The Pronk Pops Show 892, May 12, 2017, Story 1: Lester _______ (Bolt, Colt, Dolt, Holt, Jolt, Volt) Interviews President Donald J. Trump — The Real Scandal Is Obama Surveillance and Spying On Republican Party Presidential Candidates Using The Intelligent Community (CIA, NSA, FBI, …) Product–Unmasked and Leaked! — Videos– Story 2: Big Lie Media Crazy Credibility Crisis — Fake News is Media McCarthyism — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Voter Fraud Commission — Videos

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Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 864: March 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

 

Story 1: Lester _______ (Bolt, Colt, Dolt, Holt, Jolt, Volt) Interviews President Donald J. Trump — The Real Scandal Is Obama Surveillance and Spying On Trump and Associates Using The Intelligent Community (CIA, NSA, FBI, …) Product!  —  Videos — 

 

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President Trump Full Interview with Lester Holt NBC 5/11/17

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Obama Might have Spied on Rand Paul and Other Republicans

Obama Administration Spying on Rand Paul | Michael Savage (Audio)

Did President Obama Spy On Donald Trump? | True News

The Truth About FBI Director James Comey: You’re Fired!

Hannity: James Comey is a national embarrassment

Full || FBI Director James Comey Press Conference On Hillary Clinton Email Investigation (7-5-16)

United States Intelligence Community

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
United States Intelligence Community
United States Intelligence Community Seal.svg

Seal of the United States Intelligence Community
Agency overview
Formed December 4, 1981
Agency executive

The United States Intelligence Community (IC)[1] is a federation of 16 separate United States government agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities considered necessary for the conduct of foreign relations and national security of the United States. Member organizations of the IC include intelligence agencies, military intelligence, and civilian intelligence and analysis offices within federal executive departments. The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), who reports to the President of the United States.

Among their varied responsibilities, the members of the Community collect and produce foreign and domestic intelligence, contribute to military planning, and perform espionage. The IC was established by Executive Order 12333, signed on December 4, 1981, by U.S. PresidentRonald Reagan.[2]

The Washington Post reported in 2010 that there were 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies in 10,000 locations in the United States that are working on counterterrorism, homeland security, and intelligence, and that the intelligence community as a whole includes 854,000 people holding top-secret clearances.[3] According to a 2008 study by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, private contractors make up 29% of the workforce in the U.S. intelligence community and account for 49% of their personnel budgets.[4]

Etymology

The term “Intelligence Community” was first used during Lt. Gen. Walter Bedell Smith‘s tenure as Director of Central Intelligence (1950–1953).[5]

History

Intelligence is information that agencies collect, analyze, and distribute in response to government leaders’ questions and requirements. Intelligence is a broad term that entails:

Collection, analysis, and production of sensitive information to support national security leaders, including policymakers, military commanders, and Members of Congress. Safeguarding these processes and this information through counterintelligence activities. Execution of covert operations approved by the President. The IC strives to provide valuable insight on important issues by gathering raw intelligence, analyzing that data in context, and producing timely and relevant products for customers at all levels of national security—from the war-fighter on the ground to the President in Washington.[6]

Executive Order 12333 charged the IC with six primary objectives:[7]

  • Collection of information needed by the President, the National Security Council, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, and other executive branch officials for the performance of their duties and responsibilities;
  • Production and dissemination of intelligence;
  • Collection of information concerning, and the conduct of activities to protect against, intelligence activities directed against the U.S., international terrorist and/or narcotics activities, and other hostile activities directed against the U.S. by foreign powers, organizations, persons and their agents;
  • Special activities (defined as activities conducted in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives abroad which are planned and executed so that the “role of the United States Government is not apparent or acknowledged publicly”, and functions in support of such activities, but which are not intended to influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies, or media and do not include diplomatic activities or the collection and production of intelligence or related support functions);
  • Administrative and support activities within the United States and abroad necessary for the performance of authorized activities and
  • Such other intelligence activities as the President may direct from time to time.

Organization

Members

The IC is headed by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), whose statutory leadership is exercised through the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). The 16 members of the IC are:[8]

The official seals of U.S. Intelligence Community members.

