How Rand Paul And A Few Other RINO Douchebags Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies

How Five Republicans Let Congress Keep Its Fraudulent Obamacare Subsidies – National Review

.

.
The rumors began trickling in about a week before the scheduled vote on April 23: Republican leadership was quietly pushing senators to pull support for subpoenaing Congress’s fraudulent application to the District of Columbia’s health exchange – the document that facilitated Congress’s “exemption” from Obamacare by allowing lawmakers and staffers to keep their employer subsidies.

The application said Congress employed just 45 people. Names were faked; one employee was listed as “First Last,” another simply as “Congress.” To Small Business Committee chairman David Vitter, who has fought for years against the Obamacare exemption, it was clear that someone in Congress had falsified the document in order to make lawmakers and their staff eligible for taxpayer subsidies provided under the exchange for small-business employees.

But until Vitter got a green light from the Small Business Committee to subpoena the unredacted application from the District of Columbia health exchange, it would be impossible to determine who in Congress gave it a stamp of approval. When Vitter asked Republicans on his committee to approve the subpoena, however, he was unexpectedly stonewalled.

With nine Democrats on the committee lined up against the proposal, the chairman needed the support of all ten Republicans to issue the subpoena. But, though it seems an issue tailor-made for the tea-party star and Republican presidential candidate, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) refused to lend his support. And when the Louisiana senator set a public vote for April 23, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his allies got involved.

“For whatever reason, leadership decided they wanted that vote to be 5-5, all Republicans, to give Senator Paul cover,” one high-ranking committee staffer tells National Review. “So they worked at a member level to change the votes of otherwise supportive senators.” Four Republicans – senators Mike Enzi, James Risch, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer – had promised to support Vitter, but that would soon change.

Senate staffers, according to a top committee aide, reported seeing Missouri senator Roy Blunt make calls to at least two Republican committee members, lobbying them, at McConnell’s behest, to vote no on subpoenaing the exchange. By the time the committee was called to quorum, Enzi, Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer voted no.

To many observers, it was curious that any Republican would move to put the brakes on an investigation into Obamacare fraud, and particularly curious that they would pull back in an instance where the federal government was actually defrauding itself, one that so clearly illustrates Obamacare’s flaws by exposing the bureaucratic jujitsu and outright dishonesty required of federal employees themselves to navigate the law.

Conservative health-care experts can’t understand the reasoning behind the GOP senators’ opposition. They see politics and self-interest at play, and they allege that Republican leaders are as invested as their Democratic counterparts in maintaining their subsidies, fraudulently obtained, while avoiding scrutiny from an overwhelmingly disapproving American public.

“We deserve to know who signed that application, because they are robbing taxpayers,” says Michael Cannon, director of health-policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. The staffers who signed the fraudulent application, he says, “know who was directing them to do this. And so we have to follow the trail of breadcrumbs. This is the next breadcrumb, and whoever is farther up the trail wants to stop Vitter right here.”

The story of the ill-fated subpoena can be traced back to the debate over the Affordable Care Act, when Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) insisted that lawmakers and congressional staff join a health-care exchange set up under the bill. For government employees, that meant giving up government-subsidized health-care contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 per person. The White House scrambled to find a way to allow congressional employees to keep those subsidies. In Washington, D.C., only the small-business exchange allowed them to do so. After secret meetings with House speaker John Boehner in 2013, President Obama instructed the Office of Personnel Management to allow Congress to file for classification as a small business, despite the fact that the law defines a small business as having no more than 50 employees and the House and Senate together employ tens of thousands.

When Vitter’s staffers tracked down the application and discovered obvious signs of fraud, Vitter requested approval to subpoena an unredacted copy of the application. The value of that document, says Cannon, is that it would reveal the name of the person who filed it. “Now you’ve got someone to call to testify,” he says, predicting that testimony would precipitate a congressional vote on whether to end the congressional exemption altogether.

“I think it makes sense to find out what happened,” says Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs, a noted conservative health-care voice and a National Review contributor. “It would be pretty interesting to see whose name is on the forms,” he says. “It has to go beyond mid-level staffers.”

But some congressional Republicans, it seems, are also resistant to getting to the bottom of the mystery – or, at the very least, they are content to let sleeping dogs lie.

