Tag Archives: billion

Net Neutrality

net neutralityI think this is important.

From DailyKos:

With the Federal Communications Commission set to vote on strong net neutrality rules this Thursday, the opposition is getting increasingly shrill, and their favorite talking point—a false one—is that it’s going to raise your taxes.

“Stop the federal internet takeover!” That’s the warning that Sen. Mike Lee blasted out to readers of conservative email lists last month. “This is essentially a massive tax increase on the middle class, being passed in the dead of night without the American public really being made aware of what is going on,” wrote the Utah Republican. “New taxes and fees” could total “$15 billion annually,” Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, claimed in an op-ed. It’s “Obamacare for the internet,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) hollered.

That false talking point comes from a discredited analysis of the issue by a group called the Progressive Policy Institute that claims that the option the FCC plans to take on net neutrality, reclassifying it under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, could cost American consumers up to $15 billion annually. The claim has been debunked by internet advocates andtraditional media fact-checkers alike, as relying on “fuzzy math” and “significant factual error[s].”

But it still gets traction, including at The New York Times, as Media Matters points out. TheTimes “Bits” blog, which really should know better, repeated the debunked claim in a post last week, even while it included a statement from FCC spokesperson Kim Hart that Wheeler’s plan “‘does not raise taxes or fees. Period.'”

The reality is that the FCC can and probably will “declare that broadband is a purely interstate telecom service,” as Free Press explains. “Because broadband access is interstate and not intrastate, none of the intrastate taxes or special telecom fees would apply.” States could impose a sales tax on interstate telecom services, but that’s just about the only tax that could apply here, and it would be a maximum of about $4 billion, nationally, as opposed to $15 billion. But the FCC and Congress could both take action to eliminate any extra taxes. (more…)

Bank Fraud

Several years ago, I was writing about the financial crisis, but I got away from the topic. Unclear why, but I did. It is a good thing that Matt Tiabbi is still on the case. I saw that JP Morgan Chase was about to agree to a $13 Billion settlement. Why?

From Matt:

A lot of people all over the world are having opinions now about the ostensibly gigantic $13 billion settlement Jamie Dimon and JP Morgan Chase have entered into with the government.

The general consensus from most observers in the finance sector is that this superficially high-dollar settlement – worth about half a year’s profits for Chase – is an unconscionable Marxist appropriation. It’s been called a “robbery” and a “shakedown,” in which red Obama and his evil henchman Eric Holder confiscated cash from a successful bank, as The Wall Street Journal wrote, “for no other reason than because they can and because they want to appease their left-wing populist allies.”

Look, there’s no denying that this is a lot of money. It’s the biggest settlement in the history of government settlements, and it’s just one company to boot. But this has been in the works for a long time, and it’s been in the works for a reason. This whole thing, lest anyone forget, has its genesis in a couple of state Attorneys General (including New York’s Eric Schneiderman and Delaware’s Beau Biden) not wanting to sign off on any deal with the banks that didn’t also address the root causes of the crisis, in particular the mass fraud surrounding the sale and production of subprime mortgage securities.

I have no problem with the Justice Department going after JP Morgan Chase. These guys committed fraud. This is what we must understand. Wall Street committed fraud on a large scale. 

Here’s what Matt added:

First of all, the settlement, as the folks at Better Markets have pointed out, may wipe out between $100 billion and $200 billion in potential liability – meaning that the bank might just have settled “for ten cents or so on the dollar.” The Federal Housing Finance Agency alone was suing Chase and its affiliates for $33 billion. The trustee in the ongoing Bernie Madoff Ponzi scandal was suing Chase for upwards of $19 billion.

Obviously, those plaintiffs may never have gotten that kind of money out of Chase. But just settling the mere potential of so much liability has huge value for the bank. It’s part of the reason the company’s share price hasn’t exactly cratered since the settlement was announced.

Moreover, the settlement is only $9 billion in cash, with $4 billion earmarked for “mortgage relief.” Again, as Better Markets noted, we’ve seen settlements with orders of mortgage relief before, and banks seem to have many canny ways of getting out of the spirit of these requirements.

Look, if this settlement goes thru, you know that it will be in the best interest of JP Morgan Chase. IF this goes thru, look for the rest of Wall Street to run and figure out how to settle their issues, also. 

Supreme Court to look at Exxon case

It has now been 18 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster. Tons of crude polluted the Alaska coast. Exxon was fine $5 billion. They appealed. The fine was lowered to $2 billion. Exxon-Mobil’s net profit last year was $39.5 Billion. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear their case. At stake is can you and I hold companies accountable for the actions of their employees.

———

From RS:

The US Supreme Court said Monday it would examine the legality under maritime law of damages of 2.5 billion dollars awarded against ExxonMobil for the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil tanker disaster.

It is the latest twist in a long-running saga which began when the Exxon Valdez crashed into a reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989 spilling 11 million gallons of crude into the waters.

It was the worst oil disaster ever to hit the United States, and afterwards ExxonMobil spent some 2.1 billion dollars cleaning up the polluted coastline and more than 300 million in compensation for fishermen and locals affected by the catastrophe. (more…)