Biden’s Modest Tax Plan

Business lobbyists and conservative think tanks are not big fans of President Biden’s proposed tax increases on the wealthy.

The Tax Foundation has said that Biden wants to raise the capital gains tax to “highs not seen since the 1920s.” Suzanne Clark of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called the same plan “outrageous.” Jay Timmons of the National Association of Manufacturers called the proposed increase in the corporate tax rate “archaic.” And Brendan Bechtel, the chief executive of the construction company that bears his family name, said that “it doesn’t feel fair.”

All of this rhetoric has obscured a basic fact about Biden’s tax plan: It would not actually raise tax rates on the rich to high levels, historically speaking.

If all of Biden’s proposed tax increases passed — on the corporate tax, as well as on investment taxes and income taxes for top earners — the total federal tax rate on the wealthy would remain significantly lower than it was in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. It would also remain somewhat lower than during the mid-1990s, based on an analysis that Gabriel Zucman of the University of California, Berkeley, did for The Morning.

just how far taxes on the wealthy have fallen over the past 70 years. In the decades just after World War II, many corporations paid about half of their profits in federal taxes. (Shareholders, who are disproportionately affluent, effectively pay those taxes). Today, corporate taxes are only about one-fourth as large, as a share of G.D.P., as they were in the 1950s and ’60s.

The declines are not all ancient history, either. For most of the past quarter-century, taxes on the affluent have continued falling, including the rates on corporate profits, personal income, stock dividends, stock holdings and inheritances. Barack Obama reversed some of the declines, but only some. “The net effect over the past 25 years of federal income tax policy has been to reduce the overall revenue collected from top earners,” Owen Zidar, a Princeton University economist, told me.

Whether you like Biden’s plan or dislike it, it is not radical. For that reason, it is highly unlikely to have the harmful effects on economic growth that its critics are claiming. Remember: In the 1990s, the last time tax rates were as high as the ones Biden has proposed, the economy boomed. It also grew rapidly after World War II, when tax rates were higher yet.

History suggests that tax rates on the wealthy are not the main determinant of economic growth (and, if anything, higher taxes on the rich can sometimes lift growth). The main effect of Biden’s tax plan probably won’t be on the level of G.D.P. It will instead be on the relative tax burden that wealthy people pay. When they criticize the plan as unfair, archaic and outrageous, they are really saying that they enjoy paying low tax rates.

admit up to 62,500 refugees in the next six months, reversing his decision to keep a lower limit set by Donald Trump.

  • The E.P.A. plans to limit a class of climate-warming chemicals used in air-conditioning and refrigeration.

  • Richard Cordray, an ally of Senator Elizabeth Warren, will oversee federal student aid, putting him at the center of Democratic disagreements over forgiving debt.

  • Representative Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, accused Trump of “poisoning our democratic system” by making false claims of voter fraud.

  • The country’s increasing diversity isn’t doing as much to help Democrats as liberals hope, Nate Cohn explains.

    • Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing, raising questions about the future of their philanthropic foundation.

    • Verizon will sell Yahoo and AOL to the private equity firm Apollo for $5 billion, about half the amount it paid to buy the companies.

    • Pandemic disruptions have led to shortages of — and price increases for — lumber, cleaning products, microchips and other commodities.

    • The Los Angeles Times announced its next top editor: Kevin Merida, previously of ESPN and The Washington Post.

    When the World Trade Organization meets this week, should it waive Covid vaccine patents to increase access for poorer countries?

    • Yes: Biden should support a waiver to save lives, Walden Bello writes in The Times. Doing so would also guard against the emergence of deadlier variants, Michelle Goldberg notes.

    • No: Vaccines are hard to make, so waivers alone won’t lift supply, the Center for Global Development’s Rachel Silverman and others argue. And companies have shown they will work voluntarily to increase doses, Andrei Iancu writes in Stat.

    from Stromboli.

    A Times classic: Can you guess whether these neighborhoods voted for Biden or for Trump?

    Lives Lived: He was born Joseph Jacques Ahearn, but his mother thought Jacques d’Amboise would be better suited to the ballet world. After he became a dancer, d’Amboise found stardom in New York and Hollywood. He died at 86.

    the critic Jesse Green writes in The Times.

