Tag Archives: obama

Tumbleweed Logo

Tumbleweed Center Relocates Phoenix Headquarters

Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development will expand and relocate its headquarters from Downtown Phoenix to Siete Square II, 3707 N. 7th St. in Midtown, according to Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc.

Tumbleweed was established in 1972 with a mission to provide a safe space for collaborating with youth and young adults in the community who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.  The organization serves more than 3,000 young people each year, ages 12 to 25 years.

“Tumbleweed made a very shrewd decision to expand and relocate its headquarters at this time, locking in to today’s historically low rates.  This allowed us to lower occupancy costs over the long term,” said Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield.  “This strategy cut thousands of dollars in future rent expense that now can be redirected back into the organization’s much needed programs that serve Metro Phoenix’s teenage youth.”

The local non-profit has leased 13,047 square feet at the garden office complex and will locate from 1419 N. 3rd Street in fall of 2013.

Siete Square II is one of four buildings within the larger Siete Square garden office complex.  The Indiana Farm Bureau owns Siete Square II.  Paul Andrews of Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc. represented Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development in its lease negotiations.

Phil Breidenbach and Lindsey Carlson of Colliers serve as exclusive leasing agents for Siete Square II, representing the Indiana Farm Bureau.

WellsFargoLogo

Wells Fargo Plans 410,000 SF Expansion in Chandler

By Eric Jay Toll, Senior Correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange |

Special to Arizona Commercial Real Estate magazine

 

Wells Fargo unveiled its 410,000-square-foot Chandler campus expansion to a neighborhood meeting in the East Valley September 16. Arizona Builder’s Exchange broke the story Monday night that the bank filed a rezoning application with the city to allow a pair of four-story buildings on the northwest corner of Price and Queen Creek roads in the Price Corridor.

More than 2,500 additional employees will work in the new Wells Fargo buildings, bringing campus employment to more than 5,000 workers.

The bank has selected an architect, but has not named the contractor for the project. A formal announcement with construction schedule is expected shortly. AZBEX reports sources saying the project could cost as much as $90 million.

The building shapes, design and materials are intended to mirror Phase I of the campus. The offices will rise to 64 feet. Three more buildings and parking garages are projected for future phases. The city has not set a hearing date for the zoning. Wells Fargo has not yet announced its construction schedule.

Read the original story here.

 

Eric Jay Toll is the senior correspondent for Arizona Builder’s Exchange. His freelance work appears in a number of regional and national publications, including upcoming stories in AZRE and AZ Business.

121277693

Obamacare penalty delayed for big businesses

Obama, delay, penalties, large employers, Affordable Care Act

The Obama administration has announced a one-year delay on penalties against large employers who fail to offer workers insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Although the administration said the decision was the result of “careful, thoughtful” consideration, opponents of the federal health-care law said it reflects general disarray in the program.

“We have heard concerns about the complexity of the requirements and the need for more time to implement them effectively,” Mark J. Mazur, assistant treasury secretary for tax policy, wrote in a blog posted on the department’s website Tuesday.

“We recognize that the vast majority of businesses that will need to do this reporting already provide health insurance to their workers, and we want to make sure it is easy for others to do so. We have listened to your feedback. And we are taking action.”

In response to the announcement, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a Republican representing Oklahoma’s 1st District, tweeted “Yet another admission by Dems that Obamacare is unworkable.”

The tax penalties of $2,000 per uninsured employee after the first 30 employees are now set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

Three Things Building Owners Need To Know To Reduce Their Taxes - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Despite Fiscal Cliff deal, taxes will rise for most

While the tax package that Congress passed New Year’s Day will protect 99 percent of Americans from an income tax increase, most of them will still end up paying more federal taxes in 2013.

That’s because the legislation did nothing to prevent a temporary reduction in the Social Security payroll tax from expiring. In 2012, that 2-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax was worth about $1,000 to a worker making $50,000 a year.

The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan Washington research group, estimates that 77 percent of American households will face higher federal taxes in 2013 under the agreement negotiated between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans. High-income families will feel the biggest tax increases, but many middle- and low-income families will pay higher taxes too.

Households making between $40,000 and $50,000 will face an average tax increase of $579 in 2013, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will face an average tax increase of $822.

“For most people, it’s just the payroll tax,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.

The tax increases could be a lot higher. A huge package of tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush was scheduled to expire Tuesday as part of the “fiscal cliff.” The Bush-era tax cuts lowered taxes for families at every income level, reduced investment taxes and the estate tax, and enhanced a number of tax credits, including a $1,000-per-child credit.

The package passed Tuesday by the Senate and House extends most the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making less than $400,000 and married couples making less than $450,000.

Obama said the deal “protects 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small business owners from a middle-class tax hike. While neither Democrats nor Republicans got everything they wanted, this agreement is the right thing to do for our country.”

The income threshold covers more than 99 percent of all households, exceeding Obama’s claim, according to the Tax Policy Center. However, the increase in payroll taxes will hit nearly every wage earner.

