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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
Friday, December 05, 2014
The Defense Bill Deal - Compromises Senate - House Bill
ARRA News Service - House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders broke an impasse and agreed to move forward on a modified, pre-coordinated version of the FY 2015 defense authorization bill. The end result is a mixed bag. Also, The Hill reported, that "Buried deep into the 2015 defense authorization bill is a measure to establish a commission for studying the creation of a national women's history museum. ... The package also includes a public lands bills that add new wilderness designations and create new national parks. The measure to establish the commission requires the group to submit a report within 18 months to Congress and the president on building a women's history museum." How did the compromise address military pay, BAH, and TRICARE pharmacy fees? Read the following analysis by MOAA.
The compromise bill authorizes $577.1 billion in spending for national defense, including $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.
The most divisive issues of the defense bill centered on whether to increase servicemembers out-of-pocket housing expenses and increase TRICARE pharmacy copays. The Senate pushed to include many of the administration’s proposals while the House resisted. In the end, the House and Senate agreed to implement a portion of these cuts.
“With time running out, it would have been easy for the House to just cave to the Senate,” stated Vice Adm. Norb Ryan, USN (Ret), President of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). “However, House negotiators helped blunt the blow to military families and retired beneficiaries.”
“We’re relieved that Congress was able to put aside political differences and work towards a bipartisan solution to ensure that a defense bill was completed for a 53rd consecutive year,” said Ryan.
The House passed the bill on December 4 by a 300-119 margin. The Senate plans to vote on the measure early next week.
Here’s what we know about key issues in the compromise bill:
Military Pay Raise: the compromise omitted a critical provision that would have guaranteed service members a 1.8 percent pay raise in accordance with private sector wage growth. Without that protection, the President’s executive authority will set the 2015 military pay raise at 1 percent. This is the second consecutive year of capped active duty pay.
Basic Allowance for Housing: instead of a proposed 5 percent decrease in servicemembers’ housing allowance over three years, the final bill includes a 1 percent decrease in FY 2015 with no further decrease in future years.
TRICARE: the bill rejects administration proposals to consolidate TRICARE Prime and Standard and implement a means-tested TRICARE for Life (TFL) enrollment fee. It expands the mandatory mail-order requirement for maintenance medications to all TRICARE beneficiaries. TFL beneficiaries are already required to use the mail-order pharmacy or an MTF to refill maintenance medications. Starting in FY 2016 all TRICARE beneficiaries will enter this pilot program.
TRICARE Rx Fees: pharmacy copays will see a one time, $3 increase for many retail and mail-order prescriptions instead of the Pentagon’s proposal that would have doubled or tripled current rates over 10 years. Negotiators were able to keep the generic mail-order prescriptions at no cost to beneficiaries. [The Pharmacy Rate Fees Charts!]
Military Sexual Assault: Includes more than 15 provisions that further strengthen measures to combat sexual assault in the military.
Special and Incentive Pays: Provides a one year extension to several special and incentive pays.
COLA: Extends full COLA protection to servicemembers entering service through January 1, 2016. New service entrants were not protected when cuts to military retirement COLAs were repealed in March 2014.
SBP Special Needs Trust: In a major win for military families, survivors will now be permitted to designate SBP to a Special Needs Trust for adult dependent children. Previously, SBP payments were prohibited from being paid into a trust. This resulted in disabled dependent children becoming ineligible for needs-based government aid because of SBP income. This became a significant hardship for military families and caregivers.
“Roll over” Reserve Retirement: extends 90 day early Guard/Reserve retirement credit over two fiscal years. Previously, time served on active duty spanning two fiscal years was not fully counted.
BRAC: prohibits the Pentagon from initiating another round of BRAC.
Next year promises to be even more uncertain with sequestration returning and the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission scheduled to report out in February. House and Senate negotiators cited readiness concerns as a reason for cutting BAH and capping military pay. This suggests further attempts to cut pay and benefits could be considered in the FY 2016 budget.
Although sequestration places DoD in a difficult position we should not balance the budget on the backs of the very people who bear the burden of security for this nation and who have given so much over the last 13 years.
------------- MOAA is the nation's largest and most influential association of military officers. It is an independent, nonprofit, politically nonpartisan organization. Members are active duty, retired, National Guard, Reserve, former commissioned officers, and warrant officers of the uniformed services - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Public Health Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tags:Defense Bill deal, House and Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed to move forward, a modified, pre-coordinated version, FY 2015 defense authorization bill, military, pay, benefits, more federal land acquisitions, National Womens MuseumTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:EPA. Drag on Christmas, Christmas 2014, holidays, editorial cartoon, AF BrancoTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
H.R. 5737 Would Authorize Internet Giveaway Upon NTIA Bogus 'Freedom' Certification
Editor's comment: H.R. 6737 has 4 sponsors and has not been passed. ALG President details his reason below for opposition to the bill. At the same time other conservative orgs support the bill.
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel, American Center for Law and Justice: "Nowhere have the power of free speech and the importance of our First Amendment been more evident than in the revolutionary growth of the Internet. Preserving the free and open nature of this exchange is absolutely critical. Congressman Mike Kelly is to be commended for his thoughtful legislation that would ensure the continued freedom and success of the world's most powerful information technology."
Eagle Forum: "The Internet has flourished as a forum for open discourse and commerce thanks to American oversight. Surrendering control would only benefit those who think the Internet is too free and too open. Rep. Kelly's bill ensures that the Obama administration won't be able to forfeit America's crucial role as guardian of Internet freedom."
The Heritage Foundation: "In short, the Internet is too important for the announced transition to occur in a manner that threatens the freedom or vitality of the Internet. Thankfully, there are some Members of Congress who are paying attention to this critical issue. The most recent contribution is the Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2014."
A Middle of the Road opinion was expressed by Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President & CEO, Center for Security Policy: "The Obama administration's abdication of long-standing, exclusive U.S. oversight over ICANN constitutes a threat both to American foreign policy interests and to American First Amendment freedoms. Although it is our view that such a transfer must not take place - and that a requirement for explicit authorization from Congress is the most effective check on such a move - the Defending Internet Freedom Act imposes at least some measure of congressional oversight over this reckless decision by requiring President Obama to certify to the people's elected representatives in Congress, based on several criteria, that any proposed alternative arrangement regarding Internet governance does not jeopardize American sovereignty or security."
"The bill trades a right for a promise that is guaranteed to be broken."
