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August 05, 2021 | Talking Points Memo

Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in GovernmentExecutive Branch

Institutionalism Can’t Save Us Now

We have no shortage of information about how historically bad an Attorney General William Barr was.  His tenure was marked by attacks on LGBTQ rights, immigrants, and peaceful protestors. His overt politicization of the investigations into Russian interference in the election, the Mueller report, and Roger Stone’s sentencing are well-documented, and in a continuing headache for the Biden Administration’s DOJ, Barr’s Justice Department’s intervened to protect Trump against E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against him just two months before the election. And yet, as we saw this week following revelations that his DOJ declined to prosecute Commerce Department officials for lying about the provenance of the Census citizenship question, what we know merely scratches the surface. 

August 02, 2021 | The Forge

Mariama Eversley

Op-Ed

Criminal JusticeDepartment of Justice

How DOJ Can Defund the Police

One year ago, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd sparked an international rebellion against police violence. From this historic uprising, a longtime demand from the Black Lives Matter movement to end mass incarceration and police violence by defunding the police became a part of mainstream discourse. Local campaigns like #defundNYPD and national studies like Freedom to Thrive: Reimagining Safety and Security in Our Communities have fleshed out the meaning of defund, envisioning municipal and state budgets that invest in social safety nets over criminalization. But the executive branch ― the branch of government that creates the rules and regulations that guide the execution of federal law ― remains under-examined as a lever to effect systemic change.

July 27, 2021 | Washington Monthly

Sion Bell Timi Iwayemi

Op-Ed

cryptocurrencyFinancial RegulationFintech

How to Catch Bitcoin Tax Cheats

Crypto is a global phenomenon, and one with a rapidly growing capacity to upend tax administration worldwide. The U.S. has been slow to act to combat this threat, but clever use of extant unilateral and multilateral laws on information sharing and programs that capitalize on expertise and information outside government provide opportunities for much better protection against tax evasion. If Biden and his administration are committed to closing tax loopholes, they must use every tool available.

July 23, 2021 | American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionForeign PolicyRevolving Door

It's Big Business As Usual For Biden's Ambassadorship Picks

If Biden is emerging as an anti-monopoly president, then why is he rewarding Cohen, a fixer for one of the go-to examples of monopoly power in America? More importantly, if he hopes to redeem American democracy from Trumpism, why is Biden rewarding the political strategist for a company that does not care about basic voting rights, especially for Black people?

July 08, 2021 | The American Prospect

Sion Bell

Op-Ed

IRS

One Weird Trick to Force Billionaires to Pay Taxes

Last month, ProPublica, aided by a trove of tax information on the richest Americans delivered by an anonymous whistleblower, began a series of reports on the staggeringly low to nonexistent tax bills paid by specific billionaires and the tactics they use to achieve that end.

In its most recent release, ProPublica detailed PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel’s use of a Roth IRA, a specialized retirement account in which contributors pay taxes up front but not on distributions, to shelter billions in investment income gains. This involved questionable valuations and other strategies that are either explicitly or implicitly illegal.

July 05, 2021 | The New Republic

Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

Department of Justice

End the War on Whistleblowers

Last month, ProPublica published a jaw-dropping look into the IRS data of well-known billionaires, revealing their meager effective tax rates in detail. The disclosures were met with shock and anger. After all, how could Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros go years without paying federal income taxes? And how could this possibly be legal? The article, the first in a series from ProPublica, renewed public cries that billionaires should, in fact, pay their fair share.

June 29, 2021 | Talking Points Memo

Eleanor Eagan

Op-Ed

Government Capacity

Biden’s New OPM Director May Be Among His Most Critical Appointees. Here’s Why.

It seems safe to assume that most people stopped paying attention to confirmation votes sometime around late spring (if not well before). And even those few who are still tuned in would be forgiven for missing the confirmation vote that directly preceded last week’s Senate showdown over the For the People Act. Despite its low-profile, however, that position — to lead the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) — may be among the most critical to the success of the Biden administration’s agenda.

June 10, 2021 | American Prospect

Max Moran

Op-Ed

Federal ReserveFinancial RegulationRevolving Door

Jerome Powell Went Easy On Wall Street

Just as a president shouldn’t only be judged on whether or not they started a war, Fed chairs shouldn’t only be judged on whether they raised or lowered interest rates. That’s their most salient power, but they have other, more complex ways of affecting our lives. Financial regulation is one of the most important of these, and it’s one on which current Fed chairman Jerome Powell has failed badly.

June 08, 2021 | The New Republic

Jeff Hauser Max Moran

Op-Ed

Criminal JusticeDepartment of JusticeExecutive Branch

Merrick Garland Has Become Donald Trump's Legal Protector

On several key matters, Garland’s DOJ has concealed the full extent of Trump’s wrongdoing; kept thousands of immigrants from obtaining greencards, while flooding the immigration system with Trump-selected judges; expanded the scope of police power; ensured oil and gas profits for decades to come; and explicitly protected one of Trump’s most hated Cabinet secretaries from accountability.