Congressman Blake Farenthold Introduces Bill To Prevent Eric Holder From Receiving Paycheck

GOP Congressman Pushes Bill To Cut Off Eric Holder’s Paycheck – Daily Caller

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A Republican congressman from Texas has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would stop the government from paying Attorney General Eric Holder’s salary.

Rep. Blake Farenthold’s “Contempt Act” would prohibit any federal employee who has been found in contempt of Congress from getting a taxpayer-funded paycheck.

In 2012, the House voted to hold Holder in contempt over his refusal to hand over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal.

Farenthold specifically referenced Holder in his statement about the legislation.

“In 2012, the House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting operation – despite this fact, he is still receiving his paycheck courtesy of American taxpayers,” the lawmaker said.

During a contentious House Judiciary Committee hearing last week with Holder, Farenthold alluded to the legislation: “If he continues to refuse to resign, my bill would at least prevent hardworking American taxpayers from paying his salary.”

Farenthold also noted how the House is expected to to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her role in the agency’s targeting of conservative and tea party groups. But he noted that because Lerner has already resigned, this bill will not affect her.

“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior,” he said. “If the average American failed to do his or her job, he or she would hardly be rewarded. High-ranking government officials should be treated no differently than everyone else.”

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*VIDEO* A Tax Day Message From Your Virtual President Bill Whittle


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Corruption Alert: U.S. State Department “Misplaced” $6 Billion

US State Department Misplaced $6 Billion – Universal Free Press

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The US State Department can’t explain how it spent billions of dollars worth of contract funds in areas throughout the world, according to a newly unveiled report by the department’s internal watchdog.

The Office of Inspector General explained in a March 20 “management alert” to department leaders that approximately $6 billion has gone unaccounted for over the past six years. The note said the number of missing documents “exposes the department to significant financial risk” and is a dangerous lack of oversight.

“It creates conditions conducive to fraud, as corrupt individuals may attempt to conceal evidence of illicit behavior by omitting key documents from the contract file,” the inspector general wrote. “It impairs the ability of the Department to take effective and timely action to protect is interests and, in turn, those of taxpayers.”

There is no indication that representatives within the Bureau of Administration’s Office of the Procurement Executive (A/OPE) fraudulently filed any of the missing contracts, only that State Department brass misplaced the necessary paperwork. The omissions are especially notable, though, because of similar memos that have noted budgetary oversights in the past.

In one instance, the State Department could not locate files regarding payments to contractors assisting US military forces in Iraq. That incident, one of the “repeated examples of poor contract file administration,” according to the inspector general, included contracts worth $2.1 billion.

An unrelated audit of the Bureau of African Affairs indicated the department could not supply the “complete contract administration files” for even one of the eight contracts, worth a total of nearly $35 million, under examination.

“The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions,” the report noted.

While no proof of fraudulent payments was mentioned, the Office of Inspector General did warn that lax record-keeping standards does create the potential for abuse.

“OIG recommends that the Under Secretary for Management ensure that contracting officers and their supporting personnel, and A/OPE specialists conducting oversight visits, have resources sufficient to maintain adequate contract files in accordance with relevant regulations and policies,” the officials recommended.

The report also encouraged the State Department to hold employees accountable when they are found to have committed such infractions.

The State Department, which is responsible for a vast number of duties relating to international relations, has also announced that it will publish ambassador qualifications from now on. The Obama administration has come under fire because of the perception that not all newly appointed State Department ambassadors were up to the task of heading up US relations in other countries. The necessary “certificates of demonstrated competence” were previously only available to lawmakers, but will now be made available to the public, American Foreign Service Association President Robert Silverman told USA Today.

“We believe transparency of the nomination process is an important step,” he said Friday “We very much appreciate the efforts of the White House and State Department, and AFSA – as the voice of the Foreign service – looks forward to working to assure that our country is represented by the very best men and women at our diplomatic missions abroad.”

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22 Progressive Groups That Are More Evil Than The Koch Brothers If Money In Politics Is ‘Evil’ (Kyle Becker)

22 Progressive Groups That Are More Evil Than The Koch Brothers If Money In Politics Is ‘Evil’ – Kyle Becker

Below is a list from Open Secrets of the campaign contributions of various groups. Try to find the infamous “Koch Brothers”:

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If you noticed there are no less than 22 groups that donated more to the Democratic Party than the Koch Brothers donated to the Republican Party – congratulations! You have basic math, reading and comprehension skills.

For extra credit, take note that DNC “Uber Donors” gave $485,652,385 more to the Democrat Party for their progressive causes than all RNC “Uber donors” combined.

After the Supreme Court struck down an elections law on campaign funding caps, progressives took to the media to vent their supposed frustrations.

“Now we know corporations are people and money is people too,” CNN anchor Caroline Costello lamented (apparently not noticing that “CNN is people” and it has freedom of the press rights). One wonders if Democrats also object as vehemently to the notion that “progressive groups are people” or “colleges are people” or “unions are people.”

According to Open Secrets, in 2012, “Obama’s campaign spent about $737.9 million, compared to the combined Republican total of $624.8 million.” The grand total for all elections tilted Republicans’ way, but by the margins of 9% and 10% in the House and Senate, respectively. While PACs leaned GOP, the Democrats dominated the 527s. The point is that the media’s outrage at spending in politics is entirely selective.

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Reid Attacks Koch For Offenses Committed By Reid Donors – Washington Free Beacon

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) on Wednesday criticized a Koch Industries subsidiary for allegedly circumventing sanctions on Iran even though Reid has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies that have done exactly that.

Reid also claimed that the Kochs support the recently introduced House Republican budget proposal. Neither the company nor its owners has taken a position on the legislation.

Reid’s claims were part of an ongoing offensive against libertarian philanthropists Charles and David Koch. Reid has accused them of being “un-American” for donating to groups that oppose the Democratic Party’s agenda.

A page on Reid’s Senate website is devoted entirely to attacking the Kochs. It initially cited former White House economist Austan Goolsbee, who falsely claimed in 2010 that Koch Industries does not pay any corporate taxes.

That claim remains on the website, with its text crossed out. Below is an “update” that claims the Kochs “have supported the Ryan budget, which provides tax cuts for the wealthy and protects taxpayer subsidies for big businesses and oil companies.”

The page links to a website from a left-wing nonprofit on the budget introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) this week, on which the Kochs have not taken a position.

Reid’s website goes on to quote from a heavily criticized Bloomberg article that accused Koch Industries of “sidestep[ping]” economic sanctions against Iran.

“The Kochs made improper payments to win contracts in Africa, India and the Middle East,” Reid claims. “And they sold millions of dollars of equipment to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.”

After evidence of the said improper payments came to light, Koch Industries commissioned an internal investigation and fired the responsible employees, according to Bloomberg.

Reid has accepted campaign contributions from companies that engage in even more widespread corruption abroad.

According to the Washington Examiner, Reid has accepted more than half a million dollars in contributions since 2009 from employees and political action committees of companies under investigation for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Reid has also taken tens of thousands of dollars from companies that, like Koch, have done business in Iran through foreign subsidiaries, including General Electric ($25,500 in PAC contributions), Hewlett-Packard ($14,500 in PAC contributions), and Sony ($14,500 in PAC contributions).

Reid has also taken $26,000 from Boeing’s PAC. The company is currently trying to reestablish its presence in Iran even though the country remains on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

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Harry Reid Caught Giving Up To $31,000 In Campaign “Gift” Money To Granddaughter

Dirty Harry Reid Caught Giving Campaign “Gift” Money To Granddaughter In 2013… And 2012! …Up To $31,000! – Gateway Pundit

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fumed at reporters Wednesday after he was asked about the FEC probe on his campaign donations to family members. The FEC discovered that Harry gifted his granddaughter with $17,000 in 2013.

