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Government Privacy The Almighty Buck

Electronic Transaction Reporting Slipped Into Senate Bill 343

Posted by kdawson
from the grist-for-data-mining dept.
StealthyRoid writes "The Senate mortgage bill proposed by Sen. Chris Dodd (who was the recipient of a sweetheart deal on his mortgage from Countrywide, one of the beneficiaries of the bill) includes an attempt to sneak into law a requirement that all electronic payment processors send detailed transaction data to the federal government. The proposed law contains an exception for businesses with fewer than 200 transactions or a total value less than $10,000. Quoting FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey (former House majority leader) from the article: 'This is a provision with astonishing reach, and it was slipped into the bill just this week. Not only does it affect nearly every credit card transaction in America, such as Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express, but the bill specifically targets payment systems like eBay's PayPal, Amazon, and Google Checkout that are used by many small online businesses. The privacy implications for America's small businesses are breathtaking.'" This is the same bill that contains a controversial provision to fingerprint all mortgage brokers.
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Electronic Transaction Reporting Slipped Into Senate Bill

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  • There is no danger if you have nothing to hide obviously.

    But just to be safe, might want to hold out on that "McCain is evil" book purchase. Just in case, you know?

    Note to moderators: this entire post, barring this line, is sarcastic.

    • by bryanp (160522) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:03AM (#23871829)

      Considering that it was slipped in by a Democrat (Dodd) and the person blowing the whistle is a Republican (Armey) you might want to warn people about not purchasing the equivalent "Obama Is Evil" book.

      You know how you can tell the party affiliations on a Slashdot story? If its negative about a Republican the summary almost always mentions it. If its negative about a Democrat they usually just say "Senator" or 'Congressman" with no party affiliation.

      • by digitig (1056110)

        Interesting -- I have to choose a project soon for a linguistics course, and you've just given me an idea...

      • I don't about that, a couple of days ago I was modded down as a Troll for stating what was I thought was painfully obvious [slashdot.org]. I 'm still scratching my head over that reaction. But I do think that time has shown that it is not party affiliation, but personal advancement that fuels some of the legislation in Congress.

        • by d3ac0n (715594) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:15AM (#23872747)

          Did you read ANY of the responses to your post? If you had, and then checked up on their claims (they are correct, BTW) you would have found that the only thing painfully obvious about your post is that it was a politically motivated post couched in BDS and ignorance, intended to inflame other posters. In other words, a Troll post. You were modded properly.

          Nothing personal, I'm sure you are a fine fellow, but your post came off as horribly trollish. I would recommend dumping the BDS. You'll be better off without it.

          (BDS = Bush Derangement Syndrome: An Irrational fear of anything related to the George W. Bush presidency, and a tendency to blame everything wrong with the US Government, America, the World, and one's own personal life solely on G.W. Bush.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kingrames (858416)

        As far as I've seen, Slashdot doesn't have a democrat bias, it has an anti-administrative bias. which makes a lot of sense since you'd find most of the people who post here are likely programmers or IT guys and not the guys who boss them around.

        • I don't think slashdot itself has a bias over political parties, but I have noticed a lot of submissions and moderations that are biased toward Obama.

          Personally I think political affiliations rank up there with religion as a taboo topic. Mainly because even pointing out the obvious will get you flamed by someone who took it personally that you said something negative about their pet cause or candidate...

          I do think it is important that we are aware of any bills that may affect us like privacy, net neutrali

          • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Friday June 20, 2008 @04:27PM (#23879363) Homepage Journal

            I wouldn't put the onus of this bias on /., though. I've noticed that the media in general has been publishing more Obama stories than McCain stories. I think there is a good (if not healthy) reason for this, too. Obama is more newsworthy.

            Like him, hate him, or indiferent to him, you must admit he something different. And not just racially, but his campain is not quite following the historic pattern, his followers are different. John McCain is just another stodgy white-guy, going for oil executives and big money. No big deal.