Agency/Office Parent Agency Federal Department Date est.
Defense Intelligence Agency none Defense 1961
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency none Defense 1996
National Reconnaissance Office none Defense 1961
National Security Agency none Defense 1952
Military Intelligence Corps United States Army Defense 1863
Office of Naval Intelligence United States Navy Defense 1882
Twenty-Fifth Air Force United States Air Force Defense 1948
Marine Corps Intelligence United States Marine Corps Defense 1939
Coast Guard Intelligence United States Coast Guard Homeland Security 1915
Office of Intelligence and Analysis none Homeland Security 2007
Central Intelligence Agency none Independent agency 1947
Bureau of Intelligence and Research none State 1945
Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence none Treasury 2004
Office of National Security Intelligence Drug Enforcement Administration Justice 2006
Intelligence Branch Federal Bureau of Investigation Justice 2005
Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence none Energy 1977

Programs

The IC performs under two separate programs:

  • The National Intelligence Program (NIP), formerly known as the National Foreign Intelligence Program as defined by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended), “refers to all programs, projects, and activities of the intelligence community, as well as any other programs of the intelligence community designated jointly by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the head of a United States department or agency or by the President. Such term does not include programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces”. Under the law, the DNI is responsible for directing and overseeing the NIP, though the ability to do so is limited (see the Organization structure and leadership section).
  • The Military Intelligence Program (MIP) refers to the programs, projects, or activities of the military departments to acquire intelligence solely for the planning and conduct of tactical military operations by United States Armed Forces. The MIP is directed and controlled by the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In 2005 the Department of Defense combined the Joint Military Intelligence Program and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities program to form the MIP.

Since the definitions of the NIP and MIP overlap when they address military intelligence, assignment of intelligence activities to the NIP and MIP sometimes proves problematic.

Organizational structure and leadership

IC Circle.jpg

The overall organization of the IC is primarily governed by the National Security Act of 1947 (as amended) and Executive Order12333. The statutory organizational relationships were substantially revised with the 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) amendments to the 1947 National Security Act.

Though the IC characterizes itself as a federation of its member elements, its overall structure is better characterized as a confederation due to its lack of a well-defined, unified leadership and governance structure. Prior to 2004, the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) was the head of the IC, in addition to being the director of the CIA. A major criticism of this arrangement was that the DCI had little or no actual authority over the budgetary authorities of the other IC agencies and therefore had limited influence over their operations.

Following the passage of IRTPA in 2004, the head of the IC is the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). The DNI exerts leadership of the IC primarily through statutory authorities under which he or she:

  • controls the “National Intelligence Program” budget;
  • establishes objectives, priorities, and guidance for the IC; and
  • manages and directs the tasking of, collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of national intelligence by elements of the IC.

However, the DNI has no authority to direct and control any element of the IC except his own staff—the Office of the DNI—neither does the DNI have the authority to hire or fire personnel in the IC except those on his own staff. The member elements in the executive branch are directed and controlled by their respective department heads, all cabinet-level officials reporting to the President. By law, only the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency reports to the DNI.

In light of major intelligence failures in recent years that called into question how well Intelligence Community ensures U.S. national security, particularly those identified by the 9/11 Commission (National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States), and the “WMD Commission” (Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction), the authorities and powers of the DNI and the overall organizational structure of the IC have become subject of intense debate in the United States.

Interagency cooperation

Previously, interagency cooperation and the flow of information among the member agencies was hindered by policies that sought to limit the pooling of information out of privacy and security concerns. Attempts to modernize and facilitate interagency cooperation within the IC include technological, structural, procedural, and cultural dimensions. Examples include the Intellipediawiki of encyclopedic security-related information; the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Intelligence Centers, Program Manager Information Sharing Environment, and Information Sharing Council; legal and policy frameworks set by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, information sharing Executive Orders 13354 and Executive Order 13388, and the 2005 National Intelligence Strategy.