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Harry Reid reimbursed his campaign the $17,000 “holiday gift” he paid to his granddaughter in late 2013.

The Las Vegas Sun reported:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reimbursed his campaign nearly $17,000 paid to his granddaughter for “holiday gifts” in late 2013, after the Federal Election Commission insisted that his campaign clarify why the money was spent.

The FEC sent the treasurer for Friends of Harry Reid a letter insisting that he “must include a brief statement or description… to clarify the following description: ‘holiday gifts.’”

Reid’s campaign operation listed that description on its year-end report for two separate disbursements to Ryan Elisabeth of Berkley, Calif., on Oct. 23 – one for $5,416.93, the other for $11,370.00.

“Ryan Elisabeth” is actually Ryan Elisabeth Reid, the majority leader’s granddaughter, a spokeswoman for Reid confirmed Tuesday.

But there’s more…

According to the Ralston Reports – On Dec. 4, 2012, nearly a year before Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gave his granddaughter the nearly $17,000 for “holiday gifts,” his campaign gave Ryan Elisabeth Reid $9,000 for “gifts for supporters.”

More… In 2012 Reid helped out a Chinese solar firm that was represented by his son.

In December 2010 top democrats, including Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), helped a Chinese firm get stimulus cash for a wind farm. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his campaign received thousands of dollars in donations from the wind farm’s backers.

In 2012 Senate Majority leader Harry Reid personally pressured DHS on behalf of sons casino project.

UPDATE: “On Wednesday, Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston discovered that Reid’s campaign had paid out an additional $14,000 to Ryan Elisabeth Reid’s jewelry company for “holiday gifts” for staff and campaign donors.” (Adam O’Neal, “Reid to Reimburse Campaign $31,000 Paid to Kin for Gifts,” Real Clear Politics, 3/27/14)

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A List Of 97 Taxes Americans Pay Every Year (Michael Snyder)

A List Of 97 Taxes Americans Pay Every Year – Michael Snyder

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If you are like most Americans, paying taxes is one of your pet peeves. The deadline to file your federal taxes is coming up, and this year Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours preparing their taxes and will hand over more than four trillion dollars to federal, state and local governments. Americans will fork over nearly 30 percent of what they earn to pay their income taxes, but that is only a small part of the story. As you will see below, there are dozens of other taxes that Americans pay every year. Of course not everyone pays all of these taxes, but without a doubt we are all being taxed into oblivion. It is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Our politicians have become extremely creative in finding ways to extract money from all of us, and most Americans don’t even realize what is being done to them. By the time it is all said and done, a significant portion of the population ends up paying more than half of what they earn to the government. That is fundamentally wrong, but nothing will be done about it until people start demanding change. The following is a list of 97 taxes Americans pay every year…

#1 Air Transportation Taxes (just look at how much you were charged the last time you flew)

#2 Biodiesel Fuel Taxes

#3 Building Permit Taxes

#4 Business Registration Fees

#5 Capital Gains Taxes

#6 Cigarette Taxes

#7 Court Fines (indirect taxes)

#8 Disposal Fees

#9 Dog License Taxes

#10 Drivers License Fees (another form of taxation)

#11 Employer Health Insurance Mandate Tax

#12 Employer Medicare Taxes

#13 Employer Social Security Taxes

#14 Environmental Fees

#15 Estate Taxes

#16 Excise Taxes On Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans

#17 Federal Corporate Taxes

#18 Federal Income Taxes

#19 Federal Unemployment Taxes

#20 Fishing License Taxes

#21 Flush Taxes (yes, this actually exists in some areas)

#22 Food And Beverage License Fees

#23 Franchise Business Taxes

#24 Garbage Taxes

#25 Gasoline Taxes

#26 Gift Taxes

#27 Gun Ownership Permits

#28 Hazardous Material Disposal Fees

#29 Highway Access Fees

#30 Hotel Taxes (these are becoming quite large in some areas)

#31 Hunting License Taxes

#32 Import Taxes

#33 Individual Health Insurance Mandate Taxes

#34 Inheritance Taxes

#35 Insect Control Hazardous Materials Licenses

#36 Inspection Fees

#37 Insurance Premium Taxes

#38 Interstate User Diesel Fuel Taxes

#39 Inventory Taxes

#40 IRA Early Withdrawal Taxes

#41 IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)

#42 IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)

#43 Library Taxes

#44 License Plate Fees

#45 Liquor Taxes

#46 Local Corporate Taxes

#47 Local Income Taxes

#48 Local School Taxes

#49 Local Unemployment Taxes

#50 Luxury Taxes

#51 Marriage License Taxes

#52 Medicare Taxes

#53 Medicare Tax Surcharge On High Earning Americans Under Obamacare

#54 Obamacare Individual Mandate Excise Tax (if you don’t buy “qualifying” health insurance under Obamacare you will have to pay an additional tax)

#55 Obamacare Surtax On Investment Income (a new 3.8% surtax on investment income)

#56 Parking Meters

#57 Passport Fees

#58 Professional Licenses And Fees (another form of taxation)

#59 Property Taxes

#60 Real Estate Taxes

#61 Recreational Vehicle Taxes

#62 Registration Fees For New Businesses

#63 Toll Booth Taxes

#64 Sales Taxes

#65 Self-Employment Taxes

#66 Sewer & Water Taxes

#67 School Taxes

#68 Septic Permit Taxes

#69 Service Charge Taxes

#70 Social Security Taxes

#71 Special Assessments For Road Repairs Or Construction

#72 Sports Stadium Taxes

#73 State Corporate Taxes

#74 State Income Taxes

#75 State Park Entrance Fees

#76 State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

#77 Tanning Taxes (a new Obamacare tax on tanning services)

#78 Telephone 911 Service Taxes

#79 Telephone Federal Excise Taxes

#80 Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Taxes

#81 Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Taxes

#82 Telephone State And Local Taxes

#83 Telephone Universal Access Taxes

#84 The Alternative Minimum Tax

#85 Tire Recycling Fees

#86 Tire Taxes

#87 Tolls (another form of taxation)

#88 Traffic Fines (indirect taxation)

#89 Use Taxes (Out of state purchases, etc.)

#90 Utility Taxes

#91 Vehicle Registration Taxes

#92 Waste Management Taxes

#93 Water Rights Fees

#94 Watercraft Registration & Licensing Fees

#95 Well Permit Fees

#96 Workers Compensation Taxes

#97 Zoning Permit Fees

Yet despite all of this oppressive taxation, our local governments, our state governments and our federal government are all absolutely drowning in debt.

When the federal income tax was originally introduced a little more than 100 years ago, most Americans were taxed at a rate of only 1 percent.

But once they get their feet in the door, the social planners always want more.

Since that time, tax rates have gone much higher and the tax code has exploded in size.

Why do we have to have the most convoluted tax system in the history of the planet?

Why can’t things be simpler?

In a previous article entitled “24 Outrageous Facts About Taxes In The United States That Will Blow Your Mind“, I listed a number of reasons why our federal income tax system has become a complete and utter abomination that is entirely out of control…

1 – The U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. If you took all of William Shakespeare’s works and collected them together, the entire collection would only be about 900,000 words long.

2 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 7.6 billion hours complying with federal tax requirements. Imagine what our society would look like if all that time was spent on more economically profitable activities.

3 – 75 years ago, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages long.

4 – There have been 4,428 changes to the tax code over the last decade. It is incredibly costly to change tax software, tax manuals and tax instruction booklets for all of those changes.