Committee rules for a subpoena require either the consent of the ranking member or a majority of the group’s 19 senators. Because Democrats quickly made their opposition clear, Vitter needed the approval of all ten Republicans. Nine of them quickly consented via e-mail; one senator was strangely unresponsive.

Senior committee aides say that Rand Paul’s staff didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail requesting the senator’s consent and, when they did, they refused to provide it. When Vitter attempted to set up a member-to-member meeting, his overtures were ignored or put off. Paul’s policy staff refused to take a meeting. When Vitter tried to confront Paul on the Senate floor, they say, the Kentucky senator skirted the issue.

It wasn’t until after the vote that Paul shared his reasoning. “Senator Paul opposes allowing Congress to exempt themselves from any legislation,” an aide told the Conservative Review. “To that end, yesterday, he reintroduced his proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit Congress from passing any law that exempts themselves. Senator Paul prefers this option over a partisan cross-examination of Congressional staff.”

But a constitutional amendment is a longshot that would take years, and it hardly precluded an investigation of congressional corruption here and now.

“That’s absurd,” says Robert Moffit, the director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “You don’t need a constitutional amendment to get a subpoena… I don’t know where he’s coming from.”

“The answers he has given do not make sense,” Cannon says of Paul. “And when someone with his principles does something that is so obviously against his principles, and does not give an adequate explanation, you begin to think that politics is afoot. It would have to be someone very powerful that made him a powerful pitch – or threat – to keep him from doing this.”

Paul’s press secretary tells National Review that the senator “examines every opportunity to [oppose Obamacare] individually, and does not base his vote on requests made by other senators, including the majority leader.”

Asked whether McConnell pushed Paul or any other senator on the subpoena, a spokesman for McConnell says the majority leader “didn’t make any announcements when that committee voted.”

The flip-flopping Republicans justified their change of heart. Risch said in the April 23 committee meeting that legal wrangling with the D.C. exchange could take time away from the committee’s small-business work. Enzi said he saw little wrong with the application as is.

“Each of us has our own budget, each of us has our own staff,” he said. “I don’t know about everybody else, but I’m way under 50 [employees]. So my staff qualifies as a small business.”

Enzi was one of the original sponsors of Vitter’s 2013 amendment to end the congressional Obamacare exemption, but his press secretary tells National Review he felt the probe “could inadvertently target staff who simply completed paperwork as part of their job.” He insists that Enzi “made up his own mind.” Risch, Ayotte, and Fischer declined to comment.

A spokesman for South Carolina senator Tim Scott, who voted for the subpoena, says that nobody lobbied him one way or the other, while a spokesman for Florida senator Marco Rubio, who also voted in favor of the measure, declined to comment.

Health-care experts dismiss Enzi’s claim that each member’s office is its own small business, and not just because the health exchange application was filed for Congress as a whole. “These congressional offices that think they’re small businesses, are they LLCs?” Cannon asks. “Are they S-Corps? Are they shareholder-owned? Are they privately held? What is the ownership structure of this small business that you’re running, senator? It’s just utterly ridiculous.”

“They’re transparently absurd,” says Moffit of Senate Republicans claiming small-business status. “Who made the determination that Congress is a small business and is therefore eligible for subsidies that do not legally exist? How did that happen?”

No one quite knows what’s behind leadership’s apparent push to kill the subpoena. The move baffled some committee staffers. “The amount of blood that McConnell and Paul spilled to prevent [the subpoena] from happening makes me wonder [if] maybe that isn’t all that there is to it,” the high-ranking staffer says. “Maybe other people signed it… They’re clearly afraid of something bigger than a person’s name getting out there.”

Others, however, think the motives behind GOP leadership’s apparent obfuscation are clear. “If there’s one thing that absolutely drives Americans fundamentally crazy, it’s the idea that Congress can set one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else,” says Moffit. “That’s political poison, and that’s why they have been so desperate to avoid the issue.”

“The most powerful interest group in Washington D.C., is not the Chamber or the unions or anyone else,” Cannon says. “It is members of Congress and their staffs. And when it comes to their benefits, they are all members of the same party.”

.
————————————————————————————————————————–
.

Related videos:

.


.

.

.

The IRS Hates Tax Cheats… Unless They Work For The IRS

IRS Gave Promotions To Tax Cheaters: Audit – Washington Times

.