Budget

Data visualization of U.S. intelligence black budget (2013)

The U.S. intelligence budget (excluding the Military Intelligence Program) in fiscal year 2013 was appropriated as $52.7 billion, and reduced by the amount sequestered to $49.0 billion.[9] In fiscal year2012 it peaked at $53.9 billion, according to a disclosure required under a recent law implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.[10]The 2012 figure was up from $53.1 billion in 2010,[11] $49.8 billion in 2009,[12] $47.5 billion in 2008,[13] $43.5 billion in 2007,[14] and $40.9 billion in 2006.[15]

About 70 percent of the intelligence budget went to contractors for the procurement of technology and services (including analysis), according to the May 2007 chart from the ODNI. Intelligence spending has increased by a third over ten years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.[citation needed]

In a statement on the release of newdeclassified figures, DNI Mike McConnell said[when?] there would be no additional disclosures of classified budget information beyond the overall spending figure because “such disclosures could harm national security”. How the money is divided among the 16 intelligence agencies and what it is spent on is classified. It includes salaries for about 100,000 people, multibillion-dollar satellite programs, aircraft, weapons, electronic sensors, intelligence analysis, spies, computers, and software.

On August 29, 2013 the Washington Post published the summary of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s multivolume FY 2013 Congressional Budget Justification, the U.S. intelligence community’s top-secret “black budget.”[16][17][18] The IC’s FY 2013 budget details, how the 16 spy agencies use the money and how it performs against the goals set by the president and Congress. Experts said that access to such details about U.S. spy programs is without precedent. Steven Aftergood, Federation of American Scientists, which provides analyses of national security issues stated that “It was a titanic struggle just to get the top-line budget number disclosed, and that has only been done consistently since 2007 … but a real grasp of the structure and operations of the intelligence bureaucracy has been totally beyond public reach. This kind of material, even on a historical basis, has simply not been available.”[19] Access to budget details will enable an informed public debate on intelligence spending for the first time said the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee H. Hamilton. He added that Americans should not be excluded from the budget process because the intelligence community has a profound impact on the life of ordinary Americans.[19]

Oversight

Intelligence Community Oversight duties are distributed to both the Executive and Legislative branches. Primary Executive oversight is performed by the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Joint Intelligence Community Council, the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Management and Budget. Primary congressional oversight jurisdiction over the IC is assigned to two committees: the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee draft bills to annually authorize the budgets of DoD intelligence activities, and both the House and Senate appropriations committees annually draft bills to appropriate the budgets of the IC. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs took a leading role in formulating the intelligence reform legislation in the 108th Congress.

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ Agrawal, Nina. “There’s more than the CIA and FBI: The 17 agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community”. latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-01-30.
  2. Jump up^ “Executive Order 12333”. Cia.gov. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  3. Jump up^ Dana Priest & William M Arkin (19 July 2010). “A hidden world, growing beyond control”. The Washington Post.
  4. Jump up^ Priest, Dana (2011). Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State. Little, Brown and Company. p. 320. ISBN 0-316-18221-4.
  5. Jump up^ Michael Warner; Kenneth McDonald. “US Intelligence Community Reform Studies Since 1947” (PDF). CIA. p. 4. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
  6. Jump up^ Rosenbach, Eric & Aki J. Peritz (12 June 2009). “Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community” (PDF). Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  7. Jump up^ Executive Order 12333 text
  8. Jump up^ User, Super. “Members of the IC”.
  9. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2013 National Intelligence Program”. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 30 October 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  10. Jump up^ DNI Releases FY 2012 Appropriated Budget Figure. Dni.gov (2012-10-30). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  11. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2010 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 2010-10-28. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  12. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2009 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  13. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2008 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  14. Jump up^ “DNI Releases Budget Figure for 2007 National Intelligence Program”(PDF). Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  15. Jump up^ Hacket, John F. (2010-10-28). “FY2006 National Intelligence Program Budget, 10-28-10” (PDF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  16. Jump up^ Matt DeLong (29 August 2013). “Inside the 2013 U.S. intelligence ‘black budget'”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  17. Jump up^ Matthews, Dylan (29 August 2013). “America’s secret intelligence budget, in 11 (nay, 13) charts”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  18. Jump up^ DeLong, Matt (29 August 2013). “2013 U.S. intelligence budget: Additional resources”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  19. ^ Jump up to:a b Barton Gellman & Greg Miller (29 August 2013). “U.S. spy network’s successes, failures and objectives detailed in ‘black budget’ summary”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.

