While vacationing in the island of St. Croix for the holidays, President Joe Biden on Thursday signed into law the massive $1.65 omnibus spending package.
The whopping 4,155 pages was supported by only nine House Republicans and 13 Senate Republicans. Majority of criticism from the GOP includes concerns that the bill was rushed and crammed with wasteful spending by a lame-duck Democratic-dominated Congress. The recourse will punish American families by adding to the national debt and exacerbate inflation.
“Today, I signed the bipartisan omnibus bill, ending a year of historic progress. It’ll invest in medical research, safety, veteran health care, disaster recovery, VAWA funding — and gets crucial assistance to Ukraine,” Biden tweeted. “Looking forward to more in 2023.”
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell “praised the bill on the grounds that it represents a real decrease in discretionary spending. He presented it as a positive that nondefense spending jumped by only 5.5 percent, from $730 billion to $772.5 billion, amid an inflation rate of 7.1 percent” writes National Review.
“The bipartisan government-funding bill that Senators Shelby and Leahy have finished negotiating does exactly the opposite of what the Biden administration first proposed,” he said. “This bill provides a substantial real-dollar increase to the defense baseline . . . and a substantial real-dollar cut to the non-defense, non-veterans baseline,” McConnell insisted as negotiations were wrapping up.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, however, stated his strong disapproval of the bill before it even advanced. Affirming a letter from 13 House Republicans, McCarthy demanded the bill is reckless, irresponsible, and a “purposeful refusal to secure and defend our borders.”
For example, it failed to incorporate protections for Title 42, the pandemic policy that allows illegal immigrants to be expelled on a public-health basis, which currently hangs in the balance at the Supreme Court.
National Review adds, “The funding in the bill, which averted a federal government shutdown before the new year, includes an allocation of $45 billion in defense assistance to Ukraine. Some Republican priorities, such as Electoral Count Act reform and a bigger military budget, were nested in with Democratic appropriations, such as increased funding for Medicaid and food stamps.”
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Swiss Bank Admits to $5.6 Billion Tax Evasion Scheme, Settles for $120 Million
Banque Pictet, the private banking arm of the Pictet Group based in Switzerland, has admitted to conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to hide billions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in over 1,600 secret bank accounts. The Justice Department revealed on Monday that Banque Pictet has agreed to pay over $120 million in restitution to the U.S. Treasury as part of a settlement.
The bank’s involvement in the tax evasion scheme spanned from 2008 through 2014, during which it conspired with American taxpayer clients to conceal more than $5.6 billion of the approximately $20 billion in U.S. assets. This led to an evasion of around $50.6 million in U.S. taxes, according to prosecutors.
Of the $5.6 billion concealed, the funds were distributed across 1,637 accounts, implicating more than 40% of the total 3,736 private accounts owned by U.S. taxpayers held by the bank. Banque Pictet reportedly assisted its American clients in hiding their undeclared accounts through various means, including the formation and administration of offshore entities. Undeclared accounts were then maintained in the names of these entities on behalf of U.S. taxpayer clients.
Jim Lee, Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation, emphasized the importance of the case in sending a strong message to those attempting to hide assets and income offshore. Lee stated, “This case should provide a clear message to others who try to hide their assets and income offshore. Offshore tax evasion is a priority for IRS Criminal Investigation.”
The settlement underscores the ongoing efforts by U.S. authorities to combat tax evasion and sends a clear warning to financial institutions and individuals involved in such illicit activities. As regulatory scrutiny intensifies globally, financial institutions face increasing pressure to ensure compliance with international tax laws and prevent their involvement in tax evasion schemes.
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