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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 (429-347 BC)

Saturday, June 08, 2013

All the Things We Do Not Know

Fidel Castro Enters Havana 1959
Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: On January 8, 1959 as Fidel Castro was entering Havana after the dictator, Fulgencio Batista, fled the revolution that Castro had led there was much joy among the Cuban people except for those closely allied with the Batista regime and those who saw Fidel as a communist. Many of them fled and Miami would become an outpost and a hotbed of hatred for Castro.

That year I was a 22-year-old senior at the University of Miami where some wealthier Cuban families sent their sons and daughters for a higher education. I recall discussing the events with a young Cuban, Blas Herero, who was wondering if he should return. I was utterly clueless. Other than reading some articles that portrayed Castro as a liberator, what I knew about Cuba and Castro could have fit nicely in a bug’s ear.

Castro had been actively trying to overthrow Batista since 1953. His brother, Raul, was known to be a communist and Che Guevera was a Marxist. As far as the U.S. government was concerned, Castro was a problem. He was a problem, too, for the Mafia that owned the casinos in Havana that were a major source of income. Batista received his payoff and the skim, overseen by Meyer Lansky, went to the Mafia bosses who had invested in the casinos. Castro would close them down.

Someone who knows a lot about such matters is William Wayand Turner, the author of a new book, “The Cuban Connection: Nixon, Castro, and the Mob” ($25.00, Prometheus Books). Turner is a former FBI agent who became an investigative journalist and author. Among his other books are “Deadly Secrets: The CIA War Against Castro” and “The Assassination of JFK” with co-author Warren Hinkle. Turner has personally interviewed many top Mafia members and many who were with Castro at the time and since.

Castro had more lives than the proverbial cat. He has survived more assassination attempts on his life that are known. He had the kind of luck that’s rare, but many of the attempts, frequently the plots of the CIA and some in collusion with the Mafia, simply were bungled failures.

The most famous effort to overthrow Castro was the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 16, 1961, organized by the CIA and it was a huge embarrassment to President Kennedy and his brother Robert who at the time was the Attorney General. A year later, in October 1962 when I was in the U.S. Army, we all waited thirteen days to learn the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was part of the Second Infantry Division and we were on full alert. Still in my twenties at the time, I was still essentially clueless about what had occurred except for what I heard on television. I was relieved the crisis was over and was discharged shortly thereafter.

It’s what you do not know about what the government is up to that can get a lot of people killed. For example, on June 3rd, President Obama will sign off on a UN treaty which, if ratified by the Senate, would override the Second Amendment and deprive Americans of the right to own guns. The National Association of Gun Rights is circulating a petition to be sent to our senators to oppose it.

The problems the U.S. government encountered with Castro and his revolution began in April 1959 when the American Society of Newspaper Editors invited him to visit the U.S. President Eisenhower avoided meeting with him by being conveniently absent to play a round of golf in North Carolina. Richard Nixon, the Vice President, was assigned to meet Castro and Nixon who had risen to fame as an anti-communist had a three-hour meeting with him that destroyed any of Castro’s hopes to align Cuba with the U.S. The Soviet Union stepped in to become Cuba’s best friend.

“There are opinions pro and con,” writes Wayand, “as to whether Castro was a communist before his revolutionary victory. Jim Noel, the CIA station chief in Havana, traveled to the Sierra Maestra range, where the revolutionary was based, to see for himself. His take was that Castro was not a communist. Representative Charles Porter, who spent quality time with Castro in Washington, was convinced he wasn’t in the shadow of Karl Marx. The evidence stacks up that when Castro left Washington for home, he was not a believer in communism. This is convincingly illustrated by his vehement reaction to Nixon’s charge that his administration was riddled with communists.”

Fifty-five years later Cuba is firmly a communist nation with an authoritarian government and a captive population just ninety miles off the coast of Florida. For that we can thank Nixon. An irony of history was the fact that many of those caught during the bungled Watergate break-in were CIA contractors who had taken a role in some of the assassination attempts.

It’s the things we do not know about that the government is doing that shape history and which currently are eroding rights that Americans take for granted.

What we are learning today is that the Obama administration has been waging a war on conservative organizations and a growing number of individuals who are coming forward to share their stories of how the Internal Revenue Service has been used to harass them.

What we know is that Obama is abandoning the Middle East to the control of al Qaeda and affiliated Islamist groups.

What we know is that the Obama administration engaged in a secretive program to run guns to the drug cartels in Mexico. An investigation into “Fast and Furious” was shut down by an Obama executive order.

What we know is that the administration has engaged in a hoax to hide the true facts behind the attack that killed a U.S. ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, and those who know what actually happened, including the President and the former Secretary of State, are still stonewalling inquiries. Others closer to the event have been silenced.

As Turner’s book makes clear, it is what we do not know that is the real problem.
© 2013 Alan Caruba. Alan is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column, "Warning Signs" disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

Tags: Cuba, Fidel Castro, All Things We Do Not Know, Alan Caruba To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Big Government Is Watching You Through PRISM and Phone Records

Gary Bauer, Contributing Author: If it weren't for the administration's attack on our First Amendment and Second Amendment rights, its use of the IRS to intimidate and silence its critics, its reliance on class warfare and use of secret email addresses, and if it weren't for its actual day-to-day weakness in confronting radical Islam, we might be willing to trust it more on a whole host of things. But why would anyone trust this gang with massive amounts of data about who we call, what emails we send, what books we read and what Internet sites we visit?

Emails and Internet Data Too
Yesterday it was phone records. Today we are learning that the Obama Administration is also routinely accessing vast amounts of online data from the world's leading tech firms through a top secret program called PRISM.

Today's Washington Post reports: "The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs." The companies involved are:  AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, Yahoo and YouTube.

The Obama Administration insists the program is intended to track only foreign terrorists or spies, adding that there are "extensive procedures" in place to "minimize the acquisition, retention and dissemination of incidentally acquired information about U.S. persons." But doesn't that suggest that the "acquisition, retention and dissemination" of information about U.S. citizens is in fact taking place?

The intelligence officer who provided the top secret data to the Washington Post commented, "They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type." Fact or alarmism? Who knows?

Big Brother Barack
Yesterday, newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic broke a story by the left-wing British paper the Guardian that the Obama Administration is not only seizing the phone records of journalists, but of millions of other Americans too.

The Guardian reports that Obama's National Security Agency obtained a secret court order demanding Verizon turn over all of its phone records on an "ongoing, daily basis." Phone calls were not being listened to, but the information collected would allow the government to know "the identity of every person with whom an individual communicates electronically, how long they spoke, and their location at the time of the communication."

