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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics
is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato
Saturday, June 01, 2013
EPA Keeps Everyone in the Dark
Want to see what EPA stonewalling looks like? Below's article by Sheryll Poe shows that for years the agency has shown little regard for government openness. The latest example is EPA dodging requests from state Attorneys General for information on “sue and settle” practices that impose new federal regulations with little public input. She also addresses a new database on “sue and settle” cases created by the U.S. Chamber.
by Sheryll Poe, Free Enterprise: From recent news reports, it’s becoming clear that the EPA will do just about anything to avoid any sense of transparency.
The latest example of EPA foot-dragging and creative dodging comes at the expense of attorneys general in 12 energy-producing states. The AG’s have raised questions over the EPA’s use of “sue and settle” lawsuits as a short-cut to put in place expensive and burdensome regulations favored by activists and environmental groups.
For those who don’t know, sue and settle works like this: Environmental and consumer advocacy groups file a lawsuit claiming that the federal government has failed to meet a deadline or has not satisfied some regulatory requirement. The agency can then either choose to defend itself against the lawsuit or settle it. Often times, it settles by putting in place a “court-ordered” regulation or deadline to regulate, as desired by the advocacy group. Consequently, the proper rulemaking channels and basic transparency and accountability standards are circumvented. The results are economically damaging rules.
Not surprisingly, the state attorneys general want some answers. However, they aren’t getting any from the EPA. As the Daily Caller reports:In February, twelve states — Oklahoma, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Wyoming — requested records pertaining to settlements the EPA entered into with environmental groups over state Regional Haze implementation plans.
The agency denied their request, arguing that the states did not express specific intent to disseminate the information to the public. However, the states did mention in their FOIA request that the information would be disseminated to the public. The states appealed, and the EPA has twice asked for more time to review the appeal.The Chamber recently compiled a database of sue and settle cases and their subsequent rulemaking outcomes. The results were eye-opening. The Chamber investigation shows that from 2009 to 2012, the EPA chose at some point not to defend itself in lawsuits brought by special interest advocacy groups at least 60 times.
These cases include EPA settlements under the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, along with key Fish and Wildlife Service settlements under the Endangered Species Act. Significantly, settlement of these cases directly resulted in more than a hundred new federal rules, many of which cost more than $100 million annually.
The Chamber database also shows that several environmental advocacy groups have made the sue and settle process a significant part of their legal strategy. The Sierra Club has filed and settled 34 cases. By filing and then quickly settling lawsuits covering significant EPA rulemakings and regulatory initiatives, these groups have been able to circumvent the normal rulemaking process and effect immediate regulatory action with the consent of the agencies themselves.
Another popular diversionary tactic employed by the EPA relates to fee waivers for Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. An investigation by the Competitive Enterprise Institutefound that the EPA often refuses to waive FOIA fees for conservative groups, while almost always waiving them for environmental groups.In a review of letters granting or denying fee waivers granted at the “initial determination” stage from January 2012 to this Spring, [CEI Senior Fellow Christopher] Horner found green groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and EarthJustice, had their fees waived in 75 out of 82 cases. Meanwhile, EPA effectively or expressly denied Horner’s request for fee waivers in 14 of 15 FOIA requests over this same time… “This demonstrates a clear pattern of favoritism for allied groups and a concerted campaign to make life more difficult for those deemed unfriendly,” Horner said.As the Washington Business Journal notes, “the waivers are significant since FOIA fees can run into the thousands of dollars – enough money to discourage groups from going forward with their requests for emails and other government documents.” In addition, it’s common practice to waive FOIA fees for media and public-interest groups. Instead, this is a clear case of EPA picking its’ friends and punishing its’ critics.
Luckily, Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Darrell Issa and Sens. David Vitter, Chuck Grassley and Jim Inhofe, are getting involved. They recently announced that they will be investigating CEI’s findings, and have asked the EPA to hand over all Freedom of Information Act fee waiver requests, responses to requests, and FOIA officer training materials since the beginning of the Obama administration.
The EPA could just follow the lead of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). They just take out their big black Sharpies and redact every single line of a FOIA-requested document. That’s what happened to the Chamber when it made a FOIA request to CEQ relating to agency records on climate change. As we wrote in 2010, the Chamber was told that CEQ had identified 87 documents totaling 759 pages that were responsive to our request. However, they could not release most of the documents because they "originated" with another agency but what they could release looked like this (see image above).
Maybe the EPA folks should stock up on Sharpies. Tags:EPA stonewalling , dodging, information requests, avoiding transparency, “sue and settle” lawsuits, EPA settlements, Clean Air Act, Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Act, The Sierra Club, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
‘Common Core’ Nationalizes and Dumbs Down Public School Curriculum
by Ron Paul: In addition to shredding civil liberties, launching a utopian global war for democracy, and going on a spending spree that would make LBJ blush, the so-called “conservative” Bush administration dramatically increased federal control over education via the “No Child Left Behind” act. During my time in Congress I heard nothing but complaints about this law from teachers, administrators, and, most importantly, students and parents. Most of the complaints concerned No Child Left Behind’s testing requirements, which encouraged educators to “teach to the test.”
Sadly, but not surprisingly, instead of improving education by repealing No Child Left Behind’s testing and other mandates, the Obama administration is increasing national control over schools via the “Common Core" initiative. Common Core is a new curriculum developed by a panel of so-called education experts. The administration is trying to turn Common Core into a national curriculum by offering states increased federal education funding if they impose Common Core’s curriculum on their public schools. This is yet another example of the government using money stolen from the people to bribe states into obeying federal dictates.
Critics of Common Core say it “dumbs down” education by replacing traditional English literature with “informational texts”. So students will read such inspiring materials as studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the EPA’s “Recommended Levels of Insulation,” and “Invasive Plant Inventory” by California’s Invasive Plant Council. It is doubtful that reading federal reports will teach students the habits of critical thinking and skepticism of government that the Founders considered essential to maintaining a free republic.
Like Obamacare, Common Core (now dubbed “ObamaCore” by some) has sparked a backlash in the states, leading some to propose legislation forbidding state participation in the scheme. I hope these efforts lead to states not just opting out of Common Core, but out of No Child Left Behind and all other federal education programs as well.
