On Losses, Savings… and a Whole Lotta Smokin’

With a surprise loss, a short-term highway fix seems more likely. The House Republican leadership is in turmoil following the surprising primary defeat of GOP leader Eric Cantor, making it even less likely that Congress will agree on a long-term solution for the dwindling Highway Trust Fund. Lawmakers must find an additional $100 billion in addition to the current gas tax to pay for a six-year transportation bill, according to the CBO. The most likely solution: a temporary fix to keep the road graders running through the election. Meanwhile, Representative Peter DeFazio wonders whether a per-barrel tax on oil companies might be a better bet.

Wyden won’t pay for roads with imaginary money. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden is no fan of using a tax repatriation holiday to finance the highway trust fund. Wyden told Bloomberg News, “You do not pay for roads and bridges and transit with imaginary savings. There isn’t any magic money sitting around on the street corner.” TPC’s Howard Gleckman describes other reasons why a repatriation tax holiday is a bad idea, despite growing support in the Senate for one to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. Not only does a holiday add to the deficit in the long run, but corporations may use one to hit Wall Street earnings targets rather than increase shareholder wealth or create jobs in the US.

Cantor’s out, and Ryan won’t take his place. Representative Paul Ryan  has indicated he does not want to run for House Majority Leader when Cantor steps down at the end of July. Ryan is still considered the front-runner for chair of the House Ways and Means Committee when Dave Camp vacates that post next year.

The Buffet Rule is out, too… Senate Republicans blocked Elizabeth Warren’s student loan bill, which would have allowed more than 25 million people to refinance student loans at today’s lower interest rates of less than 4 percent. Her bill would have been funded by a minimum 30-percent income tax payment from those earning $1 million or more.

It only takes one Apple? The European Union expanded its investigation of tax avoidance by corporations, adding Starbucks and Fiat to a list that started with Apple. The EU will review whether decisions made by tax authorities in Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg breached EU rules on state assistance.

Ever wonder what happens when 34,000 people smoke 66 million cigarettes? You get $16 million in tobacco tax revenues this fiscal year, if you’re in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. The largest, northern-most, and newest territory of Canada also has the nation’s highest smoking rate at 60 percent. It’s so high that the territory’s corporate income tax revenue doesn’t hold a candle, or lit match, to them: the revenues are expected to be $12.5 million. Another notable statistic: four in ten Nunavut residents rely on social assistance—the highest rate in Canada.

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