Fairfax, Va.— Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today issued the following statement urging opposition to H.R. 5737 by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), which authorizes the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to give away the Internet to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) upon "written certification that the Assistant Secretary has received a proposal for relinquishing the responsibilities of the NTIA with respect to Internet domain name functions that ensures… ICANN appl[ies] a standard that is at least as protective of such freedoms as is the First Amendment to the Constitution."
"We shouldn't even be having this conversation, when nobody has even made the case for the necessity of the Internet transition. Why is creating a global, unaccountable monopoly for Internet governance so important? It is not up to Congress to make that case for the President. It is up to Congress to stop him, because once the Internet is gone, we won't get it back.
"To support this legislation under the guise of 'prohibiting' the Internet transition, when the bill authorizes the giveaway, is disingenuous. The so-called 'Defending Internet Freedom Act of 2014' provides the very Congressional authorization for the Internet giveaway that the President desperately needs in return for empty promises from unaccountable multinational stakeholders and a bogus 'freedom' certification by NTIA that cannot possibly be enforced.
"On its face, it is not possible for ICANN to apply a standard 'at least as protective as the First Amendment,' since once Internet governance is relinquished there will be zero recourse in federal court for any claims of censorship. There is no First Amendment cause of action that can be taken against a private institution. Yet, NTIA will have little trouble certifying it had received those assurances. Under the current arrangement as a U.S. government contractor, every user of the Internet already has full First Amendment protections should anything go awry. In essence, the bill trades a right for a promise that is guaranteed to be broken.
"In the future, there will be no requirement for ICANN to apply the highest level scrutiny for First Amendment claims against itself like a court would. Regardless of the bill, turning the Internet names and numbers functions over to ICANN effectively makes them the prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner over all speech on the information superhighway with no recourse." Tags:HR 5737, GOP Rep Mike Kelly, Internet Giveaway, ICANN, Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law and Justice, Eagle Forum, The Heritage Foundation, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Center for Security PolicyTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Yesterday, the Senate voted 76-16 to confirm the nomination of Joseph Leeson, Jr. to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The Senate then voted 53-40 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Jeffery Baran to be a Member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 51-42 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Lauren McFerran to be a Member of the National Labor Relations Board, and 57-34 to invoke cloture on the nomination of Ellen Williams to be a director of ARPA in the Department of Energy.
The House was also not in Session today and will reconvene at Noon on Monday. Yesterday the House passed: H.R. H.R. 3979 (300-119) - An Act to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2015 for military activities of the Department of Defense (which was re-titled by administrative vote). The Senate will vote on this bill on Monday. Thirty-two Republicans, many conservatives, joined 87 Democrats in voting against the bill. Fifteen did Not Vote on the bill including 8 Republicans. H.R. 5759 (Voice Vote) — "To establish a rule of construction clarifying the limitations on executive authority to provide certain forms of immigration relief." H. Res. 758 (411 - 10) — "Strongly condemning the actions of the Russian Federation, under President Vladimir Putin, which has carried out a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination."
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement in response to the Department of Labor’s unemployment report for November 2014: “The holiday season is a time for all of us to reflect on our blessings, but it’s also a time to consider the many families that are still having a tough time. While it's welcome news that more people found work last month, millions still remain out of work, and middle-class families across the country, including my home state of Ohio, are struggling to get by on wages that haven’t kept pace with rising costs. The president’s response has been more of the same: the same massive regulations, the same rising premiums, and the same uncertainty for manufacturers and small businesses. The House has continued to put the people’s priorities first, passing two more bills this week to help families and make it easier for businesses to hire. The new year and the new American Congress will bring the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of working families, and we’re eager to get to work.”
The AP reported yesterday, “Many HealthCare.gov customers will face higher costs next year, the Obama administration acknowledged Thursday in a report that shows average premiums rising modestly. . . . Premiums for the most popular type of plan will go up an average of 5 percent in the 35 states where the federal government is running the health insurance exchanges, said a report from the Health and Human Services Department. . . . The modest average increases the administration reported Thursday mask bigger price swings from state to state, and even within regions of a state. Some are still seeing double-digit hikes. But others are seeing decreases. And most are somewhere in the middle. . . . The most popular coverage is known as the lowest cost silver plan and will go up 5 percent next year. Another key plan, the second-lowest cost silver, will go up an average of 2 percent.”
Of course, this isn’t what President Obama and Democrats promised about their unpopular health care law. President Obama boasted in 2011 that “This law will lower premiums.” And while the bill was being debated in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), declared, “Bringing down costs of health insurance and making it more affordable is job one for this health care reform.”
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported, “The American middle class has absorbed a steep increase in the cost of health care and other necessities as incomes have stagnated over the past half decade, a squeeze that has forced families to cut back spending on everything from clothing to restaurants. Health-care spending by middle-income Americans rose 24% between 2007 and 2013, driven by an even larger rise in the cost of buying health insurance, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of detailed consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. . . . The overall cost of health care rose by 21% between 2007 and 2013, according to separate data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. And employees paid more for workplace insurance, averaging $380 a month for family coverage in 2013, up 39% from 2007, data from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows.”
by Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: I receive Free Inquiry magazine monthly even though I never subscribed to it. The magazine is read by atheists who prefer to be called “humanists.” The Council for Secular Humanism that publishes the magazine has “Affirmations of Humanism” that begin with the assertion that they are “committed to the application of reason and science to the understanding of the universe and to the solving of human problems.”
I try to apply reason to everything I write and the best science available if the topic involves science. The problem is that most problems arise out of a lack of reason. Almost always, emotion is the factor most in evidence.
Given the horrors of war, all well documented, one might think that nations would do everything possible to avoid it. Instead, war remains a top priority in a world where conflict exists everywhere. Nations must arm themselves against their neighbors. Appeasement never works. Denying the evil intentions of a nation doesn’t work. Relying on an “international” organization, the United Nations, doesn’t work.
I don’t think I have spent a day of my life when war or terrorism was not active somewhere in the world. Read world history. It is one long record of wars. The only thing "reason" can tell you is that some nations and people are just downright evil.
Atheism or humanism attracts people who take pride in their intellect, their knowledge, and their rejection of religions, all of which they deem to be advocating the “supernatural” because they depend on the faithful’s belief in an omnipotent God.
Humans have done this, as best as one can determine, since their earliest beginnings, though they tended initially to deify mountains and other natural phenomenon. Add in a belief in unseen demons that afflict one with disease and you have a humanity that, in many parts of the world, exists today.
