the U.S.

“First and foremost our tax system should benefit loyal, hardworking Americans and their families. That is why tax reform must dramatically simplify the tax code, eliminate special-interest loopholes,” he said.

Trump called on Congress to join him and “unite in the name of common sense and the name of common good” to create jobs and improve America’s “competitive advantage.”

“I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done, and I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have been meeting regularly with Republican congressional leaders to discuss tax policy. Thus far, though, they’ve committed only to a vague statement of principles that calls for lower tax rates on both individuals and businesses. Cohn said it will be up to lawmakers to fill in the details.

“We’ve got a great, I would say, skeleton,” Cohn told reporters earlier this month. “We need the Ways and Means Committee to put some muscle and skin on the skeleton and drive tax reform forward. And it’s our objective to do that between now and the end of the year.”

With Republicans in control of the House, Senate and the presidency, supporters have described this as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to overhaul the tax code in accordance with GOP principles. But after Trump’s insistence on swift, ultimately unsuccessful bids to repeal the Affordable Care Act, some observers are skeptical that Trump has the patience or discipline to see a tax overhaul through to completion.

Mnuchin insists tax cuts are now Trump’s No. 1 priority.

“He’s going to go on the road,” Mnuchin said. “The president is 100 percent supportive of us passing legislation this year.”

The White House has been promising such a sales campaign for weeks, only to see much of August consumed with controversy over the president’s Charlottesville, Va., remarks and his intraparty carping with fellow Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Mnuchin conceded that rewriting the tax code is a taller order than he initially imagined.

“Earlier in the year I said I thought we’d get it done by August, and I was wrong,” the Treasury secretary said. “I am now going to say that I’m very hopeful, and I think we can get this done by the end of the year, but we will continue to revisit it.”

“The president’s leadership on this is critical,” said a senior White House official who briefed reporters on the Springfield trip. “Everybody involved understands that and believes that. And he is ready to really take this conversation where it belongs and that’s the heartland of America.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The president now feels that it’s the right time to begin engaging directly with the American people on tax reform,” he said.

The administration argues the current tax code is too complicated and rates are too high to encourage investment in the U.S.

“We are not competitive with the rest of the world on the business tax and on the personal income tax,” Cohn said.

Neither the White House nor congressional leaders have spelled out how much lower tax rates should go, nor have they specified how the government would make up the lost revenue. They’re counting on faster economic growth to help close the gap. They’ve also promised to eliminate unspecified tax “loopholes,” which Trump called out multiple times in his speech on Wednesday.

Back in April, the White House proposed lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while reducing the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent. That’s broadly similar to a proposal Trump put forward during the presidential campaign. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said at the time 78 percent of the tax savings in Trump’s campaign plan would go to people on the top 20 percent of the income ladder. (Nearly a quarter would go to the top one-tenth of 1 percent.)

The campaign plan was also forecast to reduce government revenue by more than $6 trillion over a decade — a gap that would be difficult to erase through growth and loophole closings.

The White House has said it wants to preserve deductions for charitable contributions, retirement savings and mortgage interest.

One popular tax break that could be on the chopping block is the deduction for state and local taxes. That’s one of the biggest loopholes in the tax code. Eliminating it would boost federal revenues by an estimated $1.3 trillion over a decade. The tax break is particularly popular with residents in the Northeast and West Coast, typically blue states with relatively high tax rates.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., favored a so-called border adjustment tax on imports as another way to raise revenue and offset the cost of income tax cuts. But lawmakers ultimately scrapped that idea after consultation with the administration.

Senate Republicans plan to use a procedural tactic to prevent Democrats from blocking the tax overhaul with a filibuster. Under Senate rules, though, any measure passed with that tactic must not add to the federal deficit for more than 10 years.

This presents a choice for Republicans: Go with a more modest tax cut that can be offset by growth and closing loopholes, or opt for a more ambitious cut but allow it to sunset after a decade.

For all the challenges, GOP lawmakers are under political pressure to pass something they can brand as “tax reform.” Otherwise, they’ll have to face voters in 2018 with little to show for two years of single-party rule.

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/30/547114024/trump-hits-the-road-to-promote-tax-cuts-details-to-come

 

Trump’s Fill-in-the-Blanks Tax Reform Plan

The president is leaving the details to Republicans in Congress. Only they haven’t figured them out yet, either.

Alex Brandon / AP

notable

On Wednesday, President Trump traveled to Missouri to expand on the need for tax reform, to lay the groundwork for a major legislative push in Congress this fall. But more than anything else, what Trump’s speech revealed was that despite months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, Republicans aren’t much closer to enacting the most significant overhaul of the tax code in 30 years than they were back in April.

Trump was pitching a plan that doesn’t exist and demanding votes for a bill that hasn’t been written. If anything, the address the president delivered was even less detailed than the skimpy blueprint the White House issued in the spring. The most specific item Trump mentioned—a 15 percent corporate tax rate, down from the current 35 percent—is something that Republican tax-writers on Capitol Hill believe is impossible to achieve under the parameters with which they must work. He talked in broad terms about simplifying the code so that it’s easier for people to file their taxes, removing unspecified special interest loopholes, and encouraging businesses to bring back profits they’ve parked overseas—all policies that have been central to GOP proposals for years and offer little indication of the particular direction the party plans to go.

This was a bully pulpit speech. Having laid down his principles, Trump is once again leaving the dirty work to Congress, a strategy that even he seemed to acknowledge was as risky as it is politically necessary. “I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress, do you understand me? Do you understand?” he warned at one point, a none-too-subtle reference to his recent hectoring over the GOP’s failure to deliver on health care.

To the delight of Republican leaders, the one lawmaker Trump singled out for pressure was not one of their own; for the first time in weeks, the president picked on a Democrat, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, who is up for reelection in a state he won easily in November. If McCaskill doesn’t vote for tax reform—whatever it turns out to be—“you have to vote her out of office,” Trump demanded of the crowd.

Top Republicans were evidently pleased with the speech, or at least with the fact that the president stuck to the message they were told beforehand he would deliver. Within minutes after it ended, statements (undoubtedly prewritten) flowed in with glowing reviews. “President Trump is taking the case for tax reform straight to Main Street,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said. “We are united in our determination to get this done.” Representative Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said his remarks were “excellent.” Even members of Trump’s Cabinet that have no role in tax reform, like Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, or in domestic politics whatsoever, like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, chimed in with praise.Yet while Trump talked at length about the need for tax reform, he said little about how Republicans would get it done. And that’s because they still don’t know themselves. GOP leaders haven’t made several crucial decisions. Will the legislation be a revenue-neutral tax reform that fully offsets the reduction in rates by eliminating costly—and popular—exemptions and deductions? Or will it be a more straightforward tax cut, that would likely have to expire within a decade to comply with Senate rules? How low will they try to push down the corporate rate? About all they’ve determined is that 15 percent is too low, but will it be closer to 20 percent or 25 percent? And on, and on.
The Ways and Means Committee is currently writing the tax bill, but the only timeline they’ve set is to get it done by the end of 2018. The longer they take to write it, however, the less realistic that deadline becomes. And as I explainedearlier this month, Republicans must first pass a budget before they can even get to tax reform, which, to this point, has been no easy task.These unresolved details have also tripped up Trump’s messaging toward Democrats. Does he want their support, or are Republicans planning to do it alone as they tried to do on health care? In his speech, the president started out by saying he wanted to work with both parties to enact tax reform. Later on, however, he attacked Democrats as “obstructionists” and called out McCaskill. By the end, he was back where he began, saying tax reform was an issue on which lawmakers should put aside partisanship.Democrats say there’s been no outreach from the administration on taxes, and they’ve noted that Republicans are, for now, planning to use the same budget reconciliation process on tax reform that they used in trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That would allow them to skirt a Democratic filibuster and pass tax reform with a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate. Unlike Obamacare repeal, some Democrats have expressed a willingness to work with the administration on taxes, so long as the GOP plan is not skewed to benefit the wealthy. With so few details, they were unimpressed with Trump’s speech in Missouri. “Stepping to the podium to declare that we need tax reform does not signal leadership on this issue; rather, doing so without offering any proposals on how to achieve it is an abdication,” said Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking House Democrat. “If the president is serious about tax reform, he should focus on the how, not the why.”Trump is not a detail-oriented president. That much is clear. But while he may be able to stick to broad strokes in rally-the-public speeches and leave the rest to Congress, his party will eventually have to make the tough decisions about who’s going to pay more, who gets to pay less, and by how much. Until that happens, tax reform isn’t going anywhere.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/08/trumps-fill-in-the-blanks-tax-reform-plan/538509/

Trump’s populist message on taxes comes with heavy dose of corporate rate cuts

Trump’s speech didn’t mask the fact that lawmakers still face a wide range of knotty questions when they return to Washington next week.

08/30/2017 01:59 PM EDT

Updated 08/30/2017 04:08 PM EDT

Trump maintained that a new tax system was crucial to ushering in a new prosperity in the U.S., in a speech that White House officials acknowledged beforehand would be light on policy details.

“Instead of exporting our jobs, we will export our goods. Our jobs will both stay here in America and come back to America. We’ll have it both ways,” Trump said at a Springfield, Mo., manufacturer, adding that millions of people would move from welfare to work and “will love earning a big fat beautiful paycheck.”

“We believe that ordinary Americans know better than Washington how to spend their own money and we want to help them take home as much of their money as possible and then spend it,” he said. “So they’ll keep their money, they’ll spend their money, they’ll buy our product.”

But Trump’s speech also underscored just how big a challenge he and a Republican Congress will face in pulling off a true overhaul of the tax code. The president only briefly touched on policy details, saying that businesses would “ideally” be taxed at a top rate of 15 percent and that the tax code would contain incentives for child care — a top priority of his daughter, Ivanka Trump.

“I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done,” Trump said. “And I don’t want to be disappointed by Congress. Do you understand me?”

Trump’s speech was aimed at showing that Republicans have the message down on tax reform, but lawmakers have yet to confront the monumental task of turning the rhetoric into reality.

Senior White House officials this week repeatedly billed the president’s speech as an address focused on why tax reform needs to happen, not how it will materialize. That’s the sort of big-picture cover on taxes that Trump didn’t offer congressional leaders in their doomed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But while congressional leaders undoubtedly welcome the president making the broad case for a tax revamp, Trump’s speech doesn’t mask the fact that lawmakers still face a wide range of knotty questions when they return to Washington next week.

Republicans still have to figure out how to pass a budget this fall, a process that will play a big role in deciding how generous a tax plan they can write. They also have to decide whether tax changes should be permanent or temporary, or a mix of the two, and whether their plan should be a net tax cut that would add to the deficit.

And that’s before they will feel the full brunt of a massive lobbying push on what would be the first major tax overhaul in more than 30 years. Already, GOP lawmakers are starting to hear from industries that might be the losers in a tax overhaul, such as big corporations that don’t want a minimum tax on foreign earnings and a retirement sector wary of potential changes to savings plans.

The hurdles won’t be limited to policy, either, after a summer that saw both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue grow increasingly wary of the other as the GOP’s health care efforts imploded. Republicans on Capitol Hill steamed privately in July that Trump’s obsession with White House infighting and the Russia controversy was a major factor in the death of the repeal effort. They’re crossing their fingers that he won’t be so easily distracted on tax reform.

 

Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on his tax plan

 August 31 at 3:00 AM
The Fact Checker’s round-up of five fishy claims made by President Trump in his speech on Aug. 30. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

President Trump on Wednesday delivered an address on his “principles” for a tax plan in Springfield, Mo., though he provided few details. He also shifted from extolling how well the economy is doing to language that suggested the United States was suffering terribly. As usual, some of the president’s  facts and figures were a bit fishy, so here’s a roundup of 10 of his claims.

“In the last 10 years, our economy has grown at only around 2 percent a year.”

This is misleading. By going back 10 years, Trump includes the worst recession since the Great Depression, which brings down the 10-year average. This chart shows that that quarterly average since the recession was well above 2 percent, even hitting 5 percent in the third quarter of 2014. The GDP growth rate for the United States averaged 3.22 percent from 1947 to 2017.


Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis via Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

“We just announced that we hit 3 percent in GDP. Just came out. And on a yearly basis, as you know, the last administration, during an eight-year period, never hit 3 percent.

Trump plays some sleight-of-hand with the numbers. He first cites an annualized quarterly figure — 3 percent GDP growth in the second quarter of 2017 — and then compares it to what appears to be calendar-year figures for former president Barack Obama.

As the chart above shows, the economy grew better than 3 percent in eight quarters during Obama’s presidency, most recently in the third quarter of 2016. (Technically, this is known as “annualized quarterly change” or SAAR — seasonally adjusted at annual rate.) Trump gets his terminology wrong, using the phrase “yearly basis,” which could mean from the third quarter of 2015 to the the third quarter of 2016, in which case Obama easily exceeded 3 percent numerous times. On an annual basis, Obama’s best year was 2015, when annual growth was 2.6 percent.

“If we achieve sustained 3 percent growth, that means 12 million new jobs and $10 trillion of new economic activity over the next decade. That’s some numbers.”

With this statement, Trump downgrades promises he made during the 2016 campaign — he said he would achieve 4 percent GDP growth and 25 million jobs over 10 years.

“In 1935, the basic 1040 form that most people file had two simple pages of instruction. Today, that basic form has 100 pages of instructions, and it’s pretty complex stuff.”

Trump is correct that in 1935, the basic 1040 individual income tax form had two pages of instructions, but this claim needs historical context.

There are many reasons the instructions were so simple back then — including that just about 4 percent of the population paid the federal individual income tax. In 1935, the individual income tax largely was a tax on the wealthy. In fact, the top rate in 1935 was 63 percent — and President Franklin D. Roosevelt raised it to 75 percent later that year.

This changed with World War II. “Driven by staggering revenue needs, lawmakers in both parties agreed to raise taxes on everyone: rich, poor, and — especially — the middle class,” wrote Joseph Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project.

“The tax code is so complicated that more than 90 percent of Americans need professional help to do their own taxes.”

This is misleading. The 90 percent figure he is referring to includes people using tax software, such as Turbo Tax, which helps people file their taxes on their own. According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s 2016 report, 54 percent of individual taxpayers pay preparers and about 40 percent of individual taxpayers use software that costs about $50 or more.

Yet later during the speech, he made it sound as if the “professional help” is only referring to hired accountants: “That is why tax reform must dramatically simplify the tax code … and allow the vast majority of our citizens to file their taxes on a single, simple page without having to hire an accountant.”

“Our last major tax rewrite was 31 years ago. It eliminated dozens of loopholes and special interest tax breaks, reduced the number of tax brackets from 15 to two, and lowered tax rates for both individuals and businesses. At the time it was really something special … In 1986, Ronald Reagan led the world by cutting our corporate tax rate to 34 percent. That was below the average rate for developed countries at the time. Everybody thought that was a monumental thing that happened. But then, under this pro-America system, our economy boomed. It just went beautifully right through the roof. The middle class thrived, and median family income increased.”

Trump heaped praise on Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986, which simplified tax brackets and eliminated tax shelters; it also lowered the top individual tax rate to 28 percent but raised the capital gains rate to the same level, giving them parity. But this is a rather strange flip-flop because Trump always has been a fierce critic of the bill, blaming it repeatedly for the savings and loan crisis, a decline in real estate investing and the 1990-1991 recession.

“This tax act was just an absolute catastrophe for the country, for the real estate industry, and I really hope that something can be done,” Trump told Congress in 1991. In a television interview with Joan Rivers, he said: “What caused the savings and loan crisis was the 1986 tax law change. It was a disaster. It took all of the incentives away from investors.”

Trump also frequently attacked one of the Democratic sponsors of the bill, Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), such as in a Wall Street Journal commentary in 1999. “Mr. Bradley’s last big idea to be enacted into legislation was also one of the worst ideas in recent history,” Trump wrote, saying Bradley was responsible for the elimination of a tax shelter for real estate investments. (He said the good parts of the bill could be attributed to Reagan.)

“We lost the jobs. We lost the taxes. They closed the buildings. They closed the plants and factories. We got nothing but unemployment. We got nothing.”

As Trump frequently notes, the unemployment rate in July was 4.3 percent — the lowest level in 16 years. So this overwrought language seems misplaced.

“We have gone from a tax rate that is lower than our economic competitors, to one that is more than 60 percent higher. … In other words, foreign companies have more than a 60 percent tax advantage over American companies.”

The United States certainly has one of the highest statutory corporate tax rates in the world, currently pegged as high as 39.1 percent when including state taxes. (The federal rate is 35 percent.) Trump says it is 60 percent higher than “our economic competitors,” comparing 39.1 percent to the average rate for the other members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which is 25.5 percent when not weighted for GDP. (It is 29.6 percent when weighted for GDP.)

But the official rate does not necessarily tell the whole story. What also matters is the actual tax a company pays, after deductions and tax benefits. That is known as the effective tax rate, which can be calculated differently depending on the survey. According to the Congressional Research Service, the effective rate for the United States is 27.1 percent, compared to an effective GDP-weighted average of 27.7 percent for the OECD. “Although the U.S. statutory tax rate is higher, the average effective rate is about the same, and the marginal rate on new investment is only slightly higher,” the CRS says.

The Congressional Budget Office, when it examined the issue, said the U.S. effective tax rate was 18.6 percent, which it said was among the highest of the biggest economic powers, the Group of 20.

Trump, naturally, used the numbers that suggest the difference is really huge.

“Today, we are still taxing our businesses at 35 percent, and it’s way more than that. And think of it, in some cases, way above 40 percent when you include state and local taxes in various states. The United States is now behind France, behind Germany, behind Canada, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea and many other nations.”

As we noted, the statutory federal corporate tax rate in the United States is 35 percent, making the United States the highest among G-20 countries, including the countries Trump listed. But the effective corporate tax rate in the United States in 2012 was 18.6 percent, making it the fourth highest among G-20 countries, behind Argentina, Japan and Britain, according to the CBO.

“Because of our high tax rate and horrible, outdated, bureaucratic rules, large companies that do business overseas will often park their profits offshore to avoid paying a high United States tax if the money is brought back home. So they leave the money over there. The amount of money we’re talking about is anywhere from $3 trillion to $5 trillion.”

There are no official, current numbers on the profits held overseas by U.S. companies, just estimates. The White House would not respond to a query on where Trump is getting these numbers, but his high-end figure appears to be an exaggeration. The Internal Revenue Service in 2012 said the figure was $2.3 trillion, and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that it had risen to $2.6 trillion in 2015. There are other estimates as well, but none top $2.8 trillion, according to PolitiFact.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/08/31/fact-checking-president-trumps-speech-on-his-tax-plan/?utm_term=.8ea0dc0c4d24

 

Story 2: Revised Second Estimate of Real GDP Growth in Second Quarter of 2017 Is 3 Percent — Videos

Economic growth hits 3% in Q2

Growth Rates Are Crucial

Nightly Business Report – August 30, 2017

Can Trump’s plan double U.S. economic growth?

How Trump’s economic proposals offer a vision from the past

What is Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?

Nominal vs. Real GDP

Real GDP Per Capita and the Standard of Living

EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 8:30 A.M. EDT, Wednesday, August 30, 2017
BEA 17—42

* See the navigation bar at the right side of the news release text for links to data tables, contact personnel and their telephone numbers, and supplementary materials.

Lisa Mataloni: (301) 278-9083 (GDP) gdpniwd@bea.gov
Kate Pinard: (301) 278-9417 (Corporate Profits) cpniwd@bea.gov
Jeannine Aversa: (301) 278-9003 (News Media) Jeannine.Aversa@bea.gov
National Income and Product Accounts
Gross Domestic Product: Second Quarter 2017 (Second Estimate)
Corporate Profits: Second Quarter 2017 (Preliminary Estimate)
Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 3.0 percent in the second quarter of
2017 (table 1), according to the "second" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the
first quarter, real GDP increased 1.2 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the
"advance" estimate issued last month.  In the advance estimate, the increase in real GDP was 2.6
percent. With this second estimate for the second quarter, the general picture of economic growth
remains the same; increases in personal consumption expenditures (PCE) and in nonresidential fixed
investment were larger than previously estimated. These increases were partly offset by a larger
decrease in state and local government spending (see "Updates to GDP" below).

Real GDP: Percent Change from Preceding Quarter
Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 2.9 percent in the second quarter, compared with an
increase of 2.7 percent (revised) in the first. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental
measure of U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 3.0 percent in the
second quarter, compared with an increase of 2.0 percent in the first quarter (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in the second quarter reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential
fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, and private inventory investment that were
partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment and state and local government
spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The acceleration in real GDP in the second quarter primarily reflected upturns in private inventory
investment and federal government spending and an acceleration in PCE that were partly offset by
downturns in residential fixed investment and state and local government spending and a deceleration
in exports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 4.0 percent, or $189.0 billion, in the second quarter to a level of $19,246.7
billion. In the first quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 3.3 percent, or $152.2 billion (table 1 and table
3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 0.8 percent in the second quarter, compared
with an increase of 2.6 percent in the first quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 0.3 percent,
compared with an increase of 2.2 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index
increased 0.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent (appendix table A).


Updates to GDP

The percent change in real GDP was revised up from the advance estimate, reflecting upward revisions
to PCE and to nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to state
and local government spending. For more information, see the Technical Note. A detailed "Key Source
Data and Assumptions" file is also posted for each release.  For information on updates to GDP, see the
“Additional Information” section that follows.

                                    Advance Estimate        Second Estimate
			           (Percent change from preceding quarter)
Real GDP                                  2.6                  3.0
Current-dollar GDP                        3.6                  4.0
Real GDI                                   …                   2.9
Average of Real GDP and Real GDI           …                   3.0
Gross domestic purchases price index      0.8                  0.8
PCE price index                           0.3                  0.3


For the first quarter of 2017, the percent change in real GDI was revised from 2.6 percent to 2.7 percent
based on revised first-quarter tabulations from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages
program.

Corporate Profits (table 12)

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital
consumption adjustment) increased $26.8 billion in the second quarter, in contrast to a decrease of
$46.2 billion in the first quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations decreased $29.4 billion in the second quarter, compared with
a decrease of $40.7 billion in the first quarter. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations increased
$64.8 billion, compared with an increase of $3.8 billion. The rest-of-the-world component of profits
decreased $8.6 billion, compared with a decrease of $9.3 billion. This measure is calculated as the
difference between receipts from the rest of the world and payments to the rest of the world. In the
second quarter, receipts increased $8.5 billion, and payments increased $17.1 billion.





                                       *          *          *




                           Next release:  September 28, 2017 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
                     Gross Domestic Product:  Second Quarter 2017 (Third Estimate)
                      Corporate Profits:  Second Quarter 2017 (Revised Estimate)




                                       Additional Information

Resources

Additional resources available at www.bea.gov:
•	Stay informed about BEA developments by reading the BEA blog, signing up for BEA’s email
        subscription service, or following BEA on Twitter @BEA_News.
•	Historical time series for these estimates can be accessed in BEA’s Interactive Data Application.
•	Access BEA data by registering for BEA’s Data Application Programming Interface (API).
•	For more on BEA’s statistics, see our monthly online journal, the Survey of Current Business.
•	BEA's news release scheduleNIPA Handbook:  Concepts and Methods of the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts

Definitions

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy
less the value of the goods and services used up in production. GDP is also equal to the sum of personal
consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment, net exports of goods and services, and
government consumption expenditures and gross investment.

Gross domestic income (GDI) is the sum of incomes earned and costs incurred in the production of GDP.
In national economic accounting, GDP and GDI are conceptually equal. In practice, GDP and GDI differ
because they are constructed using largely independent source data. Real GDI is calculated by deflating
gross domestic income using the GDP price index as the deflator, and is therefore conceptually
equivalent to real GDP.

Current-dollar estimates are valued in the prices of the period when the transactions occurred—that is,
at “market value.” Also referred to as “nominal estimates” or as “current-price estimates.”
Real values are inflation-adjusted estimates—that is, estimates that exclude the effects of price changes.
The gross domestic purchases price index measures the prices of final goods and services purchased by
U.S. residents.

The personal consumption expenditure price index measures the prices paid for the goods and services
purchased by, or on the behalf of, “persons.”

Profits from current production, referred to as corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment
(IVA) and capital consumption adjustment (CCAdj) in the NIPAs, is a measure of the net income of
corporations before deducting income taxes that is consistent with the value of goods and services
measured in GDP. The IVA and CCAdj are adjustments that convert inventory withdrawals and
depreciation of fixed assets reported on a tax-return, historical-cost basis to the current-cost economic
measures used in the national income and product accounts.

For more definitions, see the Glossary: National Income and Product Accounts.


Statistical conventions

Annual rates. Quarterly values are expressed at seasonally-adjusted annual rates (SAAR), unless
otherwise specified. Dollar changes are calculated as the difference between these SAAR values. For
detail, see the FAQ “Why does BEA publish estimates at annual rates?”

Percent changes in quarterly series are calculated from unrounded data and are displayed at annual
rates, unless otherwise specified. For details, see the FAQ “How is average annual growth calculated?”

