November 13, 2018

Barack Obama

Tax Day Is Barack Obama’s Favorite Day of the Year, Says Dude Running for Texas Land Commissioner

Dude is also nephew of a former President. So I guess that's why it's news. Any tax professional who celebrates this day because it means they can finally go home at a reasonable hour should take this as a personal insult. THIS IS YOUR DAY AND NO ONE ELSE'S.

To Whom It May Going Concern: No More Big Four?

To Whom It May Going Concern is a feature of some of the more, shall we say, interesting messages that come across the wire. If you get the urge to tell us exactly what you think about this here website, email [email protected] with "To Whom It May Going Concern" in the subject line. Just a reminder […]

Cory Booker Wishes President Obama Could Have Used His Perfect Comeback to Mitt Romney’s ‘New Accountant’ Zinger

"I wanted to scream out, Obama, say, 'keep your accountant, they're allowing you to pay only 13 percent in taxes,' " Booker said. "The rest of us should have accountants like that." But, Booker conceded, the "right advice" for Obama was to "stay presidential." [The Hill]

Corporate America Encouraged By Rhetoric From Presidential Candidates

Yesterday we attempted to make some sense of President Obama's statement about ending "tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas." His was attempting to discuss corporate tax reform, although Mitt Romney had never heard of any such thing and wondered aloud if he needed to gleefully fire his accountant. Anyhoo, in the first […]

Let’s Try to Make Some Sense of President Obama’s “Tax Breaks for Companies Shipping Jobs Overseas” Statement

One other major point of contention (that relates to taxes) in last night's debate was President Obama mention of "tax breaks [given] to companies that are shipping jobs overseas." It's not entirely clear what he was talking about, so let's do our best to sort this out. From the transcript of the debate, here's what […]

Election 2012: Here’s Who the Big 4 Are Throwing Their Money Behind

One of my many ultra liberal friends was yammering on about presidential campaign contributions last night and I, being the skeptical libertarian I am, decided to dig a little deeper into the numbers to prove that be it Republican or Democrat, you're still getting pretty much the same thing. It's sort of like picking a […]

Summing Up Tax Policy in This Presidential Election

Tax Analysts' Chris Bergin doesn't like what he heard from Mitt Romney yesterday: In a taped interview, host [Meet the Press host] David Gregory repeatedly asked Romney for details of his tax plan. He ended up practically begging for just one detail – any morsel, please. He got zip, zilch, nothing. […] I can think […]

Have We Reached the Nadir of Tax Policy Discourse?

Politics is a dirty sport and while name-calling is certainly standard operating procedure, it seems extra petty when we're discussing about tax policy: Mitt Romney on Tuesday defended his tax plan after President Obama said it amounted to “Romney-hood” by taking from the poor and giving to the rich, labeling the charge “Obamaloney.” Since politics […]

Poll: Americans Would Rather the Next President Get Some Jobs Up in This Piece Rather Than Stick the Rich with Higher Taxes

Surely most people wouldn't mind if the 1% were paying a little bit more in taxes but when compared to other issues, Gallup found that it's a pretty low priority: Creating good jobs, reducing corruption in the federal government, and reducing the federal budget deficit score highest when Americans rate 12 issues as priorities for […]

Barack Obama and John Boehner walk into a bar…

…and Howard Gleckman asks that you imagine they're a couple of bros in their 20s: Listening to Barack Obama and John Boehner over the past few days put me in mind of two testosterone-addled 22-year olds preparing for a bar fight, rather than the President of the United States and the Speaker of the House […]

Here’s Audio of Jon Lovitz Bitching About Taxes, President Obama (NSFW)

It's obviously a slow day when a number of media outlets are concerned with what Kevin Smith and Jon Lovitz think about taxes. This audio is NSFW, so use headphones unless someone yelling "fucking asshole," amongst other things at your workplace is considered kosher. [via TaxProf]

Who Else Is Repeating Their Tax Rhetoric Today?

“You might have heard of this,” Obama said in his remarks, before a crowd of faculty and students at Florida Atlantic University. “But Warren Buffett is paying a lower tax rate than his secretary.” [The Hill, Earlier]

Grover Norquist Has a Solution to Warren Buffett’s Problem

RELATED: I'm starting to think that ol' Grover is purposely spelling the Oracle's surname incorrectly.  [@GroverNorquist, Earlier, Earlier]

It Appears That Both John Boehner and President Obama Are Prepared to Ruin Christmas for the Payroll Tax Cut

Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Obama spoke on the phone earlier today and both men seem pretty eager to get something accomplished re: the payroll tax cut. The Hill reports that Boehner reportedly told Obama, "Let’s get this done today,” while White House spokesman Jay Carney later said, "The ball is in the […]

David Cay Johnston: President Obama Has Out-Norquisted Grover Norquist

Granddaddy of tax gazetteers, David Cay Johnston, is poking at Grover Norquist again, this time over the quagmire that the Republicans find themselves in over President Obama’s payroll tax cut proposal. The very proposal that could make Obama the biggest Grinch of 2011. Ruined holidays aside, DCJ points out that if the Republicans shoot this down, they do so at the behest of what seems to be a very popular idea:

[N]umerous opinion polls show overwhelming public support for continuing tax cuts for workers and for raising taxes on millionaires. That has left Republican leaders no choice but to silently cry uncle and agree to the president’s request to extend and possibly expand the payroll tax cut.

