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Democrats look to hike taxes on the rich and corporations to pay for $3.5 trillion budget bill

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President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have long made it clear that they intend to pay for their wish-list by raising taxes on the rich and big businesses. But lawmakers have not previously provided details on what that would entail.

The draft proposal, which could still change before it is expected to be officially released Monday, calls for increasing the top marginal rate on individuals to 39.6%, up from the 37% rate set by the Republicans’ 2017 tax cut law, according to a plan circulating Sunday and obtained by CNN.

The rate would apply to individuals with taxable income over $400,000 a year and married couples filing jointly earning over $450,000 annually.

The top capital gains rate would increase to 25%, from 20%.

In addition, lawmakers would slap a 3% surtax on individuals with adjusted gross incomes in excess of $5 million.

And it would broaden the net investment income tax to cover net income derived in the ordinary course of a trade or business for single taxpayers with greater than $400,000 in taxable income or joint filers with earnings greater than $500,000.

Currently, as part of the Affordable Care Act, some higher-income Americans are subject to an additional 3.8% Medicare tax on certain investment income and an 0.9% Medicare surcharge on wages.

Altogether, the additional levies on high-income individuals would raise approximately $1 trillion. Biden has promised that those earning below $400,000 a year would not see a tax hike.

The proposal also calls for increasing the top corporate tax rate to 26.5%, up from the current 21% set by the Republicans’ 2017 tax cut law. It would only apply to businesses with income in excess of $5 million.

Biden had called for hiking the corporate rate to 28% to pay for his economic recovery agenda. Prior to the 2017 law, the top rate was 35%.

And the House proposal would raise the minimum tax on foreign earnings of US companies to 16.5%, from the current 10.5%. Biden had suggested pushing it up to 21%.

The plan would also increase a variety of other taxes on the wealthy and businesses, among other measures, including modifying rules involving cryptocurrency transactions.

It would also give the Internal Revenue Service an additional $80 billion over the next 10 years for tax enforcement of high-income Americans, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated could raise $200 billion. And the proposal projects it would raise an additional $700 billion by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and eliminating a controversial drug rebate rule enacted by the Trump administration.

All told, the measures would raise an estimated $2.9 trillion, though the plan cautions that “this number remains very preliminary.” When combined with an estimated $600 billion in dynamic revenue growth estimated by the White House, the proposal would fully offset the cost of the Democrats’ budget package, according to the drafters.

Hitting hurdles over size

Aware that they will get no Republican support for their massive expansion of the nation’s safety net system, Democrats are planning to pass the package through the reconciliation process, which requires no GOP votes in the Senate.

Thirteen House committees are crafting the legislation that will make up the massive package in coming days, with a target of submitting detailed bills by Wednesday. Democratic leaders hope to hold a floor vote later this month.

But battles have already broken out within the Democratic party, with West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin telling CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that he will not support the $3.5 trillion price tag. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona has also indicated she does not support the price tag, and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said in a statement Sunday evening that he believes the spending bill “falls short” because there is not enough funding for housing assistance.

Manchin’s comments prompted Sen. Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Budget Committee that laid out recommendations for the sweeping plan, to tell Bash in a separate interview that it is “not acceptable” that Manchin won’t support the bill.

What House Democrats are proposing

The 10-year spending plan marks the latest step in the Democrats’ drive to expand education, health care and child care support, tackle the climate crisis and make further investments in infrastructure.

Party leaders are hoping to use the annual budget process to push through many of the measures envisioned in Biden’s jobs and families proposals that Republican opposition have blocked.

The draft legislation being written by various House committees calls for establishing a universal Pre-K program for 3- and 4-year-olds and a new child care benefit for working families. The proposal would make community college free for two years and increase the size of the maximum Pell Grant award for low-income students.
It would extend the enhanced child tax credit through 2025 and make permanent the beefed up subsidies for Affordable Care Act policies.
Lawmakers are also proposing adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to Medicare and creating a federal Medicaid expansion program to cover low-income adults in states that have refused to adopt the Affordable Care Act provision.

It also contains multiple provisions to combat climate change and to invest in infrastructure and jobs.

