Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

A Closer Look At Why There Aren’t More Black Conservatives

In January of this year The American Conservative published “Why Aren’t There More Black Republicans” by Musa Al-Gharbi. I found some excellent and insightful points in Al-Gharbi’s piece. While there are also some legitimate grievances mentioned (which the GOP needs to take seriously) I believe many of these grievances are aimed in the wrong direction. I admit my perspective is not one of a political insider or policy wonk. I’m just a regular Joe trying to make a living. With that in mind, please consider the following.

Al-Gharbi makes the remarkable (and rare) point that the GOP has a positive historical record on civil rights and that Americans need to be reminded of this history. Al-Gharbi also touches on some important Democrat history of American politics and race. Can you imagine what campaigning would be like today if Americans were reminded of historical Democrat opposition to civil rights (including filibustering civil rights legislation in the 1960s)? For more eye opening info on this topic, Bruce Bartlett writes about the abysmal Democrat past on civil rights in his book Wrong on Race: The Democratic Party’s Buried Past. Dinesh D’Sousa’s movie “Hillary’s America” is another good place to look.

But when Al-Ghardi moves off of history and into the meat of his article there is a vital distinction between Republicans and Conservatives that is not mentioned – the difference between conservatives and RINOs (Republicans In Name Only). This distinction, I believe, would reshape many of his points. Another point I want to reexamine in Al-Gharbi’s article is what appears to be a left wing perspective on many issues.

Take, for instance, the argument on the supposed harm inflicted on black Americans “by advocating for voter ID laws, which disenfranchise primarily low-income and legal minority voters.” We can ask, in what way does a common sense (and internationally speaking, a very common) election security precaution disenfranchise anyone? The “widespread evidence” standard is a legitimate one, and I’d like to see widespread evidence that such abuse is inevitable in the implementation of voter id laws. For the liberal left it is standard procedure to ignore or downplay stories of various forms of election fraud, and we should not neglect the fact this fraud is so often in their favor. The numerous cases of voter fraud are often simply ignored or actively covered up by those who benefit from them (which should not be surprising). I humbly suggest the complaints of Voter ID laws should not be taken at face value.

EDITORIAL: North Carolina answers Democrats’ question ‘What vote fraud?’

N.C. proves multiple voting occurs and dead cast ballots

Voter Fraud: We’ve Got Proof It’s Easy

53,000 Dead Voters Found in Florida

If “widespread evidence” and “a single example of when such voting has actually turned an election” (criteria Al-Gharbi mentions) are the standard Voter ID proponents must measure up to, why not hold opponents of Voter ID to that same standard?

A couple examples of voter fraud come to my mind. A Philadelphia man gleefully admitted on live television he voted multiple times for Barack Obama. Imagine all the details that have to work together for this to occur. First, the only system innate in the voting process to prevent multiple voting is the poll workers. Unfortunately, the poll workers either don’t notice or don’t care that he voted more than once. And he feels so confident that nothing is wrong with this he is willing to admit on TV that he committed the crime. Some questions ought to naturally follow. Was this man charged? Did anyone in law enforcement follow up?

In another example, this woman, (who was a poll worker at the time) admits voting for Obama multiple times and yet denies committing voter fraud. When the perpetrators of voter fraud don’t recognize or even deny their crime it makes sense there would be difficulty in finding “widespread evidence” for it. As an experiment, one could show these two examples of voter fraud to people who voted for Barack Obama and ask them if these incidents qualify as voter fraud, and subsequently discover why “widespread evidence” for this crime is so difficult to find. Many people are so enamored with the idea of the first black president, election laws seem to be irrelevant.

On the other hand, there was an article a few years back on how the current election system (regardless of voter IDs) may be designed to disenfranchise black voters by default. Could it be that requiring voter ID might help liberate the black community from this and other common election shenanigans which already disenfranchise them?

I would also ask for widespread evidence that “Republican legislators court Neo-Confederates and other ethnic nationalist movements” as Al-Gharbi states. There seems to be no concern for nuance here (such as the difference between groups reaching out to politicians and politicians actively courting organizations). Do we know such groups reach out to conservatives and not to RINOs? RINOs are more likely to get government involved and appeal to special interest groups because RINOs act more like Democrats than like conservatives.

But does it matter when questionable groups have ties to politicians? It apparently didn’t matter in regard to the late Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, as Bill Clinton explained Sen. Byrd was merely “trying to get elected” by being a member of the KKK. A lame excuse, sure, but it worked. Evidently it doesn’t matter that Robert Byrd spent half a century representing people for whom a “fleeting association” (full blown membership) with the KKK counted as an asset rather than a liability. As Al-Gharbi already mentioned, the liberal narrative would sugar coat and disregard this record with a racist hate group. Then, curiously, Republicans would be blamed for the evils committed by that group. Despite many theories, the reality of why Democrats and Republicans are treated so differently on matters of racism escapes me. Even the myth that the parties “switched sides” is losing its influence as more people learn the truth of the matter, yet Democrats often get a pass for overt racism. There are no more whites only water fountains, restrooms, lunch counters, etc. It is not incidental that Republicans dominate the American South during its LEAST racist era. Racism abounds throughout the country, we are constantly told, and the South is no longer the preeminent example of it.

On the matter of affirmative action, I don’t doubt there was a time for this sort of government intervention. But it has become a crutch for the black community. The left wing narrative constantly promotes the idea that black Americans cannot survive without Uncle Sam’s helping hand on a daily basis. This, of course, makes it easier to displace white people to make room for demographic quotas in various jobs (though I don’t see much effort to REDUCE counts of blacks among professional athletes (such as the NBA or NFL) to make the demographics more closely match those of the general population). This narrative is promoted largely by perpetuating the belief that there has been no progress in the battle against racism over the last half century, that racism still lurks around every corner. No one claims racism has been eliminated but it certainly sounds like Democrats infuse race into every discussion possible. Fear mongering and race hustling work for Democrats.

But what should we expect from people who, as Bob Parks put it, make money finding racism even when it isn’t there? The Duke Lacrosse scandal is one of the more prominent examples of how the ghost of racism is kept alive because the fear of racism is fuel for the fire – even if liberals have to lie about it. But let us not forget that manufactured racism and affirmative action both provide the same benefit for Democrats: a belief that the black community needs government, and that government can solve all of life’s problems.

We should question whether government can solve such problems. There is an astounding degree of blind faith in the magical powers of government. This faith is often supported by questionable data if not outright lies. The figures Al-Ghardi provides sound familiar, much like the feminist data constantly touted about the supposed wage gap. I’d like to see the data that show “Black families have, on average, 5 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts.” How do we know “blacks earn only 60 cents for every dollar that white people earn in salary and wages.”? (And if blacks did earn 60 cents for every dollar that whites earn, wouldn’t blacks have 60 percent of the wealth of their white counterparts?) Are these numbers produced in the same way the specious 77 cents wage gap figure was produced? And if the methods for producing the 77 cent or 60 cent figures are valid there are other questions we should put on the table; such as is it okay for Hillary Clinton to pay her female workers 72 cents for every dollar she pays a male?