The reason that Republicans aren’t so hot on the payroll tax cut is that it’s “temporary.” They’d rather see “permanent” tax cuts enacted, although those “permanent” tax cuts are never “permanent.” The “permanent” Bush tax cuts, for example, had to be “extended” last year because they were about to “expire” which basically makes them “temporary.” The payroll tax cut was originally enacted last year with the Bush tax cuts but as Paul Ryan says, it’s supposed to be like a holiday, which is to say, “We lived through it and we’ll just move on with our lives and never to speak of it again.” DCJ writes that this means Obama has beat the Republicans at their own game:

Having outsmarted Norquist, Obama gets to run for a second term as the champion of at least a $100 billion tax cut. Obama can even say that if Republicans had had their way, working people’s taxes would have gone up while taxes on billionaires would have gone down. And he gets to tell small business owners that, but for Republicans, their taxes would have gone down too.

This is a marketing fiasco for Republicans to rival the Ford Edsel and New Coke. Already more than 40 congressional Republicans have taken steps to distance themselves from Norquist, who scowls at the mere mention of what could have been his, but is now Obama’s, very popular tax cut.

In other words: Whose shorties are snagged now?

Republicans paint themselves into a tax-cut corner [DCJ/Reuters]

President Obama Just Might Ruin His Family Christmas for the Payroll Tax Cut

That’s what Harry Reid is saying anyway. I’m not a parent, so I’m not exactly sure how a man would explain to his daughters that they’ll have to spend Christmas on the beach without Dad but he can always Skype in from the West Wing, or he could take the Paul Ryan approach. [Reuters]

Romney Trumps Obama in Accounting Firm Donations to Presidential Candidates

You may have heard that there’s a bit of a campaign going on for the world’s worst job. For whatever reason, the process of electing the leader of our country’s government drags on like Titantic. Right around, erm, now you’re probably ready to gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon every time you see an ad for a candidate or debate. Unfortunately we’re powerless to stop it, thanks tycle.

ANYWAY, one of the more useful things we learn during this process is where the money comes from and who it goes to. Now, you may be screaming, “Koch Brothers!” or “George Soros!” and while they can afford to throw around some cash, these stories are old hat and are best left to political bomb throwers with jostling jowls.

For our purposes of informing you, dear GC readers, we’ll give you the lowdown on what kind of cash people from the largest accounting firms are throwing around and who they’re throwing it to. Accounting Today has a full report out today based on data available from the Federal Election Commission and here are the highlights:


Ernst & Young – E&Y donated the most cash, with personnel contributing more than $89,000. 18% went to President Obama, Mitt Romney received 39% and Rick Perry 37%. Personally, I feel like this money would be better spent throwing it at people in Albany.

Deloitte – Total of $57,490 in donations. Mittens received 41%; Obama 37%.

PwC – $36,520 total donations. Romney received 51%; Obama 48%.

KPMG – The one Obama stronghold. The President received 47% of the total $15,000 in donations. Romney received 32%; Perry 17%.

Grant Thornton – Obama doesn’t win. GT peeps gave $23,050 and 97% went to Mitt Romney.

What about the other candidates? Well, Newt Gingrich received a grand total of zero dollars from anyone at these accounting firms. Ron Paul received less money than Jon Huntsman. Yes, I know you’ve never heard of him. It’s this guy. Google Rick Santorum just for fun. And check out Michelle Bachmann’s manicures. That’s about all you need to know.

So who gets your imaginary contributions? I imagine most of you out there in Internetland have no plans to fork over any of your meager bonuses to a Presidential candidate but IF YOU DID, who would it be? And feel free to discuss your firm’s generosity or political leanings as you see fit.

Accountants and Firms Fund Presidential Candidates [AT]

David Cay Johnston Impressed with Obama’s Wily Plan, Will Stand Up to Those Bullying Social Security

DCJ is putting the rubes (read: Republicans) on notice that A) Obama is one crafty SOB and B) if Rick Perry wants to throw around “Ponzi scheme” then two can play at that game.

Obama has also set a clever trap for anti-tax Republicans. Obama’s American Jobs Act would lower Social Security taxes for all workers and for all businesses in 2012. Republicans who vote against the bill would be voting against a tax cut. They would also be voting against a huge business tax break, letting business immediately write off all capital investments made in 2012. […] The latest assault on Social Security comes from Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a Republican presidential hopeful who insists that social insurance for widows, orphans, the disabled and the old is a Ponzi scheme. If Social Security is a Ponzi scheme then so are public education, businesses and the state government that has for decades employed Rick Perry.

Father Christmas seems a little surprised that the GOP would find a tax cut they didn’t like but as we know, many don’t find the Social Security tax cut to be their cup of tea because of its lack of eternal life.

More for the rich [DCJ/Reuters via TaxProf]

President Obama Would Like Those Critical of His Deficit Reduction Plan To Get a Nerdier Argument

By now, you’re probably heard about President Obama’s new plan for reducing our nation’s deficit. It involves raising taxes on the wealthiest of citizens including this new thing called the “Buffett Rule” which would force anyone making $1 million a year to pay a tax rate that is at least as high as the one paid by middle-income taxpayers. Predictably, Republicans have not warmed to the idea and are reacting on cue. Congressman Paul Ryan (WI) got feisty, saying the Buffett Rule was an example of “class warfare.”

The President, not always thrilled with criticism, sees it as slightly more complicated than that:

“This is not class warfare — it’s math,” Mr. Obama said from the White House Rose Garden, addressing GOP critiques of his plan head on.

Yeah Paul Ryan, Mr. Chairman of the House Budget Committee. If you’re not willing to get all nerdy about it, the President doesn’t want to hear it. Come back when you’ve got a blackboard filled with equations.

Obama: “This is not class warfare — It’s math” [CBS]

Who Are the Most Influential People in Accounting? (2011)

Accounting Today released its Top 100 Most Influential People in Accounting (free registration required) late yesterday and it seems to be a tad more interesting than in years past. Sure, there are plenty of predictable names and faces in the list but any list that has Dave Albrecht, Paul Caron, and Grover Norquist is okay by me.

