Analysis: Five Controversial Policies Tucked Inside $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Passed by Congress

The final $1.2 trillion INVEST in America Act passed the Democrat-led House in a late night vote on Friday. Tucked away inside the infrastructure bill are some controversial policies, including these five:

1. The cryptocurrency tax provision in the Senate version of the bill was the subject of scrutiny from Democrats and Republicans. The language was not amended in the final bill that passed the House. The legislation includes an IRS reporting requirement for brokers of cryptocurrency transactions.

2. Under the “national motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot” section of the bill, there is a pilot program to create a vehicle miles traveled system for taxing drivers based on their annual vehicle mileage. During his confirmation process, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg floated the idea of taxing motorists based on the number of miles they travel each year as a way to partly fund the legislation. The Biden administration backed off of full-scale development of the controversial proposal, settling instead for a pilot program.

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Commentary: Real Estate Scams Are on the Rise as the Housing Market Remains Hot

When Jeff, a retired marketing consultant from Chicago, was closing on his home sale, he received a new set of instructions at the last minute on where to send several thousand dollars in closing expenses. At first blush, the email looked legit with an official-looking logo and professional language specifying the amount owed and itemized expenses. But one thing caught his eye: The email address looked strange. Just to be safe, he called his mortgage broker.

“Don’t do that!” his broker told him in an alarmed voice. It was a scam. If he hit “send,” his closing fees would go to a thief who had been monitoring his emails. “I was a keystroke away from losing thousands of dollars,” Jeff recalled.

As the housing market sizzles across the country – with nearly 6 million homes bought last year – scammers have been finding new ways to tap into this once-secure market. Real estate transactions still demand reams of paperwork and regulations involving lawyers, brokers, title insurance companies and banks, but the fact that much of this work now takes place online gives thieves countless opportunities to exploit vulnerable buyers. Last year, more than 11,000 homeowners were scammed out of more than $220 million in closing funds alone, according to the American Land and Title Association, a trade group that represents professionals who perform property transactions.

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China Outlaws All Cryptocurrency Transactions, Mining Activities

China’s central bank announced Friday that all cryptocurrency transactions and mining activities are illegal, banning financial institutions from providing digital asset services.

“Financial institutions and non-bank payment institutions cannot offer services to activities and operations related to virtual currencies,” the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement Friday, according to a translation by CNBC. These services include derivatives trading, order matching and token issuance.

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El Salvador Becomes First Country to Use Bitcoin as National Currency

El Salvador became the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender Tuesday, allowing Salvadorans to use the cryptocurrency to purchase goods and services.

President Nayib Bukele officially announced the adoption of Bitcoin as a national currency in a press release late Monday, tweeting that the country had bought its first 400 bitcoins.

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Hackers Steal over $600 Million in One of the Biggest Crypto-Heists Ever

Hackers stole over $600 million in digital assets Tuesday from users of cryptocurrency platform Poly Network in one of the largest digital token heists ever.

Poly Network, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform that allows users to trade digital currencies with one another, announced the hack Tuesday. Cybersecurity firm SlowMist, which investigated the hack, said the total value of assets stolen was $610 million.

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Founder of Papa John’s Headlines Cryptocurrency Event

John Schnatter, the founder of Papa John’s pizza, headlined a unique event for cryptocurrency supporters and investors on Thursday, ahead of the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami. 

Schnatter was selected as the featured speaker because the first physical purchase in history made with Bitcoin was the purchase of two Papa John’s pizzas in 2010 with 10,000 Bitcoins. 

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In An Effort to Stem Out-of-Control Hyperinflation, Venezuela Cuts ‘Five Zeros’

Nicolas Maduro

Reuters   Venezuela on Monday slashed five zeros from prices as part of a broad economic plan that President Nicolas Maduro says will tame hyperinflation but critics call another raft of failed socialist policies that will push the chaotic country deeper into crisis. Streets were quiet and shops were closed…

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