The Christian holy day of Christmas, the birthday of Jesus, has taken on worldwide dimensions, celebrated in some fashion by Christian and non-Christian alike.
Though not generally known, December 25 is the birthday of a former pagan god called Mithras. He was the son of the virgin Anahita. He is described as wrapped in swaddling clothes, placed in a manger, and attended by shepherds. Mithras was considered a great traveling teacher and he had twelve companions or “disciples.” He performed miracles. And, if you’re thinking that the early Christian leaders adapted these elements to attract believers in Mithras to believe in Jesus, you’re right.
All religions except Judaism adapted in the interest of acquiring more adherents. Judaism resisted this and remains small in numbers even if it remains large in the minds of non-Jews who regard it with a combination of awe and indignation.
Neither Jews, nor other non-Christians, are about to give up an element of Christmas loved by all, Santa Claus.
Well, not all. Ryan T. Cragun, an atheist, a sociologist, and the author of “On the‘Evils’ of Santa Claus” in the December edition of Free Inquiry is clearly not a fan of Santa Claus.
He says of himself and his wife, “when we gave religion the boot over a decade ago” they decided “that we would continue to celebrate a completely secular Christmas.” So you can be an atheist, but you can still celebrate a holiday devoted to the man who Christians deem the son of God? When the Cragon’s had a child they wanted to share joy of the Christmas season with him. That’s called having it both ways.
Cragun, however, began to see Santa Claus as a stand-in for God. Why else does he have the power to know if you’ve been “naughty or nice”? Why else does he have the ability to bestow or withhold presents if a child has failed to measure up by being nice?
Cragun regards this as “a pernicious invasion of personal space.” As an atheist he objects to the “idea that some supernatural entity is always watching you—and in some traditions can also read your mind. Why is this potentially abusive? Because it gives people the sense that they are never really alone.” As far as Cragun is concerned, Santa Claus “serves as a legitimizer of monotheism,” the belief in a universal God of all mankind.
At this point I should “confess” (pun intended) that I have always believed in God and, despite my intellect, my ability to reason, and my particular faith, I think Santa Claus is one of the great metaphorical inventions of mankind; a saintly, jolly old man who flies around the world giving gifts to children, reminding them of the value of being “nice.” That is how Santa reflects the moral message of Christmas no matter what religion one practices or not.
Among the Humanist statement of principles is the following:
“We believe in optimism rather than pessimism, hope rather than despair, learning in the place of dogma, truth instead of ignorance, joy rather than guilt or sin, tolerance in the place of fear, love instead of hatred, compassion over selfishness, beauty instead of ugliness, and reason rather than blind faith or irrationality.”
A lot of that seems to have been borrowed from Judaism and Christianity, and with unseen irony Cragon says “I’m fully in favor of a secular Christmas—let’s steal the holiday back from the Christians who hijacked it from the Romans, from the pagans, and from nature.”
Since we are all—old and young—surrounded by images of Santa Claus between now and Christmas day, it’s likely the Cragon’s little boy will make up his mind at some point that it was fun to believe in Santa Claus and pass the tradition along to his children.
------------------ Alan Caruba is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, Warning Signs. He is a contributor to the ARRA News Service. Tags:atheists, pagans, hating, Santa Clause, Christmas, Christianity, Alan Caruba, warning signsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres told the world the conferences on climate change were about the “complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.” Emissions of nations really became secondary to finance.
By Pat Carlson, Eagle Forum: As most of the world is focused on Christmas, the latest international climate change conference is taking place in Lima, Peru with 190-plus nations represented. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is holding the Conference of the Parties (COP20) with the intention of working toward an agreement binding developed countries like the United States into transferring large amounts of money and technology to developing countries like China and India. The agreement is meant to be finalized next year in Paris, France at COP21.
The true intentions of the UNFCCC have become more evident over time as discussions have narrowed in on finance. In 2009 at COP15 former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed that developed nations contribute $100 billion per year by 2020 to developing nations; in 2011 at COP17 the Green Climate Fund was created to handle the $100 billion and UNFCCC Secretary Christiana Figueres told the world the conferences on climate change were about the “complete transformation of the economic structure of the world.” Emissions of nations really became secondary to finance.
It is a well known fact that negotiations at all the COPs were never going to be successful until the two major emitters, the U.S. and China, compromised their positions. This happened last month when President Obama made a deal with China, the compromise being made by the U.S. not China. The current U.S. target for emission reduction is 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. In the deal, President Obama ratcheted up the target to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China agreed to only begin reducing its carbon emissions by 2030.
The world watched as the U.S. compromised its position with Greenpeace calling this a “game-changing relationship.” The agreement made without Congressional approval put a new spark in negotiations and the UNFCCC has a new confidence. Today UNFCCC Secretary Figueres felt confident enough to drop a bombshell in a press conference. She said the $100 billion is just a “miracle proxy for the trust developing countries need to have because in order for the transformation to occur $100 billion is frankly a very small sum. We are talking about trillions of dollars that need to flow in the transformation at a global level. $90 trillion will go into infrastructure over the next 15 years.”
This is the United Nations on steroids in their thinking when not one penny of the original $100 billion has been collected. $90 trillion is 900 times $100 billion. There is just so much water in the well and then the well goes dry.
The Obama administration and the United Nations are out of control. The new U.S. Congress needs to clip the wings of this out-of-control lame duck.
---------------- Pat Carlson is Eagle Forum's Environmental Chairman. Tags: climate change, conference, Lima, Peru, nations, UM, United Nations, Framework Convention, Climate Change, UNFCCC, Conference of the Parties, Obama administration, complete transformation, global economicsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Conservatives Train Fire on Government ‘Land Grab’ in Key Defense Bill
Reid Led Big Gov't Land Grab
by Melissa Quinn: Parkland and wilderness provisions added to a defense policy measure have outraged friends of the military, who call the move both a “land grab” and a slap at men and women serving in the armed forces.
But this year the annual defense authorization includes a multitude of non-defense provisions such as new parks, wilderness areas and a national museum celebrating women. The move irks conservatives and other proponents of a “clean” bill.
“The decision to attach an extreme land grab to the NDAA is a disservice to members of the armed forces,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in a prepared statement. “With the military’s shrinking budget, it is offensive that this bill would be used to fund congressional pork.”
Top lawmakers on the House and Senate armed services committees previously faced a stalemate on the language of the defense authorization, specifically over employment benefits for the troops. However, a compromise bill emerged this week after Republicans and Democrats met behind closed doors.