Others have made good points in that the data show the black community was stronger and more likely to overcome the lingering effects of slavery and racism before government started trying to “help” in the 1960s. In fact, Dr. Thomas Sowell and others who have looked into this issue make a good case that the lingering effects of slavery and racism we see today are largely perpetuated by government intervention (meaning Democrats and RINOs).

In conservative thought, a nanny state government is an insatiable government. Every decision the government makes on our behalf is a decision we no longer have the right to make for ourselves. Every effort for the government to “help” people grows the power and influence of the state, which diminishes the autonomy and liberty of the individual. Over time this sort of help infantilizes people, who look to government more and more to take care of them, and they eventually become slaves to their own government. Conservatives expect other conservatives to accept this viewpoint. RINOs don’t really care about the size or fiscal appetite of government.

I appreciate the viewpoint diversity Al-Ghardi speaks of. I would like for viewpoint diversity to be valued among our increasingly closed minded, intolerant, progressive culture. Progressives are astoundingly judgemental and abusive to those expressing dissent. (Just as an experiment, find a moment to say out loud to a group of progressives “marriage is between one man and one woman” as if you actually believed that statement, and tell me how tolerant they are of a view they disagree with.)

On any number of issues you can find ample viewpoint diversity among conservatives, of any race. But on the fundamental issue of liberty vs. government influence, to veer away from this premise is to veer away from conservatism. Given there are relatively few people who subscribe to this belief, conservatives gladly embrace all who agree with this view regardless of race. It is one of the building blocks of all conservative thought.

But to Democrats and liberals/progressives, to free people from a nanny state form of “help” is uncompassionate and even dangerous. Stoking racial strife is one of the most common ways for Democrats to promote their idea of benevolent government. Alan Keys, Herman Cain, and Ben Carson do not “downplay the significance of historical disadvantages or institutionalized racism” when they speak of the natural result of increasing government power, as Al-Gharbi suggests. Slavery is in fact the destination at the end of that road. Democrats, on the other hand, do downplay the significance such evils when they constantly accuse Republicans of racism, such as VP Joe Biden’s comment about putting black people back in chains.

As to alienating blacks, quite frankly it is not conservatives who do that. According to one of my favorite conservative commentators, Alfozo Rachel, it is the black community who alienates Republicans. And it is liberals who accuse black conservatives of being sell outs among other things. There is a concerted effort to marginalize black conservatives. Black conservatives often pay a huge price for coming out of the closet as conservatives.

RINOs do in fact offer the “top down” approach Al-Ghardi mentions, the same government-knows-best approach Democrats offer the American people. But RINOs and Democrats fail to understand something about economics that is common sense among conservatives: poor people don’t create jobs. On the other hand, somehow the American people have largely been convinced raising their taxes helps them.

One of the biggest lies in American politics is about taxes. So many people who claim to want “fairness” are led to believe “the rich” and “corporations” don’t pay their “fair share”. I’m still waiting for someone to tell me what “fair share” actually means. One question on this issue conservatives like to ask is “how much of other people’s stuff are you entitled to”? Many Americans are in fact “looking for government handouts” and they are “demanding wealth redistribution as a corrective for historical disenfranchisement”. It is not conservatives who are doing this, it is liberals/progressives. I see it in the black community, the hispanic community, the white community, etc. American culture, with the exception of conservatives, is largely infected with an entitlement mentality – an attitude of “somebody owes me something”.

Everyone claims to desire a “fair playing field, opportunity for social mobility” but many people will likewise demand government handouts without even noticing the contradiction. In fact, from what I’ve seen, when liberals say they want a fair playing field and opportunity for social mobility, they actually mean government regulations and handouts. Thankfully conservatives are pushing back against this distortion. Black conservatives are doing a lot of this pushback but they are often marginalized and ignored, or attacked with racial epithets by those favoring government handouts.

I don’t know anyone who actually opposes a social safety net that prevents people from sinking into total despondency (though I know many who are blithely accused of opposing any social safety net at all). The biggest objection I see to the current American social safety net is that it is corrupt and inefficient, and has a tendency to trap its recipients in poverty. As Bill Whittle put it, the food, housing, education, and even cell phones offered by the government are all crap, crumbs from Uncle Sam’s table. And human beings deserve better than that.

Sadly, crumbs are the best we can expect from a massive, corrupt government. This is what “micromanaging the poor” looks like – the government-run social safety net. It is not conservative Republicans who support the inefficient social safety net, it is RINOs and Democrats who support it. That’s why conservatives preach so much about freedom. Crumbs we can get easily but if we want more than crumbs we have to work for it. This is why conservatives are constantly talking about getting government out of our way – so people can live their own lives.

But that brings us to a core difference between the way conservatives and others see life. Conservatives don’t look at life from a perspective of helping people attain minimal survival, but from one where people should be allowed to thrive. We don’t seek a social safety net as the peak of civilization, we seek prosperity so that a social safety net does not overwhelm all of us (as is inevitable given the way Democrats and RINOs constantly seek to expand that net). These things require work, a lot of work. Smart work. Making good decisions is crucial to prospering in life.

Making good decisions is a challenge faced by us all, but it seems the black community is more challenged than any other group of Americans. We can tell ourselves this is a result of slavery and discrimination, but perhaps a closer look might shed further light on the matter. Unfortunately, this closer look could lead to some socially unacceptable observations, even if they are true.

In the black community there is very common disdain for education, especially among young males. And why shouldn’t this be the case? From decades of telling the black community they can’t succeed because of racism, and then forcing the black community into what is arguably the worst sector of American education (often riddled with a political agenda), why should the black community believe success is possible for them? Why shouldn’t they expect a life of government handouts? That’s an alarmingly common attitude among the general American population, not merely in the black community. Many times I’ve witnessed people share ideas on gaming the entitlement system, with the mentality of getting as many benefits as possible from the government. And that’s one result that can be traced back to slavery but perpetuated by government: dependency on a master.

Conservative Republicans want to set people free from this kind of misery. One major effort to achieve this freedom is school vouchers. School vouchers empower parents to decide what sort of education is best for their children. But school vouchers take this power away from a bureaucratic state, which is the lifeblood of progressivism today. Thus Democrats typically oppose school vouchers, and make people fear the freedom this would grant them by making that freedom look “raysiss”.

The same is true of government entitlement programs. These programs often trap people. Promoting liberation from a minimum standard is often viewed as “draconian restrictions” on the “assistance provided” by government. And this brings us from bad government programs back to good individual decisions.