One left-wing civil rights group called the order, "the broadest surveillance order to ever have been issued: it requires no level of suspicion and applies to all Verizon subscribers anywhere in the U.S."

As the story developed throughout the day, leading senators on the Intelligence Committee said the program has been in place for seven years and that Congress has been routinely briefed. Other senators disputed that. Sen. Lindsey Graham defended the program. However, some senators have said that Americans would be "stunned" if they knew the full extent of the surveillance of U.S. citizens.

In war, it is often necessary to do things that you would not do in peacetime. But such things are done ultimately to preserve all of our liberties. If Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush were in office, I and other Americans might be more comfortable with this program, knowing we could trust them not to abuse the information.

But with this regime -- given all we know about its attempts to intimidate the news media and to use the IRS to silence its critics -- I have no tolerance for this sort of massive data seizure.

Think about this: Obama's politically correct military missed all the signals about the radicalization of Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan. Even after he murdered 14 people, top officers fretted about "diversity." We were told that the government missed the Tsarnaev brothers because the anti-terror database was "too big" and "vague."

Yet, the same government is seizing all our phone records, and the IRS is zeroing in on a mother in Alabama for merely wanting to promote the values of our country's founding. Something is very wrong. Add this latest development to the growing list of items requiring congressional review and oversight.
Gary Bauer is is a conservative family values advocate and serves as president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families where his articles are also shared.

Tags: Big Government, checking all Americans, data mining, PRISM, phone Records, Gary Bauer, Campaign for Working Families To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Repeal, Don’t Expand, Ethanol Mandate

Phil Kerpen, Contributing Author: Sometimes big government becomes so big that even good conservatives find themselves unwittingly advocating expansions of government in response to its failures. That’s precisely what U. S. Rep. Pete Olsen (R-Texas) is doing with the new “solution” he has offered to the egregious humanitarian and economic scandal the ethanol mandate, officially known at the Renewable Fuels Standard or RFS, has become.

In the wake of rising food and feedstock prices caused by corn-based ethanol, Olsen and several other members of Congress think the answer is to expand the RFS to include ethanol derived from natural gas. The result would be a spike in natural gas prices, hurting manufacturers and consumers.

The current ethanol mandate is a disaster and serves as a poster child of what happens when government attempts to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. It has already given us the embarrassment of EPA mandates for cellulosic biofuels that don’t even exist, fraudulent trading of fake renewable credits, and approval of fuels with 15 percent ethanol that can damage engines (and which car warranties won’t cover). We are It’s now approaching a so-called “blend wall” where it will be physically impossible to blend the ever-increasing required volumes of renewable fuels into the total U.S. fuel supply.

The biggest scandal is the impact the RFS has had on the food supply. Last year we reached a new high of 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop being burned as ethanol, which combined with drought conditions to badly squeeze livestock and poultry producers.

Two Democratic governors – Bev Purdue of North Carolina and Mike Beebe of Arkansas – officially petitioned the EPA to grant a waiver from the RFS. They were joined by a bipartisan group of 26 senators and 156 House members.

A study by professors at Purdue University quantified the price impact, finding that a strong waiver could reduce the price of corn by as much as $1.30 per bushel.

Jose Graziano da Silva, the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization weighed in warning: “An immediate, temporary suspension of that mandate would give some respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channeled towards food and feed uses.”

But the EPA said no. So the food burning continues unchecked.

In steps Rep. Olsen, who deserves credit for supporting full repeal, but is unfortunately dividing his efforts by also introducing legislation that actually expands the mandate. His bill, H.R. 1959, the Domestic Alternative Fuels Act, would expand the RFS by allowing natural gas to qualify as a renewable fuel.

That might relieve pressure on corn prices, but only by artificially boosting demand for natural gas – driving up the price of a vital feedstock and energy source that’s powering the resurgence of American manufacturing.

It also is directly at cross-purposes with the whole idea of promoting “renewable fuels,” which were supposed to be anything but fossil fuels like natural gas. The theory was we were running out of oil and gas domestically, and alternatives would displace imports. But American energy security is no longer in peril, with booming oil and gas production thanks to technological advances in hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. We’re leading the world in petroleum production already and projections show continued increases. So why convert natural gas to ethanol? Why mandate ethanol use at all? What’s the point?

The motivation of some corporate supporters of H.R. 1959 may be to artificially increase natural gas prices that have fallen with the production boom. While low gas prices have been a huge boon to Americans paying their home heating bills and to manufacturers, some major natural gas producers aren’t as appreciative of lower prices for their product.

They tried, and failed, to support massive direct subsidies through the so-called Nat Gas Act until it crashed into a brick-wall of principled opposition from limited government conservatives. Its lead sponsor, John Sullivan of Oklahoma, even lost in a primary over the issue. Olsen’s bill could, for some, represent a backdoor way to accomplish the same dubious goal of higher natural gas prices.

The bottom line is that government should not be imposing mandates on the fuel supply, and as long as it does we’ll face negative economic consequences. The RFS can’t be fixed by being expanded; it must be repealed.
© 2013 Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment and the author of Democracy Denied: How Obama is Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America – and How to Stop Him.  Phil Kerpen is a contributing author for the ARRA News Service.

Tags: ethanol mandates, food in fuel, mandates on fuel, natural gas, H.R. 1959, Phil Kerpen, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Sebelius Solicited Money To Promote Obamacare From Companies She Regulates

Someone needs to tell Sebelius that she is not in Kansas anymore.  Just a minute after reading about her latest  "brass monkey" actions, I have a reminder for Kathleen  Sebelius, you are not "in Kansas anymore."  Maybe her recent disregard for sanity and the proper way of doing things evidences the need to look into her past and how she operated as Gov. of Kansas

Guy Benson at has summarized the Secretary of Health and Human Services latest activity in fleecing companies regulated by her department and urged them to help a nonprofit group promote President Obama’s health care law.

