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MLP Parity Act Could Give a Boost to Renewable Energy, Investors

Jul 16, 2012, 10:00 am EDT

Looking to make the transition from an economy based on fossil fuels, renewable energy businesses across the value and supply chain have benefited from state and federal government subsidies, support and incentives.

State renewable power/portfolio standards (RPS), which have been enacted in 37 states to date, have been critical to the near-doubling of U.S. renewable energy capacity since 2008, along with the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

While the Obama administration has set U.S. energy policy firmly on the renewable path, the federal government — more precisely, a bitterly divided Congress — has relied primarily on tax incentives in the form of investment and production tax credits (ITCs and PTCs) to foster growth and development of the U.S. clean-energy economy. Read 

Reality Check on Dividend Taxes

Jul 16, 2012, 9:16 am EDT
Reality Check on Dividend Taxes

One of the most contentious parts of the Bush Tax Cuts was the 2003 provision to slash the maximum statutory rate on dividends from 38% to 15%. That controversy still rages today, of course, even though a 2007 Federal Reserve paper argues that the effects of the cuts were modest at best.

“We fail to find much, if any, imprint of the dividend tax cut news on the value of the aggregate stock market,” according to the paper. “Second, there appeared to have been modest but seemingly short-lived cross-sectional effects on stock valuations.”

Yet, the debate over dividend taxes won’t stop. The top rate on dividends will surge nearly 190% to 43.4%, if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire at the end of the year and a separate increase allowed under Obama care kicks in. The effects of such an increase would be devastating, according to the Alliance for Savings & Investment. Read 

Don’t Fall for ‘Obama Will Pay Your Utility Bills’ Scam

Jul 13, 2012, 5:28 pm EDT

Identity theft scammers have led thousands of Americans to believe in the existence of a federal program that will pay their utility bills. Don’t fall for it.

The crafty criminals have been knocking on doors and ringing phones across the country asking folks to sign up for the program by submitting personal information including their Social Security numbers, MSNBC reports. In exchange for the information, the fraud victims are given phony bank account and routing numbers they’re told to use to pay their bills online.

The scam is spreading like wildfire. Fraudsters are contacting victims via phone calls, personal visits and the Internet. Snopes.com has listed several scripts used in some of the schemes. Read 

Reid: New Spending Bills Unlikely In 2012

Jul 12, 2012, 3:30 pm EDT
Reid: New Spending Bills Unlikely In 2012

Those hoping that the passage of a bipartisan transportation and student loan bill signaled a shift away from partisan bickering in Congress, prepare to be disappointed.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated Tuesday that he does not believe the Senate will move forward on any more spending bills this year.

What’s the hold-up? Reid blames House Republicans and a difference in opinion over the total level of spending the government should engage in. Democrats want to stick with a $1.047 trillion level that was set by last year’s Budget Control Act, while Republicans want a $1.028 trillion budget for the coming year. Read 

Facebook Likes Linked to Political Affiliation

Jul 11, 2012, 5:28 pm EDT

Researchers at Engage have crunched the data and found out something interesting about the web sites people “like” on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB): knowing what sites a person likes gives them a clue about their political affiliation.

By using a special piece of software, Engage was able to track thousands of users’ Likes, political affiliation, and behavior — whether or not a person showed a high or low level of political engagement.

What are some of the things they’ve discovered? Read 

10 Companies Making the Biggest Political Donations

Jul 10, 2012, 3:00 pm EDT
10 Companies Making the Biggest Political Donations

With the U.S. presidential election heating up, 24/7 Wall St. has examined public companies’ political contributions in the current election cycle.  The donations include monies given to political parties, candidates and political action committees. The figures are staggering and have prompted many to ask whether money can buy a seat in the House, Senate or even the presidency itself.

The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, the Romney Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee raised more than $76.8 million in May alone. This one month does not include what Romney and his supporters raised for the primaries or the growing amount he will need as the presidential election shifts into high gear. While President Obama has raised more overall, his campaign and the Democratic Party only raised $60 million for his re-election effort in May.

Political contributions, which used to go directly to candidates, now often flow to Super PACs, independent organizations that can raise money to either help or defeat a political candidate. Historically, traditional political action committees have been prohibited from accepting donations from unions and companies. However, following rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, Super PACs are now allowed to accept unlimited donations from unions and companies, provided the money does not go directly to the campaign. Read 

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