Parents can also effectively “opt out” of programs like Common Core by seeking alternatives to government education. It is no coincidence that, as federal control over education increases, the quality of public education has declined and more parents have chosen to homeschool.
To support these parents, I have established my own homeschool curriculum. Unlike Common Core, we do not dumb down any of our offerings. Instead, the goal is to provide students with a rigorous education in history, math, English, foreign languages, and other core subjects necessary to a well-rounded education. Unlike the top-down model of nationalized education, the homeschool curriculum is deigned to encourage maximum input from parents and students. While the curriculum will reflect my belief, and interest, in Austrian economics, libertarian political theory, and the history of the struggle against state power, the curriculum is being carefully designed to not show bias toward any one religion. I hope all parents of any faith—or no religious belief at all—will feel comfortable using the curriculum.
I believe it is important for those of us concerned with education and liberty to fight our battles locally. We must oppose further encroachment on the autonomy of local public schools and work to roll-back existing interference, while encouraging and supporting the growth of homeschooling and other alternative education movements. The key to restoring quality education is to replace the bureaucratic control of education with a free-market in education. Parents should have the freedom to select the type of education that best suits their child’s unique needs.
-------------- Dr. Ron Paul is a former U.S.Congressman who represented Texas for 21 years. He twice sought the Republican Party presidential nomination and ran once for President under the Libertarian Party. He is medical doctor who served as a flight surgeon in the Air Force and has delivered over 4000 babies. Paul is an active writer on political and economic theory. He is known for his criticism of American foreign, domestic, and monetary policies, the military–industrial complex, the War on Drugs, and the Federal Reserve. He is also known for his love of country, government complying with the U.S. Constitution, and the protection of citizen's rights under that Constitution. Tags:Ron Paul, Common Core, Dumb Down, Public School, CurriculumTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Boehner: Students Deserve Better than President Obama’s Politics
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement after the president’s campaign style event on student loans: “Last week, the House passed legislation that would prevent student loan rates from doubling and permanently take politics out of the issue. The bill already passed by the House provides a market-based variable interest rate, mirroring what the president proposed in his own budget. The differences between the House plan and the president’s are small, and there’s no reason they cannot be overcome quickly. But today, rather than working to resolve the issue, the president resorted to a campaign stunt to try to score political points. If the president is truly unhappy with inaction, the only place to look is the Democratic-run Senate, which has taken no action to prevent rates from doubling.
“With time so short and the differences between our proposals so slight, today’s event was misguided and deeply disappointing. A president who promised young people he would reject petty partisanship, today practiced it himself. If he really wants to shield students from higher rates, he should work with his former colleagues in the Senate to act. That’s what our students deserve.”NOTE: On May 23, 2013, the House of Representatives passed the Smarter Solutions for Students Act, providing a market-based variable interest rate for federal student loans, similar to what the president proposed in his recent budget. Learn more about it. Tags:Speaker Boehner, President Obama, College students, student loan rates, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
McClatchy: "IRS May Have Targeted Conservatives More Broadly"
Almost every day brings revelations in the IRS scandals.
Reuters reports today that the IRS staff reported to be involved are still in their jobs. “They've been scorned in televised congressional hearings for unfairly abusing tax laws, threatened with questioning in a criminal investigation and accused of using federal jobs to push a political agenda. At this point in the saga surrounding the Internal Revenue Service and its use of ‘Tea Party’ and other search terms to flag conservative groups while reviewing their applications for tax-exempt status, all of the employees caught up in the scandal are still drawing federal paychecks. The official who has become the scandal's public face is on paid administrative leave. The former acting director, who was relieved of his job by President Barack Obama on May 15, departs on Friday. The names of low-level officials who carried out the practice have been closely guarded by IRS higher-ups and agency's inspector general. No criminal charges have been filed.”
Meanwhile, there are reports that this singling out of conservative groups for scrutiny may have gone even beyond what we already know. According to McClatchy, “A group of anti-abortion activists in Iowa had to promise the Internal Revenue Service it wouldn’t picket in front of Planned Parenthood. Catherine Engelbrecht’s family and business in Texas were audited by the government after her voting-rights group sought tax-exempt status from the IRS. Retired military veteran Mark Drabik of Nebraska became active in and donated to conservative causes, then found the IRS challenging his church donations. While the developing scandal over the targeting of conservatives by the tax agency has largely focused to date on its scrutiny of groups with words such as ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’ in their names, these examples suggest the government was looking at a broader array of conservative groups and perhaps individuals. Their collective experiences at a minimum could spread skepticism about the fairness of a powerful agency that should be above reproach and at worst could point to a secret political vendetta within the government against conservatives. The emerging stories from real people raise questions about whether the IRS scrutiny extended beyond applicants for tax-exempt status and whether individuals who donated to these tax-exempt organizations or to conservative causes also were targeted.” Tags:IRS, targeting conservativesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Revelations that the IRS unfairly targeted conservative organizations reveal a disturbing lack of accountability and oversight inside the agency. This takes on even greater significance given the expanded power the IRS was granted to implement and oversee key parts of Obamacare.
In a recent report, Heritage’s Christopher Jacobs points out that: Obamacare contains what the Treasury’s inspector general called “the largest set of tax law changes in 20 years.” Obamacare is so complex that auditors cannot agree on how many provisions the IRS is charged with implementing. The GAO wrote that the IRS “has responsibilities in the implementation of 47” provisions, while the Treasury inspector general concluded that “at least 42 provisions of Obamacare add to or amend the Internal Revenue Code.” Regardless, the law’s massive changes led the IRS’s National Taxpayer Advocate to worry in 2010—well before the current scandal became public—that she was “concerned about [the IRS’s] ability to administer the new health care credits and penalty taxes in a fair and compassionate way.”This concern is justified. The IRS has a lot of explaining to do. The scandal raises serious questions about the IRS’ ability to handle its additional powers under Obamacare. The tax code is already too complicated to fairly administer, and Obamacare will make these problems worse.
