Friend and fellow blogger and education advocate, Jersey Jazzman, has more information on the bully Democratic Congressman from Colorado who has been on a tear with his insulting tweets about public education advocate Diane Ravitch.
Jersey Jazzman is a great investigative blogger and well worth the read at any time, but his latest on Congressman Jared Polis is a “must read.”
Jersey Jazzman begins with the tweet that started off the whole episode;
As an 18-year-old, he traveled to Russia and made money trading privatization vouchers — you know, the botched, scandal-ridden privatization which wrecked Russa’s economy and led to the domination of the economy by ex-KGB oligarchs. Next stop: Silicon Valley!In October 1999, right before the first dotcom crash, Polis, then known as Jared Polis Schutz, sold Bluemountain.com, his family’s online greeting-cards website, to Excite@Home for $780 million, including $350 million in cash that Excite couldn’t really spare. Excite sold it for $35 million in September 2001, and filed for bankruptcy a month later. People still talk about it as one of the most spectacular cashouts of the dotcom boom.He later sold ProFlowers, an online florist, to John Malone’s Liberty Media. (All told, he’s started a dozen companies.)
(Personal note: I’ve used ProFlowers once. Let’s just say, given the lack of service I experienced, I will not use them ever again.)
After making all this money, Polis entered into politics: he ran for an open seat in Colorado’s 2nd House district in 2008, which forced him to disclose some of his finances:
Polis’ returns show five years — from 2001 to 2005 — during which the Internet entrepreneur paid no taxes. He showed a net loss of income for four of those five years.The returns also show a couple of years when he posted a total of more than $120 million in adjusted gross income and more than $18.4 million in taxes paid.Polis, 32, said the discrepancy in tax and income data over the seven years is primarily based on whether he was developing companies — which would often operate at a loss in their initial years — or selling a company.“In my business career, I only make significant money when I sell a company,” Polis said Thursday.Two years ago, Liberty Media Inc. bought Provide Commerce Inc., which operated Polis-founded ProFlowers.com. The sale was valued at $477 million, $116 million of which went to Polis.Polis said in many of the years he didn’t owe taxes, he was reporting income losses — in 2005 his losses reached $2.6 million — as he tried to bring companies he helped found into the black.“I founded several high-growth companies, and we would manage those for growth rather than for profit,” he said. “When I make money, I pay taxes. When I don’t make money, I don’t.”Polis’ most lucrative year was 2006, when he reported $96.5 million in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $13.6 million in taxes. [emphasis mine]
For 2006, that’s an effective tax rate of 14%. Keep in mind the marginal tax rate that year was “35% on the income over $336,550,” which means Polis made out like a bandit, most likely because he was largely paying capital gains tax rates instead of the rates on ordinary income (caveat lector: I’m not an accountant. If anyone can shed some more light on this, please comment below).
So what we’ve got here is a guy who — much like George W. Bush — took advantage of his family’s existing businesses and connections and made a lot of money, then parlayed that into a political career. According to opensecrets.org, Polis out-spent his opponent in the 2008 election about 80-to-1.
And even though Polis is a Democrat, his career — much like George W. Bush — has largely been about cutting taxes on wealthy folks like himself:
Momentum is growing in Congress behind legislation to enact another “repatriation tax holiday” that allows multinational corporations to bring profits held overseas back to the United States and pay tax on them at a rate of only about 5 percent (rather than the normal tax rate on corporate profits). But the economic or fiscal case for doing so remains poor.
In recent days, several congressional Democrats have expressed support for some version of the legislation.1 The momentum comes in the midst of a major lobbying campaign for it by a coalition of large and powerful U.S.-based multinational corporations.2 Proponents argue that a second temporary repatriation holiday would boost domestic investment and jobs, which is the same pitch that proponents used to sell policymakers on a similar repatriation holiday in 2004 – and one with obvious resonance as the economy struggles to recover from recession and unemployment remains very high.
Nevertheless, the evidence shows that the first holiday failed to produce the promised results. Its primary effect was to provide a huge windfall to the shareholders of a small number of very large corporations.
1 At a Third Way event last week, Reps. Jared Polis (CO) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) as well as Sen. Kay Hagan (D- NC) expressed support for the idea, while another group, NDN, hosted a working lunch on the idea earlier this month. See Tim Fernholz, “Democrats Warming to Tax Repatriation,” NJ Daily AM, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. [emphasis mine]
Yes, folks — “liberal” Jared Polis has never seen a corporate tax he wouldn’t love to cut:
Polis, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 2nd District, said he is working with the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Dave Camp, on a proposal to lower tax rates by reducing or eliminating deductions and loopholes.“We can, on a revenue-neutral basis, bring down the corporate tax rate to about 25 percent,” he said.Such a proposal likely would come as part of a package to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling by the end of the year, he said.Polis acknowledged that the businesspeople in the room all represent small businesses, so they are paying taxes on their business profits at the individual rate, which is as high as 39.6 percent.He said efforts also are underway to lower that top individual rate to 28 percent.“If we could do it on the corporate side, that would build momentum to do it on the individual side,” he said.To get there, though, Polis said Congress would have to start taking away from some very popular tax deductions, including “the big three” – charitable donations, home mortgage interest and state and local income tax.“If we can find a way to reduce rates, there’s no question that people would have more disposable income for charity or buying a home, for whatever they want to do,” he said. [emphasis mine]
We’ll get to that “charity” in just a bit. But let’s take a second to appreciate how adamant Polis is about cutting taxes on the wealthy; so much so that’s he’s will to buck the liberal caucus his own party:
Last night’s House Democratic caucus meeting was explosive, with many members refusing to vote for the Obama-McConnell tax cut deal. However, for all the sturm and drang, if Boehner can deliver all of the Republicans they only need 39 Democratic votes.
Leading the charge for the tax cuts on the Democratic side? Jared Polis, whose net worth is somewhere between $97.4 million and $254.4 million. Polis was quite impassioned as he fought back against the tide of opposition in the caucus, arguing that this deal is “the best we can do.”
But as Joan McCarter notes, and as Keith Olbermann said so eloquently last night, it is immoral that this deal does nothing for the “99ers,” the 2 million people who are due to have their unemployment benefits cut off by the end of the year.
The fact that it’s Polis pushing this deal in the House makes it brutally and transparently clear who this benefits: millionaires. Kevin Drum does the math, and finds that “most of most of us get a few hundred dollars while the rich get hundreds of thousands or even millions each.”
“The rich are willing to make that deal every day,” he says. “Wouldn’t you?” [emphasis mine]
And the best of still to come….