            Not saying who would actually be the best president, since that's completely subjective. Just who is more interesting.

            Though anyone who mouths anything partison, or identifies themselves as "conservative" or "liberal" is in my book a fool. If your political views are so narrow as to fit into a tiny category, your doing it wrong.

            I myself an a radical moderate, or more susinctly a a fiscally conservative, social libertarian, with pronounced socialist tendencies, who often veers into dreams of anarchy. What party does that make me? Both parties have insightful stances on several issues, why should I just pick one?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You know how you can tell a naive jackass on Slashdot, or for that matter anywhere? They're the ones who still seem to believe the labels "Republican" and "Democrat" still actually mean anything different from each other. Bless our one-party system for keeping its members too busy butting heads over meaningless crap to realize how deep the rabbit hole goes.
      • by fractalboy (1078025) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:06AM (#23872647)
        It isn't just Slashdot. Look back through any recent news article about a Republican who has done something illegal and/or really stupid. You're not only going to see the word 'Republican' much more often, but news stories also like ask alarmist questions like, "Is this indicative of further corruption in the Republican party?" or any other comment that will lead a reader to at least ponder widespread misconduct in the Republican party. While there isn't any true intense misconduct in this particular article, all you have to do is look back to Elliot Spitzer's demise as a real example; most news stories did not plaster the word 'Democrat' all over, let alone suggest a party-wide fallout from the scandal. Just the observations of an independent with a pretty staunch disdain for both major political parties....
        • by Stew Gots (1310921) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:45AM (#23874055)

          but news stories also like to ask alarmist questions like, "Is this indicative of further corruption in the Republican party?" or any other comment that will lead a reader to at least ponder widespread misconduct in the Republican party.

          Yeah. The fact that they held the congress for 12 years and WERE incredibly corrupt, got caught practicing wide stances in men's room stalls while preaching family values, faked intelligence data, progagandized the country into a war, illegally spied on Americans, and instituted a policy of torture - to name but a few of their top hits - had nothing to with that. My god, it would be INSANE to speculate if there were MORE shoes to drop!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by sorak (246725)

        Considering that it was slipped in by a Democrat (Dodd) and the person blowing the whistle is a Republican (Armey) you might want to warn people about not purchasing the equivalent "Obama Is Evil" book.

        You know how you can tell the party affiliations on a Slashdot story? If its negative about a Republican the summary almost always mentions it. If its negative about a Democrat they usually just say "Senator" or 'Congressman" with no party affiliation.

        The republican who said that is wrong!

    • by HeroreV (869368) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:44AM (#23873191) Homepage

      There is no danger if you have nothing to hide obviously.

      I wish we could seriously apply this to laws. Why not create a "Scope" section for bills that specifies what the bill is about and limits its reach? Then interpret the bill such that anything outside the specified scope would be ignored.

      Anything nasty trying to sneak in unnoticed would be in danger of going outside the specified scope and being ignored, but anything legitimately related to the bill would not be affected.

      Congressmen often vote on bills they haven't read, but perhaps they could at least make time to review scope sections.

  • by pseudoJax (1309809) on Friday June 20, 2008 @07:57AM (#23871769)
    yes what we need more govt intrusion into our daily lives sure they won't monitor transactions unless they're over $10000 for 200. but how will they cull this out after the fact? Someday we'll enjoy the freedom and privacy the Soviet Union use to have.
    • by Zymergy (803632) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:54AM (#23872499)
      What this REALLY means is that *ALL Data* will be collected, but PRESENTLY only data for more than $10k or 200 "items" will 'count' (they can and probably will easily pass some bill amendment to remove this threshold).
      Obviously, this implies that all of the data will be collected in full anyway, and when you individually hit $10,000.01 or 201 'items' it will meet some automatic threshold and exit their buffer and your transaction are suddenly officially counted in the IRS databases... Great!

