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Author Topic: Obama: Corruption, Deception, Dishonesty, Deceit and Promises Broken  (Read 82586 times)
dario73
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« Reply #1700 on: February 01, 2013, 10:03:05 AM »

What can be expected from a legislation that needed to be passed first so that then we could find out what was in it?

I blame the entire Democratic party, I blame those Republicans that made deals to allow this sham to go through and I blame the Supreme Court who made the argument for the White House to allow it to stand. Frankly, the White House didn't have any argument as to how their health reform is allowed by the constitution.

Four more years of destruction.

We told you so, suckers!!!!!!!!!!!!
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« Reply #1701 on: February 01, 2013, 01:59:22 PM »

What can be expected from a legislation that needed to be passed first so that then we could find out what was in it?
fine. so when the parts come up that dont work repeal / amend / change those parts. fine tune it.
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« Reply #1702 on: February 04, 2013, 09:38:00 AM »

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-03/obama-says-u-s-needs-revenue-along-with-spending-cuts.html


LOL - More taxes coming bitches! 
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« Reply #1703 on: February 04, 2013, 11:52:16 AM »

http://weaselzippers.us/2013/02/04/obama-misses-legal-deadline-to-submit-a-budget-white-house-says-they-have-no-idea-when-or-if-he-plans-to-release-one


Ridiculous.   Yet he blames blames blames blames everyone else.   Pathetic 
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« Reply #1704 on: February 04, 2013, 01:16:36 PM »

Treasury nominee Jack Lew accused of breaking Medicare law by Republicans
 


By Stephen Dinan
 
-
 
The Washington Times
 
Monday, February 4, 2013

Senate Republicans are sending a letter Monday to the White House budget office arguing that President Obama’s nominee to be treasury secretary, Jacob “Jack” Lew, was complicit in breaking a Medicare budget law.

The letter comes the same day that Mr. Obama officially missed another deadline in the budget law by failing to submit his blueprint on the first Monday in February. The president has only met that deadline once in his tenure.

On the Medicare funding issue, federal law requires that if the program’s funding becomes imbalanced, its trustees are required to issue a warning, and the president is required to send Congress a plan to repair the finances.

Then-President George W. Bush did just that during his time in the White House, but Mr. Obama has never filed the submission.

“The administration has failed each of the last four years to response to these funding warnings despite receiving several communications from Congress urging them to comply,” eight Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee said in a letter to the White House.

Mr. Lew was director of the White House budget office in 2010 and 2011 during the time when the Medicare submission was required, and the senators said they want to know whether he was complicit in ignoring the law.

As the head of the Treasury Department the secretary is chairman of the Board of Medicare Trustees.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, has repeatedly demanded the Obama administration comply with the Medicare law.

He and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan wrote Mr. Obama in 2011 demanding he submit the plan required by law.
 
But budget and notification laws are routinely ignored.
 
Mr. Obama has missed this year’s legal deadline for submitting a budget, blaming the late passage of the tax increase deal early last month.
 
And Congress hasn’t passed a budget since 2009, even though the Budget Act of 1974 requires it to adopt a budget resolution by April 15 every year.


Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/4/treasury-nominee-jack-lew-accused-breaking-medicar/#ixzz2JxldekNV
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« Reply #1705 on: February 05, 2013, 10:10:14 AM »

ICE ex-chief: Nondeport rules would’ve spared 9/11 hijackers



By Stephen Dinan
 
-
 
The Washington Times
 
Monday, February 4, 2013


 
The former chief of deportations in the Bush administration will testify to Congress on Tuesday that President Obama's new nondeportation policies would have let the Sept. 11 hijackers remain in the country even if they had been picked up in the months before their deadly attacks.
 
And the current chief of the union that represents Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will tell the House Judiciary Committee that ICE agents are now required to wait until most illegal immigrants have three misdemeanor convictions before they can be arrested and put in deportation proceedings.
 
"Most Americans would be surprised to know that immigration agents are regularly prohibited from enforcing the two most fundamental sections of United States immigration law," said Chris Crane, president of National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council. "According to ICE policy, in most cases, immigration agents can no longer arrest persons solely for entering the United States illegally."
 
As momentum builds in the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass a broad bill legalizing illegal immigrants, House Republicans kick off their side of the debate Tuesday with a two-part hearing looking at the need for legal immigration and reviewing Mr. Obama's record on enforcement and border security.
 
Mr. Obama's first four years were characterized by record deportations of aliens with criminal records, but fewer rank-and-file illegal immigrants being deported.
 
His administration has issued several new policies that direct agents to focus on those with serious criminal histories, and it has created a new program for illegal immigrant young adults brought here by their parents to give them official legal status.
 
His moves have won support from immigrant-rights advocates, who say he's blunted the worst abuses of a broken immigration system, but have earned derision from those who want to see a crackdown on illegal immigration.
 
The Judiciary Committee will hear from eight witnesses, including San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote address at Democratic National Convention last year, and former ICE Director Julie Myers Wood, who ran the agency for the last few years of the Bush administration.
 
Mr. Castro will tell the committee that there is bipartisan momentum for getting a bill done, and will defend the Obama administration's record.
 
"In Texas, we know firsthand that this administration has put more boots on the ground along the border than at any time in our history, which has led to unprecedented success in removing dangerous individuals with criminal records," he said in his prepared testimony.
 
But Ms. Wood will tell the committee the focus on criminals "poses a potentially serious threat to our system."
 
"It sends a message to those that seek to cause harm: if they can come in the United States illegally, but not immediately commit any additional crimes, they are likely to be left alone. Left alone to plan, take steps, cause harm," she said.
 
She said the administration policy would have overlooked "individuals like several of the 9/11 hijackers, who 'merely' lied to obtain state identification documents or on their visa applications."
 
The House hearing comes as the Republican Party is struggling with how to handle immigration.
 
Four Republican senators are working with four Democratic senators on legislation to legalize illegal immigrants. But House Republicans have been less open about how far they are willing to go.
 
"Before we rush to judgment, we need to carefully look at the current laws on the books to see what is and isn't working," said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican and the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "Reforming our nation's immigration laws is a massive undertaking and is too important to not examine each piece in detail."
 
Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, an advocacy group, said Tuesday's hearing will tell voters something about the Republicans' direction.
 
"Will this be the same old anti-immigrant wine in a new bottle? Or is the GOP finally ready to start fresh on immigration and work to rebuild its relationship with Latinos and other growing parts of the electorate?" he


Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/feb/4/ice-ex-chief-nondeport-rules-wouldve-spared-911-hi/#ixzz2K2slP63J
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« Reply #1706 on: February 05, 2013, 10:15:23 AM »


But, somehow, it is the Republicans' fault.
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« Reply #1707 on: February 06, 2013, 07:26:02 PM »


Obama to Dismantle Small Business Administration, Increase Foreign Aid

Posted: 12/21/2012 1:02 pm

 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lloyd-chapman/small-business-fiscal-cliff_b_2341324.html

 


Data from the U.S. Census Bureau tells us that small businesses are responsible for more than 90 percent of net new jobs in America. Small businesses generate more than half of the GDP, half of the private sector workforce, and 90 percent of all U.S. exporters are small businesses.

I'm concerned that while America is facing the worst economic downturn of the last 80 years, federal programs assisting small businesses could disappear -- a scenario that could play out as Congress and the president negotiate budget cuts to avoid the fiscal cliff.

President Obama has announced plans to essentially dismantle the Small Business Administration (SBA) by combining it with the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce represents the interests of our nation's largest corporate giants, not small businesses.

For more than 30 years, Fortune 500 firms, particularly in the defense and aerospace industries, have pushed to end the federal programs mandating that 23 percent of federal funds be awarded to small businesses. The easiest way to do this is to close the SBA altogether. Those big companies want 100 percent of federal contracts and subcontracts, and they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying to end federal small business programs. Combining an agency with the Department of Commerce is an easy way to get rid of that agency with minimal resistance from the public.

Small businesses won't have anyone in their corner if the Department of Commerce, with its close ties and loyalties to large corporations, absorbs the SBA. Small businesses stimulate job growth, and without a specific entity supporting them, our economy can't improve.

Following President Obama's proposal to combine the SBA and the Department of Commerce, Joe Lieberman (Ind-CT) put a bill through congress that would allow the president to combine federal agencies. But the agencies that President Obama has proposed combining are some of the smallest in Washington. I think it's quite obvious that combining the proposed agencies would have an insignificant impact on the fiscal deficit. The SBA's 2012 budget, at $985 million, is a drop in the bucket compared to what is allotted to some of the other agencies, like the $530.6 billion given to the Department of Defense for the same year. Cutting funds from bigger agencies would be the smart solution, if the real goal was to save money.

President Obama claims that combining the SBA with the Department of Commerce will save $300 million per year, but that's chump change compared to the $9 billion he wants to add to our foreign aid budget in 2013. If the goal really is to save American taxpayers some money, why is President Obama trying to close the only agency supporting the 28 million small businesses that are our nation's chief job creators, but still trying to increase our foreign aid budget?

To put things in perspective, the proposed $9 billion increase in foreign aid per year could fund the SBA for a decade.

House Speaker John Boehner (Rep-OH) recently acknowledged that small businesses create the majority of net new jobs in America and tax hikes on small businesses could cost the nation about 700,000 jobs. I predict that if President Obama does combine the SBA with the Department of Commerce, within three to five years, federal programs for small businesses will no longer be in place and Fortune 500 companies will have hijacked 100 percent of federal contracts.

President Obama's proposal to save money by combing the SBA and the Department of Commerce is ridiculous. The amount of money that will be saved by combining these small agencies will be statistically insignificant. The damage to our economy and small businesses will cost the nation millions of jobs and cause the economy irreparable harm.
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« Reply #1708 on: February 07, 2013, 02:08:38 AM »

If the Food and Drug Administration gets its way, your trip to the grocery store could get a tad pricier.

Supermarket owners argue a pending federal food-labeling rule that stems from the new health care law would overburden thousands of grocers and convenience store owners -- to the tune of $1 billion in the first year alone.

Store owner Tom Heinen said the industry's profit margins already are razor thin. "When you incur a significant cost, there is no way that that doesn't get passed on to the customer in some form," he said.

The rule stems from an ObamaCare mandate that restaurants provide nutrition information on menus. Most in the restaurant industry were supportive of the idea, but when the FDA decided to extend the provision to also affect thousands of supermarkets and convenience stores, the backlash was swift.

The proposed regulation would require store owners to label prepared, unpackaged foods found in salad bars and food bars, soups and bakery items. Erik Lieberman, regulatory counsel at the Food Marketing Institute, said testing foods for nutritional data will require either expensive software or even more costly off-site laboratory assessments.

Lieberman said failure to get it right comes with stiff penalties: "If you get it wrong, it's a federal crime, and you could face jail time and thousands of dollars worth of fines."

The FDA says much of ObamaCare is aimed at helping Americans live healthier lives, and these proposed labeling requirements would help them do just that. In the text of the proposed regulation, the FDA states: "[The information] should help consumers limit excess calorie intake and understand how the foods that they purchase at these establishments fit within their daily caloric and other nutritional needs."

An Executive Order issued by President Obama in 2011 says agencies are supposed to calculate a cost-benefit analysis for each new regulation and attempt to use the least burdensome regulatory methods possible. Critics of the FDA's food labeling proposal say the agency didn't comply.

"They are required to do it, and they didn't," Lieberman said. "They simply said, 'We can't quantify a benefit from this rule,' and that's because they really can't."

The FDA said Wednesday it has received hundreds of public comments on the proposal and will take them into consideration when finalizing the regulation. It is likely to be released later this spring, and the agency says it will "include a final economic analysis."

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2986123/posts

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« Reply #1709 on: February 07, 2013, 10:05:05 AM »

President Barack Obama’s newly-named nominee to run the Department of the Interior, REI CEO Sally Jewell, sought and received a waiver from Obamacare requirements for her outdoor clothing and equipment company in 2011.
 
The Washington Examiner’s Charlie Spiering dug up the revelation Thursday, noting that Obama welcomed Jewell to the White House in 2009 to jointly argue for the passage of Obamacare.
 