Quantities and prices. Quantities, or “real” volume measures, and prices are expressed as index
numbers with a specified reference year equal to 100 (currently 2009). Quantity and price indexes are
calculated using a Fisher-chained weighted formula that incorporates weights from two adjacent
periods (quarters for quarterly data and annuals for annual data). “Real” dollar series are calculated by
multiplying the published quantity index by the current dollar value in the reference year (2009) and
then dividing by 100. Percent changes calculated from real quantity indexes and chained-dollar levels
are conceptually the same; any differences are due to rounding.

Chained-dollar values are not additive because the relative weights for a given period differ from those
of the reference year. In tables that display chained-dollar values, a “residual” line shows the difference
between the sum of detailed chained-dollar series and its corresponding aggregate.


Updates to GDP

BEA releases three vintages of the current quarterly estimate for GDP:  "Advance" estimates are
released near the end of the first month following the end of the quarter and are based on source data
that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency; “second” and “third” estimates
are released near the end of the second and third months, respectively, and are based on more detailed
and more comprehensive data as they become available.

Annual and comprehensive updates are typically released in late July. Annual updates generally cover at
least the 3 most recent calendar years (and their associated quarters) and incorporate newly available
major annual source data as well as some changes in methods and definitions to improve the accounts.
Comprehensive (or benchmark) updates are carried out at about 5-year intervals and incorporate major
periodic source data, as well as major conceptual improvements.
The table below shows the average revisions to the quarterly percent changes in real GDP between
different estimate vintages, without regard to sign.

Vintage                               Average Revision Without Regard to Sign
                                         (percentage points, annual rates)
Advance to second                                     0.5
Advance to third                                      0.6
Second to third                                       0.2
Advance to latest                                     1.1
Note - Based on estimates from 1993 through 2015. For more information on GDP
updates, see Revision Information on the BEA Web site.

The larger average revision from the advance to the latest estimate reflects the fact that periodic
comprehensive updates include major statistical and methodological improvements.

Unlike GDP, an advance current quarterly estimate of GDI is not released because data on domestic
profits and on net interest of domestic industries are not available. For fourth quarter estimates, these
data are not available until the third estimate.

https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/2017/gdp2q17_2nd.htm

 

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Is America’s Tax System Fair?

Sen. Moran Discusses FairTax Legislation on U.S. Senate Floor

What’s Killing the American Dream?

Robert Wolf: Border adjustment not going to happen

Paul Ryan on why he’s confident about tax reform

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform & Trade: Panel 1

1/26/17 Border Adjustment Taxes, Tax Reform and Trade: Panel 2 Part 2

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 1

Border Tax Adjustment and Corporate Tax Reforms: Panel 2

Breaking Down The Republican Plan For A Border Tax | CNBC

Harvard Professor: Trump’s Border Tax ‘Misunderstood’

Making Sense Of The 20 Percent Tax Proposal | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Proposed Tax Package A Dramatic Cut Even With A Border Tax?

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin On Tax Reform, Growth, Border Tax, China (Full) | Squawk Box | CNBC

Wilbur Ross On Border Tax: Something Will Be Found To Fill Trillion-Dollar Hole | Squawk Box | CNBC

Trump ditches tax reform plan he campaigned on and considers series of new options – including payroll tax cut in bid to woo Democrats

  • Trump had campaigned on rapid tax reform and a so-called border adjustment tax, which would effectively levy a duty on imports 
  • Now all options are back on the table as he tries to have a reform plan which will get Republican support 
  • There are signs the president will be willing to work with Democrats too as White House officials hold ‘listening sessions’ with the opposition 
  • One plan being considered is a cut in the payroll tax, which would benefit middle-earners and could garner Democratic support 

President Donald Trump has scrapped the tax plan he campaigned on and is going back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.

The administration’s first attempt to write legislation is in its early stages and the White House has kept much of it under wraps. But it has already sprouted the consideration of a series of unorthodox proposals including a drastic cut to the payroll tax, aimed at appealing to Democrats.

Some view the search for new options as a result of Trump’s refusal to set clear parameters for his plan and his exceedingly challenging endgame: reducing tax rates enough to spur faster growth without blowing up the budget deficit.

Administration officials say it’s now unlikely that a tax overhaul will meet the August deadline set by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

Off plan: Donald Trump is abandoning the tax overhaul he campaigned on 

Off plan: Donald Trump is abandoning the tax overhaul he campaigned on

Tough deadline: Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary who was at the table when Trump was briefed on the Syria missile strikes, had set an the August deadline for tax reform

Tough deadline: Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary who was at the table when Trump was briefed on the Syria missile strikes, had set an the August deadline for tax reform

But the ambitious pace to figure out a plan reflects Trump’s haste to move quickly past a bruising failure to broker a compromise within his own party on how to replace the health insurance law enacted under President Barack Obama.

The White House is trying to learn the lessons from health care. Rather than accepting a bill written by the lawmakers, White House officials are taking a more active role.

Administration officials have signaled that they want to pass tax legislation with only Republican votes, yet they’ve also held listening sessions with House Democrats.

White House aides say the goal is to cut tax rates sharply enough to improve the economic picture in depressed rural and industrial pockets of the country where many Trump voters live.

But the administration so far has swatted down alternative ways for raising revenues, such as a carbon tax, to offset lower rates.

Trump, who brands himself as a deal-maker, has not said which trade-offs he might accept and he has remained noncommittal on the leading blueprint, from Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Brady, a Republican from Texas, has proposed a border adjustment system, which would eliminate corporate deductions on imports, to raise $1 trillion over 10 years that could fund lower corporate tax rates.

But that possibility has rankled retailers who say it would lead to higher prices and threaten millions of jobs, while some lawmakers have worried that the system would violate World Trade Organization rules.

Brady has said he intends to amend the blueprint but has not spelled out how he would do so.

Other options are being shopped on Capitol Hill.

One circulating this past week would change the House Republican plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax and cut corporate tax rates. This would require a new dedicated funding source for Social Security.

The change, proposed by a GOP lobbyist with close ties to the Trump administration, would transform Brady’s plan on imports into something closer to a value-added tax by also eliminating the deduction of labor expenses.

This would bring it in line with WTO rules and generate an additional $12 trillion over 10 years, according to budget estimates.

Those additional revenues could then enable the end of the 12.4 percent payroll tax, split evenly between employers and employees, that funds Social Security, while keeping the health insurance payroll tax in place.

This approach would give a worker earning $60,000 a year an additional $3,720 in take-home pay, a possible win that lawmakers could highlight back in their districts even though it would involve changing the funding mechanism for Social Security, according to the lobbyist, who asked for anonymity to discuss the proposal without disrupting early negotiations.

Although some billed this as a bipartisan solution, and President Barack Obama did temporarily cut the payroll tax after the Great Recession, others note it probably would run into firm opposition from Democrats who are loathe to be seen as undermining Social Security.

The White House would not comment on the plan, but said a value-added tax based on consumption is not under consideration ‘as of now,’ according to a White House statement.

The lack of detail about how to significantly rewrite tax laws for the first time in 30 years may provide Trump some time to build consensus among Republicans. But without Trump laying down his hand, lawmakers appear reluctant to back a plan that will likely stir controversy.

How will markets react? Stocks rallied after the election on the promise of lower taxes and fewer regulations, but the Dow has dipped 1.2 percent over the past month

How will markets react? Stocks rallied after the election on the promise of lower taxes and fewer regulations, but the Dow has dipped 1.2 percent over the past month

Stock markets take a hit after Trump’s healthcare defeat

‘Because there are trade-offs, congressmen need cover from the president to withstand the lobbyists and constituents who are going to complain,’ said Bill Gale, an economist at the Brookings Institution who worked at the White House Council of Economic Advisers during President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

The Trump administration appears to have shut out the economists who helped assemble one of his campaign’s tax overhaul plans, which independent analyses show would have increased the budget deficit.

‘It’s a little frustrating that they feel they have to write a new tax plan when they have a tax plan,’ said Steven Moore, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation who helped formulate tax policy for the Trump campaign.

Rob Portman, the Republican senator from Ohio, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said that all of the trial balloons surfacing in public don’t represent the work that’s being done behind the scenes.

‘It’s not really what’s going on,’ Portman said. ‘What’s going on is they’re working with on various ideas.’

Investors are beginning to show some doubts that Trump can deliver. Stocks rallied after his election on the promise of lower taxes and fewer regulations, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dipped 1.2 percent over the past month as the path for health care and tax revisions has become muddied.

‘The White House is going to need its own clear direction, or it’s going to need to defer to Congress, but saying that your plan is forthcoming and then not producing a plan kind of puts everything in stasis,’ said Alan Cole, an economist at the conservative Tax Foundation.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4396916/Trump-taxes-President-scraps-tax-plan-timetable-threatened.html#ixzz4dsZ74tNb
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Why the Border Adjustment Tax Should Be Killed

The BAT is a bad idea. There are far better ways to shrink the federal budget deficit.

March 18, 2017

“Anytime I hear border adjustment, I don’t love it,” Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal shortly before his inauguration, noting that the proposed border adjustment tax was “too complicated.”

Trump isn’t always right when he makes off-the-cuff remarks such as that, but this time he was. The proposed border adjustment tax is so complicated that even its advocates can’t agree on how its disruptive effects on the U.S. economy will play out, and there’s nothing to love about that. The BAT is a bad idea, and it should be scrapped. And while taking it off the table will bring more red ink to the federal budget, there are better ways to stanch the bleeding than subjecting the economy to the trauma of a BAT.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the border adjustment levy is a tax hike embedded in the program of tax reductions that House Republicans put forward last June under the rubric of “A Better Way.” It’s there, presumably, to help offset the effect of the administration’s planned cuts, since the Republicans’ stated aim is to keep those cuts revenue-neutral. Barron’s fully supports the goal of not adding to deficits that, before too long, will be running above $1 trillion a year, given repeated warnings from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about the risk of a financial crisis, due to exploding debt.

The attraction of a BAT is that it could generate an estimated $100 billion a year in revenue. There may be reasons to challenge that estimate, but we’ll accept it for now. There are, however, better ways to slash the fiscal deficit by $100 billion a year than the Better Way plan, and most fall under the heading of spending cuts.

President Trump has spoken about “waste, fraud, and abuse” in “every agency” of the federal government. Indeed, he promised that “we will cut so much, your head will spin.” He should therefore find plenty to love in our proposed reductions in spending. Just for starters, if all corporate welfare were cut from the budget, as much as $100 billion a year could be saved, about matching the total expected from the BAT.

The president also favors slashing the top rate on corporate income to 15% from 35%. Barron’s has proposed a more modest cut, to 22% (“Cut the Top U.S. Corporate Tax Rate to 22%,” Nov. 26, 2016). The Republican package calls for a reduction to 20%, which is close enough to our original proposal and which we believe should boost revenue rather than shrink it.

A list of potential cuts and revenue enhancements, totaling $200 billion, is in the table at the bottom of this page.

THE BETTER WAY PLAN, as noted, would reduce the top federal tax rate on corporate profits to 20% from 35%—which is all to the good. The proposed tax cut would not only be revenue-neutral; it would probably be revenue-enhancing.

In a study released this month by the London-based Centre for Policy Studies, analyst Daniel Mahoney traces the effect on revenue from Britain’s cuts in the corporate tax rate over a 34-year period. According to his calculations, the take from the corporate tax has added three-tenths of a percentage point annually to gross domestic product since rates were slashed.

Similarly, last year, in calling for a maximum U.S. rate of 22%, we traced the significant decline in the average top rate on corporate income for 19 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Over 33 years, their average tax take as a share of GDP rose six-tenths of a percentage point.

While that might not sound like much, every tenth of a percentage point of U.S. nominal GDP is worth $18.9 billion. So if revenue from the corporate tax rises by, say, three-tenths of a percentage point, to 2.5%—a conservative guess—that increase would translate into a bonus of nearly $57 billion a year in revenue. That alone gets us more than halfway to the $100 billion value of a BAT.

The idea of a revenue-enhancing cut in the corporate income tax was put forward in 1978, when economist Arthur Laffer was first cited as arguing that some rate decreases could generate enough added economic growth that the government wouldn’t lose revenue over the long run—and might, in fact, even gain revenue. Laffer also noted that most tax hikes generate less revenue than a conventional “static” analysis indicates, and that most tax cuts lose less.

Laffer’s “dynamic” analysis covered all of the behavioral changes likely to result from a cut. To begin with, if the tax collector claims a lower share of income, there is an incentive to produce more income. Second, a lower rate means there’s less incentive to spend time and effort avoiding the tax.

Corporations don’t pay taxes; only people do. And there is a tendency to forget that if a corporation nets more profits as a result of a lower tax, those funds will soon take the form of salaries, dividends, and capital gains, and will be taxed in those forms.

The second factor, less tax avoidance, applies with special force to a rollback of corporate taxes. As we noted last year, bringing down the top rate to 22% from 35% would dramatically reduce corporate flight to low-tax jurisdictions in the rest of the world.

Following the publication of our article, the CBO released a study confirming that U.S corporate tax rates are among the highest in the world. Among the Group of 20 countries—including Japan, China, Russia, Germany, France, Canada, and the U.K.—the U.S. is No. 1, 3, and 4, respectively, in “top statutory corporate tax rate,” “average corporate tax rate,” and “effective corporate tax rate.” The Better Way plan would narrow this gap significantly and make the U.S. more competitive.

But when it comes to the Better Way plan for cutting tax rates on personal income, Barron’s believes that there would be a loss of revenue even after taking into account behavioral changes. The revenue reduction from the proposed personal income-tax cuts has been estimated, on a static basis, at an average of $98 billion a year. We can assume that dynamic losses would run 10% less, or $88 billion, mainly because lower taxes are likely to encourage people to work.

Still, $88 billion a year is a huge loss of revenue. Barron’s proposes that the Better Way plan consider splitting the difference and going halfway on the tax cut, thus saving $44 billion.

THE REVENUE-ENHANCING corporate tax cut would include a special kicker in the form of the border adjustment tax. The BAT would deny corporations the ability to deduct the cost of imports from their taxable income, while all income earned from exports would be exempt from the 20% levy.

This means that companies selling imported goods in the domestic market would be taxed on the sale’s full proceeds—not just on the profit earned—which could more than offset the gains from the corporate tax reduction. At the same time, as noted, there would be no tax on the sale of exports.

The GOP’s Big Three Key players in the border adjustment tax debate: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, above, and House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump, below. McConnell has said that he hasn’t made up his mind about the levy. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The BAT would bring uncertainty and disruption to the U.S. economy, making it hard to predict whether it really would raise $100 billion annually in revenue. The basic idea is that, because the U.S. imports more than it exports, the export exemption would be more than offset by hitting imports hard. Regardless of how it shakes out, the value of the transactions affected by the BAT is huge.

The U.S. trade deficit—the difference between exports and imports—ran at just 3.4% of real GDP in 2016, much lower than the 5.5% peak of 2005. But the actual gross flows of exports and imports are much larger than the difference between the two flows. Exports last year were valued at $2.2 trillion, or 12.8% of real GDP, and imports at $2.7 trillion, or 16.2% (see chart). Given those magnitudes, the tax plan is likely to require massive readjustments throughout the economy.

That’s why major importers, like Wal-Mart Stores, are objecting—and why exporters are clearly pleased. As you might expect, then, the BAT is pitting exporters against importers, creating needless discord at a time when the country is surely suffering from more discord than it can handle.

THE POSITION PAPER for the Better Way asserts that by “exempting exports and taxing imports,” the BAT does “not” consist of the “addition of a new tax.” But of course, the BAT’s designers know that imports normally exceed exports by about $500 billion a year. Apply a back-of-the-envelope 20% to that $500 billion, and you get the hoped-for $100 billion in revenue. So the maneuver of “exempting exports and taxing imports” certainly looks and sounds like a new tax.

The Better Way statement also argues that there is an imbalance in the tax treatment of imports and exports that the BAT must remedy. “In the absence of border adjustments,” it states, “exports from the United States implicitly bear the cost of the U.S. income tax, while imports do not bear any federal income tax cost. This amounts to a self-imposed unilateral penalty on American exports and a self-imposed unilateral subsidy for U.S. imports.”

Ryan strongly supports the tax. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

But all other countries impose this “implicit cost” on exports through their own corporate income tax. And since the Better Way would slash America’s top rate to 20%, this implicit cost would finally become competitive with that of other nations.

Some supporters of the BAT like it precisely because it would help exports and penalize imports. The mercantilist view of economics implicit in that aim was discredited in Adam Smith’s 1776 treatise, The Wealth of Nations. And apart from the massive dislocations that will occur if imports shrink, this calls into question whether the projected $100 billion a year in revenue is realistic. As Alan Greenspan once wisely said, “Whatever you tax, you get less of.”

Then again, whether we really will get fewer imports depends a lot on the exchange value of the dollar. Other supporters of the BAT predict that the dollar will respond by appreciating against other currencies, conforming to the dictates of textbook fundamentals. If the dollar appreciates enough, the advantage to exporters and disadvantage to importers will be nullified. Without getting into the technicalities of how all this would work, we concede that it is all quite possible.

But as currency analysts and traders can tell you, exchange rates are subject to all kinds of forces and can spend long periods flouting textbook fundamentals. So whether the dollar will really strengthen in response to the BAT is anyone’s guess. But even if it does, a much stronger greenback would bring other disruptions. American investors with holdings denominated in foreign currencies would take a huge hit. And America’s tourist industries, which are already hurting from what the Los Angeles Times has called a “Trump slump,” would be hurt even more, as the cost of traveling to the States jumps.

There are other questions. Would the World Trade Organization challenge the BAT? Might our trading partners respond in ways that would be unfavorable to us? The border adjustment tax is an experiment in Rube Goldberg economics that the U.S. can do without.

SINCE REVENUE NEUTRALITY is the goal of the Better Way package, what about making up for the $100 billion a year in revenue that the border adjustment tax is supposed to generate?

Whether this tax really will raise as much as $100 billion depends on how imports and exports respond, which is hard to predict. Also, the reduction in the corporate income tax would probably be revenue-enhancing and could generate more than $50 billion in annual revenue.

The president has declared that “anytime I hear border adjustment, I don’t love it” and has voiced concern that it’s overly complicated. Michael Reynolds/Getty Images

We note that the full title of the House Republican plan is “A Better Way: Our Vision for a Confident America,” which leaves room for a vision that includes cost-cutting, along with tax-cutting.

It’s actually possible to reduce outlays by as much as $8.6 trillion over the next 10 years, as we pointed out in Barron’s Prescription for U.S. Economic Growth” (Dec. 24, 2016).

That discussion revealed much low-hanging fruit. For example, the Medicare system is rife with “improper payments,” which Medicare itself estimates at 11% of its spending in 2016. That’s probably a low estimate, because those who get improperly paid tend to keep these payments hidden. Barron’s calculated that if the improper-payment rate could be halved, it would save more than $400 billion over 10 years.

That would contribute $40 billion a year to the $100 billion shortfall from forgoing the BAT. To that we add $65 billion, and perhaps as much as $100 billion, by eliminating corporate welfare.

The Better Way statement properly criticizes the tax code for being “littered with hundreds of preferences and subsidies that pick winners and losers” and “direct resources to politically favored interests.” Spending on corporate welfare is another form of subsidy that picks winners and losers and directs funds to politically favored interests.

IN A 2012 PAPER, “Corporate Welfare in the Federal Budget,” the Cato Institute identified nearly $100 billion worth of yearly spending on corporate handouts, broadly defined, that could be ended. At Barron’s request, Cato senior fellow Chris Edwards updated the scoring on just 10 of the institute’s 40 categories of corporate welfare and came up with $66 billion in potential cuts.

High on Edwards’ list: farm subsidy programs, which redistribute taxpayer money to relatively rich agribusinesses and landowners. That the farm industry receives subsidies makes about as much sense as channeling funds to the restaurant industry, which could well be riskier than farming, based on its high failure rate. This form of corporate welfare goes back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. But whatever argument might have been made for it then hardly applies today, with the yearly tab currently at $25 billion.

Also on the corporate welfare list: pork-barrel handouts administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, totaling $13 billion, which go under the heading of “community development,” and which distribute funds to such recipients as museums, recreational facilities, and parking lots. Whatever one may think about the worthiness of these projects, they are better left to states and localities.

Another $10 billion could be saved by abolishing the Universal Service Fund, through which the Federal Communications Commission subsidizes telecommunications companies, among others. A creation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, this attempt to pick winners and losers is more unnecessary than ever in this dynamic and competitive industry.

PRESIDENT TRUMP PROMISED to “drain the swamp” of Washington’s special interests. One route toward that admirable goal would be to cut corporate welfare. Trump should repeat his objections to a border adjustment tax that would favor the interests of some businesses over others. He can help make U.S. corporations great again by weaning them off subsidies and reducing their tax burdens.

http://www.barrons.com/articles/why-the-border-adjustment-tax-should-be-killed-1489814286

Concerns About The ‘Border Adjustable’ Tax Plan From The House GOP, Part I

The Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by Ways & Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Speaker Paul Ryan, have proposed a “Better Way” tax plan that has many very desirable features.

And there are many other provisions that would reduce penalties on work, saving, investment, and entrepreneurship. No, it’s not quite a flat tax, which is the gold standard of tax reform, but it is a very pro-growth initiative worthy of praise.

That being said, there is a feature of the plan that merits closer inspection. The plan would radically change the structure of business taxation by imposing a 20 percent tax on all imports and providing a special exemption for all export-related income. This approach, known as “border adjustability,” is part of the plan to create a “destination-based cash flow tax” (DBCFT).

When I spoke about the Better Way plan at the Heritage Foundation last month, I highlighted the good features of the plan in the first few minutes of my brief remarks, but raised my concerns about the DBCFT in my final few minutes.

Allow me to elaborate on those comments with five specific worries about the proposal.

Concern #1: Is the DBCFT protectionist?

It certainly sounds protectionist. Here’s how the Financial Times described the plan.

The border tax adjustment would work by denying US companies their current ability to deduct import costs from their taxable income, meaning companies selling imported products would effectively be taxed on the full value of the sale rather than just the profit. Export revenues, meanwhile, would be excluded from company tax bases, giving net exporters the equivalent of a subsidy that would make them big beneficiaries of the change.

Charles Lane of the Washington Post explains how it works.

…the DBCFT would impose a flat 20 percent tax only on earnings from sales of output consumed within the United States… It gets complicated, but the upshot is that the cost of imported supplies would no longer be deductible from taxable income, while all revenue from exports would be. This would be a huge incentive to import less and export more, significant change indeed for an economy deeply dependent on global supply chains.

That certainly sounds protectionist as well. A tax on imports and a special exemption for exports.

But proponents say there’s no protectionism because the tax is neutral if the benchmark is where products are consumed rather than where income is earned. Moreover, they claim exchange rates will adjust to offset the impact of the tax changes. Here’s how Lane explains the issue.

…the greenback would have to rise 25 percent to offset what would be a new 20 percent tax on imported inputs — propelling the U.S. currency to its highest level on record. The international consequences of that are unforeseeable, but unlikely to be totally benign for everyone. Bear in mind that many other countries — China comes to mind — can and will manipulate exchange rates to protect their own short-term interests.

For what it’s worth, I accept the argument that the dollar will rise in value, thus blunting the protectionist impact of border adjustability. It would remain to be seen, though, how quickly or how completely the value of the dollar would change.

Concern #2: Is the DBCFT compliant with WTO obligations?

The United States is part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and we have ratified various agreements designed to liberalize world trade. This is great for the global economy, but it might not be good news for the Better Way plan because WTO rules only allow border adjustability for indirect taxes like a credit-invoice value-added tax. The DBCFT, by contrast, is a version of a corporate income tax, which is a direct tax.

The column by Charles Lane explains one of the specific problems.

Trading partners could also challenge the GOP plan as a discriminatory subsidy at the World Trade Organization. That’s because it includes a deduction for wages paid by U.S.-located firms, importers and exporters alike — a break that would obviously not be available to competitors abroad.

Advocates argue that the DBCFT is a consumption-base tax, like a VAT. And since credit-invoice VATs are border adjustable, they assert their plan also should get the same treatment. But the WTO rules say that only “indirect” taxes are eligible for border adjustability. The New York Times reports that the WTO therefore would almost surely reject the plan.

Michael Graetz, a tax expert at the Columbia Law School, said he doubted that argument would prevail in Geneva. “W.T.O. lawyers do not take the view that things that look the same economically are acceptable,” Mr. Graetz said.

A story in the Wall Street Journal considers the potential for an adverse ruling from the World Trade Organization.

Even though it’s economically similar to, and probably better than, the value-added taxes (VATs) many other countries use, it may be illegal under World Trade Organization rules. An international clash over taxes is something the world can ill afford when protectionist sentiment is already running high. …The controversy is over whether border adjustability discriminates against trade partners. …the WTO operates not according to economics but trade treaties, which generally treat tax exemptions on exports as illegal unless they are consumption taxes, such as the VAT. …the U.S. has lost similar disputes before. In 1971 it introduced a tax break for exporters that, despite several revamps, the WTO ruled illegal in 2002.

And a Washington Post editorial is similarly concerned.

Republicans are going to have to figure out how to make such a huge de facto shift in the U.S. tax treatment of imports compliant with international trade law. In its current iteration, the proposal would allow corporations to deduct the costs of wages paid within this country — a nice reward for hiring Americans and paying them well, which for complex reasons could be construed as a discriminatory subsidy under existing World Trade Organization doctrine.

