Elizabeth Warren hits the airwaves. Also, her students love her (even the conservatives).

Bumped, for the teevee. - promoted by david

Two MA-Sen items of note this morning. First, Elizabeth Warren is on the air. Her campaign has released a 30-second ad that will be running statewide starting today. It references the cost of student loans – a hot issue right now, because the interest rate on student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8% on July 1 if Congress does not act, and Warren is separately running a petition to keep that from happening. It’s an interesting strategy – not the fuzzy, soft-focus “get to know me” ad that one might expect from a first-time candidate, but rather, one that delivers some very basic biographical info while also concisely delivering her basic economic message. Here’s the ad:

And in other MA-Sen news, WBUR’s Morning Edition has a report from Fred Thys on how Warren’s former students at Harvard Law see her. The bottom line: they all love her – even the conservatives. Thys reports that he spoke to about 60 former students, and that he made a special effort to reach out to students who could be expected not to share Warren’s political views, such as members of the Federalist Society and law clerks to Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito. Yet he could not a find a single student who didn’t think Warren was an excellent professor. The story isn’t posted in WBUR’s website yet; I’ll update when it is. Here’s the story. Money quote:

We reached out to more than 60 people, and we tried in particular to reach out to conservatives — members of the Federalist Society and former law clerks of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. We could not find one former student with anything negative to say about Warren.


68 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Only one problem with Warren's ad

    It’s a total lie. In 2010, ’09 & ’08 GE paid $2.8, $3.1 & $2.6 BILLION in Income Taxes. http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/40545/000119312511047479/d10k.htm#tx37537_25 And we USED to invest in education? Since 2000, annual Federal spending HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED to $68 Billion.

    I am in no way affiliated with the Scott Brown campaign.

    • Oh and here are the figures for US Education Spending


    • You're way, way off, Brad.

      You can’t just look at GE’s 10-K and get the answer. GE’s own spokesfolks have been all over the map on what GE actually paid in federal income taxes in 2010 – but you can be damn sure it wasn’t $2.8 billion.

      Here’s one: “‘We expect to have a small U.S. income tax liability for 2010,’ GE chief spokesman Gary Sheffer told us. How big is small? GE declined to say. The number is unlikely to ever be disclosed unless GE goes public with it, or is forced to do so.”

      Here’s another: “‘GE did not pay US federal taxes last year because we did not owe any,’ spokeswoman Anne Eisele told AFP”

      Also of interest is that, as far as I can tell, GE has never asked for a correction to the NY Times story that started this whole debate.

      Please check your facts before posting next time. I have better things to do than checking them for you.

      • LOL

        David I have to check my facts when I posted a link to GE’s Audited financial statements? Really? All you have to do is look at their Statements of Cash flows to show what they paid in income taxes. Or I guess Audited Financial Statements filed with the SEC under penalty of perjury are less reliable than the statement of a spokesperson.

        Funny you didn’t mention the education “we used to” provide.

        • LOL indeed

          It sure is reassuring that Brad Marston has gotten to the bottom of a story that had major media outlets around the country, as well as GE itself, confused about the actual net amount of income tax that GE paid in 2010. If only the world knew about your awesome prowess in matters financial.

      • Actually David

        When Sheffer said “We expect to have a small U.S. income tax liability for 2010″ it was in 2011 after GE had made it’s quarterly estimated tax payments. Having a small liability means their total taxes due was larger than their estimated payments.

        It’s sort of like an individual still owing taxes on April 15th despite having income taxes withheld throughout the year. Look at it another way, if you had $10,000 withheld in 2010 but were due a refund in 2011 you would have a zero (or actually negative) tax liability. That is entirely different than not having paid any income taxes.

      • Apparently I am not the only person questioning the ad.

        From FactCheck.org


    • Two data points...

      “The top tax bracket for U.S. corporations stands at 35 percent, one of the highest rates in the world. So how is it possible that a giant of American business, General Electric, paid nothing in federal taxes last year, even as it made billions in profit?…”


      “The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion…”


      • Yes -

        I linked to that original NYT story in my first response to Brad. There was subsequently a flurry of interesting responses to that story, some claiming that the NYT was wrong, others not sure. Things then got further confused by GE’s own spokespeople issuing conflicting statements, as I noted in my comment. As far as I can tell, the matter has never been definitively resolved, probably because GE doesn’t feel like having another round of stories written about how little it pays in taxes.