Government handouts have made headlines for buying alcohol, drugs, and other entertainment. To the people whose resources were confiscated by government and then redistributed, these sorts of purchases look like a betrayal of trust. We have been lead to believe the social safety net is intended to prevent “people from sinking into total despondency.” Buying booze, drugs, porn, etc., make it seem some of the recipients of these benefits are not as poor as we’ve been lead to believe. Like anything else in life, the people who genuinely need the social safety net have to suffer consequences of others, of those who abuse or defraud the social safety net. Republicans don’t want to make “draconian restrictions” on those who actually need assistance but they do want to stop fraud and abuse of programs which spend other people’s money. Social trust is an important element for those being forced to pay the bill. As long as abuse and fraud occur conservatives will be offended by the waste of aid intended for those who really need it, and seek to prevent such waste. Wasting this aid harms those who really need it. Shouldn’t we all be offended by that?

But rather than simply cleaning up corruption in the system, conservatives want to move beyond merely talking about setting people free and actually set people free. This requires a total change from the predominant safety net paradigm.

Which brings us back to taxes. The current government structure rests on making people think someone else should pay more taxes. The brilliance of this progressive system is that most people don’t realize they are the “someone else”. Businesses “pay” business taxes because they first raise the prices we pay – we the people actually pay all taxes. We can call it corporate tax, or employment tax, or whatever the government wants. But it is we the people who pay. Raising taxes directly impacts we the people, hitting the poor the hardest. Rather than building a massive government scheme designed to control wealth (the progressive way), conservatives prefer to reduce government involvement to the minimum required (military, police, courts, roads, etc.). With minimal government control over wealth there is also minimal government appetite, and thus less government involvement, thus minimal burden on the people. Imagine the jobs that would naturally be created if even 10% of the wealth currently confiscated by the government were instead left to the people who generated that wealth in the first place. People who create wealth naturally put it back into the economy in the form of purchases and business expansion. But we are supposed to call this greed, and consider increased jobs a bad thing when businesses are allowed to create them rather than the government.

And that leads us to another difference between conservatives and others. The ability to freely exchange among our fellow Americans is hampered by over taxation and corrupt regulation. Making life more expensive works quite well for government as it feeds the perceived need for government intervention, thus making a self fulfilling prophesy. But it does not work so well for the people, particularly the poor. Government’s strength is greatest in the act of taking and controlling, but the market’s strength is greatest in offering goods and services for voluntary exchange.

Which brings us back to politics. Conservatives want to change the “getting help” paradigm (government intervention) to a paradigm of achievement (individual liberty). Conservatives also want to redirect the new cultural obsession with “fairness” and return to an obsession with liberty. It is possible. There are prominent black Americans showing us success is possible if people were simply free from an over burdensome government. But that’s the rub; to be free to live one’s own life also entails the responsibility of doing so. A very important question conservatives should ask is “do you want to be free, or do you want to be taken care of?”. It is alarming to see how many people say they want the former but act like they want the latter.

Blind faith in the power of a benevolent government does more harm than good, especially to those it is allegedly trying to help. Democrats have an unwavering faith in the myth. RINOs share this faith. RINOs betray the Republican identity by becoming nothing more than diet Democrat. Democrats and RINOs betray the American people by making false promises resulting merely in more expensive government control of people’s lives. Obamacare is a prime example, from lies about keeping your insurance, to lies about reduced costs, to lies about improved access to health care.

Conservatives should work harder to reach the culture rather than look to politics to solve life’s problems. The “if government doesn’t help, no one will get help” myth must be confronted. So should the lies told which make people think a nanny state government taking of them and making decisions for them is “empowering”. Democrats and RINOs have a vested interest in making people look to government to solve life’s problems. The American people have a vested interest in the truth. It is conservatives who must tell it.

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Obamacare includes scrutiny, fines for charitable hospitals that treat uninsured people

original article: Obamacare installs new scrutiny, fines for charitable hospitals that treat uninsured people
August 8, 2013 by Patrick Howley

Charitable hospitals that treat uninsured Americans will be subjected to new levels of scrutiny of their nonprofit status and could face sizable new fines under Obamacare.

A new provision in Section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, which takes effect under Obamacare, sets new standards of review and installs new financial penalties for tax-exempt charitable hospitals, which devote a minimum amount of their expenses to treat uninsured poor people. Approximately 60 percent of American hospitals are currently nonprofit.

Charity for the uninsured is one of the factors that could discourage enrollment in Obamacare, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or else face new taxes themselves from the IRS.

“It requires tax-exempt hospitals to do a community needs survey and file additional paperwork with the IRS every three years. This is to prove that the charitable hospital is still needed in their geographical area — ‘needed’ as defined by Obamacare and overseen by IRS bureaucrats,” said John Kartch, spokesman for Americans for Tax Reform.

“Failure to comply, or to prove this continuing need, could result in the loss of the hospital’s tax-exempt status. The hospital would then become a for-profit venture, paying income tax — hence the positive revenue score” for the federal government, Kartch said. “Obamacare advocates turned over every rock to find as much tax money as possible.”

Additionally, the rise in the number of insured Americans under Obamacare will make it more difficult for tax-exempt hospitals to continue meeting required thresholds for treating the uninsured, driving more hospitals into the for-profit category and yielding more taxable money for the federal government.

“The requirements generally apply to any section 501(c)(3) organization that operates at least one hospital facility,” according to a “Technical Explanation” report of new Obamacare provisions prepared by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) on March 21, 2010, the day Obamacare passed.

Obamacare’s new requirements could slam hospitals with massive $50,000 fines if they fail to meet bureaucrats’ standards.
“The hospital must disclose in its annual information report to the IRS (i.e., Form 990 and related schedules) how it is addressing the needs identified in the assessment and, if all identified needs are not addressed, the reasons why (e.g., lack of financial or human resources). Each hospital facility is required to make the assessment widely available. Failure to complete a community health needs assessment in any applicable three-year period results in a penalty on the organization of up to $50,000,” according to the JCT report.

The government is particularly interested in how and why hospitals will be providing discounted or free care to poor patients, requiring each of them to “adopt, implement, and widely publicize a written financial assistance policy” and explain the methods they use to screen applicants for assistance and how they calculate patients’ bills.

A delegate working under the Department of Health and Human Services must review the innumerable reports charitable hospitals file every three years, along with copies of their audited financial statements.

After sifting through this massive amount of information, the delegate and HHS secretary must attempt to identify trends in the hospitals’ spending and send in a comprehensive report of their findings to Congress by 2015, according to the JCT report.

Healthcare experts warn that the Obamacare’s new requirements make it almost impossible for charitable hospitals to navigate treacherous new waters.