    The album, “All the Girls,” also featuring the soprano Sally Wilfert, came out two days after Luker’s death in December. Green calls it beautiful and funny. (It includes this song, which is worth watching.)

    Tonight, Luker’s colleagues and friends will tell stories and sing songs from her career at a fund-raising concert you can stream. — Claire Moses, Morning writer

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    Why Biden’s Plan to Raise Taxes for Rich Investors Isn’t Hurting Stocks

    “Most Democrats seem to be on board with narrowing the differential between the tax rate on capital gains and ordinary income, but there’s opposition for treating the rates as the same,” wrote analysts with Beacon Policy Advisors, a political consultancy. “This means there’s probably a middle ground for raising the capital gains rate on top earners to, say, 28 percent.”

    If stocks continued their climb, it would largely be in keeping with previous periods when capital gains taxes were raised.

    In 2013, when the tax rose to the current 23.8 percent, from 15 percent, on Americans with the highest incomes, the S&P 500 climbed nearly 30 percent. It was the best year for stocks in the last two decades. And after the top rate rose to 28 percent, from 20 percent, at the end of 1986, the market continued to roar higher, by nearly 40 percent through most of 1987.

    Stocks eventually suffered their worst single-day collapse ever on Black Monday in October 1987, but that crash had little to do with tax policy, and the markets ended the year slightly higher. In 1991, a small increase to 28.9 percent in the capital gains rate for those with the largest incomes coincided with a 26 percent rise in the S&P 500. The major driver for that gain had nothing to do with taxes; it was the emergence from a recession.

    Similarly, investors appear to be focusing on evidence that the economy is on the brink of breakneck growth. That surge is being fueled by a river of federal government spending, rock-bottom interest rates and more Covid-19 vaccinations. In the first three months of the year, the economy grew at an annualized clip of 6.4 percent. At that pace, 2021 would be the best year for growth since 1984.

    Economic growth and corporate profits tend to rise together. And signs of additional oomph in the economy are already showing up in earnings reports from publicly traded companies.

    Tech giants such as Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, all reported first-quarter profits that trounced analyst expectations.

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    It’s Not Just the Really Wealthy Who Face Tax Increases

    Mr. Biden has cleared up some issues for the middle class in his proposal. He has recommended an exemption of $1 million on the capital gains of assets transferred to heirs. He has also left in place the $250,000 exemption on taxable gains in the value of a person’s primary residence. (These exemptions would double for a couple.)

    But in many cases, this would affect people who would not have had to think about paying any tax at death, whether the estate tax exemption remained the current $11.7 million or dropped to $3.5 million, which had been expected to happen.

    “The changes to the step-up in basis — that’s the curveball,” said Paul Saganey, the founder and president of Integrated Partners, a financial advisory firm. “It’s really going to surprise people. People don’t know what it is or what it means, so how can they quantify the impact of it?”

    Also missing was any mention of reinstating the full deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT. The cap on these deductions in the 2017 tax law hurt people living in the Northeast and West Coast states, where the property and state taxes are higher.

    Mr. Biden has proposed limiting a break on real estate transactions. He would cap at $500,000 the value of 1031(b) exchanges, which have essentially allowed real estate investors to roll gains from the sale of buildings into new buildings without ever paying capital gains taxes on them. Coupled with the step-up in basis at death, which wiped out all the gains in value of the buildings, this was a large tax break for families whose wealth rested on real estate investment and ownership.

    What is less known is what, if anything, may be adopted from the “For the 99.5 percent” plan. The plan would close some popular tax-reduction strategies, many of which were targeted during the Obama administration.

    Three of the proposals would be relatively easy to enact. One would end short-term trusts that allow people to pass tax-free to their heirs expected appreciation — say from the sale of a private business. Another would limit tax-free gifts that can be given each year to trusts to fund things like life insurance to pay estate taxes. A third would curtail special tax treatment that family partnerships receive, even when they own liquid securities and not an operating business.

    “They already have the regulations written of these,” Ms. Lucina said. “I don’t want to scare anyone that these will be enacted. But some of these could be enacted quickly and looked at as loophole closers.”