Social Security is financed by a 12.4 percent tax on wages up to $113,700, with employers paying half and workers paying the other half. Obama and Congress reduced the share paid by workers from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for 2011 and 2012, saving a typical family about $1,000 a year.

Obama pushed hard to enact the payroll tax cut for 2011 and to extend it through 2012. But it was never fully embraced by either party, and this time around, there was general agreement to let it expire.

The new tax package would increase the income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent on income above $400,000 for individuals and $450,000 for married couples. Investment taxes would increase for people who fall in the new top tax bracket.

High-income families will also pay higher taxes this year as part of Obama’s 2010 health care law. As part of that law, a new 3.8 percent tax is being imposed on investment income for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making more than $250,000.

Together, the new tax package and Obama’s health care law will produce significant tax increases for many high-income families.

For 2013, households making between $500,000 and $1 million would get an average tax increase of $14,812, according to the Tax Policy Center analysis. Households making more than $1 million would get an average tax increase of $170,341.

“If you’re rich, you’re almost certain to get a big tax increase,” Williams said.

fiscal

Avoiding the fiscal cliff

The Obama administration and House Republicans have unveiled their opening offers in talks to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff. Details are scant but the White House estimates its plan would carve $4.4 trillion from the deficit over the coming decade, including previously enacted cuts ($1 trillion) and savings from reduced costs for overseas military operations ($800 billion), as well as interest payments on the national debt ($600 billion).

House Republicans say their plan would cut deficits by $2.2 trillion over 10 years, but they don’t claim previous cuts, war savings or interest costs toward that total. Both plans would block automatic spending cuts set to hit the economy in January and renew Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the month.

The two plans both draw upon ideas from 2011 talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, including a secret plan by top Obama aide Rob Nabors that was made public by author and Washington Post writer Bob Woodward.

Here are the highlights of all three approaches:

TAXES

Obama: Increase taxes by $1.6 trillion over 10 years, raised by permitting tax rates on individual income exceeding $200,000 and family income over $250,000 to return to Clinton-era levels of 36 and 39.6 percent, up from 33 and 35 percent now. Increase taxes on dividend income and reduce the value of deductions and exemptions for those earning above $200,000 and 250,000. Renew the 2 percentage point payroll tax holiday or a similar tax cut for workers. Return taxes on large estates to 2009 levels. Permits tax reform to replace the existing code so long as it maintains the $1.6 trillion tax hike.

House GOP: Increase taxes by $800 billion over 10 years, raised through a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code that would curb various unspecified tax breaks while lowering tax rates overall. Extend all expiring Bush-era tax cuts on income, investments, married couples and families with children. Maintains the estate tax at current, more generous levels exempting estates up to $5.1 million from tax and sets a top rate of 35 percent. Permits payroll tax cut to expire.

Obama 2011: Raise taxes by $1.2 trillion over 10 years through overhauling the tax code along similar lines advocated by House Republicans, including lowering each tax rate by reducing tax breaks and deductions.

HEALTH CARE

Obama: Cut $350 billion over 10 years from federal health care programs Medicare and Medicaid, including lower Medicare drug costs and other cost curbs on health care providers.

House GOP: Cut $600 billion over 10 years. Includes unspecified cuts to health care providers and assumes an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare and increased Medicare costs for higher-income beneficiaries.

Obama 2011: Cut $360 billion over 10 years, including at least $250 billion from Medicare, in part through savings from raising the eligibility age and increased premiums for doctors’ visits and the Part D prescription drug program.

OTHER SPENDING CUTS

Obama: Cut the deficit by $250 billion through other spending cuts and new fees. Options include requiring federal workers to contribute more to their retirement, cut farm subsidies, increase airline security fees, overhaul Postal Service operations, and increasing fees on some enrollees in the military’s Tricare health care plan. Leaves in place existing “caps” on agency budgets passed by Congress each year.

House GOP: Deficit cuts of $300 billion through such cuts and fees from miscellaneous programs. Cut another $300 billion over the decade from agency operating budgets.

Obama 2011: Cut $200 billion from such programs. Several items on the list have been subsequently used to pay for other legislation.

GOVERNMENT INFLATION MEASURE:

Obama: No proposal.

House GOP: Reduce deficits by $200 billion over 10 years by replacing the current inflation adjustment for Social Security and income tax brackets with a less generous “chained CPI” that, on average, is 0.3 percentage points less than the current measure. Doing so would reduce Social Security cost-of-living increases and cause a greater portion of taxpayer income to be taxed at higher rates.

Obama 2011: Apply less generous inflation measures to both Social Security and tax brackets, but boost benefits for the oldest Social Security beneficiaries with low incomes.

NEW SPENDING

Obama: $200 billion in new economic “stimulus” initiatives, including payroll tax cuts, continued write-offs of business equipment purchases, extended unemployment benefits, help for borrowers “under water” on their mortgages, and new spending on infrastructure.

House GOP: No proposal.

Obama 2011: $43 billion to extend unemployment benefits to the long-term jobless.