5 – According to the National Taxpayers Union, the IRS currently has 1,999 different publications, forms, and instruction sheets that you can download from the IRS website.

6 – Our tax system has become so complicated that it is almost impossible to file your taxes correctly. For example, back in 1998 Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All 46 of them came up with a different result.

7 – In 2009, PC World had five of the most popular tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five of them came up with a different result.

8 – The IRS spends $2.45 for every $100 that it collects in taxes.

9 – According to The Tax Foundation, the average American has to work until April 17th just to pay federal, state, and local taxes. Back in 1900, “Tax Freedom Day” came on January 22nd.

10 – When the U.S. government first implemented a personal income tax back in 1913, the vast majority of the population paid a rate of just 1 percent, and the highest marginal tax rate was just 7 percent.

If it was up to me, I would abolish the income tax and shut the IRS down.

But neither major political party in the United States is even willing to consider such a thing.

So the monstrous system that we have created will continue to get even bigger and even more complicated.

We are literally being taxed into oblivion, and most Americans don’t even seem to care.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Leftist-Run Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills

Detroit Plans Mass Water Shutoffs Over $260M In Delinquent Bills – Detroit News

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has a message for Detroit residents and companies more than 60 days late on their water bills: We’re coming for you.

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With more than half of the city’s customers behind on payments, the department is gearing up for an aggressive campaign to shut off service to 1,500-3,000 delinquent accounts weekly, said Darryl Latimer, the department’s deputy director.

Including businesses, schools and commercial buildings, there are 323,900 Detroit water and sewerage accounts; 164,938 were overdue for a total of $175 million as of March 6. Residential accounts total 296,115; 154,229 were delinquent for a total of $91.7 million.

The department halts cutoffs through the winter because of complications associated with freezing temperatures, such as damaged pipes. But this spring, a new contractor has been hired to target those who are more than two months behind or who owe more than $150 — twice the average monthly bill of $75.

The department says it’s now ready to “catch up” with cutoffs halted because of the unusually harsh winter weather. DWSD is looking to show there are consequences associated with not paying water bills, Latimer said.

“Not everyone is in the situation where they can’t afford to pay,” he said. “It’s just that the utility bill is the last bill people choose to pay because there isn’t any threat of being out of service.”

People pay up more when they see the department out cutting off water to neighbors, and the statistics bear that out, officials said. In July, for example, before contractors started on the shutoffs, the department cut off 1,566 customers. That month, it collected $149,000 in water bills.

Extra contractors started working on cutoffs last summer. Attheir peak in October – before cold weather caused a halt to the disconnects – 3,700 cutoffs occurred. The department collected more than $350,000 in overdue bills that month. That number of cutoffs translated to more than double for warm weather months compared to last year.

“We’re trying to shift the behavioral payment patterns of our customer base right now,” said Constance Williams-Levye, DWSD commercial operations specialist. “And so aggressively we’ll have a team of contractors coming in, in addition to our field teams.”

Up to 20 additional contractor crews are expected to be employed working on the cutoffs, DWSD officials said.

The department bills monthly and sends out notices when bills are overdue. When an account is more than 60 days late, a notice goes out saying service could be cut, Latimer said.

Residents don’t necessarily have to move out but Latimer said there were instances, in the case of households with children, where the department of social services will come in and say the kids will be removed from the home if water is not restored.

“Usually folks will then come in and make some kind of arrangement,” Latimer said.
Long-overdue effort

Department officials say the initiative is unrelated to Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring and is simply a renewed effort to remedy a longstanding problem. The fear of being stuck with Detroit’s delinquencies, however, has kept suburban leaders from embracing a regional water authority proposed by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said the department should have started being more assertive in its collections years ago.

“It’s all about the management responsibility,” Hackel said. “If they’re just getting around to it now, what were they doing before? Collections are just part of a system that’s been neglected for years.”

On Monday, the department is scheduled to send mailings to thousands of customers warning if their overdue water balances aren’t paid, the bill would be considered a property tax lien and could result in foreclosure.

Communities pay a combination of a fixed amount per month as well as an amount for every thousand cubic feet of water – or every 7,480 gallons. Detroit residents, on average, pay about 25 percent less than suburban water customers.

The department also is tightening a policy that allows customers to make multiple partial payments on overdue accounts. That creates a situation in which some go in and out of delinquency status, Latimer said. Plans call for allowing an overdue customer only one payment arrangement per year.
Suburbs remain reluctant

Orr has been trying to convince suburban officials – without success – to buy into the concept of a regional authority that would take over operations and responsibilities of the utility.

In return for greater control of operations, the authority would pay $47 million a year to the city.

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has supported the concept of a regional authority. But Hackel and Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson have balked at the proposal, in part over concerns that their customers would end up taking on the cost of Detroit’s widespread delinquencies.

This month, Orr sent notices to the three counties on ending negotiations until the suburban leaders gain a consensus on a regional authority creation.

Orr said he is actively moving ahead with a second plan – selling the city-owned system or leasing it to a private management firm. Orr told The Detroit News on Wednesday he will send out requests for information in a couple of weeks or sooner gauging interest from private operators.

He says the regional authority plan was a good deal for everyone – including suburban customers – but recognizes that it isn’t going to happen.

Orr said the regional plan would benefit Detroit by generating about $47 million a year in lease payments to the city. The second plan would generate some $72 million a year through lower interest rates, but that money would go only to the water system, not the city.

Improved collections of delinquent Detroit accounts would be helpful, said Robert Daddow, Oakland County’s deputy county executive.

But far too many questions remain over issues including pension liabilities, cash flow and infrastructure and capital improvements, he said.

“Shutting of the water certainly sends a message,” Daddow said. “But this certainly isn’t just the people who will not pay; it’s the people who cannot pay because they don’t have the income level that would enable them to do so.”

In talks regarding the authority, some have asked whether the state could help low-income individuals with water bills. There are statewide programs to help people with their heating bills, for example, including The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW), a Detroit-basednonprofit that helps people pay heating bills.

“Why not have something equivalent for water and sewer?” Daddow said. But no such program is currently on the table.

Customers end up paying higher rates on bills for those from whom the utility can’t collect. Detroit residents and businesses – retail customers of the department – pay for negligent accounts in Detroit. Suburban customers pay for noncollectable accounts in the suburbs, Latimer explained.

Suburban communities add charges for their customers in addition to the wholesale rate billed by the Detroit water department to cover infrastructure and operating costs.
Long-term delinquents

The department has been working with Detroit Public Schools for years over delinquent accounts. DPS has a current overdue balance of $2.2 million, department officials say, down from a high of $12 million in 2012.

DPS disputes that number, but has been making monthly payments of nearly $1 million under a payment plan approved in October.

The department also continues to work collecting from suburban communities with delinquent accounts.

The department filed a federal lawsuit in November against Highland Park. The city has racked up $17.4 million in sewerage bills and an additional $1.6 million in water bills, according to DWSD. Last month the city removed the case from the federal courts and filed in state court “where it may be a faster process to gain relief,” according to the department.

The city of Inkster has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.2 million as of this month. But the city is paying on the current bill and making additional monthly payments, said Mathew Kannanthanam, a commercial operations specialist with DWSD. The city entered into a payment plan in April to pay the balance off by June of 2016, according to DWSD.

Melvindale also has an outstanding balance of nearly $1.1 million in water and sewerage bills.

The department is also owed more $670,000 from companies in Redford, Dearborn and Macomb Township for pollutant surcharges related to food and other processing disposals. Detroit-based Uncle Ray’s Snacks owes more than $676,000 in pollutant surcharges.