Concern #3: Is the DBCFT a stepping stone to a VAT?

If the plan is adopted, it will be challenged. And if it is challenged, it presumably will be rejected by the WTO. At that point, we would be in uncharted territory.

Would that force the folks in Washington to entirely rewrite the tax system? Would they be more surgical and just repeal border adjustability? Would they ignore the WTO, which would give other nations the right to impose tariffs on American exports?

One worrisome option is that they might simply turn the DBCFT into a subtraction-method value-added tax (VAT) by tweaking the law so that employers no longer could deduct  expenses for labor compensation. This change would be seen as more likely to get approval from the WTO since credit-invoice VATs are border adjustable.

This possibility is already being discussed. The Wall Street Journal story about the WTO issue points out that there is a relatively simple way of making the DBCFT fit within America’s trade obligations, and that’s to turn it into a value-added tax.

One way to avoid such a confrontation would be to revise the cash flow tax to make it a de facto VAT.

The Economistshares this assessment.

…unless America switches to a full-fledged VAT, border adjustability may also be judged to breach World Trade Organisation rules.

Steve Forbes is blunt about this possibility.

One tax initiative that should be strangled before it sees the light of day is to give a tax rebate to exporters and to impose taxes on imports. …It’s a bad idea. Why do we want to make American consumers pay more for products while subsidizing foreign buyers? It also could put us on the slippery slope to our own VAT.

And that’s not a slope we want to be on. Unless the income tax is fully repealed (sadly not an option), a VAT would be a recipe for turning America into a European-style welfare state.

Concern #4: Does the DBCFT undermine tax competition and give politicians more ability to increase tax burdens?

Alan Auerbach, an academic from California who previously was an adviser for John Kerry and also worked at the Joint Committee on Taxation when Democrats controlled Capitol Hill, is the main advocate of a DBCFT (the New York Timeswrote that he is the “principal intellectual champion” of the idea).

He wrote a paper several years ago for the Center for American Progress, a hard-left group closely associated with Hillary Clinton. Auerbach explicitly argued that this new tax scheme is good because politicians no longer would feel any pressure to lower tax rates.

This…alternative treatment of international transactions that would relieve the international pressure to reduce rates while attracting foreign business activity to the United States. It addresses concerns about the effect of rising international competition for multinational business operations on the sustainability of the current corporate tax system. With rising international capital flows, multinational corporations, and cross-border investment, countries’ tax rates and tax structures are of increasing importance. Indeed, part of the explanation for declining corporate tax rates abroad is competition among countries for business activity. …my proposed reforms…builds on the [Obama] Administration’s approach…and alleviates the pressure to reduce the corporate tax rate.

This is very troubling. Tax competition is a very valuable liberalizing force in the world economy. It partially offsets the public choice pressures on politicians to over-tax and over-spend. If governments no longer had to worry that taxable activity could escape across national borders, they would boost tax rates and engage in more class warfare.

Also, it’s worth noting that the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which is designed to undermine tax competition and create a sales tax cartel among American states, uses the same “destination-based” model as the DBCFT.

Concern #5: Does the DBCFT create needless conflict and division among supporters of tax reform?

As I pointed out in my remarks at the Heritage Foundation, there’s normally near-unanimous support from the business community for pro-growth tax reforms.

That’s not the case with the DBCFT.

The Washington Examiner reports on the divisions in the business community.

Major retailers are skeptical of the House Republican plan to revamp the tax code, fearing that the GOP call to border-adjust corporate taxes could harm them even if they win a significant cut to their tax rate. As a result, retailers, oil refiners and other industries that import goods to sell in the U.S. could provide a major obstacle to the Republican effort to reform taxes. …The effect of the border adjustment, retailers fear, would be that the goods they import to sell to consumers would face a 20 percent mark-up, one that would force retailers like Walmart, the Home Depot and Sears…to raise prices and lose customers.

A story from CNBC highlights why retailers are so concerned.

…retailers are nervous. Very nervous. …About 95 percent of clothing and shoes sold in the U.S. are manufactured overseas, which means imports make up a vast majority of many U.S. retailers’ merchandise. …If the GOP plan were adopted as it’s currently laid out, Gap pays 20 percent corporate tax on the $5 profit from the sweater, or $1. Plus, 20 percent tax on the $80 cost it paid for that sweater from the overseas supplier, or $16. That means the tax goes from $1.75 to $17 for that sweater, more than three times the profit on that sweater. Talk about a hit to margins. …Retailers certainly aren’t taking a lot of comfort in the economic theory of dollar appreciation. …the tax reform plan will dilute specialty retailers’ earnings by an average of 132 percent. …Athletic manufacturers could take a 40 percent earnings hit… Gap, Carter’s , Urban Outfitters , Fossil and Under Armour are most at risk under the plan.

And here’s another article from the Washington Examiner that explains why folks in the energy industry are concerned.

…the border adjustment would raise costs for refiners that import oil. In turn, that could raise prices for consumers. The border adjustment would amount to a $10-a-barrel tax on imported crude oil, raising costs for drivers buying gasoline by up to 25 cents a gallon, the energy analyst group PIRA Energy Group warned this week. The report warned of a “potential huge impact across the petroleum industry,” even while noting that the tax reform plan faces many obstacles to passage.

Concern #6: What happens when other nations adopt their versions of a DBCFT?

Advocates of the DBCFT plausibly argue that if the WTO somehow approves their plan, then other nations will almost certainly copy the new American system.

That will be a significant blow to tax competition, which would be very bad news for the global economy.

But is also has negative implications for the fight to protect America from a VAT. The main selling point for advocates of the DBCFT is that we need a border-adjustable tax to offset the supposed advantage that other nations have because of border-adjustable VATs (both Paul Krugman and I agree that this is nonsense, but it still manages to be persuasive for some people).

So what happens when other nations turn their corporate income taxes into DBCFTs, which presumably will happen? We’re than back where we started and misguided people will say we need our own VAT to balance out the VATs in other nations.

The bottom line is that a DBCFT is not the answer to America’s wretched business tax system. There are simply too many risks associated with this proposal. I’ll elaborate tomorrow in Part II and also explain some good ways of pursuing tax reform without a DBCFT.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielmitchell/2017/01/03/concerns-about-theborder-adjustable-tax-plan-from-the-house-gop-part-i/2/#1edd1775d9e8

MAR 27,2017

Chairman Brady Acknowledges “Valid Concerns” About the Border Adjustment Tax Harming U.S. Businesses

Post by Freedom Partners

After months of insisting that a trillion-dollar Border Adjustment Tax (BAT) on American consumers is the best and only way to achieve pro-growth tax reform without adding to the deficit, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady acknowledged that importers fearful of the new tax have “valid concerns.”

The proposed BAT from House Republicans would mean a new 20 percent tax on everything imported into the U.S., raising up to $1.2 trillion of new government revenue in the form of higher prices, shouldered by consumers. In effect, the regressive tax could undercut positive economic outcomes from lower rates and a simplified tax code through tax reform.

According to Chairman Brady, House Republicans need to “make sure that we allay the valid concerns of those that are importing today,” CNBC reports.

 Freedom Partners Vice President of Policy Nathan Nascimento issued the following statement:

“Some of the ‘valid concerns’ that Chairman Brady acknowledges include a devastating new trillion-dollar tax hike, higher costs on everyday goods, fewer jobs, and less economic opportunity. We hope to work with the administration and Congress to get pro-growth tax reform done, but a 20 percent tax hike on all imports would only undermine the point of tax reform – which is to provide much-needed relief for taxpayers and the economy. A massive tax hike on all imports is bad policy, and Americans deserve a better plan that can unite lawmakers in both the House and Senate behind comprehensive tax reform.”

U.S. manufacturers would be threatened by increased complexity and disruptions to supply chains, resulting in increased costs, fewer sales, and job loss. “Anytime I hear border adjustment, I don’t love it … And it’s too complicated,” President Donald Trump told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year.

Americans for Prosperity has already identified more than $2 trillion in wasteful spending, unnecessary programs, and corporate welfare that ought to be eliminated before any new tax on U.S. consumers. Freedom Partners and its coalition allies support the efforts of Congress and the administration to bring comprehensive tax reform to reality in a way that protects all Americans from a massive tax hike.

READ: Border Adjustment Tax Myth vs. Fact

U.S. Businesses Facing Massive Tax Increases Under A Border-Adjusted Tax System Have “Valid Concerns”

Wall Street Journal: “Some Retailers And Other Big Importers … Warn Of Tax Bills That Would Exceed Profits, Forcing Them To Pass Costs To Consumers. ”Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, says his members are shocked that a Republican Congress is proposing a 20% tax on imports.” (Richard Rubin, “GOP Plan To Overhaul Tax Code Gets Held Up At The Border,” Wall Street Journal, 2/7/17)

LUSK: “We view this as a very, very serious potential blow to the auto sector and the economy.” (Richard Rubin, “GOP Plan To Overhaul Tax Code Gets Held Up At The Border,” Wall Street Journal, 2/7/17)

Financial Times: Border Tax Threatens To Devastate Importers Through Soaring Tax Bills. “Yet for Mr. Woldenberg the hope has turned to horror. Republicans are still promising the most sweeping changes since the Reagan reforms of 1986. But the only firm proposal on the table — from the House of Representatives — threatens to devastate his 150-person business because it includes a 20 per cent tax on imports … The problem for Mr. Woldenberg is that his goods come from China — 98 per cent of the products he sells in the US are imported. US factories could not produce them with the same low costs and specialized skills, he says. So he would have no choice but to pay the import levy. He estimates it would send his tax bill soaring to 165 per cent of earnings.” (Barney Jopson, Sam Fleming & Shawn Donnan, “Trump And The Tax Plan Threatening To Split Corporate America,” Financial Times, 2/13/17)

RICK WOLDENBERG: “To preserve cash flow I [would have to] raise my prices by a third, expect volume to go down by 40 per cent, and fire one out of five people.” (Barney Jopson, Sam Fleming & Shawn Donnan, “Trump And The Tax Plan Threatening To Split Corporate America,” Financial Times, 2/13/17)

RBC Capital Markets: Major Retailers Would Face Tax Bills That Exceed Their Operating Profits. “Major retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Costco and Dollar Tree would face tax bills that exceed their operating profits under House Republicans’ plans to create a ‘border adjustable’ business tax, RBC Capital Markets said. The investment bank sided with retailers in a debate over the proposal, saying in a research note it would have a ‘seriously adverse’ impact on them. ‘If the US moves to a border-adjusted tax system, most of our retailers would be forced to raise prices (and revenues) or meaningfully change their import/domestic sourcing mix, or their earnings would be materially reduced,’ it said.” (Brian Faler, “RBC Capital Markets: GOP Border-Adjustment Plan Bad For Retailers,” POLITICO Pro, 12/12/16)

POLITICO: “Retailers Fear Massive Tax Increases Under House Republican Tax Plan” “Many retailers fear that, even with Republicans promising to slash the corporate tax rate, they will still face big tax increases that in some cases will exceed their profits. On high alert over the proposal, retailers have begun a big lobbying campaign on the Hill, warning lawmakers and their aides that any tax hikes will get passed on to their constituents in the form of higher prices.” (Brian Faler, “Retailers Fear Massive Tax Increases Under House Republican Tax Plan,” POLITICO, 11/23/16)

The National Retail Federation Warns That A Border Tax Could Shut Businesses Down Completely. “‘Our members have told us that the import tax could be as high as five times their profits,’ said David French, chief lobbyist for the National Retail Federation. ‘I don’t know how viable some retailers would be in the face of this import tax.’” (Brian Faler, “Retailers Fear Massive Tax Increases Under House Republican Tax Plan,” POLITICO, 11/23/16)

POLITICO Pro: “Some Of The Biggest Losers Would Be Retailers Like Walmart, Best Buy And Home Depot That Import Massive Amounts Of Goods And Materials On Which They Would Suddenly Have To Pay Taxes.” “The border adjustment plan would affect individual companies differently, depending in part on how much they import and export. Some of the biggest losers would be retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Home Depot that import massive amounts of goods and materials on which they would suddenly have to pay taxes.” (Brian Faler, “Some Companies May Never Pay Taxes Under Border-Adjustment Tax Plan,” POLITICO Pro, 1/9/17)

Axios: Cowen Research Released A Study Highlighting Some Of The Big Name Companies That Will Be Hurt By The Border Adjustments High Tax Hikes. “Cowen Research published a report Thursday that estimates the effect of the reform plan, and other planned measures, like eliminating the deductibility of interest and a headline corporate tax cut, on different industries and companies. Here are some of the big-name firms Cowen says will be hurt by reform: 1. Apple: The world’s largest company would see its tax bill jump because it won’t be able to deduct the expense of assembly abroad. 2. Constellation Brands: The largest beer importer in America will not be able to expense the cost of goods it brings across the border, like its Corona brand. 3. Gap: Between 50% and 80% of the retailer’s cost of the goods its sells comes from abroad. Walmart: 4. Walmart’s low margins means that it may not be able to survive a tax hike on imported goods without raising prices. 5. Target: Will suffer from the same conundrum as Walmart, but will be worse off since less of its revenue comes from domestically-sourced groceries. J.C. Penney: The department store has high debt loads, and interest on debt will not be deductible under the Republican plan. (Christopher Matthews, “These Companies Will Be Hit Hardest By GOP Tax Reform,” Axios, 1/27/17)

Border Adjustment Tax Would Result In Higher Costs For Hard-Working Families

Christian Science Monitor: Border Tax Could Raise Car Prices By Thousands Of Dollars. “Michigan-based Baum & Associates says that a border tax–one that applies not only to vehicles imported from factories abroad but also to foreign-made vehicle parts–could increase sticker prices by as much as $17,000 … Most increases would be smaller, but still very substantial. Volvo, for example, would need to up its prices by more than $7,500 to accommodate a border tax. Volkswagen wouldn’t be far behind, with increases of around $6,800. Even Detroit brands would see price upticks: Ford’s would climb $285, and General Motors’ would rise by nearly $1,000. Fiat Chrysler would have to boost prices by closer to $2,000.” (Richard Read, “How Trump’s Border Tax Could Raise Car Prices By Thousands Of Dollars,Christian Science Monitor, 2/8/17)

Auto Sales Would Plummet Under A Border Adjustment Tax. “A report from UBS Securities says that the higher car prices would slash U.S. auto sales by about 2 million vehicles per year. That would more than erase the increased capacity and almost certainly result in layoffs.” (Richard Read, “How Trump’s Border Tax Could Raise Car Prices By Thousands Of Dollars,Christian Science Monitor, 2/8/17)

More Than A Hundred American Businesses Are Opposing The Republican Border Tax: “Don’t Make Hard-Working Families Pay More On Essential Products.” “Nike, Rite Aid, The Gap, Best Buy and Abercrombie & Fitch have joined a new advocacy group aimed at killing House Republicans’ plans to create a border adjustable business tax. They are some of the more than 100 companies and trade associations behind Americans for Affordable Products, an organization launched today that is pushing lawmakers to dump a plan to begin taxing imports as part of a broader tax-code rewrite. The groups, which rely on imports, fear the House Republican plan will mean huge tax increase even as Republicans promise to simultaneously slash the corporate tax rate … Other well-known companies joining the effort include Target, Walmart, QVC, Petco, AutoZone, Macy’s and Levi Strauss.” (Brian Faler, “Border Adjustment Tax Opponents Launch New Group Targeting GOP Proposal,” Politico, 2/01/17)

“A Sweeping Tax Reform Proposal Meant To Boost U.S. Manufacturing Faces Mounting Pressure From Industries That Rely Heavily On Imported Goods …” “A sweeping tax reform proposal meant to boost U.S. manufacturing faces mounting pressure from industries that rely heavily on imported goods as President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans work to finalize new tax legislation. As Republican members of the House of Representatives tax committee prepared to discuss tax reform this week, the panel received a letter from 81 industry groups rejecting the proposal known as ‘border adjustability.’ A lynchpin of the House Republican ‘Better Way’ agenda and viewed favorably by Trump’s team, the policy would help manufacturers by exempting export revenues from corporate taxes. But it would tax imports, hitting import-dependent industries.” (David Morgan, “U.S. Tax Reform Proposal On Border Trade Faces Growing Opposition,” Reuters, 12/15/16)

“Companies That Rely On Global Supply Chains Would Face Huge Business Challenges Caused By Increased Taxes And Increased Cost Of Goods.” “In a Dec. 13 letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and incoming top Democrat Richard Neal, groups representing the auto and retailing industries, among others, said: ‘Companies that rely on global supply chains would face huge business challenges caused by increased taxes and increased cost of goods.’ They warned of ‘reductions in employment, reduced capital investments and higher prices for consumers’ as potential consequences.” (David Morgan, “U.S. Tax Reform Proposal On Border Trade Faces Growing Opposition,” Reuters, 12/15/16)

CNBC: Coach CEO Victor Luis Acknowledged That “Any Border Tax Will Lead To Higher Prices For The Consumer.” “If we see this border adjustment in an economy where 70 percent of GDP is driven by consumption that is driven on imports, any border tax will lead to higher prices for the consumer … That’s just a reality that we’ll have to face if it comes to that.” (Rachel Cao, “Coach CEO: Any Border Tax Will Lead To Higher Prices For The Consumer,” CNBC, 1/31/17)

National Retail Federation: The Border Adjustment Tax Could Cost The Average Family $1,700 In Just The First Year. “The imposition of a ‘border adjustment tax,’ a key provision of a pending House tax reform proposal, would end up seriously harming U.S. consumers. NRF analysis indicates that this plan could cost the average family $1,700 in the first year alone if the border adjustment provision is enacted. While economic theory suggests that trade flow of imports and exports would balance out over the long run due to offsetting exchange rate and price adjustments, there is no consensus as to the degree or the timing of these adjustments. In the near term, consumers would be left to pick up the significant tab while hoping that the economic theory proves out.” (Mark Mathews, “Border Adjustment Tax Would Cost American Households Up To $1,700 In First Year Alone,” National Retail Federation, 2/3/17)

NRF: Annual Family’s Savings Could Be Wiped Out By Nearly A Third. “For the average family, 27 percent of their savings (income after taxes and expenditures) could evaporate with the cost increases caused by the border tax.” (Mark Mathews, “Border Adjustment Tax Would Cost American Households Up To $1,700 In First Year Alone,” National Retail Federation, 2/3/17)

  • “Unmarried adults without children currently have only $443 left over annually after taxes and expenditures. If the border adjustment tax were enacted, they could see an $836 increase in costs — nearly 200 percent higher than their annual savings.”
  • “One-parent households, which are already in the red, could see an additional $1,000 added to their debt burden as they do what they can to make ends meet. Their apparel and footwear bills would increase by $271
  • “The average family (married with children) could see their apparel costs (including shoes) increase by $437 a year.”
  • “Single people could see their annual gasoline bills rise by $189, a whopping 43 percent of their annual average savings.”
  • “Married couples with children could see their annual gasoline bill could increase by over $400.”

CNBC: “The Republicans’ Plan To Enact A Border Adjustment Tax Will Leave Consumers Digging Deeper Into Their Pockets,” Increasing The Price Of Everyday Goods Like Clothes And Shoes By 20 Percent. “It will force consumers to pay as much as 20 percent more for the products they need. Gasoline is estimated to go up as much as 35 cents a gallon,’ said ‘Americans for Affordable Products’ advisor Brian Dodge … ‘Common household goods, apparel, things that people count on every day, pajamas, will cost more and really just so a certain, select group of corporations can avoid paying taxes forever. We think that’s bad policy…” (Michelle Fox, “Consumers Could See 20% Price Hike With Border Adjustment Tax, Retail Group Says,” CNBC, 2//17)

Economists And Analysts Weigh-In Against Border Adjustments

Dan Mitchell, Cato Institute: “I’ve Never Understood Why Politicians Think It’s A Good Idea To Have Higher Taxes On What Americans Consume And Lower Taxes On What Foreigners Consume.” (Dan Mitchell, “A Remarkably Good And Reasonably Bold Tax Reform Plan From House Republicans,” International Liberty, 6/25/16)

President Of The New York Fed Bill Dudley: “… There Could Be A Lot Of Unintended Consequences.” “Another prominent critic of a ‘border adjustment tax’ emerged Tuesday: the president of the New York Federal Reserve. Bill Dudley was asked by Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren at a meeting of the National Retail Federation trade group what he thinks of the idea of a border adjustment tax, which involves taxing imports at 20 percent, while making U.S. exports tax-free. … ‘I think that it will lead to a lot of changes in the value of the dollar, the price of imported goods in the U.S., and I’m not sure that would all happen very smoothly,’ Dudley said. ‘I also think there could be a lot of unintended consequences.’” (Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, “NY Fed’s Dudley Sees ‘A Lot Of Unintended Consequences’ From Border-Tax Plan,” CNBC, 1/17/17)

Stephen Moore, Heritage Foundation: Border Tax Unlikely To Be Enacted. “A Heritage Foundation economist who advised President Trump’s campaign said he doubts a proposal from House Republicans to tax imports and exempt exports will gain traction.” (Naomi Jagoda, “Trump Campaign Adviser: Border Tax Unlikely To Be Enacted,” The Hill, 2/7/17)

MOORE: “I think it’s a distraction.” (Naomi Jagoda, “Trump Campaign Adviser: Border Tax Unlikely To Be Enacted,” The Hill, 2/7/17)

Steve Forbes: Border Adjustment Amounts To “Sneaky, Anti-Consumer Tax.” “This levy will cost American consumers at least a trillion dollars over the next ten years …  Prices for everyday items, such as socks, shoes and household appliances, will go up. So will tech devices like the iPad, not to mention automobiles and trucks. Gasoline? Millions of Americans will pay an additional 30 cents or more per gallon at the pump. Lower-income and struggling middle-class Americans will get hit the hardest.” (Steve Forbes, “OMG! House Republicans Are Preparing To Hit Consumers With A Horrible New Tax That Will Harm Trump And Hurt The Economy,” Forbes, 1/11/17)

POLITICO Pro: “Trump Adviser Larry Kudlow Slams Border-Adjustment Tax Plans.” “An economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump slammed plans to create a so-called border adjustable business tax, and predicted it could kill efforts to overhaul the tax code. The House Republican proposal is overly complicated …  said Larry Kudlow, who helped write Trump’s tax-reform plans.” (Brian Faler, “Trump Adviser Larry Kudlow Slams Border-Adjustment Tax Plans,” POLITICO Pro, 1/12/17)

KUDLOW: “That is an exercise in government planning and complexity that I believe is doomed to fail … I think the whole corporate tax reform, which is the most important pro-growth measure, will go down the drain over this … There’s a problem that exists, but this is not the right solution …” (Brian Faler, “Trump Adviser Larry Kudlow Slams Border-Adjustment Tax Plans,” POLITICO Pro, 1/12/17)

KUDLOW: “GOP’s Border Adjustment Tax Is ‘Voodoo Economics” “President-elect Donald Trump is correct to criticize the House Republican plan to tax cross-border trade … said Larry Kudlow, who served as a senior economic adviser to Trump’s campaign…’I hate to say this, but it’s ‘voodoo economics’” (R. Williams, “Larry Kudlow: GOP’s Border Adjustment Tax Is ‘Voodoo Economics,” Newsmax, 1/17/17)

https://freedompartners.org/latest-news/chairman-brady-acknowledges-valid-concerns-border-adjustment-tax-harming-u-s-businesses/

Concerns about the”Border Adjustable” Tax Plan from the House GOP, Part II

I wrote yesterday to praise the Better Way tax plan put forth by House Republicans, but I added a very important caveat: The “destination-based” nature of the revised corporate income tax could be a poison pill for reform.

I listed five concerns about a so-called destination-based cash flow tax (DBCFT), most notably my concerns that it would undermine tax competition (folks on the left think it creates a “race to the bottom” when governments have to compete with each other) and also that it could (because of international trade treaties) be an inadvertent stepping stone for a government-expanding value-added tax.

Brian Garst of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity has just authored a new study on the DBCFT. Here’s his summary description of the tax.

The DBCFT would be a new type of corporate income tax that disallows any deductions for imports while also exempting export-related revenue from taxation. This mercantilist system is based on the same “destination” principle as European value-added taxes, which means that it is explicitly designed to preclude tax competition.

Since CF&P was created to protect and promote tax competition, you won’t be surprised to learn that the DBCFT’s anti-tax competition structure is a primary objection to this new tax.

First, the DBCFT is likely to grow government in the long-run due to its weakening of international tax competition and the loss of its disciplinary impact on political behavior. … Tax competition works because assets are mobile. This provides pressure on politicians to keep rates from climbing too high. When the tax base shifts heavily toward immobile economic activity, such competition is dramatically weakened. This is cited as a benefit of the tax by those seeking higher and more progressive rates. …Alan Auerbach, touts that the DBCFT “alleviates the pressure to reduce the corporate tax rate,” and that it would “alter fundamentally the terms of international tax competition.” This raises the obvious question—would those businesses and economists that favor the DBCFT at a 20% rate be so supportive at a higher rate?

