Posts tagged with "New York"

The Secret Service is spending over $34,000 on fancy porta potty rentals in Bedminster this summer

June 3, 2021

The U.S. Secret Service is spending nearly $35,000 to rent portable outdoor toilets for the next four months in Bedminster, New Jersey—so that the security detail can be “privy” to former president #45, who reportedly is summering at the Trump Natonal Golf Club.

The cost of the lavish lavatories has been confirmed by federal procurement data reviewed by The Daily Beast.

“BATHROOM TRAILERS BEDMINSTER,” the expenditure states. “A NOTICE TO PROCEED WAS GIVEN ON MAY 24, 2021.” The contract will run through September 30, which works out to rental costs of about $8,500 per month. Imperial Restrooms of Saugerties, New York, is supplying the rolling commodes.

Trump moved in late May from his winter digs at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, to his Bedminster golf club, sources told CNN. He will reside there until early fall, the outlet reported, citing a senior member of Trump’s team.

On May 22, Trump appeared at a fundraiser at the Bedminster club for Make America Great Again Action, a pro-Trump super PAC run by former campaign manager and longtime adviser Corey Lewandowski. Tickets for the dinner and reception reportedly started at $250,000.

“Even now, taxpayers continue to spend many thousands of dollars to facilitate Donald Trump’s businesses,” Noah Bookbinder, executive director of watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) in Washington and a former federal prosecutor, told The Daily Beast. “He is, of course, entitled to protection—but from the beginning, it has been about his advancement and convenience, rather than what is good for the country. Forcing taxpayers to spend all of this money for porta potties at a business that surely has sufficient bathrooms is confounding.”

The Secret Service did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Beast.

During his time in office, Trump’s large family and their frequent travel put an unprecedented financial burden on the Secret Service, which in 2017 ran out of money to pay its agents.

Ordinarily, The Daily Beast notes, a former president’s adult children are no longer entitled to Secret Service protection. But before leaving office, Trump quietly ordered an additional six months of security beyond his term for 13 members of his family and at least three Trump appointees: ex-Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; ex-National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien; and former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has come under fire in the past for lavish travel spending on the taxpayer dime.

In the first month after leaving the White House, Trump’s adult children cost taxpayers more than $140,000 in travel costs linked to their Secret Service details.

In 2017, Imperial Restrooms, which says it offers clients “an upscale, portable restroom experience,” was tapped for a three-week bathroom rental at Bedminster, costing taxpayers $7,100. The company has been awarded about $1.2 million in U.S. government contracts over the past four years.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Move to tax ultra-rich Americans gathers steam, as states and Biden Administration float plans

Narch 17, 2021

Several states are unveiling new tax proposals—adding to a wave of interest in taxing ultra-rich Americans and corporations being led by the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats, reports YahooFinance.

Lawmakers in California are considering a tax on extreme wealth that would impose an annual excise tax of 1% on those who have wealth exceeding $50 million per taxpayer and a 1.5% tax on those with wealth above $1 billion. The tax would raise an estimated $22.3 billion starting in 2023.

New York and Washington State also are looking at new taxation targeting ultra-wealthy individuals, notes Yahoo.

“This is the way that we get back to a California where everybody has an opportunity, and I don’t know a single business leader or moderate who doesn’t believe in that,” Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said during a press conference on Tuesday, March 16. “It’s time to do something about it and quit bitching, quite honestly.”

On a national level, the Biden Administration and Democratic lawmakers are floating several different tax measures related to higher taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) recently reintroduced her proposal on taxing the ultra-rich.

“I know Senator Warren has put forward a wealth tax, and the president shares her view that middle-class families are paying more than their fair share and those at the top are not doing their part,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Monday, March 15. “Certainly he has that shared objective.”

The proposed wealth taxes in California and Washington State are similar to Warren’s plan and would impose an annual tax rate on income above certain thresholds.

“Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires have accumulated an additional $1.1 trillion in wealth,” Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) said. “In order for California to really come back roaring, we need sizable investments in our communities… we’re proposing a modest 1% tax on households with net worths of over $15 million, and 1.5% on wealth over $1 billion.”

Critics of the wealth tax say it may be difficult to calculate and be enforced. The revenue generated might not be as much as expected while the costs of administering the tax could be higher than calculated.

“Taxing wealth is something we’ve never done in the United States and that most countries have not done,” Jared Walczak, the Tax Foundation’s vice president of state projects, told Yahoo Money. “They’re complex and they create a lot of economic harm because they’re paid on your assets — which often have to be liquidated to pay them.”