Do you think the IRS’ powers should be limited, or do you think they should be expanded as Obamacare requires? Tags:scandal-plagued, IRS, Obamacare, Heritage FoundationTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
by Duggan Flanakin and Craig Rucker: Four-plus years into the Obama Administration, the President continues to hide behind administrative agencies and “studies” regarding his true intentions on the Keystone XL Pipeline. This vital link between Canadian oil and U.S. refineries would bring jobs and prosperity to hundreds of thousands of people in both countries – and greatly reduce our reliance on imports from unstable, unreliable, unfriendly nations.
The State Department recently issued a report which urged approval for Keystone XL and found that the pipeline would cause no meaningful harm to the environment. Yet the endless delays continue. The latest was a tedious claim by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that extensive environmental impact studies to date are still insufficient.
Many in Congress are fed up with obstructive delays and are now considering “The Northern Route Approval Act,” which would expedite approval of the final phase of pipeline construction, by declaring that no Presidential Permit is required for TransCanada’s application (filed on May 4, 2012) to construct the portion from the Canadian border to Steele City, Nebraska.
The final environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State, along with other completed studies, should be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should also cease obstructing the pipeline. The Service has long ignored the slaughter of thousands of bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, whooping cranes and other bird and bat species by wind turbines. It has even proposed to give turbine operators 30-year “incidental take” permits for such species.
To many, it seems incongruous, even outrageous, that boring beetles, an insect slightly impacted by a pipeline would receive greater protection than vital bird and bat species that are routinely maimed and killed by wind turbines. Those latter wildlife impacts are even less defensible considering that $26 billion in Energy Department subsidies and loan guarantees for renewable energy projects since 2009 have created only 2,298 permanent jobs, at a cost of $11.45 million per job, according to the Institute for Energy Research.)
Roadblocks are everywhere. Had this bureaucratic morass existed in the 1960s, the United States would have never been able to put a man on the moon. Similar bureaucratic actions and seemingly endless environmentalist lawsuits against the Trans-Alaska Pipeline finally convinced Congress to pass legislation putting an end to those delays.
If he truly cares about American jobs, it is time for President Obama to expedite approval of Keystone. Any further delay would send a clear signal to the nation, and to Canada, that he will never approve the project and has no real interest in creating jobs and getting our economy back on track. The charade would be over. The President who promised to bankrupt coal companies would go on record as trying to bankrupt oil companies and keep Americans in unemployment lines.
In recent weeks, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, legislators and various former U.S. officials have pressed harder for Presidential action and an end to construction obstruction. On May 15 Mr. Harper said Keystone is so important to Canada’s and America’s future that “this absolutely has to go ahead,” especially since approval would create 40,000 jobs in the United States alone.
MIT energy economics professor Christopher Knittel told the House Small Business Subcommittee that “tar sands are certainly more energy intensive than average oil refined in the U.S. – requiring more energy at the extraction phase.” But the question is, “What oil will replace the tar sands,” if the U.S. rejects Keystone? Knittel noted that Venezuelan oil is “dirtier than tar sand” oil. So are other imported crudes.
Brigham McCown, former head of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, told the House Subcommittees on Energy and the Environment that, “based on the available information and plans for construction, the completed Keystone system would be the safest pipeline ever built in this country.” Moreover, he said, “pipelines represent the best option when it comes to moving large volumes of energy” – far better and safer than truck or rail alternatives that we would be forced to use is Keystone is rejected.
“This project has been studied more than any other project of its kind,” House Transportation Chair Bill Shuster (R-PA) points out. “Pipeline opponents do not mind endless reviews, but they will only be truly happy if and when the final death knell is sounded for this jobs and prosperity creating project.” Meanwhile, the President continues to dissemble – promising “not to rush” his decision, which really means he would love to wait until after the 2014 elections to announce his final decision.
Meanwhile, EPA and the State Department continue doing nothing, the President claims he can do nothing until the two agencies stop doing nothing, and Americans wait for jobs and economic recovery.
------------ Craig Rucker is the executive director and co-founder of CFACT. Duggan Flanakin is director of research and international programs for CFACT. Tags:Keystone XL Pipeline, EPA, State Department, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Louisiana's U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu - - April 2013 Porker of the Month
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has named Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) its May 2013 Porker of the Month for her sour comments on sugar reform in the Senate version of the 2013 farm bill. The United States sugar program, a misguided relic of the 1930s that CAGW has opposed for many years, arbitrarily protects a select few large and prosperous sugar producers at the expense of U.S. consumers and manufacturers of sugar-containing products and their workers.
In the days leading up to the final farm bill vote in the Senate, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) proposed amendment #925 in an effort to reform import quotas and domestic production limits on sugar that have caused American consumers to pay an average of more than twice the world price for the product since 1982. On May 22, Sen. Landrieu made her opposition to commonsense reform clear, stating that she would focus on “protecting and supporting the sugar program that functions effectively to balance the amount of sugar coming into our country at no subsidy to the taxpayer,” adding, “yes, the price of a candy bar might be a penny or two higher, but who needs cheaper candy bars? No one.”
Sen. Landrieu’s rhetorical confection ignores the sugar program’s enormous costs to consumers and belies the cost to taxpayers. In 2012, American consumers would have saved $2.9 billion if they had been allowed to purchase sugar at the world price. Further, the sugar program disadvantages American businesses that rely on sugar as an input, giving competitors in Canada and abroad the upper hand in the market for candy, bread, fruit juice, baked beans, applesauce, and any other sugar-using product. Indeed, between 1997 and 2011, the sugar-using industry lost 127,000 jobs in the United States. In Canada, where sugar can be bought at the world price, the value of sugar and confectionary product manufacturing exports to the U.S. grew from $621 million in 1997 to $1.56 billion in 2011, an increase of 157 percent. Finally, the Federal Feedstock Program, created in the 2008 farm bill, requires the government to buy surplus sugar to be resold to ethanol producers at a loss and is projected to cost taxpayers $193 million over the next ten years. Clearly, American competitors in sugar-using product industries “need” cheaper candy bars. Unfortunately, Sen. Landrieu’s efforts appear to have paid off. Yesterday, Amendment #925 was rejected by a vote of 44-54, with Sen. Landrieu joining status-quo corporate welfare crowd.