DEBT LIMIT

Obama: Permit the president to obtain increases in the government’s borrowing cap, currently set at $16.4 trillion, without approval by Congress.

House GOP: Retain longstanding requirement that debt limit increases be enacted by Congress.

Obama 2011: Immediate unspecified increase in the debt limit and additional increase not subject to congressional approval.

Brewer

Brewer faces choice on Arizona health exchange

Gov. Jan Brewer is being pulled one way by major business groups and another by fellow conservatives as she faces a fast-approaching deadline to decide whether to implement a key part of the federal health care law.

The decision, due Friday, will determine if Arizona creates a state-run, online marketplace for consumers to use when choosing health plans, or lets the federal government create and run a so-called “exchange” for the state.

Brewer is among the Republican governors who oppose the law, but she has yet to indicate what course she’ll take.

Down the road, Brewer will face an equally hot-potato decision on whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program — another key aspect of the health care law.

Brewer’s administration has spent millions of dollars of federal grant money on planning and preliminary work for creating a health exchange.

Republican legislators and conservatives such as the Goldwater Institute say the requirement for an exchange is an infringement on the rights of states and individuals.

Meanwhile, a coalition of business groups wants Brewer to create a state exchange so Arizona has a say in in its design and funding.

“If we retain that control, we’re better able to customize and tweak and make adjustments,” said Pete Wertheim, a vice president of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association.

Brewer already has selected a minimum benefits package for a state-run exchange based on current insurance coverage for state employees. She noted in a Sept. 28 letter to the Obama administration that the package excludes abortion coverage.

Brewer has said her administration has done a lot of planning to be prepared but also indicated she was still studying the issue and hadn’t made a decision.

“I’ve got to decide (whether) it’s the right thing for Arizona,” Brewer said while noting she will need legislative approval.

It’s clear that establishing a state-run exchange would put Brewer at odds with many Republicans in the Legislature, with no assurance that she would win the necessary approval.

“I don’t believe there are the votes in the House to pass something like this, so I don’t think this is going to go anywhere,” said House Appropriations Chairman John Kavanagh, a critic of the health care law and its penalties on some employers who don’t provide coverage to workers.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Nancy Barto offered a similar assessment of legislative leanings but said Brewer’s office “at least on the exchange seems committed to take a chance on Obamacare.”

“I would hope she wouldn’t do it without consideration of her party,” Barto said. “She has a record of standing up to the federal government and standing up for her party’s ideals, and this is a big part of that discussion.”

Proposing a state-run exchange wouldn’t be the first time Brewer has defied the wishes of most GOP lawmakers on a politically dicey issue.

After a year of trying, she was able to get lawmakers to put a temporary sales tax increase on a statewide ballot. Voters overwhelmingly approved it in 2010 to avoid deep cuts to schools and other services during the state’s budget crisis.

Brewer spokesman Matthew Benson declined to discuss what legislators’ “potential appetite” would be for having a state-run exchange.

On a related health care law issue with similar state-vs.-federal considerations, Brewer decided it was better to have the state run its own program to review health insurance rates than let the federal government handle it. The state has formally approved rules for a rate-review program.

Regarding the exchange, Brewer health policy adviser Don Hughes has said the governor wants to impose as few regulations and requirements on insurers as possible so it doesn’t turn into a duplicative regulator of the industry.

Conservative groups such as the Goldwater Institute and Americans for Prosperity are calling for Brewer to stiff-arm the federal law’s mandate for an exchange. Meanwhile, social-service advocacy groups are weighing in with calls for the state to create an exchange that is friendly to consumers on affordability, convenience and oversight.

“We’re optimistic that consumers will have influence in the design of it,” said Stephen Jennings, an AARP Arizona associate director.

Barack Obama

Obama faces tough road with improving economy

Here’s the assignment President Barack Obama has won with his re-election: Improve an economy burdened by high unemployment, stagnant pay, a European financial crisis, slowing global growth and U.S. companies still too anxious to expand much.

And, oh yes, an economy that risks sinking into another recession if Congress can’t reach a budget deal to avert tax increases and deep spending cuts starting in January.

Yet the outlook isn’t all grim. Signs suggest that the next four years will coincide with a vastly healthier economy than the previous four, which overlapped the Great Recession.

Obama has said he would help create jobs by preserving low income tax rates for all except high-income Americans, spending more on public works and giving targeted tax breaks to businesses.

He used his victory speech in Chicago to stress that the economy is recovering and promised action in the coming months to reduce the government’s budget deficit, overhaul the tax system and reform immigration laws.

“We can build on the progress we’ve made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class,” Obama said.

The jobs picture has already been improving gradually. Employers added a solid 171,000 jobs in October. Hiring was also stronger in August and September than first thought.

Cheaper gas and rising home prices have given Americans the confidence to spend slightly more. Retailers, auto dealers and manufacturers have been benefiting.

That said, most economists predict the improvement will remain steady but slow. The unemployment rate is 7.9 percent. Obama was re-elected Tuesday night with the highest unemployment rate for any incumbent president since Franklin Roosevelt.