.
The IRS refused to fire most of its own employees found to be cheating on their taxes – and in some cases even quickly turned around and promoted them within the year, according to a new audit released Wednesday.

In about 60 percent of cases of “willful violations” IRS managers found mitigating circumstances and refused to fire the employees, even though the law calls for that penalty. In some of those cases the managers didn’t even document why they’d overridden the penalty, said Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George.

“Given its critical role in Federal tax administration, the IRS must ensure that its employees comply with the tax law in order to maintain the public’s confidence,” Mr. George said. “Willful violation of the law by IRS employees should not be taken lightly, and the IRS Commissioner should fully document decisions made to retain employees whom management has proposed be terminated.”

During the decade from 2004 to 2013, the IRS identified nearly 130,000 potential cases of tax violations by its own employees, and concluded about 10 percent of those were actual violations. Mr. George said the agency did a good job of spotting those issues.

Of those 13,000 cases, 1,580 were deemed to be intentional cheaters, and they were sent to managers for discipline. But in 60 percent of the cases, the managers refused to fire the employees.

Among the abuses were employees who repeatedly failed to file their returns on time, those who intentionally inflated their expenses and those who claimed the stimulus homebuyer’s tax credit without actually buying a home.

The IRS said its employees have a compliance rate of higher than 99 percent, which is actually much higher than other employers and is tops among all major federal agencies.

“Over ten years, TIGTA found an average of a little more than 150 IRS employees a year committed a willful tax violation. Of the total cases, 620 – or nearly 40 percent – resulted in the employee leaving their position because they were terminated, resigned or retired. Others faced strong disciplinary actions that included terminations, suspensions and reprimands,” the agency said.

The IRS also said it has taken steps to cancel bonuses that would otherwise have been paid to the tax cheats.

“Nonetheless, the IRS agrees that we can improve this process. The changes will include a more proactive approach to ensure timeliness and consistency and provide more transparency in the mitigation process while preserving the commissioner’s authority provided by federal law,” the agency said in its statement.

Of the 1,580 employees deemed to have intentionally cheated on their taxes, 108 of them received no punishment at all. The others were at least admonished, while 25 percent were fired and 14 percent were allowed to resign or retire instead of being fired.

The vast majority of substantiated reports involved “nonwillful” violations. Of those, just 238, or about 1 percent, were deemed serious enough to be fired. Another 1 percent were allowed to retire or resign, 47 percent were admonished, 26 percent were sent to counseling and 14 percent were closed without any punishment.

More than 2,000 employees had multiple red flags during the decade, the inspector general said. Investigators pulled a sample of 15 cases where an employee had repeated intentional violations and found that even there, the majority were allowed to remain on the job.

The inspector general took a sampling of 364 cases of intentional cheaters and found that 108 of them were not only not fire, but were given raises or promotions within a year of being found to be cheating.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee, which oversees the IRS, said the report was a black mark for the IRS.

“Even worse, the agency appears to have rewarded some of them with cash bonuses, promotions, and paid time off,” the Utah Republican said. “This is unacceptable – American taxpayers deserve better.”

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who along with a review board must approve the decision to keep any employees deemed to have intentionally cheated on their taxes, has insisted things at his agency have improved over the last two years, which is when another report from Mr. George exposed that the IRS had singled out tea party groups for special scrutiny in their tax-exempt applications.

Mr. Koskinen has argued that budget cuts have eviscerated morale at the IRS, and he has pleaded with Congress to give him more money to hire staff. He also defended doling out bonuses to employees.

“They are not bonuses. They are performance awards. Over 40, 45 percent of the employees don’t get them. You only get them if you perform,” he said.

But he said he’s taken steps to try to make sure tax cheats don’t get awards.

“Even though we have over 99 percent compliance, I thought it was an important point,” he said.

.

.

Contrary To Democrats’ Promises, Emergency Room Visits Surge Under Obamacare

Contrary To Goals, ER Visits Rise Under Obamacare – USA Today

.

.
Three-quarters of emergency physicians say they’ve seen ER patient visits surge since Obamacare took effect – just the opposite of what many Americans expected would happen.

A poll released today by the American College of Emergency Physicians shows that 28% of 2,099 doctors surveyed nationally saw large increases in volume, while 47% saw slight increases. By contrast, fewer than half of doctors reported any increases last year in the early days of the Affordable Care Act.

