Democrats were thrilled when John Walsh of Montana was appointed to the United States Senate in February. A decorated veteran of the Iraq war and former adjutant general of his state’s National Guard, Mr. Walsh offered the Democratic Party something it frequently lacks: a seasoned military man.
On the campaign trail this year, Mr. Walsh, 53, has made his military service a main selling point. Still wearing his hair close-cropped, he notes he was targeted for killing by Iraqi militants and says his time in uniform informs his views on a range of issues.
But one of the highest-profile credentials of Mr. Walsh’s 33-year military career appears to have been improperly attained. An examination of the final paper required for Mr. Walsh’s master’s degree from the United States Army War College indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors’ works, with no attribution.
Senator John Walsh, Democrat of Montana, second from left, at a Senate National Guard Caucus breakfast in Washington. He was appointed last month to the seat vacated by Max Baucus and is running for election in November, hoping that his career in uniform remains an asset.
Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a “strategy research project,” to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online.
Interactive Graphic: How Senator John Walsh Plagiarized a Final Paper
Most strikingly, each of the six recommendations Mr. Walsh laid out at the conclusion of his 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy,” is taken nearly word-for-word without attribution from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace document on the same topic.
In his third recommendation, for example, Mr. Walsh writes: “Democracy promoters need to engage as much as possible in a dialogue with a wide cross section of influential elites: mainstream academics, journalists, moderate Islamists, and members of the professional associations who play a political role in some Arab countries, rather than only the narrow world of westernized democracy and human rights advocates.”
The same exact sentence appears on the sixth page of a 2002 Carnegie paper written by four scholars at the research institute. In all, Mr. Walsh’s recommendations section runs to more than 800 words, nearly all of it taken verbatim from the Carnegie paper, without any footnote or reference to it. In addition, significant portions of the language in Mr. Walsh’s paper can be found in a 1998 essay by a scholar at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a research institute at Harvard.
For example, Mr. Walsh writes: “The United States will have an interest in promoting democracy because further democratization enhances the lives of citizens of other countries and contributes to a more peaceful international system. To the extent that Americans care about citizens of other countries and international peace, they will see benefits from the continued spread of democracy.”
The Harvard paper, written in 1998 by Sean M. Lynn-Jones, a scholar at the Belfer Center, includes the same two sentences.
Mr. Walsh does not footnote or cite Mr. Lynn-Jones’s essay, titled “Why the United States Should Spread Democracy,” anywhere in his paper.
Both the Carnegie and Harvard papers are easily accessible on the Internet.
In an interview outside his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday, after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.
“I didn’t do anything intentional here,” he said, adding that he did not recall using the Carnegie and Harvard sources.
Asked directly if he had plagiarized, he responded: “I don’t believe I did, no.”
On Wednesday, a campaign aide for Mr. Walsh did not contest the plagiarism but suggested that it be viewed in the context of the senator’s long career. She said Mr. Walsh was going through a difficult period at the time he wrote the paper, noting that one of the members of his unit from Iraq had committed suicide in 2007, weeks before it was due.
The aide said Mr. Walsh, who served in Iraq from November 2004 to November 2005, “dealt with the experience of post-deployment,” but acknowledged he had not sought treatment.
The master’s degree in strategic studies from the War College has benefited Mr. Walsh’s career: In a military evaluation the year after Mr. Walsh received it, his commander praised him for it, writing that he “leads his peers and sets example in maintaining continuous military education and training subjects pertinent to today’s leadership challenges.”
In September 2008, Mr. Walsh, a recipient of the Bronze Star, was appointed adjutant general of Montana’s National Guard by the governor. A subsequent military evaluation said his prospects for the post had been “bolstered” in part by his degree from the War College.
Located in Carlisle, Pa., the Army War College is a coveted career stop for ambitious officers, and its graduates since its 1901 founding include Dwight D. Eisenhower, George Patton and Norman Schwarzkopf. As with most military institutes, the War College emphasizes honor and integrity: Its current student handbook states that plagiarism will result in disenrollment and that discoveries of academic violations have led to degrees being rescinded and names being scraped off the bronze plaques honoring graduates on campus.
“Sooner or later, academic dishonesty will be discovered,” the handbook, known as the Communicative Arts Directive, warns.In 2012, Mr. Walsh stepped down as the head of the state’s National Guard after winning his first bid for elected office to become Montana’s lieutenant governor. From that position, he was appointed to the Senate this year by Gov. Steve Bullock.
The Senate vacancy arose after President Obama nominated Max Baucus, the veteran Democrat who planned to retire from Congress, to be ambassador to China. Democrats hoped that installing Mr. Walsh in February would strengthen the party’s position and efforts to retain the seat.
Mr. Walsh’s military record and centrist politics were seen as assets in the independent-minded state, and, as an incumbent senator, he would be better positioned to raise money for this fall’s election. Still, Mr. Walsh is trailing Representative Steve Daines, his Republican opponent, strategists on both sides say, and has trailed Mr. Daines in fund-raising.
Questions have previously been raised about Mr. Walsh’s résumé and conduct, though they were comparatively minor.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that he was reprimanded in 2010 for using his role as adjutant general to urge other guardsmen to join a private advocacy group, the National Guard Association of the United States, in which he was seeking a leadership role.
As a result he was denied a promotion from colonel to general, he acknowledged in January. In response to the matter, Mr. Walsh released about 400 pages of his military records, which detailed his service awards and was full of effusive praise from his commanding officers.
There has also been a discrepancy about where Mr. Walsh earned his undergraduate degree. He was listed in the biographical directory of Congress as having graduated in 1990 from the University at Albany, State University of New York, but actually earned his bachelor of science from what was then known as Regents College, an adult learning institute that issued degrees under the umbrella of the University of the State of New York.
Mr. Walsh changed the listing after the newspaper Roll Call ran an article about the matter, but did not offer an explanation publicly.The breadth of Mr. Walsh’s apparent plagiarism, however, is startling – and rivaled by few other examples in recent political history. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, was found last year to have presented the work of others as his own in a newspaper opinion article, a book and speeches. And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. dropped his 1988 presidential bid when it was revealed that in campaign speeches he had used language similar to that of the British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock without attributing the remarks.
Mr. Walsh appears to have gone considerably further.
About a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources, such as the Carnegie or Harvard papers, and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact – or almost exact – language without quotation marks.
The senator included 96 footnotes in his paper, but many of them only illustrate this troubling pattern. In repeated instances, Mr. Walsh uses the language of others with no quotation marks, but footnotes the source from which the material came. In other cases, the passages appear in his paper with a word or two changed, but are otherwise identical to the authors’ language.
For example, in the first paragraph of his paper, Mr. Walsh writes of President George W. Bush: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisors made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”
At the end of this sentence, which Mr. Walsh included without quotation marks, he footnoted a reference to a 2003 article in Foreign Affairs by Thomas Carothers, a prominent and highly credentialed foreign policy expert. Mr. Carothers’ essay read: “During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisers had made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic notions such as nation building or democracy promotion.”
