Tag Archives: millionaires

Walker gave over $1 billion to the rich, but has no evidence it created jobs

In recent testimony before the Legislature, the Secretary of the Department of Revenue for the Walker administration claimed that a runaway manufacturing and agricultural tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations enacted in the 2011 state budget is helping create jobs. But in response to an open records request by One Wisconsin Now seeking documentation to back up Rick Chandler’s job creation claim the agency replied: “We do not have any such records.”

In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker and his GOP cohorts concocted a late-night scheme to give away more of our money to their wealthy friends under the guise of creating jobs. Walker never required proving jobs were created to get the money, and now we find that his own administration can’t provide a shred of evidence of any actual jobs actually being created.

As reported by the Associated Press on March 29, “Gov. Scott Walker’s Revenue Department secretary is defending a manufacturing tax credit that’s cost far more than originally expected. Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler told lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee on April 20 that the manufacturing and ag tax credit has helped led (sic) to an increase of 31,000 manufacturing jobs in the state since 2011. The tax credit was passed in 2011 but took effect in 2013. It’s projected to cost $1.4 billion by mid-2019. It’s costing more than twice as much as originally estimated now that it’s fully implemented. (Editor’s Note: Even if the money had created 31,000 jobs, that would mean each job cost more than $45,000.)

Seeking confirmation of Chandler’s allegation, One Wisconsin Now submitted a request under the state open records law for “copies of all documents which show jobs created specifically and as a direct result of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, since its adoption in the 2011 budget.”

In response, the DOR replied, “We received your open records request for copies of all documents which show jobs created specifically and as a direct result of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, since its adoption in the 2011 budget. We do not have any such records.”

According to an analysis of the tax loophole by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 11 of the wealthiest people in Wisconsin will reap a windfall of $21 million in 2017, with no requirement that jobs be created. And, in 2017, claimants making over $1 million will be showered with tax breaks of over $161 million.

Walker and the legislative Republicans have cut public education, technical colleges and our university by record amounts. They’ve kicked tens of thousands of people off their health care. They’ve allowed our roads to crumble. It is an outrage they can’t back up their job claims with any proof

Scot Ross is executive director of One Wisconsin Now.

 

Walker-backed tax break gives $572M to people with incomes over $500,000

Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel across Wisconsin.  No matter where I went, I found stagnant wages, underemployment and was confronted with a growing sentiment that our economic system is rigged against hardworking Wisconsinites.  It’s easy to see why.

Over the last three decades, the average incomes for Wisconsin’s top 1 percent have increased by 120 percent, yet the incomes of the remaining 99 percent grew by just 4 percent (Pulling Apart 2016, by the Wisconsin Budget Project and COWS).  Not only are middle income people paying the largest percentage of their income of any group in state and local taxes (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy), but the number of Wisconsin middle income families is declining faster in Wisconsin than any state in the nation (Pew Charitable Trust).

 

Wisconsin’s economic system is rigged to benefit those at the top and one need not look further than the Manufacturing and Agricultural Tax Credit beloved by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans.  The biggest corporate tax giveaway in Wisconsin history, this corporate handout is projected to cost more than $650 million over the next biennium, with 88 percent of this tax giveaway going to individuals making more than $500,000. Eleven millionaires, making more than $35 million each, will receive nearly $22 million in tax breaks, funded by your tax dollars.  Despite claims that this drives economic development, recipients are not required to create one single job and can even outsource jobs!  In fact, Wisconsin had roughly 4,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in September 2016 than September 2015.

 

 While Wisconsin’s wealthy continue to receive bountiful handouts, most other working families continue to struggle, working harder and harder just to get by. This is why last week I joined several of my Democratic colleagues in introducing legislation that provides Wisconsin’s middle income families with the raise they need.

 

Combined with instituting a millionaire’s tax on families making more than $1,000,000, we take the money Republicans want to send to Wisconsin’s wealthy and we instead give a tax break to the low and middle class families who need it the most.  Our tax cut is targeted to individuals earning between $12,000 and $60,000, and married couples making between $20,000 and $100,000, with the average family of four earning an annual income of $45,000 receiving a $607 tax break.  From needed car maintenance to additional extracurricular programs for the kids — we know Wisconsin families benefitting from our tax breaks will reinvest this money in Wisconsin’s economy.  A thriving middle class isn’t just the result of a strong economy — a strong middle class builds a strong economy.  This proposal puts more money into the pockets of Wisconsin’s families, which means more money in our local economy. 