Oh yes, the oft-overlooked fourth scandal.  Kathleen Sebelius appeared at a House hearing yesterday and confirmed that the broad strokes of a Washington Post report published last month were true:
Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, disclosed on Tuesday that she had made telephone calls to three companies regulated by her department and urged them to help a nonprofit group promote President Obama’s health care law. She identified the companies as Johnson & Johnson, the drug maker; Ascension Health, a large Roman Catholic health care system; and Kaiser Permanente, the health insurance plan. At a hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Ms. Sebelius said she did not explicitly ask the companies for money, but urged them to support the work of the nonprofit group, Enroll America. The group, led by former Obama administration officials, is working with the White House to publicize the 2010 health care law and help uninsured people sign up for coverage. Republicans in Congress have raised questions about the legality and propriety of Ms. Sebelius’s fund-raising efforts, saying she was trying to circumvent limits on spending set by Congress...Ms. Sebelius said that no federal law prevented her from trying to raise money from companies regulated by her department. However, she said, she voluntarily decided not to make fund-raising appeals to such companies. Ms. Sebelius said that she had made a total of five calls soliciting support for Enroll America, and that she did not know if anyone else in her department had also done so. She said she “never discussed” the solicitations with anyone at the White House.
Of course she didn't.  No one ever tells anyone else anything within this administration, haven't you heard?  And let me see if I'm understanding Sebelius' contention here.  She "voluntarily decided not to make fundraising appeals" to companies over which she wields enormous power -- but she did, er, phone them up and "urge" them to support the cause?  How exactly does that work?  She also cites precedents from the Clinton and Bush years to justify her actions, but those comparisons are strained.  Did staffers in those administrations pressure companies under their direct purview to pick up the funding slack on behalf of a controversial law for that Congress had explicitly refused to subsidize any further?  I must have missed that.  Some Congressional Republicans believe Sebelius may have violated the law in undertaking these fundraising "urging" efforts.  The US Office of Special Counsel determined last year that she had previously violated the Hatch Act by abusing her official position for political purposes.  Here's Sebelius explaining to Rep. Trey Gowdy how she really can't answer his question about whether any other HHS officials were involved in this questionable funds-solicitation scheme:

Can she at least say whether or not she took pre-hearing notes from Eric Holder?  The Obama transparency foibles continue.  On that score, I'll leave you with this, via Bloomberg News:
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which Obama exempted from sequestration to protect veterans, last week tried blaming the cuts for its failure to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request we filed with the agency in December 2011. We wanted access to all documents detailing hundreds of millions of dollars in potentially illegal VA spending with a pharmaceutical supplier. A lot has happened in the 17 months since the request was filed...and the VA still hasn’t given us access to all the documents sought. Reason cited: “Given sequestration and budget cuts, instead of three (3) previously, we now have only two (2) full-time FOIA staff to process about two hundred fifty (250) FOIA requests received per year,” Richard Ha, a Freedom of Information Act officer, said in a letter last week asking us to narrow the scope of our request. “Please be advised that your FOIA requests, as they are, place an unreasonable burden onto this FOIA office.”
One sector of the federal government attempted to rationalize their lack of responsiveness to journalists' transparency-seeking FOIA requests by blaming the president's sequester "cuts" (read: reductions in the rate of spending increase)...from which they were explicitly exempted, and that went into effect long after said requests were filed.

Tags: Kathleen Sebelius, Solicited Money, To Promote Obamacare, From Companies To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

EPA, Accused of Bias and Discrimination Against Conservative Groups

Washington, D.C. – Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise today led 34 other Members of Congress in demanding answers from the EPA on bias and discrimination against conservative-leaning groups.

The letter to Acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe stems from a report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) analyzing the discriminatory handling of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) fee waiver requests for left and right leaning organizations.  The CEI findings show that the EPA approved FOIA fee-waivers 92 percent of the time for left-leaning groups, but denied the same requests 93 percent of the time for right-leaning groups.

“Granting waivers to more than 90 percent of left-leaning groups while denying waivers to more than 90 percent of right-leaning groups is not a coincidence, and is another example of the Obama Administration’s political thuggery against people who don’t agree with their liberal political views,” Scalise said.  “Politics should not play a role in approving or denying fee waivers, and the EPA clearly crossed the line by injecting bias and favoritism into their decision making process.  The American people deserve a fair, honest, accountable, and transparent federal government, but all we’ve been seeing lately from the Obama Administration is a disturbing pattern of favoritism for their friends while targeting and punishing their enemies.  From the IRS to the NLRB and now to the EPA, this is just the latest in an alarming string of scandals and bias from the Obama Administration that has left a serious crack in the public trust. The EPA’s liberal bias and unequal treatment based on political leanings indeed raises serious questions that need to be answered, and I look forward to a swift reply.”

In the letter, Scalise specifically demanded that the EPA disclose:
  • Who at EPA is in charge of determining whether fee-waiver requests are granted or denied?
  • What review processes are in place to ensure bias in decision-making does not occur?
  • What are the consequences for employees who are found to have discriminated against American citizens based on their political views?
  • How will your internal review capture the time-frame not referenced in the CEI findings?
  • What actions have you taken and do you plan to take to hold those accountable for any biased handling of FOIA fee waiver requests at the EPA?
The full letter can be found here.

ags: EPA, accused. bias, discrimination, EPA, Against, Conservative Groups, Republican Study Committee, Steve Scalise To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Retailers Pressured to Stop Selling Thousands of Products

Alan Caruba, Contributing Author: Can you imagine going to Wal-Mart, Kroger’s, Safeway, Home Depot, and Best Buy, as well as your favorite supermarket only to find that literally thousands of products that rely on a wide range of chemicals to perform had been removed from the shelves?

That is the objective of “Mind the Store”, a campaign by an extensive coalition of environmental and health groups, to remove commonly used products such as cleaning supplies, furniture, children’s toys, food packaging, water bottles and a very long list of others that actually provide a healthier home and work environment for Americans.

In late May, another coalition, mostly free market advocates, sent a letter to the retailers mentioned and others, expressing their concern about the “Mind the Store” campaign and urging them “to stand firm against this well-funded, anti-science campaign of fear. Families don’t need false alarmism; they need access to safe and affordable products that make their lives easier, safer, cleaner and more comfortable.

Twenty-one representatives of groups signed the letter. I am an adviser to two of them, The Heartland Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), but joining them was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Center for Public Policy Research, the Family Business Defense Council, National Center for Policy Analysis, and even the founder of Tea Party Nation.

Arrayed against them in the "Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families" coalition that has launched the new pressure campaign is a rogue’s gallery of environmental organizations that include Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and a number of “health” organizations that depend on keeping the public frightened in order to raise funds. They include the Association for Reproductive Health and Developmental Disabilities, Breast Cancer Fund, Autism Society of America, and the Learning Disabilities Association.

In the letter to retailers concerning the “Mind the Store” campaign, the coalition stated that the “Safer, Healthy Families organization which is leading the effort” to get thousands of products removed “is notorious for spreading incomplete information about chemicals. While the organization portrays itself as a consumer ‘watchdog’, it is better described as an attack dog determined to destroy free enterprise and consumer choice.”

“The organization has a pattern of relying on junk science; it capitalizes on the natural anxieties of parents by spreading scary stories about a long list of common products…”

In 1990 I created The National Anxiety Center as a clearinghouse for information about “scare campaigns” designed to influence public opinion and policies. In 2011, I wrote a six-part series about the on-going international attack on Bisphenal-A (BPA), a chemical that has been safely used for decades to protect plastic bottlers and other containers against the threat of botulism and breakage. It has been exonerated from the charges that continue to be made against it by the U.S. government, Canada, and other nations.

