Daily Archives: March 5, 2011

RAW Story: David Koch: Prank call ‘a case of identity theft’

Billionaire donates $100 million for MIT cancer center

March 5, 2011-  Conservative billionaire David Koch says the Gonzo journalist who impersonated him in a recent prank call heard across the nation may be guilty of identity theft.

"It's a case of identity theft," Koch told the New York Times in a rare interview Friday. "I didn’t even know his name before this brouhaha erupted."

Identity theft is a serious crime, but it's unclear whether a prank call falls under the category — the concept typically refers to assuming someone's identity to make purchases or commit crimes, according to the Justice Department.

In the widely-publicized call whose audio was published, Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy spoke to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) for 20 minutes while pretending to be Koch, discussing the high-profile clash with public employee unions and offering to help the governor.

The real Koch joked to the paper he was surprised Walker even took the call.

Tax.Com: Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who ‘Contributes’ to Public Workers’ Pensions?

February 24, 2011- When it comes to improving public understanding of tax policy, nothing has been more troubling than the deeply flawed coverage of the Wisconsin state employees' fight over collective bargaining.

Economic nonsense is being reported as fact in most of the news reports on the Wisconsin dispute, the product of a breakdown of skepticism among journalists multiplied by their lack of understanding of basic economic principles.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans.

Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Buzzflash: Bernie Sanders: Don’t Balance the Budget on the Backs of the Middle Class

March 2, 2011- Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that Congress must not balance the budget by cutting programs for working families after giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.

"At a time when the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than it has been in decades, it would be wrong to balance the budget on the backs of people already suffering from the recession who are receiving Social Security, enrolled in Head Start or depend on home heating assistance," Sanders said.

House Republicans last month rammed through a bill that would cut this year's budget by more than $60 billion. That bill would:

•Cut $1.1 billion from Head Start depriving services for 218,000 children.
•Cut $1.3 billion for Social Security delaying benefits for 500,000 Americans.
•Slash $1.3 billion from community health centers taking primary health care from 11 million patients.

Buzzflash: Tax the Rich: Minnesota’s Governor Teaches Scott Walker A Lesson

February 26, 2011- According to Governor Walker and his Koch-backed counterparts in other states, their efforts to do away with most collective bargaining rights in the public sector and force public workers to pay more for their healthcare and pensions are a simple matter of arithmetic.

But across the border from Wisconsin in Minnesota, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has proposed an alternative idea: Raise taxes on the rich to help close the budget gap. Dayton's budget plan would increase taxes to 10.95 percent on Minnesota families earning over $150,000 a year (or single adults earning more than $85,000). He would also add an additional 3 percent surtax on the superrich – those earning more than $500,000 – for the next 3 years.

Buzzflash: Wisconsin Taxpayers May Pay Millions of Dollars After Being Blackmailed by Scott Walker. It Happened Before.

March 3, 2011- Could Scott Walker's virtual blackmailing of the citizens of Wisconsin end up costing Badger State taxpayers millions of dollars?

Quite likely.

As BuzzFlash pointed out in an earlier column, "Walker Whacks Wisconsin Taxpayers With Bill for Wackenhut After Illegally Asserting Powers", Walker used the time-pressed coercion technique to fire union security guards at the Milwaukee County Court House and two other buildings. As executive director of the county, he bypassed the board to crush the union, claiming a fiscal emergency.

Sound familiar? Well, as we noted (hat tip to Rachel Maddow), an arbitrator has subsequently ruled against Walker. As a result, the taxpayers of Milwaukee will have to pay half a million dollars in back wages to the union security guards, who were ordered reinstated. That's on top of the money wasted on the union-busting Wackenhut firm, whose Milwaukee supervisor was allegedly a convicted criminal.

Salon: Wisconsin: The Tea Party’s Waterloo?

Don't celebrate quite yet, but Republican support for Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill is fraying

March 4, 2011- Just how nervous is Scott Walker feeling in Wisconsin? The Washington Post's Greg Sargent alerts us to a Wall Street Journal article and a local news item in Wisconsin suggesting that two more Republican state senators may be on the verge of rejecting Walker's budget repair bill. Republicans have 19-14 majority in the state Senate, and with one senator already on record in opposition, two more nay votes will kill the bill.

Talking Points Memo: The Next Union Battlefield In Ohio: The Ballot Box

March 4, 2011- As the Ohio state House prepares to take up the controversial collective bargaining and union rights provisions contained in the just-passed state Senate Bill 5, union supporters and Democrats are looking ahead to a battle that will put the legislation in the hands of people they say are on their side: the voters of Ohio.

Though they plan to fight SB 5 tooth-and-nail as it works its way through the Republican-controlled House, leaders of the SB 5 opposition tell TPM that they don't expect to win there. There are 59 Republicans in the House and just 40 Democrats, meaning there's little chance for a repeat of the drama seen in the Senate, where SB 5 passed by just one vote.

But, thanks to the eccentricities of Ohio law, passage in the House doesn't mean SB 5 is guaranteed to go into effect. Though they more than likely can't stop it in the legislature, the opposition can potentially block its implementation by promising to take it on at the ballot box. That means the fight over SB 5 could extend for months — maybe even all the way to November, 2012.

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