While wealth taxes reached their peak in OECD countries in the 1990s, the number of OECD countries that currently have a wealth tax dropped to five from 12 by 2019 because of the challenges those taxes create.

The proposed plan in New York—which includes raising income taxes, imposing new capital gains taxes, and increasing the estate tax among other measures — is similar to President Joe Biden’s campaign plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, require a true minimum tax of 21% on all foreign earnings on U.S. companies, raise the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% (the current maximum is 37%), and require those who make more than $1 million annually pay the same rate on investment income as they do on their wages.

Research contact: @YahooFinance

Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shield tax records from NY prosecutors

February 23, 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last-ditch bid by former President Donald Trump to keep his financial records—including years of his tax returns—out of the hands of the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., CNBC reports.

The decision—the second time the nation’s highest court has refused to block a grand jury subpoena for those confidential records—was announced in an order with no noted dissents. The news further imperils the ex-president, who is facing investigations in New York and elsewhere.

The legal battle over Trump’s financial records, including personal and business documents dating back to 2011, comes in connection with an investigation by Vance’s office into potential tax violations involving the Trump Organization.

Vance’s probe originally appeared to have been focused on hush money payments made on Trump’s behalf to two women who have said they had affairs with him. Trump has denied their claims. But, CNBC reports, court records and news reports suggest prosecutors are now examining more serious allegations.

A court filing last summer by Vance indicated that the probe could be eyeing possible “insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers.” In another filing, a month later, prosecutor suggested they might be investigating Trump for potential tax crimes.

Indeed, Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Congress in 2019 that Trump improperly inflated and deflated the value of his real estate assets for tax and insurance purposes.

Vance’s filings appeared to reference Cohen’s testimony. One filing by prosecutors cited a  New York Times report Trump engaged in “dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”

In a statement, Cohen said: “The Supreme Court has now proclaimed that no one is above the law. Trump will, for the first time, have to take responsibility for his

In a statement posted to Twitter, Vance wrote: “The work continues.”

Research contact: @CNBC

In nine states nationwide, the wealthy are looking at a tax increase

September 28, 2020

Legislators in nine states—among them, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland—have renewed their efforts to hike taxes on high earners. The states are facing multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls, due to the costs of the coronavirus pandemic; as well as lost revenue from shuttered businesses.

Indeed, Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the wealthy—who have largely have escaped the economic hardships of the pandemic—should pay more of the costs and help those who have suffered most, reports CNBC.

However, Republicans and some Democratic governors say tax hikes at the state level will only cause the wealthy to move to lower-tax states, such as Florida and Texas.

After New Jersey passed its “millionaire’s tax” last September— under which state residents who earn more than $1million per year will face higher income taxes, while 800,000 lower-income families will get a tax rebate—legislators in other states renewed similar efforts with greater vigor.

Along with New York, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont have proposed various forms of tax increases on high earners, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Those states account for more than one-third of the U.S. population, and nearly half of the nation’s millionaires, according to population data and wealth surveys.

Research contact: @CNBC

Starbucks does ‘plastic surgery’ to create environmentally friendly coffee cups

March 10, 2020

Starbucks has created a “greener” coffee cup by inserting a liner made out of biodegradable materials, rather than continuing to rely on the thin plastic liners added to most paper cups to keep liquids from seeping through.

Starting on Monday, March 9,, a new BioPBS-lined cup will be tested in select stores in Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and London.

The company said in a press release that it is evaluating the new liners because the plastic in its cups has been difficult to separate from other components during the  recycling process.

Starbucks executives said they would ask baristas and customers whether the new cup keeps drinks hot and avoids leaks. They hope customers won’t notice any difference from the current cups.

While the company characterizes the new design as an “exciting step forward,” Starbucks will continue to evaluate additional NextGen Cup Challenge-winning concepts and cup technologies, as well as learn from other reusable and recyclable innovations to find the most sustainable solutions for its business, partners (employees) and customers.

Starbucks is one of many consumer companies working to address customer concerns that they generate too much waste. Public awareness over the environmental risks posed by plastic waste is at the highest level ever, according to a McKinsey & Co. report released last year.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, McDonald’s has pledged to procure much of its nonplastic packaging from recycled or sustainable sources by this year. What’s more, Yum Brands. last month said it would make all packaging at its Taco Bell division sustainable by 2025.

