Microsoft & Boeing receive billions in tax breaks, fund astro-turf groups

There were big endorsements for Steve Litzow, Jay Inslee and others who support charter schools. The endorsements came from the charter-schools-loving League of Education Voters, which is funded by Microsoft, Boeing, the Seattle Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and others. Follow the money. Boeing and Microsoft enjoy massive tax breaks and use their money to fund astro-turf groups that buy campaign ads.

League of Education Voters backs Inslee, top Republicans.

The LEV also endorsed Democratic legislators who support charter schools, including Tana Senn and Judy Clibborn.

Follow the money.  The scam basically works like this. In exchange for the billions in tax breaks they receive, Gates, Microsoft and Boeing fund campaign ads via innocent-sounding astro-turf groups such as League of Education Voters and Stand for Children.  The ads will show attractive, smiling, obedient children sitting in classrooms and listening to the teacher.

Contrary to the statement in the article, Gates, Boeing, and Microsoft are not independent at all. They’re self-interested tools of the 1%, intent on dismantling public education, attacking unions, and blaming teachers for outcomes that are the result of poverty and willful under-funding of education. Republicans and their neo-liberal Democratic allies under-fund government so it doesn’t work well and so that they can justify tax cuts for rich people and privatization of government services.

This is all at the expense of the middle class  and the poor, who pay the vast majority of state taxes here in Washington State, due to our regressive tax system.

Despite the $8.7 billion in tax breaks, Boeing still shipped jobs out-of-state.  See Tax-subsidized Boeing Co. snubs state again. Boeing profits enormously from government subsidies via its military business.  But it still avoids paying taxes.

Heck, Inlee’s major “accomplishments” as Governor are: handing $8.7 billion to Boeing and letting the charter school bill become law.

The charter schools bill, SB 6194, is in violation of the State Constitution; last year the state Supreme Court ruled that charter schools are unconstitutional. The bill steals money from public education at a time when the legislature is in contempt of court for not adequately funding public schools (McCleary decision).

The charter schools bill is also contrary to the state Democratic Party platform which states “We oppose charter schools.”

The following article about Bill Gates and his meddling in education policy helps explain why so many legislators continue to push for charter schools: Charitable Plutocracy: Bill Gates, Washington State and the Nuisance of Democracy.

Want to understand politics? Follow the money.

Follow the money.

For a related article see These Dems voted to undermine public schools, contravene the Constitution, and aid Republicans.

DelBene, TPP, and Microsoft stock: should she recuse herself?

Rep. Suzan DelBene is apparently going to vote in favor of trade promotion authority (“fast track”) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unlike Reps McDermott, Smith, and Heck.

A friend called DelBene’s office and an aide said she is voting for fast-track.

Last fall I spoke to her and asked her to oppose it. She was very polite but said that progressives aren’t the only people she represents. She is not a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Instead, she is a New Democrat (a centrist Dem).

Furthermore, according to this Seattle Times article from January of this year, President Obama named DelBene to the Export Council. This is an indication that Obama is confident of her support for TPP.

Microsoft would benefit from TPP. DelBene is an ex-Microsoft executive, as is her husband Kurt. Could her support for TPP be related to their ownership of Microsoft stock?

Rep. Suzan DelBene

According to ThinkAdvisor.com, DelBene is the 10th richest member of Congress and is worth $37.8 million. “DelBene’s wealth, which increased $14 million over last year, comes from the sale of Microsoft stock. She and her husband, Kurt, were both executives at the software behemoth. Besides investments, they own a home worth $5 million, which was purchased in the last year.” It doesn’t say whether they still own Microsoft stock.

KUOW reported in 2012: “According to DelBene’s financial disclosure reports (PDF), she and her husband have a net worth of between $23 and $83 million (candidates are not required to report the exact amount of their assets). DelBene’s husband Kurt DelBene is president of Microsoft’s Office division. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show Kurt DelBene owns 635,693 shares of Microsoft stock.” Other than #1 Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.(net worth $357 million) and #2 Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas ($117.5 million), the other eight richest members of Congress are Democrats.

Here is her filing with the SEC.