“Mind the Store” continues to spread lies about BPA, phthalates, formaldehyde, and certain flame retardants. All of these and more ensure a safer environment for the consumer. As the letter to retailers notes, “flame retardants, which are now common in furniture and building materials, are largely responsible for the sharp decline in household fires since the 1970s. Formaldehyde, which is used in personal care products, helps prevent bacterial growth. Phthalates are added to plastics to make toys less breakable. And Bisphenal-A, a chemical used in food packaging, safeguards against deadly botulism in canned food.”

On its Internet page, “Mind the Store” repeats all the lies that environmental and some “health” groups have been telling for decades. The language used speaks of “links” to diseases from cancer to asthma. There is a vast difference between alleged “links”, often based a skewed “scientific” studies, and the real science that has been conducted by U.S. and other governmental agencies.

“Mind the Store” is the continuation of well-funded campaigns that are, as often as not, simply repeated, but never investigated, claims intended to harm the economy and deprive consumers of products that keep them safe.
© 2013 Alan Caruba. Alan is a writer by profession; has authored several books, and writes a daily column,"Warning Signs" disseminated on many Internet news and opinion websites and blogs. He is a contributing author at ARRA News Service.

Tags: Alan Caruba, warning signs, Mind the Store, lies, non-investigate claims, damaging, Wal-Mart, Kroger’s, Safeway, Home Depot, and Best Buy, Customers access to goods To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

More Obamacare Polling: 49% Believe Bad Idea | 2 To 1 Believe They Are Worse Off Than Will Benefit

Today in Washington, DC - June 7, 2013
The House is not in session today.

The Senate began consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 744, the immigration reform bill. Senators will have all day to debate whether to take up the bill.

On Monday, debate on the motion to proceed will continue. At 5 PM, the Senate will resume consideration of S. 954, the farm bill. There will be a vote on an amendment offered by Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and then a vote on final passage of S. 954.

Yesterday, Democrats blocked the Senate from taking up the Republican student loan bill (S. 1003), which would have relied on market forces to set sensible rates for all student loans. Democrats then failed to get the 60 votes needed to take up their political student loan bill (S. 953), which even differed from the president’s plan.

Also yesterday the Senate voted to invoke cloture (to close off debate and limit amendments) on the farm bill, S. 954.

In a story headlined “As NSA and China loom, Obama to talk health law,” Politico notes that “Obama may try to briefly pivot to health care” in a speech in San Jose today. The president apparently wants to tout his as unpopular as ever health care legislation that’s filled headlines over the first half of the year with the serious problems surrounding its implementation and its raft of broken promises.

Yesterday that while Politico reported that “President Barack Obama is expected to go on the road and pump up the law in campaign-style speeches” a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that “Americans' unease with President Barack Obama's health-care law has intensified.” The poll found that “the number calling [the health care law] a bad idea reached a high of 49%.” In fact, “far more people think they will be worse off under the new law than those who think they will benefit from it, 38% to 19%, the new Journal/NBC poll found.” NBC notes, “That's the highest percentage of respondents to express a negative outlook toward ‘Obamacare’ since 2010, when the president signed this ... legislation into law. . . .”

Seemingly every day there’s a new story about how the implementation of this unpopular law is negatively impacting businesses, families, and individuals. Today, The Wall Street Journal reports, “President Barack Obama is heading to California to tout premiums for new health plans that will be sold on the state’s insurance exchange. Ahead of that visit, his officials are getting early incoming fire from officials in Ohio, who say that premiums for their state have jumped dramatically because of the health-care law’s new requirements for richer benefits. Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor . . . announced Thursday that regulators in the Buckeye State are looking at proposed premiums for 2014 for individual health insurance plans that will be sold in the state as part of the health law’s marketplace, which the federal government is operating. For some people in the state, that means hefty increases from what they were paying in 2013, because insurance companies must offer a more generous level of benefits as part of the law and some of the skimpy plans that used to be available will change or go away. The most basic plan that a 25-year-old male could buy in 2013 from one unnamed company cost $29.62 a month, and a 25-year-old female would pay $40.87 for the same plan, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. That company is proposing to charge $198.64 for its most basic offering for 25-year-olds regardless of sex in 2014, the department said. ‘The department’s initial analysis of the proposed rates show consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014,’ said Ms. Taylor, who said the department’s summary of the plans was preliminary, but ‘meant to underscore the mandates forced onto Ohio.’”

In an op-ed for the San Jose Mercury News today, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) writes, “President Obama should admit that millions of hardworking Americans will see their premiums continue to rise. The health care law is a maze of new mandates, regulations, and tax increases. Those tax increases, on everything from medical devices to health insurance plans, will be passed on to consumers. Every item the law requires insurers to provide will add to the cost. . . . How much will premiums go up? At first glance, it looked as if the increases in the Covered California exchange might not be so bad. Then Avik Roy, a health care scholar at the Manhattan Institute, realized the state was comparing apples and oranges. A more precise comparison showed that many Californians could see their rates double. For a typical 40-year old man who doesn't smoke, premiums in the exchange could increase by 116 percent. In Santa Clara County, his rates could go up 126 percent.”

Barrasso argues, “[T]he president should admit that paying for his health care law is balanced on the backs of young Americans. Under the law, young healthy people have to pay more, so that older, sicker people can pay less. They have to buy high-priced, government-mandated insurance they may not need, or want, or that's not right for them. If they don't, the whole scheme will collapse under its own weight. At the same time, many businesses are hesitant to add new workers or are shifting to more part-time employees. It's because the law says companies with more than 50 full-time employees have to provide expensive one-size-fits-all health insurance. That means many of these same young people are having a tough time finding a good job. Even the city of Long Beach is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to less than 27 hours a week, on average. The city says that if it doesn't cut back hours, the new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year. They also say the extra expense could trigger layoffs and cutbacks in city services. This means reduced take home pay for workers who see their hours cut.”

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said recently, “I can’t even count how many times [the president has] done one of these ‘pivots’ at this point, so I won’t try. But I presume he’ll jet off around the country to campaign-style rallies in order to bash Congress and claim that none of this is his fault. . . .  I’d be willing to bet that he’s not going to take responsibility there for Obamacare’s negative effects on our economy either, or on so many American families and small businesses. It’s about time he did  . . .   he needs to be straight with the American people. He needs to prepare them for everything that’s coming – the wage cuts, the lost jobs, the higher premiums."