Brian also shares my concern that the plan may morph into a VAT if the WTO ultimately decides that is violates trade rules.

Second, the DBCFT almost certainly violates World Trade Organization commitments. …Unfortunately, it is quite possible that lawmakers will try to “fix” the tax by making it into an actual value-added tax rather than something that is merely based on the same anti-tax competition principles as European-style VATs. …the close similarity of the VAT and the DBCFT is worrisome… Before VATs were widely adopted, European nations featured similar levels of government spending as the United States… Feeding at least in part off the easy revenue generate by their VATs, European nations grew much more drastically over the last half century than the United States and now feature higher burdens of government spending. The lack of a VAT-like revenue engine in the U.S. constrained efforts to put the United States on a similar trajectory as European nations.

And if you’re wondering why a VAT would be a bad idea, here’s a chart from Brian’s paper showing how the burden of government spending in Europe increased once that tax was imposed.

In the new report, Brian elaborates on the downsides of a VAT.

If the DBCFT turns into a subtraction-method VAT, its costs would be further hidden from taxpayers. Workers would not easily understand that their employers were paying a big VAT withholding tax (in addition to withholding for income tax). This makes it easier for politicians to raise rates in the future. …Keep in mind that European nations have corporate income tax systems in addition to their onerous VAT regimes.

And he points out that those who support the DBCFT for protectionist reasons will be disappointed at the final outcome.

…if other nations were to follow suit and adopt a destination-based system as proponents suggest, it will mean more taxes on U.S. exports. Due to the resulting decline in competitive downward pressure on tax rates, the long-run result would be higher tax burdens across the board and a worse global economic environment.

Brian concludes with some advice for Republicans.

Lawmakers should always consider what is likely to happen once the other side eventually returns to power, especially when they embark upon politically risky endeavors… In this case, left-leaning politicians would see the DBCFT not as something to be undone, but as a jumping off point for new and higher taxes. A highly probable outcome is that the United States’ corporate tax environment becomes more like that of Europe, consisting of both consumption and income taxes. The long-run consequences will thus be the opposite of what today’s lawmakers hope to achieve. Instead of a less destructive tax code, the eventual result could be bigger government, higher taxes, and slower economic growth.

Amen.

My concern with the DBCFT is partly based on theoretical objections, but what really motivates me is that I don’t want to accidentally or inadvertently help statists expand the size and scope of government. And that will happen if we undermine tax competition and/or set in motion events that could lead to a value-added tax.

Let’s close with three hopefully helpful observations.

Helpful Reminder #1: Congressional supporters want a destination-based system as a “pay for” to help finance pro-growth tax reforms, but they should keep in mind that leftists want a destination-based system for bad reasons.

Based on dozens of conversations, I think it’s fair to say that the supporters of the Better Way plan don’t have strong feelings for destination-based taxation as an economic principle. Instead, they simply chose that approach because it is projected to generate $1.2 trillion of revenue and they want to use that money to “pay for” the good tax cuts in the overall plan.

That’s a legitimate choice. But they also should keep in mind why other people prefer that approach. Folks on the left want a destination-based tax system because they don’t like tax competition. They understand that tax competition restrains the ability of governments to over-tax and over-spend. Governments in Europe chose destination-based value-added taxes to prevent consumers from being able to buy goods and services where VAT rates are lower. In other words, to neuter tax competition. Some state governments with high sales taxes in the United States are pushing a destination-based system for sales taxes because they want to hinder consumers from buying goods and services from states with low (or no) sales taxes. Again, their goal is to cripple tax competition.

Something else to keep in mind is that leftist supporters of the DBCFT also presumably see the plan as being a big step toward achieving a value-added tax, which they support as the most effective way of enabling bigger government in the United States.

Helpful Reminder #2: Choosing the right tax base (i.e., taxing income only one time, otherwise known as a consumption-base system) does not require choosing a destination-based approach.

The proponents of the Better Way plan want a “consumption-base” tax. This is a worthy goal. After all, that principle means a system where economic activity is taxed only one time. But that choice is completely independent of the decision whether the tax system should be “origin-based” or “destination-based.”

The gold standard of tax reform has always been the Hall-Rabushka flat tax, which is a consumption-base tax because there is no double taxation of income that is saved and invested. It also is an “origin-based” tax because economic activity is taxed (only one time!) where income is earned rather than where income is consumed.

The bottom line is that you can have the right tax base with either an origin-based system or a destination-based system.

Helpful Reminder #3: The good reforms of the Better Way plan can be achieved without the downside risks of a destination-based tax system.

The Tax Foundation, even in rare instances when I disagree with its conclusions, always does very good work. And they are the go-to place for estimates of how policy changes will affect tax receipts and the economy. Here is a chart with their estimates of the revenue impact of various changes to business taxation in the Better Way plan. As you can see, the switch to a destination-based system (“border adjustment”) pulls in about $1.2 trillion over 10 years. And you can also see all the good reforms (expensing, rate reduction, etc) that are being financed with the various “pay fors” in the plan.

I am constantly asked how the numbers can work if “border adjustment” is removed from the plan. That’s a very fair question.

But there are lots of potential answers, including:

  • Make a virtue out of necessity by reducing government revenue by $1.2 trillion.
  • Reduce the growth of government spending to generate offsetting savings.
  • Find other “pay fors” in the tax code (my first choice would be the healthcare exclusion).
  • Reduce the size of the tax cuts in the Better Way plan by $1.2 trillion.

I’m not pretending that any of these options are politically easy. If they were, the drafters of the Better Way plan probably would have picked them already. But I am suggesting that any of those options would be better than adopting a destination-based system for business taxation.

Ultimately, the debate over the DBCFT is about how different people assess political risks. House Republicans advocating the plan want good things, and they obviously think the downside risks in the future are outweighed by the ability to finance a larger level of good tax reforms today. Skeptics appreciate that those proponents want good policy, but we worry about the long-run consequences of changes that may (especially when the left sooner or late regains control) enable bigger government.

P.S. This is not the first time that advocates of good policy have bickered with each other. During the 2016 nomination battle, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz proposed tax reform plans that fixed many of the bad problems in the tax code. But they financed some of those changes by including value-added taxes in their plans. In the short run, either plan would have been much better than the current system. But I was critical because I worried that the inclusion of VATs would eventually give statists a tool to further increase the burden of government.

https://www.cato.org/blog/concerns-about-theborder-adjustable-tax-plan-house-gop-part-ii

THE CORNER THE ONE AND ONLY. Speaker Ryan’s Use of Reporters’ Recorders to Explain His Border Tax Was Cute — But Misleading

Faced with growing opposition to their border-adjustment tax, congressional Republicans are nonetheless on the offensive trying to sell it. I have expressed my many reasons for opposing the tax, including my disbelief that Republicans would support a massive tax increase alongside what is otherwise a pro-growth tax reform. While they oppose tax increases to pay for spending increases in other contexts and usually make the case that spending increases should be paid for by spending cuts, Republicans continue to push for this massive new source of revenue, in spite of the distortions it would introduce.

Until now, supporters of the tax have used many questionable arguments. For instance, they claim we shouldn’t worry about the protectionist aspect of a tax that imposes a 20 percent rate to imports but exempts exports under the hope that the U.S. dollar will adjust fully and quickly. However, there are reasons to believe that while the U.S. currency will adjust, it won’t adjust fully (Federal Reserve Board chairwoman Janet Yellen is only the latest one to stress that point), it won’t adjust as quickly as they claim (especially if the tax is challenged under the World Trade Organization as the Europeans have warned is going to be the case), and it won’t result in unicorns and rainbows.

But the latest misguided statements about the border-adjustment tax comes from House speaker Paul Ryan — who ought to know better. During a press conference last week, he repeated the claim that United States was at a disadvantage because other countries’ exports are exempted from taxes while U.S. goods aren’t. [Ryan] noted that most other countries already border-adjust their taxes and tax goods based on whether they were consumed in their jurisdiction.

That comment is bound to confuse reporters because, as Mr. Ryan must know, no other country border-adjusts their corporate income tax. They border-adjust their Value Added Tax. Conflating the two is misleading, to say the least.

Ryan continued:

The Speaker picked up two reporters’ recorders to give an example of how goods are taxed currently. He suggested one was American-made and the other was Japanese-made. Early on, he dropped one of the recorders, saying “oops” and receiving laughter from the reporters. “Here’s what Japan does when they make this tape recorder: When they send it for export they take the tax off of it, and then it comes to America and it’s not taxed, and it comes through to compete against our good, which was taxed. Theirs was untaxed twice,” Ryan said. “When America makes something, like a tape recorder, we tax it, and then we send it to Japan. As it enters Japan it’s taxed again, to compete against their tape recorder,” he continued. “So we are doing it to ourselves. We are hurting our manufacturing and jobs. We are putting a bias against making things in America in the tax code. . . . That is why we think this is very important. This is good manufacturing policy.”

Oh boy, where do I begin? First, it is true that U.S. companies are at a disadvantage but it is not because of other countries’ tax codes. It is because our corporate-income-tax system has the highest rate of all OECD countries and because, unlike most of our competitors, it taxes U.S. companies’ profits no matter where they are earned in the world. The solution to this disadvantage is to reduce the rates and move to a territorial system. Oh, and by the way, unlike what Ryan and other proponents of a border-adjustment tax would like you to believe, you do not need to move to an expansive destination-based-cash-flow tax to have a territorial tax.

Now let me address the cute tape-recorder example used by the speaker. It is totally misleading because it conflates foreign countries corporate tax and VAT taxes and it paints a picture that is incorrect. For instance, he claims that Japanese exports are exempt from taxes. No, Japanese products exported to the U.S. are exempt from the Japanese VAT but the Japanese company is still paying U.S. corporate tax on its U.S. profits. And you know what? In that sense, the Japanese export is treated exactly like the U.S. goods sold in the U.S. In other words, the playing field is even! I repeat: Japanese goods in the U.S. are taxed like U.S. goods in the U.S.

How about U.S. exports in Japan? Well, it gets hit by the Japanese VAT in Japan and by the Japanese corporate tax but so are Japanese goods sold in Japan. Again, the only disadvantage faced by U.S. companies selling tape recorders abroad comes from the U.S. tax system, which requires that income earned in Japan be taxed by Uncle Sam at 35 percent after benefiting from a tax credit for tax paid in Japan. If the U.S. company decides to keep its Japanese income outside the U.S., the U.S. rate won’t apply.

Dan Mitchell explains why the VAT doesn’t change the terms of trade in this video.

Finally, economists have debunked the idea implied by the speaker that foreign VATs give an advantage to foreign exports — and therefor boost foreign exports. It is simply not true. It follows that imposing a border-adjustment tax in the U.S. will not boost U.S. exports either. Period.

Let me summarize this for you:

  • No, other countries do not border-adjust their corporate income tax.
  • Comparing other countries’ VATs and our corporate tax is problematic to say the least.
  • No, foreign exports sold in the U.S. do not have an advantage over U.S. goods sold in the U.S. Foreign VATs do not boost foreign exports.
  • A border tax in the U.S. will not boost our exports but it will hurt consumers and many U.S. retailers.
  • The disadvantage faced by U.S. companies exporting goods abroad comes from the terrible worldwide tax and high rates of the U.S. tax regime, not from other countries’ tax system.
  • The way to fix the U.S. disadvantage is not to create a new expansive tax that would penalize imports in the U.S. — including imports for the benefit of U.S. domestic companies — and would penalize U.S. consumers.
  • The solution is to reform our corporate-tax rate by lowering the rate and moving to an origin-based territorial-tax regime. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/445034/paul-ryan-border-adjustment-tax-mistake

Who’s Afraid of a Big BAT Tax?

The Border Adjustment Tax, a proposal favored by House Speaker Paul Ryan, has aroused serious opposition from Republican senators.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Donald Trump is feeling good about taxes. In his gonzo press conference last Thursday, he assured Americans that “very historic tax reform” is absolutely on track and is going to be—wait for it!—“big league.” The week before, he told a bunch of airline CEOs that “big league” reform was “way head of schedule” and that his people would be announcing something “phenomenal” in “two or three weeks.” And at his Orlando pep rally this past weekend, he gushed about his idea for a punitive 35 percent border tax on products manufactured overseas. The magic is happening, people. And soon America’s tax code will be the best, most beautiful in the world.

But here’s the thing. What Trump doesn’t know about the legislative process could overflow the pool at Mar-a Lago. And when it comes to tax reform, even minor changes make Congress lose its mind. Weird fault lines appear, and the next thing you know, warring factions have painted their faces blue and vowed to die on the blood-soaked battlefield before allowing this marginal rate to change or that loophole to close.

Such drama has, in fact, already begun over the proposal percolating in the House. At issue: a provision known as the border adjustment tax—let’s call it BAT—which, shrunk to its essence, incentivizes domestic manufacturing by slapping a 20 percent levy on imports, while making U.S. companies’ export-revenues tax deductible.

BAT fans—most notably House Speaker Paul Ryan and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady—pitch the provision as an economically elegant twofer: an America-First measure that discourages companies from moving operations overseas while creating a revenue stream ($1 trillion every decade or so) that allows the overall corporate tax rate to be slashed.

Opponents—most vocally Senators David Perdue and Tom Cotton—argue that a BAT is another grubby government cash grab that will ultimately hurt consumers when, say, Walmart has to jack up the prices of underwear, bananas, and Playstations. In a February 8 letter to colleagues, Perdue, who spent four decades in the business world, charged that the BAT is “regressive, hammers consumers, and shuts down economic growth.”Thus the battle lines are drawn. And, make no mistake, this will not be some bush-league, penny-ante skirmish. Behind the legislative factions are amassing some of the heaviest hitters in corporate America, ready to spend millions to sway debate on behalf of their team.Roughly speaking, companies that do a lot of exporting dig the BAT (think: Boeing, Merck, and Dow Chemical) while import-dependent retailers (including Target, Nike, and, yes, Walmart) fear it will destroy their bottom lines. The oil industry isn’t feeling much BAT love either. The Koch brothers want it dead, like, yesterday.At this point, anti-BATers have an edge. Why? Partly, because the provision is super complicated and almost impossible to explain in terms that don’t sound like something a coven of economists vomited up. Ask BAT fans why the provision won’t, in fact, hurt retailers or consumers, and you’re instantly hip-deep in talk of currency revaluation, purchasing power, and territorial taxation. Last Wednesday, one day after Paul Ryan tried to educate Senate Republicans on the wonders of BAT at their weekly policy lunch, Tom Cotton (who represents Walmart’s home state of Arkansas) snarked on the Senate floor, “Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them.”
This is in no way to suggest that the pro-BAT arguments are wrong. They simply don’t push the same buttons as anti-BAT warnings that Congress is poised to screw consumers in order to fund big tax cuts for corporations.For the past few weeks, in fact, an anti-BAT coalition called Americans for Affordable Products has been busy hawking this exact message. “This is a consumer tax—a means by which House Republicans are paying for other tax deductions,” asserted AAP member Brian Dodge. “It’s not about America First. It’s not a trade-deficit reduction tool. It is a pay-for.”AAP is lobbying lawmakers and staffers and doing public outreach. Last Wednesday, it dispatched eight CEOs to chat with Trump and Vice President Pence. “We view our job as leading a large education campaign,” said Dodge. “We believe the more that lawmakers understand about this proposal, the less inclined they’ll be to support it.”Of course, BAT fans are gearing up as well and promise to be equally aggressive. The day after the AAP roll out, the American Made Coalition launched, with an eye toward helping Ryan’s office spread the good word. “It takes time to educate both policy makers and businesses on what’s on the table,” said Brian Reardon, an adviser to the group.There is no place for subtlety in this war. Part of BAT supporters’ argument is that, without the provision, tax overhaul will implode altogether. Message: Get on board or kiss your once-in-a-lifetime reform opportunity good-bye.It’s a question of Senate math. To pass with a simple majority (and avoid a filibuster by Democrats), the GOP’s plan must go through under the procedure known as reconciliation. But to qualify for reconciliation, the package–which slashes both corporate and upper-bracket taxes–cannot blow a hole in the long-term budget. Without the $1 trillion in revenues from BAT, say advocates, there’s no way that hole can be plugged.“This is the only way at these rates and keeping things revenue neutral,” insisted a senior Republican aide. There is no other viable option. Period. End of story.But anti-BATers are eyeing a different Senate equation. To amass even a simple majority of votes, the BAT can lose only two of the 52 Republican members. (Unless Democrats cross the aisle, of course.) In addition to Cotton’s and Perdue’s open hostility, Senators John Boozman, Mike Rounds, John Cornyn, Tim Scott, and Mike Lee have all expressed reservations. “I have real concerns that this piece of the House blueprint will cause more disruption than necessary,” Lee said. “Will the dollar suddenly shoot up by 20 percent? Will U.S. manufacturers have to redo their international supply chains? These are all open questions.”

With the provision’s Senate prospects iffy, there’s less incentive for House conservatives to support something that smells even faintly like a tax. Both the current chairman of the Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, and the former chairman, Jim Jordan, have said they’d like reform done without a BAT.

“My reasoning is very basic,” Jordan told me. “Why in the world would we want to add another revenue stream?” You can debate the impact on exchange rates and purchasing power all day, said Jordan, but that doesn’t address many conservatives’ core objection. “We come at it from fundamental perspective,” he said. “The idea that you’re going to add an entirely new tax is a big problem.”

(BAT fans, for the record, dispute that this is a new tax. It is, they insist, replacing the existing system with an entirely new, far superior one that must be looked at, as Reardon put it, “holistically.”)

The only thing everyone can agree on is that this will be a long, ugly fight. If Trump drops his tariff idea and embraces BAT, it could boost the cause. But even then, he’d need to do major arm-twisting to get Senate skeptics on board (especially with the likes of Walmart and the Kochs twisting the other arm.) Like it or not, this is what the political big leagues are like: slow, messy, and infuriating.

The up side for Trump: He’ll have time to throw a lot more pep rallies on this topic before anything gets decided.

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/border-adjustment-tax-congress/517287/

The Internal Revenue Service has recently released new data on individual income taxes for calendar year 2014, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles.[1]

The data demonstrates that the U.S. individual income tax continues to be very progressive, borne mainly by the highest income earners.

  • In 2014, 139.6 million taxpayers reported earning $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income and paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes.
  • The share of income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose to 20.6 percent in 2014. Their share of federal individual income taxes also rose, to 39.5 percent.
  • In 2014, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.3 percent of all individual income taxes while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.7 percent.
  • The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39.5 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (29.1 percent).
  • The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 27.1 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.5 percent).

Reported Income and Taxes Paid Both Increased Significantly in 2014

Taxpayers reported $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income (AGI) on 139.5 million tax returns in 2014. Total AGI grew by $675 billion from the previous year’s levels. There were 1.2 million more returns filed in 2014 than in 2013, meaning that average AGI rose by $4,252 per return, or 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, taxpayers paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes in 2014, an 11.5 percent increase from taxes paid in the previous year. The average individual income tax rate for all taxpayers rose from 13.64 percent to 14.16 percent. Moreover, the average tax rate increased for all income groups, except for the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers, whose average rate decreased from 27.91 percent to 27.67 percent.

The most likely explanation behind the higher tax rates in 2014 is a phenomenon known as “real bracket creep.” [2] As incomes rise, households are pushed into higher tax brackets, and are subject to higher overall tax rates on their income. On the other hand, the likely reason why the top 0.1 percent of households saw a slightly lower tax rate in 2014 is because a higher portion of their income consisted of long-term capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates.[3]

The share of income earned by the top 1 percent rose to 20.58 percent of total AGI, up from 19.04 percent in 2013. The share of the income tax burden for the top 1 percent also rose, from 37.80 percent in 2013 to 39.48 percent in 2014.

Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50% Bottom 50% All Taxpayers
Table 1. Summary of Federal Income Tax Data, 2014
Number of Returns 1,395,620 6,978,102 13,956,203 34,890,509 69,781,017 69,781,017 139,562,034
Adjusted Gross Income ($ millions) $1,997,819 $3,490,867 $4,583,416 $6,690,287 $8,614,544 $1,094,119 $9,708,663
Share of Total Adjusted Gross Income 20.58% 35.96% 47.21% 68.91% 88.73% 11.27% 100.00%
Income Taxes Paid ($ millions) $542,640 $824,153 $974,124 $1,192,679 $1,336,637 $37,740 $1,374,379
Share of Total Income Taxes Paid 39.48% 59.97% 70.88% 86.78% 97.25% 2.75% 100.00%
Income Split Point $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173
Average Tax Rate 27.16% 23.61% 21.25% 17.83% 15.52% 3.45% 14.16%
 Note: Does not include dependent filers

High-Income Americans Paid the Majority of Federal Taxes

In 2014, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $38,173) earned 11.27 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $38 billion in taxes, or 2.75 percent of all income taxes in 2014.

In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $465,626 and above) earned 20.58 percent of all AGI in 2014, but paid 39.48 percent of all federal income taxes.

In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $543 billion, or 39.48 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $400 billion, or 29.12 percent of all income taxes.

Figure 1.

High-Income Taxpayers Pay the Highest Average Tax Rates

The 2014 IRS data shows that taxpayers with higher incomes pay much higher average individual income tax rates than lower-income taxpayers.[4]

The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs below $38,173) faced an average income tax rate of 3.45 percent. As household income increases, the IRS data shows that average income tax rates rise. For example, taxpayers with AGIs between the 10th and 5th percentile ($133,445 and $188,996) pay an average rate of 13.7 percent – almost four times the rate paid by those in the bottom 50 percent.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI of $465,626 and above) paid the highest effective income tax rate, at 27.2 percent, 7.9 times the rate faced by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers.

Figure 2.

Taxpayers at the very top of the income distribution, the top 0.1 percent (with AGIs over $2.14 million), paid an even higher average tax rate, of 27.7 percent.