      Anyone RTFA and notice that this is REALLY about New Data collection on the Taxation of Internet Transactions hidden inside a "Housing Bill"?
      I say this because the data "will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee". I also liked this entry in the full bill summary: "Lenders must document and verify borrowers' income with the IRS." (And I thought THREE independent Consumer Credit Reporting bureaus were sufficient, but NO! now we must directly involve the IRS too for every purchase over $10k)?
      Read it for yourself: http://rpc.senate.gov/public/_files/L62HR3221Houseamendments0618SN.pdf [senate.gov]
    • by pseudorand (603231) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:25AM (#23873761)
      I think you're reading that wrong. Granted, in full /. for, I haven't RTFA, but from the summary, I understand that small businesses that have less than 200 transactions totaling less than $10,000 dollars will be excluded from the reporting requirement. But that $0.99 fun-size candy bar that you charged to your Wells Fargo VISA will be reported to the government, because both VISA and Wells Fargo have far more than 200 transactions and $10,000. So don't go thinking this doesn't effect you because your transactions are two few or two small. The provision simply protects small businesses (very small businesses) from burdensome reporting requirements, but all consumers are fair game.
      • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @11:19AM (#23874515) Homepage Journal

        I did RTFA, all of it, and I believe your interpretation, and that of the parent, are exactly correct. This is principally a backdoor tax on internet sales, and designed to catch all the small transactions that have hitherto slipped through the cracks.

        The problem here is that for most of these very small businesses, being ignored by the taxman is the difference between life and death for their business. So most of the impacted very-small businesses will simply close up shop, because if taxes are rigidly applied, they are no longer even marginally profitable.

  • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@ ... m minus math_god> on Friday June 20, 2008 @07:58AM (#23871773) Homepage Journal

    ... to tax you with, my dear.

    • by Applekid (993327) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:25AM (#23872055)

      ... to tax you with, my dear.
      Funny delivery yes, but not so funny realities. It's clearly paving the way for the federal government to track that persnickity little inter-state commerce that gives them carte blanche to do whatever they want with the country. I'm sure the twinkling in the eyes has at least some part about taking a cut, or at the very least taking a cut for the states (since congress is elected via the state, they're job is to bring home the bacon).
  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday June 20, 2008 @07:58AM (#23871775) Journal
    The White House is planning on vetoing it [washingtonpost.com].
  • Lets see it is a political story, on the negative side and does not mention the party the person is a member of.
    Quick survey what party is Chris Dodds a member of?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:11AM (#23871899)

      The real Chris Dodd is a Democrat, but in this case his body has obviously been taken over by those havoc-wreaking Republicans! Invasion of privacy means nothing to them! To think that they have stooped to such base levels of taking over a Democrat's body just to serve their cause!

      It is best not to refer to him as a Democrat until it is proved that it is the real Chris Dodd. In fact for the time being it would probably be best to say "A man who claims to be Chris Dodd..."

      Now, if it turns out that it is the real Chris Dodd, then of course we have full confidence that his motives are to further, in the best way possible, the social and environmental causes that are vital to this country's continued existence!

    • Indeed. I'm surprised that this one even got past Slashdot's censo^H^H^H^H^Hmoderators. Because, you know, only the Republicans can do evil.
    • by Bearpaw (13080)
      Yeah, that's almost as annoying as Fox News repeatedly (and "accidentally", of course) labeling Repubs involved in scandals as Dems.
    • by jav1231 (539129)
      Yep! And you were modded "Flamebait" immediately. They're nothing if not predictable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla (258480)
      Lets see it is a political story, on the negative side and does not mention the party the person is a member of. Quick survey what party is Chris Dodds a member of?

      Does it really matter?