My question is: do DelBene and her husband still own stock in Microsoft? If so, shouldn’t she recuse herself from voting on the issue, since it is a conflict of interest?

Microsoft and Boeing convinced Gregoire to back a costly tunnel, but they avoid paying state taxes

In Road Kill: How Bertha Left the Surface-Street Option In the Dust, Ellis E. Conklin reports that “Powerful interests rallied around the tunnel and diverted then-Governor Gregoire from a less costly route.”

Specifically, “The downtown business interests, the Chamber of Commerce, Boeing, the unions, they all wanted a highway, period. Nothing was going to stop them.”

Washburn concedes that Boeing and Microsoft, in particular, pressed their case for the tunnel with Gov. Gregoire. “Certainly, they had an interest for obvious reasons, being able to move their product and their people.’ But Washburn stressed that any pressure that they, or the Chamber, exerted was no more aggressive than anyone else’s.

“No,” counters Moon [an opponent of the tunnel], “their voice was always louder than ours.”

So, these two immensely rich companies arrange to avoid paying state taxes, hire employees from overseas, and get you and me to subsidize their transportation needs.

Screwed by Boeing and Microsoft

See Corporate welfare for MicrosoftBoeing exempt from sales tax, Tax-subsidized Boeing Co. snubs state againMicrosoft Admits Keeping $92 Billion Offshore to Avoid Paying $29 Billion in US Taxes, Microsoft’s Staggering Tax Dodge Alone Would Fund the Entire State of Washington for Two Years .

DelBene betrays the Democratic Party, apparently

Which 35 House Democrats Just Joined the GOP to Try to Gut Dodd-Frank?

lists Washington Rep. Suzan DelBene among the turncoats.

Ultimately, the GOP-sponsored bill to roll back reforms failed, when enough Democrats voted against it to prevent the 2/3rds majority needed for it to pass as a suspension of rules.

Last I heard DelBene hasn’t committed to opposing TPP or the fast-tracking thereof, despite the Washington State Democratic Party platform’s opposition to TPP.  This is especially concerning because DelBene and her husband were senior executives at Microsoft, so presumably they still have stock. Shouldn’t they recuse themselves from vote concerning TPP, which would benefit Microsoft?

Question for Rep. Suzan DelBene

I presume Microsoft would benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.  Rep. Suzan Delbene and her husband, Kurt DelBene, both used to work for Microsoft in senior management positions. Both of them have personal ties to the company and presumably own considerable stock in Microsoft. Shouldn’t she recuse herself from votes concerning the TPP? Or were the DelBene’s required to sell their stock?

Last I heard DelBene hasn’t committed to opposing TPP or the fast-tracking thereof, despite the Washington State Democratic Party platform’s opposition to TPP.

More corporate welfare for Microsoft

From FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform) and https://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=134733849408 (June 30, 2009). See the section in bold for how the bill benefits Microsoft and for Rep. Ross Hunter’s role in promoting it. Hunter also led the charge for tax breaks for Microsoft.

Under a new Washington State law, foreign guest workers — and their families who are in the United States — will be allowed to attend college by paying in-state tuition, even though the law does not extend that same benefit to American citizens who are from other states.

The law — which started as H.B. 1487 in the Washington State Legislature — was signed into law by Governor Christine Gregoire on April 25 and will take effect on July 1. The new law permits foreign workers with certain work visas, including H-1B visas, to access in-state tuition benefits. The law reduces Washington’s in-state residency requirement from three years to one year for foreign workers and also eliminates the requirement that students must attend a Washington State high school to qualify for in-state tuition. The new rules also provide reduced tuition to family members of certain visa holders. (WA Bill Action, 2009 Session; Seattle Times, June 22, 2009; and Bellingham Herald, June 22, 2009).

Critics point out that the law could not have come at a worse time for Washingtonians. The law is expected to contribute to a loss of revenue for the state university system. Initial estimates predict that the University of Washington will lose $430,000 in tuition revenue and that Washington State University could lose approximately $215,000. (Id.). Beyond revenue loss, others have pointed out that the law also reduces the number of educational opportunities available to Washington State residents at a time when more people are looking to return to school to obtain advanced degrees.