Further reading

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Intelligence_Community

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is a military intelligence organization and a constituent of the United States Department of Defense (DOD). The NSA is responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering.”[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

 [show

History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25] This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32] :Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35] such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002 and was worked on by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, IBM, and Litton Industries. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56] It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108]Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphing

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111]The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114] Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156] Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Mya Hall, and seriously injuring her 20-year-old passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two women were transgender[162] and had just gotten off from a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning. They “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[163] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[164] In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[165]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[166] but her later revision does not.[167] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[168]

Computing

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[169]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[170] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[171]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[172] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[173] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[174] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[175]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[176] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[177] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[178] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[176]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[175]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[179] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[180] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[181] New Zealand.[182]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[183] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[184]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[185]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[186] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[186]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[187] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[188]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[188] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[189][190]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[189]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[189]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[189]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[191]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[192]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[193]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[194] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[176]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[195] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[196]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[197] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[198] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[199]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[200][201]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[202]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[203]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[204] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[205]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[206]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[207]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[208][209] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[210]Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[209]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[211][212]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons“. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[213] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[214][215]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[216] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[217] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[217]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[218] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[219]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[220]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[221]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[222]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[223][224]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[225] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[226] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[227]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[228]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[229]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[230] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[231]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[232][233]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[234] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[235]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[236] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[237] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[238] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[239]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[240][241]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[242]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[243]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[244] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[244]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[245] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[246][247] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[248] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[249]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[250][251] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[252]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[253] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[254][255][256][257]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[258][259]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[260]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[261]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[262][263] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[261]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[261]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[261]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[261]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kernel

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[264] However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[265]

When my oldest son was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[266]
Microsoft Windows

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[267][268]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[269]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[270] Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[271]

Role in scientific research and development

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[272]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[273][274] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[275][276]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[277] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[278]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[279]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[280][281]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[282]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[281]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[282]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[282]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[282] phased out by the STE[283]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[278]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[288]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[289][290] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[291] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[289]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator cryptotrojan

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[292]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[293][294] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[295][296]

Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[297] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[298] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[299][300]

Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[301][302] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[303][304] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[305] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[306]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[307]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[308] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[309]

Controversy

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt from when James Clapper lied to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[310] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[311] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[312] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[313] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [314] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[314] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[315] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[316] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[317] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[314] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[318] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[318] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

 Story 2: Big Lie Media Crazy Credibility Crisis — Fake News is Media McCarthyism — No Tanks In Streets of D.C. Big Lie Coup Fake News — Videos

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Krauthammer: Comey incident has sent press over the edge

Conway: Democrats trashed Comey then made him a martyr

Ari Fleischer: Hypocrisy from Democratic Party is appalling

Michelle Malkin: Hypocrisy over Comey firing is overwhelming

Gingrich: Liberals will move on to Martian conspiracies next

Could a probe of Hillary’s email server be reopened?

Tucker to Dem: Are you saying Trump has corrupted FBI?

Rush Limbaugh rejects media’s ‘coup’ claims

Hume: Calling Comey firing a ‘coup’ is hysterical

Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Fake News, Media Bias, McCarthyism, Redbaiting & Blatant Russophobia

The Truth About McCarthyism: Modern Parallels

Napolitano: Many FBI agents felt demeaned by Comey’s actions

Coup d’état

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A coup d’état (/ˌk dˈtɑː/ About this sound listen ; French: [ku.de.ta]), also known simply as a coup (/k/), a putsch (/pʊ/), or an overthrow, is the illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus.[1]

Contents

 [show

Terminology

Etymology

The phrase coup d’état (French pronunciation:  [ku deta]) is French, literally meaning a “stroke of state” or “blow against the state.” In French the word “État” (French: [e.ta]), denoting a sovereign political entity, is capitalized.[2]

Although the concept of a coup d’état has been featured in politics since antiquity, the phrase is of relatively recent coinage;[3] the Oxford English Dictionary identifies it as a French expression meaning a “stroke of state.” The phrase did not appear within an English text before the 19th century except when used in translation of a French source, there being no simple phrase in English to convey the contextualized idea of a “knockout blow to the existing administration within a state.”

One early use within text translated from French was in 1785 in a printed translation of a letter from a French merchant, commenting on an arbitrary decree or “arrêt” issued by the French king restricting the import of British wool.[4] What may be its first published use within a text composed in English is an editor’s note in the London Morning Chronicle, 7 January 1802, reporting the arrest by Napoleon in France, of Moreau, Berthier, Masséna, and Bernadotte:

There was a report in circulation yesterday of a sort of coup d’état having taken place in France, in consequence of some formidable conspiracy against the existing government.

