Business & Economy
Don’t Let Black Friday Deals Leave You in the Dark PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Chris Coleman   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 11:28
BBB Tips Help You Shop Smart, Online or at the Mall 

These days Black Friday deals seem to be out before the Thanksgiving turkey even gets cold; leaving many consumers overwhelmed with the pressure to buy, buy, buy.  The BBB recommends you do your research before shopping to ensure advertised deals are all they’re cracked up to be.

“Some Black Friday deals may look good on the surface, but quantities may be extremely limited or the size of the discount greatly exaggerated.  Check prices at several retailers and read advertisements carefully to make an educated decision on whether it’s worthwhile to stand in line or miss a good night’s sleep,” said Chris Coleman, BBB President/CEO. Shopping online can be a way to avoid crowded stores, but shoppers need to use extra caution when shopping on the web.

Whether you choose to buy online or at the store, be sure to:


  • ·  Protect your personal information. Stick to well known and trusted websites. When shopping at stores, keep your card out of sight and safe.
  • ·  If the site is secure, its address should start with https://. You also may see a picture of a small closed lock in address bar.
  • ·  Know the company’s refund and return policies. Are there restocking fees? Do you have to pay shipping costs on returns?
  • ·  Do not rely on pictures of a product. Read the description and check model numbers, if applicable.
  • ·  Be cautious of free offers. Free offers are often followed by an open-ended enrollment in a program that automatically bills your credit card account. Before ordering anything online, make sure you click on and read all terms and conditions.
  • ·  Pay with a credit card rather than a debit card. If you suspect fraud or don’t receive your order, credit cards afford the best protection in the event of a dispute.
  • ·  Obtain a tracking number for all shipments.
  • ·  Print out the orders and keep receipts.
  • ·  Be aware of phishing. Don’t respond to emails that ask for your credit card or bank account number or other personal information. Legitimate businesses do not send emails claiming there is a problem with an order or account.  Call the company or find the customer service form on the company website to confirm any problem.
Check a company’s BBB Business Review before you do business with a company or charity by going to or by calling 800-222-1600. For more advice you can trust from your BBB, visit

Braley to Discuss Vets Hiring Tax Credit in Cedar Rapids PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 11:25

For months, Braley has pushed veterans hiring tax credit; bill sitting on President Obama’s desk


Washington, DC – This morning, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) will hold an event at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Cedar Rapids to discuss the Wounded Warrior and Returning Heroes tax credits passed by the US House last week.  President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law as early as this week.

Braley will be joined at the event by veterans and officials with Alliant Energy.

In response to high unemployment rates for veterans, in August, Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a precursor to the House-passed bill that provides a payroll tax break for businesses who hire a current member of the National Guard or Reserve or any unemployed veteran who has returned from deployment within the last 18 months.

In October, Braley hosted a House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity field hearing in Waterloo to focus on veterans’ unemployment.  Braley is the highest ranking Democrat on that subcommittee.

TODAY, Monday, November 21st, 2011


10:00am in the Lobby of the Veterans Memorial Building, 50 - 2nd  Ave., Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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Braley Lauds House Passage of Veterans Hiring Tax Credits PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 21 November 2011 16:18

For months, Braley has pushed for tax credits for employers hiring veterans; House passes unanimously 


Washington, DC – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) applauded the House passage this afternoon of the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors tax credits, which passed the House with a unanimous vote minutes ago.  These provisions would create new tax credit programs to spur the hiring of unemployed veterans and directly help hundreds of Iowa National Guard members who have returned home from overseas deployments. In August, Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a precursor to the tax credit programs that passed today.

“The best way to thank our veterans and tell them ‘good job’ is to help them find a good job when they return home,” Braley said.  “I’ve been working for months to promote the idea of tax credits for businesses that hire returning veterans, and today’s bipartisan vote shows that this issue has big support on both sides of the aisle.


“The tax credits passed by the House today will boost the hiring of veterans.  Other provisions will improve resources available for vets to translate their military skills into the civilian workforce and provide veterans with new tools to help them search for a job.  Unemployment among returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is three times the national average.  The bill passed today will help bring those numbers down.”


Late this summer, 3,500 members of the Iowa National Guard returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.  More than 600 of these men and women reported being out of work when they returned home – equivalent to an unemployment rate of over 17 percent.  Iowa’s unemployment rate in September was 6.0 percent; the national unemployment rate last month was 9.0 percent.

In response to high unemployment rates for veterans, in August, Braley introduced the Combat Veterans Back to Work Act, a bill that provides a payroll tax break for businesses who hire a current member of the National Guard or Reserve or any unemployed veteran who has returned from deployment within the last 18 months.

The Returning Heroes and Wounded Warriors tax credits build on Braley’s bill, providing tax credits for employers that hire unemployed veterans and long-term unemployed veterans with service-connected disabilities.  The American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have all endorsed the bill.

Yesterday, Braley released a letter sent to Republican and Democratic House leaders urging them to allow the House to vote on the tax credits immediately.

The bill will now be sent to the President for his signature.

Braley is the highest ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity.