Included in this year’s authorization is language to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels to combat ISIS, the brutal terrorist organization also known as the Islamic State. At President Obama’s request, Congress authorized funding to “degrade and destroy” ISIS in September as part of a short-term government spending measure that expires Dec. 11.
However, what has upset Cruz and other critics are non-military provisions to:
Add 250,000 acres of wilderness.
Withdraw 400,000 acres designated for commercial use.
Add 15 national parks or expansions and three designations for wild and scenic rivers.
Commission 11 studies for potential national parks and wild and scenic rivers.
Commission a study for a National Women’s History Museum on the National Mall.
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who retires at the end of the year, took to his Twitter account to criticize the provisions, which he said are the result of backroom deal-making.
Coburn’s office did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.
In his statement, Cruz criticized “self-serving politicians” for trying to “exploit” the annual defense authorization and called on colleagues to reject the current draft:
[A]t a time where jobs are scarce and the federal government has removed billions of acres of land from productive use, Congress should not be restricting more than a half-million new acres.Four federal agencies — the Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service — oversee the more than 640 million acres owned by the government.
The land-related provisions in the defense authorization angered national security experts and conservative groups alike.
In a commentary, Michael Needham, chief executive officer of Heritage Action for America, and Steven Bucci, a former Pentagon official who oversees defense policy at The Heritage Foundation, say including such non-military measures in the National Defense Authorization Act sets a dangerous precedent. They write:
If such actions continue, there will gradually be less focus on the important defense-related policies in the NDAA and more scrutiny of these sorts of extraneous provisions, threatening the entire defense authorization.Bucci and Needham, noting that Congress consistently has passed the authorization every year for the past 50 years, call on lawmakers to continue the tradition of using it to address defense-related programs only.
“That means treating the NDAA with the seriousness that it deserves, not as a legislative Christmas tree for Congress to ornament with unrelated pet projects,” they write.
In an interview with The Daily Signal, Bucci stressed that the NDAA is not the appropriate vehicle for the provisions.
“This is absolutely the wrong time to begin using the NDAA as a pork vehicle,” he said. “The military is already in trouble due to budget cuts. Readiness is down, modernization and repair are on hold, all of which lowers our ability to defend U.S. interests. The non-defense provisions might be worthy, but they have no place inside this bill.”
In a related move, the legislative action committee of Concerned Women for America came out against inclusion of the National Women’s History Museum. The group’s president, Penny Nance, said:
By sneaking this item into the NDAA, members of Congress are put in the no-win situation of voting for our military, yet voting against an accurate portrayal of women.Nance and 50 other women — including state representatives nationwide — sent a letter to lawmakers in April opposing the museum.
While Cruz, Coburn and other conservative senators push back on the current draft of the defense authorization, top lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee defend it.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., ranking minority member of the panel, said he disagrees with including the land provisions but urges passage.
“It’s outrageous,” Inhofe told The Hill. “I dislike it just as much as anybody else. But you have to have a bill. That’s what people lose sight of.”
------------ Melissa Quinn is a news reporter for The Daily Signal. Tags:conservatives, oppose, Reid, big land grab, key Defense Bill, Pelosi, Liberal, Women's MuseumTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Audit On NEON's Waste of Taxpayer Money - NEON Website Offline After Congressional Hearing
NEON Cited for Waste of Taxpayer Money
Bill Smith, ARRA News Service: Fox News has reported on new "party" spending scandal involving the National Science Foundation and the environmental organization NEON, Inc.$25,000 for a Christmas party.
$11,000 for premium coffee services.
Millions more for questionable construction costs.
All this was billed to taxpayers by an obscure federally funded science group, according to a scathing new inspector general report.
The audit, conducted by the National Science Foundation inspector general and the Defense Contract Audit Agency, detailed spending by the Colorado-based National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The nonprofit, designed to operate a network of ecological observatories across the continent, is solely funded by the National Science Foundation.
The report found that spending at the group has gotten out of control.
Millions of tax dollars wasted in climate change study
$25,000 for a Christmas party.
$11,000 for premium coffee services.
Millions more for questionable construction costs.
All this was billed to taxpayers by an obscure federally funded science group, according to a scathing new inspector general report.
The audit, conducted by the National Science Foundation inspector general and the Defense Contract Audit Agency, detailed spending by the Colorado-based National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The nonprofit, designed to operate a network of ecological observatories across the continent, is solely funded by the National Science Foundation.
The report found that spending at the group has gotten out of control.
"Given the present lack of controls, there is virtually no accountability over the contingency funds ... NSF does not have sufficient safeguards over the significant and unsupported contingency costs included in NEON's award budget," the report said. Two days ago, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, held a hearing to examine misuse of taxpayer dollars by the National Ecological Observatory Network Inc. (NEON). Chairman Smith said, “Federal agencies must be held accountable for their waste and misuse of taxpayer funds. And the NSF needs to be held accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. The basic responsibility of any government agency is to act in the national interest. The NSF needs to meet that standard.”
The hearing noted thatThe NSF entered into a long-term agreement with NEON to develop and operate the project’s national network of fixed and mobile sensors. An audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) identified more than $150 million in unsupported or questionable costs in the NEON proposal. It concluded that there was not a “fair and reasonable basis” for NSF to enter into a contract. Nevertheless, NSF did not wait for the audit results. It instead finalized an agreement based on NEON’s original cost proposal.
Committee members questioned how the NSF managed to approve, without any change, a $433 million proposed construction budget for which the DCAA auditors found $150 million was unsupported or questionable.
The NSF’s Inspector General testified that unallowable costs formed the basis for two fraud referrals that were ultimately sent to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible prosecution. But the DOJ declined to accept the case.
Audits have also raised questions about cost proposals that were accepted by NSF for several major projects. These include the Ocean Observatories Initiative, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, NEON and, currently, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. NSF spokeswoman Martha Rubenstein, Head and CFO at the Office of Budget, Finance and Award Administration (BFA) in a letter to the Inspectors Generals Office uses standard bureaucratic speak to leverage avoiding criticism of oversight responsibility, like we haven't heard this before within the Obama administration. She said: "The payment of a small but appropriate management fee has been a long standing practice at NSF in limited circumstances .... NSF is now undertaking a comprehensive evaluation of the fee practice. ..."
FoxNews reported that, "NEON Board Chairman James Collins also defended the organization. 'NEON, Inc. has always spent all funding in strict compliance with our understanding both of the guidelines provided to the organization and the law,' he said in a statement."
