Posts Tagged ‘harry Reid’
by Joe Newby
During a discussion on the sequester, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Tea Party is a “non-violent” anarchist group that doesn’t believe in any form of government, which he said is “inherently good,” The Blaze reported Tuesday.
“We have a situation where this country has been driven by the Tea Party for the last number of years,” he said. “When I was in school, I studied government and I learned about the anarchists. Now, they were different than the Tea Party because they were violent. But they were anarchists because they did not believe in government in any level and they acknowledged it. The Tea Party kind of hides that.”
Harry Reid on difference between anarchists and the Tea Party
“Anything they can do to throw a monkey wrench into the wheels of government, they are happy to do that,” he added.
Reid went on to say that while the Tea Party sees the government as inherently bad, “government is inherently good.”
A reader at Twitchy said the Tea Party “wants to rid the government of mealy mouthed, nasty, lying little twisted worms from Searchlight, Nevada, who think they are rulers, not public servants.”
“Hey Harry, do you really think the Senate floor is a proper place to attack fellow Americans?” asked a post at the pro-Sarah Palin Barracuda Brigade, reminding Reid that those participating in the Occupy Wall Street protests are closer to anarchists than the Tea Party.
A post at the left wing Daily Kos, however, demanded that Reid “do something” about the Tea Party, but did not specify what action the Majority Leader should take.
“Enough already! Stand up for the Majority already Harry. Quit playing footsie with ‘your esteemed, gentlemen colleagues’ — and give them ‘just desserts,’” the post said.
But during a speech this week on the Senate floor, Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed that over the past two years the government has reduced the deficit by $2.5 trillion – almost double the amount the deficit is right now.
“In the last two years we have reduced the deficit by $2.5 trillion,” he said. “The Senate budget continues this effort without jeopardizing our economic recovery or breaking our promises to seniors and veterans.”
The Congressional Budget Office, which does non-partisan economic analysis at the behest of Congress, estimates that the federal deficit will be $845 billion by the end of this year. Two years ago, in 2011, the deficit was $1.3 trillion. That’s hardly a reduction of the more than $2 trillion that Reid claimed.
In fact, CBO data shows that the deficit has only been reduced by about $450 billion over the last two years. That’s about 20 percent of what Reid claimed.
For mangling budget numbers in a way that gave Americans too rosy a picture of the federal decific, Harry Reid wins the Whopper of the Week, a distinction awarded by the Washington Guardian to inaccurate, false, or misleading statements made by political leaders.
Reid’s mistake was in making it sound like the budget deficits and their reductions over the next decade have already taken place, during 2011 and 2012. The Democrat’s current fiscal plan projects $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, according to documents released by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the Senate Budget Committee chairwoman.
What Murray’s letter actually says is that the work in creating policy that will reduce the debt has been done over the past two years. It’s the planning and preparation that have been done over the past two years, the policy changes that will lead to deficit reduction. But most of the reductions are years off.
“This memo first lays out the bipartisan work we’ve already done over the last two years to reduce our deficit and debt by at least $2.4 trillion,” Murray’s letter reads.
Exact numbers are often difficult to come by and sometimes a guessing game, but politicians need to be accurate in their claims, especially when presenting a timeframe. Reid’s comments made it seem like the government has already cut the debt and should be operating at a surplus. But the reality is trillions in new deficits are on the horizon before those $2.4 trillion in savings are achieved.
His career in public service has ended up being remarkably lucrative.
Try this thought experiment. Imagine that someone grows up in poverty, works his way through law school by holding the night shift as a Capitol Hill policeman, and spends all but two years of his career as a public servant. Now imagine that this person’s current salary — and he’s at the top of his game — is $193,400. You probably wouldn’t expect him to have millions in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
But, surprise, he does, if he’s our Senate majority leader, whose net worth is between 3 and 10 million dollars, according to OpenSecrets.org. When Harry Reid entered the Nevada legislature in 1982, his net worth was listed as between $1 million and $1.5 million “or more,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. So, since inquiring minds inquire, let’s try to figure out how Reid’s career in public service ended up being so lucrative. He hasn’t released his tax returns, which makes this an imperfect science, but looking at a few of his investments helps to show how he amassed his wealth.
