Following up on yesterday’s story about a disgruntled computer technician who turned over the bank records from the LGT Bank of Liechtenstein, ABC News says that UBS Bank may have helped set up the secret accounts and been responsible for hiding as much as $20 billion dollars of U.S. money.
U.S. law allows whistleblowers to collect 30 percent of any taxes recovered as a result of their information, and it seems that one disgruntled computer technician is taking advantage of the program. Meet Heinrich Kieber, a nefarious criminal-type turned “good guy” who will be testifying in front of the “Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations Thursday via a video statement from a secret location,” according to ABC News. Mr. Keiber is from Liechtenstein, a tiny country with very secretive banking laws. He stole banking information that showed how the world’s super-rich were skirting their countries tax laws. Keiber then sold the information to tax authorities in 12 countries, including the U.S, hence the whole “secret location” thing.
The Senate passed the FISA bill today, which effectively puts an end to any chance of legal repercussions for telcos who helped the government spy on citizens. Senator Obama voted for it, Senator McCain didn’t vote, and Senator Clinton, for what it’s worth, voted against it. Find out how your senator voted here. [TechCrunch]
Get ready to spend nine hours on the tarmac without food or water. Senate Republicans yesterday shoved the Passenger’s Bill of Rights into the chamber’s overhead bin, killing off hope that the bill will pass before the elections. Even worse, the shot-down bill had transformed into a gleaming marvel of consumer protection.
Poor Kevin Martin. The Senate is well on its way towards killing his proposal to let newspapers get all freaky and consolidate with television and radio stations. Martin shouldn’t be too surprised: this is exactly what happened the last time a FCC Chairman tried to ram media consolidation down our throats.
Never again will you have to worry about renewing your Do Not Call List registration thanks to Public Laws 110-187 and 110-188. Our newest laws provide a permanent stream of funding for the Do Not Call List and guarantee that registrations will never expire. Read the White House’s ebullient press release, after jump.
That was fast. The Senate today passed H.R. 5140, a $167 billion economic stimulus plan, by a vote of 81-16. The final bill grants rebates to seniors and disabled veterans, but does not extend unemployment insurance or provide heating assistance to the poor. The bill will now take a quick breather in the House before sprinting down Pennsylvania Avenue for the President’s signature. [AP]
Seniors and disabled veterans have joined the unemployed on the list of people who won’t receive help from Congress under the developing economic stimulus plan. The Senate yesterday rejected an expanded stimulus package by a single vote, meaning that they will most likely approve the House’s $146 billion plan that will send a $600 rebate check to most taxpayers. Congress will continue tweaking the package ahead of a self-imposed February 15 deadline. [U.S. Senate]
The Senate Commerce Committee issued a bold press release aggressively backing FCC Commissioner Michael Copps’ contention that the nation is woefully unprepared for the pending transition to digital television. The release is a stunning rebuke to the FCC and the Commerce Department, which have dickered over responsibility for the ongoing transition. The Committee plans to hold a hearing on February 14 to find out just what content should, under ideal circumstances, go here. Full release, after the jump.
“Whatever the senate does they should not delay this package. They should not keep money out of your pocket, the sooner you get a check, the more likely it is that the stimulus package will kick in and make a difference. So my attitude is if that if you’re truly interested in dealing with the slowdown in the economy—the Senate ought to accept the House package, pass it, and get it to my desk as soon as possible.”
The House yesterday passed H.R. 5140, the Recovery Rebates and Economic Stimulus for the American People Act of 2008, by a vote of 385-35. The $146 billion economic stimulus plan funds $600 rebates for most taxpayers making less than $75,000. The Senate is preparing a competing $161 billion package that would extend unemployment insurance and give most Americans, including billionaires, a $500 rebate check. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi begged the Senate to shut up and play nice, saying: “I hope the Senate will take heed. It’s not unprecedented that one chamber has yielded to another.” [THOMAS]
Members of Congress introduced 7,440 bills this year and almost none of them help consumers in any meaningful way. Less than fifteen bills this session snagged our editorial love. Most cleared only one chamber, and some still haven’t earned a hearing—but maybe when Congress returns they’ll lob a few of our favorites towards Pennsylvania Ave.
Ever wonder where your goat meat came from? No? Well several Senators did, so their chamber’s version of the farm bill extends country of origin labeling to chickens, macadamia nuts, and goat meat. The labels, which are already required for beef, pork, lamb, peanuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables, should appear by late next year.
Liveblogging The Senate Permanent Subcommittee On Investigations Hearing On Arbitrary Credit Card Rate Increases
Today at 9:30 a.m., Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) will continue his investigation into the unfair and deceptive practices of the credit card industry. Today’s topic: arbitrary rate increases for cardholders in good standing. The hearing picks up where Senator Levin left off in March, when he questioned the use of excessive fees, interest charges, and the abuse of grace periods.