“Nonprofit hospitals should be advised that the new PPACA requirements will play a significant role in how they operate and report, specifically when it comes to billing and collections for services provided to the uninsured. The new law leaves many gray areas and hospitals themselves will have to establish eligibility criteria for financial assistance. Following the new procedures as best they can will ensure the best chance of maintaining their tax exempt status,” wrote D. Douglas Metcalf, partner at the law firm Lewis and Roca, in a 2013 op-ed entitled “Will nonprofit hospitals disappear under Obamacare?”

The White House did not return a request for comment.

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This is how cronyism works

original article: New York’s Taxi King Is Going Down
October 26, 2015 by Jared Meyer

People don’t deserve to be millionaires because they can get government to let them pick people’s pockets.

Evgeny “Gene” Freidman is no fan of Uber. The increasing popularity of this vehicle-for-hire (or ridesharing) company has lost him millions of dollars. He has even asked New York City taxpayers for a bailout. As difficult as bailing out the big banks was to swallow, bailing out a taxi mogul—who at one point owned more than 1,000 New York City taxi medallions—is an even harder sell. A bailout would be especially outrageous considering that Freidman and his financial backers are actively working to make consumers pay more for fewer options.

Freidman reluctantly took over his father’s modest yellow taxi business as a young man. He brought his experience in Russian finance to the industry, and started to accumulate increasing numbers of taxi medallions using highly leveraged financing. Freidman expanded a company with just a few taxis into a conglomeration of three- to five-car mini-fleets.

As Freidman’s taxi empire grew, he expanded into other cities, including New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Chicago. He gained control of hundreds more medallions that are also now in financial trouble. His willingness to bid on practically any medallion that came up for sale helped drive a rapid increase in medallion prices across the country.

Subprime Taxi Medallions

This model can work when times are good but, as the housing crisis showed, it has its dangers. It works until another technology emerges, consumers move on, and funding dries up.

This is where Uber comes in. Competition from Uber has left investors wondering how much the company will grow and what further effects its growth will have on taxis’ market share. While yellow taxi medallions were selling for $1.32 million as recently as May 2013, now they may be worth as little as $650,000.

This drastic drop in price has made the banks and credit unions that fund Freidman’s vast enterprise nervous. For example, his companies still owe around $750,000 for each medallion financed by Citibank. Without new loans to meet existing obligations and expand his fleet, Freidman’s companies became insolvent. This is why he sought the bailout and wants the government to support the medallion market by offering taxpayer-guaranteed loans.

Adding to this financing crunch, the lease rates Freidman now can charge taxi drivers who rent his cars have declined. Many taxi drivers switched to Uber, which offersincreased earning potential, flexible work schedules, and improved driver safety. Competition led Freidman to complain that he is no longer able to charge the city’s legal maximum lease rate. This is promising news for drivers, but problematic for Freidman’s income.

There’s Not Much Argument for a Monopoly

Medallions commanded such astronomical prices in New York because yellow taxis had, and still do have, a monopoly on street hails in Manhattan south of the northern boundary of Central Park. Ubers come rapidly, but they are not street hails, because people summon them beforehand with a smartphone. In cities across the country that also use a medallion system, the same reasoning applies. Government restricts the supply of taxis below the level of demand, and medallion owners reap the profits—all at the expense of consumers.

It is not just Freidman’s companies that are in trouble. The banks and credit unions that funded him and other medallion owners are also worried. Just four credit unions hold security interests in over 5,300 medallions, for which they are on the hook for about $2.5 billion. In the face of greater potential losses, these companies have resorted to calling people who work in policy (myself included) to try and convince researchers that Uber is illegal and needs to be banned.

The credit union argument progresses as follows:

  1. Yellow taxi medallion owners were granted a monopoly on street hails.
  2. For-hire vehicles are only allowed to offer pre-arranged rides.
  3. Uber uses street hails, not pre-arranged rides, to connect riders with its driver partners.
  4. Therefore, Uber is illegally using street hails, and this infringes on yellow taxi medallion owners’ government-granted monopoly.

If the third premise is true, this argument could hold some rule-of-law water. It is not.

The law governing New York City’s street hails date back to the Haas Act of 1937. This law restricted the number of New York yellow taxi medallions to 16,900, which was lowered and now stands at 13,437—even though the city’s population has grown byover 20 percent since 1940.

The Haas Act also set the stage for other common carrier regulations that apply to the taxi industry. These regulations place substantial limits and requirements on taxi owners and drivers in exchange for their monopoly privileges. For example, the city’s Transportation and Limousine Commission sets fare prices, and fares cannot change with increased demand for rides. This is one of the main reasons it is so difficult to hail a taxi in the rain or at the beginning of rush hour.

Updating regulations takes time, but New York City taxis were finally granted the ability to accept ride requests from smartphones (e-hails) early this year. Once taxis were allowed to accept e-hails, something they needed to compete with new technologies, four credit unions argued that the technology was now off-limits for Uber—the company that had popularized e-hails. They sued New York City for infringing upon medallion holders’ monopoly privileges.

This makes no sense. How can a decades-old law covering street hails be construed to cover ride requests made through smartphones? Anyone who has tried to hail a taxi on the side of the road, and then used Uber, knows that the two experiences are vastly different. Simply put, holding your hand up is not the same as pressing a button on your phone.

How to Save Taxis Without Squeezing People

The path forward is not to ban ridesharing or bail medallion owners out. It is to make taxis more like Ubers. This takes more than simply allowing taxis to accept e-hails. Rather, the only ways to save taxis are greater flexibility in pricing and service and increased competition.

As Uber’s rise has made obvious, when the crucial aspect of competition is missing from markets, established companies do not have to worry about improving their services to attract and keep customers. Regulations need to be continually modified and updated in light of new technology.  There is no reason to require New York taxis to have expensive (and annoying) Taxi TVs. Pointless mandates such as this only increase the cost of taxi rides.

Even with a relaxed regulatory framework that embraces ridesharing and competition, taxis will still have an advantage. No one is talking about taking away New York City’s yellow taxi monopoly on street hails. Applying antiquated laws and regulations to new technology is what laid the groundwork for the rise of Uber and other ridesharing services in the first place.

Everyone Shouldn’t Pay for Some People’s Bad Bets

Credit unions oppose allowing Uber to grow because they want to protect their investments. The Queens County Supreme Court ruled against the credit unions last month. The court found that the credit unions did not have a cause of action against the city and its Transportation and Limousine Commission. This was a major win for Uber and consumers, but a death-knell for Freidman’s business and its financers.

The whole yellow taxi financing model is crashing, along with medallion prices. After the ruling, Montauk Credit Union, one of the plaintiffs, was seized by the New York State Department of Financial Services because of “unsafe and unsound conditions.” The day that New York City’s proposed cap on Uber’s growth was defeated, 22 of Freidman’s mini-fleet companies filed for bankruptcy.

