AT&T Ends All-You-Can-Eat [WSJ]
AT&T Inc. pulled the plug on its all-you-can-eat plan for smartphone customers, telling subscribers they will see much slower speeds if they exceed a new monthly usage cap. The new limit, which applies to some 17 million subscribers, means users of the No. 2 U.S. carrier have little choice but to start paying more as they download more video, stream more music and use more apps. The shift came as the company separately warned some users of its most basic phones that they soon may not be able to make or receive calls if they don't upgrade to devices that run on faster networks—devices that it is offering free. Together, the moves underscore how AT&T—still smarting from the government's decision to block its takeover of T-Mobile USA—is looking to squeeze money out of a user base that is no longer growing quickly by pushing expensive data plans and sophisticated devices. The company says it is also looking to rein in the heaviest users to improve service for all subscribers.
The Internal Revenue Service is facing renewed pressure over its reluctance to grant tax-exempt status to political fundraising and advocacy organizations, particularly Tea Party-affiliated groups. Several of the groups claim that the IRS has been asking them for detailed information on their contributors and operations before granting them tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 organization, and they are receiving support from some Republican lawmakers who are crying foul.
U.S Securities and Exchange Commission officials have been citing a jump in the number of enforcement actions last year as proof that an overhaul of the agency’s investigative force is bearing fruit. The claim isn’t supported by a detailed examination of the statistics. SEC Enforcement Director Robert Khuzami said in November that the unit filed 735 actions in fiscal 2011, “a record- breaking performance during a period of resource constraints.” Citing the numbers, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro told a Washington conference last week that the agency’s changes “are already producing record results.” The SEC also noted the record numbers in justifying its 2013 budget request to Congress.
Allowing the Bush-era tax rates to expire would provide more than enough revenue to do away with the automatic spending cuts set to begin in 2013, a high-ranking Democrat said Thursday. Shedding light on Democrats’ potential end game for what’s sure to be a jam-packed lame-duck session, House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) floated the notion of letting taxes rise to cancel out the sequestered spending cuts. Smith suggested the revenue from letting the tax rates expire would be more than sufficient to cover the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction that’s needed to reverse the automatic cuts to both defense and non-defense spending scheduled to begin in January 2013.