Tags: polls, Obamacare, President Obama To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Poll: Americans Don’t Like Obamacare

As President Obama Preps ‘Campaign-Style Speeches’ To Promote His Health Law, Its Unpopularity Soars
‘Far More People Think They Will Be Worse Off Under The New Law’
WJS / NBC Poll: “Americans' unease with President Barack Obama's health-care law has intensified…” (“Poll Finds Support Slumping For Health Law,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/6/13)
  • Poll: ‘the number calling it a bad idea reached a high of 49%’ “Prior Journal/NBC polls have found more people calling the health law a bad idea rather than a good one. But the number calling it a bad idea reached a high of 49% in a poll of 1,000 adults taken between May 30 and June 2, with 43% "strongly" holding that view.” Ibid
  • Poll: “…far more people think they will be worse off under the new law than those who think they will benefit from it, 38% to 19%, the new Journal/NBC poll found.” Ibid
  • “That’s the highest percentage of respondents to express a negative outlook toward “Obamacare” since 2010, when the president signed this signature piece of legislation into law following an extended, bruising battle in Congress.” Ibid
  • Poll: “Among those adults who currently buy insurance on their own, 48% think they will be worse off as a result of the new law, compared with the 13% who said they would be better off.” Ibid
President Plans To ‘Pump Up The Law In Campaign-Style Speeches’
“…President Barack Obama is expected to go on the road and pump up the law in campaign-style speeches… is slated to talk about it in San Jose, Calif., on Friday.” (“Selling Of Obamacare Under Way,” Politico, 6/6/13)

Tags: polling, poll, Americans, don't like, Obamacare To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Poll: Most Say IRS’ Targeting Was Politics-Driven

NYT/CBS Survey: ‘Most Americans Regardless Of Party Believe Political Reasons Drove The Internal Revenue Service’
NYT/CBS: 68% ‘Think The IRS Targeting Was Motivated By Politics’
“Regardless of their party affiliation, Americans think the Internal Revenue Service was wrong to target conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, and that it was done for political reasons and not because officials felt it was the right policy to pursue, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.” (“I.R.S. Targeting Of Conservatives Wrong, Most Say In Poll,” The New York Times, 6/6/13)

“Most Americans regardless of party believe political reasons drove the Internal Revenue Service to single out for burdensome and unnecessary scrutiny some conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll out Thursday.” (“Poll: Most Say IRS' Targeting Was Politics-Driven,” CBS News, 6/6/13)
  • ‘Sixty-eight percent of respondents… 60 percent of Democrats… said they think the IRS targeting was motivated by politics’ “Sixty-eight percent of respondents- 80 percent of Republicans, 60 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents - said they think the IRS targeting was motivated by politics, rather than adherence to the tax code policy.” (“Poll: Most Say IRS' Targeting Was Politics-Driven,” CBS News, 6/6/13)
IRS Employee: ‘Everything Comes From The Top’

“The claim that the ongoing IRS scandal is limited to low level employees is falling apart.” (“Reality Check Exclusive: Cincinnati Agent Giving Orders In IRS Scandal?” Fox19 [OH], 5/21/13)
  • “The Internal Revenue Service has told House GOP investigators they have identified 88 IRS employees who may have documents relevant to the congressional investigation into targeting of conservative groups, according to a congressional source familiar with the investigation.” (“IRS Collects Docs From 88 Employees In Investigation,” CNN, 5/31/13)

    Cincinnati IRS Worker: ‘Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions...’ “‘We’re not political,’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. ‘We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.’” (“At Cincinnati IRS Office, Surprise Over Claims Of Partisan Villainy,” The Washington Post, 5/17/13)“Two Internal Revenue Service employees in the agency's Cincinnati office told congressional investigators that IRS officials in Washington helped direct the probe of tea-party groups that began in 2010.
Transcripts of the interviews, viewed Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, appear to contradict earlier statements by top IRS officials…” (“IRS Staff Cite Washington Link,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/13)
  • IRS Worker Gary Muthert: Local Manager told him ‘Washington, D.C., wanted some cases’ “The Cincinnati employee who conducted the search, Gary Muthert, said he started gathering applications in March 2010, at the request of an unidentified local manager, who allegedly told him that ‘Washington, D.C., wanted some cases,’ according to the transcripts.” (“IRS Staff Cite Washington Link,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/13)
  • IRS Worker Elizabeth Hofacre: ‘I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull's influence or input… Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington’ “Elizabeth Hofacre said her office in Cincinnati sought help from IRS officials in the Washington unit that oversees tax-exempt organizations after she started getting the tea-party cases in April 2010. Ms. Hofacre said Carter Hull, an IRS lawyer in Washington, closely oversaw her work and suggested some of the questions asked applicants. ‘I was essentially a front person, because I had no autonomy or no authority to act on [applications] without Carter Hull's influence or input,’ she said, according to the transcripts. ” (“IRS Staff Cite Washington Link,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/5/13)
Colleen Kelley, NTEU President: “[E]verything about the working life of a federal employee is decided by someone who is elected.” (“Federal Workers’ Defense,” The Hill, 5/15/12)

Tags: Poll, IRS, Targeting,  To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Chris Christie is Full of It

by William Warren

Tags: New Jersey, Governor, Chris Christie, Full if It, editorial cartoon, William Warren To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

WSJ/NBC Poll: Health Care Law's Unpopularity Reaches New Highs

Today in Washington, D.C, June 6, 2013
The Senate reconvened today and resumed consideration of S. 954, the farm bill.  They voted 75-26 to invoke cloture (to close off debate and limit amendments) on the farm bill (S. 954).  Then Democrats voted against cloture on the motion to proceed to (i.e. whether to take up) the Republican student loan bill (S. 1003), which would have relied on market forces to set sensible rates for all student loans. Senators then voted against cloture on the motion to proceed to the Senate Democrats’ bill to play politics with student loans (S. 953).

Presently, Sen. Lautenberg lays in repose in the Senate chamber to allow senators, staff, and the public to pay their respects.

WARNING: This morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) filed cloture on the motion to proceed (i.e. whether to consider, debate, and amend) the immigration reform bill, S. 744.

The House today finished action on and passed H.R. 2217 (245-182) — "Making appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014, and for other purposes."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement praising the House for approving two bipartisan bills this week providing critical funding for homeland security, America’s veterans, and disaster recovery:dir>“Keeping America secure and taking care of our veterans are two of our most fundamental responsibilities, and the bipartisan appropriations bills passed by the House this week do both. They also make sure resources are available to help areas of the country devastated by natural disasters. And they reflect our commitment to controlling spending and responsible oversight – important parts of the Republican plan to grow the economy and help create new jobs.