Appendix

Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top
5%
Between
5% & 10%
Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 2. Number of Federal Individual Income Tax Returns Filed 1980–2014 (Thousands)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 93,239 932 4,662 4,662 9,324 13,986 23,310 23,310 46,619 46,619
1981 94,587 946 4,729 4,729 9,459 14,188 23,647 23,647 47,293 47,293
1982 94,426 944 4,721 4,721 9,443 14,164 23,607 23,607 47,213 47,213
1983 95,331 953 4,767 4,767 9,533 14,300 23,833 23,833 47,665 47,665
1984 98,436 984 4,922 4,922 9,844 14,765 24,609 24,609 49,218 49,219
1985 100,625 1,006 5,031 5,031 10,063 15,094 25,156 25,156 50,313 50,313
1986 102,088 1,021 5,104 5,104 10,209 15,313 25,522 25,522 51,044 51,044
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 106,155 1,062 5,308 5,308 10,615 15,923 26,539 26,539 53,077 53,077
1988 108,873 1,089 5,444 5,444 10,887 16,331 27,218 27,218 54,436 54,436
1989 111,313 1,113 5,566 5,566 11,131 16,697 27,828 27,828 55,656 55,656
1990 112,812 1,128 5,641 5,641 11,281 16,922 28,203 28,203 56,406 56,406
1991 113,804 1,138 5,690 5,690 11,380 17,071 28,451 28,451 56,902 56,902
1992 112,653 1,127 5,633 5,633 11,265 16,898 28,163 28,163 56,326 56,326
1993 113,681 1,137 5,684 5,684 11,368 17,052 28,420 28,420 56,841 56,841
1994 114,990 1,150 5,749 5,749 11,499 17,248 28,747 28,747 57,495 57,495
1995 117,274 1,173 5,864 5,864 11,727 17,591 29,319 29,319 58,637 58,637
1996 119,442 1,194 5,972 5,972 11,944 17,916 29,860 29,860 59,721 59,721
1997 121,503 1,215 6,075 6,075 12,150 18,225 30,376 30,376 60,752 60,752
1998 123,776 1,238 6,189 6,189 12,378 18,566 30,944 30,944 61,888 61,888
1999 126,009 1,260 6,300 6,300 12,601 18,901 31,502 31,502 63,004 63,004
2000 128,227 1,282 6,411 6,411 12,823 19,234 32,057 32,057 64,114 64,114
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 119,371 119 1,194 5,969 5,969 11,937 17,906 29,843 29,843 59,685 59,685
2002 119,851 120 1,199 5,993 5,993 11,985 17,978 29,963 29,963 59,925 59,925
2003 120,759 121 1,208 6,038 6,038 12,076 18,114 30,190 30,190 60,379 60,379
2004 122,510 123 1,225 6,125 6,125 12,251 18,376 30,627 30,627 61,255 61,255
2005 124,673 125 1,247 6,234 6,234 12,467 18,701 31,168 31,168 62,337 62,337
2006 128,441 128 1,284 6,422 6,422 12,844 19,266 32,110 32,110 64,221 64,221
2007 132,655 133 1,327 6,633 6,633 13,265 19,898 33,164 33,164 66,327 66,327
2008 132,892 133 1,329 6,645 6,645 13,289 19,934 33,223 33,223 66,446 66,446
2009 132,620 133 1,326 6,631 6,631 13,262 19,893 33,155 33,155 66,310 66,310
2010 135,033 135 1,350 6,752 6,752 13,503 20,255 33,758 33,758 67,517 67,517
2011 136,586 137 1,366 6,829 6,829 13,659 20,488 34,146 34,146 68,293 68,293
2012 136,080 136 1,361 6,804 6,804 13,608 20,412 34,020 34,020 68,040 68,040
2013 138,313 138 1,383 6,916 6,916 13,831 20,747 34,578 34,578 69,157 69,157
2014 139,562 140 1,396 6,978 6,978 13,956 20,934 34,891 34,891 69,781 69,781
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 3. Adjusted Gross Income of Taxpayers in Various Income Brackets, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $1,627 $138 $342 $181 $523 $400 $922 $417 $1,339 $288
1981 $1,791 $149 $372 $201 $573 $442 $1,015 $458 $1,473 $318
1982 $1,876 $167 $398 $207 $605 $460 $1,065 $478 $1,544 $332
1983 $1,970 $183 $428 $217 $646 $481 $1,127 $498 $1,625 $344
1984 $2,173 $210 $482 $240 $723 $528 $1,251 $543 $1,794 $379
1985 $2,344 $235 $531 $260 $791 $567 $1,359 $580 $1,939 $405
1986 $2,524 $285 $608 $278 $887 $604 $1,490 $613 $2,104 $421
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $2,814 $347 $722 $316 $1,038 $671 $1,709 $664 $2,374 $440
1988 $3,124 $474 $891 $342 $1,233 $718 $1,951 $707 $2,658 $466
1989 $3,299 $468 $918 $368 $1,287 $768 $2,054 $751 $2,805 $494
1990 $3,451 $483 $953 $385 $1,338 $806 $2,144 $788 $2,933 $519
1991 $3,516 $457 $943 $400 $1,343 $832 $2,175 $809 $2,984 $532
1992 $3,681 $524 $1,031 $413 $1,444 $856 $2,299 $832 $3,131 $549
1993 $3,776 $521 $1,048 $426 $1,474 $883 $2,358 $854 $3,212 $563
1994 $3,961 $547 $1,103 $449 $1,552 $929 $2,481 $890 $3,371 $590
1995 $4,245 $620 $1,223 $482 $1,705 $985 $2,690 $938 $3,628 $617
1996 $4,591 $737 $1,394 $515 $1,909 $1,043 $2,953 $992 $3,944 $646
1997 $5,023 $873 $1,597 $554 $2,151 $1,116 $3,268 $1,060 $4,328 $695
1998 $5,469 $1,010 $1,797 $597 $2,394 $1,196 $3,590 $1,132 $4,721 $748
1999 $5,909 $1,153 $2,012 $641 $2,653 $1,274 $3,927 $1,199 $5,126 $783
2000 $6,424 $1,337 $2,267 $688 $2,955 $1,358 $4,314 $1,276 $5,590 $834
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $6,116 $492 $1,065 $1,934 $666 $2,600 $1,334 $3,933 $1,302 $5,235 $881
2002 $5,982 $421 $960 $1,812 $660 $2,472 $1,339 $3,812 $1,303 $5,115 $867
2003 $6,157 $466 $1,030 $1,908 $679 $2,587 $1,375 $3,962 $1,325 $5,287 $870
2004 $6,735 $615 $1,279 $2,243 $725 $2,968 $1,455 $4,423 $1,403 $5,826 $908
2005 $7,366 $784 $1,561 $2,623 $778 $3,401 $1,540 $4,940 $1,473 $6,413 $953
2006 $7,970 $895 $1,761 $2,918 $841 $3,760 $1,652 $5,412 $1,568 $6,980 $990
2007 $8,622 $1,030 $1,971 $3,223 $905 $4,128 $1,770 $5,898 $1,673 $7,571 $1,051
2008 $8,206 $826 $1,657 $2,868 $905 $3,773 $1,782 $5,555 $1,673 $7,228 $978
2009 $7,579 $602 $1,305 $2,439 $878 $3,317 $1,740 $5,058 $1,620 $6,678 $900
2010 $8,040 $743 $1,517 $2,716 $915 $3,631 $1,800 $5,431 $1,665 $7,096 $944
2011 $8,317 $737 $1,556 $2,819 $956 $3,775 $1,866 $5,641 $1,716 $7,357 $961
2012 $9,042 $1,017 $1,977 $3,331 $997 $4,328 $1,934 $6,262 $1,776 $8,038 $1,004
2013 $9,034 $816 $1,720 $3,109 $1,034 $4,143 $2,008 $6,152 $1,844 $7,996 $1,038
2014 $9,709 $986 $1,998 $3,491 $1,093 $4,583 $2,107 $6,690 $1,924 $8,615 $1,094
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 4. Total Income Tax after Credits, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $249 $47 $92 $31 $123 $59 $182 $50 $232 $18
1981 $282 $50 $99 $36 $135 $69 $204 $57 $261 $21
1982 $276 $53 $100 $34 $134 $66 $200 $56 $256 $20
1983 $272 $55 $101 $34 $135 $64 $199 $54 $252 $19
1984 $297 $63 $113 $37 $150 $68 $219 $57 $276 $22
1985 $322 $70 $125 $41 $166 $73 $238 $60 $299 $23
1986 $367 $94 $156 $44 $201 $78 $279 $64 $343 $24
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $369 $92 $160 $46 $205 $79 $284 $63 $347 $22
1988 $413 $114 $188 $48 $236 $85 $321 $68 $389 $24
1989 $433 $109 $190 $51 $241 $93 $334 $73 $408 $25
1990 $447 $112 $195 $52 $248 $97 $344 $77 $421 $26
1991 $448 $111 $194 $56 $250 $96 $347 $77 $424 $25
1992 $476 $131 $218 $58 $276 $97 $374 $78 $452 $24
1993 $503 $146 $238 $60 $298 $101 $399 $80 $479 $24
1994 $535 $154 $254 $64 $318 $108 $425 $84 $509 $25
1995 $588 $178 $288 $70 $357 $115 $473 $88 $561 $27
1996 $658 $213 $335 $76 $411 $124 $535 $95 $630 $28
1997 $727 $241 $377 $82 $460 $134 $594 $102 $696 $31
1998 $788 $274 $425 $88 $513 $139 $652 $103 $755 $33
1999 $877 $317 $486 $97 $583 $150 $733 $109 $842 $35
2000 $981 $367 $554 $106 $660 $164 $824 $118 $942 $38
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $885 $139 $294 $462 $101 $564 $158 $722 $120 $842 $43
2002 $794 $120 $263 $420 $93 $513 $143 $657 $104 $761 $33
2003 $746 $115 $251 $399 $85 $484 $133 $617 $98 $715 $30
2004 $829 $142 $301 $467 $91 $558 $137 $695 $102 $797 $32
2005 $932 $176 $361 $549 $98 $647 $145 $793 $106 $898 $33
2006 $1,020 $196 $402 $607 $108 $715 $157 $872 $113 $986 $35
2007 $1,112 $221 $443 $666 $117 $783 $170 $953 $122 $1,075 $37
2008 $1,029 $187 $386 $597 $115 $712 $168 $880 $117 $997 $32
2009 $863 $146 $314 $502 $101 $604 $146 $749 $93 $842 $21
2010 $949 $170 $355 $561 $110 $670 $156 $827 $100 $927 $22
2011 $1,043 $168 $366 $589 $123 $712 $181 $893 $120 $1,012 $30
2012 $1,185 $220 $451 $699 $133 $831 $193 $1,024 $128 $1,152 $33
2013 $1,232 $228 $466 $721 $139 $860 $203 $1,063 $135 $1,198 $34
2014 $1,374 $273 $543 $824 $150 $974 $219 $1,193 $144 $1,337 $38
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 5. Adjusted Gross Income Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of total AGI earned by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100% 8.46% 21.01% 11.12% 32.13% 24.57% 56.70% 25.62% 82.32% 17.68%
1981 100% 8.30% 20.78% 11.20% 31.98% 24.69% 56.67% 25.59% 82.25% 17.75%
1982 100% 8.91% 21.23% 11.03% 32.26% 24.53% 56.79% 25.50% 82.29% 17.71%
1983 100% 9.29% 21.74% 11.04% 32.78% 24.44% 57.22% 25.30% 82.52% 17.48%
1984 100% 9.66% 22.19% 11.06% 33.25% 24.31% 57.56% 25.00% 82.56% 17.44%
1985 100% 10.03% 22.67% 11.10% 33.77% 24.21% 57.97% 24.77% 82.74% 17.26%
1986 100% 11.30% 24.11% 11.02% 35.12% 23.92% 59.04% 24.30% 83.34% 16.66%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100% 12.32% 25.67% 11.23% 36.90% 23.85% 60.75% 23.62% 84.37% 15.63%
1988 100% 15.16% 28.51% 10.94% 39.45% 22.99% 62.44% 22.63% 85.07% 14.93%
1989 100% 14.19% 27.84% 11.16% 39.00% 23.28% 62.28% 22.76% 85.04% 14.96%
1990 100% 14.00% 27.62% 11.15% 38.77% 23.36% 62.13% 22.84% 84.97% 15.03%
1991 100% 12.99% 26.83% 11.37% 38.20% 23.65% 61.85% 23.01% 84.87% 15.13%
1992 100% 14.23% 28.01% 11.21% 39.23% 23.25% 62.47% 22.61% 85.08% 14.92%
1993 100% 13.79% 27.76% 11.29% 39.05% 23.40% 62.45% 22.63% 85.08% 14.92%
1994 100% 13.80% 27.85% 11.34% 39.19% 23.45% 62.64% 22.48% 85.11% 14.89%
1995 100% 14.60% 28.81% 11.35% 40.16% 23.21% 63.37% 22.09% 85.46% 14.54%
1996 100% 16.04% 30.36% 11.23% 41.59% 22.73% 64.32% 21.60% 85.92% 14.08%
1997 100% 17.38% 31.79% 11.03% 42.83% 22.22% 65.05% 21.11% 86.16% 13.84%
1998 100% 18.47% 32.85% 10.92% 43.77% 21.87% 65.63% 20.69% 86.33% 13.67%
1999 100% 19.51% 34.04% 10.85% 44.89% 21.57% 66.46% 20.29% 86.75% 13.25%
2000 100% 20.81% 35.30% 10.71% 46.01% 21.15% 67.15% 19.86% 87.01% 12.99%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 8.05% 17.41% 31.61% 10.89% 42.50% 21.80% 64.31% 21.29% 85.60% 14.40%
2002 100% 7.04% 16.05% 30.29% 11.04% 41.33% 22.39% 63.71% 21.79% 85.50% 14.50%
2003 100% 7.56% 16.73% 30.99% 11.03% 42.01% 22.33% 64.34% 21.52% 85.87% 14.13%
2004 100% 9.14% 18.99% 33.31% 10.77% 44.07% 21.60% 65.68% 20.83% 86.51% 13.49%
2005 100% 10.64% 21.19% 35.61% 10.56% 46.17% 20.90% 67.07% 19.99% 87.06% 12.94%
2006 100% 11.23% 22.10% 36.62% 10.56% 47.17% 20.73% 67.91% 19.68% 87.58% 12.42%
2007 100% 11.95% 22.86% 37.39% 10.49% 47.88% 20.53% 68.41% 19.40% 87.81% 12.19%
2008 100% 10.06% 20.19% 34.95% 11.03% 45.98% 21.71% 67.69% 20.39% 88.08% 11.92%
2009 100% 7.94% 17.21% 32.18% 11.59% 43.77% 22.96% 66.74% 21.38% 88.12% 11.88%
2010 100% 9.24% 18.87% 33.78% 11.38% 45.17% 22.38% 67.55% 20.71% 88.26% 11.74%
2011 100% 8.86% 18.70% 33.89% 11.50% 45.39% 22.43% 67.82% 20.63% 88.45% 11.55%
2012 100% 11.25% 21.86% 36.84% 11.03% 47.87% 21.39% 69.25% 19.64% 88.90% 11.10%
2013 100% 9.03% 19.04% 34.42% 11.45% 45.87% 22.23% 68.10% 20.41% 88.51% 11.49%
2014 100% 10.16% 20.58% 35.96% 11.25% 47.21% 21.70% 68.91% 19.82% 88.73% 11.27%
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 6. Total Income Tax Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of federal income tax paid by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100% 19.05% 36.84% 12.44% 49.28% 23.74% 73.02% 19.93% 92.95% 7.05%
1981 100% 17.58% 35.06% 12.90% 47.96% 24.33% 72.29% 20.26% 92.55% 7.45%
1982 100% 19.03% 36.13% 12.45% 48.59% 23.91% 72.50% 20.15% 92.65% 7.35%
1983 100% 20.32% 37.26% 12.44% 49.71% 23.39% 73.10% 19.73% 92.83% 7.17%
1984 100% 21.12% 37.98% 12.58% 50.56% 22.92% 73.49% 19.16% 92.65% 7.35%
1985 100% 21.81% 38.78% 12.67% 51.46% 22.60% 74.06% 18.77% 92.83% 7.17%
1986 100% 25.75% 42.57% 12.12% 54.69% 21.33% 76.02% 17.52% 93.54% 6.46%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100% 24.81% 43.26% 12.35% 55.61% 21.31% 76.92% 17.02% 93.93% 6.07%
1988 100% 27.58% 45.62% 11.66% 57.28% 20.57% 77.84% 16.44% 94.28% 5.72%
1989 100% 25.24% 43.94% 11.85% 55.78% 21.44% 77.22% 16.94% 94.17% 5.83%
1990 100% 25.13% 43.64% 11.73% 55.36% 21.66% 77.02% 17.16% 94.19% 5.81%
1991 100% 24.82% 43.38% 12.45% 55.82% 21.46% 77.29% 17.23% 94.52% 5.48%
1992 100% 27.54% 45.88% 12.12% 58.01% 20.47% 78.48% 16.46% 94.94% 5.06%
1993 100% 29.01% 47.36% 11.88% 59.24% 20.03% 79.27% 15.92% 95.19% 4.81%
1994 100% 28.86% 47.52% 11.93% 59.45% 20.10% 79.55% 15.68% 95.23% 4.77%
1995 100% 30.26% 48.91% 11.84% 60.75% 19.62% 80.36% 15.03% 95.39% 4.61%
1996 100% 32.31% 50.97% 11.54% 62.51% 18.80% 81.32% 14.36% 95.68% 4.32%
1997 100% 33.17% 51.87% 11.33% 63.20% 18.47% 81.67% 14.05% 95.72% 4.28%
1998 100% 34.75% 53.84% 11.20% 65.04% 17.65% 82.69% 13.10% 95.79% 4.21%
1999 100% 36.18% 55.45% 11.00% 66.45% 17.09% 83.54% 12.46% 96.00% 4.00%
2000 100% 37.42% 56.47% 10.86% 67.33% 16.68% 84.01% 12.08% 96.09% 3.91%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 15.68% 33.22% 52.24% 11.44% 63.68% 17.88% 81.56% 13.54% 95.10% 4.90%
2002 100% 15.09% 33.09% 52.86% 11.77% 64.63% 18.04% 82.67% 13.12% 95.79% 4.21%
2003 100% 15.37% 33.69% 53.54% 11.35% 64.89% 17.87% 82.76% 13.17% 95.93% 4.07%
2004 100% 17.12% 36.28% 56.35% 10.96% 67.30% 16.52% 83.82% 12.31% 96.13% 3.87%
2005 100% 18.91% 38.78% 58.93% 10.52% 69.46% 15.61% 85.07% 11.35% 96.41% 3.59%
2006 100% 19.24% 39.36% 59.49% 10.59% 70.08% 15.41% 85.49% 11.10% 96.59% 3.41%
2007 100% 19.84% 39.81% 59.90% 10.51% 70.41% 15.30% 85.71% 10.93% 96.64% 3.36%
2008 100% 18.20% 37.51% 58.06% 11.14% 69.20% 16.37% 85.57% 11.33% 96.90% 3.10%
2009 100% 16.91% 36.34% 58.17% 11.72% 69.89% 16.85% 86.74% 10.80% 97.54% 2.46%
2010 100% 17.88% 37.38% 59.07% 11.55% 70.62% 16.49% 87.11% 10.53% 97.64% 2.36%
2011 100% 16.14% 35.06% 56.49% 11.77% 68.26% 17.36% 85.62% 11.50% 97.11% 2.89%
2012 100% 18.60% 38.09% 58.95% 11.22% 70.17% 16.25% 86.42% 10.80% 97.22% 2.78%
2013 100% 18.48% 37.80% 58.55% 11.25% 69.80% 16.47% 86.27% 10.94% 97.22% 2.78%
2014 100% 19.85% 39.48% 59.97% 10.91% 70.88% 15.90% 86.78% 10.47% 97.25% 2.75%
Year Total Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50%
Table 7. Dollar Cut-Off, 1980–2014 (Minimum AGI for Tax Returns to Fall into Various Percentiles; Thresholds Not Adjusted for Inflation)
1980 $80,580 $43,792 $35,070 $23,606 $12,936
1981 $85,428 $47,845 $38,283 $25,655 $14,000
1982 $89,388 $49,284 $39,676 $27,027 $14,539
1983 $93,512 $51,553 $41,222 $27,827 $15,044
1984 $100,889 $55,423 $43,956 $29,360 $15,998
1985 $108,134 $58,883 $46,322 $30,928 $16,688
1986 $118,818 $62,377 $48,656 $32,242 $17,302
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $139,289 $68,414 $52,921 $33,983 $17,768
1988 $157,136 $72,735 $55,437 $35,398 $18,367
1989 $163,869 $76,933 $58,263 $36,839 $18,993
1990 $167,421 $79,064 $60,287 $38,080 $19,767
1991 $170,139 $81,720 $61,944 $38,929 $20,097
1992 $181,904 $85,103 $64,457 $40,378 $20,803
1993 $185,715 $87,386 $66,077 $41,210 $21,179
1994 $195,726 $91,226 $68,753 $42,742 $21,802
1995 $209,406 $96,221 $72,094 $44,207 $22,344
1996 $227,546 $101,141 $74,986 $45,757 $23,174
1997 $250,736 $108,048 $79,212 $48,173 $24,393
1998 $269,496 $114,729 $83,220 $50,607 $25,491
1999 $293,415 $120,846 $87,682 $52,965 $26,415
2000 $313,469 $128,336 $92,144 $55,225 $27,682
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $1,393,718 $306,635 $132,082 $96,151 $59,026 $31,418
2002 $1,245,352 $296,194 $130,750 $95,699 $59,066 $31,299
2003 $1,317,088 $305,939 $133,741 $97,470 $59,896 $31,447
2004 $1,617,918 $339,993 $140,758 $101,838 $62,794 $32,622
2005 $1,938,175 $379,261 $149,216 $106,864 $64,821 $33,484
2006 $2,124,625 $402,603 $157,390 $112,016 $67,291 $34,417
2007 $2,251,017 $426,439 $164,883 $116,396 $69,559 $35,541
2008 $1,867,652 $392,513 $163,512 $116,813 $69,813 $35,340
2009 $1,469,393 $351,968 $157,342 $114,181 $68,216 $34,156
2010 $1,634,386 $369,691 $161,579 $116,623 $69,126 $34,338
2011 $1,717,675 $388,905 $167,728 $120,136 $70,492 $34,823
2012 $2,161,175 $434,682 $175,817 $125,195 $73,354 $36,055
2013 $1,860,848 $428,713 $179,760 $127,695 $74,955 $36,841
2014 $2,136,762 $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 8. Average Tax Rate, 1980–2014 (Percent of AGI Paid in Income Taxes)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 15.31% 34.47% 26.85% 17.13% 23.49% 14.80% 19.72% 11.91% 17.29% 6.10%
1981 15.76% 33.37% 26.59% 18.16% 23.64% 15.53% 20.11% 12.48% 17.73% 6.62%
1982 14.72% 31.43% 25.05% 16.61% 22.17% 14.35% 18.79% 11.63% 16.57% 6.10%
1983 13.79% 30.18% 23.64% 15.54% 20.91% 13.20% 17.62% 10.76% 15.52% 5.66%
1984 13.68% 29.92% 23.42% 15.57% 20.81% 12.90% 17.47% 10.48% 15.35% 5.77%
1985 13.73% 29.86% 23.50% 15.69% 20.93% 12.83% 17.55% 10.41% 15.41% 5.70%
1986 14.54% 33.13% 25.68% 15.99% 22.64% 12.97% 18.72% 10.48% 16.32% 5.63%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 13.12% 26.41% 22.10% 14.43% 19.77% 11.71% 16.61% 9.45% 14.60% 5.09%
1988 13.21% 24.04% 21.14% 14.07% 19.18% 11.82% 16.47% 9.60% 14.64% 5.06%
1989 13.12% 23.34% 20.71% 13.93% 18.77% 12.08% 16.27% 9.77% 14.53% 5.11%
1990 12.95% 23.25% 20.46% 13.63% 18.50% 12.01% 16.06% 9.73% 14.36% 5.01%
1991 12.75% 24.37% 20.62% 13.96% 18.63% 11.57% 15.93% 9.55% 14.20% 4.62%
1992 12.94% 25.05% 21.19% 13.99% 19.13% 11.39% 16.25% 9.42% 14.44% 4.39%
1993 13.32% 28.01% 22.71% 14.01% 20.20% 11.40% 16.90% 9.37% 14.90% 4.29%
1994 13.50% 28.23% 23.04% 14.20% 20.48% 11.57% 17.15% 9.42% 15.11% 4.32%
1995 13.86% 28.73% 23.53% 14.46% 20.97% 11.71% 17.58% 9.43% 15.47% 4.39%
1996 14.34% 28.87% 24.07% 14.74% 21.55% 11.86% 18.12% 9.53% 15.96% 4.40%
1997 14.48% 27.64% 23.62% 14.87% 21.36% 12.04% 18.18% 9.63% 16.09% 4.48%
1998 14.42% 27.12% 23.63% 14.79% 21.42% 11.63% 18.16% 9.12% 16.00% 4.44%
1999 14.85% 27.53% 24.18% 15.06% 21.98% 11.76% 18.66% 9.12% 16.43% 4.48%
2000 15.26% 27.45% 24.42% 15.48% 22.34% 12.04% 19.09% 9.28% 16.86% 4.60%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 14.47% 28.17% 27.60% 23.91% 15.20% 21.68% 11.87% 18.35% 9.20% 16.08% 4.92%
2002 13.28% 28.48% 27.37% 23.17% 14.15% 20.76% 10.70% 17.23% 8.00% 14.87% 3.86%
2003 12.11% 24.60% 24.38% 20.92% 12.46% 18.70% 9.69% 15.57% 7.41% 13.53% 3.49%
2004 12.31% 23.06% 23.52% 20.83% 12.53% 18.80% 9.41% 15.71% 7.27% 13.68% 3.53%
2005 12.65% 22.48% 23.15% 20.93% 12.61% 19.03% 9.45% 16.04% 7.18% 14.01% 3.51%
2006 12.80% 21.94% 22.80% 20.80% 12.84% 19.02% 9.52% 16.12% 7.22% 14.12% 3.51%
2007 12.90% 21.42% 22.46% 20.66% 12.92% 18.96% 9.61% 16.16% 7.27% 14.19% 3.56%
2008 12.54% 22.67% 23.29% 20.83% 12.66% 18.87% 9.45% 15.85% 6.97% 13.79% 3.26%
2009 11.39% 24.28% 24.05% 20.59% 11.53% 18.19% 8.36% 14.81% 5.76% 12.61% 2.35%
2010 11.81% 22.84% 23.39% 20.64% 11.98% 18.46% 8.70% 15.22% 6.01% 13.06% 2.37%
2011 12.54% 22.82% 23.50% 20.89% 12.83% 18.85% 9.70% 15.82% 6.98% 13.76% 3.13%
2012 13.11% 21.67% 22.83% 20.97% 13.33% 19.21% 9.96% 16.35% 7.21% 14.33% 3.28%
2013 13.64% 27.91% 27.08% 23.20% 13.40% 20.75% 10.11% 17.28% 7.31% 14.98% 3.30%
2014 14.16% 27.67% 27.16% 23.61% 13.73% 21.25% 10.37% 17.83% 7.48% 15.52% 3.45%
  1. For data prior to 2001, all tax returns that have a positive AGI are included, even those that do not have a positive income tax liability. For data from 2001 forward, returns with negative AGI are also included, but dependent returns are excluded.
  2. Income tax after credits (the measure of “income taxes paid” above) does not account for the refundable portion of EITC. If it were included, the tax share of the top income groups would be higher. The refundable portion is classified as a spending program by the Office of Management and Budget and therefore is not included by the IRS in these figures.
  3. The only tax analyzed here is the federal individual income tax, which is responsible for more than 25 percent of the nation’s taxes paid (at all levels of government). Federal income taxes are much more progressive than federal payroll taxes, which are responsible for about 20 percent of all taxes paid (at all levels of government), and are more progressive than most state and local taxes.
  4. AGI is a fairly narrow income concept and does not include income items like government transfers (except for the portion of Social Security benefits that is taxed), the value of employer-provided health insurance, underreported or unreported income (most notably that of sole proprietors), income derived from municipal bond interest, net imputed rental income, and others.
  5. The unit of analysis here is that of the tax return. In the figures prior to 2001, some dependent returns are included. Under other units of analysis (like the Treasury Department’s Family Economic Unit), these returns would likely be paired with parents’ returns.
  6. These figures represent the legal incidence of the income tax. Most distributional tables (such as those from CBO, Tax Policy Center, Citizens for Tax Justice, the Treasury Department, and JCT) assume that the entire economic incidence of personal income taxes falls on the income earner.