The only difference is that Mr. Walsh wrote “advisors” rather than “advisers” and did not use “had,” as Mr. Carothers did in his article.
In other instances, Mr. Walsh swaps a synonym for a word in the original document, and condenses sentences.
He writes on his second page: “There are deep disagreements about the appropriate theoretical framework, about whether democracy is simply an institutional arrangement for choosing rulers or an end in itself, about how to measure and evaluate democracy, and about the importance of prerequisites for democracy.
The footnote at the end of this sentence, presented without quotation marks in Mr. Walsh’s paper, is to a chapter by Robert L. Rothstein in a 1995 book of essays, “Democracy, War, and Peace in the Middle East.”
Mr. Rothstein’s sentence is slightly longer and uses “profound” rather than “deep,” but is otherwise identical.
Such copying of a footnoted source without quotation marks is specifically prohibited in the War College’s handbook.
“Copying a segment of another’s work word for word, then conveniently ‘forgetting’ to include quotation marks, but ‘remembering’ to cite the source,” is described as the second example of academic fraud in the handbook.
The first is: “Directly quoting another author’s work without giving proper credit to the author.”
“Plagiarism,” the handbook notes, “is a serious form of cheating that carries serious consequences.”
A working group of lawmakers appointed by Speaker John Boehner is poised to recommend deploying the National Guard, amending a 2008 law requiring a lengthy deportation process, bringing in temporary judges to reduce a legal backlog and new border security measures to the GOP version of an emergency spending bill planned for floor consideration before the August recess.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the leader of the working group, briefed Republicans at a closed-door meeting Tuesday, reporting on their trip to Guatemala and Honduras over the weekend where they met with each country’s president and from which tens of thousands of unaccompanied children are streaming across the southern U.S. border.
“The presidents of both countries, I met with them, our group met with them, they want their children back,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘please, send our children back!’” said Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), a member of the working group and a key conservative lawmaker.
On the trip, the group was briefed by U.S. general John Kellly on the Mexico-Guatamala border. While witnessing individuals openly swim across the river border there, Kelly told lawmakers that drug cartels – some involved in financing terrorism operations – were directing and reaping the profits from sophisticated smuggling operations that had advertised the leniency of U.S. laws.
“There’s no doubt that the message went out, go cross the border now, the United States won’t do anything about it,” Granger told reporters after briefing colleagues. “That came, primarily, from the coyotes who were transporting these kids. These coyotes, it’s really something we weren’t prepared from, they sort of advertised – they actually advertise – as social workers. We’re going to help you take your kids out of the poverty and the danger they have in these countries and put ‘em in the United States where they will receive an education and be taken care of.”
Granger said she was surprised to learn that in Guatemala coyotes are charging between $6,000-$9,000 per person. Salmon said the group was told one coyote was making $50,000 a week smuggling children into the United States.
Since October more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally crossing the southern border into the U.S. The vast majority of the illegal minors are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
Last week President Obama requested $3.7 billion in emergency appropriations to deal with the crisis, but Republicans have rejected the figure and set about crafting their own response.
“In terms of priorities, we’re on different planets,” Salmon said about the president’s border ask.
At a press conference following the meeting, Boehner himself was circumspect about his views on how to address the issue. Asked about his ideas for addressing the crisis, Boehner said “I’ve got lots of them.”
Rep. Hal Rogers, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who is in charge of crafting the actual legislation to be considered on the House floor, declined to say how much the GOP bill would spend, but said it would be less than the $3.7 billion the president has asked for.
“Well, we’re trying to put together a bill, first off, that makes sense and we can afford and does the right thing – humanitarian-wise and regarding the border,” Rogers said. “I am hopeful as we go along that this will become a bipartisan effort – and bicameral.”
He noted that the goal is to pass the bill before the August recess.
In the hours before the working group makes its final policy recommendations, the key issue still under discussion are proposals to help secure the border. One option under discussion is language from a bill sponsored by working group member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The bill has drawn fire from key immigration hawks, including the Heritage Foundation and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
McCaul said the bill was under discussion for inclusion in the proposal.
“Border security is part of this – a big part of this. The McCaul bill is going to be a big factor, that’s all I can tell you,” said Rep. John Carter (R-TX), another member of the working group.
“I think border security issues are going to be part of it,” Salmon said. “Whether it’s going to be that language or some other language remains to be seen.”
On the general approach of the group’s policy recommendations, McCaul said “We want to swiftly and humanely return them to their home. Only until we do that will we stop the flow. So we need a message of deterrence. We need to look at more border security measures. We’re going to need a surge of judges, whether it be retired judges or special masters to process these cases more expeditiously, because it takes four or five years now. We’re looking at all of those components and working with the countries of origin in terms of their capacity to take these kids back, and also with Mexico and Guatemala to help secure their southern border so they can’t make that journey through Mexico.”
He added, that as Boehner and others have pushed, the group will “certainly” be including the deployment of the National Guard in its proposal. Granger said that the National Guard proposal will be an important factor.
“We’ve got border patrol people trying to do a good job but they’re so overwhelmed by the number of people coming across that they’re taking care of children and filling out forms, and so we need National Guard to add more bodies to what’s happening at the border” Grander said, adding that immigration cases need to be adjudicated much more quickly.
“An average case with someone coming across the border illegally, going through the process we have will take between a year and half to as long as five years. Well with 57,000 unaccompanied children, that’s just unacceptable,” she continued. “So we’ve got to change that. Which means, changing not the process so much but adding the people that help with that process – more judges to hear those cases, there’s some – not adding permanent, but often time retired judges. There are different categories that can do that to make sure that that goes faster.”
Salmon reiterated the need to “plug the holes” with the National Guard, where Border Patrol has been moved to deal with children.
“It’s not that you have to have more people to catch them. But the cartels are playing bait and switch,” he said. “Make no mistake, it is the cartels that are basically overseeing these coyotes that are smuggling in the people and they are making a ton of money off of this.”
After the House GOP Conference meeting, members of the working group said they were on their way to meet with Department of Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson.
The working groups’ recommendations will come as Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) works with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) on a separate bill to deal with the crisis by, in part, change a 2008 human trafficking law that has made removing unaccompanied minors from Central America very difficult.
The pair’s legislation would, according to Cornyn, “improve the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008, treating all unaccompanied minors equally and ensuring Due Process under the law in a timely, fair manner.”
According to Brady, the bipartisan bill has been “well-received” and many Republicans have pointed to the 2008 law as ripe for tweaks. Indeed, Salmon, one of the most conservative members on the working group, introduced a bill to alter the law last week.
However, the bill is drawing scrutiny from conservative outside groups who are anxious about the details of legislation drafted and enacted in a crisis environment.
Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives.
The Internal Revenue Service solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.
Congressional investigators of the IRS targeting of conservative groups have been hampered by the unexplained destruction of emails and other records of Ms. Lerner, the former head of the IRS tax-exempt division and a central figure in the scandal.
The loss of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive also raised broader questions about why the tax agency never reported the missing records to the National Archives and Records Administration, as required by the Federal Records Act.
While those questions remained unresolved, IRS officials signaled plans to destroy tens of thousands of additional electronic records.