That said, it’s still in alphabetical order which may not appropriately present who the influenciest influencers are. I mean does sticking a man with a last name that starts with “N” and ends in “quist” somewhere in the middle of the pack (only a few spots in front of the POTUS) truly show how influential he is? It’s just a question.

ANYWAY, here are some notables that you’ll probably recognize:


Dave Albrecht – Associate Professor at Concordia College, The Summa
C.E. Andrews – President, RSM McGladrey
Paul Caron – TaxProf Blog
Stephen Chipman – CEO, Grant Thornton
James Doty – Chairman, PCAOB
Joe Echevarria – CEO, Deloitte
Michelle Golden – President, Golden Practices
Tom Hood – CEO, Executive Director Maryland Association of CPAs
Hans Hoogervorst – Chairman, IASB
Robert Moritz – Chairman and Senior Partner, PwC
Caleb Newquist – Founding Editor, Going Concern
Grover Norquist – President and Founder, Americans for Tax Reform
Barack Obama – President of the United States
Barry Salzberg – CEO, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Mary Schapiro – Chair, SEC
Doug Shulman – IRS Commissioner
Jim Turley – Global Chairman and CEO, Ernst & Young
John Veihmeyer – Chairman and CEO, KPMG
Jack Weisbaum – CEO, BDO

I cherry-picked this list obviously because it’s a bit of a pain to re-type all of them, so don’t hold that against me. Still how two Swedes and two Barrys got mashed together is kind of odd. And on a more personal note, I’d really feel awful if I was the one who took Dennis Nally’s spot. Go check out the full list and discuss at your leisure.

Top 100 Influential People in Accounting [AT]

Is President Obama Insane When It Comes to Tax Policy?

Yesterday we learned how President Obama would pay for his jobs bill. If you make more $200k ($250k for marrieds), have carried interest income, have a corporate jet or are an oil & gas company, you probably won’t be too happy with the ideas put forth.

If any of these proposals sounds familiar, that’s because they’ve been put through the ringer already and they weren’t received warmly. It’s unlikely that this time around will be any different.

Considering all that, Christopher Bergin at Tax.com is perplexed:

What I can’t figure out is why the Obama administration keeps trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

Joe Kristan only goes so far to call these recycled ideas “lame” but if you hold Rita Mae Brown in high regard, then the President definitely has a screw loose.

President Obama’s Tax Plan: ‘No Games, No Politics, No Delays’ — No Chance [Christopher Bergin]

Here Are the Tax Breaks That Obama Wants Cut to Pay for the Jobs Bill

If you’re in the $200k+ club, a hedge fund manager or corporate jet owner, you won’t be pleased. From Reuters:

— A limit on itemized deductions and certain exemptions on individuals who earn over $200,000 and families who earn over $250,000, which would raise roughly $400 billion over 10 years.

— A proposal to treat carried interest earned by investment fund managers as ordinary income rather than taxing it at capital gains rates, which would raise $18 billion.

— Eliminating certain oil and gas industry tax breaks that would raise $40 billion.

— A change in corporate jet depreciation rules that would raise $3 billion.

Right. Can’t forget the oil companies.

Obama seeks $467 billion in tax changes to fund jobs plan [Reuters]

Americans for Tax Reform Would Like to Make President Obama’s Jobs Speech a Little More Fun

To mark tomorrow night’s “Jobs Speech” by President Obama, the Ronald Reagan-possessed imps over at Americans for Tax Reform are providing some entertainment to get you through what will be, in all likelihood, a message that will be big on rhetoric with virtually no chance of anyone (Joe Biden included) breaking into song. And because most of the people that will be watching the speech will be either journalist/blabby pundit-types and people who are physically unable to remove themselves from the couch, they went with the simplest (yet oddly enjoyable) game possible. BINGO.


BINGO_Sept 2011 Obama Jobs Speech Bingo Card 1

As you can see, ATR has studiously selected the words and phrases they think will be spoken most often by the President and have created five different cards so that you can play with your fellow lovers of liberty. They even took the trouble to define many of these terms in case you can’t keep everything straight. Based on ATR’s interpretation, you are more or less going to be listening to the President utter “tax hikes” on a loop. Of course if BINGO isn’t your thing, you simply could just turn this into a drinking game, although it’s conceivable this could result in several cases of alcohol poisoning.

The added (surely unintentional) bonus is that you can use this card as a template for tonight’s Republican Presidential candidate debate where many of these terms will applicable. You’ll have to throw in “God,” “Tax cuts,” “Small Businesses,” “Ronald Reagan,” and perhaps a few others I’m forgetting but this more or less will cover the bases.

Time to play Big Speech BINGO! [ATR]

Grover Norquist Has a Suggestion for President Obama Since He Insists on Giving His Jobs Speech (aka “Campaign Event”) at the U.S. Capitol

“People who use public facilities for private purposes pay an appropriate rental fee so that taxpayers are not subsidizing a private event. The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian museums regularly rent out space for private functions. Perhaps they could suggest to the President and his campaign a reasonable price for use of the U.S. Capitol and the House chamber as a backdrop for his upcoming political rally.” [ATR]

Any Guesses on How President Obama Feels About Warren Buffett’s Op-Ed?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Obama has often cited Buffett’s call for higher tax rates on the rich, and he seized on the Monday op-ed in the Times and the coverage it’s gotten on the web and on cable news to do so again.

“He said we’ve got to stop coddling billionaires like me,” Obama said. “That’s what Warren Buffett said.”