Even if medallion holders such as Freidman lost a lot of money, it does not follow that the public should subsidize their losses. The returns from a yellow taxi medallion in cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago, or New York far outpaced the stock market or gold for many years. The values of these medallions about doubled in each city from 2009 to 2013.

Investments carry risk, as Freidman knows from his background in finance. He made a poor calculation that the Manhattan yellow taxi street hail monopoly would continue to provide him enough future cash flow to satisfy bankers, who would loan him more money to expand his fleet. Freidman and his investors have no claim to a taxpayer-funded bailout to cover their poor business decisions. Perhaps they should consider investing in Uber instead.

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Are we being double-taxed? Why ObamaCare may render Planned Parenthood obsolete

original article: Are we being double-taxed? Why ObamaCare may render Planned Parenthood obsolete
July 22, 2015 by Dr. Manny Alvarez

With the inception of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, President Obama created a new system of health care that aimed to allow all Americans to carry health insurance, and in many cases, that insurance is subsidized by the federal government with our tax dollars.

His sales pitch to America was that by expanding access to health insurance, he would help create better patient-doctor relationships that would be effective in prineventing several of the chronic health conditions and concerns that affect the U.S. population— many of which affect women.

Now, no matter your stance on universal health care, a concern that every tax-paying American, man or woman, should take issue with centers on waste. This is especially true given the recent events surrounding the claims that Planned Parenthood seems to be in the business of selling aborted fetal body parts.

Now, if my tax dollars are being used to subsidize our national health care program, then why are my tax dollars also being allocated for Planned Parenthood? This isn’t a matter of ethics, but rather, of practicality.

Many of the clinical services Planned Parenthood offers— including Pap smears, breast exams, tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and abortions— can be performed by gynecologists, family practitioners and pediatricians. The ACA guarantees coverage for the vast majority of women’s reproductive needs.

According to Planned Parenthood’s 2013-2014 annual report, the latest data available, the organization received nearly $1.15 billion in revenue— $528.4 million of which came from the federal government.

During that period, it spent about $769 million on medical services, $45 million on sexuality education, $34 million on public policy and $12 million to engage communities. In all, the organization spent over $859 million in the fiscal year of 2014.

Planned Parenthood heralds its efforts to promote education among young women and expectant mothers, and certainly it should be applauded for those campaigns. But according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under the ACA, women are now covered for annual counseling in STIs, HIV, contraceptive methods, breastfeeding support and interpersonal and domestic violence.

All things considered, if American tax dollars are being allocated for the ACA and Planned Parenthood, it seems like we are getting double-taxed. And I don’t want my tax dollars involved in promoting all the other programs that Planned Parenthood peddles outside the scope of medical care. In 2014, they spent $34 million in public policy. The average American does not control the political agenda of Planned Parenthood, and yet we are all paying for it.

Planned Parenthood accepts patients under Medicaid, private insurance and all state plans subsidized by Obama’s health care law. And again, this is the similar coverage that is offered by many other types of clinics. The only difference is they don’t receive added federal dollars.

Of course, for uninsured patients, Planned Parenthood services may prove cheaper than services offered at a regular doctor’s office. According to the organization’s website, many of its fees are based on a sliding fee scale, which depends on the patient’s income. Services like family planning, birth control, gynecological exams, pregnancy testing, STI testing and other reproductive health care services are on that sliding scale. But all of that should be irrelevant if the ACA, plus expanded Medicaid, is meant to guarantee health coverage for all.

The bottom line is this: There was a time in our country when Planned Parenthood played a role in providing women with medical services that otherwise were not available to people who had no insurance. However, to have, at present, an organization that continues to be subsidized by the taxpayer is not necessary. We now have the same services covered by ObamaCare, and millions of taxpayer dollars are helping to keep that system in check. And that system includes community hospitals, physician practices and community clinics that don’t receive any extra support from the federal government and only rely on the fees they receive from patient care.

abortion, bureaucracy, economy, entitlements, funding, government, health care, nanny state, public policy, spending, taxes, unintended consequences

Filed under: abortion, bureaucracy, economy, entitlements, funding, government, health care, nanny state, public policy, spending, taxes, unintended consequences

Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending

original article: Planned Parenthood and Unfettered Congressional Spending
July 22, 2015 by Zack Pruitt

The U.S. Constitution permits congressional spending for two purposes only — to pay debts and to provide for the common defense and general welfare of the country (Article 1, Section 8).  Experts have debated ad nauseam over the proper interpretation of the terms “common defense” and “general welfare” but it is difficult to deny that modern spending has far surpassed the intent of the Founders and, in some cases, reached the point of absurdity.  With entire websites devoted to exposing the excesses of government spending that has virtually no limits, it is inevitable that taxpayers will be forced to subsidize things that they view as morally questionable.

Planned Parenthood receives over $500 million each year from American taxpayers, which comprises over 40 percent of its budget.  It was recently shown on video ostensibly seeking to profit from the sale of aborted baby parts (as opposed to being reimbursed for tissue donation), perhaps in violation of federal law.  Make no mistake, the big picture story here is not congressional overspending; it is the Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood graphically describing her efforts to “not crush” vital organs when performing abortions in an effort to preserve them and recoup “between $30 and $100 per specimen.”  In another video, the President of Planned Parenthood’s Medical Directors Council indicates a profit-motive for aborted parts by negotiating for higher prices and haggling over the cost of “intact tissue.”  When a system allows for unfettered spending, taxpayers can wind up paying not only for unnecessary services, but ones that straddle the line between genocide and the commercialization of human body parts.

Without government assistance it is unlikely Planned Parenthood could survive as currently structured.  A system without proper checks and restraints allows for congressional funding of a multitude of programs that are unnecessary, and some, like Planned Parenthood, that blur ethical and moral lines.  Numerous calls for investigation and defunding have followed the release of this video, but under the current setup it will be difficult to fully strip federal grants because congressional Democrats and the President support the continued funding of Planned Parenthood despite the recent revelations.  In 2013, President Obama said, “You’ve also got a president who is going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way… Thank you Planned Parenthood, God bless you.”

It should come as no surprise that when the government sanctions a morally questionable procedure such as abortion, that other morally suspect actions will stem from that tree, even ones that shock the conscience.  Historically, polls have shown this nation to be nearly 50-50 when it comes to general abortion rights, but the same polls move sharply against abortion in the 2ndand 3rd trimesters.  Partial-birth abortion is illegal but the methods described by Dr. Deborah Nucatola in the video closely resemble techniques in the partial-birth procedure.  She said that “[Planned Parenthood doctors are] very good at getting heart, lung, and liver…so I’m not going to crush that part, I’m going to crush below, I’m going to crush above, I’m going to see if I can get it all intact.”  Dr. Nucatola implies that specific steps are taken to preserve body parts, deviating from legal abortion standards.  In response to this aspect of the video evidence, Bill Murphy, co-Director of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin, told the Washington Post “The general consensus is that’s unethical and unsafe… you can’t modify a life-saving procedure for a patient in order to harvest organs.”