“After all media are destroyed, they must not be capable of any reuse or information retrieval,” IRS officials stated in the contract papers.
Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which is investigating the IRS scandal, said the committee has broad concerns about the agency’s record-retention practices.
Dan Epstein, executive director of the watchdog group Cause of Action, said rules require the archivist to sign off on the destruction of federal records.
“This solicitation, combined with the failure of the IRS to consult the Archivist about Louis Lerner’s hard drive, should put hesitation into any assumption that consultation with the Archivist is happening and prompt a thorough assessment of record retention at the IRS,” Mr. Epstein said Monday.
IRS officials did not respond to emails and phone calls about the solicitation, including whether the agency’s nonprofit division ever used the computers being destroyed.
Officials also declined to discuss how the IRS preserves records on computers targeted for destruction.
The agency estimates the need to destroy at least 65,464 magnetic tapes, 3,225 hard drives, 5,856 floppy disks and 708 reels, according to procurement records.
About 500,000 pieces of electronic data – including cassette tapes, reels, CDs, hard drives and USB media – have been collected since 2008, according to the IRS solicitation.
“Due to system changes, a significant amount of electronic portable media containing [personally identifiable information] and potentially sensitive but unclassified data such as taxpayer return information is being collected at IRS facilities and locked in secure storage areas awaiting destruction,” officials wrote in a statement of work attached to the solicitation.
The IRS disclosed last week that it relies on contractors to recycle computer equipment. The revelation was made in an affidavit filed in a federal lawsuit in Washington by True the Vote, a conservative group that says it has been scrutinized by the IRS.
Stephen Manning, IRS deputy chief information officer, said in federal court in Washington that officials tried but failed to retrieve Ms. Lerner’s records. He said the agency’s internal computer “help desk” received word on June 13, 2011, that the hard drive on Ms. Lerner’s laptop wasn’t working properly and subsequent efforts to preserve data “were unsuccessful.”
The computer has been wiped clean and recycled, he said, and officials have lost track of it because they don’t keep track of hard drives by serial number.
Ms. Lerner’s computer isn’t the only crash of a hard drive that congressional investigators have encountered in their attempt to reconstruct record trails.
Last week, Republican senators sent a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero after receiving reports that an Environmental Protection Agency official’s hard drive had crashed just as congressional investigators began looking into questions about the EPA’s review of an Alaska mining project.
Investigators sought computer records of a former EPA official, Phillip North, who later fled the country. More than a year after his retirement, senators said, EPA officials belatedly told the National Archives and Records Administration that they failed to preserve Mr. North’s computer records.
“First the IRS, and now the EPA – these hard-drive crashes seem to be a growing epidemic throughout the administration,” Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, said in a statement. “This ‘dog ate my homework’ excuse is getting ridiculous.”
The U.S. is sending $47 million in humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip to help tens of thousands of Palestinians there who have been forced from their homes since war broke out two weeks ago.
A State Department breakdown of the aid that was released Monday said nearly a third of the money – $15 million – will go to the United Nations’ refugee mission in Gaza.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was expected to discuss the aid with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a meeting late Monday in Cairo.
Kerry arrived in the Egyptian capital only hours earlier in a U.S. push to help broker a truce between Israel and the militant group Hamas that controls Gaza.
President Obama’s un-Constitutional practice of lawlessly ignoring and rewriting laws to suit his left-wing political agenda has come back to bite his signature domestic achievement. Tuesday morning a federal appeals court dealt what USA Today describes as a “potentially major blow” to ObamaCare with a 2-1 ruling against the Obama administration’s end-run around Congress to disburse federal subsidies:
The appeals panel ruled that as written, the health care law allows tax credits to be offered to qualified participants only in state-run exchanges. The administration had expected most if not all states to create their own, but only 16 states did so.
The court said the Internal Revenue Service went too far in allowing participants in other states served by the federal exchange to qualify for billions of dollars in government assistance. The aid has helped boost enrollment figures to more than 8 million.
Once it became clear 36 states could not be bribed with federal dollars or bullied by the media into setting up their own ObamaCare exchanges, rather than go back to Congress to lobby for changing the law, President Obama blithely believed he could ignore and rewrite a law he signed after helping to usher it through a Congress dominated by Democrats.
If the ruling stands, those enticed into purchasing ObamaCare coverage with the help of untold billions in federal tax dollars will lose their subsidy in these 36 states. This is almost certain to force many ObamaCare recipients to drop coverage. The big question is how many of these people lost their affordable coverage after ObamaCare made the affordable insurance they were happy with illegal and cancelled those plans?
“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance,” Judge Thomas Griffith said. “At least until states that wish to can set up exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for the millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”…
Michael Cannon, a Cato Institute health economist who helped devise the legal challenge, said the refusal by so many states to create health exchanges led to the court ruling. “This is popular resistance to the law,” he said.
For now, USA Today reports, everything is on hold. The Administration has already announced that the taxpayer-funded subsidies will continue to flow.
Although the ruling will have no impact while it is appealed – either to the full appeals court, which includes four Obama appointees, or to the Supreme Court – the result could be chaotic if ultimately allowed to apply nationwide.
While the political Left and mainstream media are almost certain to wring their hands over the roughly 5 million able-bodied Americans not receiving federal monies (the sick, elderly, disabled, and truly poor are covered by Medicare and Medicaid) paid for by other able-bodied Americans, the principle here is much larger and more important: The rule of law.
Moreover, as Michael F. Cannon of Forbes points out, the winners in this decision outnumber the losers 10 to 1. As many as 57 million Americans will now be out from under the punitive ObamaCare mandate, compared to the 5 million who will not see an increase of their health insurance premiums but will lose their illegal taxpayer-funded subsidies.
Cannon also reminds that the whole idea and original intent of awarding billions in federal subsidies only to those states that built their own ObamaCare exchanges, wasn’t accidental or a technicality. Throughout the law it is made clear that those subsidies are available only “through an Exchange established by the State.”
Congress’s intent behind shaping the law in this manner was to entice/threaten the states into building their own exchanges. After 36 states wisely refused, Obama rewrote the law and illegally awarded the subsidies anyway.
The Constitution is very clear that it is the job of the legislative branch (House and Senate) to write law. The Executive branch enforces the law.
Rather than enforce the law, Obama broke it by rewriting it.
The potential danger of the court’s allowing such a precedent is staggering.
The Obama administration will continue handing out Obamacare subsidies to federal exchange customers despite a federal court’s ruling Tuesday that the subsidies are illegal.
A D.C. Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday morning that customers in the 36 states that didn’t establish their own exchange and use HealthCare.gov instead cannot be given premium tax credits, according to the text of the Affordable Care Act itself.
But the White House said in response that it will continue handing out the billions of taxpayer dollars in subsidies. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that while the case continues to be battled out in the courts, the administration will continue to dole out billions in tax credits to federally-run exchange customers.
“It’s important for people all across the country to understand that this ruling does not have any practical impact on their ability to continue to receive tax credits right now,” Earnest said in a press briefing Tuesday.
