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Self-Driving Car Milestones

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I'm working on a car capable of evaluating arbitrarily complex boolean expressions on "honk if [...]" bumper stickers and responding accordingly.
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satadru
5 days ago
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A self-aware car laughing at the Trolley Problem episode of The Good Place.
New York, NY
norb
6 days ago
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The 9th bullet point is my favorite one!
clmbs.oh
popular
4 days ago
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alt_text_bot
6 days ago
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I'm working on a car capable of evaluating arbitrarily complex boolean expressions on "honk if [...]" bumper stickers and responding accordingly.
Cthulhux
6 days ago
One bot would be enough.
iiieeeoo
6 days ago
Two bots are better than none!
jepler
6 days ago
honk if this statement is false
wreichard
5 days ago
I’m thinking of Douglas Adams’ elevator. “Have you considered all the possibilities that down has to offer?”
jepler
5 days ago
Zarqon save us from cars with genuine people personalities.
daanzu_alt_text_bot
4 days ago
i'm offline, if classic bot will work reliably!

OpenSecrets releases new 2015 personal financial data:  Senators get richer; others not so much

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Rep. Daryl Issa (R-CA) on April 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. He is the wealthiest member of Congress (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images for SiriusXM)

The majority of Congress are still millionaires, but Senators increased their net worth in 2015 at a far greater rate than Congress as a whole.

In 2015, the median net worth of Senate Republicans rose 13 percent from $2.9 million to $3.3 million, according to personal financial disclosure data filed by congressional members and reviewed by CRP researchers.

Over the same period, the median net worth of the Senate Democratic Caucus, on the other hand, rose 9 percent – still far greater than the 4.5 percent increase in combined net worth of U.S. households and nonprofits in 2015, according to a report this year from the Federal Reserve.

In 2015, more than 70 percent of Senators were millionaires, meaning most never needed to worry about the pressures that most middle-class American face – from securing gainful employment to saving for unforeseen financial shocks.  At at a time when Congress is considering changes to the tax code and healthcare legislation, this disparity calls into question their ability to adequately represent their constituents.   

In the House, median net worth of members increased only about 1 percent, from $860,000 in 2014 to $875,000 in 2015.

Millionaire club

In 2015, three Senate Republicans at least doubled their wealth in a single calendar year.

The list includes Sens. Mike Rounds of South Dakota (up 490 percent); Roger Wicker of Mississippi (326 percent); and Thad Cochran of Mississippi (124 percent); according the personal financial disclosures filed with the Senate.

Rounds was worth an estimated $2.7 million in 2014 and $16.2 million a year later, mostly due to his wife selling her real estate and insurance company. Wicker sold his stake in his timber company. Cochran remarried into wealth.

When members of Congress file their annual personal financial reports, they’re allowed to list the value of their assets and liabilities in broad ranges. In practical terms, that obscures exactly how much each member of Congress is worth. And the larger the value of the asset, the broader the allowable range.

To account for those ranges, CRP’s researchers establish a minimum and maximum net worth, and then use the average as an estimated net worth for each member of Congress.

Explore our data on congressional wealth, debt and investments at OpenSecrets.org.

Wealthiest politicians

In 2014 and 2015, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was again the wealthiest member of Congress. Issa, who made his fortune in the car alarm business, had an estimated net worth of about $330 million in 2015.

At least six other lawmakers had an estimated net worth in excess of $100 million as well. That included House Democrats Jared Polis of Colorado ($314 million), John Delaney of Maryland ($233 million) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California ($101 million) as well as House Republicans Dave Trott of Michigan ($177 million) and Vernon Buchanan of Florida ($116 million).

Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D), whose estimated net worth of $238 million in 2015 was roughly one-quarter of the combined wealth of his 99 colleagues, was both the wealthiest senator and third wealthiest member of Congress in 2015. Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut ($81.7 million) and Dianne Feinstein of California ($79 million) were the year’s next wealthiest senators.

The least wealthy member of Congress in 2015 was again Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), who reported an estimated net worth of negative $24 million, “up” from $25 million in net liabilities in 2014. Valadao’s disclosures and previous interviews with CRP indicate his debt is tied to loans for his family’s dairy farm.

The second “poorest” member of Congress was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a United Methodist pastor and former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Despite the growth in the number of congressional millionaires, total net worth of members — the value of all their assets minus liabilities — declined from $4.5 billion in 2014 to $4.2 billion in 2015.

Expect More Data to Come

While the scope of this report is limited to 2015, CRP is continuing to update the personal finances section with the more current 2016 data that was filed by members of Congress this summer.  We currently have some 2016 data and are working to process the remaining filings for those members who filed for extensions and submitted later in the year.  Follow us on Twitter to be the first to hear about future updates.

Researcher Alex Baumgart contributed to this story.

The post OpenSecrets releases new 2015 personal financial data:  Senators get richer; others not so much appeared first on OpenSecrets Blog.

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norb
54 days ago
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Family Vote

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
Let's be clear, kids. It's not *just*. It's potentially fair.

New comic!
Today's News:
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popular
132 days ago
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norb
132 days ago
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lkeeney
131 days ago
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LOL
Apex, North Carolina
lmoffeit
131 days ago
so funny!
rclatterbuck
132 days ago
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I'll have to remember this.

Opinion | The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism

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Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, last month. Doug Mills/The New York Times ASPEN, COLO. — There is a structural flaw in modern capitalism. Tremendous income gains are going to those in the top 20 percent, but prospects are diminishing for those in the middle and working classes. This gigantic

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norb
153 days ago
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On That GOP Health Care Bill, and Tax Breaks

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First, my initial thoughts, as rendered on Twitter.

