Tags: Richest | Members | of-Congress-Are | Democrats | National Review | APE | ethanol

Seven of 10 Richest Members of Congress Are Democrats

By    |   Sunday, 02 December 2012 03:35 PM

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Seven of 10 Richest Members of Congress Are Democrats
2. National Review and The Nation Join Forces for Ad Sales
3. EPA Rejects Governors' Plea Over Ethanol
4. Warren Buffett Tax Plan Called 'Fiscal Joke'
5. Black Friday Gun Sales Set New Record
6. Miami Becoming the 'Russian Riviera'

1. Seven of 10 Richest Members of Congress Are Democrats

For the second year in a row, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas is the richest member of Congress, with a reported net worth of $305 million — the first time a Washington lawmaker has surpassed the $300 million mark.

Roll Call's annual list of the 50 richest members of Congress reveals that seven of the top 10 are Democrats — and four of the 10 owe their fortunes to wealthy spouses.

McCaul, a former federal prosecutor, reported in 2010 that his wife had received assets as gifts from her parents, boosting his net worth from some $73 million to at least $294 million that year. His wife Linda is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Inc. CEO and founder Lowry Mays.

Roll Call determines the minimum net worth of members by subtracting the total minimum value of all liabilities from the total minimum value of all assets. Lawmakers do not have to report the value of personal residences as an asset.

The assets and liabilities are listed in broad ranges, making it difficult to calculate a lawmaker's exact minimum net worth, Roll Call pointed out.

Second on the 2012 list of richest members of Congress is Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., up from No. 3 last year with a net worth of $199 million. His wife Teresa Heinz Kerry is the widow of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III of the Heinz ketchup fortune.

At No. 3, down one place this year, is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at $141 million. Issa is the founder of Directed Electronics Inc., which makes car alarms.

Next on the list is Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., at $86 million. He made his fortune as co-founder of Nextel Communications Inc.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., is No. 5, with $83 million. He is the great-grandson of Standard Oil Co. founder John D. Rockefeller.

He is followed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., at $79 million. His wife Cynthia Blumenthal is the daughter of New York real estate mogul Peter Malkin.

Another Democrat, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, is No. 7 with a net worth of $72 million. Much of his wealth comes from Blue Mountain Arts, his family's greeting card and publishing business.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, yet another Democrat, is No. 8 at $57 million. He is co-founder of Automatic Data Processing, a payroll processing company.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., No. 9 on the list, owes her fortune to her husband Richard Blum, president and CEO of the private equity firm Blum Capital Partners LP. Her net worth is estimated at $42 million.

Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, is No. 10 with a net worth of $37 million. He has significant investments in fast-food chains, electronics companies, pharmaceutical companies, and oil giants, according to Roll Call.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is at No. 13, with a net worth of $26 million, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is at No. 37 with $9 million.

The "poorest" member on the list is Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., with a net worth of $6.28 million.

Editor's Note:

2. National Review and The Nation Join Forces for Ad Sales

Publishing, like politics, can make for strange bedfellows.

The conservative National Review and the liberal magazine The Nation have teamed up for a combined sales effort, offering advertisers spots in both magazines at a steeply discounted rate.

"Both magazines have always targeted corporate marketers and have always come up short because of a brand's nervousness about being associated with distinct political views," Folio magazine observed.

Scott Budd, executive editor of National Reviews, said: "When we sell this audience to people separately, we run into the same hurdle. [Advertisers] love who these people are, but they can't put a publicly traded company into such partisan magazines."

By joining forces, Folio noted, marketers can buy both magazines, reach the desired demographics and "sufficiently neutralize any political backlash."

And Teresa Stack, president of The Nation, says advertisers are "skittish about advertising on one side or the other, and this mitigates it because they're talking to both sides."

The combination of the red National Review and blue The Nation is being called the "Purple Network."

The six-month-old program is focusing on the 2013 buying cycle, and Budd says the two publications may try a similar deal on the digital side.

Editor's Note:

3. EPA Rejects Governors' Plea Over Ethanol

The governors of seven drought-afflicted states petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency, asking for a suspension of rules requiring refiners to blend biofuel — mostly ethanol — into the nation's gasoline supply.

The governors of Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Maryland, New Mexico, and Delaware contended that the renewable fuel standard (RFS) program requiring the use of biofuel, combined with the worst drought in 40 years, had pushed corn prices to record highs and harmed the states' meat and dairy producers, who use corn as an animal feed.

On Friday, Nov. 16, the Obama administration's EPA turned down the petition.

This year about 4.7 billion bushels, or 40 percent of the nation's corn crop, will be used for ethanol production, and ethanol production is set to increase next year.

The Clean Air Act authorizes EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the RFS targets for ethanol production for one year if the requirements would "severely harm" the economy of a state or the nation as a whole, which the governors claimed they do.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe's petition to the EPA stated that "virtually all of Arkansas is suffering from severe, extreme, or exceptional drought conditions," and rising corn prices are "having a severe economic impact" on the state's livestock producers.

"While the drought may have triggered the price spike in corn," the fuel standards exacerbated the problem — the policy boosted corn prices 193 percent since 2005.

He also asserted that livestock producers hit hard by rising corn prices "represent nearly half" of the state's farm sales.

"However, the EPA stacked the decks against petitioners, establishing a burden of proof that was virtually impossible to meet," according to Mario Lewis, a senior fellow in energy and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

In an article on National Review Online, Lewis explained that the EPA in essence required the petitioners to show that the biofuel requirement was entirely responsible for the harm and not merely a contributing factor, and that waiving the requirement would "remedy" the hardship facing livestock producers.