A three-judge panel issued the ruling Tuesday, concluding 2-1 that the federal subsidies are illegal. The Department of Justice is seeking an en banc ruling from the appeals court, which would require all judges in the court to rule on the case. Eleven judges on the court would hear the case: seven Democrats and four Republicans.
That decision will likely also be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Besides being wrong about everything, the biggest slam on Obama is he essentially does nothing. He’ll make a few speeches blaming Republicans for his failings, then whisk off for golf, vacations, and fundraising. Conservatives have noticed this behavior since the beginning of his first term, but now with his inaction on the border crisis, the liberals are waking up to it, and they’re just as pissed off as the rest of us.
Surprisingly, Time Magazine has issued a kick to Obama’s groin with a piece called The Border And Obama, published today. In it, author Joe Klein calls Obama a coward and begs him to do something, anything, presidential. And those are some of the nicer things he says about our Procrastinator-In-Chief.
I almost couldn’t make it to the juicy stuff because this article starts out as a very pro-illegal alien piece that advances the bogus theory that the hoard of Central American children are fleeing war torn lands. But as Klein gets into the fact that religious organizations are taking an active roll in the crisis, he takes Obama to task for doing absolutely nothing.
Barack Obama should see the Catholic Charities mission in McAllen. His job, after all, is to rise above the rancor and, well, lead. You don’t do this by making a speech to a favored audience. You do it by taking action, setting a personal example. The President has gone to the scene of other human tragedies. He has acknowledged the suffering personally in the past. But not now, and you have to wonder why.
Klein thinks he knows why Obama refuses to address the border crisis:
True political courage is near extinct.
But does the President have courage?
Nowadays politicians are swaddled by their media consultants, who determine whether it is “safe” to be “courageous.” But acts of courage don’t come with a money-back guarantee. They are courageous because they’re potentially dangerous or, more likely, embarrassing. Courage’s reward comes subtly, in the form of trust as the public learns that a politician is willing to take risks to tell the truth. Obama is currently wandering about the country, trying to meet average people, but the choreography is more stringent than the Bolshoi’s. He said he didn’t want to go to the border because it would only be a “photo op”… on the same day his office published a photo of the President and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper shooting pool. Who choreographed that?
Klein lists a variety of hands-on actions Obama could take in dealing with the flood of illegal alien children invading our country but doesn’t. The least of which is to go down to the border and see first hand what is going on, something the President has refused to do.
These are precisely the sort of things that Obama doesn’t seem to do anymore. There has been a skein of stories indicating he’s thrown in the towel. He’s so tired of head-banging with Republicans that he has taken refuge in late-night dinners with celebrities and intellectuals.
Klein also says Obama has a distaste for politics and suggests that the president feels it is all beneath him. He issues a warning concerning Obama’s legacy:
If he’s going to accomplish anything in the last two years of his presidency, he’s going to have to change his style, which will be near impossible for a man as entrenched behind his flacks-in-jackets as the President is.
Change his style? How about his ideology? I disagree with a lot of what Klein has written, but he’s right the eff on about Obama being a rhetoric machine with little to no substance. It’s just a shame it took him almost 6 years to figure out Obama loves the fame of the Presidency, but hates the work a president is expected to do.
An elite, law-enforcement sensitive El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC) intel report from July 7, 2014 was leaked to Breitbart Texas and reveals that homicide rates in Central America suggest violence is likely not the primary cause of the surge of thousands of unaccompanied minors and incomplete family units illegally entering the United States.
The EPIC report indicates that the belief among the illegal immigrants that they would receive permisos and be allowed to stay was the driving factor in their choices to come to the United States and that the crisis will continue until ‘misperceptions’ about U.S. immigration benefits were no longer prevalent . The report also states that the migrants cited Univision and other other outlets as having shaped their views on U.S. immigration policy. Another implication of the report is that family members already in the U.S. are encouraging the minors to come and organizing the travel with smugglers. EPIC is a widely respected intelligence analysis group and was initially staffed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
According to the official DEA website, EPIC now contains representatives from a host of law enforcement agencies. The DEA states:
Agencies currently represented at EPIC include the Drug Enforcement Administration; Department of Homeland Security; Customs & Border Protection; Immigration & Customs Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; U.S. Marshals Service; Department of Transportation; Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Department of the Interior; National Geospatial – Intelligence Agency; U.S. Department of Defense/IC; Joint Task Force – North; Joint Interagency Task Force – South; Texas Department of Public Safety; Texas Air National Guard; National Guard Counter Narcotics Bureau; Department of State; Bureau of Indian Affairs; Union Pacific Railroad Police; Kansas City Southern Railroad Police; El Paso Police Department; and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
The leaked EPIC report discusses the motivational factors of the illegal immigrants in their choice to migrate to the United States:
(U//LES) In late May, the U.S. Border Patrol interviewed unaccompanied children (UAC) and migrant families apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley. Of the 230 total migrants interviewed, 219 cited the primary reason for migrating to the United States was the perception of U.S. immigration laws granting free passes or permisos to UAC and adult female OTMs traveling with minors. Migrants indicated that knowledge of permisos was widespread across Central America due to word of mouth, local, and international media messaging – prompting many to depart for the United States within 30 days of becoming aware of these perceived benefits, according to the same reporting.
(U//LES) A majority of migrants interviewed also noted that they had encountered family units, consisting of a mother and child under the age of 18 during their journey to the United States and that the families had indicated they planned to surrender to U.S. authorities because they were informed that they would likely be released.
The EPIC report discusses the lack of correlation between violence rates in Central America and the current border crisis:
(U//LES) EPIC assesses homicide trends and migrant interviews suggest violence is likely not the principal factor driving the increase in UAC migration. While CBP data from early fiscal year 2011 indicates a steady increase in OTM and UAC migration, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) statistics – within this same timeframe – show a decline in per capita homicide rates in these three countries; El Salvador saw the sharpest decline, followed by Honduras and Guatemala, respectively.
The EPIC report discusses the media outlets that the illegal immigrants claimed shaped their perceptions about U.S. policies towards illegal immigrants of this nature:
…Migrants cited Univision, Primer Impacto, Al Rojo Vivo and several Honduran television news outlets for helping shape their perception of U.S. immigration policy.
(U) Although EPIC lacks reliable reporting of Central American newspapers broadcasting the perceived benefits of U.S. immigration policies, several U.S. media outlets since June 2014 have identified Central American newspapers that have enticed minors to travel to the United States. For example, Honduran and El Salvadoran press have reportedly advertised the DACA policy, accommodations for detained UAC, and the promise of reunification with family members in the United States.
The EPIC report discusses the illegal immigrants’ family members already living in the U.S. as encouraging the minors to illegally enter the nation and setting up the travel arrangements with smugglers:
(U//LES) U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also notes that a large number of migrants interviewed claimed family members in the United States encouraged their travel because the U.S. government would cease issuing permisos after June 2014. (U//LES) U.S. Border Patrol officials report that the majority of migrants interviewed in late May indicated that they made arrangements with smugglers in their respective countries through the assistance of family members and friends in the United States.