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Obama held REI up as a model company.
 
“And then REI, which has to be fit since they’re a fitness company,” Obama joked during the White House meeting on May 12, 2009, “has been doing work that allows them to provide health care coverage, health insurance, not only to their full-time employees but also their part-time employees. Every single employee is covered, but part of the reason they’re able to do it is because they put a big emphasis on prevention and wellness.”
 
Two years later, Jewell secured an exemption from the law for REI.
 
REI received an Obamacare waiver around the same time that nearly 20 percent of the businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district received waivers.
 
Follow Vince on Twitter
 


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Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/02/07/obamas-new-interior-secretary-nominee-received-obamacare-waiver-for-her-company/#ixzz2KEYiJqDF
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« Reply #1710 on: February 08, 2013, 07:48:20 PM »

Source NYT

February 8, 2013, 6:21 pmComment

Lew’s Cayman Islands Fund a Likely Issue at Confirmation Hearings
 
By JONATHAN WEISMAN





As recently as 2010, Jack Lew, President Obama‘s nominee to be the next secretary of the Treasury, had $56,000 invested in a CitiGroup venture capital fund based in the Cayman Islands’ notorious Ugland House, a building whose mailboxes are home to nearly 19,000 corporate entities, many of them tax shelters.

The investment has been in public documents for years and drew no attention when Mr. Lew was confirmed to be deputy secretary of state in 2009 and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2010.

But the fund is coming to light as Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats are zeroing on taxes lost to off-shore entities, including hedge funds, as a way to stave off $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts set to begin March 1.

Aides in both parties said it was quite likely to come up during his confirmation hearing Wednesday. Senate Democrats are struggling to come up with a package of spending cuts and tax loophole closings that could stave off the automatic spending cuts — known as sequestration — for at least three months. Tax breaks for hedge fund managers and offshore tax shelters are a prime target.

The Finance Committee held hearings in 2008 burrowing in on Ugland House, a nondescript white building in George Town, Cayman Islands, that shelters a bewildering number of corporate headquarters.

“Today we will take a look at some ostensibly crowded halls, those of the Ugland House in the Cayman Islands,” Senator Max Baucus of Montana, the committee’s chairman, said, opening the hearing. “That is a remarkable five-story building that the G.A.O. tells us has some 18,857 tenants. Today we will examine whether many of those tenants are feasting at America’s taxpayers’ expense.”

Mr. Lew divested himself of the CitiGroup Venture Capital International Growth Partnership in 2010. When confirmed as budget director in 2010, he sold the investment at a loss, for $54,418.

“Jack Lew paid all of his taxes and reported all of the income, gains and losses from the investment on his tax returns,” said Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman. “The existence of Mr. Lew’s investment is not news to the Senate. Mr. Lew disclosed the investment in his prior confirmations, before three separate committees. There are no new facts that provide a basis for senators to reach a different conclusion about Mr. Lew’s nomination than they reached twice before in this administration.”

Mr. Lew did not create, manage or operate the fund, officials said. Republican aides did not suggest any illegality or tax cheating with the disclosure. Indeed, Republicans on the Finance Committee had leaped to the defense of Henry Paulson, President George W. Bush‘s last Treasury secretary, when numerous Cayman Island investments surfaced during his confirmation.

Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, then the Finance Committee’s ranking Republican, accused the president of hypocrisy.

“President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments,” Mr. Grassley said. “He called Ugland House ‘either the biggest building or the biggest tax scam on record.’ That makes this Cayman Islands investment of his top official and now Treasury secretary nominee worthy of attention. The irony is thick. Members of the Finance Committee will question Mr. Lew about his foreign investments at the hearing.”
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« Reply #1711 on: February 11, 2013, 06:56:51 AM »

Obama weighing executive actions on housing, gays and other issues
By Zachary A. Goldfarb, Published: February 10
President Obama is considering a series of new executive actions aimed at working around a recalcitrant Congress, including policies that could allow struggling homeowners to refinance their mortgages, provide new protections for gays and lesbians, make buildings more energy-efficient and toughen regulations for coal-fired power plants, according to people outside the White House involved in discussions on the issues.

One of the first orders is expected this week, when the Obama administration will call for the creation of new standards on what critical private-sector companies should do to protect their computer systems from hackers.

The moves underscore Obama’s increasingly aggressive use of executive authority, including 23 administrative actions on gun violence last month and previous orders that delayed deportations of young illegal immigrants and will lower student loan payments.

These and other potential actions suggest that Obama is likely to rely heavily on executive powers to set domestic policy in his second term. One White House official said that while the president does not see the actions as substitutes for more substantial legislation, he also wants to move forward on top priorities.

But the approach risks angering Republican lawmakers in Congress, who say they are leery of granting the executive branch too much power and have already clashed with Obama over the issue. In a ruling last month, a federal appeals court said Obama exceeded his constitutional powers in naming several people to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was on a break.

“It is a very dangerous road he’s going down contrary to the spirit of the Constitution,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a recent interview. “Just because Congress doesn’t act doesn’t mean the president has a right to act.”

The administration declined to provide details on timing of the possible actions; one White House official said the moves to boost housing, retrofit buildings, offer same-sex protections or issue new environmental rules were not imminent. Obama may touch on some of the actions in broad terms during his State of the Union address Tuesday, but he is unlikely to lay them out in detail.

One of the more significant moves under consideration is in housing. Obama is weighing whether to use his executive authority to give more of the country’s nearly 11 million struggling homeowners a chance to refinance at today’s ultra-low interest rates, according to the Treasury Department and others in talks with the administration on the issue.

Obama already has used his executive powers to make refinancing easier for people with loans backed by government-financed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. But the new plan could extend the opportunity to people who are underwater on their privately backed mortgages, which have not been eligible for the same relief.

The plan, if adopted, would likely be aimed at homeowners who have otherwise kept up with their mortgage payments but have been unable to refinance because the loan against their home exceeds its depressed value. Many Republicans in Congress have balked at the idea amid concerns over the cost to taxpayers.

Michael A. Stegman, a senior Treasury Department official, said late last month that the administration would “consider non-legislative means at our disposal to help responsible . . . homeowners access these low rates.” But he added, “the legislative route would be preferable.”