Such hikes run counter to one of the goals of the health care overhaul, which is to reduce pressure on emergency rooms by getting more people insured through Medicaid or subsidized private coverage and providing better access to primary care.

A major reason that hasn’t happened is there simply aren’t enough primary care physicians to handle all the newly insured patients, says ACEP President Mike Gerardi, an emergency physician in New Jersey.

“They don’t have anywhere to go but the emergency room,” he says. “This is what we predicted. We know people come because they have to.”

Experts cite many root causes. In addition to the nation’s long-standing shortage of primary care doctors – projected by the federal government to exceed 20,000 doctors by 2020 – some physicians won’t accept Medicaid because of its low reimbursement rates. That leaves many patients who can’t find a primary care doctor to turn to the ER – 56% of doctors in the ACEP poll reported increases in Medicaid patients.

Emergency room usage is bound to increase if there’s a shortage of primary care doctors who accept Medicaid patients and “no financial penalty or economic incentive” to move people away from ERs, says Avik Roy, a health care policy expert with the free market Manhattan Institute.

“It goes to the false promise of the ACA,” Roy says, that Medicaid recipients are “given a card that says they have health insurance, but they can’t have access to physicians.”

Complicating matters, low-income patients face many obstacles to care. They often can’t take time off from work when most primary care offices are open, while ERs operate around the clock and by law must at least stabilize patients. Waits for appointments at primary care offices can stretch for weeks, while ERs must see patients almost immediately.

“Nobody wants to turn anyone away,” says Maggie Gill, CEO of Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, Ga. “But there’s no business in this country that provides resource-intensive anything and can’t even ask if you’re going to be able to pay.”

Some people who have been uninsured for years don’t have regular doctors and are accustomed to using ERs, even though they are much more expensive. A 2013 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says going to an ER when a primary care visit would suffice costs $580 more for each visit.

Damian Alagia, chief physician executive for KentuckyOne Health, says he’s seen the trend play out in his large hospital system. There are more than a half-million people in the state newly insured through Obamacare. Many who put off care in the past now seek it in the place they know — the ER. “We’re seeing an uptick pretty much across the system in our ERs,” he says, calling the rise “significant” in both urban and rural hospitals.

Gerardi acknowledges that some people come to the ER for problems that would be better handled in a primary or urgent care office. But he says the ER is the right place for patients with vague but potentially life-threatening symptoms, such as chest pain, which could be anything from a heart attack to indigestion.

ER volumes are likely to keep climbing, and hospitals are working to adapt. Alagia says his ERs have care management professionals who connect patients with primary care physicians if they don’t already have them. Gill says her Georgia hospital has a “whole staff in the emergency room dedicated to recidivism,” who follow up with patients to see whether they’ve found a primary care doctor, are taking their medications or need help with transportation to get to doctors.

Still, seven in 10 doctors say their emergency departments aren’t ready for continuing, and potentially significant, increases in volume. Although the numbers should level off as people get care to keep their illnesses under control, Alagia says, “the patient demand will outstrip the supply of physicians for a while.”

.

.

Infernal Revenue Service Wasted $5.6 Billion On Bogus Obama Stimulus Tax Credits

IRS Wasted $5.6B On Bogus Obama Stimulus Tax Credits: Audit – Washington Times

.

.
The IRS doled out more than $5 billion in potentially bogus college aid payments under an Obama stimulus tax credit in 2012, according to a new report Tuesday from the agency’s inspector general that said the administration still doesn’t have a good handle on how to root out erroneous claims.

More than 3.8 million students received more than $5.6 billion in questionable tax credits, the audit found – more than half of those never filed their tuition statement, while others were paid tax credits even though the schools they attended weren’t acceptable institutions.

Still other students claimed the credit for more than four years.

“The IRS still does not have effective processes to identify erroneous claims for education credits,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, who said he’s repeatedly warned the IRS about the problem but “many of the deficiencies TIGTA previously identified still exist.”

Many of the problems, however, lie with Congress, which needs to grant the IRS new powers to check students’ claims against other government databases, Mr. George said.

The tax break at issue is known as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which was a creation of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus. It was slated to expire in 2010, but Mr. Obama and Congress have extended it through 2017.

The credits are designed to offset the costs of college.