“He pointed out that he pays a lower tax rate than anybody in his office, including the secretary,” the president added. “He figured out that his tax bill, he paid about 17 percent. And the reason is because most of his wealth comes from capital gains.”

Not to be confused with Grover Norquist’s opinion on the matter.

Obama: Warren Buffett is right on the money [Politico]

Apparently This Debt Ceiling Thing Is Important

I’m intentionally avoiding the news – partially due to the fact that Lawrence O’Donnell looks like a melting wax statue in HD and also that it got old a long time ago.

The Guardian catches everyone up by declaring the battle between Obama and the Republicans over the national debt has reached a new level and claimed that both sides were kind of pushing each other out of the spotlight.

At least that’s how the media played it yesterday. Chris Matthews called it a “slingshot operation by Republicans” on Lawrence O’Donnell (don’t ask why I watch MSNBC), more specifically implying that it was staged by Boehner & Co. to look like a knock off of Obama’s Prime Time address. Matthews also got pissed at Obama for going on national TV to do this; as if an address to the American people had anything to do with the American people.

What I took away from Obama’s speech was that he wanted our current and future creditors to know that he would get a debt ceiling increase, just let me pretend I’m going to cut some spending so we can get more money. It had very little to do with Americans or our perception of what debt means to our day-to-day lives, except for the part where he declared we’d have higher interest rates, more trouble securing loans and huge unemployment numbers.

Obama also got really dirty and quoted Ronald Reagan.

Apparently, at the end of this America banded together and crashed a bunch of Congressional websites. Not quite sure what that was supposed to accomplish but I guess it’s cute to see us working together for a change to accomplish something.

Just what I thought I saw.

Mitch McConnell Has Given Up on President Obama

Mr. McConnell said he concluded after the latest negotiations that the administration had “expressed a fundamental unwillingness” to agree to significant spending cuts.

“But after years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” Mr. McConnell said in a Senate floor speech. [WSJ]

Obama Gives Corporate Jet Owners, Hedge Fund Managers the Business About Their Taxes

From the press conference that is still going, “I don’t think it’s real radical” to ask corporate jet owners and millionaires to pay higher taxes, Obama said. “No-one wants to see the U.S default.”

And then:

You can’t reduce debt levels without… increasing revenue in some way,” Obama said. “That revenue is coming out of folks who are doing extraordinarily well, and enjoying the lowest tax rates since before I was born. If you are a wealthy CEO or hedge fund manager in America right now, your taxes are lower than they have ever been.”

[via BI, NYT]

Grover Norquist Advises Obama on How to Win Texas in 2012, Reaffirms Ability to Get Sassy

As we’ve noted before, you’d be wrong if you thought Ronald Reagan worshipper and ATR President Grover Norquist and his merry band of anti-tax orcs weren’t capable of a pinch of sass:

Obama should focus on winning the electoral votes of Texas. He could highlight his ongoing efforts to destroy the oil and gas industry through taxation and regulation. Also his hostility to the Second Amendment. And spending binges and tax hikes. The small-minded will not see the opportunity for Obama in Texas, but with enough money spent in the state and not frittered away in Virginia and Florida good things can happen for America.

Or a punch of sass.

[via Politico via ATR]

President Obama Puts 1099 Reporting Requirement Down for the Dirt Nap

Today, I was pleased to take another step to relieve unnecessary burdens on small businesses by signing H.R. 4 into law. Small business owners are the engine of our economy and because Democrats and Republicans worked together, we can ensure they spend their time and resources creating jobs and growing their business, not filling out more paperwork. I look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve the tax credit policy in this legislation and I am eager to work with anyone with ideas about how we can make health care better or more affordable. [WH]

Paul Ryan Practically Threw a Fit During President Obama’s Speech

Mr. Ryan sat in a front-row seat in the George Washington University auditorium Wednesday while Mr. Obama unveiled his plan to constrain growing levels of federal debt. Mr. Ryan grew visibly annoyed during the speech, shaking his head in disgust. He feverishly took notes, and when Mr. Obama finished he stood up and bolted from the auditorium. The only person apparently running faster towards the exit tugged on Mr. Ryan’s sleeve near the doorway and reached out to shake his hand. “Hi, Mr. Chairman, Gene Sperling,” Mr. Obama’s director of the National Economic Council said to Mr. Ryan in what appeared to be a conciliatory gesture. “Oh, I thought you were a reporter,” Mr. Ryan said, explaining why he didn’t immediately turn around when his name was called. [WSJ]

BREAKING: Republicans Don’t Like President Obama’s Tax Proposals

[K]ey Republicans have not responded positively to signals that President Obama will push for some tax increases in his deficit-reduction plan to be laid out this week. David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser, indicated Sunday that the president would reiterate his call to raise taxes on households making $250,000 and above and also signal a desire to look at other provisions in the tax code that wealthier taxpayers use to their advantage. In his fiscal 2012 budget, released in February, the president called for allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples at the end of next year. That statement came roughly two months after a compromise with congressional Republicans had extended current tax rates for the richest taxpayers for two years. [The Hill]

More Appeasement in Obama’s Proposed Budget

President Obama presented his nearly $4 trillion budget, proposing to cut more than $1 trillion from Federal programs over the next ten years, with $200 billion in cuts to occur over the next two years. Although these cuts may appear, at first glance, significant to the average American, in light of the recently enacted tax cuts of $858 billion over the next two years, that $200 billion of proposed spending cuts leaves $658 billion of thoted for.

In balancing our national budget, Obama and Congress are focusing on the wrong side of the financial equation. The projected deficit in 2011 is $1.65 trillion; however, the whole non-defense discretionary spending budget in 2010 was $477 billion. Even if all non-defense discretionary spending were eliminated, there would still remain a deficit of over $1.1 trillion. The math is clear that Congress cannot eliminate deficit spending by budget cuts. Taxes will need to be raised.