      Both major parties seem pretty much identical lately. Both want to tax us into penury to pay for crap most people oppose (though they do slightly differ in the specifics of "crap"). Both want to strip of of our civil liberties as rapidly as possible without causing a revolt. Both supported the war in Iraq, though one
  • ??? WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Travelsonic (870859)
    Why the fuck is this the government's business?
    • Re:??? WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cliffski (65094) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:07AM (#23871863) Homepage

      presumably to avoid tax fraud. if you are sat at home apparently out of work and claiming state benefits, but in practice have a major ebay store that brings in $80,000 a year, then the federal government would like to

      1) tax you
      and
      2) stop paying you benefits.

      How is this not fair? Like many companies, I do most of my business on-line, and have no noticeable bricks and mortar premises. If it wasn't for banks reporting to the govt what I earned, I could pretend to be earning nothing, and pay not a penny in a tax.
      Am I missing something here? People really expect the govt to not be interested in small online businesses and taxing them?

      • Re:??? WTF? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:12AM (#23871913)

        You are missing the benefits of running a cash based brick and mortar business...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by OhPlz (168413)

        I agree. Everyone needs to pay their fair share. "eBay" businesses should be no exception. I don't really see the privacy angle. If you're not using cash, then a third party is already privy to the transaction, and who knows who has access to it from there. Obviously privacy isn't the buyer or seller's primary concern. It's to everyone's benefit that individuals aren't able to escape their tax obligations through their unconventional business schemes. Why would we want to pay their due?

        • Because taking out taxes after they are in place is pretty damned hard. Sadly, it seems the best we can hope for is to keep taxes out of new areas and hope that they old ones simply become anachronisms.

        • Re:??? WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Applekid (993327) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:49AM (#23872409)

          I don't really see the privacy angle. If you're not using cash, then a third party is already privy to the transaction, and who knows who has access to it from there. Obviously privacy isn't the buyer or seller's primary concern. It's to everyone's benefit that individuals aren't able to escape their tax obligations through their unconventional business schemes. Why would we want to pay their due?
          Privacy: the whole thing of "I have nothing to hide" has really taken root. Personally I find it disturbing to use fairness envy ("I pay my fair share, so must everyone else, to the point of invading privacy") to further advances against government-enforced privacy violations. Please refer to Daniel J. Solove's excellent paper on the matter [ssrn.com]. The point of using, say, a credit card and disclosing to them your transaction is that it's your decision and they are legally bound to their privacy policy. The government has no privacy policy (other than systematically invading it at every opportunity).

          Not to say it's never happened before. Terrorists, pedophiles, drug abusers... they all welcome tax evaders as the new bogeyman by which the government can shoehorn new bad laws onto the books with overreaching influence.

          So am I for tax-dodgers? No: the people not paying taxes on their ebay stores are ALREADY breaking the law and can ALREADY be successfully prosecuted for it. Financial records can be obtained by subpoena and the proper procedure within the justice system. This bill would force all handlers of electronic payment to account and disclose information at THEIR expense (read: our expense because profit margins sure as hell aren't going to take the hit from government compliance costs). Now justice and investigation doesn't need a warrant or a court order because private companies are now compelled to broadcast this data.

      • by tkrotchko (124118) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:52AM (#23872445) Homepage

        Well, sure. The government would like to know about your every activity, from breathing, eating, voiding, spending, reading, listening, talking, pretty much everything. The better to tax you, regulate you, imprison you, coerce you.

        That doesn't mean we should willing give up that right, nor does it say in the supreme law of the land where the government has been given that power.

        Better to let 1 million people cheat on their taxes than 250 million give up every last vestige of privacy.

      • by faloi (738831)
        It sorta depends on how detailed the transactions are. If the "detailed" transaction is just that I received amount of money, that's one thing. If it's that I received amount of money for from , that's something else entirely.

        I can understand the desire to stop fraud, but there's a line that should be drawn in protection of privacy.
      • by Arccot (1115809)

        presumably to avoid tax fraud.

        How is this not fair?

        Generally, the government also uses the data to find money laundering.

        As far as their right to do it, the government doesn't have a right to search me because I MAY be doing something illegal. That applies to my finances, too.