        I’m pretty confident that Brad’s amateurish reading of the 10-K is, to put it bluntly, wrong. Nobody who knows what they’re talking about on this topic thinks that GE paid anything like $2.8 billion in 2010 – including GE itself.

        • In any event,

          it is entirely defensible to claim that GE paid no income taxes in recent years. That has been reported by reputable news organizations and has not been refuted by GE itself or anyone else – certainly not by Brad Marston! :D

          • Oooh.

            I just rewatched Warren’s video. She doesn’t actually say income taxes. She says “pay nothing in taxes.” But that’s clearly untrue.

            Now, if that’s correct, the New York Times’s statement that GE’s American tax bill was “none” is flat-out wrong no matter how you choose to limit or interpret it.


            First, because GE paid tons of “American taxes” in 2010 (state, local, payroll, etc.).

            Second, because GE says it even paid federal income taxes in 2010.

            Third, because GE’s American tax bill, which the NYT specifically cited, hasn’t even been computed yet.

            From Business Insider.

            So it seems Warren was lying either way you look at it. Oh yeah…and about the education spending? Crickets.

            • Wrong again, Brad.

              The exact quote from the ad (emphasis mine):

              Today, Washington lets big corporations like GE pay nothing – zero – in taxes….

              Would it have been a tad clearer if Warren has specified “federal income taxes”? Maybe – but it would also have been largely redundant, because “Washington” obviously has nothing to do with GE paying state and local taxes. Any reasonable viewer would hear that sentence and understand that Warren is talking about what GE pays in federal taxes. There’s one place – one – where you might have a point, which is with respect to payroll (Social Security and Medicare) tax that GE does pay. But that’s so obvious that it’s barely worth talking about, because, again, everyone knows that nobody can get around paying payroll taxes.

              Also of note, from the Business Insider article you linked, is this:

              GE is full of crap. As we progressed in our interminable dealings with GE, it became clear that GE’s assertion that it “paid federal income taxes” in 2010 was, at best, spin (if not a complete fabrication)…. [I]t’s also insulting that GE thinks (or hopes) that people are so dense that GE can get away with saying “we paid taxes” when what they mean is “we made payments that will eventually be returned to us once we file our tax returns.” This is the worst kind of corporate spin, and GE, of all companies, should be above it.

              As for education spending, Warren never says that education spending has decreased, so your claim that spending has increased is irrelevant. The specific point she makes has to do with student loans, as I referenced in my post.

              • No David

                It also includes Payroll taxes which of course Washington clearly has something to do with.

                Her statement that we “used to invest in people…” clearly implies that we no longer do.

                • I will take that comment

                  as a concession that I’m right, since I did specifically reference payroll taxes in my comment – perhaps you missed it. Next time, try reading what I actually write before responding.

                  And I stand by my position that your federal education numbers are irrelevant to the point Warren is making.

                • When in fact...

                  according to http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget13/summary/13summary.pdf

                  The largest portion of Federal Education spending is $36 billion in spending on Pell Grants.

                  • The problem with Pell Grants

                    is that, even though spending has increased, it hasn’t come close to keeping up with the cost of tuition. Click the image for a link to an article with more details – note that the graph refers to tuition at public 4-year institutions. No doubt the situation is worse for private ones.

                    • Well that can't be right.

                      Warren implied that we no longer invest in college students. She didn’t say we don’t invest enough or that we should invest more. She said we used to invest. Your graph indicates we still do.

                    • Oh, Warren is *so busted*

                      Gosh Brad, you’re totally right – in seeing the Warren 30-second ad, I inferred that all federal spending on education and anything else that could be deemed “investing in kids like me” had been zeroed out. But now I see that it hasn’t – it’s only been drastically reduced in real terms, thereby making it extremely difficult for middle-class families to afford to send their kids to college. Clearly, your charge that Warren’s ad is a “total lie” is 100% justified.

                    • David, you are to be commended

                      on your patience. Sometimes wingnuts and their arguments need to be taken on.

                    • Objection

                      Brad Marston is among the best conservatives at BMG — with substantive posts free of sound bites, with actual links, and elaborated with arguments.

                      This would be a more interesting site if there were more of him. And no, I don’t recall ever agreeing with him.

                      Could we perhaps return the favor and refrain from calling him a “wingnut”?

                    • I agree completely.