American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
December 15, 2014 to December 19, 2014 - NEON staff will present posters and participate in organized sessions throughout the conference. NEON will also have a booth in the exhibit hall where staff will be available to provide information and answer questions. Peter suggested that concerned citizens near the meeting would "drop by during the conference and pop up in a session with a tough question for a NEON staff member about wasting public money." I agree! It's our money that NEON is wasting.
When I attempted to visit the NEON website which is "Solely funded by the National Science Foundation" (our tax dollars), the site was offline for maintenance until until December 8.
I am also a website designer. And in my previous military career, I was the administrator of a $2.2 Billion (1988 dollars) international government program. No reputable business or quasi-government organization needs to take down their informational website for maintenance. They simply perform the required changes and upload those change over the former website pages. All security is done at the servers.
As this website is "solely funded" by the government, this action is even more questionable. Why is this website, operational at the time of the Fox News report and Congressman Smith's hearing, now off-line. What could NEON or lord forbid, the NSF have to hide after the recent audit? Could NSF be questioning NEON's funding? We don't know.
But, we should. Perhaps Congressman Lamar Smith will ask the NSF and NEON why this government funded website needed to be taken down? What changes were made on and to the website? And, how much was spent by NEON and the NSF on the San Francisco trip and promotions? Tags:Government waste, National Science Foundation, NEON, Fox News, hearing, Rep. Lamar Smith, NEON website, ARRA News Service, Bill SmithTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Tom Balek, Contributing Author: So there you are, minding your own business, running a company that provides a much-needed medical service - lab analysis of specimens to help doctors diagnose and treat cancers and other dread diseases. And out of the blue you find you are under attack by your own government.
His story defies logic and reason. Why would the federal government - specifically the FTC - join forces with a for-profit extortionist hacker to wreak havoc on a private company? And how could our court system not recognize theft of personal data as a crime?
Here's the story, in a nutshell: In 2008 a LabMD employee, against company policy, installed a peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing application called LimeWire to her computer so she could share music files with other subscribers. She just wanted to listen to music. Unfortunately, this opened a port which made other data on her computer accessible to outsiders. And an opened port is all the Devil needs to do his evil work.
In this case, the Devil is a company named Tiversa, Inc. - the self-proclaimed "World Leader in P2P Cyberintelligence". Tiversa developed a program which scours the internet, looking for open P2P ports and any tasty files that might be exposed, in the hope that a particularly delectable file might be useful for the purpose of extortion.
During the very short time that the LabMD employee's computer was vulnerable, Tiversa grabbed a file that included patient data including social security numbers, medical codes, etc. - information that could be used by a bad actor for identity theft, blackmail, or other nefarious purposes. And what did Tiversa do with their ill-gotten booty? First they attempted to extort LabMD with an expensive, open-ended and loosely-defined service contract. When LabMD CEO Daugherty logically told them to take a hike, they turned the file over to the FTC as an indictment of LabMD's failure to protect their clients' data.
This is where it gets crazy.
The federal government is there to protect and serve its constituents, right? You would think that if somebody hacks into your computer system, and steals your sensitive information and then blackmails you with the release of it, the feds will help you nail them. Right?
Instead, the FTC, typical of today's over-reaching federal bureaucracy, decided to join forces with the bad guys to beat up on one of those despicable, "for-profit" private businesses. "You didn't build that!" , they declare. "And we will punish you for your success!"
Instead of pursuing the people who aggressively sought to steal sensitive data (they claim their program performs exponentially more searches than Google) the FTC went after the victims of the theft. Most of their victims acquiesced to the relentless FTC pressure and accepted demands for consent decrees (guilty without proof). LabMD and Michael Daugherty took a courageous stand against this extortion, and continue their brave battle today.
The obvious questions beckon: what is the relationship between the top brass of the FTC and for-profit hackers like Tiversa? Will the federal courts recognize data as property, and accept theft of data as theft of property? And most importantly - when a federal agency like the FTC (or the IRS or EPA) lines up its infinite roster of taxpayer-funded lawyers against an individual or private company with limited resources in a ideological battle, is there any hope that justice will prevail?
Cyber-security is the 600 pound gorilla in the room. Our government admits that China, North Korea, and Russia routinely hack our government databases. It's bad enough that foreign bad guys feverishly work at worming their way into our national databases. How can we tolerate our own government cooperating with extortionist hackers who attack our private data?
--------------- Tom Balek is a fellow conservative activist and musician. He blogs Rockin'; On the Right Side. Between playing in a couple weekend bands, he seeks "to educate fellow Americans who have been too busy with their work and families to notice how close to the precipice our economy has come. He is a contribution author on the ARRA News Service. He tweets @TomBalek Listen, Do you want to know a secret?
Do you promise not to tell?
Closer, Let me whisper in your ear,
Say the words you long to hear,
I'm in love with you! The Beatles - Do You Want To Know A Secret Tags:Tom Balek, FTC, endorses hacking, private data, corruption, Michael Daugherty, LabMD, Devil Inside the BeltwayTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Could Falling Oil Prices Spark A Financial Crisis?
by Nick Cunningham: The oil and gas boom in the United States was made possible by the extensive credit afforded to drillers. Not only has financing come from company shareholders and traditional banks, but hundreds of billions of dollars have also come from junk-bond investors looking for high returns.
As is the nature of the junk-bond market, lots of money flowed to companies with much riskier drilling prospects than, say, the oil majors. Maybe drillers were venturing into an uncertain shale play; maybe they didn't have a lot of cash on hand or were a small startup. Whatever the case may be, there is a reason that they couldn't offer "investment grade" bonds. In order to tap the bond market, these companies had to pay a hefty interest rate.
For investors, this offers the opportunity for high yield, which is why hundreds of billions of dollars helped finance companies in disparate parts of the country looking to drill in shale. When oil prices were high and production was relentlessly climbing, energy related junk bonds looked highly profitable.
But junk bonds pay high yields because they are high risk, and with oil prices dipping below $70 per barrel, companies that offered junk bonds may not have the revenue to pay back bond holders, potentially leading to steep losses in the coming weeks and months.
The situation will compound itself if oil prices stay low. The junk bond market may begin to shun risky drilling companies, cutting off access to capital. Without the ability to finance drilling, smaller or more indebted oil companies may not have a future. The Wall Street Journalprofiled a few fund managers who are beginning to steer clear of smaller oil companies. Moody's Investors Service downgraded the oil and gas sector on November 25 to a "negative" outlook because of falling oil prices.