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    Biden’s Tax Proposals Are Not Just for the Really Wealthy

    Mr. Biden has cleared up some issues for the middle class in his proposal. He has recommended an exemption of $1 million on the capital gains of assets transferred to heirs. He has also left in place the $250,000 exemption on taxable gains in the value of a person’s primary residence. (These exemptions would double for a couple.)

    But in many cases, this would affect people who would not have had to think about paying any tax at death, whether the estate tax exemption remained the current $11.7 million or dropped to $3.5 million, which had been expected to happen.

    “The changes to the step-up in basis — that’s the curveball,” said Paul Saganey, the founder and president of Integrated Partners, a financial advisory firm. “It’s really going to surprise people. People don’t know what it is or what it means, so how can they quantify the impact of it?”

    Also missing was any mention of reinstating the full deduction for state and local taxes, known as SALT. The cap on these deductions in the 2017 tax law hurt people living in the Northeast and West Coast states, where the property and state taxes are higher.

    Mr. Biden has proposed limiting a break on real estate transactions. He would cap at $500,000 the value of 1031(b) exchanges, which have essentially allowed real estate investors to roll gains from the sale of buildings into new buildings without ever paying capital gains taxes on them. Coupled with the step-up in basis at death, which wiped out all the gains in value of the buildings, this was a large tax break for families whose wealth rested on real estate investment and ownership.

    What is less known is what, if anything, may be adopted from the “For the 99.5 percent” plan. The plan would close some popular tax-reduction strategies, many of which were targeted during the Obama administration.

    Three of the proposals would be relatively easy to enact. One would end short-term trusts that allow people to pass tax-free to their heirs expected appreciation — say from the sale of a private business. Another would limit tax-free gifts that can be given each year to trusts to fund things like life insurance to pay estate taxes. A third would curtail special tax treatment that family partnerships receive, even when they own liquid securities and not an operating business.

    “They already have the regulations written of these,” Ms. Lucina said. “I don’t want to scare anyone that these will be enacted. But some of these could be enacted quickly and looked at as loophole closers.”

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    Biden’s Big Speech, by the Numbers

    The S.E.C.’s new enforcement chief resigns unexpectedly. Days into her new job, Alex Oh, a former partner at Paul, Weiss, stepped down after a federal court ruling involving one of her former clients, Exxon Mobil. In a case involving claims of human rights abuses in Indonesia, the presiding judge rebuked Exxon’s legal team for derogatory comments about opposing counsel.

    Endeavor will finally go public. The entertainment giant co-founded by Ari Emanuel, which owns the WME talent agency and the UFC mixed martial arts league, raised $511 million in its I.P.O. at a $10 billion valuation, the top of its expected price range. Its successful offering comes two years after it called off an I.P.O. amid a lukewarm reception from investors.

    Verizon considers selling its old-guard internet media business. The telecom giant is exploring the sale of assets like AOL and Yahoo, according to The Wall Street Journal. Potential buyers include Apollo Global Management, and the WSJ reports that a deal could be valued at up to $5 billion. Verizon spent $9 billion buying the once-dominant web giants.

    For many cryptocurrency supporters and investors, U.S. regulatory approval of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund represents the holy grail. It would allow the crypto-curious to get exposure to Bitcoin without having to buy the tokens themselves, signifying that digital assets are really, truly mainstream. But it’s not meant to be — yet. Yesterday, the S.E.C. delayed a decision on a Bitcoin E.T.F. proposal from the investment manager VanEck, saying it needs more time but offering no other explanation.

    Delay is not denial, and it may be a good sign, Todd Cipperman, the founder of the compliance services firm CCS, told DealBook. When considering the concept of a crypto E.T.F. in 2018, the S.E.C. raised questions about investor protection issues and put a “wet blanket on the whole idea,” he said. Now crypto is much bigger, and Gary Gensler, who taught courses about blockchain technology at M.I.T., is chair of the S.E.C. His expertise doesn’t guarantee success for crypto E.T.F.s, but it will be easier for an expert in the field to approve them, Cipperman suggested.

    The deadline can be extended again. The S.E.C. gave itself until mid-June, with the option to take more time, but it must decide before year’s end. The regulator has rejected every proposal to date, starting with the first Bitcoin E.T.F. pitch in 2013, presented by the Winklevoss twins, which was eventually rejected in 2017 (and again in 2018). There are several E.T.F. proposals on the table now, including one from the traditional finance giant Fidelity.