        Besides that, the US government has a history of data mining it's own citizens where it can. This would increase their capabilities to do so.

        I don't believe a government has to right to scrutinize it's citizens for wrongdoing without first having evidence a crime is being com

      • Re:??? WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Artifakt (700173) on Friday June 20, 2008 @09:08AM (#23872675)

        I do commercial tax prep for an unnamed company, and this is spot on. In 2004, the IRS testified before congress about where they thought the most major tax fraud cases were. The IRS's estimates were that a specific group of Small/Home business filers (the ones using schedule C with just a normal private citizen's 1040/1040A, and not using the commercial tax form 1041 and all the quarterly reporting forms they would have to use if they had employees) were responsible for about 100 billion in tax fraud every year.
                Second place was false filings for the Earned Income Credit, with about 9 billion a year projected loss.
                Congress directed the IRS to focus on the second case first. Some of us saw that cynically - I've heard several fellow tax pros describe it as a Republican dominated congress and executive branch, focusing on the group that doesn't vote or votes Democrat, rather than a larger group that tends to vote and contribute republican. Congress adopted a new set of tax rules that included the "Uniform Definition of a Child (UDC)" rules and told the IRS to go to town.
                Other people, perhaps more charitably, noted that going after the smaller group also tended to catch a lot of dead-beat dads, and was much, much easier to implement. Over the last three years, congress and the tax courts clarified the rules on a lot of business related deductions such as de minimus employee benefits, and cleaned up the tax code re. small business filers. Some significant cases made it through the tax courts during this interval, and my own estimate is the IRS is in a much better position to go after their #1 on their top ten list than they were, and maybe it will start happening. Whether there's a connection to which party is in power is at least debatable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PeeAitchPee (712652)

        Isn't that what IRS and unemployment benefit audits are for? It's not like you can keep collecting benefits forever without going through periodic interviews about what you've been doing, submitting lists of companies with whom you interviewed, etc. This proposed system assumes everyone is guilty and gives the government a free pass to construct a database of literally every single electronic transaction which might ever occur. The privacy rammifications are shocking. It's no different than proposing Re

    • Re:??? WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

      by pjt33 (739471) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:16AM (#23871951)
      As usual, the summary is pretty wrong. The "detailed transaction data" of the summary consists of "the annual gross amount of reportable transactions" according to the Senate Bill Summary as quoted in the article - the only information which is less detailed is no information whatsoever. So on the face of it this isn't the intrusion that it's being made out to be.
  • by Rinisari (521266)

    Please, please, please call your Senator and urge him or her to vote against this bill. Make sure you say that it would be ludicrous to enact it because then even candidates collecting money via the Internet would be subject to its provisions, on top of the things mentioned by FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey (former House majority leader).

    • by jav1231 (539129)
      Dude! If you want the average /.er to do something you need 2 things:
      1)The promise of a real date with a real girl
      2)A HotPockets gift pack!

  • by Lord Grey (463613) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @07:59AM (#23871805)
    From TFA:

    A de minimis exception for transactions of $10,000 or less and 200 transactions or less applies to payments by third party settlement organizations. The proposal applies to returns for calendar years beginning after December 31, 2010. Back-up withholding provisions apply to amounts paid after December 31, 2011. This proposal is estimated to raise $9.802 billion over ten years.

    The summary says that the minimum reporting is under $10K (USD) or under 200 transactions, but the article shows an and.

    Aside from that nitpick, how is this supposed to "raise $9.802 billion over ten years"?

    • my guess (Score:4, Informative)

      by ProfBooty (172603) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:07AM (#23871871)

      more reported income, so more taxes paid?

      • Yes (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pheidias (141114)
        From TFA:

        "Payment settlement entities [...] will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS..."