Few think the rate will return to a normal level of 6 percent within the next two years. The Federal Reserve expects unemployment to be 7.6 percent or higher throughout 2013.

Economists surveyed last month by The Associated Press said they expected the economy to grow a lackluster 2.3 percent next year, too slight to generate strong job growth. From July through September, the economy grew at a meager 2 percent annual rate.

Part of the reason is that much of Europe has sunk into recession. Leaders there are struggling to defuse a debt crisis and save the euro currency. Europe buys 22 percent of America’s exports, and U.S. companies have invested heavily there. Any slowdown in Europe dents U.S. exports and corporate profits.

And China’s powerhouse economy is decelerating, slowing growth across Asia and beyond.

Most urgently, the U.S. economy will fall over a “fiscal cliff” without a budget deal by year’s end. Spending cuts and tax increases of about $1.2 trillion will start to kick in. The combination of those measures would likely trigger a recession and drive unemployment up to 9 percent next year, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

Many U.S. employers are wary of expanding or hiring until that potential crisis is averted. That’s why analysts have said resolving, or at least delaying, the fiscal cliff should be the most urgent economic priority for the White House.

In the longer run, analysts are more optimistic. Americans are feeling generally better about the economy. Measures of consumer confidence are at or near five-year highs.

And the main reason unemployment rose from 7.8 percent in September to 7.9 percent in October was that more people felt it was a good time to look for work. Most found jobs. Those who didn’t were counted as unemployed. (The government counts people without jobs as unemployed only if they’re looking for one.)

A brighter outlook among consumers is due, in part, to a steady increase in home prices after a painful six-year slump. Higher home prices can help create a “wealth effect,” making homeowners feel richer and spurring more spending.

Banks are also more likely to lend freely when home prices rise because homes are more likely to hold their value.

Americans have also been shrinking debts and saving slightly more. Household debt as a percentage of after-tax income dropped from about 125 percent before the recession to 103 percent in the April-June quarter, according to the Federal Reserve’s latest data. That ratio was roughly 90 percent in the 1990s.

But thanks to record-low interest rates, the cost of repaying those debts has dropped sharply. That, in turn, will free up more money for consumers to spend on cars, appliances and other goods.

Americans paid 10.7 percent of their after-tax income in interest on mortgages, credit cards and other consumer debt in this year’s April-June quarter, according to the Fed. That was down from 14 percent at the end of 2007. And it’s the lowest proportion since 1993.

“That’s 3 percentage points of disposable income that I am no longer using to pay for stuff that I bought earlier but I can instead use to buy stuff now,” noted Alan Levenson, chief economist at T. Rowe Price.

Economists note that economic recoveries after financial crises tend to be painfully slow. In part, that’s because time is needed for consumers to reduce debts and for banks to recover and lend again.

Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, noted that banks have boosted lending for the past 18 months — another sign that the passage of time is helping the economy rebound.

Obama “is going to have an easier time of it … because we’re further along the road to recovery after the financial crisis,” Ashworth said.

Business Of Running For President

The Business Of Running For President

Much like running a corporation, running for president is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. Just like a corporation, a campaign involves employees, money management, public relations, advertising and the selling of a product or service. Which in this case is the person running for office. In this graphic, we take a look at just what all it takes to run for president, and how big of a business doing so has become.

Like all businesses, you have better success in some states than others. Below is a look at how effective each candidate has been state by state in fundraising.

  • Overall Fundraising: Obama has raised $556M and Romney $340M.
  • State-by-State Breakdown:  A few examples…
    • NY: $11.2M Obama vs. $8.9M Romney
    • Ohio: $.8M Romney vs. $.6M Obama
    • CA: $68.3M Obama vs. $33.8M Romney
    • FL: $24.8M Romney vs. $16.9M Obama
  • Average Contribution: Romney has raised $170M from those contributing $2,000 or more vs. Obama who raised nearly half of that from larger donors at $92M.  See the graph for the entire breakdown!
  • Rising Influence of Super PACs: RNC has raised $273M from Super PACs vs. DNC which raised $70M.  This has dramatically impacted the race as they need no involvement from the candidates themselves.
  • Breakdown of how they spend their funds: Obama spent 51% on advertising vs. Romney 45%.  See breakdown by payroll, travel, polling, etc.
  • History of Presidential Campaign Costs: Lincoln spent just $2.8M in 1860; Reagan and Carter spent approx. $300M, see breakdown of major campaigns from history.

Business Of Running For President

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Infographic Credits, courtesy of Best Degree Programs:

Source: Bestdegreeprograms.org

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104234506

Federal plan to streamline solar development in Arizona OK’d

Federal officials on Friday approved a plan that sets aside 285,000 acres of public land for the development of large-scale solar power plants, cementing a new government approach to renewable energy development in the West after years of delays and false starts.

The government is establishing 17 new “solar energy zones” on 285,000 acres in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Most of the land — 153,627 acres — is in Southern California.

At a news conference in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new plan a “roadmap … that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands.”