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    California Is Awash in Cash, Thanks to a Booming Market

    In the early days of the pandemic, no one would have looked to the stock market for salvation. From February to late March last year, the S&P 500 suffered one of its sharpest crashes ever, falling nearly 34 percent. But once the federal government began pumping money into the markets and the economy through bond-buying programs and stimulus, the market began rebounding.

    And professional money managers kept buying stocks. Amateur investors, stuck at home, piled into the market and drove up stock prices further. After hitting a bottom in March 2020, the S&P 500 is up nearly 90 percent, creating close to $17 trillion in paper gains.

    Much of that value was created by California companies. The market value of Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has risen by over $1 trillion in the past year. The gains for Alphabet and Facebook, combined, have created another $1 trillion in value. Tesla, based in Palo Alto, Calif., added over $500 billion.

    The surge in market value created a significant amount of wealth for executives and workers, including in the technology sector. Executives at major companies typically have pre-established stock sale programs that are constantly converting some of their shares into cash. As they’ve sold into a rising market over the last year, those gains have been especially large; in August, Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, sold more than $130 million worth of his stock.

    “When the stock market does well, they do very well,” said David Hitchcock, the primary analyst on California for the bond-rating firm S&P Global, of the state’s wealthy residents. “And in fact, it’s not just the stock market but initial public offerings. Because with Silicon Valley, when entrepreneurs get stock grants that they exercise, or stock options, California makes out very well.”

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    Biden Seeks $80 Billion to Beef Up I.R.S. Audits of High-Earners

    WASHINGTON — President Biden, in an effort to pay for his ambitious economic agenda, is expected to propose giving the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years to help crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations, according to two people familiar with the plan.

    The additional money and enforcement power will accompany new disclosure requirements for people who own businesses that are not organized as corporations and for other wealthy people who could be hiding income from the government.

    The Biden administration will portray those efforts — coupled with new taxes it is proposing on corporations and the rich — as a way to level the tax playing field between typical American workers and very high-earners who employ sophisticated efforts to minimize or avoid taxation.

    Mr. Biden plans to use money raised by the effort to help pay for the cost of his “American Families Plan,” which he will detail before addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

    $2.3 trillion infrastructure package, is expected to cost at least $1.5 trillion and will include universal prekindergarten, a federal paid leave program, efforts to make child care more affordable, free community college for all and tax credits meant to fight poverty.

    The administration also aims to pay for the plan by raising the top marginal income tax rate for wealthy Americans to 39.6 percent from 37 percent and raising capital gains tax rates for those who earn more than $1 million a year. Mr. Biden will also seek to raise the tax rate on income that people earning more than $1 million per year receive through stock dividends, according to a person familiar with the proposal.

    Administration officials have privately concluded that an aggressive crackdown on tax avoidance by corporations and the rich could raise at least $700 billion on net over 10 years. The $80 billion in proposed funding would be an increase of two-thirds over the agency’s entire funding levels for the past decade.

    The administration is expected to portray the $780 billion it expects to collect through enhanced enforcement as conservative. That figure includes only money directly raised by enhanced tax audits and additional reporting requirements, and not any additional revenue from people or companies choosing to pay more taxes after previously avoiding them.

    Previous administrations have long talked about trying to close the so-called tax gap — the amount of money that taxpayers owe but that is not collected each year. This month, the head of the I.R.S., Charles Rettig, told a Senate committee that the agency lacked the resources to catch tax cheats, costing the government as much as $1 trillion a year. The agency’s funding has failed to keep pace with inflation in recent years, amid budget tightening efforts, and its audits of rich taxpayers have declined.

    whose research with the Harvard University economist Lawrence H. Summers suggests that the United States could raise as much as $1.1 trillion over a decade via increased tax enforcement.

    Mr. Summers praised Mr. Biden’s expected plan in an email late Monday. “This is the broadly right approach,” he said. “Deterioration in I.R.S. enforcement effort and information gathering is scandalous. The Biden plan would make the American tax system fairer, more efficient and, I’m confident, raise more revenue than official scorekeepers now forecast — likely a trillion over 10 years.”