“Sen. Landrieu’s antagonism toward sugar reform is plainly misguided,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “The sugar program is the epitome of government picking winners and pre-determining market outcomes. Consumers unnecessarily spend billions each year on a program that kills jobs, guarantees an inadequate supply, and subsidizes wealthy corporations. Worse, high sugar prices translate to costlier groceries that disproportionately hurt the poorest Americans. Sen. Landrieu would do well to remember that each of her constituents is a consumer and taxpayer. Her outspoken preference for corporate welfare over the welfare of ordinary citizens is tasteless at best.”
For her blatant self-serving spinning of the facts of an obsolete sugar program, Sen. Mary Landrieu is CAGW’s May 2013 Porker of the Month. We were going to name her the Sugar-Glazed Ham of the Month, but it was too expensive. Tags:Citizens Against Government Waste. CAGW, Missouri, U.S. Senator, Mary Landrieu, spinning the facts, obsolete sugar program, May 2013, Porker of the MonthTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Brewer Holds Up Religious Freedom Bill Until Medicaid Expansion Is Adopted
Fairfax, VA — Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement condemning Arizona Governor Jan Brewer for vetoing legislation protecting religious freedoms in lieu of the Arizona House voting to expand Medicaid under the new health care law:"Governor Brewer's complicity in implementing Obamacare will not be forgotten. She is holding back legislation that passed overwhelmingly protecting religious freedoms to get her way on expanding Medicaid. To hold First Amendment rights hostage unless Obamacare is implemented is a betrayal to Arizonans who have consistently voted against politicians that support the health care law going into effect. Religious liberty is not a bargaining chip; it is the very foundation of the First Amendment.
"If Republicans offer these types of 'alternatives' to voters — where both parties favor expanding government dependency — why should their base support them? Sadly, the Arizona Senate has failed in its duties to stop Obamacare, leaving it up to the Arizona House not to give in to this blackmail."Americans for Limited Government is a non-partisan, nationwide network committed to advancing free market reforms, private property rights and core American liberties. Tags:Imericans for Limited Government, Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer, veto, Religious Freedom Bill, Medical expansion billTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
AP: Like Your Health Care Policy? You May Be Losing It | IRS Are the Obamacare Enforcers
Another week brings yet another mainstream media outlet reporting on the flaws in the "not so" Government's Affordable Care Program, dubbed as "Obamacare."
Yesterday, in a story titled, “Like your health care policy? You may be losing it, ” the AP reported, “Many people who buy their own health insurance could get surprises in the mail this fall: cancellation notices because their current policies aren’t up to the basic standards of President Barack Obama’s health care law. They, and some small businesses, will have to find replacement plans — and that has some state insurance officials worried about consumer confusion. Rollout of the Affordable Care Act is going full speed ahead, despite repeal efforts by congressional Republicans. . . . The goal is to cover most of the nation’s nearly 50 million uninsured, but even Obama says there will be bumps in the road. And discontinued insurance plans could be another bump. Also, it doesn’t seem to square with one of the president’s best known promises about his health care overhaul: ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan.’ . . . Other bumps on the road to the new health care law include potentially unaffordable premiums for smokers unless states act to waive them, a new $63-per-head fee that will hit companies already providing coverage to employees and dependents, and a long-term care insurance program that had to be canceled because of the risk it could go belly up. . . . The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says it is hearing that many carriers will cancel policies and issue new ones because administratively that is easier than changing existing plans.”
Discussing the president’s promise -- he has been breaking from the start -- the AP writes, “‘You’re going to be forcibly upgraded,’ said Bob Laszewski, a health care industry consultant. ‘It’s like showing up at the airline counter and being told, “You have no choice, $300 please. You’re getting a first-class ticket, why are you complaining?”‘ Obama’s promise dates back to June of 2009, when Congress was starting to grapple with overhauling the health care system to cover uninsured Americans. Later that summer, public anxieties about changes would erupt at dozens of angry congressional town hall meetings with constituents. ‘If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period,’ the president reassured the American Medical Association. ‘No one will take it away, no matter what.’”
Of course, it turns out that’s just not the case. As the AP points out, “Nationally a considerable number of people could be affected by cancellations. Information from insurers is still dribbling in to state regulators. In Washington state, the changes will affect more than 400,000 people, said Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler.”
Meanwhile, President Obama’s healthcare law continues to squeeze small businesses. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Small employers across the U.S. are struggling to get a handle on their health-care costs under the Affordable Care Act. Many of them say they expect their operating expenses to jump in 2014, when the law’s employee health-insurance requirements take effect. . . .
"Starting next year, the federal government will impose penalties on any business with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees that doesn’t provide adequate health-insurance coverage to workers who clock 30 or more hours a week. If such employers choose not to offer health coverage, they will face a penalty of $2,000 for each full-time worker, excluding the first 30. If they do offer coverage, but the insurance doesn’t meet the law’s minimum requirements, they face a penalty of $3,000 for each worker who gets a federal subsidy through state insurance exchanges. Owners with between 50 and 200 full-time employees are in a particularly tough spot. These businesses are big enough to meet the government’s threshold for penalties, but they lack the purchasing power to negotiate the best rates with insurers.”
And on top of the very real problems this unpopular law creates for people across the country, Americans now face the specter of enforcement of many of the law’s provisions by the scandal-ridden IRS.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell again sounded the alarm about the IRS and Obamacare. “McConnell on Wednesday said the IRS controversy is just one more reason to do away with the health-care law, but not the only one. ‘I was in favor of repealing Obamacare long before the IRS scandal,’ he said. ‘It’s the single worst piece of legislation in a long time.’ . . . ‘The role of the IRS will be significant,’ the Senate leader said. ‘I don’t want to overstate it, but they are the enforcer. Regardless of whether they have access to individuals’ health records, they are the way the law will be enforced.’”
Last week on the Senate floor, McConnell said“Even the IRS’ staunchest defenders in this scandal describe their actions as a case of ‘horrible customer service.’ That’s the best they can say: ‘Horrible customer service.’ And now they’re going to be put in charge of a new trillion-dollar program? One that will give them access to all sorts of sensitive, deeply personal information? Well, that’s just what the Administration and congressional Democrats are about to let happen. The IRS is in charge of administering some of the most important elements of Obamacare. . . . The potential for waste and abuse would have been there regardless of which agency was put in charge of administering this bloated law. . . . Obamacare is just massive – about 20,000 pages of regulations already – so waste and abuse is basically unavoidable. But now, we’re going to have Americans worrying that they might be discriminated against too – just for having an opinion? And you know what? We’re not going to be able to tell them not to worry.” Tags:Affordable Health Care Act, obamacare, problems, losing healthcare policy, higher costs, IRS To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Gang of 8 - Left to Right - Top: John McCain (R-AZ), Marco
Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC);
Bottom: Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ),
Charles Schumer (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO)
by Phyllis Schlafly: The bill created in secret by the Gang of Eight is an outrageous betrayal of American workers, both high-skilled and low-skilled. Claiming it is bipartisan, the drafters were Democrats and globalist Republicans.
