On this day in legal history, September 19, 2002, President Bush wrote Congress and requested authority to invade Iraq.
On September 19, 2002, President George W. Bush submitted a resolution to Congress seeking authorization to use "all means he determines to be appropriate, including force" to disarm Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. This move came amidst escalating international tensions and Bush emphasized that if the UN Security Council failed to address the issue, the US and its allies would take action. The day saw intense activities with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presenting the administration's stance to Capitol Hill, where it received a generally supportive response, albeit with anticipated changes in the wording of the resolution.
Meanwhile, at the UN, Iraq's foreign minister read a defiant letter from Hussein, denying the possession of weapons of mass destruction and criticizing the US for creating a crisis. The proposed resolution, drafted by White House officials, was based on the principle of "anticipatory self-defense," allowing the US to preemptively attack a nation perceived as a threat. Despite the aggressive stance, some congressional leaders expressed reservations, preferring a resolution urging UN intervention and highlighting the risks of unilateral action. The day marked a major step towards the Iraq War, with discussions revolving around the potential repercussions and the extent of the president's authority in initiating military action.
We all know how it turned out, there were no weapons of mass destruction and nearly a half million Iraqi civilians and 5,000 American soldiers died in the war.
The Silicon Valley-based law firm Cooley has announced Rachel Proffitt as its upcoming CEO, marking the first time a woman will hold this position in the firm. Proffitt, who currently leads Cooley's San Francisco corporate practice and is a member of the board of directors, will assume her new role on January 1, 2024, succeeding Joe Conroy, the firm's leader since 2008. Conroy will retain his position as chairman. Proffitt joined Cooley in 2017 and has a notable 21-year career in corporate and securities law, working extensively with various companies and investment firms across different sectors.
Recently, she played a significant role in advising Maplebear Inc. on a substantial initial public offering. Despite facing challenges due to a downturn in the transactional sector, Conroy remains optimistic about the firm's growth prospects, anticipating a surge in demand and overall growth. The succession process, which began in 2022, involved extensive consultations with over 300 partners to ensure a smooth transition. As CEO, Proffitt aims to enhance the firm's culture and adapt to the changing needs of their dynamic client base, emphasizing innovation and strategic foresight for the future.
The IRS is expected to remain operational even if a government shutdown occurs later this month, utilizing funds from President Joe Biden's tax-and-climate law, according to Doreen Greenwald, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union. This union, representing around 65,000 IRS employees nationwide, is awaiting the final plan from the Treasury Department. The current strategy mirrors last year's contingency plan, which allocated nearly $80 billion to the IRS for various improvements, although a portion of this fund was withdrawn earlier this year due to an agreement between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
As the end of the month approaches, the potential for a government shutdown is increasing due to ongoing disputes among House Republicans regarding broader funding issues. A vote is anticipated this week on a House GOP proposal to extend government funding by another month, which includes a temporary 8% reduction in spending on domestic agencies and resuming border wall construction. If an agreement is not reached to fund the government through September's end, a shutdown will ensue, reminiscent of the 2018-2019 period when the IRS had to suspend many of its operations, aggravating existing backlog and customer service problems.
Banks and debt collectors have cautioned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against imposing specific regulations on medical credit cards, a financial tool often used by patients to settle healthcare bills. These entities argue that the CFPB lacks the jurisdiction to govern these products, emphasizing that they function similarly to other financing products in different sectors. They also warned that excessive regulation might deter individuals from undergoing necessary yet costly medical procedures.
Trade groups, including the Bank Policy Institute and Consumer Bankers Association, have noted that the term "medical payment product" is not distinctly defined in the market and that the CFPB possibly lacks the authority to regulate medical providers as indicated in their recent requests for information (RFI) and other communications. The market for these credit cards is primarily controlled by three companies: CareCredit, Wells Fargo & Co., and Comenity. Despite concerns over potential debt accumulation due to deferred interest features of these products, groups like the American Dental Association advocate for their role in facilitating necessary treatments for those without immediate funds. Meanwhile, consumer advocates and non-profit organizations urge the CFPB to enhance transparency and regulations surrounding these products to prevent uninformed financial decisions and potential debt pitfalls.
Citigroup Inc. has launched Citi Token Services, a new feature aimed at providing digital assets to its institutional clientele. This service, part of the firm's treasury and trade solutions division, converts customers' deposits into digital tokens that can be transferred globally in real-time. The tokens, which are processed on a blockchain managed by Citigroup, represent a claim against the bank, facilitating instant settlement. Clients can access this service through the bank's existing systems without needing a separate digital wallet.
This initiative is Citigroup's response to the challenges of cross-border money transfers, which are often delayed due to various banking systems and different working hours globally. The bank recently participated in a test of a Regulated Liability Network, proving the efficiency of digital dollars in enhancing wholesale payments without altering the legal status of the deposits. This development comes as JPMorgan Chase & Co. is also considering a blockchain-based digital deposit token to expedite cross-border transactions, pending regulatory approval.
Citigroup is focusing initially on the trade finance sector, particularly the shipping industry, which has been hindered by manual processes and paperwork. The introduction of smart contracts, which automatically process transactions when predetermined terms are met, could significantly speed up transactions, eliminating the need for physical paperwork. The bank has successfully trialed this service with a canal authority and A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, demonstrating the potential for instantaneous tokenized deposit transfers to suppliers.
In today’s column, I highlight the escalating housing costs in the US , with a significant increase of 47.5% in the average home sale price from Q4 2020 to Q4 2022. This surge has particularly impacted buyers in the mid-range and working-class sectors. I suggest that the current property tax assessments are inequitable, often favoring higher earners by undervaluing expensive properties and overvaluing less costly ones.
To address this, I propose the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies to facilitate annual and accurate property assessments by municipalities, thereby preventing the overvaluation of properties owned by individuals who are less financially equipped to bear the burden. AI can harness vast amounts of data to make annual adjustments to property assessments, eliminating biases and identifying correlations between property demographics for prioritized reassessment. Moreover, AI can analyze various data, including historical trends and satellite imagery, to estimate real-world market values more accurately.
In the column I emphasize the necessity for a comprehensive overhaul of the current system to foster accuracy and fairness in property valuations, thereby promoting a society where opportunities and burdens are equitably distributed. As is so often the case, the current status quo favors the wealthy–with more expensive properties typically undervalued and less expensive properties routinely overvalued. The integration of technology, coupled with appropriate policies, can potentially offer precise and unbiased property valuations, balancing individual privacy, administrative overhead, and tax equity.