The Climate Bill Isn’t Perfect, but It’s Still a Major Victory

An op-ed by Jody Freeman: In an ideal world, the climate provisions now making their way through Congress as part of the Inflation Reduction Act would directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and discourage the use of fossil fuels. But with Congress so closely divided, that’s not the world we live in. So even though there may be better ways to slow the warming of the planet than the legislation that just squeaked through the Senate, the $369 billion in tax credits, spending and other incentives to stimulate a clean energy economy is a crucial step. The main goal of the legislation is to gradually displace fossil fuels in transportation, electricity, and the industrial and building sectors. And it has an ancillary benefit: It will strengthen the basis for regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.

Musk Piles Up Cash For Possible Twitter Win On $44B Deal

Elon Musk is piling up cash and appears to be paring down objections to closing a $44 billion take-private deal with Twitter, in moves now seen by some as wavering on his effort to terminate the deal. The tech billionaire sold about $6.9 billion in Tesla shares in a series of cash-outs that began Friday and said in a tweet Tuesday night that the moves were aimed at avoiding “an emergency sale of Tesla stock” in the “(hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close *and* some equity partners don’t come through.” … Guhan Subramanian, a professor of law and business at Harvard Law School and a professor of business law at Harvard Business School, shared a presentation on Wednesday in which he observed, “there are no good outcomes” in the busted deal dispute. “Either Musk walks away (unlikely) and Twitter goes into free fall, or Musk is forced to close, and the global town square is owned by an impulsive dictator with an ‘anything goes’ approach to free speech.”

Taxing Stock Buybacks Is Politically Very Risky

Share repurchases seem to be a favorite Washington scapegoat for inequality. Last December, the SEC proposed a new disclosure rule around them. The recently passed and signed CHIPS and Science Act included limits on share repurchases for firms receiving public subsidies and incentives. Now, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a one percent excise tax on share repurchases. One percent may sound small–and may seem like it’s targeting the wealthiest Americans—but it could have significant consequences for anyone with a 401(k) or pension fund or expanding a small business. Which is to say, millions of Americans. So, what are share repurchases, and why are they consistently under attack? … Studies evaluating the economic effects of repurchases have shown that they impact a much larger group of beneficiaries than simply employees, shareholders, or as a revenue source. When companies redeploy capital, it can increase savings, investment, and purchasing power. As Harvard professors Jesse Fried and Charles Wang have found, capital from repurchases has historically been used to reinvest “in smaller public companies and private firms supporting innovation and job growth throughout the economy.” Further, in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, they indicated that including the proposed one percent excise tax will “increase corporate bloat, lead to higher CEO pay, harm employees, and reduce innovation in the economy.”

Boston Public Radio full show: Aug. 9, 2022

Today on Boston Public Radio: Judge Nancy Gertner shared her take on the FBI raiding former President Donald Trump’s home, explaining the legal conditions under which a raid like this could take place, and what kind of consequences could come from it. Gertner is a retired federal judge and a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School.

The Virtues of Stock Buybacks

An op-ed co-written by Jesse Fried: A 1% tax on stock buybacks is poised to become law as part of the Inflation Reduction Act just passed by the Senate. This is a victory for critics of buybacks, including many Senate Democrats, who have long argued that share repurchases are excessive. But those critics are dead wrong. If anything, American corporations should be repurchasing more stock. Taxing buybacks will increase corporate bloat, lead to higher CEO pay, harm employees and reduce innovation in the economy.

The obscure law that could mean big trouble for Trump

Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe gives MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell his legal assessment of the Trump search warrant authorized by his former student, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the underreported law that could mean legal trouble for Trump. Tribe says Attorney General Garland is “restoring faith” in the rule of law.

Three Major Takeaways From the FBI Search on Trump’s Home

An op-ed by Noah Feldman: Based on what we know, there are three major legal takeaways from the FBI’s search of Donald Trump’s Florida home on Monday. First, this is a big deal, historically and constitutionally speaking. As far as I can tell, a criminal search warrant has never been executed against a former president. Second, from the perspective of criminal investigation, the surprise raid was a highly unusual, aggressive step. In almost all criminal investigations of nonviolent conduct, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice would have requested cooperation from the defendant’s lawyers, not surprised the defendant and broken into his safe. And third, despite the drama, executing the search warrant is far from a guarantee that any criminal action will be taken. In fact, there is some reason to think that the public raid will take some of the heat off Attorney General Merrick Garland, whom President Joe Biden has been urging to act against Trump — without forcing him into a prosecution decision he has strong reason to avoid.

GOP reacts to Trump search with threats and comparisons to ‘Gestapo’

Republican condemnations of an FBI search at former president Donald Trump’s residence widened and intensified Tuesday as lawmakers and candidates likened the investigation to “Third World” political persecution and even Nazi rule — underscoring Trump’s grip on the party and raising concerns about stoking the kind of anti-government fervor that preceded the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Lawmakers throughout the party continued to cast the search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, without evidence, as the act of a tyrannical regime, using terms such as “dictatorship” and “banana republic.” … Susan Benesch, faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, said when it comes to “dangerous speech … what matters most is how the language was understood by the people most likely to react. And on January 6, we learned that there were all too many people in this country ready to react with violence, because they saw it as necessary.”

Can Trump be disqualified from running for president?

When a squadron of FBI agents, armed with a search warrant, invaded former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home Monday, many wondered whether this wasn’t handwriting on the wall for an eventual indictment. Republicans in virtually lock-step formation called the search and seizure federal government overreach — and denounced the action as the politicization of the Justice Department. At this time there is no official record of what motivated the search, what laws were apparently violated or precisely what the agents found as they rummaged through Trump’s safe or his personal papers. …  Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe has written that “holding Trump accountable – and disqualifying him from future office – would not be a partisan act, but one needed to preserve the republic.” He was perhaps too quick in crowing that “conviction of this crime disqualifies the defendant from holding any future federal office. That’s no small matter.”