Republicans Verbally Bitchslap FDIC Chairman Over Despicable ‘Operation Choke Point’ (Videos)

FDIC Chairman Comes Under Fire During ‘Operation Choke Point’ Hearings – Fox News

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FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg came under fire Tuesday at a House subcommittee hearing over allegations that Operation Choke Point, a controversial federal law enforcement program, abused its authority by cutting off funding for targeted businesses.

During one exchange, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wisc., suggested Gruenberg step down as head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after Gruenberg was unable to answer questions about employees involved with Choke Point as well as specific allegations the agency overstepped its authority.

Duffy said the hearing was called to get answers directly from Gruenberg on what he knew, when he knew it and who has been held accountable.

“You are abusing your power and going after small businesses all over America,” Duffy said. He later added, “Bottom line, you are putting people out of business. They haven’t been fired, they haven’t been reprimanded.”

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Under Operation Choke Point, banks and other financial institutions were reportedly pressured to cut off accounts for targeted businesses that included gun stores, casinos, tobacco distributors, short-term lenders and other businesses.

Critics claim the program – overseen by the Justice Department, FDIC and other agencies – was used to squeeze legal companies that some politicians considered morally objectionable.

“Our concern is you have agencies in the Obama administration that are using government as a weapon and they going after industries and people that they don’t like,” Duffy, who co-chairs the Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said. “This is not the old Soviet Union or Venezuela or Cuba. I think it’s important for all Americans to stand up and push back on policies that are an abuse of government.”

Several members of Congress have openly called Operation Choke Point a blatant abuse of power, and an example of government bureaucrats appointing themselves morality police so they could operate around the law.

In response to the controversy, the FDIC put out a statement that said in part: “It is the FDIC’s policy that insured institutions that properly manage customer relationships are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing services to any customer operating in compliance with applicable law… the FDIC has a responsibility to cooperate with other government agencies and to ensure that the banks we supervise are adhering to laws, including those governing anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.”

Initially, the FDIC put out a list of 30 high-risk businesses, but that list has since been rescinded.

The U.S. Consumer Coalition claimed taking down that list only removed a guideline, and without a specific list of businesses, the subjectivity of who gets targeted was increased.

Brian Wise, with the U.S. Consumer Coalition, points out the irony. “By shutting down the bank accounts of these legally operating businesses, what they’re actually doing is forcing these businesses to deal solely in cash, which is completely opposite of what they have said their intention is,” he said. “It’s a whole lot easier to launder money with cash than having to go through a financial institution.”

Wise said questioning the chairman of the FDIC is a good start, but the problem doesn’t end there. “We know that it doesn’t just stop with the FDIC. This is a program that includes the CFPB, FDIC, Department of Justice and may lead all the way up to the president,” he said.

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*VIDEO* Benghazi Select Committee Chairman Gowdy Addresses Hillary Clinton Email Scandal


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Former Falls Church, VA Democrat Party Chairman Tried To Hire Hit Man To Murder Little Girls He Molested

Former Democratic Chairman Contacted Hit Man To Murder Little Girls He Molested – Gateway Pundit

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Democratic chairman Michael Gardner is accused of assaulting a family member who was under 13 at the time of the assault, officials said. He also reportedly molested two little girls at his daughter’s sleepover. (WUSA)

Michael Gardner reportedly tried to hire a hit man to murder the two little girls he molested.

The Washington Post reported:

A former Falls Church Democratic Party chairman, charged with molesting two young girls, talked about hiring a hit man to kill them before they could be witnesses at his March 4 trial, according to court documents.

Loudoun County prosecutors said Michael Gardner, who is scheduled to stand trial for allegedly molesting the girls, approached an inmate about finding someone to kill the girls. The inmate reached out to authorities last month.

In a letter, received by authorities last month, the inmate told Gardner that he knew someone who could “help with…. the ‘3 problems’ you have pre-trial,” according to a motion filed by the prosecution on Thursday, allegedly referring to the two girls and a unspecified third issue. The letter was sent from the inmate in response to “multiple and specific conversations” Gardner allegedly had with the inmate, according to court papers.

Loudoun County prosecutor Nicole Wittmann said she did not know whether Gardner contacted a hit man.

Gardner was convicted in 2012 of molesting two girls, who were 9 and 10 at the time, during a slumber party for his daughter’s 10th birthday.

He was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Then his conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court, which said the trial judge improperly stopped Gardner’s defense attorney from asking character witnesses about Gardner. He was granted a new trial.

Prosecutors from the Loudoun County commonwealth’s attorney’s office are handling the case, because the Arlington County commonwealth’s attorney knows the Gardner family.

In a motion filed Thursday, which was provided to The Washington Post, Loudoun Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Alejandra Rueda, who is prosecuting the case with Wittmann, quoted a letter from the inmate to Gardner.

“I want you to know I haven’t forgotten what we’ve discussed. The friend you asked me to contact to see if he could help with the ‘3 problems’ you have pre-trial will be passing through VA on a FL to NY ‘run,’ ” the letter said, according to the motion. Referring to the alleged hit man, the letter continues: “Get back to me right away because I don’t [want] his visiting you to interfere with Robin and the kids [sic] anticipated visit.”