Some of the cuts that President Obama is proposing in his budget include $300 million for community block grants, $2.35 billion for low income home energy assistance program, and $400 billion from a five-year domestic spending freeze, as well as reductions in pell grants, graduate school loans, community access, etc. But all of these cuts do not come close to offsetting the lost revenues from the extension of the tax cuts to the rich.

A pattern has emerged in Obama’s dealings with the Republicans. Obama agreed with the Republican argument to give tax cuts to the rich to help the economy. Now he is proposing to cut programs for the middle class and the poor to balance the budget. In doing such, Obama is moving the political fulcrum to the right. His approach of pre-emptively offering something—whether it be tax cuts for the rich or budget cuts affecting the poor and middle class—instead of negotiating a quid pro quo, is effectively pushing the Republicans further to the right, seeing the prospect of gaining even more ground.

Although compromise is demanded in politics, leadership cannot be defined by compromise alone. There are principles worth fighting for; and leaders must be willing to mobilize public opinion in support of those principles. Since our political system is rigged because of campaign finance and lobbying, a leader professing change and reform needs to present a different narrative to the populace. Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt recognized the value of the bully pulpit. Despite his rhetorical skills, Obama has failed to do so. His posture of appeasement will in all likelihood allow the Republicans to balance the budget on the backs of the working class and low income Americans to the benefit of Wall Streeters and Multinational Corporations, who offshore jobs, brought about the financial crisis, and robbed trillions from the American people. Since Obama is seeking re-election in 2012, and is charting his own course, he will not lead the American people to the Promised Land.

America needs major tax reform. The extension of tax cuts to people who need them the least was the last thing Congress needed to do. Some Democrats want to cut $40 billion in subsidies to the oil companies for five years; however, Republicans refuse to cut these subsidies to the oil companies, preferring to cut programs for the poor and middle class. Moreover, in spite of two wars costing $120 billion per year and an inflation adjusted military budget larger than those in the Bush years and the Cold War, neither party desires to cut military spending, which constitutes 58% of the discretionary spending budget.

Reform will never come from Congress nor a President like Obama. It will require people outside of Washington working with allies inside Congress in order to stop this disconnect between what is transpiring in Washington and what this country needs. It will require people coming together as they did in Egypt in a pro-democracy movement. The question is, can and will the people of America come together before it is too late.

Jim Turley Wasn’t Impressed with the State of the Union

The Ernst & Young Global CEO chimed in di-rectly from Davos.

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address failed to convince executives and economists at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting that he’s serious about taming the U.S. budget deficit.

Hours after Obama used the speech to propose a partial freeze on government spending, delegates at the conference in Davos, Switzerland, said the U.S. is lagging foreign counterparts in cutting a budget deficit of more than $1.2 trillion.

“There is an unwillingness to deal with the real gorilla in the room,” said Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of advertiser WPP Plc. James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young LLP, said, “we need a heck of a lot more action on it” and that Obama’s speech “lacked details.”

Let’s Watch President Obama Use a Ridiculous Number of Pens to Sign the Tax Cut Bill

Running late as usual. At least they aren’t using whiteboard markers. Since it’s Friday and we’ve got nothing better to do, we’ll be live-blogging below.


4:02: Starting in two minutes? You’re already 12 late Mr President. We realize you’re the President but some of us have holiday cheer to spread, get with it.

4:05: Filing in. Finally. Biden in the Hizzous. Cracks about a “big deal,” without the F-bomb, this time. Shout out to half-man, half-tortoise, Mitch McConnell. Bipartisanship lives!

4:08: The big guy is up. Applause. Biden is semi-beaming. BHO gives a shout out to the Veep. Biden grins like only Biden can. Love for McConnell and Dave Camp. Shot of Larry Summers is less than flattering. Did his mother teach him anything about sitting up straight? Yeesh. Bipartisanship, bipartisanship, bipartisanship. We get it. You managed to play nice, what do you want, reelection?

4:13: Al Sharpton? Golf clapping? Can someone explain why the Rev is at this thing?

More name-dropping. Nancy, T Geith, Boehner. Sigh.

4:17: John Hancock time. Hugs, handshakes, back slapping. OUT!

Bernie Sanders Is Technically an Independent but Don’t Hold Your Breath

“So in my opinion, this is a good bill. And I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it.”

~ Former President Bill Clinton, at press conference today with President Obama (who bailed early), on the tax cut compromise. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, at the time of publication, is still going strong.

Obama’s Appeasement on Tax Cuts

The following post is republished from AccountingWEB, a source of accounting news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight — everything you need to help you prosper and enjoy the accounting profession.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of World War II, Neville Chamberlain was the prime minister of Great Britain just prior to the advent of World War II. He is most remembered for his “Munich Agreement“, in which he deeded over Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany with Germany’s promise that it would not pursue further aggression. Of course, this was making a deal with the devil; Adolf Hitler was Satan incarnate, for certain. Consequently, his name has become the emodiment of total naivete, if not utter stupidity and idiocy. You cannot make a deal with the devil. Shown here in the picture to the right is Neville Chamberlin upon his return from Munich in 1938 after meeting with Adolf Hitler with the scrap of paper that was to “ensure peace in our time”; the paper was signed by Hitler.