“Each bill was crafted out in the open, every lawmaker had the chance to participate, and the bipartisan support they received speaks for itself. That’s what makes President Obama’s veto threat so baffling. I hope the president will stop threatening a government shutdown over these bipartisan bills and instead urge Senate Democrats to pass them as soon as possible.”NOTE: The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2216) passed the House on Tuesday, and as noted above, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (H.R. 2217) passed today.

However, not everything is rosy for the Republicans, 36 House Republicans voted to "defeat an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have repealed the 82-year old Davis-Bacon prevailing wages mandate for federal contractors.  The Davis Bacon Act has driven up the cost of Government Contracts for years costing the taxpayers billions every year. Most disappointing was that one of the Republicans was former GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (R-WI). Evidently, too much pressure somehow / somewhere has motivated these Republicans to stay in bed with the unions who have been the major backer of Davis Bacon Act which inflates the costs of government contracts even when unions are not even performing the contacts.

Americans for Limited Government President Nathan Mehrens today blasted the 36 House Republicans:

"Prevailing wages demand that the U.S. Department of Labor set the cost for labor for federal government construction contractors rather than having the taxpayers get the benefit of competitive labor cost bidding. The impact of Davis-Bacon on increasing the cost of government has been so extreme that the 2012 Republican National Committee's official platform called for its repeal.Yet when given the opportunity, 36 House Republicans broke their own party's promise to do away with these requirements that unnecessarily cost billions of additional tax dollars every year. Apparently, the platform is not worth the paper it's printed on."
The House OVersight And Government Reform Committee held a hearing on the wasteful spending by the IRs on conferences and partying.  One major item was a "lavish $4.1 million training conference."   The IRS has spend $49 million on 225 employee conferences over the past three years. A prior article addressed the IRS Taxpayer-funded IRS Linedancing.

Bad news on Obamacare just keeps piling up. More unfavorable polling trends evidences the law’s growing unpopularity,   The problems with its implementation continue, even in places dominated by Democrats.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Americans’ unease with President Barack Obama’s health-care law has intensified, just as the administration is gearing up to persuade people to sign up for some of its major provisions, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey finds. Prior Journal/NBC polls have found more people calling the health law a bad idea rather than a good one. But the number calling it a bad idea reached a high of 49% in a poll of 1,000 adults taken between May 30 and June 2, with 43% ‘strongly’ holding that view. Some 37% called the law a good idea. The 12-point gap between supporters and skeptics is the largest since a survey taken in March 2010, the month the health law was passed. Moreover, far more people think they will be worse off under the new law than those who think they will benefit from it, 38% to 19%, the new Journal/NBC poll found. The margin of error in the poll is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The results show rising dislike of the Affordable Care Act just four months before enrollment begins for the government-sponsored insurance exchanges, a major feature of the law.”

The WSJ notes, “Skepticism runs particularly high among those Americans who buy insurance on the individual market, one of the key groups the law is intended to help. Among those adults who currently buy insurance on their own, 48% think they will be worse off as a result of the new law, compared with the 13% who said they would be better off. Americans who have insurance coverage through the government or their employer also doubt, on the whole, that they will benefit from the new law.”

In its discussion of the poll, NBC’s FirstRead writes, “President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law remains unpopular with the American public just months before it fully goes into effect, according to the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 49 percent of Americans say they believe the Affordable Care Act is a bad idea. That’s the highest number recorded on this question since the poll began measuring it in 2009. Just 37 percent say the plan is a good idea. . . . For individuals, the current poll also finds 38 percent of respondents saying that they (and their families) will be worse off under the health care law. That’s the highest percentage of respondents to express a negative outlook toward ‘Obamacare’ since 2010, when the president signed this signature piece of legislation into law following an extended, bruising battle in Congress.”

Meanwhile, implementation of this unpopular law is beginning to worry jurisdictions across the country. The New York Post points out that New York City’s “generous health-care benefits for municipal workers might qualify as costly ‘Cadillac plans’ that get socked with significant financial penalties under ObamaCare, Mayor Bloomberg’s budget director warned yesterday. Councilman Jimmy Oddo (R-SI) raised the potentially explosive possibility during a routine budget hearing. ‘It would mean the city would get a 40 percent excise tax,’ Oddo pointed out. When he asked Budget Director Mark Page if that was a concern, he got a one-word reply: ‘Yes.’”

And in Illinois, President Obama’s home state, where the state legislature is controlled entirely by Democrats, state lawmakers still can’t agree on setting up a health care exchange as Obamacare calls for. According to the AP, “Federal officials could end up overseeing the new Illinois health insurance marketplace for years to come after lawmakers in Springfield balked again at a full embrace of President Barack Obama’s health care law. The Legislature adjourned Friday without sending Gov. Pat Quinn’s a bill on a state-run marketplace . . . . Quinn has pushed such a plan for three years without success. . . . State senators approved the bill along party lines, but the full House never voted on it before last Friday’s adjournment. A spokesman for House Speaker Mike Madigan noted the bill ‘didn’t have much bipartisan support’ in the Senate and would have had ‘tough sledding’ in the House. It was one more case of Obama’s home state lagging behind some other Democrat-controlled states in implementing the president’s signature domestic achievement.”

As NBC noted in its story, “GOP leaders have been unrelenting in their calls to reverse the law. ‘For the sake of my constituents in Kentucky and for the sake of Americans across the country, I urge my friends on the other side to join with Republicans and stop this ‘train wreck’ before things get even worse,’ Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor in April.”

Tags: Polls, Obamacare, Davis Bacon Act, IRS wasteful spending To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Missouri South Eastern Ozarks Sends Conservative To U.S House

Bill Smith Editor,: The South Eastern Missouri Ozarks has sent a signal to Washington, D.C. Not sure many were listening. Jim Geraghty noted today on Morning Jolt, National Review":
Republican Ekes Out (Satire) a 40-Point Margin in Missouri Special House Election

Not surprising news, but this is what happens when national Democrats pretend a special U.S. House election isn't happening:Conservative Republican state Rep. Jason Smith, whose steep rise in Jefferson City coincided with Missouri's sharp political move rightward, is headed for Congress.

Smith, 32, of Salem, easily won Tuesday's special election for the vacant 8th Congressional district seat in southeastern Missouri, beating fellow state Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, by a more than 2-to-1 ratio.

With 446 of 462 precincts in, Smith led Hodges by 41,413 votes to 16,847, or about 67 to 27 percent.

Smith said in an election night interview with the Associated Press that he planned to fly to Washington today with the hope of quickly taking the oath of office.