The company has agreed to a payment plan, according to DWSD records.

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Bankrupt Detroit Pays $32 To Process A $30 Parking Ticket – Independent Journal Review

I could be wrong, but I think I’ve uncovered Detroit’s financial problem: The bankrupt city pays $32 to issue and process a $30 parking ticket. Obviously, they need to issue more tickets to make up the difference.

Not only is the city paying $32 to issue and process a $30 parking violation, it hasn’t adjusted rates since 2001. Even worse? Half of Detroit’s 3,404 parking meters are out-of-order at any given time.

Bill Nowling, spokesman for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, says:

“It’s another example of the old, antiquated system and processes the city has that creates impediments for anyone trying to do their job.”

Detroit is considering a proposal from restructuring consultants to bump its current parking fines of $20, $30 and $100 per ticket to a two-tiered structure of $45 and $150.

Proving once again that government will never run like corporate America. Can you imagine owning – or working for – a company that not only loses money on every product it sells, but continues to do so for 13 years? Yeah, me neither.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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Marxist Irresponsibility Update: Obama’s HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015

HHS Set To Blow $1 Trillion In 2015 As Health-Care Costs Grow By Leaps And Bounds – Daily Caller

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to spend over one trillion dollars in 2015 – but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has never once testified before the Senate’s Budget Committee on either Obamacare’s costs or the president’s budget at large.

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“The Department of Health and Human Services is projected to spend over $1 trillion in FY2015 under the president’s budget, and health care costs – which today comprise nearly 30 percent of all federal spending – are growing more rapidly than other areas of the budget, especially over the long-term. It would be good for members of the Committee to discuss these matters with Secretary Sebelius,” Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said on Monday, according to The Hill.

Sessions, a ranking member on the Budget Committee, has stridently criticized President Barack Obama’s health-care law and the high costs it imposes on Americans. Back in 2012, Sessions blasted a $17 trillion funding gap that came to light during a grilling session between Supreme Court justices and the law’s supporters. Long-term promises written into the law will squeeze $17 trillion out of taxpayers – not counting the existing shortfalls from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending, which brings the total to an eye-popping $99 trillion.

The U.S. produces only $15 trillion worth of goods and services each year.

“The bill has to be removed from the books because we don’t have the money,” Sessions said.

Exploding health care costs may impose restrictions on Obama’s second term wish list, which includes a top-down rewrite of U.S. immigration laws. Republicans, while expressing support for allowing 11 million illegal immigrations to become voting citizens, are reluctant to back bipartisan immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama to enforce existing laws.

Last March, Sessions worried that frontloading Obamacare with millions of foreign enrollees might tank entitlement programs and send costs spiraling out of control.

“The core legal and economic principle of immigration is that those seeking admission to a new country must be self-sufficient and contribute to the economic health of the nation,” Sessions said in a statement as the Senate voted down an amendment that would prohibit newly-legalized immigrants who broke immigration laws from receiving health-care benefits. “But, for years, the federal government has failed to enforce this law. This principle is even more urgent when dealing with those who have illegally entered the country.”

Meanwhile, health-care costs imposed by Obamacare continue to mount as the administration fails to track enrollees and unilaterally suspends requirements until after the 2014 midterm elections, which endanger the party’s hold on Congress.

Sebelius admitted that Obamacare premiums will increase in 2015 on Wednesday – but had no idea how many Obamacare enrollees had actually paid their premiums or previously had insurance.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but go up at a slower pace,” Sebelius claimed at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing.

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*VIDEO* Ted Cruz Verbally Bitchslaps Harry Reid, Other Democrats For Holding Ukraine Aid Hostage Over Politics


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Over 500 Economists Sign Open Letter To Obama Opposing Increase In Minimum Wage

500+ Economists Sign Open Letter To Obama Opposing Minimum Wage Increase – Independent Journal Review

More than 500 economists, including three Nobel laureates and several members of past administrations, have signed an open letter to the White House and Congress urging them to reject a federal minimum wage increase.

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They warned that hiking the minimum wage would cause economic damage:

“One of the serious consequences of raising the minimum wage is that business owners saddled with a higher cost of labor will need to cut costs, or pass the increase to their consumers in order to make ends meet. Many of the businesses that pay their workers minimum wage operate on extremely tight profit margins, with any increase in the cost of labor threatening this delicate balance.”

For some reason, this has always been a hard concept for liberals to grasp. Whether it’s an increase in taxes, cost of materials or cost of labor, businesses will always – always — pass those increased costs along to the consumer; they always have, they always will. It’s called capitalism.

The economists cited the recent bipartisan Congressional Budget Office report which found that increasing the minimum wage would lead to job loss.

“The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) most recent report underscores the damage that a federal minimum wage increase would have. According to CBO, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cost the economy 500,000 jobs by 2016.

Many of these jobs are held by entry-level workers with limited experience or vocational skills, the very employees meant to be helped.”

And therein lies the irony; while Obama trotting around the country espousing the virtue of raising the minimum wage may sound good to some, not only will many of those minimum wage employees be laid off; many more won’t be hired in the first place.

Obama and the Democrats fully understand this concept: it doesn’t really matter as long as they win the PR battle because Democrat voters have shown time and time again they don’t keep score; they never do. Liberalism has not proven to be about results. Emotion and intent are all that seem matter to the left.

How else can one explain the fact that 50 years and trillions of dollars after Lyndon Johnson launched the “War on Poverty,” urban Americans are no better off today, yet continue to overwhelmingly vote Democrat?

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President Asshat Wants To Cut Airborne Warning And Control Fleet By 25 Percent

Obama Wants To Cut AWAC Fleet By 25 Percent – Sweetness & Light

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From the Washington Free Beacon:

Obama to Cut Key Reconnaissance Fleet By 25 Percent

Planes being used to monitor Ukraine crisis

By Adam Kredo | March 10, 2014

A key fleet of U.S. reconnaissance planes used to detect enemy aircraft in hostile settings will to be cut by 25 percent under President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget, according to multiple sources familiar with the budget proposal.

A fleet of 31 AWACs, or Airborne Warning and Control System planes, will be reduced to 24 by 2015 under Obama’s budget proposal.

The situation has prompted concern in defense circles and elsewhere, where sources have pointed out that AWACS are currently deployed in Poland and Romania in order to help monitor the standoff in Ukraine.

Hell, as we noted last week, Obama’s budget also does away the A-10 anti-tank helicopters. From the New York Times: “Under Mr. Hagel’s proposals, the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft would be eliminated. The aircraft was designed to destroy Soviet tanks in case of an invasion of Western Europe, and the capabilities are deemed less relevant today.”

Nope. No way we’ll ever need ground support from those A-10 ‘Thunderbolts’ again. (Even though they have been recently used in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Libya.)

AWACS are a highly advanced type of reconnaissance craft able to monitor enemy movements in the sky and ground from great distances. Each AWAC unit costs $270 million, according to the Air Force.

Which is how many EBT cards?

NATO dispatched several of its own AWACs on Monday to monitor Russian movement in Ukraine’s Crimea region, where a tense standoff is still taking place. “All AWACs reconnaissance flights will take place solely over alliance territory,” a NATO spokesman was quoted as saying by the BBC.

And they will be quickly grounded as soon as Putin says ‘boo.’

The seven U.S. AWAC planes cut in Obama’s budget would be completely scrapped if the proposal is adopted…

Lawmakers could pressure the Air Force to fight the cuts.

The Air Force, like every branch of the military, has seen its budgets significantly constrained in recent years. The Pentagon is faced with massive spending cuts under the budget and is considering cutting some 420,000 Army soldiers due to the financial constraints.

