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The truth about Rangel's tax plan

Chuck Rangel has been getting a lot of ink lately while pimping his new tax reform proposal, and today he even has an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal.

There are aspects of the plan I dislike, of course, chiefly the increase in marginal personal income tax rates. But on reading the overall plan, one is struck by how little there is to complain about. You'll never hear that from Rush Limbaugh or Pete du Pont, of course, for whom Rangel's plan would signify the utter ruin of our economy.

But think about it. It contains a cut in corporate tax rates! That is significant. It means that even hardcore Democrats are capable of recognizing that our current rate structure, which is among the highest in the industrialized world, has made us less competitive in the global economy, and has cost us jobs. That's progress.

And the centerpiece of his plan is a repeal of the AMT. That's fairly uncontroversial, as the AMT is almost universally despised. But again, think what it means. It's the rolling back of a bit of 60's-era "soak the rich" liberalism -- by a Democrat. And it also recognizes that people in the $200,000 to $500,000 annual income range deserve tax cuts too. Can you imagine George McGovern proposing such a thing? Or Walter Mondale? And this bill wasn't drafted by some blue-dog, red-state DINO, but by Charles Rangel!

The center of gravity of the Democratic Party has shifted. Its base is no longer the working poor, but well-heeled professionals in the major metropolitan areas of the blue states. That's why today's Democrats have a newfound concern with the tax burden of the folks they disparaged as "the rich" in decades past. Their staunchest support comes from people in the higher marginal tax rates who have significant stock portfolios, and the new Democrats do not want to rock the boat because it might make Wall Street nervous. That's exactly why I find the Democrats of today much less scary than their predecessors (except for John Edwards.)


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The CUT in the Corporate tax rate is GREAT, but there probably shouldn't even be a Corporate tax, because it's not corporations who pay that, but individuals as consumers!

EVERY tax on business is merely an indirect tax on every consumer, BECAUSE every penny of every tax is a "cost of doing business" and EVERY "cost of doing business" is rightfully passed on to the consumers in the costs of the goods and services they buy.

And that's as it SHOULD be.

Who else should pay those taxes?

The CONSUMER is the only one who can pay them and they're the ones who SHOULD pay them.

So, yes, it's great that Rangel sees the reduction in the Corporate rate TO 30.5% FROM its current 35%, but raising the marginal income tax rate is targeting those workers who earn over $50,000/year up to about $120,000/year, because they're the ones unable to defer much of their income to avoid the pain of tax hikes, the way higher income workers can and do.

I believe the average wage in the U.S. for full-time workers is around $53,000/year, and even school teachers (hardly a high income profession) earn upwards of $100,000/year in the northeast and in much of California and other large urban areas.

Most U.S. families are now two-income families out of necessity and "average workers" in most places would be hit hard by Rangel's plan - two school teachers, for instance, in most northeast and West locales earn over $200K/year combined.

Getting rid of the AMT is another great idea practically, but why should the GOP cooperate with that now?!

Especially now that it's primarily impacting traditionally Blue regions like the northeast and California???

The GOP Congress passed a full repeal of the AMT back in 1999 and President Clinton vetoed it.

So for them why not ride that horse for all its worth?

It's not as if the Dems could really charge them with obstruction or anything like "supporting the AMT," after all the Republicans just came out with "The Taxpayer Choice Act" earlier this month (10/12) that eliminate all but a basic standard deduction ($12,500 for individuals) and would tax tax all income up to $100,000 at just 10% and all income above that at 25%.

Sadly, I don't see any relief from the AMT, largely because there's no reason for the Republicans in Congress to cooperate with the Dems on it, nor any reason for Bush to support it, and so long as they can claim "It's the Taxpayer Choice Act or nothing," the Democrats will be left holding the bag on the increasingly crippling AMT.

I'd love to see the AMT eliminated, but I can't blame Republicans and Conservative Dems if they don't cooperate, since a full repeal of that sinister tax was passed and vetoed by a Democratic President less than a decade ago.

Besides with folks like John Edwards talking about more "sacrifice" (in the form of higher taxes) there's no way the GOP's going to lose a tax debate.

It's a cynical, but effective strategy - let the people feel real confiscatory pain and then just blame it on the Democrats.