"We've been without representation in the 8th District the last 134 days, and I'm going to stay up there until the speaker of the House will swear me in," Smith said.
And that is just what Rep-elect Smith did, he was in Washington today and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) administered the oath to Jason Smith (R-MO)  after reading a letter from the office of Missouri's secretary of state noting Smith's election was certain even though the vote count remained unofficial.   I would say so -- with a 40%  victory over his opponent.

William Lacy Clay (D-MO), a senior member of the Missouri delegation, paid tribute to Rep. Smith by stating Smith "has distinguished himself as one of the youngest speaker pro tems in the history of the Missouri House.

Smith earned major conservative endorsements for his prior conservative record from former U.S> Senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee,  former Alaska Gov, Sarah Palin,  and and numerous national conservative organization.  Smith's victory continues to send a message from the Ozarks, that the hardworking, God fearing, patriotic people of the Ozarks are not happy with the progressive agenda of Washington, D.C.   On the Arkansas side of the South Eastern Arkansas, the people sent the same message to Washington in 2010 and 2012 when they elected a Republican to Congress.

Congratulations to Rep. Jason Smith!

Tags: special election, US House, Missouri, District 8, Jason Smith, Eastern Ozarks To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Do’s and Don’ts for Congress

BankRupting America: A guidebook for perplexed legislators.

Tags: Congress, perplexed congress members, Do's, Don'ts, Congress, visual aid, Bankrupting America To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Gang of Eight Can’t Defend Their Own Bill

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by Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle Forum: The Gang of Eight can’t defend the Gang’s own amnesty bill, S.744, or even explain it to public or TV audiences. The Gang’s premier salesman, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), admits that it isn’t acceptable in its present form and must be amended on the Senate floor.

Public opinion surveys show that the American people want the border secured and current laws enforced before we even discuss amnesty. The Gang’s promise that amnestied aliens must pay back taxes is a fraud because neither aliens nor employers have documentation for the years the illegal was paid in cash.

The Gang of Eight bill doesn’t make any pretense of securing the border first. S.744 gives us only promises, promises and pie-in-the-sky plans but no reason to believe any of them because all our government’s promises about border security, implementation of an entry-exit system, and workplace verification of employee identity have been repeatedly and flagrantly broken. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on us.

The Gang of Eight bill allows the Obama Administration to decide which laws to enforce. Every S.744 provision allows Obama bureaucrats to issue waivers to avoid enforcement, a wrinkle that fits perfectly with Obama’s governing style, i.e., rule by executive-branch regulations instead of by constitutional legislation.

S.744 weakens the never-enforced electronic entry/exit system that the 1996 law requires to be used at all seaports and airports, and was funded by Congress five times. S.744 guts this law by excluding 106 land border-entry points where most crossings take place.

S.744 will continue to increase our current illegal population. The Gang of Eight bill not only fails to enforce the federal law against giving college-tuition preference to illegal aliens (which Obama unconstitutionally violated by executive order), but guarantees states the right to offer in-state tuition to future illegal aliens. The Gang of Eight bill will give work permits immediately to 11 million illegal aliens, and then give green cards within 7 years to another 4.3 million foreigners who have applied in chain migration categories. These work permits will flood our labor market with millions of aliens and make unemployment a bigger crisis than it is now.

The Gang of Eight is just as unfair and discriminatory to college-educated American citizens as to entry-level job seekers. S.744 creates four new unlimited green-card preferences for aliens: (1) those with a Ph.D. in any field, (2) foreign physicians, (3) foreign students who graduate from a U.S. college with an advanced degree in a STEM subject, and (4) spouses and minor children of the above.

S.744 doubles the current legal immigration level which is already triple the historical average. The bill sets no numerical limits on some types of legal immigrants, despite the billions of people in the world who would like to move to America, the land of freedom and prosperity.

Chamber of Commerce lobbyists are advocating a “let the market decide” policy, i.e., who and how many people can come to work in the United States. This actually undermines U.S. sovereignty and the right of our people to make such decisions that will determine our future.

The “let the market decide” argument is extremely hypocritical. In a free market, a labor shortage raises wages, but the lobbyists want to jimmy the system by creating an artificial overabundance of labor in order to enable corporations to pay lower wages to those who come from low-wage countries and are glad to work for low pay without American-style benefits.

S.744 would impose a massive unfunded mandate on U.S. taxpayers that will require us to increase taxes or incur more debt, or both. That’s because those 11 million amnestied aliens will receive $9.4 trillion in government services over their lifetime, but pay only $3.1 trillion in taxes, for a net cost of $6.3 trillion.

The main reason for this enormous cost to U.S. taxpayers is that the big majority of these aliens never even finished high school. Wages, and the taxes you pay, are proportional to the job for which you can be hired.

Last year, after widespread public criticism, we thought we abolished the practice of loading a spending bill with earmarks, i.e., special spending that benefits the constituents of favored Members of Congress. Earmarks are back with specific goodies buried in S.744.

The Gang of Eight bill exempts ski and snowboard instructors from the visa cap in order to benefit Colorado, exempts meat-packing workers to benefit South Carolina, and exempts workers who repair cruise ships to benefit Florida, all states that have Senators on the Gang of Eight.

And don’t forget the shocking earmarks for immigration lawyers and community organizers for illegal-alien groups. S.744 can never be amended into good legislation; it is thoroughly bad and incredibly costly.

Tags:Gang of Eight, S, 744, Amnesty Bill, VCan't defend own bill, take action, Eagle Forum, Phyllis Schlafly, Eagle ForumTo share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

The IRS and Obamacare, by the Numbers

by Christopher Jacob, Heritage Foundation: Chilling new details emerged yesterday about the IRS targeting scandal, as representatives from six conservative groups testified before Congress about the scrutiny and demands they faced from Obama administration bureaucrats.

Yesterday’s testimony reminded us once again why Washington bureaucrats cannot be trusted, and why Americans should be so concerned about the new powers granted to the IRS as a result of Obamacare.

These powers are so vast, in fact, they’re difficult to put into words. So instead, we decided to give you the numbers:

18New taxes in Obamacare, including 12 that directly violate then-Senator Barack Obama’s “firm pledge” to those making under $250,000 per year that he would not “raise any of your taxes.”

47—New provisions Obamacare charges the IRS with implementing, according to the Government Accountability Office.

$695Tax for not buying “government-approved” health insurance the IRS will be charged with enforcing on all Americans.

1,954—Full-time bureaucrats the IRS wants to devote to Obamacare implementation and enforcement in the upcoming fiscal year.

60,000,000—Medical records the IRS has been charged with improperly seizing, raising concerns about whether the agency can handle the personal health insurance information all Americans will be required to submit to the IRS.