    Mr. Biden’s efforts would incorporate some of Ms. Sarin and Mr. Summers’s suggestions, including investing heavily in information technology improvements to help the agency better target its audits of high-earners and companies.

    They would also provide a dedicated funding stream to the agency, to enable officials to steadily ramp up their enforcement practices without fear of budget cuts, and to signal to potential tax evaders that the agency’s efforts will not be soon diminished. Mr. Biden would also add new requirements for people who own so-called pass-through corporations or hold their wealth in opaque structures, reminiscent of a program established under President Barack Obama that helps the agency better track possible tax evasion by Americans with overseas holdings.

    Fred T. Goldberg Jr., an I.R.S. commissioner under President George H.W. Bush, called Mr. Biden’s plan “transformative” for combining those efforts.

    “Information reporting, coupled with restoring enforcement efforts, is key to improve in compliance,” Mr. Goldberg said in an email. “Audits alone will never do the trick.”

    He added: “None of this happens overnight. A decade of stable funding is necessary to recruit and train talent and build on the necessary technology — not only for compliance purposes but to meet the quality of services that the vast majority complaint taxpayers expect and deserve.”

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    Biden to Create Task Force to Help Workers Join Unions: Live Updates

    Thodex trading platform shut down last week, more than 60 of its employees were arrested, and its chief executive left the country.

    Vebitcoin was a relatively small operation and the losses from it are unlikely to be big, said Turan Sert, who advises BlockchainIST, a cryptocurrency research center affiliated with Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

    Ilker Bas, the chief executive of Vebitcoin, told police after his arrest that the platform has 90,000 registered users and had a trading volume of 600 million lira to 800 million lira, or $72 million to $96 million, per month, the private news agency Demiroren reported. Customer losses are probably much smaller, because the same assets are typically traded repeatedly during the course of a month.

    “Due to the recent developments in the crypto money industry, our transactions have become much more intense than expected,” Vebitcoin said on its website. “We have decided to cease our activities in order to fulfill all regulations and claims.”

    Cryptocurrency trading is little regulated in Turkey, and the number of platforms has proliferated because of the relatively low cost of setting up. Off-the-shelf trading software costs around $100,000, said Mr. Sert, who also advises Paribu, one of the largest cryptocurrency trading platforms.

    Mr. Sert estimated that there were more than 90 platforms, mostly “very small mom-and-pop shops.”

    The phenomenon is by no means limited to Turkey. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin have attracted the attention of serious investors and become a hot topic on Wall Street. Coinbase, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency trading platform, sold shares to the public for the first time this month and is valued by the stock market at $58 billion. Regulators in the United States and other countries have struggled to keep up with the fast growth of digital money.

    The Turkish Central Bank barred the use of cryptocurrencies for purchases this month, citing their riskiness and popularity with criminals, and signaled that more regulation of the sector is coming. The prospect of greater scrutiny could be prompting some platforms to shut down, Mr. Sert said.

    Customers of Thodex may have lost $2 billion, a lawyer for the firm’s clients said last week, but Mr. Sert said that figure probably referred to the site’s trading volume and greatly overstated the potential losses. Many platforms exaggerate their trading volume to attract customers, he said.

    The total losses to cryptocurrency investors, while devastating to some individuals, are not large enough to push Turkey’s already shaky economy into crisis, Mr. Sert said.

    “I don’t think this will create any instability in the system,” he said.

    The gap between executive compensation and average worker pay has been growing for decades. Chief executives of big companies now make, on average, 320 times as much as their typical worker, according to the Economic Policy Institute. In 1989, that ratio was 61 to 1.

    The pandemic compounded these disparities, as hundreds of companies awarded their leaders pay packages worth significantly more than most Americans will make in their entire lives, David Gelles reports for The New York Times.

    In the course of his reporting, corporate public relations teams employed various tactics to justify their bosses’ big paydays:

    Technical glitches marred the Small Business Association’s first attempt at accepting applications for the grant program.
    Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

    Music club operators, theater owners and others in the live-event market have been waiting nearly four months for a $16 billion federal grant fund for their industry to start taking applications. Their hopes were briefly raised two weeks ago when the program’s application website opened, then dashed as a technical malfunction prevented the site from accepting any applications.