This story has been updated with additional information.



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Prosecutors accuse Maryland couple of hiding additional classified naval secrets

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The revelation came during a detention hearing for Diana Toebbe, who is charged, along with her husband Jonathan, in an elaborate scheme to sell nuclear submarine details.

As part of its case to keep the couple in jail, prosecutors disclosed that the FBI has not been able to access all of the couple’s encrypted email accounts, and still has not located all of the classified naval secrets it believes the couple possessed.

Special assistant US Attorney Jessica Smolar said 50 of the 51 packets of restricted data the couple held cannot be found, warning the information could cause extreme damage to the Navy if the information got out.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe appeared separately, each wearing orange jail uniforms, masks, and shackles. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but an FBI special agent revealed new details about the couples’ alleged scheme during a lengthy hearing for his wife. The judge has not yet ruled if Diana Toebbe will be released.

Several photographs and videos were presented in court that the special agent said showed the couple arriving at numerous so-called dead-drop locations throughout the summer of 2021 where they appeared to act as tourists before depositing SD cards filled with classified naval submarine secrets.

They showed “typical tradecraft of espionage subjects,” the special agent testified, describing how FBI surveillance captured the couple parking their BMW Mini Cooper one-and-a-half miles from the initial dead-drop location and then carefully making their way to the previously agreed-upon drop-off spot.

“Diana was right behind him within a meter away,” the agent testified. “Basically keeping a look-out to make sure no one was coming up on them during that operation.”

After Jonathan deposited the SD card, “Diana provided a very distinctive head nod as if they needed to get out of the area, and I observed that,” the agent said.

The couple is accused of acting together to coordinate three separate drop-offs of SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines, specifically the Virginia-class submarine. The FBI agent disclosed the depths to which the couple attempted to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations, saying one SD card was tucked into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper.

During an anticipated fourth dead-drop on October 9 in West Virginia, the couple was arrested by the FBI.

At the court hearing Wednesday, the testifying special agent said Jonathan Toebbe was getting increasingly concerned about his family’s safety. During the third dead-drop on August 28, Jonathan Toebbe arrived alone while his wife stayed home recovering from ankle surgery.

“Jonathan was extremely nervous,” the agent testified. “More nervous than we’d seen him on the previous ones and just very cautious about what was going on around him….because Diana was not there to act as a lookout.”

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly left a letter with the SD card during that dead-drop which said in part, “I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice. Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family…. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose.”

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the couple, charging them each with one count of Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data and two counts of Communication of Restricted Data. The couple pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

If convicted on any of the three counts, the couple faces up to life in prison.

The couple was arrested October 9, and the initial criminal complaint described how the Toebbes tried to sell sensitive information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The country, which has not been identified in court filings, notified the FBI, which launched a year-long sting operation. The testifying special agent noted that the FBI moved quickly after discovering the couple was trying to sell these secrets in December 2020 because they were concerned the couple might try to shop the information to multiple countries.

After their arrest, the FBI searched their home in Annapolis, Maryland, where they discovered $11,300 in cash — all one hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber-bands; a crypto wallet; passports for their two children; and a go-bag containing a laptop computer, a USB drive and latex gloves.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the couple had requested expedited passport renewals since theirs had expired in February 2021; the request was still being processed at the time of the couple’s arrest.

The Justice Department had previously moved to keep the couple in jail, citing their potential flight risk and the severity of their alleged crimes. The Toebbes appeared Wednesday with their court-appointed lawyers. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble said he will issue a written decision as to whether Diana Toebbe will be released pending trial.



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Prosecutors accuse Maryland couple of hiding additional classified naval secrets

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The revelation came during a detention hearing for Diana Toebbe, who is charged, along with her husband Jonathan, in an elaborate scheme to sell nuclear submarine details.

As part of its case to keep the couple in jail, prosecutors disclosed that the FBI has not been able to access all of the couple’s encrypted email accounts, and still has not located all of the classified naval secrets it believes the couple possessed.

Special assistant US Attorney Jessica Smolar said 50 of the 51 packets of restricted data the couple held cannot be found, warning the information could cause extreme damage to the Navy if the information got out.