$439,584,000—The IRS’s request for new spending on Obamacare implementation in the upcoming fiscal year; the request did not specify how much of those funds the IRS will spend on the “Cupid shuffle.”

6,100,000,000—Man-hours Americans already devote to tax compliance, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate, a burden that will rise significantly thanks to Obamacare.

$1,000,000,000,000—New revenue raised by Obamacare in its first 10 years alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office, sums that will only rise in future decades.
If ever there were an argument as to why Obamacare should be repealed and defunded, these numbers—coupled with the IRS revelations of recent weeks—tell the tale.

Tags: congressional budget office, defund, Government Accountability Office, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Obamacare, Heritage Foundation To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Biting the Apple

Apple is the largest corporate income tax payer in America. They pay $6 billion to the U.S. Treasury. That works out to $16 million per day. It also employs plenty of Americans: 50,000 of Apple’s 75,000 employees are in the U.S. ~ Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook

Now, contrast Apple with those companies who paid no corporate income tax last year. Contrast Apple with companies that have shipped most of their jobs overseas. ~ Kerby Anderson, Point of View

I think Congress should be on trial here for creating a bizarre and byzantine tax code that runs into the tens of thousands of pages, for creating a tax code that simply doesn’t compete with the rest of the world. Instead of calling the Apple executives before the committee, they bring in a giant mirror. If you want to assign blame, the committee needs to look in this mirror and see who created the mess. ~ Sen. Rand Paul

by Paul Jacob, Common Sense: Apple is on trial for refusing to pretend that the company has done something wrong.

In 2009, Apple invited five major publishers to sell e-books through the forthcoming iPad, on the basis of the "agency model." The publishers would set the prices, Apple would take a 30% cut. Apple also required that the e-books not be sold more cheaply elsewhere.

The publishers were happy to agree because Amazon had been buying new e-books wholesale and steeply discounting them, sometimes at a loss to itself, in order to sell them at $9.99. In the eyes of the publishers, this price seemed too low a benchmark. Apple's deal gave them new clout in negotiating with Amazon.

The government says average book prices rose in the wake of this "conspiracy." Apple says prices declined. It's irrelevant.

To charge a price that some persons dislike violates nobody's rights. Nor does stipulating terms of contract that a prospective partner dislikes and may reject. Anti-trust law has nothing to do with justice. It's a bludgeon that some businesses -- in conspiracy with the government -- use to thwack competitors.

No violation of anyone's rights has even been claimed in this case, let alone established. Yet five innocent parties have been forced to pay tens of millions to the government and accede to curtailment of their right to contract. And Apple, having refused to be bullied, must defend itself in court.

That's the crime, and government officials are the ones committing it.

This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob.
Paul Jacob is President of the Liberty Initiative Fund as well as a board member of Great Communicators Foundation, which sponsors both Common Sense Paul won the “Courage Under Fire” award at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference. He has also been named “a rising star in politics” by Campaigns & Elections magazine, received the Society for Individual Liberty’s “Phoenix Award” for “contributions to the advancement of liberty in America,” and was dubbed one of “The Best and the Rightest” by National Journal.

Tags: Apple, trial, abuse by government, Paul Jacob, Common Sense To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

Peace Frogs: Internet Sales Tax Will Kill My Small Business

Hi, I’m Catesby Jones.
I own a small business in Virginia called Peace Frogs. My three dozen employees and I make T-shirts and other cool stuff. We’re a positive company that loves being able to do all our work from Gloucester, VA, where I grew up.

What makes it possible is the Internet. By reaching out to a worldwide base of customers, companies in rural parts like ours can thrive and have a much bigger presence than they otherwise would through traditional sales.

This is why I’m incredibly concerned about the Internet sales tax that’s being debated in Washington.

It’s an attack on small businesses like mine. If you look at who’s lining up for and against the misnamed Marketplace Fairness Act, mostly large corporations are beating up on us small guys. They have the lobbyists, they have the muscle, and they have what it takes to impose burdensome regulations on online entrepreneurs.

We don’t have the same access to Washington.

I’ve spoken out against this threat and recently shared my story with Heritage. They visited our warehouse and I explained how the Internet sales tax would harm my growing business.

The Internet offers the best opportunity for Gloucester natives to come home and operate a business. There aren’t many other enterprise vehicles that allow this type of flexible marketplace. But an Internet sales tax would threaten the well-being of my family and my employees’ families and result in higher costs for my customers.

Proponents of the Internet sales tax want to make me a tax collector for 9,646 tax jurisdictions. Their misguided efforts could make Peace Frogs at risk for audits by 46 states, the District of Columbia and countless other U.S. territories.

We need as much help as we can get to educate Americans about this.

Thanks so much for reading my note. If you wouldn't mind, please share this video with your friends and family.

Tags: Peace Frogs, Virginia, Catesby Jones, Internet sales tax, marketplace fairness act, taxes, Video To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

IRS and Customer Service

Kerby Anderson
Kerby Anderson, Point of View: The outgoing commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service chalked up the current scandal as “horrible customer service.” He (and others in the government agency) would have us believe that IRS actions were not politically motivated.

As I have said frequently on radio, it would be easier to defend such a position if the IRS could find at least one progressive group that was subjected to the same kind of scrutiny that conservative groups experienced. We now know that groups that had words like “tea party” or “patriot” were targeted. So were groups who identified themselves and pro-life or pro-Second Amendment.

Does the IRS scandal go to the top? Charles Krauthammer argues in a recent column that he doubts that a memo was sent to the IRS from anyone working in this administration. Instead, he says, we had a political climate that made the targeting of these groups inevitable.

The president denounced the Supreme Court decision that allowed for more 501 (c)(4) groups to be formed. He even did this in a State of the Union speech with many of the Supreme Court Justices sitting in front of him. During the election he called the “special interest groups” that were running ads to help Republicans “not just a threat to Democrats” but “a threat to our democracy.” Add to this the letters from Democratic Senators to the IRS demanding intense scrutiny of 501(c)(4) applications. All of this created a climate that encouraged the targeting of these groups.

None of the actions by these politicians is illegal. But creating such a climate of intolerance is shameful and most likely the reason that many of these groups never received their tax exempt status in time to make a difference in the 2012 election. And I might mention that some of these groups are still waiting for their tax-exempt status.

The IRS actions were more that just examples of “bad customer service.” They took their cues from people above them who wanted them to target conservative groups with bureaucratic investigations designed to delay and deny. I’m Kerby Anderson, and that’s my point of view.
Kerby Anderson is a radio talk show host heard on numerous Christian Stations via the Point of View Network.

Tags: IRS, Customer Service, Kerby Anderson, Point of View To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!

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