    Now, the Small Business Administration, the federal agency that runs the program, plans to try again on Monday at noon — but only after one last round of confusion and frustration.

    Late Thursday, the agency announced that it would reopen its application system for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant on Saturday. After heavy pushback from angry applicants — especially Jewish business owners who do not use electronics on Saturdays in observation of the Sabbath — the agency changed course Friday night and rescheduled the reopening for Monday.

    “We understand the challenges a weekend opening would bring, and to ensure the greatest number of businesses can apply for these funds, we decided to reschedule,” the agency said in a statement. “We remain committed to delivering economic aid to this hard-hit sector quickly and efficiently.”

    The money will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis and is widely expected to run out fast. That means many applicants will feel pressure to submit paperwork as soon as the application system opens — even if it is at an inconvenient time.

    Applicants were generally relieved by the shift to Monday, but annoyed by the whiplash.

    “It’s been a mess on so many levels. I feel like they’re torturing us,” said Dani Zoldan, the owner of Stand Up NY, a comedy club in Manhattan. Mr. Zoldan is Jewish and had been vocal on Twitter about the obstacles of a Saturday start.

    The National Independent Venue Association, an industry group that lobbied for the relief fund, said it endorsed the decision to postpone the start.

    “While we’re all anxious to apply as soon as possible, we support the S.B.A.’s decision to reopen the portal Monday and encourage a fair and equitable process for all,” said Audrey Fix Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the group. “The S.B.A. has responded to our desperate need and we’re grateful for that.”

    The Small Business Administration is also preparing to open a second grant program, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which is a $28.6 billion support fund for bars, restaurants and food trucks. That program is planning a seven-day test to help the agency avoid the kind of technical problems that plagued the venue program.

    A Meituan delivery worker in Shanghai. Last year the firm made more than 27 million food-delivery transactions per day.
    Credit…Aly Song/Reuters

    China’s fast-moving campaign to rein in its internet giants is continuing apace with an antitrust investigation into Meituan, a leading food-delivery app.

    The investigation, which the country’s market regulator announced with a terse, one-line statement on Monday, focuses on reports that the company blocked restaurants and other merchants on its platform from selling on rival food-delivery sites.

    Earlier this month, the regulator imposed a record $2.8 billion fine on the e-commerce titan Alibaba for exclusivity requirements of this sort. In a statement on Chinese social media, Meituan said that it would cooperate with the authorities and that its operations were continuing as usual.

    Meituan is a powerhouse in China. It made more than 27 million food-delivery transactions a day last year and reported around $18 billion in revenue, making it larger than Uber by sales. Meituan’s main rival in takeout delivery in China is Ele.me, a service owned by Alibaba.

    Alibaba has been an early major target in China’s efforts to curb what officials describe as unfair competitive practices in the internet industry. But Beijing has made clear that it will be keeping a much closer eye on all of the sector’s biggest and richest companies.

    Meituan was one of 34 Chinese internet firms that were summoned to meet with the antitrust authority this month. The following day, the regulator began publishing on its website statements from the companies, Meituan included, in which they vowed to obey laws and regulations.

    Bodies awaiting cremation on Friday in East Delhi.
    Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

    NEW DELHI — With a devastating second wave of Covid-19 sweeping across India and lifesaving supplemental oxygen in short supply, India’s government on Sunday said it had ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of its handling of the pandemic.

    The order was aimed at roughly 100 posts that included critiques from opposition politicians and calls for Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, to resign. The government said that the posts could incite panic, used images out of context and could hinder its response to the pandemic.

    The companies complied with the requests for now, in part by making the posts invisible to those using the sites inside India. In the past, the companies have reposted some content after determining that it didn’t break the law.

    The takedown orders come as India’s public health crisis spirals into a political one, and set the stage for a widening struggle between American social media platforms and Mr. Modi’s government over who decides what can be said online.

    On Monday, the country reported almost 353,000 new infections and 2,812 deaths, marking the fifth consecutive day it set a world record in daily infection statistics, though experts warn that the true numbers are probably much higher. The country now accounts for almost half of all new cases globally. Its health system appears to be teetering. Hospitals across the country have scrambled to get enough oxygen for patients.

    In New Delhi, the capital, hospitals this weekend turned away patients after running out of oxygen and beds. Last week, at least 22 patients were killed in a hospital in the city of Nashik, after a leak cut off their oxygen supplies.