No, this is all due to Barack Hussein Obama. He is cutting our military to the bone, and then cutting the bone.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Obama Refuses To Deport Fugitive Brothers Who Funneled $90,000 To His Campaign

Obama Refuses To Deport Fugitive Brothers Who Funneled $90,000 To His Campaign – Jammie Wearing Fools

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Maybe we should start talking about the Isaias brothers instead of the Kochs.

The donations kept pouring in: hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to President Obama and more than a dozen members of Congress, carefully routed through the families of two wealthy brothers in Florida.

They had good reason to be generous. The two men, Roberto and William Isaias, are fugitives from Ecuador, which has angrily pressed Washington to turn them over, to no avail. A year after their relatives gave $90,000 to help re-elect Mr. Obama, the administration rejected Ecuador’s extradition request for the men, fueling accusations that such donations were helping to keep the brothers and their families safely on American soil.

“The Isaias brothers fled to Miami not to live off their work, something just, but to buy themselves more mansions and Rolls-Royces and to finance American political campaigns,” President Rafael Correa of Ecuador told reporters last month. “That’s what has given them protection,” he added, an allegation the Obama administration and members of Congress reject.

So we have fugitives funneling money to Obama and nobody seems to care.

Donations from the relatives of criminal suspects have proved vexing before. In 2012, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign said it would return more than $200,000 raised by relatives of a Mexican casino magnate who had fled charges in the United States and sought a pardon to return.

The White House says that the decisions in the Isaias case are not influenced by donations.

Of course not. Even the NY Times, which reports this, is instead obsessing over the Kochs, two men who are legal citizens who’ve broken no laws. Yet these fugitives give thousands to Obama and get protection. We’re officially living in a banana republic.

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Major Democrat Donor Jeffrey Thompson Pleads Guilty To Campaign Finance Violations

Top Democrat Money Man Pleads Guilty To Campaign Finance Violations – Human Events

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“This is probably why Harry Reid’s been going after the Kochs so much,” muses Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds as he delivers news of top Democrat money man Jeffrey Thompson’s guilty plea for campaign finance violations. It sure does sound like a gigantic case of projection, which has always been a major component of Democrat psychology – they love to cast their own sins at their enemies.

If you don’t spend any time in the left-wing fever swamps, you might be surprised at how large the demonic Koch Brothers loom in their mythology, and probably thought it was a bit odd for Senate Majority Leader Reid to rail against these private citizens from the Senate floor. Were you taken aback to learn that the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body would be used for purposes higher than partisan primal scream therapy, in which the controlling party shrieks insults at law-abiding Americans who have the nerve to participate in our national political discussion? One reason for Reid’s conduct is that hurling his slander from the Senate floor immunizes him against legal retaliation. Another might be that he knew the Thompson story was brewing, and wanted to ratchet up the Koch hatred to cushion its impact.

Here, as the Washington Free Beacon reports, we have a Democrat-supporting fat cat who is what they like to accuse the Koch Brothers of being:

A major Democratic donor pleaded guilty on Monday to funneling millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations to federal and local politicians, including an unnamed 2008 presidential candidate believed to be Hillary Clinton.

District of Columbia businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who federal prosecutors say financed a “shadow campaign” for D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in 2010, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.

Thompson claimed some of the candidates, including Gray, were aware of the illegal fundraising.

According to prosecutors, Gray decided to invent a phony name for Thompson, “Uncle Earl,” to protect his identity. It evidently didn’t work. Gray’s people deny that he had any knowledge of Thompson’s illegal activities… which would make his use of the pseudonym more than a little odd, wouldn’t it? Is Gray really going to make the case that he didn’t notice almost half a million dollars pouring into his campaign? Is Hillary Clinton going to try the same “Vote For Me – I’m Oblivious!” strategy in 2016?

Gray’s campaign objected to the prosecutors’ focus on the D.C. mayor, and said Thompson’s claims that Gray knew about the scheme are not believable.

“We’re talking about millions of dollars [Thompson allegedly distributed] to subvert democracy, including a presidential election, an historic presidential election,” Gray campaign manager Chuck Thies told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s dumbfounding… I think he should spend a decade or more in prison.”

“The message to people who seek to skew the outcome of a presidential election is ‘eh, if we catch you you’ll get six months in jail,’” Thies added. “It’s a frightening message.”

Actually, I think the current message would be more like, “If you seek to skew the outcome of a presidential election without going to jail, use the IRS.”

Today’s developments present an immediate crisis for Gray, who’s going into a fairly crowded primary in a couple of weeks as he seeks re-election to the mayor’s office. Fox News finds the residents of D.C. holding their breath and waiting to learn if prosecutors decide to file charges against Gray. Their public statements certainly make him sound indictable, but they might lack the evidence to take the case any further.

More details from Fox about the activities Gray was allegedly involved in:

[Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson] said Gray personally requested the funds from Thompson, who pleaded guilty to two conspiracy charges. Atkinson said that Gray presented Thompson with a one-page budget for $425,000 and asked him to “pay for a get-out-the-vote campaign,” to which Thompson agreed.

Gray has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing in the 2010 campaign. Robert Bennett, Gray’s lawyer, said Monday the mayor continued to maintain his innocence, calling the claims mere “allegations.”

“The mayor’s position on that is that it is absolutely not true,” Bennett said. “That has not changed one bit.”

Thompson in pleading guilty reportedly admitted to channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars into a campaign operation for somebody identified in court papers as “Mayoral Candidate A,” in the 2010 mayoral race in the District.

I would surmise that much of Gray’s fate will hang on whether prosecutors can get their hands on a copy of that “one-page budget for $425,000.” If I might indulge in a bit of further speculation, I doubt they currently have the paper in their possession, or they would have charged him already – with a primary only weeks away, they have every reason to move quickly. Especially since another of the candidates, Vincent Orange, has a bit of history with Thompson:

According to the document, Thompson, the former owner of a well-connected accounting firm, funded illicit campaign activity for Clinton, Gray and seven other candidates for local office in the district. All told, the efforts were valued at more than $2 million.

Prosecutors also said Thompson exceeded contribution limits by using straw donors and funneling money from his corporation through intermediaries. Thompson contributed more than $500,000 to local candidates and more than $250,000 to federal candidates and political-action committees over a six-year period, according to the 10-page document.

Thompson, 58, had long been suspected of giving money to Gray’s 2010 campaign to fund get-out-the vote and other efforts, and the document put the value of the shadow campaign at $668,000. He was also charged with pouring $608,750 into Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. The efforts to help Clinton were detailed in a previous case against a Thompson associate.

The document details shadow campaigns for eight candidates for office in the district, with a total value of nearly $1.5 million. The most recent race Thompson sought to influence, the document shows, was a race for an at-large City Council seat in 2011, which Democrat Vincent Orange won with support from Thompson’s network of donors. Orange, who has acknowledged handing over documents related to his 2011 campaign to federal investigators, is also running for mayor this year. He did not immediately return a call seeking comment but also has denied wrongdoing.

Thompson also ran a $278,000 shadow effort for a mayoral candidate in 2006, the document shows. Adrian Fenty defeated Linda Cropp in that year’s mayoral primary, and Cropp received contributions that year from Thompson and his associates.

Prosecutors are reportedly also investigating what might have been a quid pro quo for Thompson’s shady campaign support, as detailed by the Washington Post:

After the election, prosecutors said, Thompson gave a $10,000 check to Gray’s “close family member” to settle debts with campaign workers. At Gray’s request, Thompson also gave $10,000 to fund a unnamed union election campaign.

