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Archive for December, 2012

Corporate tax reform is coming to town

December 21st, 2012

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Those hoping for a fiscal cliff deal this year won’t get their wish before Christmas. But if Santa does deliver a year-end budget deal a few days late, it’s increasingly likely that it will pave the way for corporate tax reform in 2013.

The reasons to wish for corporate tax reform—and the obstacles in its way—were the topics of debate at an idea forum hosted by Third Way and the RATE Coalition on December 5th. Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware), RATE Coalition Co-chair Elaine Kamarck, Time Warner Cable Senior Vice President & Chief Tax Officer Mark Schichtel, and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Vice President Melissa Lavinson discussed the push to lower the corporate rate, as well as the challenges involved.

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Preserving security by curbing Pentagon spending

December 13th, 2012

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This piece was originally featured on The Hill.

Two widely respected Pentagon leaders have issued two sets of warnings about grave risks to our national security. The problem: both claims are dire but seem diametrically opposed. However, they can be reconciled if the President and congressional negotiators resolve the apparent tension in ways that both protect our national security and help to restore our economic strength.

The first warning comes from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has said that the cuts to the Pentagon budget that would result from sequestration would be “devastating.” He warned that such cuts could “hollow out the force.”

The second is from Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has repeatedly warned that “the greatest threat to our national security is our debt.” He started making that claim during his tenure in the Pentagon and has repeated it often since his retirement last year. His point is that the U.S. is running unsustainable ratios of debt-to-GDP, and our weakened economy has impacted our ability to influence and move global events. The Department of Defense, which consumes about half of all discretionary federal spending, must face some fairly large budget cuts. Read the rest of this entry »

Blue World Order

December 7th, 2012

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This post was originally published in Foreign Policy

For Republicans, the recent U.S. presidential election was supposed to be 1980. They would paint President Barack Obama as Jimmy Carter—weak on the economy and weak on national security. High unemployment and low growth? Check. National security? Democratic presidential candidates—from Carter to John Kerry—were often hobbled by public doubts about their fitness to protect the United States from foreign threats (see: “Dukakis, tank“).

But not this year. For the first time in decades, Democrats had a presidential candidate with an advantage on these issues. Obama entered the 2012 election with a successful foreign-policy record: The U.S. war in Iraq was over, the war in Afghanistan was winding down, Osama bin Laden was dead, al Qaeda’s top ranks were decimated, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi was toppled, and an international coalition had been assembled to impose the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting High… With a Little Help From Our Friends

December 5th, 2012

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In the late 1960s, the Soviet Union designed and built innovative rocket engines for its massive “N-1″ Moon rocket. These “NK-33″ engines were based on a radical new design and on advanced metallurgy that is cutting-edge, even today. But the NK-33s never flew.

After America won the Space Race, Soviet leaders ordered the NK-33s and all other traces of their Moon program to be destroyed. Instead, Soviet rocket scientists ignored their Moscow masters and squirreled away over 100 of their prized NK-33s. After the Soviet Union fell, an American company confirmed rumors about this invaluable rocket cache and eventually bought three dozen, along with U.S. manufacturing rights. Now — some four decades after they were built — two NK-33s are poised to leap from the pages of history and power a new rocket into space.

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Common Ground Victory: Abortion Rate Plummets under President Obama

December 4th, 2012

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New data released just before Thanksgiving by the Center for Disease Control shows that the rate of U.S. abortions in 2009, (the most recent year for which data is available) was at its lowest since Roe v. Wade first legalized the procedure in 1973. Between 2008 and 2009, the abortion rate dropped 5%—marking the largest percentage decrease in a decade. So while recent media attention around abortion has focused on gaffes and extreme comments by candidates, it seems that President Obama has quietly been making progress on a common ground goal Americans on both sides of the issue share: reducing the need for abortion. Read the rest of this entry »