The White House is also reviewing whether the president should issue an executive order offering protections to gays and lesbians who work for government contractors. Obama decided against issuing such an order during the presidential campaign last year, disappointing many gay-rights activists.

But two people familiar with White House thinking said the president may reverse that decision and issue the order if Congress does not pass broader legislation offering protection for gays in the workplace.

In trying to slow climate change, Obama is considering acting through the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new rules governing carbon emissions by existing power plants, according to three people familiar with White House discussions. The move would face fierce corporate opposition but is among the top goals of environmentalists.

The executive order calling for new cybersecurity standards would apply to industries such as transportation that are regulated by executive branch agencies. It also would increase the amount of computer threat data that the government shares with companies.

Throughout his first term, Obama turned frequently to the use of executive powers in the national-security arena, pursuing a campaign to overturn Libya’s government and making use of drones to kill suspected terrorists overseas. Lawmakers of both parties have sparred with the administration this week over secretive anti-terrorism programs employing drone strikes and targeted killings.

Obama’s moves on domestic policies began more recently after he concluded that Republicans in Congress were unlikely to pass many of the major items on his agenda.

Under the slogan “We Can’t Wait,” Obama took actions beginning in late 2011 to boost the housing market, lower payments on student loans and delay deportation of young illegal immigrants. He also installed key officials in regulatory agencies without congressional approval, producing loud complaints from Republicans.

In the months ahead, some people close to the White House said Obama must weigh the prospect of making progress on his priorities with the risk that acting aggressively could hurt the chances for more substantial legislation on Capitol Hill.

“That has to be part of an analysis of what are his powers under the Constitution and statutes of the United States,” said John D. Podesta, a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton, who used executive actions in the face of a hostile Congress in his second term. “I think given where he wants to go and where Congress has blocked and stalled and Republicans are recalcitrant to do anything . . . he’s going to move.”

In the realm of economic policy, Obama may expand a program — the Better Buildings Initiative — which seeks to hire workers to rehab federal and private-sector buildings to make them more efficient. Officials say the cost of the program is offset by energy savings.

On climate change, EPA is due this spring to issue final carbon-emission regulations for new power plants, using powers under the Clean Air Act. But Obama is also considering moving beyond that effort toward regulating carbon emissions from existing power plants.

A more ambitious plan to develop a market-based system known as “cap and trade” to control carbon emissions died in his first term, and appears unlikely to resurface soon.

On social policy, Obama is reconsidering whether to issue an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. When he decided not to issue such an order last year, the White House said it would prefer to pass a law applying to gays and lesbians in the workplace.

But if Congress seems unlikely to act on the broader legislation — called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — officials have signaled to people working on the issue outside the administration that the president would likely consider issuing an executive order, which can only affect government contractors.


Ellen Nakashima contributed to this report.





Time to impeach this asshole 
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« Reply #1712 on: February 11, 2013, 03:13:33 PM »

Wheels coming off

ObamaCare policies will cost more, cover far fewer than promised
By BETSY MCCAUGHEY
Last Updated: 11:48 PM, February 10, 2013
Posted: 10:29 PM, February 10, 2013


 


Betsy McCaughey

The central parts of ObamaCare don’t roll out until 2014, but the wheels are already falling off this clunker. The latest news from four federal agencies is that 1) insurance will be a lot less affordable than Americans were led to expect, 2) fewer people than promised will get insurance and 3) millions of people who have coverage through a job now will lose it, thanks to the president’s “reforms.” Oh, and children are the biggest victims.

The Affordable Care Act is looking less and less affordable.

Start with the IRS’s new estimate for what the cheapest family plan will cost by 2016: $20,000 a year to cover two adults and three kids. And that will only cover 60 percent of medical bills, so add hefty out-of-pocket costs, too.
 


The next surprise is for parents who thought their kids would be covered by an employer. Sloppy wording in the law left that unclear until last week, when the IRS ruled that kids won’t be covered.

Starting in 2014, the law will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer coverage or pay a penalty. “Affordable” coverage, that is — meaning the employee can’t be told to contribute more than 9.5 percent of his salary. For example, a worker earning $40,000 a year cannot be required to pay more than $3.800.

But the law doesn’t specifically mandate family coverage — and now the administration says that won’t be required.

You can see why: If the lowest-cost family plan (again, two adults and three kids) is to run a whopping $20,000, and if the employee’s contribution is limited to $3,800, the employer’s tab would be $16,200 — adding about $7.40 an hour to the cost of that employee. Wisely, the IRS announced on Jan. 30 that employers won’t have to pay for dependents.

But the Congressional Budget Office’s much-cited prediction that ObamaCare would leave only 30 million people uninsured by 2016 was based on the assumption that kids would be covered by employers. At the very least, employers insuring their workers for the first time to avoid the penalty are unlikely to do that.

So how will the kids be covered? They won’t. The IRS shocked the law’s advocates by announcing that the insurance exchanges won’t provide subsidies for a child whose parent is covered at work.

Nor will these parents be penalized for not insuring their children — the IRS will kindly consider the kids exempt from the mandate.

Also exempt are millions of people who’ll stay uninsured because their state is wisely choosing not to loosen Medicaid eligibility.

Some background: Despite President Obama’s promises to help solve the problem of the uninsured by making private health plans more affordable, the law expands coverage mainly by forcing states to loosen their Medicaid eligibility rules. But the Supreme Court ruled that the feds can’t command states in this way.

At first, the CBO said that ruling would only prevent 4 million people from gaining coverage — but more states than it expected are refusing to go along; it could well be 8 million more without coverage.

Oh, and the CBO last week also doubled its previous estimate on how many people will lose the health coverage they now get through work, upping the figure to 8 million by 2016 and 12 million by 2019. Several top consulting firms put the figures even higher.

Yet the biggest setback is that most states are refusing to set up insurance exchanges. The exchanges are supposed to sell the government-mandated plans and hand out taxpayer-funded subsidies to most enrollees.