Economics 101 teaches that prices of products and wages go up when there is a shortage and go down when there is an ample supply of whatever. But funny thing, a consortium of billionaire oligarchs and high-paid lobbyists have defied those axioms by rejecting U.S. STEM college graduates (science, technology, engineering or math) and then crying about shortages.
Half of American STEM graduates are not currently hired for a STEM job. Many students are so discouraged about the lack of job opportunities for STEM graduates that they have switched to more promising course majors such as accounting.
The lobbyists lied to us by reciting the slogan that the “best and the brightest” are foreigners, rather than Americans, and must be imported so we can benefit from their brains and labor. The notion that the best and the brightest are foreigners is false and contemptible, since most of the world’s great inventions and innovations are American.
In pursuit of this foolish notion, tens of thousands of foreigners have been imported to take jobs in the tech industries. The corporations welcome this deceit because they pay them less than Americans, bring in foreigners who are not high-skilled for entry-level jobs, force experienced Americans to train them, and then lay off the Americans.
The Gang of Eight is so enamored with this racket that their proposed legislation more than doubles the number of guest worker visas. The Gang of Eight bill raises H-1B visas to 115,000 a year and allows up to 180,000.
The globalists who want to give us a foreign workforce invented a cutesy slogan: “staple a green card” to every master’s degree or Ph.D. that a foreign student receives from a U.S. college in STEM subjects. The Gang of Eight bill puts no cap on the number of green cards to be issued, no quality standards for the colleges that grant the degrees, and no effective requirement that tech companies must seek U.S. workers before offering jobs to foreigners.
Colleges can also make this a profitable racket. A master’s program usually takes only one year, so foreign students can buy the right to U.S. residency and a tech job by the price of one year’s tuition at any U.S. college.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been the people’s friend throughout the negotiations, said, “One of the things that most upsets the American people about Washington is drafting a bill with special interests in secret and jamming it across the finish line in a way that minimizes public involvement and input.”
The lobbyists are still objecting to language in the bill that requires employers to ensure that an “equally qualified” American is not available for a job opening before hiring a foreign temporary worker. The Senate Judiciary Committee also defeated a Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) amendment to require that employers assure the government they have made “good faith” efforts to hire American workers.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a usually voluble big-government liberal, claimed this would give the government “too much power” to interpret!
The Gang of Eight beat back several other GOP amendments on border security, such as a Sessions proposal to require 700 miles of double-layer fencing along our southern border. The Gang also defeated Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) amendment that would triple border patrol agents.
Bad as the Gang of Eight bill is for high-skilled workers, it is disaster for low-skilled U.S. workers because the big majority of new immigrants will be low-skilled. The bill will swallow up opportunities for our own citizens to join the ranks of the employed and it will depress the wages of both U.S. citizens and immigrants.
Granting amnesty to 11 million illegal aliens will, of course, act as a magnet for future illegals coming across our border, as well as substantially increase the legal immigrants coming in through the family unification process. Estimates are that the Gang’s bill will bring in 33 million immigrants over the next 10 years.
The biggest victims demographically will be African Americans because most of the 33 million immigrants will be low-skilled. Legal and illegal immigration over the last several decades accounts for 40 percent of the 18-point percentage decline in African-American employment rates, according to evidence produced by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
The Gang of Eight bill will punish black Americans to benefit foreigners and tech company profits. Where are the civil rights advocates when we need them?
-------------------- Phyllis Schlafly has been a national leader of the conservative movement since 1964. She founded and is president of Eagle Forum. She has testified before more than 50 Congressional and State Legislative committees on constitutional, national defense, and family issues. Tags:Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum, Gang of Eight, increase unemployment, African AmericansTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
AND DON'T FORGET THE "FAST AND FURIOUS" SCANDAL!!!
Tags:Obama administration, brewing scandals, Bengahzi Scandal, IRS Scandal, DOJ, Spying on Reporters, Fast and FuriousTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
ACLJ Files Federal Lawsuit Against IRS on Behalf of 25 Conservative Organizations
ACLU Suing IRS on behalf of
25 Conservative Organizations
Washington, DC - The American Center for Law and Justice today filed a significant lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., on behalf of 25 Tea Party and conservative organizations against the U.S. Attorney General, Treasury Secretary, and Internal Revenue Service - including top IRS officials.
“The IRS and the federal government are not going to get away with this unlawful targeting of conservative groups,” said Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the ACLJ. “As this unconstitutional scheme continues even today, the only way to stop this flagrant and arrogant abuse of our clients’ rights is to file a federal lawsuit, which we have done. The lawsuit sends a very powerful message to the IRS and the Obama Administration – including the White House: Americans are not going to be bullied and intimidated by our government. They will not be subjected to unconstitutional treatment and unlawfully singled out and punished because of their ideological beliefs. Those responsible for this unprecedented intimidation ploy must be held accountable.”
The lawsuit, posted here, urges the court to find that the Obama Administration overstepped its authority and violated the First and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, the Administrative Procedure Act, as well as the IRS's own rules and regulations. The lawsuit requests a declaratory judgment that the Defendants unlawfully delayed and obstructed the organizations’ applications for a determination of tax-exempt status by means of conduct that was based on unconstitutional criteria and impermissibly disparate treatment of the groups. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to protect our clients – and their officers and directors – from further IRS abuse or retaliation. Further, the lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive monetary damages to be determined at trial at a later date.
In the lawsuit, the ACLJ cites six counts arguing the federal government violated the Constitution, federal law, and even its own rules and regulations.