Control of the nation’s money with few limitations on expenditures encourages legislators to provide funding for projects they personally deem necessary for society and equality.  The results are runaway spending and massive budget deficits.  Politicians routinely use the public coffers to strengthen their reelection efforts by securing the support of special interest groups.  Irresponsible fiscal policy combined with substantial political support for abortion rights have led to taxpayer funding for an organization that harvests and sells baby body parts for research.  It strains credibility to reason that this is what the Founders had in mind when they authorized spending only for debt, defense, and general welfare.

Public money is used for a multitude of things that many Americans find objectionable.  When standards for congressional spending become virtually obsolete, the financial door swings wide-open for potential abuse.  Likewise, it is not a stretch that a society that permits abortion and the use of fetal parts for research would give rise to groups looking to profit from it.  As Dr. Nucatola explained in the video, “I think for [Planned Parenthood] affiliates, at the end of the day, they’re a non-profit… if they can do a little better than break even, and do so in a way that seems reasonable, they’re happy to do that.”

What has resulted is a perfect storm of economic entropy and blurred bioethical lines, in which congressional spending is rubber-stamped and prices can be placed on human body parts.  This lethal downward trajectory of fiscal and moral standards tugs at the fabric of society in ways that is harmful to both the economy and to the culture.  It is one thing for evil to exist but it is another for that evil to be sanctioned by the government and paid for by the people.  Without dramatic financial reforms and near-unanimous condemnation of immoral actions, we can expect an exponential increase of morally objectionable activity subsidized by the taxpayers.

Ending the trafficking of aborted baby parts will not be easy, but a return to the original plan for congressional spending would be a good start.

abortion, babies, bureaucracy, congress, constitution, corruption, ethics, extremism, funding, government, greed, ideology, political correctness, politics, public policy, reform, relativism, scandal, spending, taxes

Filed under: abortion, babies, bureaucracy, congress, constitution, corruption, ethics, extremism, funding, government, greed, ideology, political correctness, politics, public policy, reform, relativism, scandal, spending, taxes

Democrats want to force everyone to pay for abortions. So much for having a choice.

Abortion opponents used to be told things like “if you don’t like abortion, don’t have one”. But Democrats want them to pay for abortions anyway. Because that’s not oppression, killing babies is health care!”

original article: Dems Propose ‘Historic’ Abortion Rights Legislation
July 8, 2015 by Laura Bassett

House Democrats proposed bold pro-abortion rights legislation on Wednesday that has no chance of passing in the GOP-controlled chamber, but highlights the massive gulf between the two parties on the hot-button issue.

The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act, or the EACH Woman Act, would guarantee abortion coverage for all Medicaid recipients and women who receive health insurance through the federal government. The bill, authored by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by more than 60 House Democrats, would repeal the decades-long ban on abortion insurance coverage for U.S. federal employees, military servicewomen, Peace Corps volunteers and those who are insured through the Indian Health Service. It would also prevent state legislatures from interfering with the private insurance market and banning insurers from covering abortion.

Specifically, the bill would overturn the Hyde Amendment, a policy rider that bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, except if a pregnancy arises from incest or rape. Anti-abortion politicians have been attaching the rider to important pieces of legislation each year since 1976, and it disproportionately affects minority and low-income women.

“Make no mistake– these lawmakers really do want to ban abortions altogether,” Lee said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Since they can’t, they employ these very devious and underhanded tactics to push abortion care out of reach for women who are really just struggling to just make ends meet, and that’s just wrong. Politicians have no business interfering with a woman’s private reproductive health decisions.”

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, 86 percent of private insurance companies covered abortion. This meant that most women who purchased private insurance plans or received health coverage through their private sector jobs had abortion coverage, while Medicaid recipients and federal employees did not. But the passage of Obamacare seemed to alert Republican lawmakers to the fact that abortion was being covered in insurance plans, and more than 20 GOP-led state legislatures have since passed laws banning private insurance companies from covering abortion.

Republicans have tried to restrict abortion in the past few years by mandating ultrasounds, placing gestational limits on abortions and imposing harsh clinic regulations. While Democrats have pushed back hard, the Hyde Amendment and other efforts to restrict the funding and coverage of abortion have slipped into law relatively easily. Republicans have successfully branded federal insurance coverage of abortion as “taxpayer-funded abortions,” and President Barack Obama has accepted the Hyde anti-abortion language in Obamacare and year after year in unrelated bills.

This year, as Republicans in Congress push to ban abortions at earlier stages of pregnancy than the limit established by the Supreme Court in 1973, House Democrats are playing offense, too, by pushing for an unprecedented expansion of abortion coverage. Planned Parenthood, one of 39 national organizations working with the All Above All coalition in support of the effort, lauded the new legislation as “historic.”

“For 40 years, the majority of Americans have been saying that abortion should be safe and legal,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “And that means it should be safe and legal for everyone – not only for those who can afford it.”

abortion, babies, bullies, cronyism, culture, Democrats, entitlements, extortion, funding, government, health care, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, reform, relativism, spending, taxes

Filed under: abortion, babies, bullies, cronyism, culture, Democrats, entitlements, extortion, funding, government, health care, ideology, left wing, liberalism, nanny state, oppression, pandering, political correctness, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, reform, relativism, spending, taxes

So gay marriage doesn’t affect anyone else, hmm?

For the short sighted members of society who think the Supreme Court’s creation of a new right (changing what marriage means) will have no effect on anyone else, here’s a great example of what “allowing gays to marry” really means: it means forcing everyone to accept it. I guess diversity of opinion is not included in the definition of diversity. So much or pluralism, and that old fashioned First Amendment thing.