JMK, I agree that the ideal rate for the corporate tax should probably be zero. As you point out, it's passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices, and that makes it a hidden tax. I'm a firm believer that taxes shouldn't be "hidden." :-)

That's a big part of the problem, Barry. People hear "Corporate tax" and mistakenly think "those taxes come out of some imaginary pot of "corporate profits."

Of course, "profits" (monies earned above the cost of production and distribution) can be (and are) adjusted by adjusting prices to cover such "other" costs of doing business.

But what can you expect from people who not only support the inane idea of "tax/punish the rich," BUT actually think hiking the income tax is a way to do that! We are our own worst enemies.

The truly rich do not rely on income for wealth....and that's not only the Trumps, Bloombergs, Kennedy's and Heinz-Kerry's, God bless'em, but any of those wealthy enough to own and split time between two abodes in different countries.

You can pay NO/ZERO taxes, so long as you're out of the country for six months and a day. And the beauty part for wealthy people in the public eye, who may do that, is that you can still file a tax return on what you WOULD'VE paid!

But higher marginal rates don't even impact higher income earners as much as they do lower income earners. After all, higher incomes = more disposable income, so when tax rates rise, those people with higher incomes defer more of that income at very low rates down the line. Thosewith lower or more average incomes don't have much "disposable income" to defer, so higher taxes costs them directly in less money available to upkeep their current quality of life.

I'd really want to see the AMT repealed, but I think it's going to fall prey to politics.

There's almost no reason for the Republicans to cooperate with Dems over that, since they can claim they already voted to repeal it and it was vetoed by a Democrat....even though they haven't once, in the last six years, passed a repeal of that tax for Bush to sign.

But since Democrats have staked out the position that "higher taxes are good," at least that's what many Americans have come to believe and so there's very little downside for the GOP in letting the AMT swamp millions of working people in the very Blue northeast, California and other urban areas where salaries have crept up into that range for many "average workers."

I think it sucks, but I think we're going to have to suffer through with the AMT for awhile, if only because the Republicans desperately need such a ponderous tax burden as a wedge issue to run on.

Not that I'm blaming one Party or the other - the GOP's "Taxpayer Choice Act" would also repeal the AMT, so if the Democrats really wanted relief for those millions of Blue State working people, they could (and probably should) compromise with the GOP on that plan.

Unlike JMK, who has never actually owned a business but just talks out of his ass, I have owned two businesses.

I completely agree. There is no need for any corporate tax. It should be eliminated, along with the massive corporate welfare giveaway like the Repugs gave to (of all industries) BIG OIL!

I also believe that corporate profits should be dispersed anually, to keep them from accumulating ungodly levels of wealth like Microsoft, so that they can afford to move to Canada where they can hire unlimited foreigners instead of Americans.

Well, maybe they wouldn't have to disperse ALL of their profits, but there should be a cap. Greed is not good. Too much concentrated into the hands of a few is not good.

The government will still get their money. Corporatations will have to invest or pay salaries and bonuses -- all taxed.

Bush and his idiot brigade have been all about concentrating power into a few huge multinationals. To be fair, Clinton happily presided over the same thing, over and over, merger, merger, merger.

Perhaps this is naive of me to suggest this but...what the heck:

Why not revisit the original ATM guidelines and adjust the parameters for inflation?

You would achieve what lawmakers were purporting to accomplish when they created the tax.

To oppose this would, IMO, expose those in congress who are really enjoying the 'unexpected' windfall of $$$ that their amazing omission of adjusting the rates created.

The ATM was never supposed to be the cash cow it has become today.

>The ATM was never supposed to be the cash cow it has become today.

True enough. It was always more about redistribution than raising revenue. But isn't that all the more reason to shit-can it?

"Unlike JMK, who has never actually owned a business but just talks out of his ass, I have owned two businesses." (BH)

I started and ran a deck building business (five crews) for 14 years

But that brings up another, perhaps more interesting point, WHY do so many of us cling to the internet personas others offer us?

For instance, why do people here take it on faith, that I've been with the FDNY for 23 years? Because I speak knowledgably about the Fire Dept? Could I have merely researched that?