The suit contends that the Obama Administration “unlawfully delayed and thereby effectively denied approval of Plaintiffs’ applications for tax exempt status by means of a comprehensive, pervasive, invidious and organized scheme that purposefully established unnecessary and burdensome inquiries and scrutiny of Plaintiffs’ applications based solely upon Plaintiffs’ political viewpoints (or Defendants’ assumption of Plaintiffs’ viewpoints, based on their organizational names).”
Further, the complaint asserts that the federal government’s “unlawful conduct included but was not limited to excessive scrutiny of Plaintiffs’ applications by requiring donor names, listing of issues important to Plaintiffs’ organizations, including their positions on such issues, the contents of communications between the organizations and legislative bodies, the applicants’ criteria for membership, volunteer names and the political affiliations of persons associated with the organizations . . .”
The ACLJ represents a total of 25 organizations in the lawsuit, with additional groups likely to be added to the suit as it progresses. The names of the organizations represented are available here. Of the 25 groups, 13 organizations received tax-exempt status after lengthy delays, 10 are still pending, and two withdrew applications because of frustration with the IRS process.
The Kentucky 9/12 Project was one of the first groups to be singled out and scrutinized by the IRS in early 2012 and worked closely with the ACLJ in a resolution and now justice in their case. Their top two officers provided the following comments to the ARRA News Service. Lisa Abler, Vice President of Kentucky 9/12 project said, “The IRS overreach and intimidation we experienced is a clear indication that this agency philosophically rejects the flow of authority crafted into our system of government. Their arrogant actions run contrary to the concept of a government of the people instituted to secure inalienable rights with just power deriving from the consent of the governed, This disregard for the most fundamental principles of our nation must be rectified.”
Eric Wilson the Executive Director for Kentucky 9/12 Project said “This will give power back to everyday people. After being targeted and held hostage by this administration at the arms of the IRS for over two years, we want them to not only be held accountable but prevent this from happening to any other group or citizens in the future.”
The ACLJ lists as defendants in the case: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; the Internal Revenue Service; Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew; Steven Miller, former acting Commissioner of the IRS; Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations Division for the IRS; Holly Paz, Director, Office of Rulings and Agreements; and unknown named officials inside the IRS.
The IRS contends that the targeting scheme originated with a couple of rogue IRS agents out of the Cincinnati, Ohio office and contends the abusive conduct has been halted. However, the ACLJ has correspondence showing this tactic was used not only in the Cincinnati office, but also from two offices in California – El Monte and Laguna Niguel – as well as the national office in Washington, D.C. In fact, the Washington office sent a letter to one of our clients as recently as one month ago.
Furthermore, the ACLJ has letters signed by Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations, suggesting her personal involvement in sending invasive questionnaires to 15 of our clients in March 2012 - some nine months after she was told about the scheme and promised to stop it.
The ACLJ has heard from nearly 100,000 Americans calling on President Obama and members of Congress to end the IRS abuse.
Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), focusing on constitutional law, is based in Washington, D.C. Tags:American Center for Law and Justice, ACLJ, Files Federal Lawsuit, IRS, 25 organizations, TEA Party, Kentucky 9/12 To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Is Perjury In Holder's Future? | Amnesty Bill? | Obamcare | MVP On Defense Over Marriage
Editor's Note: If you are tired of the scandals or implication continuing surrounding Eric Holder, "Like" the Facebook page U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to Go - comments are also welcome.
------------ Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: Attorney General Eric Holder may be in hot water. The House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Holder committed perjury during his testimony on the Associated Press phone records scandal two weeks ago.
During an exchange with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) on whether the Justice Department could use the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute reporters, Holder said: "In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material -- this is not something I've ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy."
But as we told you Friday, that is not true. NBC News reported that Holder personally signed off on the warrant authorizing the seizure of Fox News reporter James Rosen's email and phone records -- specifically citing the Espionage Act and labeling Rosen a possible criminal co-conspirator.
Attorney General Holder has already been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to release documents on Operation Fast and Furious. He has stayed in his position because the president supports him. But now even the liberals at the Huffington Post are demanding Holder step down.
Amnesty Bill In Jeopardy?
For months we have been told that the "stars are aligned" for comprehensive immigration reform to finally pass Congress and be signed into law. But last week the quasi-amnesty bill that is such a priority for President Obama and his Democrat allies took a couple of unexpected hits.
Two unions that represent law enforcement and immigration officials announced their opposition to the Senate's bill, citing its lack of border and interior enforcement. A recent Fox News poll found that 73% of voters want improved border security measures implemented BEFORE any other reforms take effect.
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) stunned many in Washington when he said the bill doesn't yet have the 60 votes needed to pass. Political and media elites have been chattering about the bill getting as many as 70 votes in the Senate.
Thursday the House GOP leadership issued a joint statement effectively declaring the Senate's bill "dead on arrival." Its statement read in part, "While we applaud the progress made by our Senate colleagues, there are numerous ways in which the House will approach the issue differently. The House remains committed to fixing our broken immigration system, but we will not simply take up and accept the bill that is emerging in the Senate if it passes."
Obamacare Backlash Grows
The implementation of Obamacare kicks into high gear on January 1, 2014. As the calendar counts down, even some of the president's liberal allies are finding it impossible to square Obama's rhetoric with reality. One labor union, the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers, has already called for the "repeal or complete reform" of Obamacare. Now other unions are speaking out.
Joe Hansen, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, essentially accused Obama of lying. Hansen told the Associated Press, "[Obamacare] makes an untruth out of what the president said -- that if you like your insurance, you could keep it. That is not going to be true for millions of workers now."
Union bosses assumed that their concerns would be addressed after the 2012 election. In January, a top Teamsters leader said, "We are going back to the administration to say that this is not acceptable." But despite private talks with administration officials, the unions have failed in their attempts to change the law.
As a result, they are warning that Democrats could suffer in next year's election. Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, warned, "It started out with some anxiety, and I think it's translated into more anger."
I have no expectation that Mr. Schaitberger will become a card-carrying member of the Tea Party movement anytime soon. But Democrats should be worried. Union members who are just now learning the truth are not the only ones upset with Obamacare.
Obamacare Deeply Unpopular
Barack Obama and congressional Democrats rammed through Obamacare in 2010 after convincing themselves that the public would embrace the healthcare takeover legislation over time. But three years later, two recent polls indicate that Obamacare still remains deeply unpopular.