In post-Revolutionary France, the phrase came to be used to describe the various murders by Napoleon‘s hated secret police, the Gens d’Armes d’Elite, who murdered the Duke of Enghien:

…the actors in torture, the distributors of the poisoning draughts, and the secret executioners of those unfortunate individuals or families, whom Bonaparte’s measures of safety require to remove. In what revolutionary tyrants call grand[s] coups d’état, as butchering, or poisoning, or drowning, en masse, they are exclusively employed.[5]

Usage of the phrase

Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell’s dataset of coups defines attempted coups as “illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.”[1] They arrive at this definition by combining common definitions in the existing literature and removing specificities and ambiguities that exist in many definitions.[1]

In looser usage, as in “intelligence coup” or “boardroom coup”, the term simply refers to gaining a sudden advantage on a rival.

Putsch

Since an unsuccessful coup d’état in 1920 (the Kapp Putsch), the Swiss-German word Putsch (pronounced [pʊtʃ], coined for the Züriputsch of September 6, 1839, in Zurich), also denotes the politico-military actions of an unsuccessful minority reactionary coup.[6][7][8]

Other recent and notable unsuccessful minority reactionary coups that are often referred to as Putsches are the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and Küstrin Putsch, 1961 Algiers Putsch and the 1991 August Putsch. Putsch was used as disinformation by Hitler and his Nazi supporters to falsely claim that he had to suppress a reactionary coup during the Night of the Long Knives. Germans still use the term Röhm-Putsch to describe the murders, the term given to it by the Nazi regime, despite its unproven implication that the murders were necessary to prevent a coup. German authors often use quotation marks or write about the sogenannter Röhm-Putsch (“so-called Röhm Putsch”) for emphasis.[9]

Pronunciamiento

Pronunciamiento (“pronouncement”) is a term of Spanish and Latin-American origin for a special type of coup d’état. The coup d’état (called golpe de Estado in Spanish) was more common in Spain and South America, while the pronunciamiento was more common in Central America. The pronunciamiento is the formal explanation for deposing the regnant government, justifying the installation of the new government that was effected with the golpe de Estado.

In a coup, it is the military, paramilitary, or opposing political faction that deposes the current government and assumes power; whereas, in the pronunciamiento, the military deposes the existing government and installs an (ostensibly) civilian government.[10]

History

According to Clayton Thyne and Jonathan Powell’s coup dataset, there were 457 coup attempts from 1950 to 2010, of which 227 (49.7%) were successful and 230 (50.3%) were unsuccessful.[1] They find that coups have “been most common in Africa and the Americas (36.5% and 31.9%, respectively). Asia and the Middle East have experienced 13.1% and 15.8% of total global coups, respectively. Europe has experienced by far the fewest number of coup attempts: 2.6%.”[1] Most coup attempts occurred in the mid-1960s, but there were also large numbers of coup attempts in the mid-1970s and the early 1990s.[1] Successful coups have decreased over time.[1] Coups that occur in the post-Cold War period are more likely to result in democratic systems.[11][12][13] Coups that occur during civil wars shorten the war’s duration.[14] Research suggests that protests spur coups, as they help elites within the state apparatus to coordinate coups.[15]

Types

A 2016 study categorizes coups into four possible outcomes:[12]

  • Failed coup.
  • No regime change. Such as when a leader is illegally shuffled out of power without changing the identity of the group in power or the rules for governing.
  • Replacement of incumbent dictatorship with another.
  • Ouster of the dictatorship followed by democratization.

The 2016 study found that about half of all coups — both during and after the Cold War — install new autocratic regimes.[12] New dictatorships launched by coups engage in higher levels of repression in the year that follows the coup than existed in the year leading to the coup.[12] One third of coups during the Cold War and 10 percent of post-Cold War coups reshuffled the regime leadership.[12] Democracies were installed in the wake of 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the post-Cold War coups.[12]

Samuel Huntington’s three types

Writing in 1968, political scientist Samuel P. Huntington identified three types of coup d’état, which correspond to the role the military plays in three different types of praetorian society.[16] As society changes, so does the role of the military. In the world of oligarchy, the soldier is a radical; in the middle class he is a participant and arbiter; as the “mass society looms on the horizon he becomes the conservative guardian of the existing order”.