The plan replaces the department’s previous first-come, first-served system of approving solar projects, which let developers choose where they wanted to build utility-scale solar sites and allowed for land speculation.

The department no longer will decide projects on case-by-case basis as it had since 2005, when solar developers began filing applications. Instead, the department will direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles.

The Obama administration has authorized 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects that, when built, would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, Salazar said.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the effort will help the U.S. stay competitive.

“There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies — and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs,” Chu said in a statement.

The new solar energy zones were chosen because they are near existing power lines, allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities. Also, the chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns — such as endangered desert tortoise habitat — that have plagued other projects.

Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy who had been critical of the federal government’s previous approach to solar development in the desert applauded the new plan.

“We can develop the clean, renewable energy that is essential to our future while protecting our iconic desert landscapes by directing development to areas that are more degraded,” said Michael Powelson, the conservancy’s North American director of energy programs.

Some solar developers who already are building projects were complimentary of the new approach, saying it will help diversify the country’s energy portfolio more quickly.

Still, some cautioned that the new plan could still get mired in the same pattern of delay and inefficiency that hampered previous efforts, and urged the government to continue pushing solar projects forward.

“The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic processes,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that today that number has dropped to 45 percent.

“We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp,” he said.

Barack Obama,

Jobs report gives Obama a boost

President Barack Obama got much-needed good news Friday following his disappointing debate performance as the unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level since he took office. Republican rival Mitt Romney said Obama still hasn’t done enough to create jobs.

The figures announced by the Labor Department — 114,000 new jobs last month to bring unemployment to 7.8 percent — gave Obama fresh evidence to support his argument that his economic policies are working. Romney countered that the country can’t afford four more years of the president’s leadership and said he would lead a recovery with pro-growth policies for job creation and rising income.

“This is not what a real recovery looks like,” the former Massachusetts governor said in a statement less than an hour after the jobless figures were released. He pointed to millions of people still struggling to find work, living in poverty and using food stamps to feed their families. He also argued that the rate is low in part because some people have quit looking for work.

The unemployment rate fell from 8.1 percent in August, matching its level in January 2009 when Obama became president. There is one more monthly unemployment report before Election Day, so Friday’s numbers could leave a lasting impact on Americans who are already casting ballots in states that allow early voting.

The candidates were headed Friday to opposite ends of one of those early voting states, Virginia. Romney was campaigning for support in the state’s far western coal country while Obama was rallying students at George Mason University in the Washington suburbs.

Obama, seeking to rebound after Romney dominated their first debate Wednesday night, is accusing his rival of being dishonest about how his policies would affect the tax bills of middle-class families and the Medicare benefits of retirees — a squabble that has even injected Big Bird into the race.

“I just want to make sure I’ve got this straight: He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street, but he’s going to crack down on ‘Sesame Street’?” Obama said Thursday in Madison, Wis., referring to Romney’s statement in the debate that he would cut a federal subsidy for PBS, which airs “Sesame Street.” ”Thank goodness somebody’s finally cracking down on Big Bird.”

obamacare-signing

Who pays Obamacare’s tax hikes?

Who gets thumped by higher taxes in President Barack Obama’s health care law? The wealthiest 2 percent of Americans will take the biggest hit, starting next year. And the pain will be shared by some who aren’t so well off — people swept up in a hodgepodge of smaller tax changes that will help finance health coverage for millions in need.

For the vast majority of people, however, the health care law won’t mean sending more money to the IRS.

And roughly 20 million people eventually will benefit from tax credits that start in 2014 to help them pay insurance premiums.

The tax increases — plus a mandate that nearly everyone have health coverage — are helping make the law an election-year scorcher. Obama is campaigning on the benefits for the uninsured, women and young adults. His rival, Mitt Romney, and Republican lawmakers are vowing to repeal “Obamacare,” saying some health care reforms are needed but not at this cost.

Lots of the noise is about the financial consequences for people who decline to get coverage and businesses that don’t offer their workers an adequate health plan. Some 4 million individuals without insurance are expected to pay about $55 billion over eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s estimates. Employers could be dinged an estimated $106 billion for failing to meet the mandate, which starts in 2014.

But that mandate money, whether it’s called taxes or penalties, is overwhelmed by other taxes, fees and shrunken tax breaks in the law. These other levies could top $675 billion over the next 10 years, under the CBO’s projections of how much revenue the government would lose if the law were repealed.

The biggest chunk is in new taxes on the nation’s top 2 percent of earners — some $318 billion over a decade.

Other major taxes are aimed at the health care industry, and some of that cost is sure to be passed along to consumers as higher prices.

A rundown of the most significant tax changes — and who pays:

THE 2 PERCENT

Who pays: About 2.5 million households — individuals making more than $200,000 per year, couples $250,000.

How much: A 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages above those threshold amounts; an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income. Should raise $318 billion over 10 years.

The lowdown: Together these are the biggest tax increase in the health care law.