Here’s the glitch. The law says that in states that refuse, the federal government can set up an exchange. But the law empowers only state exchanges, not federal ones, to hand out subsidies. The Obama administration says it will disregard the law and offer subsidies in all 50 states anyway, but the case will likely go to the Supreme Court.

If the courts uphold the clear language of the law, then some 8 million people in the affected states won’t be eligible for subsidies to cover that $20,000 (or more) insurance bill. That’s another 8 million without coverage.

All in all, at least 40 million people could be uninsured in 2016, only 9 million fewer than before the law was passed.

Expect the momentum for repealing this law to grow as its flaws, perverse incentives and faulty predictions come to light.

Betsy McCaughey is the author of “Beating ObamaCare.”
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« Reply #1713 on: February 11, 2013, 03:48:00 PM »

Obama’s hypocrisy on Jack Lew
By Marc A. Thiessen, Monday, February 11, 8:01 AM
In a brutal campaign ad last year, Barack Obama showed Mitt Romney warbling “America the Beautiful” while pictures of a sandy beach appeared and the ad declared: “He had millions in a Swiss bank account . . . tax havens like Bermuda … and the Cayman Islands.” It concluded: “Mitt Romney’s not the solution. He’s the problem.”

Well, apparently someone else is part of the “problem”: Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, Jack Lew.

It turns out Lew had $56,000 invested in a Citigroup venture capital fund based in . . . wait for it . . . the Cayman Islands. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a member of the Finance Committee before which Lew will soon appear, declared, “The irony is thick,” pointing out that “President Obama has been almost obsessively critical of offshore investments.”

Grassley is right. Just last week, during a “60 Minutes” interview before the Super Bowl, Obama declared, “When you look at some of these deductions that certain folks are able to take advantage of, the average person can’t take advantage of them. The average person doesn’t have access to Cayman Island accounts.”

It’s a recurring theme for the president. In a 2009 speech, Obama focused his ire on “a building in the Cayman Islands that had over 12,000 businesses claim this building as their headquarters” — a building called Ugland House. Obama said, “And I’ve said before, either this is the largest building in the world or the largest tax scam. And I think the American people know which it is: The kind of tax scam that we need to end.”

Well, guess who was involved in the “largest tax scam” in the world? Jack Lew. According to the New York Times, Lew’s Cayman Islands fund was based in “the notorious Ugland House, a building whose mailboxes are home to nearly 19,000 corporate entities, many of them tax shelters.”

Someone else who was deeply concerned about Ugland House is the man who will consider Lew’s nomination, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). In a 2008 hearing, Baucus said of Ugland House, “Many of those tenants are feasting at America’s taxpayers’ expense.” Now he must decide whether to confirm one of those tenants as our next secretary of the Treasury.

Lew’s defenders point out that his investment was “only” $56,000. Well, $56,000 may be a small amount in Washington and on Wall Street, but it is more than the annual income of the typical American family. They say that he sold his Cayman holdings for a loss three years ago. But Lew divested himself and sold his investment for a loss only when confirmed as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Before that, even as a senior State Department official, he had no problem parking his money offshore.

Democrats point out that Republican Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson also had investments in the Cayman Islands and that Republicans did not view this as disqualifying. But the ethics of investing in the Cayman islands is not the issue here. The issue is Obama’s hypocrisy.

Obama excoriated his opponent in last year’s election as being unfit for office for having such investments. So by Obama’s own standard, shouldn’t Lew be considered unfit for office as well? Obama specifically called the investment Lew held the world’s biggest “tax scam.” Should the man responsible for U.S. tax policy be someone the president says was involved in a “tax scam”? Someone the Democratic Senate Finance Committee chairman says was “feasting at America’s taxpayers’ expense”?

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, pointed out that Lew broke no laws and “paid all of his taxes and reported all of the income, gains and losses from the investment on his tax returns.” But last year Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said that while Romney had not technically broken any laws by keeping his money in offshore tax havens, “is not technically breaking the law a high-enough standard for someone who wants to be president of the United States?” Well, is not technically breaking the law a high-enough standard for someone who wants to be secretary of the Treasury?

Investing in the Cayman Islands does not make Lew unfit to be Treasury secretary. But it does make him unfit to be Obama’s Treasury secretary.

Read more from Marc Thiessen’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook.
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« Reply #1714 on: February 12, 2013, 06:37:25 AM »

NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE          www.nationalreview.com           PRINT







Obama’s Hypocritic Oath


By Victor Davis Hanson

February 12, 2013 4:00 A.M.

 




Barack Obama has a habit of identifying a supposed crisis in collective morality, damning the straw men “them” who engage in such ethical lapses, soaring with rhetorical bromides — and then, to national quiet, doing more or less the exact things he once swore were ruining the country. Washington will always be a city of hypocrisies, as one would expect when astronomical amounts of money and political power collide. What is striking about the recent disclosures about Obama’s tenure is not that his embarrassments are all that different from embarrassments of other administrations, but that they are at odds entirely with almost everything Obama has professed. And that realization is starting to damage his presidency as much as its actual shortcomings.
 
Take the recent drone memo and the context in which it was leaked. When Harold Koh was dean of the Yale Law School, he used to berate the Bush administration for its supposedly criminal anti-terrorism policy. He went so far as to call President Bush “torturer in chief.” But as State Department legal counsel in the Obama administration, a metamorphosed Koh and others gave President Obama the go-ahead to up the Predator-drone kill tally tenfold over the Bush administration’s, and insisted that it was legal to kill American citizens suspected of al-Qaeda affiliations.
 
The centerpiece of Obama’s 2008 campaign was the simultaneous unlawfulness and superfluity of the Bush anti-terrorism protocols. But Obama embraced most of them while failing to implement any of his supposed correctives — such as trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York City courtroom, transferring Guantanamo inmates to prisons within the United States, and subjecting CIA agents to scrutiny for their enhanced interrogations. So what are we now left with? Historians will see American anti-terrorism policy post 9/11 as a Bush-Obama continuum — albeit with a vast expansion of targeted assassinations by the civil libertarian and Nobel laureate Obama. Oddly, there has never been any acknowledgment by the administration that Obama adopted the policies of his predecessor that he had once damned, much less that in the case of drone assassinations he far exceeded them, while most of his own innovations were quietly dropped.
 