Starbucks and McDonald’s in 2018 committed $10 million to a partnership among consumer companies working to develop more sustainable cups. Starbucks also started its own internal research and set 2022 as a goal for a new cup for hot drinks

Starbucks

VaResearch contact: @Starbucks

Grim climate report galvanizes incoming Democrats

November 27, 2018

Federal scientists warned in a new report released on November 23 that “more frequent and intense extreme weather- and climate-related events, as well as changes in average climate conditions, are expected to continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems that provide essential benefits to communities nationwide” in the coming years—with costs threatening to reach hundreds of billions of dollars annually by the middle of this century.

The message, echoing decades of sobering conclusions from the world’s leading climate scientists, is at odds with President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of global warming, Politico reported; noting that the administration chose to release it on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day and one of the slowest news days of the year.

But despite the timing, the report—Fourth National Climate Assessment—is bound to energize the new class of progressive Democrats set to take control of the House in January, the political news outlet predicted—saying that “Many of them, led by incoming Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-14th District, New York) already are pushing for an expansive “Green New Deal” as one of the rallying cries the party would take into the 2020 campaign.

The 1,600-plus-page document is the just the most recent to warn that the planet will see devastating changes. Indeed, the researchers warned, “Extreme weather and climate-related impacts on one system can result in increased risks or failures in other critical systems—including water resources, food production and distribution, energy and transportation, public health, international trade, and national security.”

The effects of global warming are expected to alter the coastlines, worsen droughts and storms, and foster the outbreaks of dangerous diseases as temperatures climb.

And while the report said that quick action to reduce greenhouse gas pollution could dramatically affect the state of the planet by the end of the century, many of the impacts the U.S. will see in the next two decades appear irreversible—both on the environment and on the economy. “With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.”

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-30th District, Texas) who is set to take the gavel at the House Science Committee, said it’s time to start addressing the causes of the wildfires, devastating storms, coastal flooding and toxic algae blooms that plagued much of the U.S. this year, Politico reported. “That is why I have made climate change one of my top priorities for the Committee going in to the next Congress,” she said in a statement.

The government officials who oversaw the report said there had been no political influence over its findings, but they sidestepped questions about whether the White House sought to bury the report by releasing it in the middle of a long holiday weekend, Politico said.

“We hope you will focus on the content of the report,” David Reidmiller, the director of the National Climate Assessment, told reporters. “We think the report speaks for itself.”

Ocasio-Cortez pressed the case in a tweet, taking her Democratic colleagues to task: “People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP. It’s not enough to think it’s ‘important.’ We must make it urgent,” she wrote. “That’s why we need a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, & why fossil fuel-funded officials shouldn’t be writing climate change policy.

The White House tried to downplay the new report’s conclusions Friday, claiming that they are “largely based on most extreme scenarios.” The White House also noted that U.S. greenhouse gas pollution has declined 14% since 2005—although the causes of that drop include trends that Trump opposes, such as a shift away from coal-fired power plants.

The new report, which Congress requires to be issued every four years, was released by U.S. Global Change Research Program. It is the product of 300 scientific experts under the guidance of a 60-member federal advisory committee, and it was open to review by the public, 13 federal agencies, and a panel at the National Academy of Sciences.

Research contact: @dailym1

Amazon plans to split HQ2 in two East Coast locations

November 7, 2018

After conducting a yearlong search for a site for its second headquarters, Amazon has switched gears and is now finalizing plans to manage a total of 50,000 employees in two East Coast locations, The New York Times reported on November 5.

The e-commerce company is nearing a deal to move to the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens—a location just across the East River from Manhattan— according to two sources briefed on the discussions, the Times said.

In addition, Amazon is also close to sealing a deal to move to Crystal City, an urban neighborhood in the southeastern corner of Arlington County, Virginia, south of downtown Washington, D.C; one of the sources said.

Amazon already has more employees in those two areas than anywhere else outside of Seattle, its home base, and the Bay Area.

Amazon executives met two weeks ago with New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D), said one of the people briefed on the process, adding that the state had offered potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies. Executives met separately with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), a person briefed on that discussion said.

“I am doing everything I can,” Cuomo told the press corps, including the Times, when asked on November 5 about the state’s efforts to lure the company. “We have a great incentive package,” he said.

“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Cuomo said. “Because it would be a great economic boost.”

According to the Times, the need to hire tens of thousands of high-tech workers has been the driving force behind the search, leading many to expect it to land in a major East Coast metropolitan area. Many experts have pointed to Crystal City as a front-runner, because of its strong public transit, educated work force and proximity to Washington.

JBG Smith, a developer who owns much of the land in Crystal City, declined to comment, as did Arlington County officials.

Amazon declined to comment on whether it had made any final decisions. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported Amazon’s decision to pick two new locations instead of one.