Critics have dubbed the bill, which was proposed by a former Microsoft executive (State Rep. Ross Hunter (D-Medina)), the “Microsoft subsidy bill,” because the Seattle-based software company will garner the bulk of the benefit from the new law. Recognizing that this law is nothing more than a corporate welfare bill at the expense of state residents, State Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) said: “We only allow X amount of [admission] slots for resident tuition rates and we are displacing those residents with H-1B visa holders, their families and dependents. Microsoft can well afford out-of-state tuition for its people.” (Id.).

At the same time, the new law discriminates against American citizens because it does not extend in-state tuition benefits to U.S. citizens living outside of Washington State. Accordingly, under the bill, an H-1B visa holder could send a family member to a state university for a total annual cost of $7,677 during the next academic year, compared to the annual out-of-state tuition cost of $24,352 that an out-of-state American citizen would be forced to pay.

Washington State’s move to reduce college costs for foreign born students comes on the heels of a recent New York Times article which concluded that American college students will have a harder time paying for college this coming school year. According to The Times, “Students looking for college scholarships are going to have a harder time this year as providers, hammered by falling investment returns and declining philanthropic support.” (New York Times, June 26, 2009). The current economic climate has “led foundations, corporations, state governments and colleges themselves to reduce their support of providers of scholarships, and in recent months programs have been reduced or canceled outright. The cuts come as economic conditions make it harder for families to pay for college and as more unemployed people look for financing for retraining.” (Id.).

 

 

Microsoft Dodges Taxes

Tax Dodger Microsoft

 

 

Press Release: Black Friday: Boycott Microsoft and Picket to Demand Tax Fairness

Contact: Julianna Dauble

206-856-1357
November 12, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Black Friday: Boycott Microsoft and Picket to Demand Tax Fairness ”

Seattle – Washington Badass Teachers Association (WA-BATS) a grassroots group of career educators protecting our public education system from further degradation is holding a public protest on Friday, November 28th, 2014 at the overpass on NE 40th St in Redmond, a block from Overlake Transit Center and near 156th Ave and 136th St. (Here’s the google map location). The public is encouraged and welcome to attend from 5:30-7:30.

Because the average citizen is unaware of how public schools are funded and how regressive Washington state’s tax system is, organizers will be artfully drawing attention to the corporate tax loopholes enjoyed by Microsoft through creative messaging.

Microsoft has avoided paying at least $5.34 billion in state taxes since 1997 thanks to dodging the state royalty tax. Microsoft admits to holding $92 billion in earning offshore to avoid paying $29 billion in U.S. taxes.

The theme of the picket is similar to a funeral procession. Attendees will carry candles for the lost lives and lost learning due to the underfunding of safety net programs and our public schools.

Large lit signs will be visible to traffic on the freeway below. A chorus will perform. Solidarity with all workers will be demonstrated through planned activities on the public sidewalks.

A mock trial and dramatized ‘conviction and sentencing’ of greedy profiteers will be held to signify the injustice to citizens at 4:00 on this day. An audience is encouraged for this event as well.

As public servants and compassionate humans, protesters are demanding the following:

1. Microsoft pay back taxes owed from their manipulation of licensing laws and moving certain financial operations out of state specifically to avoid their tax responsibility.

2. The public boycott Microsoft products including: Microsoft Office, Minecraft, Surface Tablets, Windows, Xbox, Skype, & Nokia phones until Microsoft pays their fair share for Washington State services.

3. Legislators reform tax laws! Each and every legislator swore to uphold their paramount duty when they were sworn into office. Demand legislators change revenue policies to eliminate tax loopholes for corporations. Fully fund basic education. Support students, teachers, small class sizes, and all workers in Washington with a fair budget and sustainable revenue. Support our most vulnerable citizens across the state.

Other social justice groups will be joining the Badass Teachers. Because the event will be in the dark on a non workday for Microsoft employees guest speakers will be using bullhorns and videotaped so messages will be disseminated on various media. Activist leaders will be made available for interview.

For more information about WA-BATS, visit us on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1378337475716232/
Event Invite (public): https://www.facebook.com/events/708053752620832
Contact: Julianna Dauble, (206) 856-1357
Email: BATSrally@gmail.com