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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.

May 27, 2021 | The American Prospect

Eleanor Eagan Elias Alsbergas

Op-Ed

Department of JusticeEthics in Government

Justice Department Shot Through With Corporate Influence

The U.S. government is involved in hundreds of court cases each year, most of which are not followed closely. But the baseline assumption is that the government is defending the public interest and holding criminals accountable, even when most aren’t watching. Unfortunately, in Merrick Garland’s Justice Department, that is not uniformly the case. Key acting officials, drawn from the halls of corporate power, are riddled with conflicts of interest that are already affecting their ability to protect the public. If the Justice Department is to serve all Americans rather than bolster individual fortunes and entrench corporate power, Merrick Garland must stop elevating corporate attorneys who have gotten rich fighting on corporate America’s behalf.

May 13, 2021 | The American Prospect

Max Moran Dorothy Slater Zena Wolf

Op-Ed

2020 Election/TransitionClimateEthics in GovernmentFinancial Regulation

Plumbing The Depths At The SEC

Progressives have generally seen Gary Gensler, the newly confirmed chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as a loyal advocate for the public interest. His tenure at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) was one of the few bright spots in Barack Obama’s financial regulatory regime. But in April, Gensler named Alex Oh to be his director of enforcement, before she resigned a week later amid negative media attention. Before joining the SEC, Oh had directly facilitated an ExxonMobil executive’s obstinate deposition testimony (reportedly read off an attorney-drafted script) in the face of plaintiff objections—and the case itself centered on accusations of torture, rape, and murder by ExxonMobil-hired guards in an Indonesian village.