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IRS Commissioner To House Committee Chairman: ‘Whenever We Can, We Follow The Law’ (Video)

IRS Chief: ‘Whenever We Can, We Follow The Law’- The Hill

During another grueling hearing on the ObamaCare rollout, the head of the IRS tried to offer lawmakers an assurance about the soon-to-open enrollment period.

“Whenever we can, we follow the law,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health on Wednesday.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who leads the subcommittee, immediately expressed his concern with the remarks.

“I encourage you to follow the law in all instances,” Brady said.

Koskinen, who was confirmed as head of IRS last December, has repeatedly faced lawmakers’ ire over the agency’s targeting of conservative groups.

Lawmakers spent a majority of Wednesday’s hearing grilling Koskinen and Andy Slavitt, HealthCare.gov’s fix-it man, on how they would verify that consumers were providing correct income information as they signed up for insurance subsidies.

Koskinen, who said he’s been meeting with tech and business staff every two weeks since January, said things are “on track” to verify income for all new enrollees.

Still, Slavitt acknowledged that the administration faces a “trust gap” in ObamaCare’s second year of implementation.

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) cautioned against what he described as unchecked power given to the IRS under the healthcare law. He demanded to know how the Obama administration would prevent a “Lois Lerner 2.0 situation.”

“It seems to me that the IRS is just poised to go swimming in a big pool of money,” Roskam said. “Are these the same IT people that can’t find Lois Lerner’s emails or deal with her hard drives?”

Koskinen was asked if he defended Lerner, to which he replied, “No, I don’t know her.”

It was Slavitt’s first public appearance since the federal government announced last week that HealthCare.gov had been hacked in July. But just one lawmaker, Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), prodded Slavitt about the security breach.

Price questioned why insurance company leaders told him they had learned about the hack from media reports. Slavitt disputed the claim, saying he had personally informed a representative from the insurance association about the breach.

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Click HERE to watch the entire hearing via C-SPAN.

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House Oversight Chairman Issa Subpoenas 28 Years Of Lois Lerner’s Emails

Issa Expands Investigation; Subpoenas 28 Years Of Lois Lerner Emails – Gateway Pundit

Lois Lerner, the controversial director of the tax-exempt organizations division at the Internal Revenue Service, has a long sordid history of targeting conservatives.

Under the direction of Lois Lerner, the Federal Election Commission sued the Christian Coalition in the 1990s. She harassed the Christian Coalition for three election cycles. Eventually, she lost her case. At one point Lerner even asked a targeted conservative if Pat Robertson prayed over him. (Sound familiar?)

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In 1996, while at the FEC, Lois Lerner harassed Republican Senate candidate Al Salvi and made him this outrageous offer, “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.”

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Today House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) turned up the heat on Lois Lerner and subpoenaed 28 years of Lerner’s emails from 1986 until the present day.

Political Ticker reported:

Expanding his IRS investigation by more than two decades, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, has sent a subpoena to the Federal Elections Commission for all communications involving former IRS administrator Lois Lerner from January 1, 1986 to the present day.

This new search is the broadest-yet for records in a year-long investigation by Issa and congressional Republicans, who are trying to assess why the agency targeted tea party and other political groups for extra scrutiny.

Issa issued the subpoena to Lee Goodman, head of the Federal Election Commission, on Tuesday for communications involving Lerner, who is seen as a central figure in the controversy because she ran the division that executed the targeting.

She resigned last year after the Treasury Department’s inspector general found those working under her used “inappropriate” criteria to scrutinize certain groups. Since then, Lerner has refused to testify before Congress, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. This has added to the Republican push to find any documents related to Lerner and her time in government.

In the on-going, determined GOP effort, Republicans are now reaching back to her career before the IRS.

Lerner joined the FEC in 1981, first working in the general counsel’s office. Issa subpoena focuses on her work after 1986, when Lerner became the head of the FEC’s enforcement division.

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Revealed: The Lois Lerner Emails That Weren’t Lost – The Blaze

House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said Wednesday that former IRS official Lois Lerner suggested investigating Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) before she was forced to leave her position due to the IRS targeting scandal.

According to documents unearthed by Camp, Lerner received an invitation to speak at an event that was intended for Grassley.

Lerner informed the group of the mistake, but then wrote to a colleague: “Looked like they were inappropriately offering to pay for his wife. Perhaps we should refer to Exam?”

That questioned prompted another IRS official to respond that paying for Grassley’s wife to attend is income for Grassley, and is “not prohibited on its face.” The followup email said the proper procedure would be to see if the group files a 1099 form to report the “income” Grassley earned, and see if Grassley reported that income in his annual tax filing.

Lerner replied by saying “thanks,” and added, “Don’t think I want to be on stage with Grassley on this issue.” The emails are redacted and don’t make it clear at what event they both might have spoken.

Camp said it is “shocking” that Lerner would use the email mix-up as a way to attack Grassley.

“At every turn, Lerner was using the IRS as a tool for political purposes in defiance of taxpayer rights,” he said. “We may never know the full extent of the abuse since the IRS conveniently lost two years of Lerner emails, not to mention those of other key figures in this scandal.

“The fact that DOJ refuses to investigate the IRS’s abuses or appoint a special counsel demonstrates, yet again, this administration’s unwillingness to uphold the rule of law.”

Read the Lerner emails here:

Grassley Lerner

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*VIDEO* House Armed Services Committee Chairman: Obama’s Foreign Policy Is A Mess


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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.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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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.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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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.”

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

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