In 2004, the senator made $700,000 off a land deal that was, to say the least, unorthodox. It started in 1998 when he bought a parcel of land with attorney Jay Brown, a close friend whose name has surfaced multiple times in organized-crime investigations and whom one retired FBI agent described as “always a person of interest.” Three years after the purchase, Reid transferred his portion of the property to Patrick Lane LLC, a holding company Brown controlled. But Reid kept putting the property on his financial disclosures, and when the company sold it in 2004, he profited from the deal — a deal on land that he didn’t technically own and that had nearly tripled in value in six years.
When his 2010 challenger Sharron Angle asked him in a debate how he had become so wealthy, he said, “I did a very good job investing.” Did he ever. On December 20, 2005, he invested $50,000 to $100,000 in the Dow Jones U.S. Energy Sector Fund (IYE), which closed that day at $29.15. The companies whose shares it held included ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and ConocoPhillips. When he made a partial sale of his shares on August 19, 2008, during congressional recess, IYE closed at $41.82. Just a month later, on September 17, Reid was working to bring to the floor a bill that the Joint Committee on Taxation said would cost oil companies — including those in the fund — billions of dollars in taxes and regulatory fees. The bill passed a few days later, and by October 10, IYE’s shares had fallen by 42 percent, to $24.41, for a host of reasons. Savvy investing indeed.
Here’s another example: The Los Angeles Times reported in November 2006 that when Reid became Senate majority leader he committed to making earmark reform a priority, saying he’d work to keep congressmen from using federal dollars for pet projects in their districts. It was a good idea but an odd one for the senator to espouse. He had managed to get $18 million set aside to build a bridge across the Colorado River between Laughlin, Nev., and Bullhead City, Ariz., a project that wasn’t a priority for either state’s transportation agency. His ownership of 160 acres of land nearby that stood to appreciate considerably from the project had nothing to do with the decision, according to one of his aides. The property’s value has varied since then. On his financial-disclosure forms from 2006, it was valued at $250,000 to $500,000. Open Secrets now lists it as his most valuable asset, worth $1 million to $5 million as of 2010.
How Reid acquired that land is interesting, too. He put $10,000 into a pension fund his friend Clair Haycock controlled, to take over the 160-acre parcel at a price far below its assessed value. Six months later, Reid introduced legislation that would help Haycock’s industry, a move many observers said appeared to be a quid pro quo, though Reid and Haycock denied that the legislation was the result of a property deal.
We don’t know how much more money Reid has or how he made all of it. For that, we’d have to see his tax returns.
— Betsy Woodruff is a William F. Buckley Fellow at the National Review Institute.
This Company was initially championed by Harry Reid. Hundreds of Nevadans have been put out of work by the failure of another solar industry company, Amonix. Now a political brawl has begun over who deserves the blame for its bankruptcy.
Amonix’s North Las Vegas facility was approved for $5.9 million in federal tax credits under the stimulus plan, to underwrite early production of four 11-ton, 50-by-72 feet solar cell arrays per day — enough to power up to 30 homes and support about 300 jobs.
That tax assistance never materialized though, according to the firm, because the facility never made any money to offset through tax credits.
This is all extremely bad news for Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is currently challenging incumbent Senator Dean Heller. Berkley supported the Obama stimulus package, and Heller didn’t. Now Heller has been relentless in attempting to brand Berkley as a big government spender and crony capitalist.
“Congresswoman Berkley, when you voted for the trillion dollar stimulus, you promised it would create 34,000 jobs in Nevada,” wrote Chandler Smith, spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, the incumbent Republican Berkley is challenging. “Nevada lost jobs. Congresswoman Berkley, you pushed $6 million in funding to a company that has created zero long-term jobs for Nevada. It’s time for you to admit the stimulus – and your policies – aren’t working.”
Berkley has been taking Amonix’s political donations. The company’s PAC has donated $3,100 to her Senate campaign — almost half of the money it doled out to candidates.
Berkley’s campaign has already been playing defense as a result of an ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee. It may now be too late for Berkley’s reputation to recover in time for the November election.