Over a decade ago, I set up a number of differing online characters, to see if when I wrote things as, say, Ellen Davidson (complete with a photo of a woman I'd never met) they'd react differently and in virtually EVERY case readers simply presumed the writer of those things I posted under Ellen Davidson were indeed written by a female. Many even came to commiserate with her over the trials and tribulations in her life.

There was no malice about any of that on my part, it was merely an interesting experiment and my trying to gauge how well I could write through differing characters.

Most of this was done in various online writing groups, but also, on a few occasions, in a few online news/politics forums, again without any malice, nor any deliberate attempt to mislead anyone else on my part. I just found it intersting that so many of us are programmed almost internally to automatically expect that online persona to be the actual person behind it.

That CAN have negative consequences. In fact, I suppose that's why those great online pedophile stings work so well!

Many of my characters held to differing political and other beliefs (not a problem for me, since I was trained from an early age to argue both sides of any argument and often do so with myself before presenting my own views). I have a journal from the notes I've taken on that experience, that "virtual life."

I do believe, that I am the only one here, for instance, who ever called you on NOT being who you claimed and that probably due, at least in part, to the dictum, "You can't kid (fool) a kidder."

I told you that you didn't seem to know enough about tech issues to make a believable claim about being a "former-techie."

Now, I'll have to call you on not knowing enough about business to make a believable "former-businessman" either.

ANY, even marginal businessman, KNOWS that profits are good and the MORE profits the better....for EVERYone!

Profits pay all the salaries and "other compensation" for everyone from the janitor to the CEO and bottomline EVERY business is responsible PRIMARILY to its OWNERS, that's because Capitalism is rooted in the Judeo-Christian morality based on private ownership of property and America was founded upon private property - "Life, Liberty and the puruit of Property."

In a privately owned (often family-run) business that is obvious, but for privately traded companies, the OWNERS are that business's shareholders.

The CONSUMER has already made his/her deal with that business in accepting the price to be paid for the goods/services produced.

The WORKER has also accepted his/her deal in accepting the prevailing wage in exchange for his/her labors.

The OWNERS have a deal with that company that is far deeper. The OWNER wants to make a good return on that investment and for that reason those profits not ploughed back into the business, are paid out in dividends to that company's owners/shareholders. That's true in ALL cases. We see that in the way that our Energy Companies have been ploughing much of their recently surging profits into developping new methods of extracting oil/energy. Canada has larger oil reserves (in the form of oil sands) than all of Saudi Arabia does...and we don't even know the amount of oil sands and shale oil that lies beneath the U.S.

But ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE "the owner(s) come first!

In fact, every employer is also just a CONSUMER in the labor market and just as every homeowner rightfully tries to get their landscaping and home maintainance done at the LOWEST cost possible (ultimately meaning lower pay for landscapers, etc), business owners also try to get the commodity they most rely upon human labor as cheaply as possible, so as to offer OTHER CONSUMERS a better deal - "good quality at an affordable price."

Are there ANY business owners who don't realize that workers are, in effect, tradesmen selling their labor in a crowded labor market?


Is it possible to run a business and not understand that baisc concept?


I know those sound like pronouncements on my part, but they're much more than that. I didn't couch those as "opinion" because they're basic truths, or "truisms."

One cannot successfully manage a business and not know those basic truths and operate on them.

Oh, and ANOTHER fallacy, "I also believe that corporate profits should be dispersed anually, to keep them from accumulating ungodly levels of wealth like Microsoft,...(BH) - MS's owners didn't amass their "ungoldy wealth" (although I don't think Gates', Balmer's or Allen's "level of wealth" is at all out of sync with what they delivered in value to society) via "corporate profits."

Their wealth was created almost entirely by the stock valuation of that company - 1000 shares of MS in 1987 could be had for under $10,000 and by 1996 it was worth over $8 million! That's the way the bulk of Gates', Balmer's and Allen's wealth was created...an explosion in the stock valuation of MS. Stock valuation can and usually does run independent from the corporate profits earned by that company.

So, (*) H-1B Visas exploding from 50,000 in 1993 to over 1 million by 2001, (*) what the RICO statutes do, (*) the difference between salary and "other compensation" like employer contributed 401-Ks, and company stock options, etc, and now (*) how real wealth is actually created, are just part of a very long list of things you don't understand.