The question now is whether Barack Obama is another Neville Chamberlain. Obama is supporting the tax cuts for the rich, claiming that unless we agree to these demands by the Republicans, our economy may dip back into recession, as Chamberlain asserted that unless England and Europe gave Nazi Germany Czechoslovakia, that a war with Germany might occur. Whether you are for the tax cuts or against the tax cuts, the majority of Americans were surprised, if not flabbergasted, by Obama’s immediate acquiescence to Republican demands for inclusion of the rich in the tax cuts, including a very generous exemption from estate taxes: under the plan, as much as $10 million may be exempt from any estate tax, with the estate tax rate on any excess being reduced from 55% to 35%!

Certainly, Barack Obama is no Winston Churchill. Maybe he does his fighting only on a basketball court; however, he certainly did not fight the good fight before conceding to the Republican demands, merely accepting in return a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits for 2 million Americans, a reduction in payroll taxes, and an extension of a grab bag of tax credits for college tuition and other items. Like Chamberlain, who only received Hilter’s signature on a scrap of paper promising never to go to war again with England, Obama got very little in return for the big gift to the rich and privileged.

A recent CBS poll found 70% of Americans were not in favor of these tax cuts for the rich—resulting in huge deficits of $700 billion dollars—when our national debt is already $14 trillion. Many feel that no tax cuts would have been preferable to this agreement, since no deal would spare us from an additional $980 billion of debt.

Obama is justifying these tax cuts through a fear tactic: unless we give the rich these tax cuts, our country may lapse back into another recession.

Dear President Obama: for your information, we are still in this recession. And in 2012, we will still be in this recession in terms of unemployment. Jobs have been going overseas for years now and with the further consolidations of mega-size corporations, more layoffs are looming. Of course, the unemployment numbers will become meaningless since after a certain period of time, the long-term unemployed are no longer included in the current rate of unemployment.

After hearing Harvard’s Larry Sumners endorsement of these tax cuts for the rich and his prediction of another recession if they are not enacted, I suspect that President Obama may still be listening to the counsel of his former Economic Advisor. Consequently, I am not surprised by Obama’s use of fear tactics today to drum support for these tax cuts for the rich.

If this is the kind of way Obama negotiates with Republicans over tax cuts for the rich, imagine how he would negotiate with the Iranians and North Korea? LOL! And then imagine how Hillary Clinton would have negotiated if she had been elected President of the United States. In the immortal words of Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu [Neville Chamberlain] all over again.

Some People Are Ready to Vote for a Caribou Killer in 2012, If Necessary

According to of reports, there is a tentative deal on tax cuts, with all of the current rates being extended for two years in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits.

That has a few people upset with President Obama (notably, the “liberals,” whoever that is):

Daniel Roche, a 2008 Deputy Field Organizer in Nevada for Mr. Obama, is quoted in an email from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee saying that if the president “capitulates on this, there really is no point in voting for him in 2012.”

“The difference between voting for a Republican and voting for someone whose default negotiation strategy is rolling over and dying whenever the Republican Party says mean things is marginal,” he said. “This should be a ridiculously easy fight to win.”

At Least Someone Is Optimistic About the Tax Cut Stalemate

“I think we got off to a good start yesterday. There are going to be ups and downs in this process but I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get it done.”

~ President Obama is making us nauseous.

Accounting News Roundup: Political Nonprofits Pushing the Limits with Ads; Familiar “Outrage” Over Big 4 Audit Industry Dominance; Obama Attacks GOP Tax Policy in Weekly Address | 10.18.10

Groups Push Legal Limits in Advertising [NYT]
“The basic rule of thumb for nonprofit groups organized under Section 501(c) of the tax code is that more than 50 percent of their annual activities cannot be political. Although it is a matter of debate how spending on traditional issue ads would be categorized by the Internal Revenue Service, it is indisputable that spending on express advocacy would be classified as political.”

Lords to hear top six firms on audit reform [Accountancy Age]
“A showdown has been planned for the UK’s top six acevidence is heard at a House of Lord’s inquiry into audit reform.

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee will take evidence from the heads of the Big Four – PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young – followed by their mid-tier rivals – BDO and Grant Thornton – during its inquiry into audit competition.”

Accounting industry sees ray of light on the horizon [Crain’s]
“Demand for accountants is forcing large CPA firms to bump salaries by as much as 3.8% next year, the steepest jump since 2008. U.S. companies with more than 20 employees plan to increase hiring of full-time accountants and finance personnel this quarter for the first time since early 2009, says Michael Shapow, a senior vice-president at Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm Robert Half International Inc.

During the dot-com era, bachelor’s degrees in accounting fell from 53,000 in the mid-1990s to 35,000 in 2002, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Washington, D.C. The figure has boom-eranged, rising to 49,000 in 2008, creating a new problem: not enough professors.”

Systemic Risk! Dominance! Momentum! Auditors In Crisis. Again. [Re: The Auditors]
The “outrage” and “risk” over the dominance by the Big 4 in the audit industry is so played.

Obama Attacks Republicans on Tax Policy [TaxProf Blog]


AICPA to SEC: Companies Will Need as Much as Five Years to Ready for IFRS Adoption [JofA]
“In the portion of its letter regarding the impact of IFRS conversion on contractual arrangements, the AICPA voices support for a requirement for companies adopting IFRS to file one year of comparative financial statements rather than two. ‘Our research indicates that companies will need five years preparation time to adopt IFRS if the SEC requires two years of historical comparative financial statements. If only one year of comparative financial statements is required, a four-year transition period would be needed to adopt IFRS.’ The SEC has not said what the requirement would be.”

John Boehner: What Have You Done for American Families and Small Business Lately, Mr. President?

“If the President really wants to help small businesses, he should insist that Congress not leave town without cutting spending and stopping his tax hike to help create jobs – particularly small business jobs. By failing to act, the President is turning his back on American families and small businesses.”

~ The House Minority Leader, in a statement, nanoseconds after The President signed The Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 into law.