original article: ABC/Univision Network Editor: Tax ‘Fanatical,’ ‘Bigoted’ Churches June 30, 2015 by Matthew Balan On Monday, Fusion senior editor Felix Salmon echoed New York Times writer Mark Oppenheimer’s call for the end of the tax exemption of religious institutions, but took it one step further: he called for the specific targeting of churches that “remain steadfastly bigoted on the subject” of same-sex “marriage.” Salmon contended on Fusion.net that “if your organization does not support the right of gay men and women to marry, then the government should be very clear that you’re in the wrong. And it should certainly not bend over backwards to give you the privilege of tax exemption.” The former Reuters financial blogger, who left in 2014 to work for Fusion (a joint project between ABC and Univision), began his article, “Does your church ban gay marriage? Then it should start paying taxes,” by underlining that “now that the US government formally recognizes marriage equality as a fundamental right, it really shouldn’t skew the tax code so as to give millions of dollars in tax breaks to groups which remain steadfastly bigoted on the subject. I’m talking, of course, about churches.” Salmon, a native of the United Kingdom, asserted that “for all that the US Constitution mandates the separation of church and state, the two do overlap in quite a few areas…One of those areas is taxation: the US government subsidizes churches to the tune of many billions of dollars per year by giving them tax-exempt status.” He added that “it’s important to note that the tax exemption for churches and other religious organizations is not embedded in the Constitution…Taxation is a purely secular affair, and by default it applies to everybody equally, whether they’re a religious institution or not.” The Fusion senior editor argued that “it would be unconstitutional to single out religious institutions to make them pay more tax than anybody else, but the government has every right to stop giving them special tax-free privileges.” But he soon contradicted himself, as he made it clear that he supported punishing “bigoted” churches who oppose same-sex “marriage:”

It’s abundantly clear that religious institutions have no right to tax exemption. Most famously, in 1983, Bob Jones University lost its tax-exempt status when it continued to ban interracial dating….In the Bob Jones case, the US government made a very important statement. It’s not enough, they said, to support the right of interracial couples to date and get married; it’s also important to register official disapproval of any organizations which fail to support that right. To be given exemption from paying taxes is a special privilege bestowed by the state on deserving organizations. But there’s nothing deserving about an organization which bans interracial dating. So, the state is entirely within its powers to remove that privilege. The same argument can and should be applied to gay marriage. If your organization does not support the right of gay men and women to marry, then the government should be very clear that you’re in the wrong. And it should certainly not bend over backwards to give you the privilege of tax exemption.

Salmon then brushed aside religious liberty concerns, and had the audacity to suggest to conservative that they should support his attack on dissenting religious groups:

We have religious freedom in this country, and any religious organization is entirely free to espouse whatever crazy views it likes. But when those views are fanatical and hurtful, they come into conflict with the views of any honorable legislator who believes in freedom and equality. And at that point, it makes perfect sense for our elected representatives to register their disapproval by abolishing the tax exemption for organizations who cling to narrow-minded and anachronistic views. Conservatives should not object. The libertarian position here is simple and clear: everybody has freedom of conscience, including religious organizations; the tax code should apply equally to all; and the government should not be in the business of “picking winners”, and deciding who does and who doesn’t qualify for tax exemptions. So, abolish tax exemption for all religious organizations, whether they support gay marriage or not. Religion is concerned with spiritual matters; when it comes to taxes, the general principle is “give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”. Which is to say, give to the country’s secular monetary authorities that which you owe in tax.

The writer concluded by claiming that “it is entirely right and proper for the state to say to a church that if you want to thumb your nose at a fundamental right which is held by all Americans, then we are not going to privilege you with tax-free status. We’ll let you practice your bigotry, at least within the confines of your own church. But we’re not about to reward you for doing so.”

Contrast Salmon’s attitude with this story:

Jorge Ramos to Ted Cruz: ‘Aren’t You Discriminating’ Against Gays by Opposing SCOTUS Ruling?
July 1, 2015 by Connor Williams

or with this one:

The Shocking Proportion of Americans Who Believe That ‘Religious Institutions or Clergy’ Should Be Forced to Perform Gay Weddings
July 1, 2015 by Billy Hallowell

or this one:

HATE WINS: OREGON STATE ISSUES GAG ORDER AGAINST OPPOSING GAY MARRIAGE
J
uly 3, 2015 by John Nolte

anti-religion, bigotry, bullies, civil rights, culture, discrimination, diversity, first amendment, freedom, hate speech, homosexuality, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, news media, oppression, political correctness, progressive, public policy, reform, regulation, relativism, taxes

Filed under: anti-religion, bigotry, bullies, civil rights, culture, discrimination, diversity, first amendment, freedom, hate speech, homosexuality, hypocrisy, ideology, intolerance, left wing, liberalism, news media, oppression, political correctness, progressive, public policy, reform, regulation, relativism, taxes

Obamacare supporters finding it harder to defend architect

White House basically lied to minimize Jonathan Gruber’s role in shaping Obamacare
June 22, 2015 by Ben Bullard

Controversial MIT economist Jonathan Gruber reportedly played key role in ObamaCare law
June 22, 2015 by Fox News

Editor says he owes GOP sources ‘an apology’ after new Gruber emails
June 24, 2015 by Fox News

Obfuscatedcare
by Snopes.com

It should be pointed out that although Gruber’s comments suggest the Obama administration relied on obfuscation, distortion, lies, and manipulations to pass the increasingly ironically named “Affordable Care Act” the reason you’ll find so many defenders of Obamacare treating this scandal like it’s no big deal is because that’s how legislation is normally passed in Congress every day. It’s not a big deal to the corrupt political machine in Washington, D.C. or to its ultra-left groupies in the news media.

bias, bureaucracy, congress, corruption, culture, Democrats, economy, energy, ethics, extremism, fraud, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, lies, nanny state, news media, pandering, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, taxes

Filed under: bias, bureaucracy, congress, corruption, culture, Democrats, economy, energy, ethics, extremism, fraud, government, health care, ideology, left wing, legislation, liberalism, lies, nanny state, news media, pandering, politics, progressive, propaganda, public policy, relativism, scandal, taxes

How did federal agency get $500M from stimulus? ‘We misled Congress’

How did federal agency get $500M from stimulus? ‘We misled Congress,’ ex-official says
June 18, 2015 by Judson Berger

On paper, it sounded like a true government success story: The Social Security Administration in September opened a “state-of-the-art” data center in Maryland, housing wage and benefit information on almost every American, “on time and under budget.”

However, six years after Congress approved a half-billion dollars for the project — the largest building project funded by the 2009 stimulus — a whistleblower says the center was built on a lie.

“We misled Congress,” Michael Keegan, a former associate commissioner who worked on the project, told FoxNews.com.

Officials originally claimed they needed the $500 million to replace their entire, 30-year-old National Computer Center located at agency headquarters in Woodlawn, Md. But Keegan says they overstated their case — the agency has no plans to replace the center, and only moved a fraction of the NCC to the new site.

Keegan’s claims were first heard last week at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing, where he testified on alleged retaliation he faced as a whistleblower. Though two watchdog agencies previously discarded his complaints, documents submitted to Congress and obtained by FoxNews.com along with congressional records appear to back him up, at least in part. They show:

1) SSA officials told Congress in 2009, and as late as 2011, they planned to “replace” the National Computer Center, using $500 million from the stimulus.

