Background Briefing: June 29, 2021


Trump’s IRS Commissioner Allows the Super-Rich to Cheat on Gifts as Trump is About to be Indicted on Tax Avoidance on Gifts

We begin with the law closing in on the Trump Organization with indictments expected soon on failures to pay taxes on gifts as well as much larger matters and speak with David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who has uncovered so many tax dodges that he has been called the “de facto tax enforcement officer of the United States.” The co-founder of DC where he has an article “How Trump’s Toothless IRS Let the Rich Off Easy” and another also at Raw Story, “Raw Story uncovers a huge secret tax favor for the super wealthy,” joins us. We discuss how a former Beverly Hill tax avoidance lawyer for the super-rich Charles Rettig who Trump made IRS Commissioner, appears to be going after a 50% increase in the enforcement of gift and estate tax law where cheating is rampant, but is in fact doing the opposite. Meanwhile IRS audits on the wealthiest Americans have plummeted from 1 in 5 to 1 in 700. 


The U.S. is Falling Behind China and Europe in Investments in Electric Vehicle Production

Then we look into a critical infrastructure need for the future and speak with Nic Lutsey who directs the International Council on Clean Transportation’s electric vehicle program and manages its role as the Secretariat for the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance. He joins us to discuss his new study at the International Council on Clean Transportation, “Power play: Evaluating the U.S. position in the global electric vehicle transition” and explain how, in contrast to a lot of hype, the U.S. is falling behind China and Europe in investments in Electric Vehicle production. 

The Role of Saltwater Corrosion From Sea Level Rise in the Building Collapse in Florida

Then finally, with rising sea levels from global warming emerging as a major factor in the collapse of the apartment building in Florida in which 150 residents still remain missing, we speak with Zhong-Ren Peng, a Professor and Director of the International Center for Adaptation Planning and Design in the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Florida who conducts research in adaptation planning for climate change like sea level rise and extreme weather. We discuss how this 40 year-old building was not constructed with materials to stand up to salt water intrusion that corrodes concrete and steel foundations.