It's completely alright not to understand any of those things, but what I don't get is why don't you ask, rather than make presumptions and statements that are untrue because they are rooted in complete ignorance of the facts about those things?

Mal, if they adjusted the AMT for inflation, the AMT would kick in at appx $1.2 Million/year of income.

The idea (back in the 1960s) was to "go after" millionaires whose deductions often allowed them to pay no income taxes.

Most of those deductions don't exist today, BUT YES, the AMT SHOULD'VE been indexed to inflation.

The problem is with our basic tax structure.

We tax income/productivity and NOT wealth!

Not that we should tax wealth. I mean how would we do that? With some kind of fixed assetts tax?

The truly "rich" don't rely on income for wealth and with over 20 million multi millionaires (not including home values) there are obviously a lot of people, perhaps 10% - 25% (perhaps more) of those who do not rely on income for wealth.

The truly "rich" can incorporate, establsih Trusts and Foundations, etc., to avoid taxes.

We tax worker's income and call taxing higher income workers "taxing the rich."

But not a single soul has ever argued that physicians or lawyers who earn seven figures don't warrant such compensation for their intricate and hard-to master services.

So, apparently, it's the "truly rich," and not merely higher income earners that most people have a problem with.

If that's the case, the income tax is a terribly inefficient vehicle. First, higher income earners generally have a lot more disposable income, so when tax rates rise, they're incentivized to defer that compensation at much lower tax rates down the line.

The truly "rich" are hardly touched by ANY rate hike in the income tax.

And those engaged in the burgeoning underground (off-the-books) economy are not touched at all.

The ONLY tax that would result in everyone paying close to their "fair share" would be some kind of Consumption-based tax, like the Fair Tax (http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer)

BUT, indexing the AMT to inflation would've solved the bulk of the problem.

JMK, I was merely playing devil's advocate.

I never said that I believed in the reasoning behind the establishment of the ATM. I don't.

My point was simply that if one wished to re-establish the ATM back to the rationale upon which it was created (tapping a few hundred of the wealthiest Americans), that this was the most logical mode to accomplish same.

If you choose to flame on about the inherent illogic behind the ATM, be my guest.

Actually I didn't disagree with you at all Mal, as I said, and this is the crux of everything I said (above) about the AMT, "Mal, if they adjusted the AMT for inflation, the AMT would kick in at appx $1.2 Million/year of income.

"...indexing the AMT to inflation would've solved the bulk of the problem."

Everything else above was about how poorly the current tax structure works....or doesn't work.

An uncle of mine used to say, "A conservative is someone who's difficult to AGREE with." I guess we're both bona fide Conservatives, at least by that definition.

JMK, can you ever post without making a fool of yourself? Does repeating your same lies make them true to you? I mean, I know that Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and the Repug Party in general love to use the time honored "keep repeating a lie and people will start believing it" strategy, but a message board seems a little small, don't you think?

I know that you don't like the fact that I am smarter than you (a techie) and that I make more money than you (highly skilled and educated) and that I am also more of an entrepreneur than you (owned two business that were't jokes like a "decking business") ... but facts remain facts.

I know that you love to distort my factual statement that under Bush we had 1,000,000 H1B visa holders taking American jobs, but it is true. I showed you the proof, but you just latched on to the fact that it started with Clinton. It reached a million under Bush. That is what I said. It is true, and remains true, and will be forever true, and you will be forever wrong.

Now, you humiliate yourself yet again, saying that salaries are paid out of profit. Wow, I wonder how startup businesses can pay employees with no profits? Ohhhh, now you see, don't you? Salaries are a tax deductible expense. So no, salaries are not paid out of profits at all. If they were, CEOs would not get 60 million dollar bonuses when their company loses a billion dollars (General Motors).

In fact, according to your dumb ass, NOBODY at GM got paid in 9 out of the last 10 years, because they didn't make a profit!

If you tried, could you be more of a retard?

Every large business and some small ones started out as start-ups, so your premise that "start-ups can't pay slaries is inane. GM, Ford, IBM, MS all started out as start-ups.

Again, anyone with any common sense KNOWS that start-up businesses pay their employees, same as any large, well-established business.