Later, after Gray was inaugurated, Thompson gave $40,000 to the mayor’s “close personal friend” in part to finance home improvements, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Atkinson said.

Subsequently, prosecutors said, Thompson appealed to Gray, through an associate, Jeanne Clarke Harris, to “expedite” a pending settlement with the city involving his firm, D.C. Chartered Health Plan.

When asked in court whether Harris had talked to the mayor, Thompson said, “Based on what Miss Harris told me, yes.”

Thompson soon learned that the District government was “resolving the matter,” according to his plea agreement.

Investigators have been looking at the city’s decision to pay Thompson’s health-care company $7.5 million to settle a dispute over reimbursements that had begun during the Fenty administration. Investigators have explored what role, if any, Gray and his deputies played in the 2011 deal.

The mayor has said that Thompson never asked him for any favors, and city officials have defended the Chartered settlement as aboveboard and equitable.

Of course, whatever prosecutors decide to do next, Gray will likely be tried in the court of public opinion, where the requirements for evidence are much more flexible. An interesting detail from the Washington Post: prosecutors only named Gray in court as their suspect for “Mayoral Candidate A” because the judge insisted on it. No doubt observers familiar with the case would have connected the dots on their own, but it’s significant that Gray’s name was dropped in the courtroom.

Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post sees today’s revelations as a reset button for the mayor race, where Gray previous held a significant lead over his seven Democrat challengers, with good approval ratings from his previous term in office. His opponents pounced; the specter of the disgraced Marion Barry was raised; and a new independent candidacy was declared for the general election.

But unless prosecutors get serious about indicting Gray, it’s probably a bit much to declare the mayoral race shaken to its core. This is D.C., after all. It has a very high threshold for permanent disgrace. Just ask City Councilman Marion Barry, last heard complaining about traffic jams caused by presidential motorcades.

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Obamacare News Roundup… The Leftist Nightmare Continues

February Numbers: 6.2 Million Lost Insurance Thanks To Obamacare; 4.2 Million Sign Up For New Obamacare Plans – Gateway Pundit

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In February 2014, Karl Rove reported in the Wall Street Journal that 6.2 million Americans have lost their health care plans:

Mr. Obama saw the firestorm that erupted last fall when Americans lost their health policies because their policies didn’t conform to ObamaCare’s requirement for “essential benefits” and other mandates. Based on a flurry of reports and estimates that have come out since October, Jim Angle of Fox News says that 6.2 million have lost their health coverage so far.

Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that 4.2 million Americans have enrolled in health care plans.

Some 4.2 million people enrolled in health-care plans using government portals as of last month, the Obama administration said Tuesday, leaving millions more sign-ups needed this month to meet the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment targets.

Around 943,000 people picked plans in February, down slightly from 1.14 million who chose plans in January, a decrease that federal officials attributed to February’s shorter length.

That means two million more Americans are without insurance today than when Obamacare started.

Nice job, Democrats.

More… And, 900,000 enrolleesv still haven’t paid for their coverage.

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Obama Secretly Waives The Individual Mandate For Millions, Tries To Hide It From Public View – Right Scoop

Wow. The administration is more politically desperate than thought. Now they are waiving the individual mandate in secret and intentionally trying to conceal it:

WSJ – ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act – the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”

This lax standard – no formula or hard test beyond a person’s belief – at least ostensibly requires proof such as an insurer termination notice. But people can also qualify for hardships for the unspecified nonreason that “you experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance,” which only requires “documentation if possible.” And yet another waiver is available to those who say they are merely unable to afford coverage, regardless of their prior insurance. In a word, these shifting legal benchmarks offer an exemption to everyone who conceivably wants one.

Keep in mind that the White House argued at the Supreme Court that the individual mandate to buy insurance was indispensable to the law’s success, and President Obama continues to say he’d veto the bipartisan bills that would delay or repeal it. So why are ObamaCare liberals silently gutting their own creation now?

The answers are the implementation fiasco and politics. HHS revealed Tuesday that only 940,000 people signed up for an ObamaCare plan in February, bringing the total to about 4.2 million, well below the original 5.7 million projection. The predicted “surge” of young beneficiaries isn’t materializing even as the end-of-March deadline approaches, and enrollment decelerated in February.

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Obama To People Who Can’t Afford Obamacare: Give Up Your Phone Or Cable To Pay For It – Weasel Zippers

Shared sacrifice?

(Washington, D.C.) – The President recently participated in a health care town hall with Spanish-language media. He responded to a question received via email, from a consumer who makes $36,000 per year and cannot find insurance for a family of three for less than $315 per month. The President responded that “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell phone bill… it may turn out that, it’s just they haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums for millions of Americans. Ehealthinsurance reports that consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented. The high cost of policies is contributing to the continued weak enrollment numbers under the law, which are now showing signs of decreasing with less than 3 weeks left to enroll. When he sought the Presidency, Mr. Obama said his plan would deliver affordable care that people would be “desperate” to purchase. – See more at: http://www.thelibreinitiative.com/press/president-choose-between-cable-phone-or-health-care#sthash.Sccqkr8C.dpuf

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Georgia’s House Just Voted To Nullify Obamacare – Conservative Tribune

All across the country, the movement to stop Obamacare is spreading like wildfire. Doctors and hospitals, along with private businesses, are in open rebellion over this destructive monstrosity.

At the state level, governments are doing everything they can to undermine the law through the courts and through legislation. We’ve already seen attempts by Missouri and South Carolina to “nullify,” which, in a broad sense, means to undermine federal law.

Now, the state of Georgia is attempting to use the same legislative strategy that these other states are employing to keep Obamacare from being enforced in the state.

The legal basis for these attempts is what’s known as the anti-commandeering doctrine, which is a constitutional doctrine articulated by the Supreme Court in Printz and Mack vs. United States that simply states that Congress cannot commandeer states’ resources, agencies, and other state actors in the enforcement of federal law.

These laws make this explicit by prohibiting state officials from carrying out Obamacare in any way, shape or form. This would effectively gut the law by making its implementation in the state impossible.

Via Freedomworks:

The bill, H.B. 707 passed with an overwhelming 115-59 majority and travels now to the State Senate, where a solid Republican majority should be able to pass the bill.

The legislation effectively nullifies ObamaCare by stopping state and local officials from assisting in the law’s implementation in any way. This would stop Medicaid expansion in the state, stop the health insurance exchange, and would make it very difficult for the Obama Administration to force Georgians into the one-size-fits-all federal program.

Freedomworks President Matt Kibbe had this to say about the bill’s passage:

“The passage of this ObamaCare nullification bill would not have been successful without the relentless efforts of grassroots activists across Georgia. They’re the ones that insisted their legislators listen and pass this bill. If and when the bill passes the State Senate, Georgia will be a model for other states who want to effectively push back against the federal health care takeover.”

This is great news. States are using all available legal resources, including important legal doctrines like the anti-commandeering doctrine that spring from principles of federalism, to fight back against federal overreach. We need other states to follow the example of South Carolina, Missouri, and now Georgia to stop Obamacare dead in its tracks before it ushers in more developed forms of socialism.

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Leftist Incompetence Update: Moody’s Downgrades Chicago’s Credit Rating… Again

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Again – Big Government

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Less than a year after suffering a major investment downgrade, Chicago has been downgraded again. Moody’s Investment Services announced Tuesday that it was lowering Chicago’s rating from A3 to Baa1, three levels above junk bond status.

Last July, Moody’s downgraded Chicago from Aa3 to A3. President Barack Obama’s adopted hometown now has the lowest municipal bond rating of any city in the U.S. except bankrupt Detroit.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to late 2010, and who is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton, has struggled to tackle the city’s looming pension crisis.