Sign of the Times: CFOs Living on Franks and Beans

Or ones that soon will be:


Look at the bright side, you were on the front page of the Post!

[via Gawker]

Accounting News Roundup: McConnell’s “Small Business” Definition Includes Obama; Oprah Picking Up Taxes on Aussie Trip Giveaway; Deloitte’s Holiday Outlook | 09.20.10

Obama Among `Small Businesses’ Bearing Share of Tax on Wealthy [Bloomberg]
“Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says President Barack Obama wants to subject half of all small-business income to a tax increase, a move that he says would strike a blow at the U.S. job-creation engine.

McConnell’s numbers only add up if you consider people like billionaire investor George Soros, most movie stars and Obama himself small-business owners, tax experts say.

That’s because the lawmaker is basing his figure on a broad definition of the term that experts say includes authors, actors and athletes who employ few if any workers. It also encompasses businesses that many people wouldn’t consider small, such as Soros’s hedge-fund firm and major law partnerships.”

What Should We Do With the Estate Tax? [WSJ]
“any believe Congress will tackle the estate-tax question in the weeks before it adjourns, along with a slew of other tax matters. What’s likely to happen? Many think lawmakers will return the estate tax to its 2009 level—a $3.5 million exemption per individual and a top rate of 45%—and possibly raise the exemption. Heirs of those who die in 2010 may also get the choice of using 2009 rules. If lawmakers don’t step in, the tax will return in 2011 with a $1 million exemption per individual and top rate of 55%.”

Oprah — I’ll Pay the Taxes for My Aussie Giveaway [TMZ]
Locking up sainthood: “TMZ spoke with Larry Edema from Michigan — who was selected to be in the audience on Monday for Oprah’s big giveaway — and dude tells us Winfrey had a certified public accountant on hand to address the tax issue right after the taping.

Edema says the CPA informed the group that all taxes associated with the trip would be “handled by the Oprah show,” so the trip would truly be 100% free.”

BP oil spill well effectively dead, says US [FT]
“The US authorities pronounced BP’s blown-out Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico ‘effectively dead’ on Sunday, 152 days after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that caused the world’s largest accidental offshore oil spill.

The announcement ends the 5m barrel leak, which sparked fury among the US public and politicians, but may eventually be seen to have had only a marginal effect on the global energy industry.”


Your Coming Tax Cut (or Not) [NYT]
The Times breaks things down, in gray lady fashion, if all of the tax cuts are extended.

Deloitte Forecasts a 2 Percent Increase in Holiday Sales [PR Newswire]
Deloitte Downer.

Feds charge man shot by IRS agent in San Francisco [AP]
“Investigators say the IRS agent, 36-year-old Dena Crowe, was putting things into her car outside her home in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood when she was confronted by a teen demanding money and Higginbotham pointing a shotgun at her.

Authorities say Crowe identified herself as an agent and fired her .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun at the suspects, who then fled on foot.”

Tax Policy Rhetoric Déjà Vu

“Watching this speech, I’ve determined that Obama will win the 2008 election.”

~ Philip Klein has heard this before, although John Boehner subs for George W. Bush.

Accounting News Roundup: Obama Opposes Deal on Tax Cuts for Wealthy; Former Advatech CFO Sentenced; Citrin Cooperman One of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing | 09.08.10

Obama Against a Compromise on Extension of Bush Tax Cuts [NYT]
“President Obama on Wednesday will make clear that he opposes any compromise that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy beyond this year, officials said, adding a populist twist to an election-season economic package that is otherwise designed to entice support from big businesses and their Republican allies.

Mr. Obama’s opposition to allowing the high-end tax cuts to remain in place for even another year or two would be the signal many Congressional Democrats have been awaiting as they prepare for a showdown with Republicans on the issue and ends speculation that thee open to an extension. Democrats say only the president can rally wavering lawmakers who, amid the party’s weakened poll numbers, feel increasingly vulnerable to Republican attacks if they let the top rates lapse at the end of this year as scheduled.”

Oracle CEO Rails Against H-P For Mark Hurd Lawsuit [Dow Jones]
Were the HP board membersnot aware that Larry Ellison does what he wants? Oh and that’s he’s filthy rich and will buy all of their homes and their families’ homes and burn them to the ground if you dare cross him?

“Oracle Corp. (ORCL) Chief Executive Larry Ellison issued on Tuesday a strongly worded criticism of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) and its lawsuit against H-P’s former Chief Executive Mark Hurd, suggesting that Oracle might discontinue its 25-year partnership with H-P.

‘Oracle has long viewed H-P as an important partner,’ said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a statement. ‘The H-P board is acting with utter disregard for that partnership, our joint customers, and their own shareholders and employees. The H-P Board is making it virtually impossible for Oracle and H-P to continue to cooperate and work together in the IT marketplace.’ ”

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation Announces John Duffey to Join Company as Chief Financial Officer and Lance Balk to Serve as General Counsel [PR Newswire]
Despite rumors that Duffey is scared to death of roller coasters, he assumes the big chair.

Former Advatech CFO Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison [Dow Jones]
“Richard Margulies, 59, was convicted of a June 2008 scheme that involved hiring two individuals to make “manipulative” purchases in the company’s stock in exchange for illegal kickbacks. He provided the two with shareholder lists, confidential information and non-public press releases to help slowly drive up the share price.

Soon after, Margulies was investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was indicted in December 2008 on charges that included conspiracy and securities fraud. Margulies pleaded guilty.

The court found he intended to cause $2.5 million to $7 million in losses as a result of his actions.”


Deloitte Becomes a Thomson Reuters Certified Implementer [PR Newswire]
Apparently this is BFD.