"These criteria are ridiculous," Lewis declared.

"The Clean Air Act does not require the EPA to don analytical blinkers and ignore other factors that, in combination with the RFS, cause severe harm, nor does it say that any waiver granted must be a silver bullet."

But he adds: "This cloud may yet have a silver lining. Jackson's rejection of the waiver petitions exposes the RFS program as an arbitrary, inflexible system that provides corporate welfare to corn farmers at the expense of livestock producers, consumers, and hungry people in developing countries."

Administrator Jackson was designated for the post by President-elect Obama in December 2008, and she was confirmed by the Senate in January 2009.

Lewis observes: "The EPA's decision may very well build support for RFS reform — or repeal."

Editor's Note:

4. Warren Buffett Tax Plan Called 'Fiscal Joke'

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has proposed a minimum tax of 30 percent on incomes of $1 million to $10 million and 35 percent on incomes above that.

But such a plan would not impact only the wealthy — it would hurt average Americans, according to Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

And it would do next to nothing to bring down the long-term budget deficit. The deficit last year was $1.1 trillion. According to a study by Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, a Buffett-style 30 percent tax on millionaires would generate just $5 billion — less than half of one percent of the budget.

"In other words, Buffett's proposal is a fiscal joke," IBD observes.

Buffett maintains that tax increases on wealthy Americans are "fair." But the top 1 percent earn about 16 percent of all income yet already pay 37 percent of all federal income taxes.

In fact, the 400 richest Americans pay about as much in taxes as do the bottom 50 percent — 72 million Americans.

And as for Buffett's idea for a "minimum" tax on the rich, the country already has one. It's called the Alternative Minimum Tax, and was put in place in 1969 after it was revealed that 155 people with incomes over $200,000 had paid no taxes in 1967.

The bottom line is that Buffett's proposed tax increase would remove investment capital — the engine of economic growth — from the U.S. economy.

Writing in The New York Times, Buffett also stated that there is no need for concern if capital gains rates and ordinary incomes taxes are increased.

But when capital gains taxes were raised in 1986, total capital gains plunged 62 percent over the next four years.

"Every dollar in capital gains lost to the economy is a loss for business investment, productivity and worker income," IBD concludes.

"And since more than half of all Americans have 401(k)s or some other retirement vehicle that depends on capital gains, it's a loss for them as well."

Editor's Note:

5. Black Friday Gun Sales Set New Record

Gun sales on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, hit an all-time record as buyers stocked up on weapons ahead of any new gun control laws following President Obama's re-election.

The demand for firearms was so great that it caused outages at the FBI background check centers.

The FBI fielded 154,873 background check requests, up from 129,166 calls on Black Friday 2011 and 97,848 calls in 2008.

The FBI call centers fielding required buyer background check requests experienced an 18-minute outage and another one for 14 minutes on Black Friday, Nov. 23, according to bureau spokesman Stephen Fischer.

The FBI doesn't track actual gun sales, but the number of weapons sold is surely higher than the number of requests because multiple firearms can be included in one purchase by a single buyer.

Dealers attributed the surge in sales in part to concerns that lawmakers in President Obama's second term could impose stricter gun laws, USA Today reported.

"With the recent election, some people are making buying decisions just in case something happens," Don Gallardo, manager of Shooter's World in Phoenix, told USA Today, referring to the possibility of tighter gun controls.

President Obama has indicated that he would pursue an assault weapons ban. According to Infowars.com, he also told gun control activist Sarah Brady last year that he was working "under the radar" on new gun controls, and Brady said Obama assured her gun control was "very much on his agenda."

Editor's Note:

6. Miami Becoming the 'Russian Riviera'

A new wave of buyers is flooding Miami and buying up super-pricey real estate — wealthy Russians.

"Russian millionaires are an increasingly common sight inside the giant homes for sale along the Miami Coast," CNBC reported in a story headlined "Why Miami Is Becoming the 'Russian Riviera.'"

"It's the rich Russians who are dominating the market for mega-mansions. They're spending hundreds of millions on waterfront palaces and launching the next big land grab by the world's super-rich."

The most expensive home ever sold in Miami, a 30,000-square-foot mansion on exclusive Indian Creek Island, was bought in August by an anonymous Russian buyer. Price tag: $47 million.

Russian vodka mogul Roustam Tariko recently bought a $25.5 million, 9-bedroom home on Star Island, The New York Times reported. Present and past homeowners on the island include Rosie O'Donnell, Gloria Estevan, and Shaquille O'Neal. Gangster Al Capone is often cited as a former resident, but in fact he lived on neighboring Palm Island.

A millionaire from Ukraine has paid $20 million for an entire floor of the St. Regis Bal Harbour.

Russians spent more than $12 billion on overseas real estate last year, including more than $1 billion in the United States, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Russians have a "particular attraction" to large Miami mansions and condos, CNBC observed.

"The weather is a welcome escape from Moscow winters. Russian millionaires and billionaires are also obsessed with security and protection, which they can easily find in Miami's large collection of gated communities, private islands with private police forces, and protected condo towers."

The Russians "are paranoid about security," said Jorge Uribe of Sotheby's International Realty in Miami.

The Miami real estate market is so hot for Russians that some brokers are opening business offices in Russia.

And Uribe is translating his website into Russian.

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Editor's Note:

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Sunday, 02 December 2012 03:35 PM
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