Obama also promised a radical reform, both legal and spiritual, of the big-money nexus between Wall Street and the federal government. He especially jawboned firms that had taken federal bailout money and then given big bonuses to executives who had overseen losses — while he made frequent promises of implementing fair-share taxation and ending offshore tax avoidance, lobbyists in government, and the revolving door. Obama’s two appointments to the position of secretary of the Treasury scarcely meet his rhetorical flourishes. Timothy Geithner was a confessed tax dodger in a fashion that was both trivial and selfish. Treasury designate Jack Lew took a million-dollar bonus while a grandee at Citigroup, an ailing company that was a recipient of massive infusions of federal cash. Recent disclosures suggest that Lew had Caribbean offshore investments in the very Potemkin building in the Caymans that Obama so dramatically derided as symptomatic of 1-percenter pathology. Former budget director Peter Orszag went from the administration into a six-figure job at Citigroup. By Washington standards, none of this is unusual; but by the standard of Obama’s own sanctimonious rhetoric it is shocking.
 
Until the advent of the Obama administration, Bush was sharply criticized for adding $4 trillion to the national debt over eight years. His defense that he inherited a recession, that 9/11 sent the economy into a tailspin, and that he was funding two wars fell on deaf ears. Likewise, Bush’s explanation that, as a percentage of GDP, his deficits (on average 3.4 percent of GDP) over eight years were smaller than either Reagan’s (4.2 percent) or his father’s (4.3 percent) likewise was ignored. Yet Obama in just four years borrowed a trillion dollars more than Bush had in eight, and set a peacetime record of serial deficits averaging 8.7 percent of GDP. The problem is not just that Obama took a model of reckless spending and doubled it in half the time — Washington is full of wild spenders, both Democratic and Republican — but that Obama was zealous in his castigation of Bush’s much lower spending (“unpatriotic”) and strident in his vows to stop the borrowing, going so far as to vote against the debt ceiling while in the Senate and to promise as president to halve the deficit by the end of his first term.
 
It is hard to blame the president when the huge U.S. economy is showing a weak pulse. But Barack Obama did just that in repeatedly damning Bush for the 2007–09 recession. He is now in his fifth year of governance, and the economy has not seen a single month with the unemployment rate below 7.8 percent, when in the prior eight years there was not one month of unemployment above 7.8 percent. After over $5 trillion borrowed, by the end of Obama’s first term, the economy was contracting and unemployment was higher than when he began his presidency.
 
One of the keystones of Obama’s promised reset foreign policy was the premise that George Bush’s obstinacy had needlessly antagonized our enemies like Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela — and, in fact, most of the Arab world. But at the beginning of his second term, Iran refuses even to talk with his administration as it presses ahead with its nuclear program. North Korea just issued a video of an envisioned nuclear strike on New York City. And Syria has suffered 60,000 killed in a cruel civil war. Obama campaigned on the bad war in Iraq and the good war in Afghanistan, but when he entered office the war in Iraq was over, in terms of American losses, while the Afghan war was about to explode, costing more American lives since the end of 2008 than it had in the prior seven years since 2001. Add in the Benghazi disaster and the spread of Islamic extremism across North Africa from Egypt to Mali, and one could argue that the world is a more dangerous place than it was when George Bush left office. Presidents cannot be blamed for such events, but they can be called out for their hypocrisy when they have made the case that prior presidents were in fact culpable for chaos abroad.
 
There is a pattern here, and the list could be expanded: the Affordable Care Act, which will send health-insurance premiums skyrocketing; the bragging about new oil and gas development that came despite, not because of, administration action; the moralizing about the selfish and high-living 1 percent amid the president’s vacationing at Martha’s Vineyard, lavish entertaining, and golfing at tony links; and the platitudes about a new civility and a new politics while raising record amounts of money in order to blacken Mitt Romney as a sexist, racist, veritable crook, and near killer.
 
In 2008 Obama was not just a fierce critic but a sanctimonious critic of just the sorts of practices and protocols that he has later embraced. Why? Partly, Senator Obama was inexperienced and really believed that the presidency would be as easy a task as had been his opportunistic brief tenure as a senator. Partly, because during the 2007–08 campaign the media never asked questions of Obama in the manner that they did other candidates, he naturally assumed, quite correctly, that they were so invested in his symbolism that they would never critique him when he was president. And partly, as a man of the Left Obama believed that the means really are justified by the ends — and so the reactionary Bush should be judged by standards that can hardly apply to the egalitarian progressive Obama.
 
Will the abject hypocrisy continue for another four years? There is no reason to believe that Obama has become more circumspect and now understands that he cannot meet the very expectations he demanded of others, or that the media will try to salvage their tattered reputation by applying the same scrutiny to Obama that they did to others. But who knows — in 2016 we may see a young charismatic senator like the Barack Obama of 2007 who creates a messianic persona through hypnotizing the media, insisting that the incumbent is an utter failure, and promising “hope and change.”
 
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His The Savior Generals will appear in the spring from Bloomsbury Books.
 
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« Reply #1715 on: February 12, 2013, 06:53:02 AM »


Obama Called Cayman Island Investments 'The Biggest Tax Scam on Record'


4:02 PM, Feb 11, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER


In the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama called Cayman Island investments "the biggest tax scam on record." Now, in 2013, President Obama has nominated Jack Lew, who had $56,000 in Cayman Island investments, to be the next secretary of Treasury.
 
Here's Obama making the claim in 2008:
 


And here's the New York Times the other day reporting on Lew's investments:


As recently as 2010, Jack Lew, President Obama‘s nominee to be the next secretary of the Treasury, had $56,000 invested in a CitiGroup venture capital fund based in the Cayman Islands’ notorious Ugland House, a building whose mailboxes are home to nearly 19,000 corporate entities, many of them tax shelters.
 
The investment has been in public documents for years and drew no attention when Mr. Lew was confirmed to be deputy secretary of state in 2009 and director of the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2010.
 
