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Jim Zarroli

Jim Zarroli is a business reporter for NPR News, based at NPR's New York bureau.

He covers economics and business news including fiscal policy, the Federal Reserve, the job market and taxes

Over the years, he's reported on recessions and booms, crashes and rallies, and a long string of tax dodgers, insider traders and Ponzi schemers. He's been heavily involved in the coverage of the European debt crisis and the bank bailouts in the United States.

Prior to moving into his current role, Zarroli served as a New York-based general assignment reporter for NPR News. While in this position he covered the United Nations during the first Gulf War. Zarroli added to NPR's coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the London transit bombings and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Before joining the NPR in 1996, Zarroli worked for the Pittsburgh Press and wrote for various print publications.

Zarroli graduated from Pennsylvania State University.

Gaming The Tax Code

Dec 9, 2017

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The House and Senate have approved bills that would overhaul the nation's tax code and spent this week trying to patch those bills together. The legislation promises to be enormously complicated. Some tax experts say it presents huge opportunities to game the tax system. NPR's Jim Zarroli reports.

Republicans in Congress are on the verge of fulfilling their longtime dream of eliminating the federal estate tax, and they could do it in a way that is even more generous to heirs than previous repeal efforts.

Bills passed by the Senate and the House recently would reduce or scrap the taxes heirs now pay on estates larger than $5.5 million. And the bills would do so without repealing the so-called "stepped-up basis" provision.

Republicans say the tax-cutting overhaul being debated in Congress will jump-start the U.S. economy, leading to a lot more investment and hiring by companies.

But some economists say the tax plans — which would sharply cut corporate and business taxes and eliminate numerous deductions for individuals — come at precisely the wrong time. Lower taxes could also be undercut by Federal Reserve policymakers, who are gradually raising interest rates, they say.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

President Trump has said over and over again that the tax overhaul now being debated by Congress would actually hurt him and other wealthy people, not help them.

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Republicans lawmakers are considering a federal budget "trigger" that would raise taxes if proposed tax cuts don't deliver the economic growth they have promised.

But the proposal is generating a lot of pushback from critics, especially conservatives.

The so-called trigger mechanism would be a legislative provision to rescind corporate tax cuts by as much as $350 billion if revenue targets are not met, Bloomberg News reports.

Marilyn Mollenedo spent years working at a series of administrative jobs. So when her husband landed a well-paying position in San Francisco, she figured it would finally enable them to put aside more money for retirement.

Instead, her husband's salary, coupled with a generous pension from an earlier government position, thrust them into a costly new tax category, where they had to pay the alternative minimum tax.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

President Trump's business interests are in the news today. Trump's company says it's cutting ties with the Trump SoHo. That's a condo hotel in New York that's struggled for years to find customers. NPR's Jim Zarroli has the story.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Good-government types may look askance, but Donald Trump now has a new place to cash in on his White House role.

The Trump Organization recently started a website, TrumpStore.com, to sell Trump-branded merchandise such as T-shirts, baseball caps and coin banks.

It's not to be confused with Trump's other website, DonaldJTrump.com. That site sells a lot of the same kind of merchandise, but its profits flow to Trump's presidential campaign.

Republicans in Congress say cutting corporate taxes would improve the balance sheet for U.S. businesses, giving them more money to spend on jobs and investment.

But how does anyone know that's what will happen?

It's the question at the heart of the debate taking place on Capitol Hill right now about whether to lower corporate taxes, and by how much.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

President Trump has called it "ridiculous," a "horrible law" that made it difficult for U.S. companies to compete overseas.

But the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars businesses from paying bribes to overseas officials, remains a key part of U.S. efforts to combat global corruption.

Now one study is showing the Trump administration's use of the law may be declining, even as administration officials say they're committed to enforcing it.

In December 2006, workers broke cold ground in lower Manhattan, preparing the way for a glass-clad, towering hotel, to be called Trump SoHo.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Updated at 5:22 p.m. ET

Wealthy donor Robert Mercer, whose money helped elect President Trump, is stepping down from the giant hedge fund he co-heads and is selling his stake in the conservative website Breitbart News to his daughters.

In a letter sent Thursday to his investors at Renaissance Technologies LLC, Mercer, 71, defended his brand of libertarian politics, but also expressed regret for his support of controversial former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

Shortly after World War II, a young Buffalo company — Speed Motor Express — began transporting commercial freight around western New York.

As it weathered the ups and downs of the local economy over the decades, the company slowly expanded its fleet of trucks.

Then in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, expanded trade among the United States, Canada and Mexico. Buffalo faces Canada along the Niagara River.

If only because of its venue, the office of New York district attorney has long been among the highest-profile prosecutorial jobs in the country. The men who have served in it, legal legends such as Thomas Dewey, Frank Hogan and Robert Morgenthau, have often held the job for years, gaining enormous stature and political capital along the way.

Until recently, it seemed the current DA, 63-year-old Cyrus Vance Jr., might enjoy the same long tenure.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What happened to the job market? After many, many months of growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded some backsliding in September. The economy lost 33,000 jobs. NPR's Jim Zarroli joins us now. Jim, what went wrong?

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

President Trump has surprised a lot of people with some comments on Puerto Rico's debt crisis. The U.S. territory owes some $73 billion to bondholders, money that it's been unable to pay. In an interview on Fox News last night, the president seemed to suggest that the bondholders aren't going to get their money back.

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When President Trump announced a ban on travel for citizens from several predominantly Muslim countries in January, a coalition of officials from various blue states quickly rallied to fight it.

"We just started talking to each other Friday afternoon," recalls New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "By Sunday morning, we had 17 states signed on to say, 'This is unconstitutional. We're going into court to stop it.' And we went into courts all over the country and eventually got it struck down."

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