Daily Digest: Obama unveils tax plan, small businesses call out Google, City Council tamps down car expenses

Katherine Lymn

Your Daily Digest for Monday, Sept. 19:

President Obama will unveil a plan this morning to cut $3 trillion in spending over the next decade, the New York Times reports. The Times calls this the administration’s “opening move” as the House-Senate supercommittee begins negotiations on the deficit reduction in the next two months. Tax increases on the rich make up half of the cuts — Obama will call for a combo of closing loopholes and limiting chances to deduct for high earners, the Times reported. The next biggest savings come from ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq and from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Combined, those moves will save a predicted $1.1 trillion. Also in the proposal are $580 billion in cuts to health and entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The proposal is seen as very political — it has no chance of becoming law unless Republicans bend, and it’s an attempt to reassure Dems as the 2012 campaign heats up. Obama promised to veto any competing plans that would cut through spending cuts alone and with no new taxes, aides told the Times.

One “guiding principle” the president will adopt for budget negotiations, called the “Buffett Rule,” is getting early criticism from Republicans. It’s named after Warren Buffett, who wrote a column calling for higher taxes for millionaires like him. The rule is an effort to ensure millionaires pay at least the same portion of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers. Republicans say the plan is “class warfare” and that it would further destabilize the fragile economy.

Google is getting called out as small businesses claim their success rests on a complicated, ever-changing ranking formula, the Strib reports. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is hearing testimony on it this week from Google’s CEO. Google handles 65 percent of internet searching and is undoubtedly the leader in online searching, but, “the question is whether Google unfairly uses its dominance to gain an advantage for its own services and advertising clients.” Google uses key words, fresh content and the number of sites that link to a site as the top criteria in determining where it stands in the rankings ­— most importantly, if it’s in the coveted first three to give listings, a search-engine consultant told the Strib. But the formula is more complicated — about 200 measures determine the rankings.

Minneapolis City Council car expenses are down from $30,000 a year to just $1,800 so far this year, after city residents expressed outrage at the allowances last year, the Strib reports. Now, members must collect mileage instead of getting a monthly stipend for expenses. Most of the 13 members aren’t writing any miles off, as only four submitted claims through the end of July. Members writing off more attributed it to business they had outside the city, like working on legislative issues at the Capitol.