If oil prices stay at $65 per barrel for three years, 40 percent of all energy junk bonds could be looking at default, according to a recent JP Morgan estimate. While that is a long-term and uncertain scenario, the pain is being felt today. The FT reported that a third of energy debt issued in the junk-bond market is currently in "distressed" territory.
That begs the question; could a shakeout of the oil industry spark a broader financial crisis? Banks and other financial institutions could be overly exposed to energy debt. The Telegraphpaints a dire scenario in which the debt bubble bursts because of low oil prices, leading to a cascading 2008-style financial collapse, at least in the junk bond market.
Such a scenario may be a bit overblown. Persistently low interest rates keep demand for junk bonds high, meaning oil companies will probably be able to restructure their debt and continue to access capital. Also, drillers will not immediately face an existential crisis because many have hedged themselves, locking in prices for a certain amount of production.
But a junk bond crisis could become more likely if oil prices stay low for an extended period of time. Once a few companies begin to default, the problem could quickly spread. Another variable is how quickly the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates, which could significantly affect the attractiveness of the junk bond market.
Local and regional banks could be highly exposed as well, especially if energy loans make up a large share of their lending portfolio. The Wall Street Journalpointed out that banks like Oklahoma-based BOK Financial – with 19 percent of its loan portfolio made up of energy loans – could be the most vulnerable. Moreover, an economic downturn in regions that depend heavily on energy, such as Texas or North Dakota, could see a broader decline in demand for loans of all kinds. That could add to the pain for local banks.
Low oil prices are not just a problem for oil companies. Investment funds, hungry for yield in a low interest rate environment, have poured money into oil and gas. To be sure, we are far from a crisis at this point, but if oil prices don't rebound, a lot of people are going to lose a lot of money.
------------------------ James Stafford is Editor of OilPrice.com contributes articles to the ARRA News Service. Nick Cunningham is a Washington DC-based writer on energy and environmental issues. You can follow him on twitter at @nickcunningham1 Tags:falling oil prices, financial crisis, questions, investors, banks, oil companies, Nick Cunningham, OilPrice.comTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
by Newt Gingrich: The gap between reality and President Obama’s left-wing ideology was never more vivid than during television coverage of his statement about the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown cast last Monday night.
The self-delusion surpassed even his statements on the Obamacare website, the Syrian red line, the Crimean ultimatum, the IRS scandal, and a dozen other examples of maximum incompetence. The speech captured the symbolic core of this hopeless administration, which consistently says and does things that bear little relation to reality and are intended only as vague gestures of good intentions.
Callista and I watched at home as President Obama was saying on one side of the screen, “I appeal to the law enforcement officials in Ferguson and the region to show care and restraint in managing peaceful protests that may occur.” On the other side of the split-screen there were violent protesters and cars and buildings burning.
As in so many other cases of the administration constructing its own imagined reality, much of the news media reinforced the President’s false narrative of peaceful, justified protests even as they stood on the street covering the violence and the burning. They then reported on every available demonstration around the country over the next few days even though in most places there were very few people involved.
The real lessons of Ferguson begin with facts this left wing President and the left wing media choose to ignore.
It is a fact that the whole incident began with Michael Brown stealing from a store. The theft is on video tape. One lesson is don’t steal.
It is a fact that in the process, Michael Brown bullied and shoved a small man of apparently Asian descent who was half his size. One lesson is don’t pick fights with innocent people.
It is a fact that Officer Wilson was responding to a call about someone who had broken the law. One lesson is when you commit a violent crime, the police are justified in showing up.
It is a fact that when the police tell you to do something, they reasonably expect you to obey. One lesson is do what the police instruct you to do in the service of their jobs. This left-wing belief that the police are wrong to issue orders to carry out their duties is an attack on the very structure of law and order.
It is a fact that if Michael Brown had obeyed Officer Wilson (or had he even disobeyed but not attacked the officer), there would almost certainly have been no shooting. One lesson is don’t assault police officers.
It is a fact that outside the Brown family, the African Americans most hurt by the Ferguson incident are not those whose psyche and sense of alienation are heightened. The real pain and damage caused by the Ferguson riots was largely to businesses owned by African Americans and to African American employees.
The St. Louis Dispatch published a partial list of the businesses burned, looted, or trashed by the rioters. None of them deserved to be destroyed by nihilistic thugs spending their Monday night hurting people and the community. Here is a partial list of suffering businesses:
Beauty World, heavily damaged on South Florissant Road.
Cathy’s Kitchen, restaurant on South Florissant.
Cose Dolci Bakery, on South Florissant.
El Palenque, Mexican restaurant damaged on South Florissant.
Faraci’s Pizza, on South Florissant.
Little Caesar’s, burned down North Florissant.
Natalie’s Cakes, local bakery damaged on South Florissant.
Dellwood Conoco, gas station burned down on West Florissant Avenue.
Fashions R Boutique, women’s boutique burned down on West Florissant.
Ferguson Market & Liquor, shop repeatedly looted and damaged on West Florissant.
Flood Christian Church, church attended by Michael Brown Sr. burned on West Florissant.
Sam’s Meat Market, local market repeatedly looted and damaged on West Florissant.
Solo Insurance Services, on West Florissant.
STL Cordless, mobile phone shop looted and damaged on West Florissant.
Hidden Treasures Antique Shop, on North Florissant.
None of these businesses had anything to do with the problems of policing but all of them suffered from Governor Nixon’s failure to call out the National Guard in a timely manner.
These were the buildings being destroyed as President Obama prattled on about peaceful demonstrations.
It is a fact that a grand jury that included three African Americans refused to indict Officer Wilson because they concluded he should not be charged with a crime. Virtually no one who promptly dismissed the grand jury’s findings has actually read the thousands of pages of testimony. Most did not even listen to the press conference describing them. One lesson is facts matter.
The best thing I have seen written about this tragedy was a Facebook Post by Benjamin Watson, the tight end of the New Orleans Saints. It is so powerful and so clear, and, sadly, such a strong contrast with President Obama’s destructive comments that I want to close this newsletter by quoting all of it.
He wrote:At some point while I was playing or preparing to play Monday Night Football, the news broke about the Ferguson Decision.
After trying to figure out how I felt, I decided to write it down. Here are my thoughts:
I’M ANGRY because the stories of injustice that have been passed down for generations seem to be continuing before our very eyes.