                      David does seem a little perturbed by Bradm for even questioning the 30 second ad. It’s humorous when supporters of someone whose words are being questioned have to chime in with “what they meant was…”

                    • David was rather substantive too

                      If one had thin skin in the face of questioning and disagreement, one would probably not be running a blog like this one.

                    • But surely, John,

                      you’d agree that Brad’s absurd trotting-out of a 10-K as somehow conclusive of the question of how much income tax GE paid in 2010, when that question has been hotly debated by major media outlets and GE itself, is laughable.

                    • Use of the 10K

                      In these “they paid __ in taxes” arguments is not especially useful, but both sides engage in this. Very few of the commenter here, the New York Times, or the Warren campaign seem to know much about it, yet all seem to make pronouncements with near-absolute certainty. My view is that it is most likely that GE did not pay income taxes in 2010 because (i) most of their business is consumer credit and mortgage lending and (ii) they probably had NOL carryovers from what must have been a tough 2009.

                      My rule is: when you hear someone argue about the taxes that a specific business paid in a specific year, then they are probably cherry-picking data for rhetorical purposes.

                      So, I think she is probably correct but misleading.

                      If one is going to argue about the skyrocketing cost of college education, one should probably note that a significant driver of the rate of increase is government subsidy and support for tuition.

                    • As a matter of fact I do agree with you.

                      I like and support BradM on many issues. I even semi-support him here but I think he is missing the point. GE is not an evil company for taking advantage of the tax system which allows deductions to reduce their tax burden anymore than John Kerry (or any of us) is evil for using tax deductions to reduce his tax burden. We should all consider condemning the system or changing the system.

                      So while I agree with BradM for defending businesses against what I would call unfair criticism, I think in this case he is fighting the wrong fight.

                      I would also point out to many BMGers that their statements of GE never denying reports in the media does not equate to them confirming that the reports are true. Don’t you lawyers have a term for that? Haven’t we learned that by now?

                    • John, KBusch was

                      correcting me, I think, not David. And since I’ve been trying to be nicer and may even be wrong in this case, I retract the wingnut comment, and perhaps the three other not nice comments I left. With hardly a trace of irony, I apologize to Brad.

                      As campaign threads go, BradM made this one more productive. It’s great when our conservatives provide sources, even though they don’t tend to support their arguments.

                    • a rational person defending an irrational ideology...

                      … does not get a pass on that irrationality.

                      This would be a more interesting site if there were more of him. And no, I don’t recall ever agreeing with him.

                      Could we perhaps return the favor and refrain from calling him a “wingnut”?

                      Can we at least say he smells like a wingnut?

                    • Not only can you say that but so can

                      SomervilleTom, mark-bail, theloquaciousliberal, dcsohl, johnk, johnt001, and david, the moderator of the blog. We can all say that and wonder why the only conservatives we get here aren’t very interesting.

                      I still believe there are times for being dismissive, but I question whether this is one of them.

                    • Maybe...

                      … Just… Maybe…

                      We can all say that and wonder why the only conservatives we get here aren’t very interesting.

                      … conservatism, as an entire philosophy, is just not very interesting? Maybe, as a result, there are few interesting conservatives to be had…?

                      Maybe conservatism is a dead end street of blatant mendacity, gesticulated half-truths, wished-for potency and drippy subliminal cues derived from a pretty ironclad refusal to openly confront reality?

                      Maybe it’s just hollow and mean-spirited?

                    • and kills kittens, too

                      BMG has a policy of welcoming conservatives. So they’re going to be here. You have a choice: the sound-bite, name calling crowd, or someone who can at least do research and debate respectfully.

                      Sure. As a political philosophy conservatism has not been doing particularly well: Social conservatives have to make false claims about the sociology of the Netherlands; fiscal conservatives have to make false claims about the economy of Britain.

                      But that’s why David Frum and Bruce Bartlett make such great reading. Might I suggest looking at Jonathan Haidt?

                    • I'll retract "wingnut."

                      Sorry, Brad.

                    • No Worries.


                    • The Nonsense Continues

                      What the ad actually says is “back then, America invested in kids like me (the lower middle class)” but that today “kids are left drowning in debt to get an education.”

                      These two statements are strongly backed by the facts. Those included in David’s graph above about the relative value of federally-backed student loans. And the fact that average student debt is at an all-time high. Much more debt than when we “used to invest” in middle class college students at much greater rates (relative to tuition).

                      They implication of Warren’s statements are that we don’t invest enough any more and that we should invest more. Just saying “used to invest” does not imply that we no longer invest at all. Except to the most partisan critics, apparently.