    Online photos of bodies on plywood hospital beds and the countless fires of overworked crematories have gone viral. Desperate patients and their families have pleaded online for help from the government, horrifying an international audience.

    Mr. Modi has been under attack for ignoring the advice of experts about the risks of loosening restrictions, after he held large political rallies with little regard for social distancing. Some of the content now offline in India highlighted that contradiction, using lurid images to contrast Mr. Modi’s rallies with the flames of funeral pyres.

    People waiting to get vaccinated in New Orleans this month.
    Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

    More than five million Americans, or nearly 8 percent of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccination campaign.

    Even as the country wrestles with the problem of millions of people who are wary about getting vaccinated at all, local health officials are confronting a new challenge of ensuring that those who do get inoculated are doing so fully, Rebecca Robbins reports for The New York Times.

    The reasons that people are missing their second shots vary. In interviews, some said they feared the side effects, including flulike symptoms, which were more common and stronger after the second dose. Others said they felt that they were sufficiently protected with a single shot.

    Those attitudes were expected, but another hurdle has been surprisingly prevalent. A number of vaccine providers have canceled second-dose appointments because they ran out of supply or didn’t have the right brand in stock.

    Walgreens, one of the biggest vaccine providers, sent some people who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to get their second doses at pharmacies that had only the other vaccine on hand.

    Several Walgreens customers said in interviews that they scrambled, in some cases with help from pharmacy staff members, to find somewhere to get the correct second dose. Others, presumably, simply gave up.

    A makeshift ward for Covid-19 patients in Delhi. The rollout of vaccinations has been uneven around the world, allowing the disease to run rampant in some countries.
    Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

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    Biden May Eliminate the Carried Interest Loophole

    President Biden is expected to unveil a $1.5 trillion “human infrastructure” plan next week that will focus on education, child care and paid leave for workers, among other things. It would be paid for in part by new taxes on the rich, including the end of a tax break that lawmakers have tried to eliminate for years.

    The White House will propose a major change to capital gains taxes, with people earning more than $1 million per year paying the top marginal tax rate on their investment gains. Mr. Biden wants to raise that rate to 39.6 percent.

    The carried interest loophole might finally disappear. Profits earned from funds owned by real estate investors and managers of private equity and venture capital firms are taxed as capital gains at about 20 percent, instead of as regular income, which is taxed at more than double that rate when state levies and other taxes are taken into account.

    • Financial industry executives and their lobbyists have long asserted that carried interest merely represents a return on investment, not income, an argument that survived challenges as recently as 2017. (Here’s Andrew back in 2007 writing about how lawmakers were trying, unsuccessfully, to end the “longstanding, but little understood, practice.”)

    • In a 2015 DealBook Op-Ed, the law professor Victor Fleischer, a top proponent for raising taxes on carried interest, estimated that such a move could raise $180 billion.

    • In a 2011 Times Op-Ed, Warren Buffett decried the treatment of carried interest, which allowed him to report a lower tax rate than his secretary. A minimum tax on millionaires was proposed shortly thereafter and dubbed the “Buffett rule.”

    • JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon has been a regular critic of carried interest, even though it benefits many of the bank’s clients. In his latest letter to shareholders, he said it could be seen as “another example of institutional bias and favoritism toward special interest groups.”

    Other changes to the tax code could be in the works, including to the estate tax. Private equity executives are also worried that the Biden administration may limit the tax deductibility of corporate interest payments, which would be another hit to their business model.

    they may be on board with eliminating some business tax loopholes. The White House wants that tax revenue to fund the infrastructure bill it unveiled last month. But another group of Republican senators yesterday proposed a much smaller infrastructure bill — $568 billion, versus Mr. Biden’s $2.3 trillion — that would do away with any corporate tax increases.

    U.S. health officials may soon lift the pause on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. A committee of outside experts will meet today to discuss whether to resume giving the shot; they’re expected to vote in favor. But the damage may be done: The Biden administration has reportedly written off the J&J shot’s importance to U.S. vaccination efforts.