The EPIC report states that near-term slowdown in the crisis is unlikely and that traditional migration factors will likely continue to fuel the wave of illegal immigration. It states that the crisis will continue until the migrants’ “misperceptions” about U.S. immigration benefits are changed:
(U//FOUO) EPIC assesses that UAC flow to the border will remain elevated until migrants’ misperceptions about US immigration benefits are changed. We further judge that this process could take the remainder of 2014 given the time needed for bi-lateral coordination efforts – such as information and enforcement campaigns in Mexico and Central America – to take hold. Nonetheless, traditional underlying immigration factors, such as family reunification and poor socioeconomic conditions, will continue to drive alien flow – including minors – from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Breitbart Texas provides a redacted version of the leaked intel report here. All redactions were made by Breitbart Texas. The redactions are limited to source material citations, names, and contact information.
A Justice Department fraud prevention program came under fire Thursday for allegedly morphing into actively pressuring banks to deny financial services to businesses for political reasons.
Operation Choke Point functions as a partnership between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and various other federal agencies which deal with bank regulations, specifically the Treasury and the SEC. The objective of the project is to choke-off fraudulent businesses from accessing financial services, in an effort to protect consumers.
The controversy, however, is over allegations that the DOJ is pressuring financial institutions to decline doing business with so-called “high risk” industries which line up squarely against the political leanings of the current administration. These businesses include ammunition sales, payday loans, pornography, fireworks companies, and others – 24 industries in total, as listed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
“Operation Choke Point is one of the most dangerous programs I have experienced in my 45 years of service as a bank regulator, bank attorney and consultant, and bank board member. Operating without legal authority and guided by a political agenda, unelected officials at the DOJ are discouraging banks from providing basic banking services…to lawful businesses simply because they don’t like them,” said William M. Isaac, former chairman of the FDIC.
Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing focused on the legality of DOJ overreach. Letters have poured in from company owners in support of these suspicions, noting startling cases where the DOJ reportedly has directly strong-armed banks into dropping clients not engaging in fraud.
Virginia Republican Rep. Robert Goodlatte revealed that one of the more egregious examples sent in to the committee was a meeting between the DOJ and a bank regarding the continued provision of financial services to a payday loan company.
The DOJ official reportedly told the banker, “I don’t like this product, and I don’t believe it should have a place in our financial system. And if you don’t agree, there will be an immediate, unplanned audit of your entire bank.”
The Justice Department has now served over 50 subpoenas on banks, and Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus expressed considerable concern that dragging banks into a long and expensive process is just an underhanded way of encouraging banks to drop clients as an easy-out.
“Subpoenas are expensive to comply with and can bring unwanted scrutiny. The natural reaction from a financial institution might be to sever relations with the merchant and be done with it,” Bachus said Thursday in a hearing at the Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law.
Missouri Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer brought forward the End Operation Choke Point Act Tuesday to curb the DOJ’s activities in this area. The act would provide financial institutions with safe harbor to serve customers engaged in legal activities, so as to cut out politically motivated attacks on businesses deemed undesirable by the Justice Department.
“Welcome to America,” Border Patrol agent Albert Spratte says.
As politicians in Washington debate how to best deal with the influx of illegal immigrants from Central America along the southwest border, smugglers continue to transport women, children, and entire families into the country.
The Daily Signal went on a tour of the border near McAllen, Texas, with Spratte, sergeant at arms of Union 3307 of the National Border Patrol Council, to capture raw footage of the precise location of many border crossings.
In the three videos below, Spratte breaks down the illegal immigrants’ access points, revealing how easy it remains to break into America.
Along the banks of the Rio Grande Valley, illegal immigrants navigate tall sugarcane to make it onto American shore. The path is difficult and dangerous for Border Patrol agents to access, says Spratte, and easy for smugglers to direct immigrants onto U.S. soil.
Spratte describes how smugglers transport children and families from one side of the Anzalduas Dam to the other. Once in the U.S., many of them willingly give themselves up. Within the last several months, the Border Patrol agent says, the Department of Homeland Security, or “whoever controls press access” to the U.S. side of the dam, has made it more difficult for the news media to get to that spot.
“It’s really restricted the ability of the American press to report what’s going on to the public,” Spratte said. “We believe the public has a right to know what’s going on, and it’s difficult when the press is being controlled and not allowed to go to those areas.”
In a highly visible part of Anzalduas Park in the Rio Grande Valley, Spratte describes how human smugglers use jet skis to transport men, women, and children from parkland on the Mexico side of the river to the Texas side. “We don’t have a checkpoint at the park,” he said, making it “impossible” to tell whether people arrived illegally.
Eyewitnesses at dozens of points across the United States have begun working together to track down where the tens of thousands of illegal alien children from Central America are ending up, because the federal government won’t disclose many details of its handling of the immigration crisis.
Even top government leaders have been caught off guard.
Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, said he did not know the locations of children being held in Illinois, Fox News reported.
He believes the White House does not want such information to be made public.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman recently said he discovered that 200 of the children were sent to his state without warning or notice to his office.
Federal agency managers refused to give him the names and locations of the children, he said.
“We need to know who they are,” Heineman insisted. “And so far, they are saying they’re not going to give us that information.”
NumbersUSA’s map, which derives its information from members of Congress, eyewitnesses, reliable sources and news reports, shows children are being taken to many states, including Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck told WND it’s clear that the Obama administration’s dispersal of the children across the nation conflicts with its promise that many will be returned to their home countries.
“[They want to keep this] as secret as possible for as long as possible,” Beck told WND.
“We’ve been told by advocates of amnesty that you can never get the people here illegally to go back home… Actually, there are ways to get them back home.”
He argued that if the government intended to return them, it “wouldn’t disperse them, because it’s harder to find them.”
The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Beck noted, has said “the answer has to be that nearly all these people have to be moved back to Central America.”
But the administration’s actions don’t match its words, he said.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told WND that Obama’s plan to handle the flood of incoming children is “to lie to us as long as possible.”
Gheen said the nation’s existing laws, if enforced, would do a great deal to resolve some of the most critical problems. But many citizens feel the need to take immediate action, including stopping buses transporting illegal aliens, a reference to protests in Murrieta, California.
One of many places where the immigration battle is coming to a head is Prince William County, Virginia.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart said he’s asking county staff members to investigate how many children are being brought to Virginia and left there.
Stewart said federal officials had not informed county officials of plans to relocate some of the children to his county.
“The crisis at the border has again reached Prince William County. Without providing the county any notice, the federal government is now placing illegal immigrant children at private and perhaps federal facilities in our county,” he said in a statement at the time.
“Although no county facilities are being used to house the children, I will ask the board tomorrow to direct the county executive to attempt to find out more about the location(s) where these children are being held and whether there is anything that the board can do to stop it. While it may seem cold hearted, it is important that these children be sent back home since letting them stay simply entices even more children to attempt the long and dangerous journey to the United States.”
The crisis is being blamed on Obama’s announcement that he would bend federal law and defer prosecutions and deportations of children who have come to the U.S. illegally. That message apparently is being heard in Central America as an invitation for children to come and obtain housing, schooling, health and even legal benefits as soon as they arrive.