Jonathan and Diana Toebbe appeared separately, each wearing orange jail uniforms, masks, and shackles. Jonathan Toebbe waived his right to a detention hearing, but an FBI special agent revealed new details about the couples’ alleged scheme during a lengthy hearing for his wife. The judge has not yet ruled if Diana Toebbe will be released.

Several photographs and videos were presented in court that the special agent said showed the couple arriving at numerous so-called dead-drop locations throughout the summer of 2021 where they appeared to act as tourists before depositing SD cards filled with classified naval submarine secrets.

They showed “typical tradecraft of espionage subjects,” the special agent testified, describing how FBI surveillance captured the couple parking their BMW Mini Cooper one-and-a-half miles from the initial dead-drop location and then carefully making their way to the previously agreed-upon drop-off spot.

“Diana was right behind him within a meter away,” the agent testified. “Basically keeping a look-out to make sure no one was coming up on them during that operation.”

After Jonathan deposited the SD card, “Diana provided a very distinctive head nod as if they needed to get out of the area, and I observed that,” the agent said.

The couple is accused of acting together to coordinate three separate drop-offs of SD cards containing classified information about nuclear submarines, specifically the Virginia-class submarine. The FBI agent disclosed the depths to which the couple attempted to hide the SD cards at the dead-drop locations, saying one SD card was tucked into a saran-wrapped peanut butter sandwich, while others were hidden inside a packet of gum and a sealed Band-Aid wrapper.

During an anticipated fourth dead-drop on October 9 in West Virginia, the couple was arrested by the FBI.

At the court hearing Wednesday, the testifying special agent said Jonathan Toebbe was getting increasingly concerned about his family’s safety. During the third dead-drop on August 28, Jonathan Toebbe arrived alone while his wife stayed home recovering from ankle surgery.

“Jonathan was extremely nervous,” the agent testified. “More nervous than we’d seen him on the previous ones and just very cautious about what was going on around him….because Diana was not there to act as a lookout.”

Jonathan Toebbe allegedly left a letter with the SD card during that dead-drop which said in part, “I have considered the possible need to leave on short notice. Should that ever become necessary, I will be forever grateful for your help extracting me and my family…. We have passports and cash set aside for this purpose.”

On Tuesday, a grand jury indicted the couple, charging them each with one count of Conspiracy to Communicate Restricted Data and two counts of Communication of Restricted Data. The couple pleaded not guilty to all three counts.

If convicted on any of the three counts, the couple faces up to life in prison.

The couple was arrested October 9, and the initial criminal complaint described how the Toebbes tried to sell sensitive information about nuclear submarines to a foreign country in exchange for millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. The country, which has not been identified in court filings, notified the FBI, which launched a year-long sting operation. The testifying special agent noted that the FBI moved quickly after discovering the couple was trying to sell these secrets in December 2020 because they were concerned the couple might try to shop the information to multiple countries.

After their arrest, the FBI searched their home in Annapolis, Maryland, where they discovered $11,300 in cash — all one hundred-dollar bills wrapped in rubber-bands; a crypto wallet; passports for their two children; and a go-bag containing a laptop computer, a USB drive and latex gloves.

Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that the couple had requested expedited passport renewals since theirs had expired in February 2021; the request was still being processed at the time of the couple’s arrest.

The Justice Department had previously moved to keep the couple in jail, citing their potential flight risk and the severity of their alleged crimes. The Toebbes appeared Wednesday with their court-appointed lawyers. Magistrate Judge Robert Trumble said he will issue a written decision as to whether Diana Toebbe will be released pending trial.



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Bitcoin price surges to new record above $65,000

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Bitcoin prices have surged 50% this month, from just under $44,000 at the end of September.
Some investors are now predicting even bigger gains for bitcoin, despite continued criticism of the cryptocurrency by JPMorgan Chase (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon, who recently called bitcoin “worthless.”

“Given the price momentum we are seeing on the back of bitcoin’s ETF, we believe that bitcoin can easily go all the way to [$100,000] by the end of this year,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst with AvaTrade, said in a report Wednesday.



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