Of course, I never said you can't "lose money" and still thrive. GM has sold 800,000 to 1.2 million units annually over the past nine years. Not a bad track record, by any measure.

Sadly, GM's and Ford's tax payments were greatly reduced by their losing money due to all those employee pension and health benefits (said to be $5,000 per vehicle). Both those companies and the UAW were responsible for that disaster.

THANKFULLY, both companies were recently able to reconstrue those deals via various buyouts, etc., and both companies should be more competitive and profitable....thus able to pay more in taxes (perhaps allowing for tax cuts elsewhere).

Your premise is based on "no profits" or "business losses" being the same as "no sales income," and of course that's not so...but that's something you need to look up on your own.

Everything I posted to you is a fact.

Another fact that EVERY business owner knows (and has to know) is that every worker is in the business of selling his skills/labor in the labor market.

You claim you don't understand that....and yet you still want to claim that "H-1B Visas exploded under G W Bush." I'm saying that it appears you don't understand either issue.

H-1B Visas went from 50,000 in 1993 to over 1 million by 2001.

Only a national referendum could've sent those H-1B Visa workers packing and I'm confident that like myself, the vast majority of Americans (probably over 70%) would've voted to keep them here in 2001, 2002, 2003, etc.

There was simply no option for an Executive Order.

And what's even more ridiculous, you've railed against the Executive Branch overriding Congress many times here, so you're in no position to have supported such an Executive Order.

It's clear that both the H-1B Visas exploded from 50,000 to just over 1 million between 1993 - 2001 and that there was no option for any kind of Executive Order and, in fact, today, we still rely on those H-1B Visas especially for workers in the financial services sector.

My wife's an accountant at a Big Four firm awash in accountants from other countries. That hasn't reduced salaries at all, nor has it impacted existing workers in any negative way.

Just as RICO DOESN'T allow for "the confiscation of assetts prior to conviction," there is a genuine need for some H-1B Visa workers, in order to deal with the problem of structural unemployment (not enoughed skilled/trained American workers to fill all the jobs available in America).

I'm being as patient with you as I possibly can Barely, as it's patience that allows people such as I to tolerate people such as yourself.

You could have saved a lot of space and eye-bleeding for everyone if you had simply said:

"I was wrong"
"I'm a dumbass"

Three little words, that's all you had to say.

Caught you dead, and you had nothing.

You lose.

Barely I'm only trying to help you understand things better.

Folks like you and me can't redefine terms like "Liberal" and "Conservative"....we're simply "not allowed." That is to say, we don't have either the platform or the moral authority to do so.

Suffice to say, "American Conservatism" is and always has been a pro-Supply-Side, pro-Free Trade viewpoint. Reagan was a stalwart "American Conservative," and those who opposed his views and supported the Keynesian view were "Liberals."

Contemporaty American Liberalism is very close to European Socialism - BOTH believe in the regulated market-based economy, BUT they support higher taxes, more government spending, a larger, more pervasive welfare state, etc.

Their arguuments are that those (Keynesian) policies result in greater income equality and a smaller percentage of people living in poverty.

Indeed that's partly true. Keynesian policies do indeed result in greater equality of income (I've always acknowledged that), BUT Supply-Side policies result in more prosperity for more people, despite the fact that they also result in a greater disparity in income distribution.

As for your still not understanding "profits," or how GM & Ford both made "profits" even when they "lost money" overall, well, GM, for instance, brought in between $25 and $30 Billion in annual sales in the years they lost money.

It's not important that you understand the accounting principles that allow companies that actually make billions of dollars to in effect, "lose money" for reporting purposes, but it's all very legitimate and very necessary.

But I'm making things as simple as possible for you by having you look at all businesses the same, whether it's GM or a local candy store, or an average American homeowner's home - both GM & that local candy store, like every one of us homeowners, seeks to get the commodities we need (including labor) as cheaply as possible. All those employees (from the GM worker to the candy store clerk to the guy providing homeowners with lawn service) are paid from the profits of those entities (the money made above output or production costs).

That's why folks who neither know the skill-set requirements, nor supply/demand ratio for executives (folks like us) are really in no position to make a determination as to what is "excessive compensation" for a CEO.