Through he reached an agreement with sanitation workers to reform the city’s garbage collection system, he has struggled to work with teachers’ unions and has not been able to rally the city behind broader municipal financial reforms.

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Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Nearly Five Times Official Deficit

Shocker: Federal Government’s Fiscal Deterioration Almost 5 Times Official Deficit – Hot Air

In Fiscal Year 2013, the official federal deficit was $680 billion. Liberals have cheered this drop while subsequently ignoring how this deficit is both larger than all of Bush’s pre-recession deficits and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades.

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However, the Treasury Department’s annual report on the finances of the U.S. federal government shows that not only is $680 billion an incomplete measure of the federal government’s finances, it’s off by nearly a factor of five.

From Just Facts Daily:

The U.S. Treasury has just released its annual “Financial Report of the United States Government,” which provides an account of the federal government’s finances using accounting standards like those that the government requires of large corporations. Because the federal budget is not bound by these standards, it does not have to account for all of its fiscal obligations.

For example, the Treasury report reveals that the federal government owes $6.5 trillion in retirement and health benefits to federal employees and veterans. This legal responsibility amounts to $53,000 for every household in the United States, but none of these liabilities are reflected in the 2013 budget deficit or national debt.

During the federal government’s 2013 fiscal year, the official federal deficit was $680 billion, but this comprehensive accounting reveals that the federal government’s fiscal position deteriorated by $3.3 trillion or an average of $27,000 for every household in the U.S.

There are two basic ways the federal government calculates its obligations. The first does not account for the obligations of Social Security, Medicare, and other programs in the same way the federal government requires of private corporations.

The method the Treasury report uses is far more complete. It includes long-term obligations and liabilites unaccounted for in the deficit and debt measurements.

In this year’s report, Treasury says the government should initiate deficit reduction measures (cuts and/or tax increases) equivalent to 1.7 percent of GDP every year for 75 years. This means, just in 2014, Treasury is recommending a cut in deficits of approximately $274 billion just to prevent a fiscal crisis – and these cuts will grow in size every year for the time period Treasury examined. Waiting 10 or 20 years makes things even worse.

And even these cuts are grossly undersized. First, this would still leave America’s publicly held debt-to-GDP ratio the same as it was in 2013, which the Congressional Budget Office has said is problematic.

Additionally, Treasury assumes in its report that the Affordable Care Act will reduce long-term health care costs. And, finally, these cuts are recommended to reduce “primary” deficits, those that do not include the enormous interest payments the federal government is expected to incur.

In short, not only is the federal government in financial trouble, it’s in worse shape than we ever realized. After compiling all of the data in the Treasury Report, Just Facts found that the full obligations of the U.S. federal government total $71 trillion, or $580,000 per household.

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Leftist Nightmare Update: Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M

Costs Of ObamaCare Bungles Start To Add Up, With Maryland First At About $30.5M – Fox News

Maryland could end up spending as much as $30.5 million as a result of a glitch in its ObamaCare website, as the Obama administration steps in to help states with problematic exchanges.

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Because of Maryland’s defective exchange, the state cannot determine whether customers remain eligible for Medicaid, according to a report by state budget analysts released Thursday.

As a result, the state has agreed with the federal government to a six-month delay in determining eligibility, meaning that payments will continue to be made to customers who are not eligible until the system is fixed. The delay will cost the state $17.8 million in fiscal 2014 and $12.7 million in fiscal 2015, the analysts estimated.

On Friday, the Obama administration said it would suspend some Affordable Care Act rules to help the 14 states with their own ObamaCare sites, particularly Maryland, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon, which have had the most problems.

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services plan, completed a day earlier, states the federal government will help pay for “qualified” health-insurance plans for customers in those states who because of “exceptional circumstances” had to buy plans outside of ObamaCare exchanges, as reported first by The Washington Post.

The administration made the change before the end-of-March deadline for Americans to enroll in ObamaCare this year.

In Maryland, the exchange cannot convert income data from the existing Medicaid enrollment system into a calculation needed to review whether enrollees are qualified “because of a variety of system architectural flaws,” according to budge analysts.

The exchange has been plagued by computer problems that have made it difficult for people to enroll in private health care plans since its debut Oct. 1.

State officials have decided to stick with the exchange through the open enrollment period that ends March 31 but is evaluating alternatives with an eye toward the next enrollment period that begins in November.

Among the possibilities is adopting technology developed by another state, joining a consortium of other states, partnering with the federal exchange or making major fixes to the existing system.

Thirty-six states use the federal HealthCare.gov site, which crashed and had other major problems in the first two months of enrollment.

The Maryland report said the state may need to develop an interim solution while a long-term solution is being developed. However, that process would likely take at least nine to 12 months, pushing up against the next open-enrollment period.

The report also states the development of the exchange was “a high risk undertaking” from the outset, in large part because of contractors woes, tight deadlines, constantly evolving requirement and its need to interface with work-in-progress federal databases.

The administration changes this week are not the first to ObamaCare, to be sure.

In November, Obama helped Americans about to lose policies because they didn’t meet new minimum requirements by allow the substandard plans to be sold through the end of this year.

And administration officials has twice this year given medium- and large-sized employers more time to offer health insurance to most full-time workers.

However, the change this week is significant because it marks the first time the federal government has agreed to help pay for policies bought outside the new exchanges.

The coverage in the outside policies would have to be comparable to those offered on the exchange. And customers would have to start paying premiums, then get the subsidies after the state exchanges could determine their income eligibility.

Maryland Health Benefit Exchange official told The Post earlier this week that roughly 7,000 applications are stuck in state’s system, but all of them might not need insurance and that officials were still looking over the administration’s offer.

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45-State Study: Obamacare Offers Less Choice, Higher Prices, Breaking Another Promise – Washington Examiner

A new and comprehensive comparison of health insurance options offered by Obamacare versus private websites finds that President Obama’s program offers less choice and higher prices than promised by the White House and leading Democrats.

Adding to the list of broken health care promises, the study from the National Center for Public Policy Research found that there were more and cheaper options available on websites outside the health insurance exchange in 2013 than on healthcare.gov and state Obamacare exchanges.

The report, “Obamacare Exchanges: Less Choice, Higher Prices,” looked at options available for a 27-year-old single person and a 57-year-old couple in metropolitan areas across 45 states.

The report found that a 27-year-old male had about 10 more policies to choose from on eHealthinsurance.com and finder.healthcare versus the exchange. The older couple had about nine more policy choices.

Ditto for the cost findings, with the 27-year-old male having access to 32 policies that cost less than the cheapest Obamacare offering, and the 57-year-old couple access to 29 cheaper policies.

“In general, consumers had substantially more policies to choose from on private websites such as eHealthinsurance.com and Finder.healthcare.gov than they presently have on the exchanges,” said the study.

“Obamacare supporters, including the president himself and Nancy Pelosi, claimed the exchanges would yield more choice and lower prices,” said the study’s author, David Hogberg. “This study shows those claims do not stand up.”

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, describes itself f as a “non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.”

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House Subcommittee Chairman: Obama Administration Policy Would Eliminate Half Of All Existing Medicare Part D Plans – Daily Caller

The Obama administration’s new proposed rule for Medicare Part D would eliminate half of all Medicare Part D plans and raise prescription drug premiums for millions of seniors by up to 20 percent, according to a U.S. House subcommittee chairman.

“Today, the average senior has 35 different [Medicare Part D] plans to choose from this year. This rule would reduce that choice to two plans. 50% of the plans offered today will be gone, and the health care that seniors like may go with it,” House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Pitts said in a statement at a Feb. 26 hearing attended by a top administration health official.