The word’s out that he [Romney] hasn’t paid any taxes for 10 years.”
— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Aug. 2, 2012
Reid has generated a lot of controversy with his claim that presumptive GOP nominee did not pay any taxes for 10 years. He originally told the Huffington Post that a person who had invested with Bain Capital had called his office and told him this. Then, he told reporters in Nevada that “I have had a number of people tell me that.”
Reid has refused to identify his source (or sources). Romney and his campaign aides have emphatically denied the charge but Reid has stood firm. “I don’t think the burden should be on me,” he said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.”
This whole exchange poses a fact-checking conundrum. Generally, we maintain that the person or the campaign making the charge must back it up. Reid has refused to provide any evidence, except for the (unproven) fact that someone called him up and told him something that may be true — or simply a rumor.
But we can still examine how credible this rumor might be.
Romney has refused to release more than two years of tax returns, citing a precedent that is not very credible; he earned three Pinocchios for that claim. Most presidential candidates in recent years have released more than two years of returns, so Romney may be paying a political price for failing to release more.
But Romney’s 2010 return and his estimated 2011 return do show that he paid substantial taxes in those years. In 2010, he earned nearly $22 million, including $3 million in taxable interest, nearly $5 million in dividends and more than $12 million in capital gains. He reduced his taxes by giving $3 million in charitable contributions (much of it in appreciated stock, which shielded him from paying additional capital gains.)
In other words, this tax return shows a portfolio that is not structured to yield zero taxes. We spoke to a number of tax experts, all of whom said that, given Romney’s current portfolio, it was highly improbable for Romney to have had 10 years with tax-free returns — though there could have been one or two years with little or no taxes.
(We will lay aside the interesting question of Romney’s individual retirement account, valued at as much as $100 million, which may have benefited from Bain Capital’s practice of allowing employees to co-invest retirement funds in takeover deals.)
Charitable contributions, first of all, could only get Romney so far. Taxpayers cannot eliminate tax liability only through charitable contributions.
Still, Romney at one point could have invested all of his money in tax-exempt bonds, though that is not his investment strategy now. (IRS figures show that 61 percent of high-income returns with no tax liability stemmed from tax-exempt interest.)
Romney also could have timed the sale of stocks or made other investment decisions that would have yielded losses that offset capital gains. Len Burman, a professor at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, said IRS data show that 5.7 percent of the high-income returns had as a primary reason losses from partnerships and closely-held business. “We know that Governor Romney had a partnership, and it had losses in 2010,” he said. “It’s possible that those partnership losses were large enough to offset taxable income from compensation, rents, interest, dividends, and royalties.”
Romney also could have invested in tax shelters. Edward Kleinbard, a law professor at the University of Southern California and former chief of staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation, noted that Romney chaired the audit committee of Marriott International when it engaged in a highly aggressive tax shelter that was successfully challenged by the Internal Revenue Service.
But none of this appears to add up to 10 years of tax returns with no taxes paid. “It is theoretically possible, but it seems quite improbable in practice given the portfolio in 2010,” Kleinbard said. “It is improbable that a man of his wealth would have paid no taxes for 10 years.”
Robert S. McIntyre, director of Citizens for Tax Justice, said that Romney “probably reported income every year” but that he might have paid as low as a 2 percent tax rate in one year. “That’s close enough to zero for me,” he said.
Still, Reid claims that Romney did not pay taxes for 10 years. Moreover, he claims to base this on information from a Bain investor, without explaining how someone not intimately familiar with Romney’s tax situation would know details of his taxes.
We asked a Reid spokesman for more backup information and for the name of a tax expert who could back up Reid’s claim but did not receive a response.
The Pinocchio Test
We use a reasonable person standard here. Without seeing Romney’s taxes, we cannot definitively prove Reid incorrect. But tax experts say his claim is highly improbable. Reid also has made no effort to explain why his unnamed source would be credible. So, in the absence of more information, it appears he has no basis to make his incendiary claim.
Moreover, Reid holds a position of great authority in the U.S. Congress. He should hold himself to a high standard of accuracy when making claims about political opponents.