Was Stanley O'Neill overcompensated with his estimated $160 million goodby package?

Well, neither you nor I are in any position to say, but I'd offer that common sense would dictate that astute business people like those on the board at Merrill aren't in the habit of making "bad deals."

Likewise, it may sound like $30 million/year is a lot of money (too much?) for a baseball player, but is A-Rod overcompensated, should he get that amount, or more?

I'd presume no, since there are so many organizations willing to pay him that.

It's sort of the same principle.

I understand. You were wrong.

Enough said.

Actually, what you apparently mean is that YOU don't understand any of this.

Salary is clearly not the same as compenstion. So much so, in fact, that they are NEVER, never ever, used synonymously as you sloppily tried to do, after you were shwon to be in error.

ALL American employees get "other compensation." That "other compensation" is NEVER regarded as "salary" or even "income," nor is it even taxed as same.

Your schoolteacher's health and pension benefits add $15,000 to $20,000 per year to the average cop, school-teacher, firefighter, etc's "total compensation," but that is never added to one's "salary," when asked "How much do you make?"

In fact, such folks, along with GM & Ford workers (who have similar benefits packages) don't even pay any taxes on that compensation, despite the FACT that it IS a part of each person's "total earnings."

As to CEO worth, neither you nor I can judge their worth, as we don't know what the requirements or parameters of such a job are.

That's why, for instance, Bob Nardelli (the former Home Depot CEO) who according to some, "ran that company into the ground and walked away with over $200 Million," is now the CEO of Chrysler!

Does anyone think that Chrysler's board is in the business of makin g poor decisions?

Of course not!

Apparently, they most know a number of things that we don't.

Yeah, you were wrong, but keep going, it's amusing.

Chrysler is just about out of business -- great example!

What they know is that you take turns giving your buddies the huge golden parachute, and wait for your turn.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler have laid off and moved 200,000+ jobs to unemploy Americans while they have exceeded Japanese executive pay by tens of billions in the same time period.

And they lost.

Chrysler is doing very well right now, as they've restructured their UAW contracts and worked out pension buy-outs for many retirees.

You know, there;s this great newspaper called the Wall Street Journal. I have a subscription, but even if you just pick it up occassionally, you'd find out about things like that.

Here's PROOF that Chrysler is doing GRATE! Just like I said!

From my favorite source, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!

May 14, 2007

How Daimler-Chrysler Stacks Up Against ‘Deals From Hell’

6) Daimler-Benz AG buy of Chrysler Corp., May 1998: A $36 billion so-called merger of equals. In May 2007, DaimlerChrysler sells an 80% stake in Chrysler to private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP in a deal that will cost Daimler $650 million.

See Barely? See how stupid you are? Chrysler is only the SIXTH worse deal of all time!

Here, stupid Barely, here's more from THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!

Chrysler to offer rebates to cut dealer stocks

Fri Nov 9, 2007

Chrysler LLC plans to offer a new round of rebates in December in preparation for what is expected to be a tough sales year in 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday citing people familiar with the matter.

According to the Journal's online edition, the campaign will kick off with Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler television ads Nov. 20, and will emphasize the lifetime warranty the company began offering on engines and transmissions earlier this year.

The heaviest discounts are likely to come on four slow-selling models that are being discontinued -- the Chrysler Pacifica, PT Cruiser convertible and Crossfire, and the Dodge Magnum -- the newspaper reported.

The company previously said it would cut up to 10,000 hourly jobs over the next 14 months as it cuts production in North America and eliminates the four slow-selling vehicles.

Representatives from Chrysler could not immediately be reached for comment.

Barely, that article was about Cerberus Capital Management taking Chrysler FROM Daimler in a deal that will cost Daimler-Benz over $600 million over its life.

Cerberus Capital Management is a private investment firm.

Cerberus made out very well, paying just $7.5 Billion for Chrysler, which Daimler paid $36 Billion for in 1998. That transfer amounted to a $30Billion loss on the investment in less than ten years.

Trusted industry analysts say, "Chrysler will inevitably have to go through some sort of downsizing process but one thing is for sure, the company will come back leaner and meaner and ready to take on their key rivals Ford and GM."

I believe those analysts are right.

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