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Record Editorial: Cheers to another successful WE Fest; jeers to corprate tax evaders

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Record Editorial: Cheers to another successful WE Fest; jeers to corprate tax evaders
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Cheers to another successful WE Fest.

It was great to see a near-sellout, in spite of high gasoline prices and uncertain economic times that could have kept people at home.

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Attendance was up and arrests were down. The weather was mostly nice, and the big-name acts did not disappoint.

Festival organizers put the economic impact of WE Fest and 10,000 Lakes Fest at over $20 million per year, with an employee payroll approaching $2 million per year.

So it's encouraging that WE Fest President Jeff Krueger says advance ticket sales are on pace for another banner WE Fest in 2009.

***

Jeers to corporate tax evaders.

Two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a new report from Congress.

The study by the Government Accountability Office said about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO's estimate.

More than 38,000 foreign corporations had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax, the GAO said.

Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.

***

With Iraq awash in oil money and projecting a budget surplus as high as $50 billion, we say cheers to a plan by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan to shift the roughly $10 billion of unspent American taxpayer dollars designated for Iraq reconstruction, and use it instead to expand renewable energy programs in the United States.

Dorgan plans to introduce legislation he calls the Iraq Self-Sufficiency and American Energy Independence Act, which will require rescinding the unspent Iraq funds and using the money for a new, aggressive domestic energy programs that boost renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

"It makes no sense for American taxpayers to keep paying for reconstruction projects in Iraq when Iraq has a large budget surplus and is capable of paying for its own projects. Iraq doesn't need the money, but we do," said Dorgan. "Iraq is making big profits on its oil sales and we're still paying the bill for their reconstruction projects. That makes no sense to me."

A recent Government Accountability Office report estimated that Iraq will accumulate a budget surplus that could reach $50 billion for fiscal year 2008.

At the same time over $10 billion, or nearly 25 percent, of the $43.5 billion that Congress has appropriated for reconstruction in Iraq has not yet been spent. Dorgan says that $10 billion spending should be rescinded now.

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