 

To the hard working families of Wisconsin — we hear you. We understand the struggles you face every day.  We are committed to doing everything we can to give you a needed raise and to build an economy that works for you, not just those at the top.

State Rep. Chris Taylor is a Democrat who represents Madison.

Cash for Cruz: Billionaires helped Cruz rise in GOP presidential bid

Four of America’s wealthiest businessmen laid the foundation for Ted Cruz’s now-surging Republican presidential campaign and have redefined the role of political donors.

With just over a week until voters get their first say, the 45-year-old Texas senator known as a conservative warrior has been ascendant. The $36 million committed last year by these donor families is now going toward broadcast and online advertisements, direct mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts in early primary states.

The donors’ super political action committees sponsored weekend rallies in Iowa featuring Cruz and conservative personality Glenn Beck. The state holds the leadoff caucuses on Feb. 1.

The long-believing benefactors are New York hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, Texas natural gas billionaires Farris and Dan Wilks, and private-equity partner Toby Neugebauer. They honed their plan to help Cruz before he began his steady rise in polls — before he even announced his presidential bid in March.

“No one wants to lose,” Neugebauer told The Associated Press when asked why he and others bet big on Cruz. “We didn’t miss that an outsider would win. I think we’ve nailed it.”

The groundwork laid by Neugebauer and other major donors began roughly two years ago, first in a casual conversation with Cruz at a donor’s home in Palm Beach, Florida, then in a more formal way over the 2014 Labor Day weekend at Neugebauer’s ranch in East Texas.

That October, big-data firm Cambridge Analytica — in which Mercer is an investor — began working to identify potential Cruz voters and develop messages that would motivate them. Alexander Nix, the company’s chief executive officer, said the importance of this early work cannot be overstated. He credits Cruz for understanding this.

“Money never buys you time,” Nix said, drawing from his experiences with campaigns worldwide. “Too often clients will come to you just before an election and expect you to work miracles. But you cannot roll back the clock.”

Key donors soon came up with a novel arrangement: Each family would control its own super PAC, but the groups would work together as a single entity called Keep the Promise. They keep in touch through weekly strategy phone calls.

That’s not how super PACs usually work. More typically, multiple donors turn over their money and leave the political decisions to professional strategists. For example, Jeb Bush’s super PAC counts more than two dozen million-dollar donors.

For Cruz, the pool of really big donors is far more concentrated: Mercer gave $11 million, Neugebauer gave $10 million, and the Wilks brothers and their wives together gave $15 million.

That level of support has opened Cruz to criticism that donors are influencing his policies, whether on abortion, energy or the gold standard.

Ethanol advocates point to his oil and gas donors as the reason he wants to discontinue that government subsidy for the corn-based fuel. Cruz and the donors have dismissed that as nonsense. His campaign cites as evidence Cruz’s desire to end handouts to all parts of the energy industry.

Neugebauer, whose private equity investment firm has investments in shale, moved to Puerto Rico in 2014. He said he relocated for his children’s education, but there are tax breaks as well.

Mercer is a former computer programmer and co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies, one of the country’s largest hedge funds. The Wilks brothers are relative newcomers to the world of political donations, having made billions in 2011 by selling their company, which manufactures equipment for the hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.

Although these donors set aside their millions for Cruz 10 months ago, it’s only now that the money is making its way to the 2016 race in a major way.

Since mid-December, the Keep the Promise super PACs have documented about $4 million in independent expenditures to help Cruz or attack other candidates — most often Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, federal election records show.

The super PACs have been identifying and connecting with Cruz voters through digital ads and door-knocking, and recently began a multimillion-dollar TV ad campaign. A Keep the Promise van tailed the Cruz campaign bus as it made its way through Iowa last week. Super PAC workers handed out thousands of “Choose Cruz” yard signs.

For the biggest donors, it’s no surprise that Cruz seems to be well-positioned heading into the primaries. In mid-July, Keep the Promise posted on its website a slide-show presentation called “Can He Win?” The document predicted it would be “very difficult for Establishment to destroy the conservative challenger.” 

Who are the big-money donors to the Obama, Romney campaigns?

Who are the biggest donors to the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney? The Associated Press examined more than 2.3 million campaign contributions and ranked the top five financial supporters for each.