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Senate Legislation Protects Small Business from Job-Crushing Health Insurance Tax PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Jennifer Cooper   
Monday, 21 November 2011 15:53

Senators Barrasso, Hatch, Snowe Introduce Bill to Repeal HIT


WASHINGTON, D.C., November 16, 2011 — United States Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) today introduced legislation, The Jobs and Premium Protection Act, to repeal the onerous Health Insurance Tax (HIT) which takes $87 billion away from small business by the end of the decade, resulting in a job-loss of 125,000 to 249,000 jobs in the private sector in 2021, according to a study released by the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation; small business will shoulder 59 percent of this job-loss burden.

“The Health Insurance Tax is a Washington policy that will have a devastating impact on our nation’s job creators,” said Susan Eckerly, Senior Vice President of Public Policy. “The stark reality is that the country’s economy is still reeling, and every single job matters; the last thing people in the unemployment line want to hear is that one less job will be created and even more will be shed as a result of the HIT.  Because of the leadership of Senators Barrasso, Hatch and Snowe, small-business owners now have bipartisan and bicameral legislation that will repeal this tax and protect their ability to continue to create vital jobs.”

“Our legislation repeals this unfair, hidden tax on America’s job creators, and will save thousands of jobs across the country,” said United States Senator John Barrasso.  “This tax is just another example of how the President’s trillion dollar health spending law is only making things worse for small businesses and their workers. With 9 percent unemployment, hardworking Americans cannot afford to be hit hard by even higher premiums.  We need to stop the HIT on our economy now – before it starts.”

“Chock full of tax hikes, mandates and government overreach, the President’s $2.6 trillion health spending law is an anchor around our economy’s neck,” said United States Senator Orrin Hatch.  “The health law’s insurance tax is especially damaging, undercutting our economic recovery by increasing the cost of health coverage.  Money that could go to higher wages, new workers, or investment will instead go to pay this new tax.  With insurance premiums already skyrocketing and unemployment hovering at 9 percent, this tax makes no sense.  The President is demanding jobs legislation; he should start by supporting the repeal of this tax.”

“Preventing the new health insurance tax is critical, especially in the current economic environment,” said United States Senator Olympia J. Snowe.  “As the cost of health insurance continues to rise unabated – another 9 percent on average this year – individuals and small businesses are struggling to afford coverage.  Meanwhile, the Democrats’ health care law is set to impose this $60 billion tax and the Director of the Congressional Budget Office has confirmed this tax will be paid by the individuals and small businesses who buy health insurance.  This tax could increase the cost of health insurance by 15 percent for small businesses, and kill hundreds of thousands of jobs.  I am proud to be a sponsor of the Premium Protection Act, and remain committed to repealing the job-killing health care law, as well as to repealing its worst pieces.”

The Health Insurance Tax, which goes into effect in 2014, will cost small-business owners, their employees and the self-employed, $87 billion in the first ten years and $208 billion in the following ten years; the tax impacts 2 million small businesses, 12 million employees and the self-employed who purchase in the individual market and 26 million employees who are covered by their employer, resulting in a cost of nearly $5,000 per family over a decade.

The NFIB Research Foundation’s BSIM (Business Size Impact Module) model suggests that such a price increase will reduce private sector employment by 125,000 to 249,000 jobs in 2021, with 59 percent of those losses falling on small business. The BSIM is a dynamic, multi-region forecasting model that analyzes the impact of policy “shocks” on the economy.  The BSIM is unique in ability among models to forecast the economic impact of policy on U.S. businesses differentiated by the size of the firm; in this case, small business is defined as those firms with less than 500 employees (Small Business Association definition).

Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA) has introduced legislation in the House, HR 1370, to repeal the Health Insurance Tax and his legislation currently has 78 bipartisan cosponsors, leading the way for a bicameral and bipartisan repeal of the Health Insurance Tax.


With Deficit Reduction Deadline Looming, Harkin, DeFazio Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Generates More Than $350 Billion PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 14:02
Tuesday, November 15, 2011

With a deadline looming for the deficit reduction committee, lawmakers supporting The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax have sent a letter to the committee urging them to adopt their proposal.  The lawmakers, led by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), outlined the revenue generating impact of their bill.  Analysis conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation found that the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act introduced earlier this month will raise $352 billion over the time period of January 2013 through 2021. The Joint Tax Committee also estimated that the Act raises $218.6 billion in the last 5 years, on average over $43 billion per year.

“As you work to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction plan, we believe you should incorporate reasonable spending cuts and ask the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations to pay their fair share. However, we understand through media reports and talking to our colleagues that revenue options remain the largest challenge in your negotiations to obtain significant deficit reduction. We believe we have a viable revenue option that deserves serious consideration,” wrote the lawmakers. “Given the extraordinary profitability of Wall Street banks while the rest of the economy is suffering, there is no question that Wall Street can easily bear this modest tax. In fact, while Wall Street lobbyists will express great concern with our proposal, they will not tell you that the European Union is considering a similar proposal, but with a tax rate that is more than three times higher.”

The Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax places a small tax of three basis points (3 pennies on $100 in value) on most non-consumer financial trading including stocks, bonds and other debts, except for their initial issuance.  For example, if a company receives a loan from a financial company, that transaction would not be taxed.  But, if the financial institution traded the debt, the trade would be subject to the tax.  The tax would also cover all derivative contracts, options, forward contracts, swaps and other complex instruments at their actual cost.  The measure excludes debt that has an original term of less than 100 days.  

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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