But experts have noted that among the illegal aliens are gang members and carriers of contagious diseases, including tuberculosis.
Officials in Central America say they want “immigration reform” in the United States to make access easier, or they’ll continue sending children illegally to the nation’s border.
A recent Reuters report quoted Jorge Ramon Hernandez, a representative of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, saying as long as immigration reform is not approved, “the exodus of children to the United States will continue.”
But regarding the flood of illegals, estimated at more than 50,000 unaccompanied children already this year and forecast for more next year, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad simply told Washington he doesn’t want them delivered to his state.
“The first thing we need to do is secure the border. I do have empathy for these kids,” Branstad said. “But I also don’t want to send the signal that (you) send your kids to America illegally. That’s not the right message.”
National Review confirmed the secrecy surrounding the handling of the children.
“Across agency lines, officials have ignored questions from the press. ICE officials referred National Review Online’s questions on to Kenneth Wolfe, deputy director of the Office of Public Affairs in HHS’ Administration for Children and Families. Wolfe did not respond to repeated requests for an interview, but did email links to the Administration for Children and Families’ website,” the publication said of its attempts to get information.
“The Army Public Affairs office in Washington also referred Judicial Watch’s questions about Fort Bliss to Wolfe. And a spokesperson for BCFS Health and Human Services, a San Antonio-based network of non-profit organizations, declined comment to the Brownsville Herald about its plans to open a shelter for illegal immigrant children in Weslaco, referring the Herald to Wolfe as well,” the report said. “Federal officials have instructed caseworkers, who identify and verify the sponsors of the illegal immigrant children, not to speak to the media under any circumstance.”
The NumbersUSA map notes that 1,200 illegals were being held at Fort Lewis, Washington, and 1,400 at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Its list documents where the illegals are being housed, where more are to be placed and other details.
“NumbersUSA is daily updating this interactive map to show which communities are under threat of the federal government moving large numbers of illegal aliens there from the border,” the report said. “NumbersUSA is providing its members actions they can take to help stop the government’s dispersal of illegal aliens in a way that usually means they never go back home.”
As the Obama administration tries to warn Central American parents about the dangers of exporting their children to the United States, it appears that some of those parents already know the risks.
Some parents are giving their daughters birth control before they head to the United States — “in case they’re raped along the way,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Congress last week.
“I’ve met with enough of these kids now, including a 15-year old in Nogales (Ariz.) two weeks ago, who was three months pregnant, to have a real sense for what these kids go through,” Johnson told the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 10.
“We’ve heard about how before they leave Central America, some of these kids’ parents actually will give them birth control in case they’re raped along the way.”
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told the committee that he’d just received a report from an immigration advocacy group at the University of Chicago Law School describing the ordeal of two unaccompanied children:
“Samuel and Emily are siblings; amazingly, ages 3 and 6 — 3 and 6. They got here from Honduras. I don’t know how,” Durbin said.
“When they initially arrived in the United States, they were very quiet and they didn’t open up. They were clearly victims of trauma. After two months of care and custody of these 3- and 6-year-old children by HHS, Emily revealed that both children had been raped by members of a local drug cartel.
“I think about those children when I think about this debate. Are they the exception? God, I pray they are. But I’m afraid there are many more with similar stories.”
Durbin told the panel that President Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency spending request to deal with the flood of children coming to the U.S. illegally does not include enough money “to provide the kind of representation and advocacy to protect these kids.”
Committee Chair Sen. Barbara Mikulski said border agents are finding the children “dehydrated, malnourished, scared. Many have been abused. They come here relying on smugglers’ false promises, smugglers that are part of dangerous gangs and cartels who see women and children like commodities to be able to buy and sell them across the borders. Children leave home based on lies, endure dangerous journeys and the threat of being trafficked along the way.”
As of mid-June of the current fiscal year, the U.S. Border Patrol had apprehended more than 52,000 children at the U.S.-Mexico border. Approximately three-quarters of them originated from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras after traveling for weeks through Mexico.
Some die along the way, including a 15-year-old boy who was buried in Guatemala on Saturday.
The Associated Press reported that the decomposed body of Gilberto Francisco Ramos Juarez was discovered on June 15 in the Rio Grande Valley, just over the Texas border with Mexico. He apparently got lost on his way north and likely died from exposure in hot, dry brush country of South Texas.
“Around his neck was a rosary he had received as a gift for his first communion as a Roman Catholic. Scribbled inside his belt buckle was the phone number of an older brother in Chicago he had hoped to reach,” the report said.
At last week’s hearing, Sen. Susan Collins noted that the influx of Central American children began in 2012. “So we need to look at what happened that year,” she said.
“Well, on June 15th of 2012, President Obama took unilateral action and announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
“Now let me make clear that I think the president’s action was motivated by compassion. But it seems clear to me that it sent the wrong message to those parents in Central America. And it demonstrates what happens when the president unilaterally decides to issue an executive order affecting immigration without securing the border.”
Collins noted that the number of children coming to the U.S. from Central America more than doubled between Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2013. “Yet until just recently, the president did not even speak out to warn their parents and to tell them that the journey would be horrendously dangerous for their children and that they would be sent home.
“We know that many of these children have been abused or harmed on their way here. And when the wave became evident two years ago, the president took no action at that time to try to stem the tide,” Collins said.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) recently traveled to Central America, where she met with the presidents and first ladies of Guatemala and Honduras. They “want their children back,” she said.
“And they’re willing to cooperate with us to send the children back as quickly as possible,” Granger told Fox & Friends on Tuesday.
“Did they indicate that President Obama had reached out to them? And if so, what did he say?” Elizabeth Hasselbeck asked Granger.
“No, they didn’t. They didn’t say anything about that,” Granger replied.
“I did ask them how helpful it would be if the president of the United States spoke out clearly and strongly and said, don’t send your children to the United States illegally, because we will send them back; they will not complete their journey. And they said that could be – could be very helpful. They did not indicate that that was happening.”
Nothing to see here, move along…
Dr. Michael Vickers and Chris Burgard learn a few phrases of Urdu, from an Urdu dictionary, that was dropped by a coyote on the Vickers’ ranch in Texas. Urdu is spoken in Pakistan.
Training Mexico to secure their southern border.
The United States is quietly expanding its training of Mexico’s armed forces, helping to reverse decades of mistrust that made Mexico’s military reluctant to cooperate with its northern neighbor.
The amount the Pentagon spent on training Mexico’s armed forces, though small, increased to more than $15 million last year, up from about $3 million in 2009, according to U.S. Northern Command, which oversees U.S. military contacts with Mexico.
The training comes as Mexico’s armed forces have been drawn deeper into the country’s war on drugs and organized crime.
“For decades, Mexico’s military tried to remain autonomous from the U.S. military,” said David Shirk, a fellow at the Wilson Center.
U.S. military officials are reluctant to discuss the relationship openly because of sensitivities in Mexico about appearing dependent on American help. In a statement, the Pentagon said the U.S. military participated in 150 “engagements” with Mexican troops on both sides of the border, “sharing training opportunities with more than 3,000 Mexican soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.”