Amazon announced plans for a second headquarters in September 2017, saying that the company was growing faster than it could hire in its hometown Seattle. The company said it would invest more than $5 billion over almost two decades in a second headquarters, hiring as many as 50,000 full-time employees that would earn more than $100,000 a year on average.

HQ2 would be “full equal to our current campus in Seattle,” the company said. If Amazon goes ahead with two new sites, it is unclear whether the company would refer to both of the locations as headquarters or if they would amount to large satellite offices.

Research contact: @KYWeise

Allbirds perches in New York City and plans more stores nationwide

September 5, 2018

The newest product to come out of Silicon Valley needs no tech support—but it’s supporting the feet of such well-known techies as Google Co-founder Larry Page, former Twitter chief Dick Costolo, and venture capitalists Ben Horowitz and Mary Meeker, according to a September 4 report by CNBC.

Called Allbirds, the new brand of footwear—produced with such sustainable resources as merino wool, tree fibers, and sugar— already has won over customers on the West Coast and is expanding fast. The company opened its first store on the East Coast, in New York City, just after Labor Day.

At more than 4,800 square feet, the new flagship location in New York’s SoHo neighborhood on Spring Street will include a “service bar” to help buyers find the right size, along with room for customers to lounge. It will replace its temporary home on Prince Street, which was about 900 square feet and is closing later this week.

Like the wildly popular Warby Parker (eyeglasses), Casper (mattresses), and  Everlane (clothing), Allbirds began business as an etailer.

The company only recently began opening stores, serving as a place for shoppers to try on the sneakers before buying and helping create more buzz around the brand. The company has since launched a new sneaker made out of tree fibers and flip-flops made out of sugar, along with a kids’ line called Smallbirds.

Indeed, the brand has become so buzzworthy that, last month, actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio became an investor, People magazine reported.

Creating sustainable consumer products requires a deep commitment from brands that understand the role they have in helping solve our environmental crisis,” DiCaprio said in an exclusive statement. “Allbirds is on the forefront of developing new materials that will serve as a model for the footwear industry. This kind of innovation is crucial for creating a more sustainable future. I am proud to join the company as an investor.”

“Given how tactile our product and brand story is, it’s important that we continue to create these opportunities to interact with customers,” Allbirds Co-founder Joey Zwillinger said. “Our goal is to continue to create retail spaces that allow customers to truly engage with the brand in an authentic off-line experience that embodies Allbirds’ unique comfort and thoughtful design.”

Allbirds plans to open eight more stores in the United States in locations including Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles,  and Washington, D.C. The company also said it’s thinking about adding two locations overseas.

“There is and has been incredible pent-up demand for Allbirds around the world,” Zwillinger told CNBC. “When we launched the brand, we were thoughtful to keep our distribution limited to the regions we felt we could service impeccably — the United States  and New Zealand, our home countries.”

Since then, Allbirds has grown into Australia and Canada.

Research contact: lauren.thomas@nbcuni.com

Republicans strongly support citizenship question on 2020 Census

April 5, 2018

On March 26 Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that he would reinstate a question on legal U.S. citizenship that has not appeared since 1950 on the 2020 Census questionnaire.

The change in policy was greeted by great consternation on the part of Democrats—but was lauded by Republicans. Indeed , a poll of 1,000 U.S. adults released on March 30 by the Republican-leaning Rasmussen Reports organization found that 89% agree that it’s at least “somewhat important” for the government to get as accurate account of U.S. citizens as possible—including 69% who believe that it’s “very important.” Only 25% disagree.

Democrats counter that fewer people will respond to a survey that includes a citizenship question—and that America will collect less population data as a result. Test surveys conducted by the Census Bureau in late 2017 found that some immigrants were afraid to provide information to U.S. Census workers because of fears about being deported.

The Census data is highly important because it is used to determine representation in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as federal spending allocations and electoral votes by state.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was the first to file a suit contesting what he called “a bad idea” on March 26, according to ABC News.

The next day, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he would lead a coalition of 18 states, six major cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration for inclusion of the question.

At a press conference announcing the suit, Schneiderman commented, “This is a blatant effort to undermine the Census. Someone from the Trump administration knocking on your door asking about your citizenship status would provoke real fear.”

Schneiderman said the decision to add the question “directly targets” states with large immigrant populations, according to a same-day report by The Guardian.

In an interview with Fox Business, Ross asserted that the question was added at the request of the Department of Justice to protect minorities. “The Justice Department feels they need it so that they can enforce section two of the voting rights act, which protects minority voters,” said Ross.

Research contactinfo@rasmussenreports.com