    President Biden sets a new climate goal. At the first day of a climate summit that the U.S. convened, he pledged to cut America’s emissions in half by 2030, compared with 2005 levels, and offered more funding for developing countries to help them meet their targets. Swiss Re estimated that climate change could cost the global economy as much as $23 trillion in the coming decades.

    Airlines see clearer skies ahead. Carriers expect travel to return almost to normal levels by the summer, with the largest airlines expected to offer as many seats this July as they did in July 2019, by one estimate. The industry plans to call back thousands of employees and hire hundreds of pilots.

    Scrutiny over a fatal Tesla crash intensifies. Two senators asked regulators to create recommendations for autonomous vehicle software, following the deaths of two men in a Tesla, in which police said no one was behind the wheel. Consumer Reports said it was able to trick Tesla’s Autopilot into operating without anyone in the driver’s seat.

    AT&T gains ground in the streaming race. The company added 2.7 million subscribers to HBO and HBO Max in the first quarter. Also worth noting: AT&T collects nearly three times more revenue per streaming user than Disney, and trails only Netflix by that measure.

    reckoning on corporate political donations that will be a prominent feature of proxy season, with many shareholder proposals demanding greater disclosure of company spending.

    “Companies are reading the writing on the wall,” Thomas DiNapoli, New York State’s comptroller and trustee for the state’s public pension fund, told DealBook. “Political and social polarization are bad for their business, and they need to decide if political donations are worth the risk.”

    “Time will tell if their increased attention to these issues is lip service or if it represents a sincere change in corporate culture,” Mr. DiNapoli said. “At a minimum, investors need disclosure of this spending.” New York’s public pension fund is the third-largest in the U.S. and since 2010 it has filed more than 155 shareholder proposals on political spending, winning more than 40 adoptions or agreements, including from Bank of America, Delta Air Lines and Pepsi. Three of five resolutions it has advanced this year have already been withdrawn, with the companies agreeing to make changes without putting them to a vote. That’s a 60 percent hit rate, and companies that wouldn’t engage before are now at least responsive, a spokesperson for the fund said.

    “Companies are now expected to have core values — almost personalities,” said Bruce Freed, the president of the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit that partners with shareholders on proposals. Recent agreements, like the ones brokered by Mr. DiNapoli, are a “strong indication” that corporations are feeling “real pressure,” he said. Nine of 30 companies (including those noted above) have agreed this year to provide more disclosure on political donations. Last year, eight of 40 companies facing similar proposals agreed to act instead of putting the question to shareholders in a vote. The Capitol riot “raised the stakes,” Mr. Freed said, and the pressure on companies has not relented since.


    read this comprehensive account by The Times’s Tariq Panja and Rory Smith.

    Chicago, Flat Rock, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo., through the first two weeks of May. The Kansas City factory makes the F-150 pickup, Ford’s most profitable model.

  • G.M. has kept its factory in Kansas City, Kan. — which makes the Chevy Malibu sedan — closed since February, and has cut production at other plants.

  • Daimler has temporarily halted production at two plants in Germany that produce lower-cost C-class vehicles.

  • Jaguar Land Rover, Britain’s biggest carmaker, will temporarily shut two of its factories there starting next week.

  • Renault scrapped production forecasts, and said it was prioritizing the manufacturing of its most profitable models.

  • The shortage is unlikely to end anytime soon, according to Intel’s C.E.O., Pat Gelsinger: “This will take a while until people can put more capacity in the ground,” he told The Wall Street Journal.


    Some of the academic research that caught our eye this week, summarized in one sentence:


    Percy Miller, better known to hip-hop fans as Master P, plans to invest $10 million in companies led by or serving people who are Black, Indigenous and people of color, DealBook is first to report. He sees ownership and equity as keys to bridging racial wealth gaps, and wants other investors to follow his lead.

    “This is all about economic empowerment,” Mr. Miller told DealBook. Early in his career, Mr. Miller opened a record store from which he launched No Limit Records, once one of the largest independent labels. More recent projects have been aimed at social entrepreneurship, like an “Uncle P” line of food products to replace Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s (both have since been renamed) that would dedicate a portion of profits to supporting Black communities.

    Mr. Miller wants to invest in an array of industries, with education, including financial literacy, a priority. “I always tell people, product outweighs talent — at the same time, education and wisdom are so important,” he said. “That’s the longevity of my success.”

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