The statement said the Pentagon’s “interactions” with Mexico’s military have expanded over the past three years. Mexican government officials declined to speak on the record about the training.
The Mexican navy and marine corps have been particularly receptive, allowing the United States to expand its training with Mexico’s armed forces and build trust.
“Our security agencies have focused heavily on cooperation with the navy and marines,” said George Grayson, a professor at William and Mary who has written a book about Mexican drug cartels.
By contrast, the army is a more “insular” institution less willing to cooperate with foreign military forces, Shirk said.
“The navy has earned a tremendous amount of trust from American authorities,” Shirk said.
The army is more susceptible to corruption, since its soldiers have been deployed throughout the country in fixed locations, where there are more opportunities to be bribed. They have direct contact with drugs through eradication efforts.
Democrat Maryland Governor (and potential 2016 Presidential candidate) Martin O’Malley’s words and actions don’t line up regarding what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied illegal alien children showing up at the border.
Just last week, at a National Governors Association meeting in Nashville, O’Malley said:
“We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death… Through all of the great world religions we are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity.”
Hours later, O’Malley was singing a different tune about a proposal to convert a former Army Reserve Center into housing for the children.
“He privately said ‘please don’t send these kids to Western Maryland,’” a Democratic source told CNN. The heated discussion between O’Malley and White House domestic policy adviser Cecilia Munoz occurred during a phone call late Friday evening, sources familiar with the conversation added.
HHS has since scuttled the plan for the Western Maryland site, an O’Malley official said.
Don’t send the children back to certain death, but don’t send them to my state either. Oh, and about that “hospitality to strangers” you referenced, Governor, have you been a part of any private relief efforts that religious organizations have been organizing to help these children, regardless of their legal status? Or is that just something somebody else should do as well?
Touting hospitality to strangers and then hours later begging the government to not send the children to Maryland sounds pretty hypocritical, Governor.
This story is about a gilded class of people and corporations enriched by the new American economy while the rest of its citizens pay the tab. The protagonists could be any number of institutional elites, but this column happens to be about a Democratic senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, and his daughter, Heather Bresch, the chief executive of Mylan, a giant maker of generic drugs based outside Pittsburgh.
Her company’s profits come largely from Medicaid and Medicare, which means her nest is feathered by U.S. taxpayers. On Monday, Bresch announced that Mylan will renounce its United States citizenship and instead become incorporated in the Netherlands – leaving this country, in part, to pay less in taxes.
This is the sort of story that makes blood boil in populists – voters from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party to libertarians who follow Rand Paul and including tea party conservatives. These disillusioned souls, growing in numbers, hate hypocrites who condemn the U.S. political system while gaming it.
Populists can’t be happy with how this story was told by Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times. Under the headline “Reluctantly, Patriot Flees Homeland for Greener Tax Pastures,” Sorkin cast Bresch as a helpless victim of a system that has made her wealthy and her father powerful.
Heather Bresch grew up around politics. Her father is Joe Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia and a former governor. She has heard him say repeatedly, “We live in the greatest country on Earth,” as he did in countless political advertisements. And it appeared to rub off on her: Ms. Bresch was named a “Patriot of the Year” in 2011 by Esquire magazine for helping to push through the F.D.A. Safety Innovation Act.
Ah, so she’s a patriot. Bresch told Sorkin that she engineered the company’s divorce from the United States “reluctantly,” and, the reporter added, “she genuinely seems to mean it.” That credulous line was followed by two paragraphs about corporate tax rates, an important reminder of how slowly political and business leaders are adapting to the global, tech-infused economy.
If Ms. Bresch’s deal is not a call to Washington to address what is clearly a growing trend that it has remained nearly silent on, the nation will most likely continue to lose large employers and taxpayers in droves to countries with lower tax rates. Almost 20 large United States companies have announced plans to give up their United States citizenship over the last two years. Just on Monday, the Irish drug maker Shire cleared the way for a merger with AbbVie, the drug maker based in Chicago, and Walgreen is considering an inversion through a deal with Alliance Boots, a European drugstore chain.
“It’s not like I’ve not been vocal and up there talking to anybody who’d listen to me,” Ms. Bresch told me in an interview about the crusade she had been on in Washington for years, talking to lawmakers about overhauling the corporate tax code to make United States companies more competitive. “But you know what they all say? ‘Yeah, uh huh, O.K. Uh huh.’ “
That’s ripe. The daughter of a U.S. senator and former governor – a Patriot of the Year, no less – says she got lip-service from Congress. Just like you and me.
To his credit, Sorkin says there is something “morally disconcerting” about a company bolting a country that is among its biggest customers. Still, he writes, Bresch “insists that the merger is being driven mostly by its strategic merits, and that the lower tax rate is just an added benefit.” OK, now. That’s hard to swallow. How much in taxes will she save by jilting the United States?
Ms. Bresch, who said the company’s current effective tax rate is about 25 percent, said the rate would come down to 21 percent in the first year of the deal and then move into the high teens after three to five years. Mylan will continue to pay taxes in the United States on its domestic profits, but not on its business operations abroad.
All of which raises an important question: Even if the United States were to revamp its corporate tax code, how low would the rate have to drop to be competitive and still raise enough revenue to pay for the services that citizens expect?
Corporate taxes will go as low as ordinary voters can stand it, no doubt, because their rates are determined by powerful special interests and elites like Bresch and her father. Manchin wouldn’t speak to me, but he did issue a nugatory statement to Sorkin – something about being “disappointed” when U.S. companies “feel the need to move overseas because of the U.S. tax code.”
Too bad Manchin isn’t in a postion to feel the need and find a way to keep Mylan paying taxes to the United States, the country that presumably will continue to enrich her firm via Medicare and Medicaid. Would he try to cut federal drug payments to Mylan by roughly the amount of taxes his daughter is taking to the Netherlands? I don’t know, because my call to the senator’s office was not returned.
As for Americans less privileged and powerful than these two characters, your role is clear: Just cast your votes and pay the bills.
It was the line from The Godfather that will never be forgotten: “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.” The Chicago thugocracy of Barack Hussein Obama took that tactic with health insurance companies to make them swallow Obamacare in the first place, and is now quietly bribing them to “postpone” rate hikes scheduled to come out right before the midterms.
According to Forbes.com, ” Hidden in the midst of a 436-page regulatory update, and written in pure bureaucratese, the Department of Health and Human Services asked that insurance companies limit the looming premium increases for 2015 health plans. But don’t worry, HHS hinted: we’ll bail you out on the taxpayer’s dime if you lose money. No wonder there wasn’t a press release. The White House is playing politics with Americans’ health care – and they’re bribing health insurance companies to play along.”
Ok, let me clarify: the Obama administration has sneaked in a regulatory rule update asking health insurance companies not to do their job accurately if it means higher insurance premiums. After all Obama – aka Vito Corleone – stated Obamacare would bring about an average reduction of $2500 to healthcare premiums. Now, here is the offer the insurance companies can’t refuse: “even if you’re losing money, we’ll square it away for you” – with taxpayer dollars of course.
