Archive for September 19th, 2011

New Obama Plan: Tax Wealthiest

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The “redistribute the wealth” president is at it again.

US President Barack Obama is planning a higher minimum tax rate on the richest Americans to ensure they are taxed at the same rate as the less wealthy.

White House officials said Mr Obama would provide details of his proposal on Monday when he reveals his long-term plan to reduce the budget deficit.

Reports say the proposal is to be called the Buffett Rule, after the billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Mr Buffett says loopholes mean the richest pay relatively less tax.

This is because earnings from investments are taxed at lower rates than wages.

The proposed new tax would affect Americans who earn more than $1m a year.

The proposal is likely to meet a strong challenge in Congress, where Republicans have said they oppose any tax increases.

The US economy has been growing only slowly while the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, above 9%. Facing an election next year, Mr Obama has had a battle in Congress over how to reduce the ballooning deficit while the economy remains stagnant.

A Congressional “supercommittee” of six Republicans and six Democrats has been charged with finding steep reductions in the deficit by late November, when automatic cuts come into force.

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Looming Showdown Over Palestinian Statehood at the U.N.

Monday, September 19th, 2011

When two sides can’t come to an agreement on peace, what does the U.N. propose? Mandate it.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. and Europe are racing to avert or delay a looming showdown over Palestinian statehood at the United Nations this week that may kill already badly wounded Mideast peace hopes.

Senior U.S. and European officials will meet on Sunday in New York to try to find a formula that would bring Israel and the Palestinians back to stalled negotiations without antagonizing either side or embroiling the region in new turmoil. But with the parties locked in intractable positions over the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition and chances for a breakthrough slim, officials say the effort may be more about damage control than diplomacy.

Frustrated by their inability to win concessions from Israel, like a freeze on settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the Palestinians have seized this moment to try to gain greater standing and attention with a high stakes wager on statehood and U.N. membership that is vehemently opposed by Israel and the United States.

Twelve months after President Barack Obama said he wanted the U.N. to be welcoming Palestine as its newest member this year, talks have been broken down for almost as long and the U.S. is in the unenviable position of leading the opposition to something it actually supports.

With tensions high amid fears that a promised U.S. veto of the Palestinian bid at the U.N. Security Council could spark violence in the region, American officials were working around the clock to secure additional opposition to recognition, officials said. Without nine affirmative votes in the 15-member Council, the Palestinian resolution will fail and Washington is hoping it won’t have to act alone. U.S. officials believe that six other Council members may vote against or abstain, meaning the Palestinians will fall short, but this could not be immediately confirmed.

Heading off or watering down the Palestinian resolution had been the goal of international diplomats who had hoped to parlay that success into a meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at which negotiations would be relaunched. Yet the Palestinians have stuck to their guns, refusing to back down and give up the little leverage they appear to hold.

Still, even after the Palestinians lose at the Security Council on a U.S. veto or votes, they are expected to take their case for recognition to the U.N. General Assembly, where they enjoy widespread support and the United States cannot kill it.

A nod from the General Assembly, could give the Palestinians access to international judicial bodies like the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court, which the Israelis fear will then unfairly target them. This will further isolate Israel and the United States and deepen Israel’s engrained mistrust of the United Nations.

Thus, the scramble for compromise continues with envoys from the international “Quartet” of Mideast peacemakers — the U.S., the E.U., the U.N. and Russia — gathering on Sunday followed by talks between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

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