I’M FRUSTRATED, because pop culture, music and movies glorify these types of police citizen altercations and promote an invincible attitude that continues to get young men killed in real life, away from safety movie sets and music studios.
I’M FEARFUL because in the back of my mind I know that although I’m a law abiding citizen I could still be looked upon as a “threat” to those who don’t know me. So I will continue to have to go the extra mile to earn the benefit of the doubt.
I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.
I’M SAD, because another young life was lost from his family, the racial divide has widened, a community is in shambles, accusations, insensitivity hurt and hatred are boiling over, and we may never know the truth about what happened that day.
I’M SYMPATHETIC, because I wasn't there so I don’t know exactly what happened. Maybe Darren Wilson acted within his rights and duty as an officer of the law and killed Michael Brown in self defense like any of us would in the circumstance. Now he has to fear the backlash against himself and his loved ones when he was only doing his job. What a horrible thing to endure. OR maybe he provoked Michael and ignited the series of events that led to him eventually murdering the young man to prove a point.
I’M OFFENDED, because of the insulting comments I've seen that are not only insensitive but dismissive to the painful experiences of others.
I’M CONFUSED, because I don’t know why it’s so hard to obey a policeman. You will not win!!! And I don’t know why some policeman abuse their power. Power is a responsibility, not a weapon to brandish and lord over the populace.
I’M INTROSPECTIVE, because sometimes I want to take “our” side without looking at the facts in situations like these. Sometimes I feel like it’s us against them. Sometimes I’m just as prejudiced as people I point fingers at. And that’s not right. How can I look at white skin and make assumptions but not want assumptions made about me? That’s not right.
I’M HOPELESS, because I've lived long enough to expect things like this to continue to happen. I’m not surprised and at some point my little children are going to inherit the weight of being a minority and all that it entails.
I’M HOPEFUL, because I know that while we still have race issues in America, we enjoy a much different normal than those of our parents and grandparents. I see it in my personal relationships with teammates, friends and mentors. And it’s a beautiful thing.
I’M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn. BUT I’M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that’s capable of looking past the outward and seeing what’s truly important in every human being. The cure for the Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner tragedies is not education or exposure. It’s the Gospel. So, finally, I’M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.---------------- Newt Gingrich is a former Georgia Congressman and Speaker of the U.S. House. He co-authored and was the chief architect of the "Contract with America" and a major leader in the Republican victory in the 1994 congressional elections. He is noted speaker and writer. The above commentary was shared via Gingrich Productions. Tags:President Obama, Ferguson, Missouri, riots, destroyed, stores, real lessons, Newt Gingrich, Gingrich ProductionsTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Tags:Eric Holder, The Holder, igniting, stoking flames, racial tensions, ant-police frenzy, editorial cartoon, William WarrenTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Get this liberal agenda museum (conservative women have spoken out against this museum - see article) out of the National Defense Authorization (NDA) bill. Military are faced with cuts to their benefits; faced with proposed requirements to pay for a portion of their temporary duty expenses (expenses incurred when ordered to go somewhere else, other than your assigned location); and being released upon return from combat even if they had made the commitment of several years towards a military career or are only a few years from retirement. It really a quick kick in the rear for not having died for your county!
If a National Women's History Museum is going to be built with any tax dollars, then we need to have a National Men's History Museum, or better yet cut out this progressive sexist agenda at tax payers expense! There is NO extra Federal money! It would just be added to the National Debt to be paid for by our great grandchildren if the county hasn't collapsed. Other museum that have been build totally with private funds. Can't the Margret Sanger (referenced in article) progressives get their liberal billionaires to fund a museum.
The American voters were told that the Republicans leadership was going to cut the pork and the "hidden agendas." Who (name the representatives) added this to the end of NDA bill? Transparency please! Does the leadership support this action - make a public statement. The addition of this non-military "museum" to the National Defense Authorization Bill is blatant actions to pass a special agenda item on the coattails of the Department of Defense and thus the military. The taxpayers are sick of these actions.
On page 1,324, the bill mandates that this commission "shall" give Congress a "legislative plan of action" to construct the museum.
The plan for the museum commission has been criticized by conservative women's groups and leaders who believe it will be tilted toward a feminist, pro-abortion vision of American women--and that it will promote such figures as eugenicist Margaret Sanger and cost-free-contraception health-insurance entitlement advocate Sandra Fluke.
The bill makes no argument that a National Women's History Museum has anything to do the national defense.
The House may vote as early as Thursday on this 1,648-page bill that Americans could not see until late Tuesday night--leaving little time for citizens, let alone members of Congress, to read it in its entirety, or read it carefully, or have a national debate about its contents.
The bill is a model of bipartisan cooperation in Washington, D.C..
Section 3056 of the bill, which begins on page 1,318, is entitled "Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women's History Museum."
The bill goes on to say: "There is established the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women's History Museum. The Commission shall be composed of 8 members of whom (A) 2 members shall be appointed by the majority leader of the Senate; (B) 2 members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (C) 2 members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; and (D) 2 members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives."
This means that people hand-picked by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. John Boehner will decide how to frame and present in an official venue in Washington, D.C., the history of women in the United States.
Earlier this year, a large group of female conservative leaders and leaders of conservative women's groups sent a letter to members of Congress expressing their opposition to the creation of this commission.
Among the signatories of this letter were Alveda King, the niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King and director of African Outreach for Priests for Life; Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America; Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List; Phyliss Schlafly, the founder of Eagle Forum; Jeanne Monahan, president of March for Life; Lila Rose, president of Live Action; Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life; and Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute;
"While the idea of celebrating women is admirable, and some of the proposed exhibits are worthy, we are concerned that the content of such a museum would be slanted to represent the feminist ideology and would not provide an accurate portrayal of American women," said these conservative women.
"The website attached to this proposed museum references Margaret Sanger nine times," said their letter.
"It also highlights Sandra Fluke," it says.
"Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, was an avid supporter of sterilization and eugenics," said this letter from conservative women. "She targeted ethnic groups and certain classes of people to eliminate, because in her mind, they transmit objectionable traits to offspring. This mentality is appalling and extreme. Yet, those who support this effort would simply gloss over Sanger's less flattering history."
Page 1,321 of the National Defense Authorization Bill that the Republican leadership will bring up on the floor of the house says: "The Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a report containing recommendation of the Commission with respect to a plan of action for the establishment and maintenance of a National Women's History Museum in Washington, D.C."