But the fund is coming to light as Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats are zeroing on taxes lost to off-shore entities, including hedge funds, as a way to stave off $1 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts set to begin March 1.
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« Reply #1716 on: February 12, 2013, 08:51:31 AM »

Obama's Mortgage Crisis Working Group Falls Short Of Billing


Posted: 02/12/2013 1:32 am EST  |  Updated: 02/12/2013 8:32 am EST



WASHINGTON -- Hours before last year's State of the Union address, the Obama administration offered The Huffington Post an exclusive. During his speech, President Barack Obama would announce a new law enforcement unit aimed at exposing and prosecuting financial fraud behind the housing crisis. The unit would be co-chaired by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a progressive champion who'd been pressuring the White House to get tougher on banks.

"This is a big achievement and something the entire progressive advocacy community wanted [with respect to] housing policy," a White House official said back then.

A year later, progressives said they consider the panel a disappointment and, possibly, a diversion to placate Schneiderman and homeowner advocates. The Justice Department said it doesn't know what the fuss is about.

"You described it as a unit that was announced to great fanfare," said Tony West, the number three man in the Justice Department, in an interview. "A lot of people have the misimpression that this is some type of prosecutorial department that was set up. What the working group is is exactly that. It is part of the financial fraud enforcement task force. It doesn't stand alone."

People could be forgiven for the misunderstanding. During his State of the Union address, Obama announced that the "special unit" of federal prosecutors and state attorneys general would investigate "the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages." The unit, he added "will hold accountable those who broke the law ... and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans."

Schneiderman's working group, critics said, has not lived up to that billing.

"I do not see much of a result," said former Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), a bank critic who was considered by Schneiderman as a possible executive director of the working group. "It certainly has not had the ambition that it was touted as having a year ago. And it's certainly not had the resources that it was touted as having. It has certainly not been the core commission of this financial crisis."




The unit, known officially as the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group, was not without accomplishment. At the time it was announced, Schneiderman was withholding support for a settlement between the U.S., state attorneys general and banks. The administration offered a deal: If he would drop his opposition to the settlement, he'd be granted additional investigative resources as part of a new unit that the president would unveil during the biggest speech of the year.

The White House said, "'We have to calm down the left. Let's create this thing and have another bite of the apple,'" said a high-level source familiar with the task force's development.

But anyone who has bobbed for apples knows they can be tough to bite. Shortly after the deal was announced, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the lead advocate of the settlement and a Schneiderman rival, said publicly that his New York counterpart had been taken for a ride. Indeed, the deal came with an inherent catch-22: Schneiderman's leverage had come from his resistance to the settlement. Once he agreed to it, he found himself with less power. Top progressives interviewed for this story who know and like Schneiderman offered the same conclusion: He got played.

In its first months, the working group suffered several hiccups. The first was an absence of resources -- money and staff -- to conduct thorough investigations. When staffers eventually arrived, the task force still had to confront a haphazard inter-agency framework and leaders with wildly different approaches. A lack of cohesion between the groups and the absence of a single figure to, as the high-level source put it, "herd cats," made it difficult to build strong cases.

Attitudes towards the working group eventually changed. Early on, it had a reserve of good will.

"There were articles at the time from people who seemed to be in the know -- Mike Lux, Bob Kuttner, R.J. Eskow -- saying let's give this securitization task force a shot," said Miller. "This could be the core commission of this financial crisis, the thorough high profile investigation that never happened."

Today, those liberal champions have soured.

"We all wanted more resources applied to this," said Lux, a Democratic strategist who served as Obama's liaison to the progressive community during the transition. "We all wanted Schneiderman to work with DoJ because DoJ could provide the resources. We all thought it was good that there was this effort. We were demanding a deeper and broader investigation and we thought we got one. It turned out they didn't give that to us."

"I think Schneiderman is an honorable and a strong advocate, so I think he's been enormously frustrated by the barriers put up around him, when clearly this was a policy driven by a Justice Department that wanted to prop up the banks and an attorney general that doesn't have a pulse," said Robert Borosage of the liberal group Campaign for America's Future, who argued at the time of the settlement that the success of the unit would determine how smart a bargain it had been for progressives.

Simon Johnson, a Schneiderman backer and former top economist at the International Monetary Fund, said "it’s hard to see the progress so far as particularly impressive."

For defenders of the task force, these criticisms are taken in stride. It takes time to carry out investigations and critics were making judgements based off a tight calendar. Several cases were launched in the fall of 2012, suggesting that the task force may, indeed, just be revving up.

"Stay tuned," said West. "I think it has been quite a good process. If you could see the investigative matters that I know are underway and which we will see coming to fruition I think in the near term future, and if you could sort of see the talented folks i see ... working on these matters than maybe your view would be what mine is: That it worked out quite well."

In November, for example, Schneiderman's office filed a Martin Act complaint against Credit Suisse Securities LLC, alleging "fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions" to promote the sale of junk mortgage securities to investors. West said 15 Justice Department attorneys helped with the investigation and U.S. attorneys from around the country conducted 40 investigative interviews.

"It has worked out exactly the way, frankly, that we wanted to, which is identify those promising investigations and try to share information and data in a way that would enhance our ability to move those forward," said West.

But Borosage argued that Schneiderman would have filed the case regardless. And Miller said it was largely "copied and pasted" from a separate private lawsuit.

That same month, the SEC brought charges against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, alleging it misled investors in residential mortgage-backed securities. The Justice Department also pointed to SEC charges against Credit Suisse Securities for misleading investors on residential mortgage-backed securities and another Martin Act lawsuit against J.P. Morgan by Schneiderman's office as evidence of the task force's growing activity.

The accomplishments that West cites may be notable. But for critics, there is always the question of whether more could have been done.

"There was a period of probably about month Schneiderman was pushing to get the task force going, while the statute of limitations were ticking," Miller said. "He seemed to be trying to get the task force to sit down, to pick an executive director, decide on staffing. He even looked at office space himself and he could not get a clear answer from any other members of the task force involved."

When the group did begin to ramp up, it struggled to manage different, often conflicting, objectives. The working group partner agencies include more than 10 state attorneys general offices (in addition to Schneiderman), the Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD’s Office of Inspector General, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Federal Reserve Board’s Office of Inspector General, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network

According to those involved in putting together cases, officials at the SEC were naturally disposed to striking quick settlements rather than carrying out long-term investigations. The Justice Department, meanwhile, was worried about shaking a recovering housing market and fragile banks.