Breakthrough coups

In breakthrough coups, the soldier plays the role of “reformer”, moving the society from “Oligarchical to Radical Praetorianism”. “In oligarchical praetorianism the dominant social forces are landowners, the leading clergy, and the wielders of the sword”. In “radical” society, the middle-class is an important social and political class. The shift toward “radical” society take the form of slow evolution, or a “breakthrough” to middle-class political participation may be led by civilian intelligentsia. A breakthrough to radical praetorianism (in which the military plays an important role among the middle class who govern) may occur when middle-class officers dislodge the civilian intelligentsia who led the breakthrough, or the military may take power directly from the absolute monarchy or the oligarchs in a military coup.

Arbiter coups

In this type of coup, society is in the stage of “radical praetorianism,” meaning that the praetorian society is in the “middle stages in the expansion of political participation,” when the middle-class (including the military) are actively involved in politics, but the masses are not regularly politically mobilized. This type of society often follows the breakthrough coup, which “clears the way for the entry of other middle-class elements into politics”. In radical praetorian society, various middle-class groups may act against one another in riots or demonstrations, and the military will step in with a military coup to re-establish order and “halt the rabid mobilization of social forces into politics and into the streets…to defuse the explosive political situation”.

Veto coup d’état

Veto coups d’état occur when the army vetoes the people’s mass participation and social mobilisation in governing themselves. “Military interventions of this “veto” variety thus directly reflect increasing lower-class political participation in politics”. In “veto coups” the soldier plays the role of “guardian of the existing order.” In such a case, the army confronts and suppresses large-scale, broad-based civil opposition.

Predictors

A 2003 review of the academic literature found that the following factors were associated with coups:

  • officers’ personal grievances
  • military organizational grievances
  • military popularity
  • military attitudinal cohesiveness
  • economic decline
  • domestic political crisis
  • contagion from other regional coups
  • external threat
  • participation in war
  • foreign veto power[clarify] and military’s national security doctrine
  • officers’ political culture
  • noninclusive institutions
  • colonial legacy
  • economic development
  • undiversified exports
  • officers’ class composition
  • military size
  • strength of civil society
  • regime legitimacy and past coups.[17]

The literature review in a 2016 study includes mentions of ethnic factionalism, supportive foreign governments, leader inexperience, slow growth, commodity price shocks, and poverty.[18]

The cumulative number of coups is a strong predictor of future coups.[17][19][20] Hybrid regimes are more vulnerable to coups than very authoritarian states or democratic states.[21] A 2015 study finds that terrorism is strongly associated with re-shuffling coups.[22] A 2016 study finds that there is an ethnic component to coups: “When leaders attempt to build ethnic armies, or dismantle those created by their predecessors, they provoke violent resistance from military officers.”[23] Another 2016 study shows that protests increase the risk of coups, presumably because they ease coordination obstacles among coup plotters and make international actors less likely to punish coup leaders.[24] A third 2016 study finds that coups become more likely in the wake of elections in autocracies when the results reveal electoral weakness for the incumbent autocrat.[25] A fourth 2016 study finds that inequality between social classes increase the likelihood of coups.[26] A 2016 study rejects the notion that participation in war makes coups more likely; to the contrary, coup risk declines in the presence of enduring interstate conflict.[27] One study found that coups are more likely to occur in states with small populations, as there are smaller coordination problems for coup-plotters.[28]

Coup-proofing

In what is referred to as “coup-proofing”, regimes create structures that make it hard for any small group to seize power. These coup-proofing strategies may include the strategic placing of family, ethnic, and religious groups in the military; creation of an armed force parallel to the regular military, and development of multiple internal security agencies with overlapping jurisdiction that constantly monitor one another.[29] Research shows that some coup-proofing strategies reduce the risk of coups occurring.[30][31] However, coup-proofing reduces military effectiveness,[32][33][34] and limits the rents that an incumbent can extract.[35]

A 2016 study shows that the implementation of succession rules reduce coup attempts.[36] Succession rules are believed to hamper coordination efforts among coup plotters by assuaging the elites who have more to gain with patience than with plotting.[36]