Page 1,322 of the National Defense Authorization Bill provides a "Deadline" for this: "The reports required under subparagraphs (A) and (B) shall be published not later than the date that is 18 months after the date of the first meeting of the Commission."
In other words, the Republican leadership is planning for a committee comprised of appointees of Pelosi, Reid, McConnell and Boehner present their plan for a National Women's History Museum to President Barack Obama.
Members of Congress who read all the way to page 1,324 of the National Defense Authorization Bill that was released late Tuesday night will discover that the Pelosi-Reid-McConnell-Boehner Commission on a National Museum of Women's History will be required to submit to congressional committees "a legislative plan of action to establish and construct the Museum." Tags:pork, Liberal-Progressive, women's museum, Margret Sanger, Sandra Fluke, buried, National Defense Authorization bill, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Washington, D.C.— American Commitment, a national advocacy organization, is leading a coalition of 35 groups urging States to resist the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to coerce states into imposing ruinous new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. In a letter being released today—addressed to all of our nation’s State Legislators, Attorneys General, and Governors—the coalition states, “We urge you to fiercely resist any attempt to appease the EPA's demands. EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) is illegitimate, an affront to both federalism and the separation of powers.”
The letter states that “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to coerce states into adopting expensive, destructive, unlawful regulations, possibly including cap-and-trade, on greenhouse gas emissions—under the threat of even more draconian direct federal regulations.”
“We urge State leaders to aggressively fight back against this outrageous EPA attempt to backdoor the cap-and-trade plan already overwhelmingly rejected by the American people,” said Phil Kerpen, president of American Commitment. “These unlawful regulations would destroy thousands of manufacturing jobs and break the budgets of millions of Americans with higher energy prices. State leaders who rejected federal coercion to set up Obamacare exchanges were rewarded politically, and state leaders who resist the EPA will be as well.”
The coalition letter notes that Congress clearly has not authorized, and even rejected these plans: “When Congress enacted and amended the Clean Air Act, it did not authorize EPA to restructure state electricity policies. If at any time during the past six years, a U.S. senator or congressman had introduced legislation containing the CPP’s emission-reduction requirements, the bill would have been dead on arrival. Indeed, even when Democrats had a supermajority in the Senate, they chose not to consider House-passed cap-and-trade legislation.”
The letter concludes, “You have a responsibility to your constituents not to acquiesce in the face of the EPA's threats, but to fight vigorously against them. We urge you to do so.”
--------------------- Dr. Bill Smith, Editor: I endorse this effort! Below is a copy of the letter with the names of the Coalition members working on behalf of the American people.Dear State Legislators, Attorneys General, and Governors:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to coerce states into adopting expensive, destructive, unlawful regulations, possibly including cap-and-trade, on greenhouse gas emissions – under the threat of even more draconian direct federal regulations.
We urge you to fiercely resist any attempt to appease the EPA's demands. EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP) is illegitimate, an affront to both federalism and the separation of powers.
When Congress enacted and amended the Clean Air Act, it did not authorize EPA to restructure state electricity policies. If at any time during the past six years, a U.S. senator or congressman had introduced legislation containing the CPP’s emission-reduction requirements, the bill would have been dead on arrival. Indeed, even when Democrats had a supermajority in the Senate, they chose not to consider House-passed cap-and-trade legislation.
Moreover, the CPP is unlawful and almost certain to be overturned. EPA stretches the pertinent statutory authority, section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, beyond all recognition. This obscure, seldom-used provision was designed to set technology-based emission standards for “particular sources,” aptly defined as “designated facilities” in EPA’s 1974-1975 implementing regulations. In the CPP, EPA illicitly treats the entire electric power sector of a state as a “particular source,” and illicitly sets emission standards based not on technologies specific to coal power plants but on the agency’s wish list of ‘green’ energy policies.
The Supreme Court recently cautioned EPA against interpreting the Clean Air Act in ways that “would bring about an enormous and transformative expansion in EPA’s regulatory authority without clear congressional authorization.”
Evidently, EPA still cannot control its appetite for power.
Instead of trying to bargain with EPA, leaders like you should send a clear message to the federal government that if it insists on pursuing the regulatory equivalent of punitive energy taxes, it must promulgate and implement that policy itself -- and be held solely accountable for the disastrous consequences that will follow.
These regulations will destroy thousands of jobs and break the household budgets of millions of American families struggling to make ends meet -- even if states undertake their best efforts to blunt their impacts.
There is simply no feasible or responsible way to implement these greenhouse gas regulations without undermining economic growth. Moreover, any attempt to do so would have zero environmental benefit as other countries will more than offset any decrease in U.S. emissions.
Worse, these heavy-handed regulations will render the United States less competitive in a global economy, sending more energy-intensive manufacturing facilities abroad in search of more affordable electricity. American workers jobs will be lost, and businesses and consumers will face higher prices.
You will never regret saying no and forcing the federal government to implement its own destructive agenda. States that chose to implement their own health care exchanges learned this the hard way, as federal bureaucrats micromanaged every aspect of the exchanges and state-level politicians ended up being held responsible for the program's many failures.
Resistance to these regulations is not futile!
The 114th Congress will undoubtedly vote to overturn them, their prospects in court are dismal, and the next presidential election could bring an end to EPA’s war on coal.
State-implementation would entail buy-in from state policymakers and the creation of special interests in state capitals that would benefit from regulation at the expense of your constituents. State actions may therefore persist even after the federal rule is rescinded. A plan imposed by the EPA will be inherently easier to resist and reverse.
You have a responsibility to your constituents not to acquiesce in the face of the EPA's threats, but to fight vigorously against them. We urge you to do so.
60 Plus Association
American Energy Alliance
Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Tax Reform
Association of Mature American Citizens
Center for Civic Virtue
Center for Freedom and Prosperity
Center for Individual Freedom
Club for Growth
Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Energy & Environmental Legal Institute
Family Business Defense Council
Frontiers of Freedom
Heritage Action for America
Independent Women’s Forum
Independent Women’s Voice
Institute for Liberty
Maryland Taxpayers Association
National Center for Public Policy Research
National Tax Limitation Committee
National Taxpayers Union
Restore America’s Voice
Restore America’s Mission
Revive America PAC
Rule of Law Committee
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.
United for Missouri
Tags:Conservative Organizations, Coalition, urges states, resist EPA, Coercive Power Plan, back door, CAP and Trade, War on Coal, war on energy, war on natural resources, war on states, editorial cartoon, Gary Varvel, American CommitmentTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
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