        Although I'm a long-time libertarian, I have to say that if they're collecting ONLY an annual gross dollar figure, and not the details of individual transactions, it probably would help them collect taxes and it would probably be a sensible thing to do in the context of existing laws. Income taxes are stupid in principle, but I can't think of a good reason to apply them onl
  • Does that work? I know the definition of "mortgage" is pretty broad, and I guess technically money is collateral, but doesnt this mean that all products are now just loaned to you, you no longer actually own anything you buy? next will there be property tax on bags of chips? or your cupboard space?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by arotenbe (1203922)

      doesnt this mean that all products are now just loaned to you, you no longer actually own anything you buy? next will there be property tax on bags of chips? or your cupboard space?
      I can see it now...

      This bag of crisp potato products ("CHIPS") is licensed, not sold. LAY'S reserves the exclusive right to change the flavor of the CHIPS at any time.
      • Yeah, funny, but maybe not that far off...

        Granted the claus is purchases less than $10,000, so excluding distributors and such, wouldnt effect your average person, but there are a lot of things that are more than $10,000 that are not housing, and may not even be ample collateral as mortgage, such as art.

        But, that doesnt mean it wont change, silently in a year, dropped down to $5,000, then $1,000 till it is bags of chips...

        And then "search and seizure"...

        "according to your record at the local grocery store,

  • There was a similar provision in the recent telecom bill, wasn't there?

    I haven't had my gallon of coffee yet, can someone please explain the point of the Fed collecting that data?

  • No. no. No. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Valar (167606) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:04AM (#23871835)

    I keep hearing this "sweetheart deal" thing about Chris Dodd. You know what the actual deal is? A 30 year AR mortgage intro'd at 4.5%. All that means is the man had good credit and timed his purchase well. It's not like that is out of the range for mortgage rates. When I first heard it, I was thinking a no interest mortgage or something like that. Instead, he's paying almost 5%, like the rest of us.

    • by Qzukk (229616)

      Part of the problem is that the deal is just now coming to light, but the mortgage was signed back in 2003, when hot and cold mortgages were flowing cheap from the tap, not that a lot of people can remember back that far.

      The bigger question is, when does his intro rate reset, and what did it reset to, compared to everyone else who got a loan back then?

      A 30 year AR mortgage intro'd at 4.5%

      This is wrong though, per the NY times [nytimes.com]:

      refinanced the mortgages on his homes in 2003 after shopping for the best deal. Ul

    • by cfulmer (3166)
      Pardon?

      According to company documents and emails, the V.I.P.'s received better deals than those available to ordinary borrowers. Home-loan customers can reduce their interest rates by paying âoepointsââ"one point equals 1 percent of the loanâ(TM)s value. For V.I.P.'s, Countrywide often waived at least half a point and eliminated fees amounting to hundreds of dollars for underwriting, processing and document preparation. If interest rates fell while a V.I.P. loan was pending, Countrywide

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:39AM (#23872239) Homepage Journal

      According to countrywide he got .5 off his rate because he was a US Senator. He knowingly accepted the VIP designation then tried to claim he thought it meant nothing? He serves and has served on various boards which have some power over this industry? Perhaps his party affiliation is saving him. I bet it is.

      Read up on it, http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/top-5/2008/06/12/Countrywide-Loan-Scandal [portfolio.com]

      By lowering his rate they effectively handed him $60,000. In other words, Congressmen don't play by our rules. Their ability to regulate the industry means they intimidate without having to lift a finger. Considering his role in this bill and the fact he takes money from Countrywide for his reelection makes the whole thing stink.

      and people wonder why crap like this little transaction law slips in. These guys are always slipping stuff in and out trying to avoid our knowledge of what they really do.

      Dodd is a crook. He is a liar. He was simply caught and now is trying hide from it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        bullshit. he got the same rate everyone else was getting, the same rate i got. the only corruption in this case is with the dirty journalists and their stooges. yes, you.
  • Welcome to The Police State. Population: You.
  • Are they supposed to be shocked? They wrote this, they know it is in there... They know why it is in there.... They dont care what you have to say about it. It is what they want, and you will take it.