IRS officials said part of the blame for the potential fraud lies with schools and the school year itself, saying that information on students’ attendance comes too late for the agency to be able to check it against returns.

But Debra Holland, IRS’s wage and investment division commissioner, insisted her agency does have “effective processes to identify erroneous claims,” saying they did catch 1.8 million questionable returns and put nearly 9,600 of those cases through a tax exam.

Ms. Holland blamed a lack of money for her agency’s inability to do more, and said they needed to limit their efforts to tax returns that had the highest risk of errors and the best chance of reclaiming money.

The IRS has already moved to add more checks to its system by looking to see who’s claimed the tax credit for more than four nonconsecutive years.

In a statement Tuesday, the IRS said Congress could help the agency out by granting it the power to automatically reject payments to students who claim more than four years of the tax credit. The agency also said Congress could approve new tools to access other government databases to check students’ eligibility for the tax credits, and could speed up the timeframe for filing the tuition forms that the inspector general said were missing in most of the cases it identified.

“Funding limitations have severely hampered our efforts in this and other compliance areas. Since 2010, the IRS budget has been reduced by nearly $1.2 billion and we expect to have 16,000 fewer employees by the end of this fiscal year. We simply do not have enough resources to audit every questionable credit,” the agency said.

The agency also said it believed the estimate of $5.6 billion was “overstated,” though the IRS acknowledged that it should try to do more to cut down on bad payments.

.

.

*VIDEO* Ted Cruz: Interview – United States Hispanic Chamber Of Commerce


.

.

*VIDEO* Congressman Trey Gowdy Goes After EPA Lackey Over His Utter Incompetence


.

.

Leftist Corruption Update: IRS Watchdog Recovers Thousands Of Missing Lois Lerner Emails

IRS Watchdog Recovers Thousands Of Missing Lois Lerner Emails, Reignites Hill Probes – Fox News

.

.
A Treasury Department watchdog has recovered thousands of emails from Lois Lerner and turned them over to Congress, reviving the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

Lerner was in charge of the IRS division that targeted Tea Party and other groups with conservative-sounding names when they applied for tax-exempt status from roughly 2010 to 2012.

She has since retired, and officials have said that many of her emails are permanently lost because her computer hard drive crashed.

“This underscores that our investigation into IRS abuse is far from over,” a House Ways and Means Committee spokesman said Wednesday. “The committee will thoroughly review these new emails as part of our ongoing efforts to find out exactly what happened and provide accountability.”

The Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration announced overnight that it had recovered roughly 6,400 Lerner emails that Congress has yet to see and that it will examine them as part of Congress’ bipartisan investigation that also includes the Senate Finance Committee.

Roughly 650 of the recovered emails are from 2010 and 2011, while most of them are from 2012.

During those three years, Lerner led the IRS division that targeted Tea Party and other conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

The inspector general has found about 35,000 emails in all as it sought to recover emails from backup tapes.

“We welcome the Inspector General’s recovery of these Lois Lerner emails,” the IRS said in response to the IG announcement. “This is an encouraging development that will help resolve remaining questions and dispel uncertainty surrounding the emails.

The agency also pointed out in its response that it has already produced 24,000 emails from 2010 to 2012 and that it has given Congress more than 1.3 million pages of documents related to the investigation, including more than 147,000 emails.”

In addition, the IRS also said it will continue to cooperate with the Inspector General and the congressional committees.

The agency said last year that Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011 and her emails were lost.

Lerner was placed on leave in May 2013 and retired four months later.

“I have not done anything wrong,” Lerner said to Congress in 2013. “I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

The IRS scandal broke in May 2013 when Lerner said at an American Bar Association gathering and during a follow-up conference call with reporters that there was a “very quick uptick” in nonprofit applications and that the vetting process was limited to the agency’s Cincinnati office.

The extent to which the Obama administration knew about the targeting, beyond Lerner’s unit in Washington, remains unclear in part because, she says, her computer crashed and emails were lost.

Lerner attorney William Taylor recently said he and his client were “gratified but not surprised” by a decision by the U.S. Attorney’s Office not to pursue contempt of court charges against her earlier this month after she refused to testify about her role at the IRS in the targeting of conservative groups. Regarding efforts in Congress to punish her for not testifying, he said: “It is unfortunate that the majority party in the House put politics before a citizen’s constitutional rights.”

.

.