[1] Individual Income Tax Rates and Tax Shares, Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Rates-and-Tax-Shares.

[2] See Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, Jan. 2017, https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52370-outlook.pdf.

[3] There is strong reason to believe that capital gains realizations were unusually depressed in 2013, due to the increase in the top capital gains tax rate from 15 percent to 23.8 percent. In 2013, capital gains accounted for 26.6 percent of the income of taxpayers with over $1 million in AGI received, compared to 31.7 percent in 2014 (these calculations apply for net capital gains reported on Schedule D). Table 1.4, Publication 1304, “Individual Income Tax Returns 2014,” Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/uac/soi-tax-stats-individual-income-tax-returns-publication-1304-complete-report.

[4] Here, “average income tax rate” is defined as income taxes paid divided by adjusted gross income.

https://taxfoundation.org/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2016-update/

Story 2: Stagnating United States Economy — The Great Stagnation — Videos —

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National Income and Product Accounts
Gross Domestic Product: Fourth Quarter and Annual 2016 (Third Estimate)
Corporate Profits: Fourth Quarter and Annual 2016
Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter of
2016 (table 1), according to the "third" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the
third quarter of 2016, real GDP increased 3.5 percent.

The GDP estimate released today is based on more complete source data than were available for the
"second" estimate issued last month.  In the second estimate, the increase in real GDP was 1.9 percent.
With this third estimate for the fourth quarter, the general picture of economic growth remains largely
the same; personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased more than previously estimated (see
"Updates to GDP" on page 2).

Real GDP: Percent Change from Preceding Quarter
Real gross domestic income (GDI) increased 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an
increase of 5.0 percent in the third. The average of real GDP and real GDI, a supplemental measure of
U.S. economic activity that equally weights GDP and GDI, increased 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter,
compared with an increase of 4.3 percent in the third quarter (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from PCE, private
inventory investment, residential fixed investment, nonresidential fixed investment, and state and local
government spending that were partly offset by negative contributions from exports and federal
government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected downturns in exports and in federal
government spending, an acceleration in imports, and a deceleration in nonresidential fixed investment
that were partly offset by accelerations in private inventory investment and in PCE, and upturns in
residential fixed investment and in state and local government spending.

Current-dollar GDP increased 4.2 percent, or $194.1 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $18,869.4
billion. In the third quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 5.0 percent, or $225.2 billion (table 1 and
table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter, compared
with an increase of 1.5 percent in the third quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 2.0 percent,
compared with an increase of 1.5 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index
increased 1.3 percent, compared with an increase of 1.7 percent (appendix table A).


Updates to GDP

The upward revision to the percent change in real GDP primarily reflected upward revisions to PCE and
to private inventory investment that were partly offset by downward revisions to nonresidential fixed
investment and to exports. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, were revised
upward. For more information, see the Technical Note. For information on updates to GDP, see the
"Additional Information" section that follows.

                                       Advance Estimate          Second Estimate            Third Estimate

                                                     (Percent change from preceding quarter)
Real GDP                                     1.9                       1.9                       2.1
Current-dollar GDP                           4.0                       3.9                       4.2
Real GDI                                     ---                       ---                       1.0
Average of Real GDP and Real GDI             ---                       ---                       1.5
Gross domestic purchases price index         2.0                       1.9                       2.0
PCE price index                              2.2                       1.9                       2.0


2016 GDP

Real GDP increased 1.6 percent in 2016 (that is, from the 2015 annual level to the 2016 annual level),
compared with an increase of 2.6 percent in 2015 (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in 2016 reflected positive contributions from PCE, residential fixed investment,
state and local government spending, exports, and federal government spending that were partly offset
by negative contributions from private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment.
Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP from 2015 to 2016 reflected downturns in private inventory investment
and in nonresidential fixed investment and decelerations in PCE, in residential fixed investment, and in
state and local government spending that were partly offset by a deceleration in imports and
accelerations in federal government spending and in exports.

Current-dollar GDP increased 3.0 percent, or $532.5 billion, in 2016 to a level of $18,569.1 billion,
compared with an increase of 3.7 percent, or $643.5 billion, in 2015 (table 1 and table 3).

Real GDI increased 1.6 percent in 2016, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent in 2015 (table 1).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.0 percent in 2016, compared with an increase
of 0.4 percent in 2015 (table 4).

During 2016 (that is, measured from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016), real GDP
increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2015.  The price index for gross
domestic purchases increased 1.5 percent during 2016, compared with an increase of 0.4 percent during
2015.  Real GDI increased 1.9 percent during 2016, compared with an increase of 1.5 percent during
2015 (table 7).


Corporate Profits (table 12)

Profits from current production (corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment and capital
consumption adjustment) increased $11.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared with an
increase of $117.8 billion in the third quarter.

Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $26.5 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with
an increase of $50.1 billion in the third. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased $60.4
billion, in contrast to an increase of $66.4 billion. The estimate of nonfinancial corporate profits in the
fourth quarter was reduced by a $4.95 billion ($19.8 billion at an annual rate) settlement between a U.S.
subsidiary of Volkswagen and the federal and state governments. For more information, see the FAQ,
"What are the effects of the Volkswagen buyback deal on GDP and the national accounts?”. The
rest-of-the-world component of profits increased $45.1 billion, compared with an increase of $1.3 billion.
This measure is calculated as the difference between receipts from the rest of the world and payments to
the rest of the world. In the fourth quarter, receipts increased $9.1 billion, and payments decreased
$36.0 billion.

In 2016, profits from current production decreased $2.3 billion, compared with a decrease of $64.0
billion in 2015. Profits of domestic financial corporations increased $20.5 billion, compared with an
increase of $8.5 billion. Profits of domestic nonfinancial corporations decreased $47.0 billion, compared
with a decrease of $47.3 billion. The rest-of-the-world component of profits increased $24.3 billion, in
contrast to a decrease of $25.2 billion.


                                      *          *          *
                           Next release:  April 28, 2017 at 8:30 A.M. EDT
                   Gross Domestic Product:  First Quarter 2017 (Advance Estimate)




                                       Additional Information

Resources

Additional Resources available at www.bea.gov:
•	Stay informed about BEA developments by reading the BEA blog, signing up for BEA’s email
        subscription service, or following BEA on Twitter @BEA_News.
•	Historical time series for these estimates can be accessed in BEA’s Interactive Data Application.
•	Access BEA data by registering for BEA’s Data Application Programming Interface (API).
•	For more on BEA’s statistics, see our monthly online journal, the Survey of Current Business.
•	BEA's news release scheduleNIPA Handbook:  Concepts and Methods of the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts

Definitions

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy
less the value of the goods and services used up in production. GDP is also equal to the sum of personal
consumption expenditures, gross private domestic investment, net exports of goods and services, and
government consumption expenditures and gross investment.

Gross domestic income (GDI) is the sum of incomes earned and costs incurred in the production of GDP.
In national economic accounting, GDP and GDI are conceptually equal. In practice, GDP and GDI differ
because they are constructed using largely independent source data. Real GDI is calculated by deflating
gross domestic income using the GDP price index as the deflator, and is therefore conceptually
equivalent to real GDP.

Current-dollar estimates are valued in the prices of the period when the transactions occurred—that is,
at “market value.” Also referred to as “nominal estimates” or as “current-price estimates.”
Real values are inflation-adjusted estimates—that is, estimates that exclude the effects of price changes.
The gross domestic purchases price index measures the prices of final goods and services purchased by
U.S. residents.

The personal consumption expenditure price index measures the prices paid for the goods and services
purchased by, or on the behalf of, “persons.”

Profits from current production, referred to as corporate profits with inventory valuation adjustment
(IVA) and capital consumption adjustment (CCAdj) in the NIPAs, is a measure of the net income of
corporations before deducting income taxes that is consistent with the value of goods and services
measured in GDP. The IVA and CCAdj are adjustments that convert inventory withdrawals and
depreciation of fixed assets reported on a tax-return, historical-cost basis to the current-cost economic
measures used in the national income and product accounts.

For more definitions, see the Glossary: National Income and Product Accounts.


Statistical conventions

Annual rates. Quarterly values are expressed at seasonally-adjusted annual rates (SAAR), unless
otherwise specified. Dollar changes are calculated as the difference between these SAAR values. For
detail, see the FAQ “Why does BEA publish estimates at annual rates?”

Percent changes in quarterly series are calculated from unrounded data and are displayed at annual
rates, unless otherwise specified. For details, see the FAQ “How is average annual growth calculated?”

Quantities and prices. Quantities, or “real” volume measures, and prices are expressed as index
numbers with a specified reference year equal to 100 (currently 2009). Quantity and price indexes are
calculated using a Fisher-chained weighted formula that incorporates weights from two adjacent
periods (quarters for quarterly data and annuals for annual data). “Real” dollar series are calculated by
multiplying the published quantity index by the current dollar value in the reference year (2009) and
then dividing by 100. Percent changes calculated from real quantity indexes and chained-dollar levels
are conceptually the same; any differences are due to rounding.

Chained-dollar values are not additive because the relative weights for a given period differ from those
of the reference year. In tables that display chained-dollar values, a “residual” line shows the difference
between the sum of detailed chained-dollar series and its corresponding aggregate.


Updates to GDP

BEA releases three vintages of the current quarterly estimate for GDP:  "Advance" estimates are
released near the end of the first month following the end of the quarter and are based on source data
that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency; “second” and “third” estimates
are released near the end of the second and third months, respectively, and are based on more detailed
and more comprehensive data as they become available.

Annual and comprehensive updates are typically released in late July. Annual updates generally cover at
least the 3 most recent calendar years (and their associated quarters) and incorporate newly available
major annual source data as well as some changes in methods and definitions to improve the accounts.
Comprehensive (or benchmark) updates are carried out at about 5-year intervals and incorporate major
periodic source data, as well as major conceptual improvements.
The table below shows the average revisions to the quarterly percent changes in real GDP between
different estimate vintages, without regard to sign.

Vintage                               Average Revision Without Regard to Sign
                                         (percentage points, annual rates)
Advance to second                                     0.5
Advance to third                                      0.6
Second to third                                       0.2
Advance to latest                                     1.1
Note - Based on estimates from 1993 through 2015. For more information on GDP updates, see Revision
Information on the BEA Web site.

The larger average revision from the advance to the latest estimate reflects the fact that periodic
comprehensive updates include major statistical and methodological improvements.

Unlike GDP, an advance current quarterly estimate of GDI is not released because data on domestic
profits and on net interest of domestic industries are not available. For fourth quarter estimates, these
data are not available until the third estimate.

https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm 

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The Pronk Pops Show 866, April 3, 2017, Breaking News — Story 1: Obamagate Surveillance/Spying Scandal Spreading — Abuse of Power By Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice — Requested Revealing or Unmasking of American Citizen Identities Including Trump and Trump Campaign and Transition Teams For 7 Months (July 2016 – January 2017) — The Smoking Gun — What Did President Obama Know and When Did He Know It? — Videos — Story 2: Lying Lunatic Left Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez Cracks up — Trump Didn’t Win Election — Videos —

Posted on April 3, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Breaking News, Communications, Congress, Constitutional Law, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Elections, Foreign Policy, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Spending, High Crimes, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Illegal Immigration, Immigration, Language, Law, Legal Immigration, Life, News, Obama, Politics, Polls, President Barack Obama, President Trump, Presidential Appointments, Progressives, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Scandals, Senate, Trump Surveillance/Spying, United States of America, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Breaking News — Story 1: Obamagate Surveillance/Spying Scandal Spreading — Abuse of Power By Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice — Requested Revealing or Unmasking of American Citizen Identities Including Trump and Trump Campaign and Transition Teams For 7 Months (July 2016 – January 2017) — The Smoking Gun — Videos — 

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Rice asked for Trump transition associates to be unmasked

Where does the Susan Rice story go from here?

Hume talks Supreme Court fight, Susan Rice revelations

Jennings: New surveillance details are ‘political bombshell’

Report: Obama adviser Susan Rice sought to unmask Trump associates

Susan Rice Requested Intel to Unmask Names of Trump Transition Officials

Obama’s SPY Susan Rice CAUGHT SPYING ON TRUMP and Trump’s Team said Rush Limbaugh

Furious AG Sessions: we will convict some people to make the leaking stop

Susan Rice Unmasked Trump Team, 1566

Published on Apr 3, 2017

This video is about Susan Rice Unmasked Trump Team, 1566

President Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, deliberately unmasked President-Elect Donald Trump, and other incoming Trump officials, according to reporter Michael Chernovich.
Furthermore, Chernovich learned that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has had this story for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of Obama.
According to Chernovich:
“The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests.”
“The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.”
According to Chernovich two other people close to Obama had authorization to unmask the names of Americans as well: CIA Director John Brennan and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Yesterday, Fox News announced that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif, knew who unmasked General Michael Flynn, saying that the person was:
“… very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world.”
I had speculated that that person may have been Jeh Johnson, the former Director of Homeland Security. We will see in the morning if the Fox report confirms that it was indeed Susan Rice.
If it was Rice, that puts the source of this felonious conduct right at the door of former President Obama.

Susan Rice On Unmasking Of Trump Team, ‘I Know Nothing’

Multiple Felonies Committed By Obama Admin. Obama Surveillance on Trump.

Obama Official Admits They Were Surveilling Trump & His Team, Unmasking Names & Leaking Intel

Team Obama Gets Caught Committing Political Espionage, Spying on Trump & His Team

Susan Rice Reportedly “Unmasked” Trump in Incidental Data Collection

Trump Proven 100% Right about Obama Admin “Wiretapping”(Surveilling) Him & His Team

 Donald Trump’s Administration was Wiretapped | Rand Paul

Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, John Brennan are suspects: James Comey Intelligence Hearing @ congressRand Paul Calls For Susan Rice To Testify On Unmasking Trump Officials

Susan Rice requested to unmask names of Trump transition officials, sources say

Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.

It was not clear how Rice knew to ask for the names to be unmasked, but the question was being posed by the sources late Monday.

Such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by @foxandfriends. “Spied on before nomination.” The real story.

“What I know is this …  If the intelligence community professionals decide that there’s some value, national security, foreign policy or otherwise in unmasking someone, they will grant those requests,” former Obama State Department spokeswoman and Fox News contributor Marie Harf told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum on “The First 100 Days. “And we have seen no evidence … that there was partisan political notice behind this and we can’t say that unless there’s actual evidence to back that up.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked about the revelations at Monday’s briefing, declined to comment specifically on what role Rice may have played or officials’ motives.

“I’m not going to comment on this any further until [congressional] committees have come to a conclusion,” he said, while contrasting the media’s alleged “lack” of interest in these revelations with the intense coverage of suspected Trump-Russia links.

When names of Americans are incidentally collected, they are supposed to be masked, meaning the name or names are redacted from reports – whether it is international or domestic collection, unless it is an issue of national security, crime or if their security is threatened in any way. There are loopholes and ways to unmask through backchannels, but Americans are supposed to be protected from incidental collection. Sources told Fox News that in this case, they were not.

This comes in the wake of Evelyn Farkas’ television interview last month in which the former Obama deputy secretary of defense said in part: “I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill – it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration.”

Meanwhile, Fox News also is told that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes knew about unmasking and leaking back in January, well before President Trump’s tweet in March alleging wiretapping.

Nunes has faced criticism from Democrats for viewing pertinent documents on White House grounds and announcing their contents to the press. But sources said “the intelligence agencies slow-rolled Nunes. He could have seen the logs at other places besides the White House SCIF [secure facility], but it had already been a few weeks. So he went to the White House because he could protect his sources and he could get to the logs.”

As the Obama administration left office, it also approved new rules that gave the NSA much broader powers by relaxing the rules about sharing intercepted personal communications and the ability to share those with 16 other intelligence agencies.

Rice is no stranger to controversy. As the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, she appeared on several Sunday news shows to defend the adminstration’s later debunked claim that the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya was triggered by an Internet video.

Rice also told ABC News in 2014 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and that he “wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.”

Bergdahl is currently facing court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/03/susan-rice-requested-to-unmask-names-trump-transition-officials-sources-say.html

JULIEGRACE BRUFKE,  Capitol Hill Reporter

GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he believes former National Security Advisor Susan Rice should testify before Congress on her request to unmask the names of Trump transition officials collected during routine intelligence-gathering operations.

Paul argued the situation should not be downplayed, saying reforms need to be made to prevent individuals from being blackmailed on personal aspects of their lives through unmasking. He noted there was nothing stopping the former administration from looking through Trump officials and national security advisors’ conversations during the transition window.

“If it is allowed, we shouldn’t be allowing it, but I don’t think should just discount how big a deal it is that Susan Rice was looking at these,” he told reporters Monday. “And she needs to be asked, ‘Did President Obama ask her to do this? Was this a directive from President Obama?  I think she should testify under oath on this.”

Paul said he has long thought there are too many people with the ability to unmask individuals.

“The law says you can’t reverse target people, but how would you know that once you get inside the brain and the people that are unmasking people,” Paul continued. “So, what if I decided to unmask and I’m there and I only unmask the conversations of my Democrat opponents — shouldn’t there be more restrictions for unmasking people in the political process?”

He said he believes there should be two individuals at the top of the agency to allow for identities to be unmasked. Paul noted the process is indiscriminate, noting the United States previously captured every phone call in Italy for a month.

“Basically there’s no Fourth Amendment when you use these kinds of things, you go with a lower standard because we’ve got to protect the country and we don’t care about spying on foreigners,” he said, adding there are said to be millions of Americans caught up in the country’s foreign targeting.

Paul said the president did not bring up the matter on their golf trip Sunday, but he voiced his opinion on the matter.

http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/03/rand-paul-calls-for-susan-rice-to-testify-on-unmasking-trump-officials/#ixzz4dDyYjidj

Top Obama Adviser Sought Names of Trump Associates in Intel

By Eli Lake

APRIL 3, 2017 10:13 AM EDT

White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.

The intelligence reports were summaries of monitored conversations — primarily between foreign officials discussing the Trump transition, but also in some cases direct contact between members of the Trump team and monitored foreign officials. One U.S. official familiar with the reports said they contained valuable political information on the Trump transition such as whom the Trump team was meeting, the views of Trump associates on foreign policy matters and plans for the incoming administration.

Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on Monday morning. Her role in requesting the identities of Trump transition officials adds an important element to the dueling investigations surrounding the Trump White House since the president’s inauguration.

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees are probing any ties between Trump associates and a Russian influence operation against Hillary Clinton during the election. The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Representative Devin Nunes, is also investigating how the Obama White House kept tabs on the Trump transition after the election through unmasking the names of Trump associates incidentally collected in government eavesdropping of foreign officials.

Rice herself has not spoken directly on the issue of unmasking. Last month when she was asked on the “PBS NewsHour” about reports that Trump transition officials, including Trump himself, were swept up in incidental intelligence collection, Rice said: “I know nothing about this,” adding, “I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that account today.”

Rice’s requests to unmask the names of Trump transition officials do not vindicate Trump’s own tweets from March 4 in which he accused Obama of illegally tapping Trump Tower. There remains no evidence to support that claim.

But Rice’s multiple requests to learn the identities of Trump officials discussed in intelligence reports during the transition period does highlight a longstanding concern for civil liberties advocates about U.S. surveillance programs. The standard for senior officials to learn the names of U.S. persons incidentally collected is that it must have some foreign intelligence value, a standard that can apply to almost anything. This suggests Rice’s unmasking requests were likely within the law.

The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice’s requests to unmask U.S. persons.

The ranking Democrat on the committee Nunes chairs, Representative Adam Schiff, viewed these reports on Friday. In comments to the press over the weekend he declined to discuss the contents of these reports, but also said it was highly unusual for the reports to be shown only to Nunes and not himself and other members of the committee.

Indeed, much about this is highly unusual: if not how the surveillance was collected, then certainly how and why it was disseminated.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-03/top-obama-adviser-sought-names-of-trump-associates-in-intel

White House logs indicate Susan Rice consumed unmasked intel on Trump associates

by Sara Carter and John Solomon

Computer logs that former President Obama’s team left behind in the White House indicate his national security adviser Susan Rice accessed numerous intelligence reports during Obama’s last seven months in office that contained National Security Agency intercepts involving Donald Trump and his associates, Circa has learned.

Intelligence sources said the logs discovered by National Security Council staff suggested Rice’s interest in the NSA materials, some of which included unmasked Americans’ identities, appeared to begin last July around the time Trump secured the GOP nomination and accelerated after Trump’s election in November launched a transition that continued through January.

The exact national security justifications for Rice accessing the reports isn’t clear and may require additional documentation that the House and Senate intelligence committees have requested from the NSA, America’s lead agency in spying on foreign powers.

Rice has not returned repeated calls for comment from Circa. But in an interview with PBS recently, she said she had no idea what House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes was talking about when he said Obama officials were monitoring Trump associates after the election.

Both the Republican chairman and Democratic vice chairman of the Housing Intelligence Committee have been shown the documents discovered by the NSC over the last 10 days.

But Circa reported last week that Obama opened the door for his political aides like Rice to more easily gain access to unmasked Americans’ names in NSA intercepts through a series of rule changes beginning in 2011.

http://circa.com/politics/accountability/white-house-logs-indicate-susan-rice-consumed-unmasked-intel-on-trump-associates

Obama adviser Ben Rhodes claims Obama didn’t spy on Americans — instantly receives brutal fact check

Chris Enloe

President Donald Trump took to Twitter early on Saturday to bash NBC News anchor Chuck Todd for reporting on the investigation into alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia instead of focusing on “Obama surveillance.”

Trump tweeted:

When will Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd and @NBCNews start talking about the Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL and stop with the Fake Trump/Russia story?

But Ben Rhodes, who served as a senior national security adviser for former President Barack Obama, took issue with Trump’s claim that the Obama administration surveyed him.

“There is no Obama SURVEILLANCE SCANDAL even when you capitalize the words,” he tweeted at Trump.

However, Twitter was quick to hit back at Rhodes, given the Obama administration’s record of surveillance — which isn’t the best. Under Obama’s leadership, domestic spying became a key issue after they were caught spying on journalists from the Associated Press and Fox News correspondent James Rosen.

The Obama administration was even forced to weather a massive NSA spying scandal after NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of NSA documents, which revealed government collection programs like PRISM.

Needless to say, no one was buying Rhodes’ lies.

http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/04/01/obama-adviser-ben-rhodes-claims-obama-didnt-spy-on-americans-instantly-receives-brutal-fact-check/

Global surveillance disclosures (2013–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“Global surveillance disclosures” redirects here. For disclosures published before those of Edward Snowden, see Global surveillance disclosures (1970–2013).

Ongoing news reports in the international media have revealed operational details about the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and its international partners’ global surveillance[1] of foreign nationals and US citizens. The reports mostly emanate from a cache of top secret documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, which he obtained whilst working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest contractors for defense and intelligence in the United States.[2] In addition to a trove of US federal documents, Snowden’s cache reportedly contains thousands of Australian, British and Canadian intelligence files that he had accessed via the exclusive “Five Eyes” network. In June 2013, the first of Snowden’s documents were published simultaneously by The Washington Post and The Guardian, attracting considerable public attention.[3] The disclosure continued throughout 2013, and a small portion of the estimated full cache of documents was later published by other media outlets worldwide, most notably The New York Times (United States), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Der Spiegel (Germany), O Globo (Brazil), Le Monde (France), L’espresso (Italy), NRC Handelsblad (the Netherlands), Dagbladet (Norway), El País (Spain), and Sveriges Television (Sweden).[4]

These media reports have shed light on the implications of several secret treaties signed by members of the UKUSA community in their efforts to implement global surveillance. For example, Der Spiegel revealed how the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) transfers “massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA”,[5] while Swedish Television revealed the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) provided the NSA with data from its cable collection, under a secret treaty signed in 1954 for bilateral cooperation on surveillance.[6]Other security and intelligence agencies involved in the practice of global surveillance include those in Australia (ASD), Britain (GCHQ), Canada (CSEC), Denmark (PET), France (DGSE), Germany (BND), Italy (AISE), the Netherlands (AIVD), Norway (NIS), Spain (CNI), Switzerland (NDB), Singapore (SID) as well as Israel (ISNU), which receives raw, unfiltered data of US citizens that is shared by the NSA.[7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

On June 14, 2013, United States prosecutorscharged Edward Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.[15] In late July 2013, he was granted a one-year temporary asylum by the Russian government,[16] contributing to a deterioration of Russia–United States relations.[17][18] On August 6, 2013, US President Barack Obama made a public appearance on national television where he told Americans that “We don’t have a domestic spying program” and that “There is no spying on Americans”.[19] Towards the end of October 2013, the British Prime Minister David Cameron warned The Guardiannot to publish any more leaks, or it will receive a DA-Notice.[20] In November 2013, a criminal investigation of the disclosure was being undertaken by Britain’s Metropolitan Police Service.[21] In December 2013, The Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: “We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we’ve seen.”[22]

The extent to which the media reports have responsibly informed the public is disputed. In January 2014, Obama said that “the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out has often shed more heat than light”[23] and critics such as Sean Wilentz have noted that many of the Snowden documents released do not concern domestic surveillance.[24] In its first assessment of these disclosures, the Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest “theft” of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States.[25] Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever”.[26]

Background

Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who led The Washington Posts coverage of Snowden’s disclosures, summarized the leaks as follows:

“Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations.”