  • The proposed law contains an exception for people with less than 200 transactions

    How are they going to work that one out? I can't tell from the original wording whether it is "we won't record" or "we won't create reports" for people with under 200 transactions, but if it is the former (which is what it sounds most like) then how do they manage to tell when you've gone over your 200 transaction limit? Or is this just politicians ignoring vital issues again?
  • Dodd got a break on 2 of his home loans, and because of him taxpayer money is used to save a troubled lender. While he's at it he's helping all lenders better measure risk for new loans by giving them an ability to look into every aspect of consumer's credit. Does this guy have any shame?
    • by corbettw (214229)

      Does this guy have any shame?
      What a foolish question, the man is a United States Senator. Of course he has no shame!
  • by tzanger (1575) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:14AM (#23871925) Homepage

    I'm not American, but I have always been surprised about these riders... Why on earth are riders legal? A bill about picking daisies can have a rider about nuclear weapons... there's no connection, they can be introduced any time, and they always seem to be used to sneak in unfavorable laws... Why are they allowed?

  • by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle.gmail@com> on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:14AM (#23871933) Homepage Journal

    Look kids, it's been a fun free ride and all, but if you think the government isn't gonna tax transactions once it figures out HOW to get at those transactions, well, ha ha ha. Sure. Okay.

    They take the money you earn while working for a living and use it for corporate welfare and bailing out rich bastards who gamble and lose, so how long do you think they're gonna watch billions of dollars bouncing around the Interwebz before figuring out a way to dip their collective hand in there too?

    As for the "freedom watch" website from TFA - you may wanna check out the rest of the site before you send any large donations.

    Efforts to regulate carbon dioxide are an attempt by the global Left to gain control of the U.S. economy.
    lolwut?
    • Efforts to regulate carbon dioxide are an attempt by the global Left to gain control of the U.S. economy.
      lolwut?

      What do you think happens when you structure global CO2 agreements in a way to send all manufacturing to the 3rd world? Some greens are watermelons, and really don't care about the polar bears.

      • What do you think happens when you structure NAFTA in a way to send all manufacturing to the 3rd world?
        fyp

  • by 1 a bee (817783) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:15AM (#23871937)

    A congressional bill, as it evolves and eventually maybe becomes law, is a living document. In every sphere of the real world where multiple authors work collaboratively on a same document, we use content management systems, that allow versioning, attribution, and history. It makes changes to a document transparent. Businesses use it, non-profits use it. Why not demand our Congress to use it and stop this monkey business of "was slipped into the bill"? Sounds like conversation you'd here in the playground, for gods' sake..

    • by jefu (53450)

      I'd like to see something like this, with every delta (so to speak) marked with the author - but with a further provision that no bill could be passed except as an emergency bill (with special rules about emergencies) without at least a three month public comment period - and that adding a rider would restart that comment period. Would it slow things down? Of course, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

      On the down side, loopholes for special circumstances often become standard procedure if it suits

    • It is transparent in process, but not in reality. It'd be transparent if the congressmen who were actually voting on things managed to, you know, READ what they were voting on. They don't. After the McCain-Feingold bill passed, many were outraged when they were in the class (the bill was so complicated that it allocated money for a CLASS for congressmen on how to OBEY THE LAW) they said if they'd read the bill they wouldn't have voted for it.

      A lot of legislation gets passed, too much for them to read. I

  • Unfortunately, this is from a blog that wishes to attack Dodd(and little else at this moment). They have the most to gain by finding something to drop on him.

    Try again, and without sounding like you just want to attack Dodd.

    As for Congress, thank the obstructionist Republicans for the rating.

    • by blcamp (211756)


      Well, if trying to remove these kinds of Orwelling provisions is "obstructionist", then dammit, let's get on with the obstructing already.

      Chris Dodd, or anyone else (on either side of the aisle) with the gall to slide something like this in, richly deserves the incoming flak.