BP Takes Some Blame in Gulf Disaster [WSJ]
“The report finds BP facing a tricky balancing act. The British company risks exposing itself to greater legal liability if it assumes a large part of the blame for the disaster, but if it doesn’t do this it likely would be accused of evading responsibility. Meanwhile, parceling out blame to other companies involved in the well risks drawing blowback from them. BP officials and legal analysts say the company is trying to be careful to avoid letting the findings devolve into more mud-slinging.”

Citrin Cooperman Ranked Among Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-growing Private Companies [PR Log]
“According to Inc., Citrin Cooperman was the 148th fastest growing firm in the magazine’s broad “financial services” category, which includes accounting firms, brokerages, lending services and technology firms serving the financial industry.”

Write It Down: No More Financial Crises Ever

“[It will] help prevent another financial crisis like the one that we’re still recovering from.”

~ President Barack Obama on the financial reform bill.

New Obama Proposal Would Invest $30 Billion TARP Funds in Small Banks

One can only postulate that since there was no room in President Obama’s bloated 2010 budget for small business initiatives, he instead chose to apply some TARP money that’s just lying around to get small business working again. I wish Mr President the best of luck on that plan as he’ll be needing it.

WSJ:

President Barack Obama proposed a $30 billion small business lending program Tuesday, the latest in a series of administration efforts to jump-start hiring by the nation’s small businesses.

The program, which Mr. Obama detailed at an appearance in Nashua, N.H., would invest $30 billion from the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program in community banks to encourage them to lend to small businesses. If approved by Congress, the program would incentivize small and midsize banks to provide loans valued at several times that figure.


Didn’t we invest $700 billion in the Too Big to Fail banks for this same purpose? Not that it matters, we’ll try it again with the hopes that community banks will be able to accomplish what TBTF couldn’t.

A proactive sort of administration, White House officials were already prepared to counter the argument that TARP was never intended as a general piggy bank for funding the administration’s whims:

“The law is very clear: The monies recouped from the TARP shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for the reduction of the public debt. It’s not for a piggy bank,” [Sen. Judd] Gregg said.

[White House Budget Director Peter] Orszag said new legislation would be required to create the new small-business plan. He said the cost of the plan would depend on the subsidy rate of new activity and wouldn’t amount to a net cost, in terms of the deficit, of $30 billion.

Considering that he’s referring to a deficit of $3.8 trillion, I guess $30 billion isn’t really anything to get stressed out about after all.

Meanwhile, can community banks counter the continued deterioration of commercial real estate weighing on their balance sheets? I guess we’ll have to wait it out and see.

Quote of the Day: Extra Kisses from Washington | 02.01.10

“Even in Washington, where we throw around trillions of dollars as if they were Hershey’s Kisses at Halloween, these numbers take your breath away.”

~ Howard Gleckman, editor of TaxVox, on the numbers in President Obama’s 2011 budget.

Is Tim Flynn Being Vetted as the Next Secretary of the Treasury?

Welcome back, servants of the capital markets. We’ll dispense with anything substantive this morning in order to help you combat the depression. We’ll start off by presenting you with the following:
obama-kpmg.jpg
As you can see, this is the POTUS on vacation working in Hawaii with the entourage in tow. One member of said entourage just happens to be donning a KPMG cap and since not just anyone can get their hands on these coveted lids — and since the gentleman’s face is mostly obscured — we’re curious about a few things: 1) Is Tim Flynn leaving the Radio Station for a cabinet position and if so, which one? 2) Was Phil Mickelson joining the Prez for some time on the links and had a overwhelming urge to represent? 3) If this is just some Obama yes-man, did he receive the cap from a Klynveldian representative and is this a bold move to get KPMG representation in the President’s inner circle?
If you’ve got thoughts, theories, or wild-ass guesses, dispense them in the comments and again, welcome back.

Preliminary Analytics | 12.09.09

Tim_geithner.jpgGeithner Said to Be Seeking TARP Extension Until Next October – Timmay is expected to scribe a letter to Congress letting them know about the little extension. [Bloomberg]
Standard Chartered Sees No ‘Material’ Impairments in Dubai – Let’s remember this for future reference. [WSJ]
Lessons Lost – Gary Weiss links to GC in his remembrance of Enron. Does anyone else remember Enron? [Portfolio]
Obama’s Stimulus II – BO wants to help small business by letting them “eliminate capital gains taxes on the sale of small firms, allow them to continue to expense capital investment, and give them tax breaks for hiring new workers.” Sounds nice but Howard Gleckman says, “It’s a bit like throwing a drowning man a 64-inch flat panel TV. He might love to have one, but not right now.” [Tax Policy Center]
U.S. SEC Sues to Freeze Assets Of ‘Ponzi Scheme’ – Rockford Funding Group LLC, come on down! [DealBook]

Scoping | 07.23.09

Shakeshack_hamburgers.jpgObama Approval 49% Among U.S. Investors, 87% Overseas – “President Barack Obama has rock- star appeal among the investing class — except in his own country.” [Bloomberg]
Investment Bank Helps Boost Credit Suisse’s Net Income – Reigning in on the company wide Shake Shack outings is probably helpful too. [WSJ]
One-time gain boosts Ford results – Don’t call it a comeback [BBC]
Manure means money to handlers gathered in Iowa – Sometimes there’s money in shit [AP via Miami Herald]
Bardem Turns Down Role in ‘Wall Street’ Sequel – “The actor Javier Bardem has turned down a role in the sequel to Oliver Stone’s seminal 1980s treatise on greed, “Wall Street.” Mr. Bardem, who won an Oscar in 2008 for his performance in “No Country for Old Men,” was to have played the world’s villain du jour: a hedge fund manager.” [DealBook]