According to political scientists Curtis Bell and Jonathan Powell, coup attempts in neighbouring countries lead to greater coup-proofing and coup-related repression in a region.[37]

Democratization

Research suggests that coups promote democratization in staunchly authoritarian regimes, have become less likely to end democracy over time, and that the positive influence has strengthened since the end of the Cold War.[11][12][38][39][40]

A 2014 study found that “coups promote democratization, particularly among states that are least likely to democratize otherwise”.[38] The authors argue that coup attempts can have this consequence because leaders of successful coups have incentives to democratize quickly in order to establish political legitimacy and economic growth while leaders who stay in power after failed coup attempts see it as a sign that they must enact meaningful reforms to remain in power.[38] A 2014 study found that 40% of post-Cold War coups were successful. The authors argue that this may be due to the incentives created by international pressure.[11] A 2016 study found that democracies were installed in 12 percent of Cold War coups and 40 percent of the post-Cold War coups.[12]

Repression after failed coups, and counter-coups

According to Naunihal Singh, author of Seizing Power: The Strategic Logic of Military Coups (2014), it is “fairly rare” for the prevailing existing government to violently purge the army after a coup has been foiled. If it starts mass killing elements of the army, including officers who were not involved in the coup, this may trigger a “counter-coup” by soldiers who are afraid they will be next. To prevent such a desperate counter-coup that may be more successful than the initial attempt, governments usually resort to firing prominent officers and replacing them with loyalists instead.[41]

Some research suggests that increased repression and violence typically follow coup attempts (whether they’re successes or failures).[42] However, some tentative analysis by political scientist Jay Ulfelder finds no clear pattern of deterioration in human-rights practices in wake of failed coups in post-Cold War era.[43]

Notable counter-coups include the Ottoman countercoup of 1909, the 1960 Laotian counter-coup, the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup, the 1967 Greek counter-coup, and the 1971 Sudanese counter-coup.

A 2017 study finds that the use of state broadcasting by the putschist regime after Mali’s 2012 coup did not elevate explicit approval for the regime.[44]

International responses

The international community tends to react adversely to coups by reducing aid and imposing sanctions. A 2015 study finds that “coups against democracies, coups after the Cold War, and coups in states heavily integrated into the international community are all more likely to elicit global reaction.”[45] Another 2015 study shows that coups are the strongest predictor for the imposition of democratic sanctions.[46] A third 2015 study finds that Western states react strongest against coups of possible democratic and human rights abuses.[46] A 2016 study shows that the international donor community in the post-Cold War period penalizes coups by reducing foreign aid.[47] The US has been inconsistent in applying aid sanctions against coups both during the Cold War and post-Cold War periods, a likely consequence of its geopolitical interests.[47]

Organizations such as the African Union and Organization of American States have adopted anti-coup frameworks. Through the threat of sanctions, the organizations actively try to curb coups. A 2016 study finds that the African Union has played a meaningful role in reducing African coups.[48]

A forthcoming study in the Journal of Conflict Resolution finds that negative international responses to regimes created in coups have a significant influence on the sustainability of those regimes.[49] The study finds that “state reactions have the strongest effect during the Cold War, while international organizations matter the most afterward.”[49] Negative international responses from strong actors matter the most.[49]

Current leaders who assumed power via coups d’état

Position Name Assumed power as of Replaced Country Coup d’état
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said[50]1 23 July 1970 Said bin Taimur  Oman 1970 Omani coup d’état
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo 3 August 1979 Francisco Macías Nguema  Equatorial Guinea 1979 Equatoguinean coup d’état
President Yoweri Museveni 29 January 1986 Tito Okello  Uganda Ugandan Bush War
President Omar al-Bashir 30 June 1989 Sadiq al-Mahdi  Sudan 1989 Sudanese coup d’état
President Idriss Déby 2 December 1990 Hissène Habré  Chad 1990 Chadian revolution
President Isaias Afwerki 27 April 19912 Mengistu Haile Mariam
(Ethiopia)
 Eritrea Eritrean War of Independence
Prime Minister Hun Sen August 1997 Norodom Ranariddh  Cambodia 1997 Cambodian coup d’état
President Denis Sassou Nguesso 25 October 1997 Pascal Lissouba  Republic of the Congo Republic of the Congo Civil War
Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama 5 December 2006 Laisenia Qarase  Fiji 2006 Fijian coup d’état
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz3 6 August 2008 Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi  Mauritania 2008 Mauritanian coup d’état
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi[51] 3 July 2013 Mohamed Morsi  Egypt 2013 Egyptian coup d’état
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha 22 May 2014 Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan4  Thailand 2014 Thai coup d’état
President of the Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi 6 February 2015 Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi5  Yemen 2014–15 Yemeni coup d’état