Now, let me talk a little bit more about the part where I say “rich people don’t miss their taxes,” since I think there are people who may be reasonably skeptical about this. Warning: I’m going to talk about my money. Then I’m going to talk about other people’s money.

To begin: I pay taxes on a quarterly basis, because I’m self-employed and the IRS, alas not entirely unreasonably, questions whether self-employed people will keep track of their money for a full year in order to pay off one big tax bill. So every quarter, I pay taxes. And in each of those quarterly tax payments, I pay in taxes roughly what I grossed (and definitely more than I netted) in income from the entire four-and-half years of my first job out of college, working for a newspaper. Add up my yearly tax bill, and it’s close to what I grossed my first ten years of being a professional writer — and there was never a time in there I didn’t do okay; it was a solid continuous progression up the middle-class income ladder.

So these days, whenever I see how much I pay in taxes annually, my first thought is always something like HOLY CRAP that’s a lot of money. I could totally use that! As someone who grew up poor and has worked his way steadily up the income ladder, it’s a freakin’ huge amount in terms of the raw dollars.

And then I pay my taxes and I discover that anything I would have used that ridiculous wad of tax money for, I still have enough in my net income for. I literally cannot think of a thing I want — or need — that my post-tax income can’t handle. Because as it happens, even with federal, state and local taxes, my tax burden is reasonable. I don’t pay taxes in 1980, when the highest marginal federal income tax rate was 70%; I pay taxes in 2017, where top federal tax bracket maxes out at just under 40%. With state and local taxes, I would have to break a sweat to have a total tax indebtedness of 50% — but I don’t come anywhere near that, because like lots of people in my position I have a very smart accountant who finds me lots of deductions.

So even with literally the full (pre-deduction) tax burden someone in Ohio can pay — we max out all the marginal rates — there is more than enough left over for pretty much anything that we want to do, individually, as a couple or as a family. We save a lot, invest a bunch, and thus take that money out of the short-term income pool we use for bills, household spending and, uh, “consumer activity,” and we’re still just fine, thanks. I suppose it’s possible that we could spend so much of our post-tax income that we’re left with little or nothing and thus would wish we had some of the money that we paid in taxes back into our hands, but speaking from experience, this takes effort, and some willful stupidity about your money. Yes, I’m looking at you, Nick Cage and Johnny Depp. But if you’re not the sort of person who spends $30,000 a month on wine, you’re probably going to be fine.

We do just fine. The other people I know who have similar or better incomes than we have also do just fine. The ones I know with substantially better incomes than we have are also doing just fine. No one at my income level or better actively misses the money they spend on taxes, because they’re still rich after they pay taxes.

Would I like to pay less in taxes? When I look at the raw number of dollars I send to the IRS, sure. When I think about the actual impact on my day-to-day life having that money would make, versus the actual and positive impact on the day-to-day life of millions of other people, when people like me pay our taxes? Nope. I have certain (in more than one sense of that word) opinions about how those taxes I pay in should be used, and whether they are being used effectively, and whether I’m getting value for what I pay, to be sure. Those are different issues, however.

Cratering health care for millions in the United States (and crippling Medicare in the bargain) in order to give people like me a tax cut means that we are taking something from people who need it, often desperately, to give something to people who don’t need it and may not even notice it in any substantial way. In the House version of this legislation, you have to make more than $200k to get any tax benefit from it; people with incomes between $200k and $500k a year would get a tax break of $510 on average. $510 is not a lot to get in return for asking millions of other Americans to be potentially priced out of health coverage, have lifetime insurance caps reinstituted, be denied for pre-existing conditions, get sicker and die earlier. And the roughly 95% of Americans who don’t make $200,000 a year won’t even get that.

Rich people don’t need any more tax cuts. They’re doing just fine. They will continue to do just fine. And no, their tax burden isn’t onerous. Trust me, I know. I live that tax burden daily. It doesn’t hurt. What does hurt is knowing that people I know and care for will likely die sooner and sicker than they should just so someone like me gets back a few more dollars they won’t notice. Don’t come at me with “but the rich earned those dollars.” Dude, I earned my dollars, too. I earned them in a country that helped me get where I am in part through taxes. I earned them understanding that getting rich came with an obligation to the society I live in and benefit from, an obligation discharged, in part, by paying a perfectly reasonable amount of taxes.

The motto of the United States is not, in fact, “Fuck you, I got mine.” It was, and should have remained, “E Pluribus Unum” — out of many, one. We’re all Americans. We all deserve the blessings this country can provide. This one is willing to pay his taxes for the benefit of the many.


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popular
170 days ago
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norb
173 days ago
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jeterhere
165 days ago
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Well put, another good American ...
Kennewick, WA
kemayo
170 days ago
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"The motto of the United States is not, in fact, “Fuck you, I got mine.”"
St Louis, MO
acdha
171 days ago
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Not for the first time, I wonder how much of this goes back to the country being run by a lot of old people who never internalized that the tax situation has changed dramatically since the 1970s, not to mention the costs of things like healthcare, housing, and education.
Washington, DC

Here are all the ways Jeff Sessions is wrong about drug sentencing

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Here are all the ways Jeff Sessions is wrong about drug sentencing

So Attorney General Jeff Sessions took to the pages of The Washington Post to write an op-ed last weekend. Sessions is rescinding an Obama administration policy that instructed federal prosecutors to avoid seeking mandatory minimums in some drug cases. In Sessions’s defense, he did get one thing right, although he seemed to utterly miss the significance of […]
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norb
174 days ago
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