For those wealthy enough to owe it, the 3.8 percent investment tax comes on top of the existing 15 percent capital gains rate, which is set to rise to 20 percent next year unless Congress acts.

Over the years, more and more people will be caught by the new taxes, because the adjusted gross income level that triggers them doesn’t rise with inflation.

But fears that the investment tax will land on most folks’ home sales seem overblown — few sellers will be affected. A couple’s profit — not sales price — of up to $500,000 from the house they’ve been living in is exempt from taxes; only gains above that amount are taxed.

When: 2013

ARTIFICIAL-SUN WORSHIPPERS

Who pays: The 28 million people who visit tanning booths and beds each year — most of them women under 30, according to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

How much: A 10 percent tax on the price of tanning. Expected to raise $1.5 billion over 10 years.

The lowdown: Tanning salons were singled out because of wide agreement among medical experts that baking under ultraviolet lights increases the risk of skin cancer.

When: Took effect in 2010.

THE “CADILLACS” OF COVERAGE

Who pays: Insurance companies or businesses that provide plans with premiums of more than $10,200 per person or $27,500 per family, not including dental or vision coverage. Employees covered by these so-called “Cadillac” benefits probably will feel the pinch.

How much: 40 percent excise tax on any amount of premium that exceeds the threshold. Expected to raise $111 billion over five years.

The lowdown: The majority of health plans aren’t affected because they don’t cost enough: Workplace family coverage now averages about $15,000, including the portion paid by the employer, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s survey. But some middle-class workers, especially those with strong union contracts, have health plans that exceed the threshold. Also hit are corporate bigwigs whose employer-paid plans cover virtually all expenses and lots of perks, akin to tax-free income.

Some employees will pay more for their share of insurance costs because the tax will get passed along to them. In other cases, businesses will trim benefits to bring their plans under the tax cutoff. Economists predict that many of the affected workers will get higher pay as a trade-off — but those raises would be subject to income tax.

The tax will affect more workers as time goes by. It’s indexed for inflation, but rising health care prices will probably outpace that.

When: 2018

BUSINESSES SET TO BOOM

Who pays: Insurers, drug companies, medical device makers. And some of their customers.

How much: More than $165 billion over 10 years

The lowdown: New taxes and fees target businesses expected to profit as more Americans get insurance. The companies will pass along these expenses as higher prices when they can. Companies that make or import brand-name prescription drugs paid a total of $2.5 billion in 2011, the first year for their fees.

Insurance companies will share in paying an annual fee that starts at $8 billion for the first year.

Companies that make medical equipment sold chiefly through doctors and hospitals, such as pacemakers, artificial hips and coronary stents, will pay a 2.3 percent excise tax on their sales, expected to total $1.7 billion in its first year. The device makers are lobbying for repeal, arguing that some small companies will have to lay off workers and reduce research spending.

When: Began last year for drug companies; starts in 2013 for device makers, 2014 for insurance companies.

THRIFTY SAVERS

Who pays: People who set aside tax-free savings to pay for health care.

How much: About $33 billion over 10 years

The lowdown: The law limits annual contributions to medical Flexible Spending Accounts to $2,500; there was no government limit before. Many employers had allowed $5,000 in the accounts, and some even more. But the average contribution was only $1,400 per year, so relatively few workers will be affected. Four in 10 employees have jobs that give them the chance to sign up for these accounts.

Last year, people with FSAs and similar accounts lost the ability to spend the money on over-the-counter medicines not prescribed by doctors.

Also, the penalty increased from 10 percent to 20 percent for money withdrawn for non-medical reasons from Health Savings Accounts, which people use to help pay high insurance deductibles.

When: Contribution limit begins in 2013.

TAXPAYERS WHO TAKE WRITE-OFFS

Who pays: People with big medical or dental bills who itemize deductions.

How much: Almost $19 billion over 10 years. Currently, taxpayers have to spend more than 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income on medical care to qualify for a deduction. The threshold will rise to 10 percent. So a household with income of $50,000 would have to spend $5,000 on health care before deducting amounts above that.

The lowdown: Most Americans don’t have enough out-of-pocket expenses, those not paid by insurance, to meet even the lower threshold.

When: 2013 (delayed until 2017 for taxpayers age 65 or over)

 

Polling Station

AZ 2010 Midterm Election Analysis

The best day to be the President of the United States has got to be Inauguration Day. You take the oath of office. You give a speech that the whole world stops to listen to and it is guaranteed to be recorded in history the moment you give it. It is all processionals, parties, and smiles. The next day you start working on your agenda, and two years later you face midterm elections.

Midterms are probably the worst day for a president!

It looks like the Democrats will end up losing more than 60 seats in the U.S. House and at least 6 in the Senate. Republicans now take control of the House, and while not gaining a majority in the Senate, they have a more workable margin.

While the economy seems to be the leading reason for voter discontent, it is more than a coincidence that 1994 and 2010 were both Democratic midterm disasters preceded by new Democratic Presidents (Clinton and Obama) that tried to radically reform health care with a national model. (The equivalent for Republican’s would have to be reforming Social Security. Regan tried that and had a 1982 midterm that saw the Senate handed back to the Democrats.)