Those donors and others are funding a presidential election on track to cost nearly $2 billion, with money going toward individual Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as independent, “super” political committees working on the campaigns’ behalf.

The largest declared donor overall is casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who is worth an estimated $25 billion. He has donated $34.2 million so far to aid Romney and organizations supporting Romney this election.

All five of the top Romney donors gave more money than the top Obama donor, movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Big-dollar donors can have big influence. They are often invited to state dinners at the White House and other events with the president. They also may be asked to weigh in on public policy, especially if it affects their financial interests. And the ranks of ambassadors, advisory panels and other government jobs traditionally are filled with those who have been generous during the campaign.

Here are the top five Obama donors:

No. 1: Jeffrey Katzenberg, 61, Hollywood film producer and chief executive of DreamWorks Animation.

Total: $2.566 million

Katzenberg is Obama’s top donor when tallying his contributions to a “super” political committee, money to Obama’s campaign and the money he arranged for others to write for the president. The biggest contributions include $2 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC. It was founded by former White House advisers and is the key pro-Obama PAC this election cycle. Katzenberg has helped “bundle” more than $500,000 for the president’s second term, making him among the campaign’s top volunteer fundraisers. He’s also given more than $66,000 to Obama’s campaign and the Democratic Party. The Hollywood icon has been invited to White House events, including a state dinner. Such high-profile soirées put him in proximity earlier this year to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who signed off on an overseas deal benefiting Katzenberg’s studio.

No. 2: Irwin Jacobs, 78, the founder and former chairman of Qualcomm.

Total: $2.122 million

Jacobs has given more than $2 million to pro-Obama super PACs and about $23,000 directly to Obama’s campaign and the Democrats. But he’s no newcomer to political giving: The billionaire has routinely backed San Diego-area politicians. Some of his local proposals include one backed by San Diego’s mayor that would have changed the name of Qualcomm Stadium for 10 days to reflect the cellphone maker’s new computer chip.

No. 3 (tie): Fred Eychaner, founder of Chicago-based alternative-newspaper publisher Newsweb Corp.

Total: $2.066 million

Eychaner has given $1.5 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC. He’s also given more than $60,000 to the president’s re-election committees, and he’s listed as a major “bundler” for Obama, having raised at least $500,000 for the president. Eychaner, a gay-rights activist, also has donated millions to other nonprofit groups, including more than $1 million to the progressive EMILY’s List organization. He’s visited the White House several times since early 2009, according to records, and Obama appointed Eychaner to the board of trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

No. 3 (tie): Jon Stryker, 54, a Michigan philanthropist.

Total: $2.066 million

Stryker has given $2 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC and has given $66,000 in contributions to Obama and the Democratic Party. Stryker is the heir to namesake Stryker Corp., the major medical device and equipment manufacturer. Stryker has been active in politics before the 2012 election; he contributed millions to help Democratic candidates statewide. And he also has given nearly $250 million of his personal wealth to groups supporting gay rights and the conservation of apes.

No. 5: Steve Mostyn, 41, a Houston-based personal injury attorney.

Total: $2.003 million

Mostyn has given more than $2 million to the Priorities USA Action super PAC that’s helping Obama. Mostyn, the former head of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, is a major backer of Democratic candidates in the state. He’s also sank cash into a Texas political committee that tried unsuccessfully to unseat Gov. Rick Perry two years ago.

Here are the top five Romney donors:

No. 1: Sheldon Adelson, 79, owner of the Las Vegas Sands casino empire.

Total: $34.2 million

Adelson is the largest declared donor to the Romney campaign and supporting political committees, providing more than $34.2 million this election season. He and his wife, Miriam, a physician, have given $10 million to the Restore Our Future, a super PAC backing Romney. Adelson also joined relatives to give $24 million to committees backing former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. And he has made public pledges vowing to give $10 million to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC and as much as $100 million this election more broadly to the Republicans. Worth an estimated $25 billion, Adelson oversees the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which runs casino and resort interests in Las Vegas, Singapore and Pennsylvanis, and Sands China Ltd., a cluster of casinos in the Chinese territory of Macau. He would benefit from loosened trade restrictions and a rise in the Chinese currency rate against the dollar. His company devoted $60,000 this year to lobby on tax issues, foreign tourist visas, travel and Internet gambling issues – and has spent $1.86 million lobbying on legislation dealing with China trade, gambling and travel since 2002. A staunch supporter of Israel, he also is a contributor to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent $920,000 since 2002 backing bills aimed at pressuring Iran and enhancing U.S. security cooperation with Israel. Adelson’s casino company has advised shareholders that it was under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investigators were said to be focusing on the Macau casinos and reports of missing money and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

No. 2: Bob J. Perry, 80, head of a Houston real estate empire worth an estimated $650 million.