1Monarch who overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup.
2As head of Provisional Government of Eritrea, which declared independence 24 May 1993.
3Subsequently, confirmed by a narrow margin in the 2009 Mauritanian presidential election, which was deemed “satisfactory” by international observers.
4Acting Prime Minister at that time.
5Hadi resigned on 22 January 2015.

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The Pronk Pops Show 870, April 10, 2017: Story 1: Will President Trump Boldly Cut Taxes and Spending? — A Competitive Race Towards Lower Taxes And Less Government Spending: Replace All Income Based Taxes (All Income, Capital Gain and Payroll Taxes) With Broad-Based Consumption Tax With A Progressive Tax Prebate ( FairTax 23% Less Prebate or Fair Tax Less 20% Less $1,000 Per Month or $12,000 Per Year Prebate) And Real Cuts of 5% Per Year In Government Spending To Balance The Budget In 8 Years Or Less To Pay For Tax Cuts!) — Cut Taxes and Spending — Videos — Story 2: Stagnating United States Economy — The Great Stagnation –Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

Story 1: Will President Trump Boldly Cut Taxes and Spending?  — A Competitive Race Towards Lower Taxes And Less Government Spending:  Replace All Income Based Taxes (All Income, Capital Gain and Payroll Taxes) With Broad-Based Consumption Tax With Generous Tax Prebate ( FairTax or Fair Tax Less!) And Real Cuts of  5% Per Year In Government Spending To Balance The Budget In 8 Years Or Less To Pay For Tax Cuts!) — Cut Taxes and Spending — Videos —  

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Donald Trump: Simplify the Tax Code

Donald Trump: I pay as little as possible in taxes

Is Donald Trump serious about tax reform?

Sean Spicer: Trump wants to get tax reform right

Will tax reform really happen by August?

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What Tax Reform Could Look Like Under Donald Trump | Squawk Box | CNBC

#Eakinomics – 4 Key Questions on Dynamic Scoring

What is Dynamic Scoring?

Trump Pushes ‘Major Border Tax’ to Keep Jobs in U.S.

Ryan Unexpectedly Joins Forces With Bannon on Border Tax

Kudlow: Freedom Caucus & Trump’s base is opposed to Border Adjustment Tax

Sen. Perdue: Border Adjustment Tax would “shutdown economic growth”

Sen. Tom Cotton: “I have serious concerns” w/ Border Adjustment Tax

Americans Need a Progressive Consumption Tax

Sen. Strange: “I would not” vote for a Border Adjustment Tax

Milton Friedman – Why Tax Reform Is Impossible

Milton Friedman – Is tax reform possible?

CNBC: Steve Forbes on Border Adjustment Tax – “Don’t Do It” 2.8.17

Meg Whitman: Border Adjustment Tax Will Not Create Jobs | CNBC

Art Laffer: Border tax is a major mistake

Border Tax Fight Is Economists Vs. Everybody Else | Squawk Box | CNBC

Dan Mitchell Discussing GOP Tax Plan and Corporate Rate Reduction

What is a Border Adjustment?

Border Tax: What You Need to Know

Will a border adjustment tax help American businesses?

Will a border adjustment tax kill free trade?

Border adjustment tax political suicide?

Fox Pol:l 73% Want Tax Reform This Year – Cavuto

Could the border tax debate stall tax reform?

Is A Border Adjustment Tax A Good Idea?

Border Adjustment Tax: Trump’s MAGA Ace

President Donald Trump Begins First Week By Meeting With Top Business Leaders | NBC News

Dan Mitchell Fretting about GOP Border-Adjustable Tax Plan

FairTax: Fire Up Our Economic Engine (Official HD)

Pence on the Fair Tax

Freedom from the IRS! – FairTax Explained in Details

The FairTax: It’s Time

Dan Mitchell explains the fair tax

Six Reasons Why the Capital Gains Tax Should Be Abolished

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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