While slow economic progress is blamed for the large losses to Democrats on the national level, it is a different story in Arizona. Republicans have been in control here for quite awhile. Besides Janet Napolitano’s time as Governor, Republican’s have controlled just about everything else. Arizona is facing a horrible economy with a massive budget deficit, and yet, voters rewarded the Republicans with gains in both legislative bodies, which they had already controlled. The Arizona Senate went from an 18-12 Republican majority to 21-9. In the Arizona House, the Republicans held 35 out of the 60 seats before this election. They have added at least 2 seats to their majority with 3 other seats leaning in their favor. They could get to 40 seats. That is a 2/3 majority, like the Senate now has.

It also appears that Republican’s will win all of the major Arizona statewide offices. Governor Brewer was reelected just months after she looked vulnerable in her own primary. She also had a terrible debate. (Told you the debate wouldn’t matter!)

As for Arizona’s initiatives, again a conservative voter attitude seemed to prevail. Voters said yes to a proposition that prohibits reforms in the President’s healthcare plan (106), yes to eliminating affirmative action programs (107), and yes to secret ballots being mandatory for union organizing (113).

Everything else voters said no to. This included changing rules regarding wildlife management and hunting (109), medical marijuana (203), and major changes in the state’s political process. This includes no to state land reform(110), no to a Lieutenant Governor (111), no to changing the amount of time to verify initiative petition signatures (112), and no to using funds voters already designated to a specific purpose in past elections (301 & 302). Remember Nancy Regan’s slogan; “just say no.”

Some of these proposition results aren’t final. For election results visit AZNow.Biz’s results post.

What to watch for in the coming two years:

President Obama will need to move more to the center to meet Republicans who now have a large say in policy. If he becomes a better diplomat between the parties watch his agenda move better. If not, look for a stalemate.

In Arizona, Republicans should be able to do anything they want. This may not happen. Arizona still has huge financial woes. If Republicans can’t get on the same page, inner-party conflict will become ugly. The big question is how well our Republican Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President get along. If they can’t work together and coordinate their agendas, they won’t be able to blame Democrats for being the problem.

The biggest part of this disaster for the Democrats may be the impact it has on redistricting. After the 2010 Census is complete, they will draw new district lines. Controlling this process gives a huge advantage to the party in power.

      McCain, America's Next Leader - AZ Business Magazine Oct. 2008

      America’s Next Leader

      The last time an Arizona politician stood at the threshold of the White House was 44 years ago, when Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater introduced a new form of conservative politics to America before falling under the wheels of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s campaign juggernaut.

      american-next-leader 2008

      Now, another Arizonan, also the Republican nominee, has the White House within his grasp.
      Within weeks, Sen. John McCain will either make history or repeat it in one of the most closely watched presidential elections in modern history as he squares off against Sen. Barack Obama, the first African-American presidential nominee of either major party.

      “I don’t seek the office out of a sense of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me,” McCain says. “Thirty-five

      years ago, I came home from an extended leave abroad. While I was away, I fell in love with my country. I have been an imperfect servant of my country ever since, in uniform and in office, in war and peace.”

      That he has made it this far is remarkable considering his campaign seemed on the verge of collapsing in the months before the Iowa caucus.

      McCain had trouble getting his primary campaign off the ground. Then, after securing the Republican nomination, McCain’s campaign began to drift, says Larry Sabato, a nationally recognized political science professor at the University of Virginia.

      “He was the nominee for the Republican Party long before Obama had the Democratic bid, but he didn’t seem to use that time wisely,” Sabato says.

      However, Sabato believes McCain’s campaign has since tightened up considerably.

      “They are making decisions quickly and rolling the dice as needed,” he says.

      Deeply involved in politics since leaving the U.S. Navy in 1981, McCain was first elected into the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He was elected into the U.S. Senate in 1986. When he was reelected for his third Senate term in 2004, McCain won by an overwhelming percentage of the vote.

      In between, McCain ran for president for the first time in 2000, hoping to ride his Straight Talk Express campaign bus all the way to the White House. An underdog, he surprised supposed frontrunner Texas Gov. George W. Bush by winning the New Hampshire GOP primary. That’s when the campaign turned ugly, and in the South Carolina primary, very personal. Bush, of course, eventually won the Republican nomination and the general election.

      Over the past eight years, McCain has clashed with Bush on numerous issues, but he has remained unwaveringly behind Bush on the Iraq War, telling radio talk show host Mike Gallagher earlier this year, “No one has supported President Bush on Iraq more than I have.”

      McCain went on to add, “… there are many national security issues that I have strongly supported the president (on) and steadfastly so.”

      Bush in turn has expressed his support for McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, giving his endorsement earlier this year and saying that McCain has the “character, courage and perseverance” to lead the country, according to an article on CNNPolitics.com.

      Even Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor who at one time expressed concern about McCain’s famous temper, believes the senator is maintaining a solid campaign.