                    • Why?

                      Why do you persist in defending these flagrant lies?

                      Do you think you’re helping the GOP? Do you think you’re hurting the Warren Campaign?

                      The more you shovel, the deeper your hole is getting.

    • 10K doesn't say ...

      … to whom such taxes were paid. They may or may not have been for US income taxes. One would think not since otherwise GE would happily acknowledge the fact.

    • Great herp-a-derp!!!

      From page 32 of the 10-K

      Our benefits from lower taxed global operations declined to $2.8 billion in 2010 from $4.0 billion in 2009 principally because of lower earnings in our operations subject to tax in countries where the tax on that income is lower than the U.S. statutory rate, and from losses for which there was not a full tax benefit.

      There is a difference between a tax LIABILITY (i.e. what you PAY) and a tax BENEFIT (i.e. what you deduct…) They calculated a 2.8B liability and then applied a 2.8B benefit. In 2009, they calculated a 3B liability and then applied a 4B benefit.

      Now don’t you feel just a little silly…?

      • HAHAHA OMG

        is that really what Brad thought he was doing? Wow – that’s just sad.

      • Also, there's this...

        From page 31 of the GE 10-K

        GE and GECS file a consolidated U.S. federal income tax return. This enables GE to use GECS tax deductions and credits to reduce the tax that otherwise would have been payable by GE.

        So GE (General Electric) files a single 10-K with the SEC, but files a consolidate U.S. federal income tax return with GECS (General Electric Capital Services) so that they can further reduce taxes.

        • Huh?

          The 10K consolidates the results for GE and GECS. Yes a single 10K with consolidated presentation for the two companies.

          • technically true...

            … but the statements for GECS and GE aren’t ‘consolidated’ in the same way they are on a single tax form and thus won’t display total taxes. The 10-K even says it (my quote above) that they do this to escape taxation that might appear on the 10-K.

            • A 10K is not a tax return

              True enough. GAAP vs. tax accounting. 10K and accompanying financial statements display consolidated tax information as required by GAAP.

              Is there something evil about filing a consolidated tax return?

              • not at all...

                Is there something evil about filing a consolidated tax return?

                Let us recall that the thrust of the argument posited by BradM was that the taxes listed on the 10-k were those which were paid. They were not, further the consolidated taxes were even lower, according to the quote above, than that listed in the 10-k.

      • Nope

        That’s not the same $2.8B bradm references. His likely meaningless numbers are at the bottom of page 96.

        • all I see on page 97 are deferred taxes

          which are a zebra of a totally different stripe.

          • Erp,.. page ninety-six!

            same comment…

            • The very last line on p96

              “Cash recovered (paid) during the year for income taxes”

              Presented for each of GE and GECS on p96. The, um, er, consolidated presentation is on p95. As noted previously, this schedule does not state to what jurisdiction(s) such taxes were paid.

      • No. I don't feel silly at all.

        As I just mentioned in a reply to David above, tax liability is not what you pay. It is what a corporation owes in addition to the quarterly payments it makes thoughout the year.

        Also, a Tax Benefit is applied to net income and not to tax liability. If company had net income of $10 Billion and they applied a Tax Benefit of $3 Billion they would have a net income of $7 Billion and owe taxes on it.

        Now who feels silly?

        • He just keeps digging...

          As I just mentioned in a reply to David above, tax liability is not what you pay. It is what a corporation owes in addition to the quarterly payments it makes thoughout the year.

          If that were (strictly) the case you would not have used this form to make your case because you are (now) attempting to make the case opposite to the one you made upthread (then): to wit, what GE PAID in taxes if reflected (clearly and distinctly) on this form…

          I repeat: Great galloping Herp-a-derp!!!

          Also, a Tax Benefit is applied to net income and not to tax liability. If company had net income of $10 Billion and they applied a Tax Benefit of $3 Billion they would have a net income of $7 Billion and owe taxes on it.

          You make tax policy so interesting… Such creativity. Is it sunny on your planet? It’s very cloudy here.

        • Apparently, it's not possible

          to make Brad feel silly.

          He just a good samaritan who came here to provide an education on on tax liability, tax benefits, and net income.

    • Your document proves Warren's point

      That’s an awfully big document. Your link points somewhere in the middle of it, to the corporate cash-flow accounting, but I don’t see your quoted numbers in that table.