      This isn't even a matter of surveilling suspected criminals or terrorists anymore... this is simply "witch hunt data warehouse".

      That's way, way, WAY over the line.

    • As for Congress, thank the obstructionist Republicans for the rating.
      Personally, I blame all of them, on both sides. They've all been playing politics in favor of their parties in ever-increasing intensity since the '90s, if not before.

  • also in there is a provision requiring all persons even tangentially connected to real estate sales to have their fingerprints sent to the gov to go into a database. so if you sell houses, do make ready, work on house financing, get ready to get printed and added to the db :).

    i like congress better when they do nothing.

  • Kill Bill (Score:4, Funny)

    by Sethus (609631) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:29AM (#23872103)
    Is it just me, or does this just scream "I want to kill this bill by tacking on all sorts of unrelated things that are completely irrelevant so no one will vote for it, because everyone will hate something about it".
  • How the US works (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Friday June 20, 2008 @08:40AM (#23872263) Journal
    I'm sure there are many people that don't know how laws are made in the United States. Don't watch School House Rock, [youtube.com] they have it all wrong. The more accurate version is Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington. [wikipedia.org]

    Finally, during a session in Congress, the janitor and Lisa, with Homer's drunken diversion, place the Air Traffic Bill under a bill giving orphans American flags.
  • 1. Government finds that money is changing hands.
    2. Government gets information on transaction.
    3. Government taxes transaction.
    4. Government profits.
    5. GOTO 1

  • by pithen (912739)
    For those who question the legitimacy of inserting provisions like these into totally unrelated bills in order to get them passed with little debate, I urge you to take a look at DownsizeDC.org and read about the "One Subject at a Time Act" (http://action.downsizedc.org/wyc.php?cid=83 [downsizedc.org]).

    Write to your senators and congressmen/women and urge them to support the act and put an end to this practice.

    Also, look at the "Read the Bills Act" and "Write the Bills Act"

  • I thought this was there to prevent cross state online shenanigans like the enron scandal.

    I'm not necessarily sure I would trust the word of someone with an epigram like that at the bottom of the page. (nor anyone who refers to inheritance taxes as the "death tax") if you check out their other principles at that website, you're looking at a deregulation cowboy. (I think slashdot is being played here...)

    fwiw, the DHS already does this. if you pay an inordinate amount to your credit card, the transaction c

  • BILL NUMBERS! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The simplest and best change all media can make is to include the bill number of the bills they are talking about. Then people can easily go to THOMAS [loc.gov] and see and interpret the bill for themselves.

    How about it Slashdot? Will you start including the bill number in any discussion about legislation?

  • Constitution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:01AM (#23873415) Homepage Journal

    Is toast anyway, so not surprised a bit.

    Time to go back to cash only.

  • Please.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VeNoM0619 (1058216) on Friday June 20, 2008 @10:49AM (#23874109)
    Please... as bad as this sounds, but could we PLEASE stop making laws? Every week I feel like there's 1 more thing I can't do, and 1 more thing that I don't want to do but have to.

    Could we please just stop making laws? I'm happy with my already limited lifestyle. I'm tired of having to keep up with the list of new obscure laws. We have no more need for lawmakers, everything that we needed for laws has been pretty well ironed out long ago, and any gray areas that have been solved through courts have been good enough.

    Why is it that I can list more bad laws than good laws?
  • by Reziac (43301) * on Friday June 20, 2008 @11:05AM (#23874319) Homepage Journal

    Note the last line from TFA:

    "Back-up withholding provisions apply to amounts paid after December 31, 2011. This proposal is estimated to raise $9.802 billion over ten years."

    They don't (yet) give a damn WHAT you purchase. The whole idea is to let the tax man get at all those small transactions that presently tend to go unreported as income.

    Of course, the unintended consequence of recording what you buy has its own issues, which fall under "general privacy". Nothing to hide? Do you really WANT everyone to know you bought S&M toys??

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