2) That never happened. Rather, the agency built a new data center called theNational Support Center, in Urbana, Md. This now houses data center functions from the National Computer Center, and is what was touted inSeptember 2014. But the original, supposedly outdated NCC continues to operate, and hundreds still work there. And transcribed depositions from Keegan’s lawsuit against the agency show top officials indeed have no plans to replace the entire NCC.

Keegan maintains the agency didn’t have to move anybody out of the NCC, and could have simply renovated the floor holding the old data center.

“The data center occupies one half of one floor in a four-story building,” he told FoxNews.com. “We didn’t need to build [the new center] to begin with.”

Agency leaders disagree, and forged ahead. Yet the records show while officials originally talked about replacing the building, there are no plans to do so now.

‘[W]e have yet to receive a coherent response from the agency as to the reasons it didn’t do what it told Congress had to be done.’

– Morris Fischer, attorney for ex-SSA official

Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin said in a deposition she “did not” know of any plan to abandon the NCC or move all its workers to another site. Other officials echoed this statement.

“After seven months, we have yet to receive a coherent response from the agency as to the reasons it didn’t do what it told Congress had to be done,” Keegan’s attorney Morris Fischer said.

Former SSA Commissioner Michael Astrue, who led the agency under President George W. Bush and for several years under President Obama, also said he’s not sure why the building isn’t being replaced entirely.

Astrue said he made the original decision to replace the NCC, toward the end of the Bush administration. He said the building was “antiquated and fraying,” and was worried a disruption in payments could send “the entire economy into recession.” A backup SSA center in North Carolina, he said, was not enough.

Astrue said his intention was to replace and phase out the NCC entirely, and disputed Keegan’s claims that Congress was misled. He maintains the proposal was the “correct decision.”

But he said he was “surprised” to learn the NCC is still in operation. He doesn’t know why.

The agency’s claims to Congress over the years were, at best, confusing.

In congressional hearings in 2009, SSA officials repeatedly said they planned to use stimulus funds to replace the NCC. In one April 2009 hearing, Mary Glenn-Croft, a deputy commissioner at SSA, said the funds “will help us process our increasing workloads and replace our aging National Computer Center.”

But officials also occasionally referred to simply building a new “data center.”

This may have given the agency just enough wiggle room.

When the Office of the Inspector General reviewed Keegan’s complaints, it concluded the SSA “did not mislead” Congress to believe the NCC wouldn’t be needed. At the same time, the OIG acknowledged SSA talked about “replacing” the center and “did not implicitly state” it would stay in use. (Further, while IG Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr., oversaw the spending, he also was among those making the case for the project, telling Congress in 2009 the NCC was “rapidly approaching obsolescence.”)

Like the OIG, the Office of Special Counsel last year also said they could not determine whether agency leaders misled Congress. Keegan disputes these findings.

The Social Security Administration has not yet responded to a request for comment from FoxNews.com.

The agency has said the new data center will meet SSA’s “anticipated IT workloads for at least the next 20 years.” The full budget for the project reportedly was about $750 million; it’s unclear what the final price tag was for the “under budget” building, or what happened to the unused money.

Keegan suspects agency leaders pushed for the new building because they saw it as a “slam dunk” once word got out in 2009 about stimulus funding. “I think every IT person wants a new toy,” he said, and they decided to go for “the whole ball of wax.”

Of the new building, he said, “It’s palatial.”

Astrue, speaking with FoxNews.com, acknowledged the offer of stimulus funds prompted his agency to make the case for the building.

“That money was going to get spent one way or the other,” he said, claiming the SSA project was more worthy than many others. “And Congress agreed.”

Keegan’s complaints are now at the center of nasty legal dispute over his treatment at the agency. As project executive for the center’s construction, he said he brought his concerns to his higher-ups, but was subsequently placed under an internal probe and relieved of his duties. He said he was confined to an empty office with little or no work to do until mid-2014, when he retired early.

bureaucracy, congress, corruption, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, politics, scandal, spending, stimulus, taxes

Filed under: bureaucracy, congress, corruption, ethics, fraud, funding, government, greed, nanny state, politics, scandal, spending, stimulus, taxes

Obama’s interference in Israeli elections included American tax dollars

President Obama’s role during the Israeli elections was larger than reported, according to a pollster for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

“What was not well reported in the American media is that President Obama and his allies were playing in the election to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu,” John McLaughlin, a Republican strategist, said in an interview on John Catsimatidis’s “The Cats Roundtable” radio show broadcast Sunday on AM 970 in New York.
“There was money moving that included taxpayer U.S. dollars, through non-profit organizations. And there were various liberal groups in the United States that were raising millions to fund a campaign called V15 against Prime Minister Netanyahu,” McLaughlin said.

He noted an effort to oust Netanyahu was guided by former Obama political operative Jeremy Bird and that V15, or Victory 15, ads hurt Netanyahu in the polls. McLaughlin said the Israeli leader rebounded after delivering a speech to Congress early this month, prompting more critical ads.

V15 was viewed as part of a broader campaign to oust Netanyahu. The group was linked to Washington-based nonprofit OneVoice Movement, which reportedly received $350,000 in State Department grants. Money to OneVoice stopped flowing in November, officials said, before the Israeli elections.

After Netanyahu’s win, V15 co-founder Nimrod Dweck said in an interview with Ronan Farrow aired on MSNBC’s “Jose Diaz-Balart” that “not a single cent” of State Department or taxpayer money had gone to their campaign.

“These are false allegations and they have nothing to do with reality,” Dweck said.

McLaughlin also cited an effort “to organize the [Israeli] Arabs into one party and teach them about voter turnout.”

“The State Department people in the end of January, early February, expedited visas for [Israeli] Arab leaders to come to the United States to learn how to vote,” McLaughlin said.

“There were people in the United States that were organizing them to vote in one party so they would help the left-of-center candidate, Herzog, that the Obama administration favored,” he added.

Already tense relations between Obama and Netanyahu escalated this week after Netanyahu’s pre-election promise to not allow a Palestinian state. He later backed down after White House criticism, though Obama suggested in an interview released Saturday he wouldn’t brush off the comments.

“They were running an ACORN, Obama Organizing for America-type campaign over there with the digital ads, the billboards, the phones. They were targeting Israeli voters,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said Saturday on Fox News’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”

“I think the president, Tuesday night, felt like he lost,” said Zeldin, who along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has questioned the Obama administration over OneVoice’s funding and nonprofit status.

original article: Netanyahu pollster: Obama role in election larger than reported
March 22, 2015 by Jesse Byrnes

corruption, Democrats, elections, foreign affairs, government, israel, left wing, liberalism, pandering, politics, president, progressive, propaganda, scandal, taxes

Filed under: corruption, Democrats, elections, foreign affairs, government, israel, left wing, liberalism, pandering, politics, president, progressive, propaganda, scandal, taxes

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