The disclosure revealed specific details of the NSA’s close cooperation with U.S. federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)[28][29] and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)[30][31] in addition to the agency’s previously undisclosed financial payments to numerous commercial partners and telecommunications companies,[32][33][34] as well as its previously undisclosed relationships with international partners such as Britain,[35][36] France[12][37] Germany,[5][38] and its secret treaties with foreign governments that were recently established for sharing intercepted data of each other’s citizens.[7][39][40][41] The disclosures were made public over the course of several months since June 2013, by the press in several nations from the trove leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden,[42] who obtained the trove while working for Booz Allen Hamilton.[2]

George Brandis, the current Attorney-General of Australia, asserted that Snowden’s disclosure is the “most serious setback for Western intelligence since the Second World War.”[43]

Global surveillance

Main article: Global surveillance

As of December 2013, global surveillance programs include:

Global surveillance programs
Program International contributors and/or partners Commercial partners
United StatesPRISM
United StatesXKeyscore
United KingdomTempora
United KingdomMUSCULAR
GermanyProject 6
Stateroom
Lustre

The NSA was also getting data directly from telecommunications companies codenamed Artifice, Lithium, Serenade, SteelKnight, and X. The real identities of the companies behind these codenames were not included in the Snowden document dump because they were protected as Exceptionally Controlled Information which prevents wide circulation even to those (like Snowden) who otherwise have the necessary security clearance.[65][66]

Disclosures

Although the exact size of Snowden’s disclosure remains unknown, the following estimates have been put up by various government officials:

As a contractor of the NSA, Snowden was granted access to U.S. government documents along with top secret documents of several allied governments, via the exclusive Five Eyes network.[69] Snowden claims that he is currently not in physical possession of any of these documents, after having surrendered all copies to the journalists he met in Hong Kong.[70]

According to his lawyer, Snowden has pledged not to release any documents while in Russia, leaving the responsibility for further disclosures solely to journalists.[71] As of 2014, the following news outlets have accessed some of the documents provided by Snowden: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Channel 4, Der Spiegel, El Pais, El Mundo, L’espresso, Le Monde, NBC, NRC Handelsblad, Dagbladet, O Globo, South China Morning Post, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sveriges Television, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

Historical context

In the 1970s, NSA analyst Perry Fellwock (under the pseudonym “Winslow Peck”) revealed the existence of the UKUSA Agreement, which forms the basis of the ECHELON network, whose existence was revealed in 1988 by Lockheed employee Margaret Newsham.[72][73] Months before the September 11 attacks and during its aftermath, further details of the global surveillance apparatus were provided by various individuals such as the former MI5 official David Shayler and the journalist James Bamford,[74][75] who were followed by:

In the aftermath of Snowden’s revelations, The Pentagon concluded that Snowden committed the biggest theft of U.S. secrets in the history of the United States.[25] In Australia, the coalition government described the leaks as the most damaging blow dealt to Australian intelligence in history.[43] Sir David Omand, a former director of GCHQ, described Snowden’s disclosure as the “most catastrophic loss to British intelligence ever”.[26]

Timeline

The Mira hotel in Hong Kong, where Edward Snowden hosted his first meeting with Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and journalist Ewen MacAskill of The Guardian[86]

In April 2012, NSA contractor Edward Snowden began downloading documents.[87] That year, Snowden had made his first contact with journalist Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and he contacted documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras in January 2013.[88][89]

2013

May

In May 2013, Snowden went on temporary leave from his position at the NSA, citing the pretext of receiving treatment for his epilepsy. Towards the end of May, he traveled to Hong Kong.[90][91] Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardian’s defence and intelligence correspondent Ewen MacAskill flew to Hong Kong to meet Snowden.

June

After the U.S.-based editor of The Guardian, Janine Gibson, held several meetings in New York City, it was decided that Greenwald, Poitras and the Guardians defence and intelligence correspondent Ewen MacAskill would fly to Hong Kong to meet Snowden. On June 5, in the first media report based on the leaked material,[92]The Guardian exposed a top secret court order showing that the NSA had collected phone records from over 120 million Verizon subscribers.[93] Under the order, the numbers of both parties on a call, as well as the location data, unique identifiers, time of call, and duration of call were handed over to the FBI, which turned over the records to the NSA.[93] According to The Wall Street Journal, the Verizon order is part of a controversial data program, which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S., but does not collect information directly from T-Mobile US and Verizon Wireless, in part because of their foreign ownership ties.[94]

On June 6, 2013, the second media disclosure, the revelation of the PRISM surveillance program (which collects the e-mail, voice, text and video chats of foreigners and an unknown number of Americans from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Apple and other tech giants),[95][96][97][98] was published simultaneously by The Guardian and The Washington Post.[86][99]

Slide from a 2008 NSA presentation about XKeyscore, showing a worldmap with the locations of XKeyscore servers

Der Spiegel revealed NSA spying on multiple diplomatic missions of the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Headquarters in New York.[100][101] During specific episodes within a four-year period, the NSA hacked several Chinese mobile-phone companies,[102] the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tsinghua University in Beijing,[103] and the Asian fiber-optic network operator Pacnet.[104] Only Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK are explicitly exempted from NSA attacks, whose main target in the EU is Germany.[105] A method of bugging encrypted fax machines used at an EU embassy is codenamed Dropmire.[106]

During the 2009 G-20 London summit, the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intercepted the communications of foreign diplomats.[107] In addition, GCHQ has been intercepting and storing mass quantities of fiber-optic traffic via Tempora.[108] Two principal components of Tempora are called “Mastering the Internet” (MTI) and “Global Telecoms Exploitation“.[109] The data is preserved for three days while metadata is kept for thirty days.[110] Data collected by GCHQ under Tempora is shared with the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.[109]

From 2001 to 2011, the NSA collected vast amounts of metadata records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans via Stellar Wind,[111] which was later terminated due to operational and resource constraints. It was subsequently replaced by newer surveillance programs such as ShellTrumpet, which “processed its one trillionth metadata record” by the end of December 2012.[112]

The NSA follows specific procedures to target non-U.S. persons[113] and to minimize data collection from U.S. persons.[114] These court-approved policies allow the NSA to:[115][116]

  • keep data that could potentially contain details of U.S. persons for up to five years;
  • retain and make use of “inadvertently acquired” domestic communications if they contain usable intelligence, information on criminal activity, threat of harm to people or property, are encrypted, or are believed to contain any information relevant to cybersecurity;
  • preserve “foreign intelligence information” contained within attorney–client communications; and
  • access the content of communications gathered from “U.S. based machine[s]” or phone numbers in order to establish if targets are located in the U.S., for the purposes of ceasing further surveillance.

According to Boundless Informant, over 97 billion pieces of intelligence were collected over a 30-day period ending in March 2013. Out of all 97 billion sets of information, about 3 billion data sets originated from U.S. computer networks[117] and around 500 million metadata records were collected from German networks.[118]

In August 2013, it was revealed that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) of Germany transfers massive amounts of metadata records to the NSA.[119]

Der Spiegel disclosed that Germany is the most targeted country of the 27 members of the European Union due to the NSA systematic monitoring and storage of Germany’s telephone and Internet connection data. According to the magazine the NSA stores data from around half a billion communications connections in Germany each month. This data includes telephone calls, emails, mobile-phone text messages and chat transcripts.[120]

On June 11, 2013, The Guardian published a snapshot of the NSA’s global map of electronic data collection for the month of March 2013. Known as the Boundless Informant, the program is used by the NSA to track the amount of data being analyzed over a specific period of time. The color scheme ranges from green (least subjected to surveillance) through yellow and orange to red (most surveillance). Outside the Middle East, only China, Germany, India, Kenya, Colombia, the United Kingdom, and the United States are colored orange or yellow

July[edit]

The NSA gained massive amounts of information captured from the monitored data traffic in Europe. For example, in December 2013, the NSA gathered on an average day metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. The NSA also monitored the European Commission in Brussels and monitored EU diplomatic Facilities in Washington and at the United Nations by placing bugs in offices as well as infiltrating computer networks.[121]

The U.S. government made as part of its UPSTREAM data collection program deals with companies to ensure that it had access to and hence the capability to surveil undersea fiber-optic cables which deliver e-mails, Web pages, other electronic communications and phone calls from one continent to another at the speed of light.[122][123]

According to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo, the NSA spied on millions of emails and calls of Brazilian citizens,[124][125] while Australia and New Zealand have been involved in the joint operation of the NSA’s global analytical system XKeyscore.[126][127] Among the numerous allied facilities contributing to XKeyscore are four installations in Australia and one in New Zealand:

O Globo released an NSA document titled “Primary FORNSAT Collection Operations“, which revealed the specific locations and codenames of the FORNSAT intercept stations in 2002.[128]

According to Edward Snowden, the NSA has established secret intelligence partnerships with many Western governments.[127] The Foreign Affairs Directorate (FAD) of the NSA is responsible for these partnerships, which, according to Snowden, are organized such that foreign governments can “insulate their political leaders” from public outrage in the event that these global surveillance partnerships are leaked.[129]

In an interview published by Der Spiegel, Snowden accused the NSA of being “in bed together with the Germans”.[130] The NSA granted the German intelligence agencies BND (foreign intelligence) and BfV (domestic intelligence) access to its controversial XKeyscore system.[131] In return, the BND turned over copies of two systems named Mira4 and Veras, reported to exceed the NSA’s SIGINT capabilities in certain areas.[5] Every day, massive amounts of metadata records are collected by the BND and transferred to the NSA via the Bad Aibling Station near Munich, Germany.[5] In December 2012 alone, the BND handed over 500 million metadata records to the NSA.[132][133]

In a document dated January 2013, the NSA acknowledged the efforts of the BND to undermine privacy laws:

“The BND has been working to influence the German government to relax interpretation of the privacy laws to provide greater opportunities of intelligence sharing”.[133]

According to an NSA document dated April 2013, Germany has now become the NSA’s “most prolific partner”.[133] Under a section of a separate document leaked by Snowden titled “Success Stories”, the NSA acknowledged the efforts of the German government to expand the BND’s international data sharing with partners:

“The German government modifies its interpretation of the G-10 privacy law … to afford the BND more flexibility in sharing protected information with foreign partners.”[50]

In addition, the German government was well aware of the PRISM surveillance program long before Edward Snowden made details public. According to Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert, there are two separate PRISM programs – one is used by the NSA and the other is used by NATO forces in Afghanistan.[134] The two programs are “not identical”.[134]

The Guardian revealed further details of the NSA’s XKeyscore tool, which allows government analysts to search through vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing histories of millions of individuals without prior authorization.[135][136][137] Microsoft “developed a surveillance capability to deal” with the interception of encrypted chats on Outlook.com, within five months after the service went into testing. NSA had access to Outlook.com emails because “Prism collects this data prior to encryption.”[47]

In addition, Microsoft worked with the FBI to enable the NSA to gain access to its cloud storage service SkyDrive. An internal NSA document dating from August 3, 2012 described the PRISM surveillance program as a “team sport“.[47]

Even if there is no reason to suspect U.S. citizens of wrongdoing, the CIA‘s National Counterterrorism Center is allowed to examine federal government files for possible criminal behavior. Previously the NTC was barred to do so, unless a person was a terror suspect or related to an investigation.[138]

Snowden also confirmed that Stuxnet was cooperatively developed by the United States and Israel.[139] In a report unrelated to Edward Snowden, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that France’s DGSE was also undertaking mass surveillance, which it described as “illegal and outside any serious control”.[140][141]

August

Documents leaked by Edward Snowden that were seen by Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and Norddeutscher Rundfunk revealed that several telecom operators have played a key role in helping the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) tap into worldwide fiber-optic communications. The telecom operators are:

Each of them were assigned a particular area of the international fiber-optic network for which they were individually responsible. The following networks have been infiltrated by GCHQ: TAT-14 (Europe-USA), Atlantic Crossing 1 (Europe-USA), Circe South (France-UK), Circe North (The Netherlands-UK), Flag Atlantic-1, Flag Europa-Asia, SEA-ME-WE 3 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), SEA-ME-WE 4 (Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe), Solas (Ireland-UK), UK-France 3, UK-Netherlands 14, ULYSSES (Europe-UK), Yellow (UK-USA) and Pan European Crossing.[143]

Telecommunication companies who participated were “forced” to do so and had “no choice in the matter”.[143] Some of the companies were subsequently paid by GCHQ for their participation in the infiltration of the cables.[143]According to the SZ, GCHQ has access to the majority of internet and telephone communications flowing throughout Europe, can listen to phone calls, read emails and text messages, see which websites internet users from all around the world are visiting. It can also retain and analyse nearly the entire European internet traffic.[143]

GCHQ is collecting all data transmitted to and from the United Kingdom and Northern Europe via the undersea fibre optic telecommunications cable SEA-ME-WE 3. The Security and Intelligence Division (SID) of Singapore co-operates with Australia in accessing and sharing communications carried by the SEA-ME-WE-3 cable. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) is also in a partnership with British, American and Singaporean intelligence agencies to tap undersea fibre optic telecommunications cables that link Asia, the Middle East and Europe and carry much of Australia’s international phone and internet traffic.[144]

The U.S. runs a top-secret surveillance program known as the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is based in over 80 U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide.[145][146] The NSA hacked the United Nations’ video conferencing system in Summer 2012 in violation of a UN agreement.[145][146]

The NSA is not just intercepting the communications of Americans who are in direct contact with foreigners targeted overseas, but also searching the contents of vast amounts of e-mail and text communications into and out of the country by Americans who mention information about foreigners under surveillance.[147] It also spied on the Al Jazeera and gained access to its internal communications systems.[148]

The NSA has built a surveillance network that has the capacity to reach roughly 75% of all U.S. Internet traffic.[149][150][151] U.S. Law-enforcement agencies use tools used by computer hackers to gather information on suspects.[152][153] An internal NSA audit from May 2012 identified 2776 incidents i.e. violations of the rules or court orders for surveillance of Americans and foreign targets in the U.S. in the period from April 2011 through March 2012, while U.S. officials stressed that any mistakes are not intentional.[154][155][156][157][158][159][160]

The FISA Court that is supposed to provide critical oversight of the U.S. government’s vast spying programs has limited ability to do so and it must trust the government to report when it improperly spies on Americans.[161] A legal opinion declassified on August 21, 2013, revealed that the NSA intercepted for three years as many as 56,000 electronic communications a year of Americans not suspected of having links to terrorism, before FISA court that oversees surveillance found the operation unconstitutional in 2011.[162][163][164][165][166] Under the Corporate Partner Access project, major U.S. telecommunications providers receive hundreds of millions of dollars each year from the NSA.[167] Voluntary cooperation between the NSA and the providers of global communications took off during the 1970s under the cover name BLARNEY.[167]

A letter drafted by the Obama administration specifically to inform Congress of the government’s mass collection of Americans’ telephone communications data was withheld from lawmakers by leaders of the House Intelligence Committee in the months before a key vote affecting the future of the program.[168][169]

The NSA paid GCHQ over £100 Million between 2009 and 2012, in exchange for these funds GCHQ “must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight.” Documents referenced in the article explain that the weaker British laws regarding spying are “a selling point” for the NSA. GCHQ is also developing the technology to “exploit any mobile phone at any time.”[170] The NSA has under a legal authority a secret backdoor into its databases gathered from large Internet companies enabling it to search for U.S. citizens’ email and phone calls without a warrant.[171][172]

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board urged the U.S. intelligence chiefs to draft stronger US surveillance guidelines on domestic spying after finding that several of those guidelines have not been updated up to 30 years.[173][174] U.S. intelligence analysts have deliberately broken rules designed to prevent them from spying on Americans by choosing to ignore so-called “minimisation procedures” aimed at protecting privacy[175][176] and used the NSA’s agency’s enormous eavesdropping power to spy on love interests.[177]

After the U.S. Foreign Secret Intelligence Court ruled in October 2011 that some of the NSA’s activities were unconstitutional, the agency paid millions of dollars to major internet companies to cover extra costs incurred in their involvement with the PRISM surveillance program.[178]

Mastering the Internet” (MTI) is part of the Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) of the British government that involves the insertion of thousands of DPI (deep packet inspection) “black boxes” at various internet service providers, as revealed by the British media in 2009.[179]

In 2013, it was further revealed that the NSA had made a £17.2 million financial contribution to the project, which is capable of vacuuming signals from up to 200 fibre-optic cables at all physical points of entry into Great Britain.[180]

September

The Guardian and The New York Times reported on secret documents leaked by Snowden showing that the NSA has been in “collaboration with technology companies” as part of “an aggressive, multipronged effort” to weaken the encryption used in commercial software, and GCHQ has a team dedicated to cracking “Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook” traffic.[181][182][183][184][185][186]

Germany’s domestic security agency Bundesverfassungsschutz (BfV) systematically transfers the personal data of German residents to the NSA, CIA and seven other members of the United States Intelligence Community, in exchange for information and espionage software.[187][188][189] Israel, Sweden and Italy are also cooperating with American and British intelligence agencies. Under a secret treaty codenamed “Lustre“, French intelligence agencies transferred millions of metadata records to the NSA.[63][64][190][191]

The Obama Administration secretly won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency’s use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails, permitting the agency to search deliberately for Americans’ communications in its massive databases. The searches take place under a surveillance program Congress authorized in 2008 under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Under that law, the target must be a foreigner “reasonably believed” to be outside the United States, and the court must approve the targeting procedures in an order good for one year. But a warrant for each target would thus no longer be required. That means that communications with Americans could be picked up without a court first determining that there is probable cause that the people they were talking to were terrorists, spies or “foreign powers.” The FISC extended the length of time that the NSA is allowed to retain intercepted U.S. communications from five years to six years with an extension possible for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes. Both measures were done without public debate or any specific authority from Congress.[192]

A special branch of the NSA called “Follow the Money” (FTM) monitors international payments, banking and credit card transactions and later stores the collected data in the NSA’s own financial databank “Tracfin”.[193] The NSA monitored the communications of Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff and her top aides.[194] The agency also spied on Brazil’s oil firm Petrobras as well as French diplomats, and gained access to the private network of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and the SWIFT network.[195]

In the United States, the NSA uses the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs of American citizens to create sophisticated graphs of their social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information.[196] The NSA routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about U.S. citizens.[7][197]

In an effort codenamed GENIE, computer specialists can control foreign computer networks using “covert implants,” a form of remotely transmitted malware on tens of thousands of devices annually.[198][199][200][201] As worldwide sales of smartphones began exceeding those of feature phones, the NSA decided to take advantage of the smartphone boom. This is particularly advantageous because the smartphone combines a myriad of data that would interest an intelligence agency, such as social contacts, user behavior, interests, location, photos and credit card numbers and passwords.[202]

An internal NSA report from 2010 stated that the spread of the smartphone has been occurring “extremely rapidly”—developments that “certainly complicate traditional target analysis.”[202] According to the document, the NSA has set up task forces assigned to several smartphone manufacturers and operating systems, including Apple Inc.‘s iPhone and iOS operating system, as well as Google‘s Android mobile operating system.[202] Similarly, Britain’s GCHQ assigned a team to study and crack the BlackBerry.[202]

An NSA presentation called “Your target is using a BlackBerry? Now what?” shows an intercepted Mexican government e-mail.

Under the heading “iPhone capability”, the document notes that there are smaller NSA programs, known as “scripts”, that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iOS 3 and iOS 4 operating systems. These include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo! Messenger.[202]

On September 9, 2013, an internal NSA presentation on iPhone Location Services was published by Der Spiegel. One slide shows scenes from Apple’s 1984-themed television commercial alongside the words “Who knew in 1984…”; another shows Steve Jobs holding an iPhone, with the text “…that this would be big brother…”; and a third shows happy consumers with their iPhones, completing the question with “…and the zombies would be paying customers?”[203]

October

On October 4, 2013, The Washington Post and The Guardian jointly reported that the NSA and GCHQ had made repeated attempts to spy on anonymous Internet users who have been communicating in secret via the anonymity network Tor. Several of these surveillance operations involved the implantation of malicious code into the computers of Tor users who visit particular websites. The NSA and GCHQ had partly succeeded in blocking access to the anonymous network, diverting Tor users to insecure channels. The government agencies were also able to uncover the identity of some anonymous Internet users.[204][205][206][207][208][209][210][211][212]

The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been using a program called Olympia to map the communications of Brazil’s Mines and Energy Ministry by targeting the metadata of phone calls and emails to and from the ministry.[213][214]

The Australian Federal Government knew about the PRISM surveillance program months before Edward Snowden made details public.[215][216]

The NSA gathered hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal e-mail and instant messaging accounts around the world. The agency did not target individuals. Instead it collected contact lists in large numbers that amount to a sizable fraction of the world’s e-mail and instant messaging accounts. Analysis of that data enables the agency to search for hidden connections and to map relationships within a much smaller universe of foreign intelligence targets.[217][218][219][220]

The NSA monitored the public email account of former Mexican president Felipe Calderón (thus gaining access to the communications of high-ranking cabinet members), the emails of several high-ranking members of Mexico’s security forces and text and the mobile phone communication of current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto.[221][222] The NSA tries to gather cellular and landline phone numbers—often obtained from American diplomats—for as many foreign officials as possible. The contents of the phone calls are stored in computer databases that can regularly be searched using keywords.[223][224]

The NSA has been monitoring telephone conversations of 35 world leaders.[225] The U.S. government’s first public acknowledgment that it tapped the phones of world leaders was reported on October 28, 2013, by the Wall Street Journal after an internal U.S. government review turned up NSA monitoring of some 35 world leaders.[226]GCHQ has tried to keep its mass surveillance program a secret because it feared a “damaging public debate” on the scale of its activities which could lead to legal challenges against them.[227]

The Guardian revealed that the NSA had been monitoring telephone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another U.S. government department. A confidential memo revealed that the NSA encouraged senior officials in such Departments as the White House, State and The Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency could add the telephone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems. Reacting to the news, German leader Angela Merkel, arriving in Brussels for an EU summit, accused the U.S. of a breach of trust, saying: “We need to have trust in our allies and partners, and this must now be established once again. I repeat that spying among friends is not at all acceptable against anyone, and that goes for every citizen in Germany.”[225] The NSA collected in 2010 data on ordinary Americans’ cellphone locations, but later discontinued it because it had no “operational value.”[228]

Under Britain’s MUSCULAR programme, the NSA and GCHQ have secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Googledata centers around the world and thereby gained the ability to collect metadata and content at will from hundreds of millions of user accounts.[229][230][231][232][233]

The mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel might have been tapped by U.S. intelligence.[234][235][236][237][238][239][240] According to the Spiegel this monitoring goes back to 2002[241][242][243] and ended in the summer of 2013,[226] while The New York Times reported that Germany has evidence that the NSA’s surveillance of Merkel began during George W. Bush‘s tenure.[244] After learning from Der Spiegel magazine that the NSA has been listening in to her personal mobile phone, Merkel compared the snooping practices of the NSA with those of the Stasi.[245] It was reported in March 2014, by Der Spiegel that Merkel had also been placed on an NSA surveillance list alongside 122 other world leaders.[246]

On October 31, 2013, Hans-Christian Ströbele, a member of the German Bundestag, met Snowden in Moscow and revealed the former intelligence contractor’s readiness to brief the German government on NSA spying.[247]

A highly sensitive signals intelligence collection program known as Stateroom involves the interception of radio, telecommunications and internet traffic. It is operated out of the diplomatic missions of the Five Eyes (Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, United States) in numerous locations around the world. The program conducted at U.S. diplomatic missions is run in concert by the U.S. intelligence agencies NSA and CIA in a joint venture group called “Special Collection Service” (SCS), whose members work undercover in shielded areas of the American Embassies and Consulates, where they are officially accredited as diplomats and as such enjoy special privileges. Under diplomatic protection, they are able to look and listen unhindered. The SCS for example used the American Embassy near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to monitor communications in Germany’s government district with its parliament and the seat of the government.[240][248][249][250]

Under the Stateroom surveillance programme, Australia operates clandestine surveillance facilities to intercept phone calls and data across much of Asia.[249][251]

In France, the NSA targeted people belonging to the worlds of business, politics or French state administration. The NSA monitored and recorded the content of telephone communications and the history of the connections of each target i.e. the metadata.[252][253] The actual surveillance operation was performed by French intelligence agencies on behalf of the NSA.[63][254] The cooperation between France and the NSA was confirmed by the Director of the NSA, Keith B. Alexander, who asserted that foreign intelligence services collected phone records in “war zones” and “other areas outside their borders” and provided them to the NSA.[255]

The French newspaper Le Monde also disclosed new PRISM and Upstream slides (See Page 4, 7 and 8) coming from the “PRISM/US-984XN Overview” presentation.[256]

In Spain, the NSA intercepted the telephone conversations, text messages and emails of millions of Spaniards, and spied on members of the Spanish government.[257] Between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013, the NSA collected metadata on 60 million telephone calls in Spain.[258]