So in the long run, the hard-working American middle-income family gets screwed either way! Either they’ll have to pay higher premiums or pay the government through higher taxes – such as Obama’s desired higher gas taxes – in order to compensate the insurance companies. And here we thought Obama REALLY didn’t like those insurance companies.
Now, silly me, I thought bribery was a felony offense. Oops, there I go again using logic and common sense when assessing the Obama administration – heck, they’re having problems with computer hard drives, bribery is just par for the course.
And to think the Washington Post just gave President Obama three more “pinocchios” for lying. Nah, none of this matters – it’s certainly not “impeachable.” It’s just liberal progressive socialist politics as usual – fear, intimidation, coercion, lies and deception. Can you imagine what would be happening if this were a revelation occurring under a Republican president?
But be careful, you don’t want to be accused of racial animus because you’re questioning the president’s bribery policy. And I don’t think the U.S. Department of Justice will be investigating this, do you?
Why is all of this happening now? Why it’s simple. There’s an election coming in November 2014 and the last thing Obama, his personal consigliere Valerie Jarrett and the Democrats want is for 2015 healthcare insurance premium increases to be announced in September. And Obama accuses everyone else of playing politics.
As Forbes reports, “typically, insurance companies release their premium rates between summer and early fall – i.e., right before voters cast their ballots in November. If premiums skyrocket—which looks increasingly likely – then voters won’t look too kindly on Senators and Representatives who voted for Obamacare and created this problem. Hence the White House’s desperate damage control. It almost worked: No one noticed when the regulations were first released. In fact, it took days for any news outlet to find the language and then translate it into readable English. TownHall.com figured it out first. The Los Angeles Times then reported that “hold[ing] down premium increases for next year” is a “top priority” for President Obama since “rates will be announced ahead of this fall’s congressional elections.” Wow, give the LA Times a Scooby Snack for getting that one right!
Forbes says “even if the healthcare insurance industry doesn’t want to play along, it’s still in these companies’ best interests to assent to the administration’s “request.” Under Obamacare, insurers are so heavily regulated that they have to play nice with the bureaucrats who call the shots. The president isn’t the only government official who carries a big stick. If insurance companies don’t give in, regulators have powerful ways to make life hard for them. A shrewd CEO doesn’t need to look far to see what might happen if his company opts out. This administration already has a reputation for strong-arming dissenting businesses in other industries.”
Don’t believe how bad it could be? Just ask the coal industry and the small community banks. Of course, this will once again be dismissed and the White House may still get away with its attempted sleight of hand. Technically, the regulations don’t force health insurance companies to hold down their premium increases. But the White House isn’t asking nicely. Does it ever?
If the GOP can awake from its stupor and acknowledge the other side doesn’t play nice, perhaps they’ll start winning elections. This is the politics of Moose and Rocco, and exactly what Americans consented to when they voted to have Chicago come to Washington D.C.
P.S. Hillary is from Chicago too.
The House voted to block performance bonuses for senior Internal Revenue Service executives Wednesday, The Hill reported.
“Giving out bonuses is ludicrous and amounts to a slap in the face to the American public,” said Rep. Paul Gosar, who introduced the amendment. “They should not be given performance awards in the wake of one of the largest scandals in recent history.”
The amendment passed by a vote of 282-138-1, with only Democrats voting against it.
“To suggest and paint with a broad brush the whole IRS and say that everyone there at the senior level is not worthy of a bonus or not worthy of our respect is really to do a disservice to public service employees,” said ranking member Democrat Rep. José Serrano.
The House also passed an amendment prohibiting the IRS from spending money on conferences, with Rep. Ron DeSantis noting that one recent conference alone cost more than $4 million.
These are just the latest move in the House’s war on the IRS. Earlier this week it voted to slash the IRS’s budget by $1.14 billion, motivated by anger over the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.
“The IRS is guilty of targeting innocent Americans, now… I am targeting them,” said Rep. Gosar, who also sponsored of one of the amendments that dramatically cut funding.
“We need to keep in mind that the IRS is one of the most feared agencies within the federal government,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, who introduced a separate budget-cutting amendment, which also passed. “It is up to Congress to prevent the IRS from ever slipping back into its targeting practices. The best way to do that is to force the IRS to consolidate its resources and prioritize. Congress itself has been forced to do this. Our own offices have been forced to do this and there is no reason the IRS cannot follow suit. We cannot allow the IRS to be used as a political weapon.”
Gosar’s amendment cut the IRS’s budget by $353 million, while Huizenga’s chopped off another $788 million. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, this leaves the IRS with $9.8 billion for the fiscal year beginning on October 1.
Both amendments passed by a voice vote, meaning there is no record of who did and did not support the amendments.
Both the budget-cutting and bonus-blocking amendments were made to House Resolution 5016, the fiscal year 2015 financial services appropriations bill, which “provides annual funding for the Treasury Department, the Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and several other agencies.”
These amendments have the White House rattled, with its budget office saying Monday that, “If the President were presented with H.R. 5016, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”
“Reverting the agency’s funding level to FY 2008 levels would hinder IRS efforts to provide robust service to taxpayers, improve enforcement operations, and implement new statutory responsibilities,” the statement read. “The Administration also objects to provisions that unnecessarily encumber IRS operations with reporting requirements and unduly restrict the IRS’s ability to finalize regulations.”
H.R. 5016 passed Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 228-195.
“The bill totals $21.3 billion in funding for these agencies, which is $566 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $2.3 billion below the President’s request for these programs,” said an Appropriations Committee press release. “The legislation prioritizes programs critical to enforcing laws, maintaining an effective judiciary system, and helping small businesses, while targeting lower-priority or poor-performing programs – such as the Internal Revenue Service – for reductions.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is sounding the alarm regarding new alleged audio of former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis leaving a voicemail for someone “off the record” to ask the individual to contribute and help organize a fundraising event for President Barack Obama’s campaign. Issa says Solis violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits political activity on official time.
In his opening statement during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday, Issa played the voicemail Solis reportedly left to pressure a Labor Department employee to donate to Obama’s re-election campaign.
Read a transcript of the controversial Solis voicemail:
“Hi – this is Hilda Solis calling, um, just calling you off-the-record here – Wanted to ask you if you could, um, help us get folks organized to come to a fundraiser that we’re doing for Organizing for America for Obama campaign on Friday at La Fonda at 6 p.m. Steven Smith, an attorney, and his staff are helping us [inaudible]. There are a lot of folks that we know that are coming but wanted to ask you if you might help contribute or get other folks to help out. I would encourage you to call this number, [inaudible] – that’s his assistant – at [phone number] and you can call [the attorney] yourself who’s a good friend, an attorney, good friend of mine, at [phone number]. And it’s for a Friday event at La Fonda [inaudible] we’re just trying to raise money to show that we have support here in [inaudible].”
Issa went on to slam the Obama administration for showing what he called an “indefensible” attempt to avoid oversight.
“It is deeply ironic that an administration claiming to be the most transparent ever, has resisted oversight of its political office and offered less corroboration than its predecessors,” he said.
Watch Issa’s full opening statement below: