Wednesday News: One-trick elephant


GOP BUDGET PACKAGE INCLUDES MASSIVE TAX CUTS FOR CORPORATIONS: North Carolina's top Republican lawmakers say they'll include tax cuts in a budget they plan to pass later this summer. Leaders in the House and the Senate released a statement Tuesday saying that, while they don't yet have a budget deal, they've agreed to include no more than $25.7 billion in the spending plan for the two-year period that starts in July. That would amount to a 3.45% increase in spending. It's significantly less than the $27.3 billion Gov. Roy Cooper proposed in his own budget plan. The legislative proposal also doesn't include Medicaid expansion, a top priority for the governor. Their announcement didn't provide details of the tax cuts, but Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, a House budget writer, said it will likely be similar to a package backed last month by the Senate that cuts both corporate and personal income tax rates.

THE BATTLE OVER NC'S SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM CONTINUES: A glossary that will help North Carolina teachers use the state’s new social studies standards was sent back to the drawing board amid questions about lack of citations and misspellings, such as the last name of former President Ronald Reagan. The definition of “American exceptionalism” in a state Department of Public Instruction version of the draft social studies glossary said “President Regan [sic] is generally credited with popularizing the idea that America is exceptional.” The misspelling was corrected in the version posted on the State Board of Education website. But enough concerns were raised about the glossary that last week’s vote was postponed. In February, the state board voted 7-5 to adopt new K-12 social studies standards that call for teachers to more explicitly discuss racism and discrimination and the perspectives of historically marginalized groups. The board’s Democratic majority said the new standards would provide a fuller telling of the nation’s legacy. But the board’s Republican minority say the standards incorporate Critical Race Theory and paint an overly negative view of the nation’s history.

BILL PENDING IN LEGISLATURE WOULD MAKE IT EASIER TO TRACK BAD COPS LIKE THIS ONE: A police officer in Johnston County who's under investigation following an excessive force complaint last month had been fired from a previous job because of his attitude and actions. Micro police Officer M.B. Creech actions on May 16 are under review by the State Bureau of Investigation. Ray Hail, 88, said he was sitting in his car parked in front of his Micro home that evening when Creech approached, accused him of being drunk and ordered him out of the car. Hail said he has a bad leg and is most comfortable sitting in his car with the leg elevated. When he didn't quickly comply with Creech's order to get out – because of the leg – he said the officer grabbed him and tried to pull him out through the window. Legislation working its way through the General Assembly would create a database of law enforcement officer certifications, revocations and suspensions that agencies could check before hiring an officer. "We need to make sure that we don't have officers who are bad [or] who have done bad things wander from agency to agency," Attorney General Josh Stein said.

PRESIDENT BIDEN IS OFF TO MEET WITH PUTIN AND OTHER EUROPEAN LEADERS: President Biden plans to depart the White House on Wednesday morning en route to England as he begins the first overseas trip of his presidency, one that will include multiple meetings with allies and a highly anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. In the days to come, Biden’s itinerary includes a Group of Seven meeting in Cornwall, England, a NATO summit in Belgium and the meeting with Putin in Geneva. Several one-one-one meetings with other world leaders are planned along the way, including with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Queen Elizabeth II in England. A White House advisory said, “This trip will highlight America’s commitment to rallying the world’s democracies, coming together to shape the rules of the road for the 21st century, defend our values, and tackle the world’s biggest challenges.” Biden is set to take the global stage this week with a coronavirus vaccine-sharing strategy that has been panned by congressional Democrats and some health advocates as too timid, drawn flak from European allies as too bold and led to frustration within his administration. The United States is “working with our G-7 partners on a larger effort to help end the pandemic so that the world’s democracies deliver for people everywhere. And we will have more to say about this” at the meeting, Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters Thursday.

THE WEALTHIEST OF AMERICANS PAID VERY LITTLE IN TAXES, THANKS TO LOOPHOLES: The 25 richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk, paid relatively little — and sometimes nothing — in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018, according to an analysis from the news organization ProPublica that was based on a trove of Internal Revenue Service tax data. The analysis showed that the nation’s richest executives paid just a fraction of their wealth in taxes — $13.6 billion in federal income taxes during a time period when their collective net worth increased by $401 billion, according to a tabulation by Forbes. The documents reveal the stark inequity in the American tax system, as plutocrats like Mr. Bezos, Mr. Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Mr. Musk and George Soros were able to benefit from a complex web of loopholes in the tax code and the fact that the United States puts its emphasis on taxing labor income versus wealth. Much of the wealth that the rich accrue — like shares in companies they run, vacation homes, yachts and other investments — isn’t considered “taxable income” unless those assets are sold and a gain is realized. Even then, there are loopholes in the tax code that can limit or erase all tax liability. Administration officials said on Tuesday that federal authorities were investigating the disclosure of private tax information, which can constitute a criminal offense. So instead of investigating those who dodged billions in taxes, you want to investigate those who exposed this situation. How very Trump of you.