Total: $17.3 million

Perry had been at No. 3, after giving $15.3 million to aid the Romney campaign and allied causes so far this election season. But federal campaign figures released Friday showed a new $2 million donation to Restore Our Future in September, vaulting Perry into the No. 2 spot. Long active in Texas and national Republican politics, Perry has donated a total of $10.7 million to Restore Our Future and $6.5 million to American Crossroads. Before backing Romney this year, Perry gave $100,000 to the super PAC backing Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is no relation. Bob Perry was a top “bundler” for former President George W. Bush’s campaign and gave big to the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth campaign in 2004, donating $4.4 million to the effort to discredit Kerry.

No. 3: Harold Simmons, 81, owner of Contran Corp., a Dallas-based conglomerate worth an estimated $9 billion that specializes in metals and chemical production and waste management.

Total: $16.5 million

Simmons is a longtime backer of Republican and conservative causes. He has donated $16 million to the party’s efforts this year, including more than $11 million to American Crossroads and $1.3 million to Restore Our Future. Simmons and his wife, Annette, also gave $2.2 million to super PACs backing former Republican presidential candidates Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. Simmons has been active in political fundraising since the 1990s and in 2004 was a $4 million backer of the Swift Vets campaign, the Republican-backed effort to discredit Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry’s military record in the Vietnam War. Simmons’ Titanium Metals Corp. reportedly is a top producer of titanium for weapons and other industrial uses. He also owns a majority stake in Valhi Inc., a Texas-based waste management company, and could benefit from a proposed Nuclear Regulatory Commission rule change that would allow the company’s Texas facility to store spent uranium from nuclear power and weapons plants. Contran’s subsidiaries have spent $200,000 this year lobbying the NRC, Energy Department, the Senate and House on metals and waste issues, and $4.3 over the past decade.

No. 4: Robert Rowling, 58, head of Dallas-based TRT Holdings.

Total: $4.1 million

Rowling has given at least $4.1 million to Republican Party and candidates this election. Most of his donations, $4 million, went to Rove’s American Crossroads, both through personal donations and through his firm. Rowling also has given $100,000 to the pro-Romney Restore Our Future super PAC. Rowling’s holdings are worth an estimated $4.8 billion and include Omni Hotels, Gold’s Gym and Tana Exploration, his family’s oil company. Rowling once told the Texas Tribune he prefers political donations to lobbying efforts.

No. 5: William Koch, 72, an industrialist whose South Florida-based energy and mining conglomerate is worth an estimated $4 billion.

Total: $4 million

Koch has given $4 million to the Restore Our Future, including a $250,000 personal donation and $3.75 million through his corporation, Oxbow Carbon LLC, and a subsidiary, Huron Carbon. Unlike his brothers, Charles and David Koch, who are longtime supporters of Republican and conservative causes, Bill Koch has funded both Republican and Democratic Party candidates in the past. Koch’s corporate interests have repeatedly battled against what company officials have decried as government interference. Oxbow spent $570,000 last year on lobbying in Washington, mostly aimed at mining, safety issues and climate change. The company has complained in federal filings about government delays on permits and has raised concerns about administration changes in regulations that would aid collective bargaining.

METHODOLOGY

These rankings by The Associated Press, based on campaign financial reports submitted to the Federal Election Commission, include contributions to super political action committees, presidential campaigns, political parties and joint-fundraising committees. Federal law limits maximum contributions to campaigns, parties and affiliated committees, but federal court rulings have stripped away such limits to super PACs. This analysis excludes secret-but-legal contributions that might have been made to nonprofit groups, which can pay for so-called issue ads that don’t explicitly advocate for or against a candidate. Such groups are not required to identify their donors.

Where available, the analysis considered donations “bundled,” or raised, from other wealthy donors for Romney and Obama. Obama periodically identifies his bundlers, although Romney has resisted calls to do the same.