A CNN poll released yesterday found 54% of adults opposed Obamacare, while just 43% supported it. Last week a Fox News poll found that 56% of voters thought it would be better "to go back to the health care system that was in place in 2009." Just 34% felt we should keep Obamacare.
There was no good news for liberals. Looking ahead, only 26% voters expect Obamacare will make health care better, while 53% say health care will be worse off in the future if Obamacare remains in effect. Even voters 35 and under wanted to get rid of Obamacare by a 20-point margin of 55%-to-35%.
MVP Player On Defense Over Marriage
The Minnesota Viking's Adrian Peterson is the NFL's Most Valuable Player for his offensive stats, but he's playing defense today for daring to defend normal marriage. During a recent interview, Peterson was asked his thoughts about Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage. Here's what Peterson said: "I have relatives who are gay. I'm not biased towards them. I still treat them the same. I love 'em. But again, I'm not with that. That's not something I believe in."
Clearly, Peterson is not a hater. He was simply voicing the opinion of many Americans, including the president of the United States, at least up to one year ago. No doubt Peterson has seen what has happened to athletes who voice opposition to the gay agenda. Yet he still has the courage to speak up.
As I write this, he is probably living through a nightmare worse than anything he has confronted on the football field. By the time the sun goes down today, Peterson will likely feel like he doesn't have a friend in the world. (Remember Chris Culliver?)
The gay rights smear machine will do its best to make an example out of Peterson. Marketing gurus and investment counselors will tell Peterson he must apologize if he hopes to hold on to any lucrative endorsement contracts. The Vikings management may force him to go through "sensitivity training."
Men and women of faith who believe in normal marriage should not be afraid to speak out! Please let Adrian Peterson know that you stand with him. Click here to leave a comment on his Facebook page.
------------- Gary Bauer is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families Tags:Eric Holder, perjury, Amnesty bill, Obamacare backlash, Minnesota Viking, Adrian Peterson NFL's Most Valuable Player, Defense of Marriage, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working FamiliesTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: All through George W. Bush’s two terms, the Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and others claimed that they represented “a culture of corruption” and yet I cannot recall any significant examples, nor does a look back at those years reveal any scandals resulting from his administration’s governance. It was not perfect, but it was not corrupt.
This term, however, marked Barack Obama’s first term and now his second which is currently imploding from a confluence of scandals involving Benghazi-Gate, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Justice. Let’s not forget “Fast and Furious.”
The very first example of the changes that would mark his administration was the announcement of Obama’s “czars”, a shadowy group of advisors whose power to set and influence government policy without any congressional oversight appears to have transcended that of his cabinet members, many of whom would contribute to lengthening the recession he “inherited” as the result of the 2008 financial crisis while increasing the national debt and deficit to heights never before seen in the history of the nation.
What we have come to learn in his first term was that Obama had scant regard for the Constitution, the guiding instrument of governance. It was in his view an “imperfect” instrument and yet, with amendments, it has guided the nation to superpower status since its ratification in 1791, a process that took four years from the 1786 Annapolis Convention that called for a Constitutional Convention.
What we learned through is first campaign and first term was that Obama lies about everything, starting with his personal life. What we have learned is that his answer to everything is to give another speech, hold another press conference, issue another executive order, and to dismiss any criticism as “a sideshow”, and to host a number of dinners to give the impression he is willing to work with Republicans in Congress. In truth, he rarely interacted even with Democrats in Congress.
In short, Obama has never addressed his duty to govern. He has instead maintained a non-stop process of campaigning and fund-raising. It did not work in 2010 when voters returned power to the Republicans in the House and now he is doing everything he can to regain Democrat control there in 2014.
His priority on September 11, 2012, the night in which he was informed of the attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya, was to go to bed in order to get a good night’s sleep before flying off to Las Vegas for more fund-raising the next day, skipping his daily intelligence briefing. An American ambassador had been killed along with three other personnel, but it did not alter his schedule.
This is a President who spent his entire first term blaming his predecessor, George W. Bush, for every problem that crossed his desk and demanded his attention.
This is a President whose foreign policy in the Middle East failed to address events there while delegating responsibility to his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton who as of 2 AM the morning of September 12th knew that it was an orchestrated attack by al Qaeda. And then, in concert with the White House, told Americans that it was the result of a video and was a “spontaneous” event.
This is a President who has withdrawn U.S. troops from Iraq, a nation now wracked with daily bombings and has set in process the withdrawal from Afghanistan, a nation that will fall once again under the control of the Taliban. The alleged ally of America, Pakistan, now fears for its stability from the same threat. Both wars, the longest since the Vietnam War, were and remain unpopular, but both were intended to reduce the role of al Qaeda in the Middle East. That role has now expanded into the Syrian civil war and was manifest in Mali.
His response was to depend on isolated drone attacks in Yemen and elsewhere, and of course his authorization of the assassination of Osama bin Laden for which he took total credit despite the fact that the effort had begun in the Bush years.
In the years prior to Benghazi-Gate we have now learned that Obama was using the Internal Revenue Service to harass organizations associated with the Tea Party movement, that identified themselves as “patriots”, or had a pro-Israel agenda. In a similar fashion his Environmental Protection Agency was denying Freedom of Information inquires to organizations opposed to its policies while granting access to those who supported it.
In his first term, his Department of the Interior pursued policies that denied access to drilling for oil and natural gas on federally owned lands and while his Department of Energy wasted billions on “renewable energy” companies manufacturing solar panels no one wanted to purchase, going bankrupt one after another. At one point the President advocated using algae—pond scum—as a source of energy.
This is a President who promised his “stimulus” program would put Americans back to work and revive the economy.
This is a President who has continued to tell Americans that global warming is the greatest threat to the nation and the world despite a sixteen-year cooling cycle in progress.
The current scandals, derided as being “politicized” by Republicans, suggest that impeachable offenses have been authorized and committed by branches of the administration he leads. The current makeup of Congress in which the Senate is still controlled by Democrats suggests that impeachment would be difficult to pursue, but the 2014 midterm elections could and should change that.
The worst of his offenses is Obamacare, described by members of his own party as “a train wreck”, and a program to be administered by the IRS!