      “I am proud of the way he is running his campaign and the issues he’s bringing to the forefront,” Johnson says.

      Besides taking flak for his temper, McCain has also been taken to task for breaking from the Republican Party on some high-profile votes, and even for his age; at 72, he would be the oldest president in U.S. history, if elected. But countering that is the fact McCain is also a respected war hero.

      McCain spent five and a half years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War in the infamous camp dubbed the “Hanoi Hilton,” where he was forced into solitary confinement, denied medical treatment and beaten by the North Vietnamese. But he maintains he is not bitter — rather he is humble.

      “There is no higher honor than sacrificing for a cause greater than my own self-interest,” he says.

      He also believes this experience, as well as his leadership in the Senate Armed Services Committee, makes him the most-qualified candidate to be commander in chief.

      McCain’s domestic platform for his potential presidency begins with a goal to present greater opportunity and prosperity for workers and their families.

      “That agenda will ensure those workers are employed by businesses that invest in innovative technologies, are not strangled by excessive regulation, are not burdened by high taxes, do not face rising health costs that squeeze wages, and sell more products and services in world markets,” he says.

      On the foreign policy front, McCain has made no secret of his support of the war in Iraq, but he admits, “I do not want to keep our troops there a minute longer than necessary to secure our interests. And I believe we can achieve that goal, perhaps sooner than many imagine, and must give Gen. (David) Petraeus and our troops the necessary time to succeed in Iraq.”

      He adds that if elected president, he will ensure “al-Qaeda has no safe haven anywhere in the world, including Afghanistan, where U.S. and NATO forces continue to root out and eliminate the threat of remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

      McCain promises that with him at the helm, American families will be secure from threats domestic and foreign. “I will take on our damaging dependence on imported oil and make sure that oil will never again be a weapon against us,” he says. “America’s workers will be secure in the fact that they have portable health insurance and pension benefits, allowing them to move from job-to-job, job-to-home, and job-to-retirement without fear of losing their financial safety net.

      “They will be secure in the knowledge that if the economic foundation of their employer or industry shifts, they will be prepared to make the transition to a new job and have access to community college-based training programs that provide the skills to acquire and hold a better job for the 21st century.”

      McCain does not deny that there are major economic challenges that must be confronted and he has plans to amend these crises. “Americans are suffering under high gasoline prices, rising food prices, a housing crisis, and tough credit conditions that threaten even the ability of our students to get their college loans,” he says.

      As part of McCain’s approach to ease consumers’ current pain, he pushed for a summer gas tax holiday and to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. He has also proposed his so-called HOME Plan to provide robust, timely and targeted help to those hurt by the housing crisis. In addition, he called for a Justice Department task force to investigate wrongdoing in the mortgage industry.

      To ensure that college remains a reality, McCain has proposed a student loan continuity plan that will coordinate policies with the states to keep the credit crunch from hurting students.

      McCain also promises to address the challenge of rising health care costs by “transforming the health care system to focus on quality, cost, and being responsive to the needs of American families.” He adds: “Furthermore, I will not leave difficult tasks like securing our border, entitlement reform, or fixing our schools for another generation of leaders to solve.”

      McCain has lofty goals for the future and security of America and its people. But he has one major obstacle standing between himself and the White House. In the minds of many Americans, the sheer fact that McCain would be replacing another Republican — and a highly unpopular one at that — is a detriment to his campaign, according to Patrick Kenney, professor and chair of Arizona State University’s political science department.

      “The Republicans have been in power since 2001 and ‘peace and prosperity’ is not going well,” Kenney says. “The economy is down, the war is not entirely supported and (McCain) is linked to Bush’s war and economic program.”

      For his part, Obama is hoping the link to Bush will work in his favor. He released a television spot in late July titled “The Low Road,” in which, The Huffington Post reports, “the Illinois Democrat (is) playing his trump card: tying McCain to George W. Bush, both in politics and in policy.”

      However, Arizona’s other senator, Jon Kyl, believes McCain’s connection to Bush and the war has a positive side. “He was instrumental in helping Bush with the surge strategy after he returned from Iraq and saw first-hand the things that weren’t being done properly to win the war,” Kyl says.
      It is this military expertise and experience that Kyl believes will help McCain gain support from veterans.

      “I think that all Americans appreciate his service and it will help prepare him to make decisions and winning strategies in the war,” Kyle says. “It helps identify him with leadership, experience, courage and independence.”

      cover october 2008

      Grant Woods, the former Arizona attorney general from 1991-1999, thinks it is that very independence that makes McCain the ideal man to lead the nation. “He will never be a scripted, always ‘on’ message candidate,” Woods says. “This is frustrating to the professionals, but makes him more attractive to real people because he is a real guy.

      “We face great international challenges militarily and economically,” Woods continues. “I believe his lifetime of service gives him the judgment we need to lead the country at this time. He has the experience to make his own decisions.”

      As Election Day draws near, Americans will be responsible for making their own decisions, as well. Regardless of the outcome, change is on the horizon — and that is exactly what the American people seem to want for the future.