“Limiting seniors’ choices like this will inevitably lead to higher costs. By some estimates, the restriction on the number of plans that can be offered could cause premiums to rise by 10%-20%. Costs to the federal government may increase by $1.2-1.6 billion according to a study by Milliman,” Pitts said. “… I urge Secretary Sebelius and Administrator Tavenner to rescind this rule.”

The study Pitts cited also showed that the new rule would increase out-of-pocket drug costs for 6.9 million seniors who do not qualify for low-income subsidies, and would raise federal taxpayer costs for six million seniors who do qualify.

President Bush signed Medicare Part D into law in 2003 to subsidize prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries.

The Daily Caller reported that the administration’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of Kathleen Sebelius’ Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently introduced a new proposed rule on the Federal Register called “Medicare Program: Contract Year 2015 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs.”

The new rule “would revise the Medicare Advantage (MA) program (Part C) regulations and prescription drug benefit program (Part D) regulations to implement statutory requirements; strengthen beneficiary protections; exclude plans that perform poorly; improve program efficiencies; and clarify program requirements,” according to the Federal Register.

The rule states that it also aims “to implement certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act.”

The new rule’s stated desire to “strengthen our ability to identify strong applicants for Part C and Part D program participation and remove consistently poor performers” would give the Obama administration new authority to limit health insurance and prescription drug providers under the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D programs.

The rule would also violate the Medicare Part D’s law’s “non-interference provision that prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) from interfering with the negotiations between drug manufacturers and pharmacies and sponsors of prescription drug plans,” according to testimony by American Action Forum president Douglas Holtz-Eakin, violating “congressional intent.”

Rep. Pitts expressed confusion and anger at CMS’ new rule.

“CMS itself says that 96% of the Part D claims it reviewed showed seniors saved money at preferred pharmacies, and nearly 25,500 seniors in my district have chosen Part D plans with a preferred pharmacy network. Yet CMS would take that away from them,” Pitts said.

“The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is a government success story. Last year, nearly 39 million beneficiaries were enrolled in a Part D prescription drug plan,” Pitts said.

“Competition and choice have kept premiums stable. In fact, in 2006, the first year the program was in effect, the base beneficiary premium was $32.20 a month. In 2014, the base beneficiary premium is $32.42 – a 22-cent increase over 9 years – and still roughly half of what was originally predicted,” Pitts added. “More than 90% of seniors are satisfied with their Part D drug coverage because of this. African-American and Hispanic seniors report even higher levels of satisfaction, at 95% and 94%, respectively.”

“The program has worked so well because it forces prescription drug plans and providers to compete for Medicare beneficiaries – putting seniors, not Washington, in the driver’s seat. Part D should be the model for future reforms to the Medicare program,” Pitts said.

House Energy and Commerce committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton joined with Pitts at the hearing in criticizing the new rule.

“The proposed rule, issued on January 6, 2014, appears to be a direct assault on the competitive structure of the program. It inhibits the ability of plans to obtain discounts for beneficiaries, limits the range of market segments in which they may compete, and usurps the responsibility of states to license those able to prescribe. This 700-page proposal makes numerous changes,” Upton said.

CMS principal deputy administrator Jonathan Blum testified that limiting Part D sponsors to providing only two plans per region will “promote needed clarity of plan choices for beneficiaries.”

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Major Bitcoin Exchange Shuts Down After $380 Million Virtual Currency Theft

$380 Million Virtual Currency Theft From MtGox Sparks Debate: Bitcoin Or ‘Sh*tcoin’? – Big Peace

The world’s largest bitcoin trading exchange shut down on Tuesday, sparking a massive sell-off that calls into question the long-term viability of the nascent virtual currency trade.

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“This is extremely destructive,” risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank Examiner Mark Williams told the Los Angeles Times. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. It’s not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”

The halt in trading occurred when reports hit the Internet that the Tokyo-based Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange suffered the theft of 744,000 bitcoins worth an estimated $380 million.

Internet currency forums are now asking the question whether “bitcoin” has morphed into “shitcoin.”

Others expressed optimism that the crisis will spawn better measures.

“I think it’s a significant event, but I think there’s a decent chance that it is part of what we would call this sort of shaking out of the industry as it matures and slowly becomes a little more regulated,” New York state’s top financial regulator Benjamin M. Lawsky told the New York Times.

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Obama Def. Sec.’s Budget Proposal Would Shrink Army To Pre-WWII Levels, Eliminate Entire Class Of USAF Jets

Proposed Budget Will Reportedly Shrink Army To Pre-WWII Numbers – Fox News

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will reportedly propose a Pentagon budget that will shrink the U.S. Army to its smallest number since 1940 and eliminate an entire class of Air Force attack jets.

The New York Times reported late Sunday that Hagel’s proposal, which will be released to lawmakers and the public on Monday, will call for a reduction in size of the military that will leave it capable of waging war, but unable to carry out protracted occupations of foreign territory, as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Under Hagel’s plan, the number of troops in the Army will drop to between 440,000 and 450,000, a reduction of at least 120,000 soldiers from its post-Sept.11 peak.

Officials told the Times that Hagel’s plan has been endorsed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and protects funding for Special Operations forces and cyberwarfare. It also calls for the Navy to maintain all eleven of its aircraft carriers currently in operation. However, the budget proposal mandates the elimination of the entire fleet of Air Force A-10 attack aircraft, as well as the retiring of the U-2 spy plane, a stalwart of Cold War operations.

The budget plan does keep money for the F-35 warplane, a project which has been beset by delays and criticism over design flaws.

Other characteristics of the budget will likely draw further ire from veterans groups and members of Congress. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Hagel would recommend a limit on military pay raises, higher fees for health-care benefits, less generous housing allowances, and a one-year freeze on raises for top military brass.

“Personnel costs reflect some 50% of the Pentagon budget and cannot be exempted in the context of the significant cuts the department is facing,” Defense Department spokesman Adm. John Kirby told the Journal. “Secretary Hagel has been clear that, while we do not want to, we ultimately must slow the growth of military pay and compensation.”

“This is a real uphill battle with Congress,” Mieke Eoyang, director of the National Security Program at Third Way, a centrist think tank in Washington, told the Journal

“God bless [Hagel] for trying to get a handle on these costs,” she said. “But in this political environment, in an election year, it’s going to be hard for members of Congress to accept anything that’s viewed as taking benefits away from troops.”

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Related video:

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As California Obamacare Exchange Launches Multi-Million Dollar Ad Campaign, Website Crashes

California Obamacare Exchange Launches Big Ad Campaign, Website Promptly Crashes – Weasel Zippers

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Too damn funny.

Via LA Times:

Amid a big marketing push, California’s enrollment website for Obamacare coverage has suffered an unexpected outage due to software glitches.

The website problems come at a crucial time as the Covered California exchange tries to persuade more uninsured people to sign up ahead of a March 31 deadline.

The state exchange unveiled new TV commercials and radio ads this week aimed in particular at Latinos, who have been slow to enroll so far. The exchange is also urging more people to visit enrollment counselors, who rely on the state’s online system.

Covered California took its enrollment system down for scheduled maintenance and upgrades for 24 hours this past weekend. But problems have persisted and Thursday consumers were greeted by a message saying “the enrollment portion of the site is being worked on.”

Covered California said website errors began occurring Wednesday and it hopes to restore online enrollment by Thursday afternoon.

Covered California’s enrollment portal has been temporarily taken offline because of software malfunctions that were affecting the consumer experience,” the exchange said in a statement.

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