It is not hyperbole to say Barack Obama is the worst President in the history of the nation.
Ask the millions of Americans who are still unemployed more than four years since his first inauguration.
Ask the millions of new graduates from colleges and universities who cannot find jobs commensurate with their degrees.
Ask the millions of Americans unable to retire due to the agonizingly slow recovery of the economy.
And ask the mainstream media, after years of ignoring his failures have suddenly awakened to the seizure of Associated Press phone records after acting as mere stenographers for his daily “talking points.”
The below letter to the editor is by Robert "Bob" McDowell, Jr. He is a Professional Engineer and Geologist with over 50 years experience in creating drilling prospects, supervising drilling, well completion, production operation, and pipeline design for oil and gas including repair of problem wells. McDowell is a conservative and active in the Oklahoma Republican Assembly.
By Bob McDowell:: Last Month there came to the surface of public information extensive abuses of any and all applications for designation as 501-C 4 or C3 for tax purposes (non-profit or tax exempt) by organizations deemed by name or purposes to be 'conservative' or 'anti-government'. It has been reported that organizations 'friendly' to the Obama administration received special consideration from the IRS in the same sort of applications.
In fact, one such organization, presided over by a half-brother of President Obama, received a C3 (tax exempt) designation several months, or even years, after operating as such without the official designation. On the other hand, the applications by organizations with the name of 'Tea Party' or 'Against Government Size' or such have had delay after delay, up to three years so far, with repeated intrusive and abusive return questionnaires all from the Cincinnati OH office, which was the designated location for such applications.
In my mind, these exposures amount to 'just the tip of the iceberg' of misdeeds and even illegal actions of this 'rogue' government department falsely labeled "Service". It has been estimated that BILLIONS of dollars are spent each year by citizens and businesses to comply with the rules and prepare the tax returns required by this arrogant and dictatorial bureaucracy. In fairness, it must be said that this should be expected from any group that has been given too much authority (power) and subject to too little oversight by Congress. The IRS has been guilty of gross abuse of its power in the treatment of individuals in its attacks on those considered delinquent, confiscating funds and properties without trial and sometimes with brutal tactics.
From time to time Congress has listened to the complaints of the people and proposed 'improvements' in the 1,800 page income tax code resulting each time in increased complexity and costs. It seems that the best remedy would be a complete replacement of the income tax code.
Three general systems have been proposed: Flat Tax (really flat-rate tax); FairTax; and in 2012 by Herman Cain the 9-9-9 tax proposal. An attempt is here made to evaluate and/or explain.
The 'Flat Tax' has been proposed by name for some years. The name implies in most minds that all payers of income tax will pay the same dollars. In actuality, it should be called the 'Flat-Rate Tax' where everyone would pay the same 'PERCENTAGE' of income as tax. When the Sixteenth Amendment was under adoption by the States in 1912, 13 it was stipulated that it would 'always' be a fixed percentage and only on those whose incomes were more than $100,000 per year. Later Congresses have vastly changed that to the monstrosity we now
The 'FairTax' was introduced in Congress by Rep. John Linder, R-GA, a few years ago as HR-25 with a substantial number of co-sponsors, including most, if not all, of the five Oklahoma Representatives. It requires the repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment and would take effect on January 1 of the year following ratification of the repeal. In my opinion, it should be a replacement of the amendment, rather than an enacted law. The income tax would be replaced by a consumption tax of an estimated 23% on all NEW items and services acquired. It has been estimated that this would totally replace the revenue now received from all taxes on incomes. It would also remove the necessity for filing an annual tax return or take deductions.
The '9-9-9' tax proposed during the 2012 election campaign by Herman Cain has still not been made clear in my mind, but appears to be a version of a flat-rate tax, which could be amended and modified by money hungry future Congresses.
Of course, any change should also be accompanied by a reduction in the size of the Federal Government, except for Defense. Tags:Bob McDowell, Oklahoma, letter to editor, President Obama, PRESBO, IRS abuses, Fair Tax, flat tax, 9-9-9To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Bill Smith, Editor (updated Dec. 16, 2013): I have been asked about my experience at the Vietnam War Memorial - "The Wall." I will try to keep it short. I was in the Air Force from 1966-1988. I was newly married and age 19, when I was drafted. I did not object to or regret going into the military. However, as with many others, the Vietnam War left me some what bitter.
When the Vietnam War Memorial was built, my wife urged me to go to see it. I refused for years. Finally, her pleas won out and we went to the Memorial. I looked up names of fallen comrades in the directory, so we could find their names on the panels where the names are randomly placed.
As I approached the panel with the first name on our list, a light (maybe a sun beam) broke forth and struck the panel I approached. It brightly highlighted one engraved name - my name. I couldn't believe it and was quite shaken. Then a voice spoke to me - to very my soul - saying, "Your name is on the wall, but you are not." And a peace surrounded me wiping away by bitterness, anger and regret. Later, after visiting the names on our list, I went back to the directory and looked up my name. There are 1026 William Smith names on the Wall and two of them are William Eugene Smith (my name) who were 8 and 10 months younger than me. Click To locate or review the names of those identified on the Vietnam War Memorial.
Needless to say, I appreciate the Vietnam War Memorial, but truthfully it does not hold the names of all those killed by the war. But that is another story. God Bless our servicemen and women and veterans as we remember them again on Memorial Day.
Tags:Bill Smith, Vietnam War Memorial, The WallTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Military.com: Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.
Local Observances Claim To Be First
Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well.
Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried.
Official Birthplace Declared
In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities.
It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays.
Some States Have Confederate Observances
Many Southern states also have their own days for honoring the Confederate dead. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day January 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day.
Gen. Logan’s order for his posts to decorate graves in 1868 “with the choicest flowers of springtime” urged: “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. ... Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
The crowd attending the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery was approximately the same size as those that attend today’s observance, about 5,000 people. Then, as now, small American flags were placed on each grave — a tradition followed at many national cemeteries today. In recent years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones.
The origins of special services to honor those who die in war can be found in antiquity. The Athenian leader Pericles offered a tribute to the fallen heroes of the Peloponnesian War over 24 centuries ago that could be applied today to the 1.1 million Americans who have died in the nation’s wars: “Not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”
To ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.” Tags:Memorial Day, historyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
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