According to documents leaked by Snowden, the surveillance of Spanish citizens was jointly conducted by the NSA and the intelligence agencies of Spain.[259][260]

On October 4, 2013, The Washington Post published a powerpoint presentation leaked by Snowden, showing how the NSA had compromised the Tor encrypted network that is being employed by hundreds of thousands of people to circumvent “nation state internet policies”. By secretly exploiting a JavaScriptplug-in, the NSA was able to uncover the identities of various anonymous Internet users such as dissidents, terrorists, and other targets

November

The New York Times reported that the NSA carries out an eavesdropping effort, dubbed Operation Dreadnought, against the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. During his 2009 visit to Iranian Kurdistan, the agency collaborated with GCHQ and the U.S.’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, collecting radio transmissions between aircraft and airports, examining Khamenei’s convoy with satellite imagery, and enumerating military radar stations. According to the story, an objective of the operation is “communications fingerprinting”: the ability to distinguish Khamenei’s communications from those of other people in Iran.[261]

The same story revealed an operation code-named Ironavenger, in which the NSA intercepted e-mails sent between a country allied with the United States and the government of “an adversary”. The ally was conducting a spear-phishing attack: its e-mails contained malware. The NSA gathered documents and login credentials belonging to the enemy country, along with knowledge of the ally’s capabilities for attacking computers.[261]

According to the British newspaper The Independent, the British intelligence agency GCHQ maintains a listening post on the roof of the British Embassy in Berlin that is capable of intercepting mobile phone calls, wi-fi data and long-distance communications all over the German capital, including adjacent government buildings such as the Reichstag (seat of the German parliament) and the Chancellery (seat of Germany’s head of government) clustered around the Brandenburg Gate.[262]

Operating under the code-name “Quantum Insert”, GCHQ set up a fake website masquerading as LinkedIn, a social website used for professional networking, as part of its efforts to install surveillance software on the computers of the telecommunications operator Belgacom.[263][264][265] In addition, the headquarters of the oil cartel OPEC were infiltrated by GCHQ as well as the NSA, which bugged the computers of nine OPEC employees and monitored the General Secretary of OPEC.[263]

For more than three years GCHQ has been using an automated monitoring system code-named “Royal Concierge” to infiltrate the reservation systems of at least 350 upscale hotels in many different parts of the world in order to target, search and analyze reservations to detect diplomats and government officials.[266] First tested in 2010, the aim of the “Royal Concierge” is to track down the travel plans of diplomats, and it is often supplemented with surveillance methods related to human intelligence (HUMINT). Other covert operations include the wiretapping of room telephones and fax machines used in targeted hotels as well as the monitoring of computers hooked up to the hotel network.[266]

In November 2013, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Guardian revealed that the Australian Signals Directorate (DSD) had attempted to listen to the private phone calls of the president of Indonesia and his wife. The Indonesian foreign minister, Marty Natalegawa, confirmed that he and the president had contacted the ambassador in Canberra. Natalegawa said any tapping of Indonesian politicians’ personal phones “violates every single decent and legal instrument I can think of—national in Indonesia, national in Australia, international as well”.[267]

Other high-ranking Indonesian politicians targeted by the DSD include:

Carrying the title “3G impact and update”, a classified presentation leaked by Snowden revealed the attempts of the ASD/DSD to keep up to pace with the rollout of 3G technology in Indonesia and across Southeast Asia. The ASD/DSD motto placed at the bottom of each page reads: “Reveal their secrets—protect our own.”[268]

Under a secret deal approved by British intelligence officials, the NSA has been storing and analyzing the internet and email records of UK citizens since 2007. The NSA also proposed in 2005 a procedure for spying on the citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations alliance, even where the partner government has explicitly denied the U.S. permission to do so. Under the proposal, partner countries must neither be informed about this particular type of surveillance, nor the procedure of doing so.[39]

Towards the end of November, The New York Times released an internal NSA report outlining the agency’s efforts to expand its surveillance abilities.[269] The five-page document asserts that the law of the United States has not kept up with the needs of the NSA to conduct mass surveillance in the “golden age” of signals intelligence, but there are grounds for optimism because, in the NSA’s own words:

“The culture of compliance, which has allowed the American people to entrust NSA with extraordinary authorities, will not be compromised in the face of so many demands, even as we aggressively pursue legal authorities…”[270]

The report, titled “SIGINT Strategy 2012–2016″, also said that the U.S. will try to influence the “global commercial encryption market” through “commercial relationships”, and emphasized the need to “revolutionize” the analysis of its vast data collection to “radically increase operational impact”.[269]

On November 23, 2013, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that the Netherlands was targeted by U.S. intelligence agencies in the immediate aftermath of World War II. This period of surveillance lasted from 1946 to 1968, and also included the interception of the communications of other European countries including Belgium, France, West Germany and Norway.[271] The Dutch Newspaper also reported that NSA infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide, often covertly, with malicious spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, designed to steal sensitive information.[42][272]

On November 23, 2013, the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad released a top secret NSA presentation leaked by Snowden, showing five “Classes of Accesses” that the NSA uses in its worldwide signals intelligence operations.[42][272] These five “Classes of Accesses” are:

 3rd PARTY/LIAISON—refers to data provided by the international partners of the NSA. Within the framework of the UKUSA Agreement, these international partners are known as “third parties”.
 REGIONAL—refers to over 80 regional Special Collection Services (SCS). The SCS is a black budget program operated by the NSA and the CIA, with operations based in many cities such as Athens, Bangkok, Berlin, Brasília, Budapest, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lagos, Milan, New Delhi, Paris, Prague, Vienna, and Zagreb, and others, targeting Central America, the Arabian Peninsula, East Asia, and Continental Europe.
 CNE—an abbreviation for “Computer Network Exploitation“. It is performed by a special cyber-warfare unit of the NSA known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which infected over 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malicious software designed to steal sensitive information, and is mostly aimed at Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and parts of Eastern Europe
 LARGE CABLE—20 major points of accesses, many of them located within the United States
 FORNSAT—an abbreviation for “Foreign Satellite Collection”. It refers to intercepts from satellites that process data used by other countries such as Britain, Norway, Japan, and the Philippines.

December

According to the classified documents leaked by Snowden, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate, had offered to share intelligence information it had collected with the other intelligence agencies of the UKUSA Agreement. Data shared with foreign countries include “bulk, unselected, unminimised metadata” it had collected. The ASD provided such information on the condition that no Australian citizens were targeted. At the time the ASD assessed that “unintentional collection [of metadata of Australian nationals] is not viewed as a significant issue”. If a target was later identified as being an Australian national, the ASD was required to be contacted to ensure that a warrant could be sought. Consideration was given as to whether “medical, legal or religious information” would be automatically treated differently to other types of data, however a decision was made that each agency would make such determinations on a case-by-case basis.[273] Leaked material does not specify where the ASD had collected the intelligence information from, however Section 7(a) of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (Commonwealth) states that the ASD’s role is “…to obtain intelligence about the capabilities, intentions or activities of people or organisations outside Australia…”.[274] As such, it is possible ASD’s metadata intelligence holdings was focused on foreign intelligence collection and was within the bounds of Australian law.

The Washington Post revealed that the NSA has been tracking the locations of mobile phones from all over the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. In the process of doing so, the NSA collects more than five billion records of phone locations on a daily basis. This enables NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths.[275][276][277][278][279][280][281][282]

The Washington Post also reported that both GCHQ and the NSA make use of location data and advertising tracking files generated through normal internet browsing (with cookies operated by Google, known as “Pref”) to pinpoint targets for government hacking and to bolster surveillance.[283][284][285]

The Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS), which cooperates with the NSA, has gained access to Russian targets in the Kola Peninsula and other civilian targets. In general, the NIS provides information to the NSA about “Politicians”, “Energy” and “Armament”.[286] A top secret memo of the NSA lists the following years as milestones of the Norway–United States of America SIGINT agreement, or NORUS Agreement:

The NSA considers the NIS to be one of its most reliable partners. Both agencies also cooperate to crack the encryption systems of mutual targets. According to the NSA, Norway has made no objections to its requests from the NIS.[287]

On December 5, Sveriges Television reported the National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) has been conducting a clandestine surveillance operation in Sweden, targeting the internal politics of Russia. The operation was conducted on behalf of the NSA, receiving data handed over to it by the FRA.[288][289] The Swedish-American surveillance operation also targeted Russian energy interests as well as the Baltic states.[290] As part of the UKUSA Agreement, a secret treaty was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, regarding collaboration and intelligence sharing.[291]

As a result of Snowden’s disclosures, the notion of Swedish neutrality in international politics was called into question.[citation needed] In an internal document dating from the year 2006, the NSA acknowledged that its “relationship” with Sweden is “protected at the TOP SECRET level because of that nation’s political neutrality.”[292] Specific details of Sweden’s cooperation with members of the UKUSA Agreement include:

  • The FRA has been granted access to XKeyscore, an analytical database of the NSA.[293]
  • Sweden updated the NSA on changes in Swedish legislation that provided the legal framework for information sharing between the FRA and the Swedish Security Service.[52]
  • Since January 2013, a counterterrorism analyst of the NSA has been stationed in the Swedish capital of Stockholm[52]
  • The NSA, GCHQ and the FRA signed an agreement in 2004 that allows the FRA to directly collaborate with the NSA without having to consult GCHQ.[52] About five years later, the Riksdag passed a controversial legislative change, briefly allowing the FRA to monitor both wireless and cable bound signals passing the Swedish border without a court order,[294] while also introducing several provisions designed to protect the privacy of individuals, according to the original proposal.[295] This legislation was amended 11 months later,[296] in an effort to strengthen protection of privacy by making court orders a requirement, and by imposing several limits on the intelligence-gathering.[297][298][299]

According to documents leaked by Snowden, the Special Source Operations of the NSA has been sharing information containing “logins, cookies, and GooglePREFID” with the Tailored Access Operations division of the NSA, as well as Britain’s GCHQ agency.[300]

During the 2010 G-20 Toronto summit, the U.S. embassy in Ottawa was transformed into a security command post during a six-day spying operation that was conducted by the NSA and closely coordinated with the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC). The goal of the spying operation was, among others, to obtain information on international development, banking reform, and to counter trade protectionism to support “U.S. policy goals.”[301] On behalf of the NSA, the CSEC has set up covert spying posts in 20 countries around the world.[10]

In Italy the Special Collection Service of the NSA maintains two separate surveillance posts in Rome and Milan.[302] According to a secret NSA memo dated September 2010, the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C. has been targeted by two spy operations of the NSA:

  • Under the codename “Bruneau”, which refers to mission “Lifesaver”, the NSA sucks out all the information stored in the embassy’s computers and creates electronic images of hard disk drives.[302]
  • Under the codename “Hemlock”, which refers to mission “Highlands”, the NSA gains access to the embassy’s communications through physical “implants”.[302]

Due to concerns that terrorist or criminal networks may be secretly communicating via computer games, the NSA, GCHQ, CIA, and FBI have been conducting surveillance and scooping up data from the networks of many online games, including massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as World of Warcraft, as well as virtual worlds such as Second Life, and the Xbox gaming console.[303][304][305][306]

The NSA has cracked the most commonly used cellphone encryption technology, A5/1. According to a classified document leaked by Snowden, the agency can “process encrypted A5/1” even when it has not acquired an encryption key.[307] In addition, the NSA uses various types of cellphone infrastructure, such as the links between carrier networks, to determine the location of a cellphone user tracked by Visitor Location Registers.[308]

US district court judge for the District of Columbia, Richard Leon, declared[309][310][311][312][313][314] on December 16, 2013, that the mass collection of metadata of Americans’ telephone records by the National Security Agency probably violates the fourth amendment prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures.[315] Leon granted the request for a preliminary injunction that blocks the collection of phone data for two private plaintiffs (Larry Klayman, a conservative lawyer, and Charles Strange, father of a cryptologist killed in Afghanistan when his helicopter was shot down in 2011)[316] and ordered the government to destroy any of their records that have been gathered. But the judge stayed action on his ruling pending a government appeal, recognizing in his 68-page opinion the “significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues.”[315]

However federal judge William H. Pauley III in New York City ruled[317] the U.S. government’s global telephone data-gathering system is needed to thwart potential terrorist attacks, and that it can only work if everyone’s calls are swept in. U.S. District Judge Pauley also ruled that Congress legally set up the program and that it does not violate anyone’s constitutional rights. The judge also concluded that the telephone data being swept up by NSA did not belong to telephone users, but to the telephone companies. He further ruled that when NSA obtains such data from the telephone companies, and then probes into it to find links between callers and potential terrorists, this further use of the data was not even a search under the Fourth Amendment. He also concluded that the controlling precedent is Smith v. Maryland: “Smith’s bedrock holding is that an individual has no legitimate expectation of privacy in information provided to third parties,” Judge Pauley wrote.[318][319][320][321] The American Civil Liberties Union declared on January 2, 2012 that it will appeal Judge Pauley’s ruling that NSA bulk the phone record collection is legal. “The government has a legitimate interest in tracking the associations of suspected terrorists, but tracking those associations does not require the government to subject every citizen to permanent surveillance,” deputy ACLU legal director Jameel Jaffer said in a statement.[322]

In recent years, American and British intelligence agencies conducted surveillance on more than 1,100 targets, including the office of an Israeli prime minister, heads of international aid organizations, foreign energy companies and a European Union official involved in antitrust battles with American technology businesses.[323]

A catalog of high-tech gadgets and software developed by the NSA’sTailored Access Operations (TAO) was leaked by the German news magazine Der Spiegel.[324] Dating from 2008, the catalog revealed the existence of special gadgets modified to capture computer screenshots and USB flash drives secretly fitted with radio transmitters to broadcast stolen data over the airwaves, and fake base stations intended to intercept mobile phone signals, as well as many other secret devices and software implants listed here:

The Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division of the NSA intercepted the shipping deliveries of computers and laptops in order to install spyware and physical implants on electronic gadgets. This was done in close cooperation with the FBI and the CIA.[324][325][326][327][328][329][330] NSA officials responded to the Spiegel reports with a statement, which said: “Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies. [TAO’s] work is centred on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection.”[331]

In a separate disclosure unrelated to Snowden, the French Trésor public, which runs a certificate authority, was found to have issued fake certificates impersonating Google in order to facilitate spying on French government employees via man-in-the-middle attacks.[332]

On December 4, 2013, The Washington Post released an internal NSA chart illustrating the extent of the agency’s mass collection of mobile phone location records, which amounts to about five billion on a daily basis.[275] The records are stored in a huge database known as FASCIA, which received over 27 terabytes of location data within seven months.[333]

2014

January

The NSA is working to build a powerful quantum computer capable of breaking all types of encryption.[334][335][336][337][338] The effort is part of a US$79.7 million research program known as “Penetrating Hard Targets”. It involves extensive research carried out in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic radiation from entering or leaving.[335] Currently, the NSA is close to producing basic building blocks that will allow the agency to gain “complete quantum control on two semiconductorqubits“.[335] Once a quantum computer is successfully built, it would enable the NSA to unlock the encryption that protects data held by banks, credit card companies, retailers, brokerages, governments and health care providers.[334]

According to The New York Times, the NSA is monitoring approximately 100,000 computers worldwide with spy software named Quantum. Quantum enables the NSA to conduct surveillance on those computers on the one hand, and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks on the other hand. Among the targets are the Chinese and Russian military, but also trade institutions within the European Union. The NYT also reported that the NSA can access and alter computers which are not connected with the internet by a secret technology in use by the NSA since 2008. The prerequisite is the physical insertion of the radio frequency hardware by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user. The technology relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target. The technology can also transmit malware back to the infected computer.[42]

Channel 4 and The Guardian revealed the existence of Dishfire, a massive database of the NSA that collects hundreds of millions of text messages on a daily basis.[339] GCHQ has been given full access to the database, which it uses to obtain personal information of Britons by exploiting a legal loophole.[340]

Each day, the database receives and stores the following amounts of data:

  • Geolocation data of more than 76,000 text messages and other travel information[341]
  • Over 110,000 names, gathered from electronic business cards[341]
  • Over 800,000 financial transactions that are either gathered from text-to-text payments or by linking credit cards to phone users[341]
  • Details of 1.6 million border crossings based on the interception of network roaming alerts[341]
  • Over 5 million missed call alerts[341]
  • About 200 million text messages from around the world[339]

The database is supplemented with an analytical tool known as the Prefer program, which processes SMS messages to extract other types of information including contacts from missed call alerts.[341]

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report on mass surveillance was released on January 23, 2014. It recommends to end the bulk telephone metadata, i.e., bulk phone records – phone numbers dialed, call times and durations, but not call content collection – collection program, to create a “Special Advocate” to be involved in some cases before the FISA court judge and to release future and past FISC decisions “that involve novel interpretations of FISA or other significant questions of law, technology or compliance.”[342][343][344]

According to a joint disclosure by The New York Times, The Guardian, and ProPublica,[345][346][347][348][349] the NSA and GCHQ have begun working together to collect and store data from dozens of smartphoneapplication software by 2007 at the latest. A 2008 GCHQ report, leaked by Snowden asserts that “anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system”. The NSA and GCHQ have traded recipes for various purposes such as grabbing location data and journey plans that are made when a target uses Google Maps, and vacuuming up address books, buddy lists, phone logs and geographic data embedded in photos posted on the mobile versions of numerous social networks such as Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services. In a separate 20-page report dated 2012, GCHQ cited the popular smartphone game “Angry Birds” as an example of how an application could be used to extract user data. Taken together, such forms of data collection would allow the agencies to collect vital information about a user’s life, including his or her home country, current location (through geolocation), age, gender, ZIP code, marital status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, number of children, etc.[350][351]

A GCHQ document dated August 2012 provided details of the Squeaky Dolphin surveillance program, which enables GCHQ to conduct broad, real-time monitoring of various social media features and social media traffic such as YouTube video views, the Like button on Facebook, and Blogspot/Blogger visits without the knowledge or consent of the companies providing those social media features. The agency’s “Squeaky Dolphin” program can collect, analyze and utilize YouTube, Facebook and Blogger data in specific situations in real time for analysis purposes. The program also collects the addresses from the billions of videos watched daily as well as some user information for analysis purposes.[352][353][354]

During the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, the NSA and its Five Eyes partners monitored the communications of delegates of numerous countries. This was done to give their own policymakers a negotiating advantage.[355][356]

The Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) has been tracking Canadian air passengers via free Wi-Fi services at a major Canadian airport. Passengers who exited the airport terminal continued to be tracked as they showed up at other Wi-Fi locations across Canada. In a CSEC document dated May 2012, the agency described how it had gained access to two communications systems with over 300,000 users in order to pinpoint a specific imaginary target. The operation was executed on behalf of the NSA as a trial run to test a new technology capable of tracking down “any target that makes occasional forays into other cities/regions.” This technology was subsequently shared with Canada’s Five Eyes partners – Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and the United States.[357][358][359][360]

On January 27, 2014, The New York Times released[347] an internal NSA document from a 2010 meeting that details the extent of the agency’s surveillance on smartphones. Data collected include phone settings, network connections, Web browsing history, buddy lists, downloaded documents, encryption usage, and user agents. Notice the following line of text at the bottom – “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY” – which is used to indicated that this top secret document is related to communications intelligence (COMINT), and can be accessed by the USA and its Five Eyes (FVEY) partners in Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand

February

According to research by Süddeutsche Zeitung and TV network NDR the mobile phone of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder was monitored from 2002 onwards, reportedly because of his government’s opposition to military intervention in Iraq. The source of the latest information is a document leaked by Edward Snowden. The document, containing information about the National Sigint Requirement List (NSRL), had previously been interpreted as referring only to Angela Merkel‘s mobile. However Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR claim to have confirmation from NSA insiders that the surveillance authorisation pertains not to the individual, but the political post – which in 2002 was still held by Schröder. According to research by the two media outlets, Schröder was placed as number 388 on the list, which contains the names of persons and institutions to be put under surveillance by the NSA.[361][362][363][364]

GCHQ launched a cyber-attack on the activist network “Anonymous“, using denial-of-service attack (DoS) to shut down a chatroom frequented by the network’s members and to spy on them. The attack, dubbed Rolling Thunder, was conducted by a GCHQ unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The unit successfully uncovered the true identities of several Anonymous members.[365][366][367][368]

The NSA Section 215 bulk telephony metadata program which seeks to stockpile records on all calls made in the U.S. is collecting less than 30 percent of all Americans’ call records because of an inability to keep pace with the explosion in cellphone use according to the Washington Post. The controversial program permits the NSA after a warrant granted by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to record numbers, length and location of every call from the participating carriers.[369][370]

The Intercept reported that the U.S. government is using primarily NSA surveillance to target people for drone strikes overseas. In its report The Intercept author detail the flawed methods which are used to locate targets for lethal drone strikes, resulting in the deaths of innocent people.[371] According to the Washington Post NSA analysts and collectors i.e. NSA personnel which controls electronic surveillance equipment use the NSA’s sophisticated surveillance capabilities to track individual targets geographically and in real time, while drones and tactical units aimed their weaponry against those targets to take them out.[372]

An unnamed US law firm, reported to be Mayer Brown, was targeted by Australia’s ASD. According to Snowden’s documents, the ASD had offered to hand over these intercepted communications to the NSA. This allowed government authorities to be “able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers”.[373][374]

NSA and GCHQ documents revealed that the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and other activist groups were targeted for government surveillance and criminal prosecution. In particular, the IP addresses of visitors to WikiLeaks were collected in real time, and the US government urged its allies to file criminal charges against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, due to his organization’s publication of the Afghanistan war logs. The WikiLeaks organization was designated as a “malicious foreign actor”.[375]

Quoting an unnamed NSA official in Germany, Bild am Sonntag reported that whilst President Obama’s order to stop spying on Merkel was being obeyed, the focus had shifted to bugging other leading government and business figures including Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, a close confidant of Merkel. Caitlin Hayden, a security adviser to President Obama, was quoted in the newspaper report as saying, “The US has made clear it gathers intelligence in exactly the same way as any other states.”[376][377]

The Intercept reveals that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets among them people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats. The two main tactics that are currently used are the injection of all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and the use of social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.[378][379][380][381]

The Guardian reported that Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, with aid from the National Security Agency, intercepted and stored the webcam images of millions of internet users not suspected of wrongdoing. The surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected still images of Yahoo webcam chats (one image every five minutes) in bulk and saved them to agency databases. The agency discovered “that a surprising number of people use webcam conversations to show intimate parts of their body to the other person”, estimating that between 3% and 11% of the Yahoo webcam imagery harvested by GCHQ contains “undesirable nudity”.[382]

March

The NSA has built an infrastructure which enables it to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process. The NSA relies on an automated system codenamed TURBINE which in essence enables the automated management and control of a large network of implants (a form of remotely transmitted malware on selected individual computer devices or in bulk on tens of thousands of devices). As quoted by The Intercept, TURBINE is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”[383] The NSA has shared many of its files on the use of implants with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance – the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.

Among other things due to TURBINE and its control over the implants the NSA is capable of:

  • breaking into targeted computers and to siphoning out data from foreign Internet and phone networks
  • infecting a target’s computer and exfiltrating files from a hard drive
  • covertly recording audio from a computer’s microphone and taking snapshots with its webcam
  • launching cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites
  • exfiltrating data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer

The TURBINE implants are linked to, and relies upon, a large network of clandestine surveillance “sensors” that the NSA has installed at locations across the world, including the agency’s headquarters in Maryland and eavesdropping bases used by the agency in Misawa, Japan and Menwith Hill, England. Codenamed as TURMOIL, the sensors operate as a sort of high-tech surveillance dragnet, monitoring packets of data as they are sent across the Internet. When TURBINE implants exfiltrate data from infected computer systems, the TURMOIL sensors automatically identify the data and return it to the NSA for analysis. And when targets are communicating, the TURMOIL system can be used to send alerts or “tips” to TURBINE, enabling the initiation of a malware attack. To identify surveillance targets, the NSA uses a series of data “selectors” as they flow across Internet cables. These selectors can include email addresses, IP addresses, or the unique “cookies” containing a username or other identifying information that are sent to a user’s computer by websites such as Google, Facebook, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Twitter, unique Google advertising cookies that track browsing habits, unique encryption key fingerprints that can be traced to a specific user, and computer IDs that are sent across the Internet when a Windows computer crashes or updates.[383][384][385][386][387][388][389][390][391][392][393][394][395][396][397][398]

The CIA was accused by U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of spying on a stand-alone computer network established for the committee in its investigation of allegations of CIA abuse in a George W. Bush-era detention and interrogation program.[399]

A voice interception program codenamed MYSTIC began in 2009. Along with RETRO, short for “retrospective retrieval” (RETRO is voice audio recording buffer that allows retrieval of captured content up to 30 days into the past), the MYSTIC program is capable of recording “100 percent” of a foreign country’s telephone calls, enabling the NSA to rewind and review conversations up to 30 days and the relating metadata. With the capability to store up to 30 days of recorded conversations MYSTIC enables the NSA to pull an instant history of the person’s movements, associates and plans.[400][401][402][403][404]