      However, it should be noted that this document covers the expenses of a global business. Your document itself states that “In 2010, approximately 53% of our revenue was attributable to activities outside the United States.” The section you point to does not separate US tax activities from taxes due to other nations. But there’s a portion later down that does…

      Here’s the smoking gun, from elsewhere in your document:

      Consolidated current tax expense includes amounts applicable to U.S. federal income taxes of a benefit of $3,253 million, $833 million and $651 million in 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively, related to the benefit from GECS deductions and credits in excess of GE’s current U.S. tax expense. Consolidated current tax expense amounts applicable to non-U.S. jurisdictions were $3,258 million, $2,385 million and $3,027 million in 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Consolidated deferred taxes related to U.S. federal income taxes were an expense of $2,099 million in 2010 and a benefit of $2,501 million and $836 million in 2009 and 2008, respectively, and amounts applicable to non-U.S. jurisdictions of a benefit of $1,167 million, $264 million and $499 million in 2010, 2009 and 2008, respectively.

      GE earned a tax benefit of $651M, $833M and $3.25B from Uncle Sam in those three years. They also recognized deferred taxes in 2010 from prior years of $2.1B, which still would earn them a net benefit of over $1.1B in 2010.

  2. Brad marston?

    You mean THE Brad Marston? THE republican patriot. I just love these tea baggas-especially when they think they have a gotcha question. Dope.
    Hey how is the school budget looking in your town jackass?

    • whosmindingdemint

      I think they were talking about you when the BMG ownership wrote this in their rules.

      We have found that commentators who disclose their real names are in general more likely to be constructive than those who are anonymous. We encourage users to add their real name, profession, age, the jurisdiction where they vote, and conflicts of interest to their profile.

      • That's not a rule.

        And using your name doesn’t mean you’re being constructive, Brad.

        People earn respect through their comments and posts. It’s kind of like a free market. You receive what you earn. No free points for using your name.

        • Mark

          Hmmm. Where did I find that? Oh right. On the RULES page here.

          • It's not written as a rule.

            It’s a suggestion. Noe the word “encourage.” As you’ll notice, most people on here don’t post with their real name. In fact, outing someone with an alias is considered bad form and offering yourself up for comment moderation.

            Only a handful of us use our own names. Welcome to the club.

  3. Great Ad ...

    underscores that the Brown campaign has done nothing but attack Warren. Elizabeth Warren in turn stays above the fray and has a positive message highlighting a meaningful issue to voters.

    Brad, with all due respect, your points are ones of desperation. The Pell Grant has been gutted, arguing against is devoid of common sense.

    • Okay.

      So I guess this article claiming that spending on Pell Grants having doubled since 2008 is wrong.


      • Did you even read that article...?

        Yes specific Pell Grant funding doubled


        The cost of College rose much faster than that…


        [This is where you do the math...]

        Here’s a hint: If I pay twice as much tomorrow for a cheeseburger that is one-third the size of the one I ate yesterday, I’m not gaining much ground, am I?

      • It's Your "Interpretation" Which is Wrong

        From the actual article you cite!

        The program has not been able to keep up with ever-escalating college prices: Since 2008, annual spending on the Pell Grant program has more than doubled, to nearly $40 billion, and thanks to the Obama administration and Congress, the maximum grant has jumped from $4,731 to $5,550 (and is scheduled to rise again to $5,635 in fiscal year 2013). Despite these increases, the maximum Pell Grant is expected to cover less than one-third of the average cost of attendance at public four-year colleges next year – a level that would be, according to the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), “the lowest in history.”

        Again, again and again: The relative investment that the government is making in the Pell grant system has plummeted (when compared to the actual cost of the college education a Pell grant is supposed to support).

        “Back then, America invested in kids” but today “kids are left drowning in debt to get an education.”

      • The heading where you quoted:

        The program has not been able to keep up with ever-escalating college prices

        But of course you have to know this, why argue falsehoods?

      • Wow, BraD

        you’re not part of the Red Sox bullpen by any chance?

  4. Thank you

    While I expect few here to agree with me generally, I appreciate that some do acknowledge that I at least come with links, sources etc. As is typical of most forums, the thread goes astray and someone who offers a contrary view is asked to defend positions they never took. It is as true at RMG as it is here.

    I enjoy a healthy debate and will return as time permits.

  5. There is a low probability that you will change any minds here

    And the debate requirements are such that you would need to take a day off from work to spend the appropriate amount of time on each post.

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