Lux, in particular, pointed an accusatory finger at working group co-chairman Lanny Breuer, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department Criminal Division, who has said he will leave his post next month.

"Lanny wanted to go back to a law firm that represented banks after he was done," said Lux. "He didn't want to prosecute the banks." After struggling with whether to be quoted leveling such a personal charge, Lux became comfortable with his gripes. "Come to think of this, this can all be on the record. I don't give a f--k."

Breuer did not respond to an email request for comment. But in a September 2012 speech before the New York bar, he did express worry that "innocent employees" could lose their jobs if indictments caused a bank to fail.

"In reaching every charging decision, we must take into account the effect of an indictment on innocent employees and shareholders," Breuer said "Those are the kinds of considerations in white collar crime cases that literally keep me up at night, and which must play a role in responsible enforcement."

Breuer's sleep notwithstanding, West said that the working group aggressively follows the evidence regardless of where it leads. "We don't hesitate to be aggressive, to be creative, to be careful but resolute in bringing cases against institutions or individuals that we need to hold accountable," he said when asked about Breuer's prosecutorial philosophy. "It's as simple as that."

Or not so simple. After the interview, a Justice Department representative who sat in on the interview, emailed HuffPost a section of the U.S. Attorney's Manual on "collateral consequences." It says, "Prosecutors may consider the collateral consequences of a corporate criminal conviction or indictment in determining whether to charge the corporation with a criminal offense and how to resolve corporate criminal cases."

Whether driven by Breuer's presence or not, the working group suffered from what the high-level source called "leaked leverage." With different actors wanting slightly different outcomes, it closed cases that may have potentially been made bigger. Among those cited include one last month, when the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Reserve reached a $8.5 settlement with 10 U.S. banks on charges of foreclosure abuses.

West said that members of the working group were aware the OCC settlement was in the works and had "discussions and conversations" about it. He insisted it's too early to judge the working group based on the settlements of the past year. On several occasions, he said he was unable to discuss the cases being currently put together, raising the tantalizing prospect that something impressive is coming. The Justice Department also noted that there are more than 200 lawyers, investigators and analysts now helping the working group do its investigative work, including a coordinating team of 12 based in D.C. that includes criminal prosecutors and FBI investigators.

Perhaps the strongest signal that the working group's best days may be ahead is that Schneiderman stands by the unit announced in his name.

"Our legal actions are part of an unprecedented collaboration to bring accountability for the misconduct that led to the collapse of the housing market. No matter what obstacles or bureaucratic challenges we bump up against, we will continue to press forward aggressively," Schneiderman said in a statement to the Huffington Post.
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« Reply #1717 on: February 13, 2013, 07:04:40 AM »

Obama to Pope: 'I have appreciated our work together over these last four years'
 Life Site News ^ | Feb 11, 2013 | Ben Johnson

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 6:44:10 AM by IbJensen

Obama to Pope: 'I have appreciated our work together over these last four years' President Barack Obama has released a statement on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and, as usual, it's all about himself. In three spartan sentences, he manages to use the word “I” four times.

The use of the first-person singular is Obama's own Holy Tradition, a hallmark of both his rhetoric and his governing style. His administration is a Magisterium of one.

Nonetheless, one line is particularly galling: “Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years.”

That mutual work has consisted of:

•Stripping the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops of federal grants to fight sex trafficking, because the USCCB would not refer patients for abortion;

• Forcing Catholic non-profits and laity to violate their faith by financing abortifacients at home and abortion around the world;

• Publicly advocating the redefinition of the family, something the pope said just last month threatens “the future of humanity”;

•Trying to have the government decide who is a “minister,” a ploy with far-reaching implications that the Supreme Court unanimously struck down; • Reducing the “freedom of religion” to a mere “freedom of worship”; and

• Generally trying to shoehorn people of faith into a tiny, hermetically sealed box as far removed from the public square as possible.

In other words, Obama thanked himself for a four-year relationship that has been purely adversarial.

As Bill Clinton might say, that takes a lot of brass.

One is tempted to interpret Obama's strange show of appreciation as a sign of good sportsmanship, rather like opposing teams shaking hands after a basketball game. One could also detect an oblique sense of gloating, as he congratulates himself on outflanking the Church in the United States, often with the active aid and participation of the Catholic laity and hierarchy.

Compare Obama's statement with that of House Speaker John Boehner, who is Catholic:

The prayers and gratitude of American Catholics are with Pope Benedict XVI today. The Holy Father’s decision displays extraordinary humility and love for the Church, two things that have been the hallmarks of his service. Americans were inspired by his visit to the United States in 2008, and by his quiet, steady leadership of the Church in uncertain times. People of all nations have been blessed by the sacrifices he has made to sow the seeds of hope, justice, and compassion throughout the world in the name of Our Lord and Savior.

Note the reverence, the attention to the good the other person has done, the beneficial impact someone else's actions have had, and the reference to a Higher Being.

Obama essentially read the pontiff out of his own statement, indulging him only insofar as the pope happened to coincide with his interests and those of the coalition that elected him.

Note to Speaker Boehner: This is how the conservative grassroots expect you to “work together” with President Obama in his second term
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« Reply #1718 on: February 13, 2013, 08:10:38 PM »

Administration Will Spend $1.8 Billion to Build 20-Mile Railroad on 30-Mile-Wide Island (Oahu)
 Cybercast News Service ^ | February 13, 2013 | Patrick Burke

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:04:40 PM by Olog-hai

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that $1.55 billion in new federal tax dollars will be allocated for the first-ever Hawaiian Transit Rail system on the island of Oahu, which will serve downtown Honolulu, at a total federal and state cost of $5.1 billion.

The train circuit will be 20 miles long, with 21 stops on an island that is 30 miles wide. …

An additional $4 million has been obligated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”), and $209.9 million is coming from other sources within the DOT. Both the $1.55 billion and the $209.9 million are proposed funding plans, and will be contingent upon future appropriations from Congress.

The $3.358 billion of the project’s $5.1 billion total cost will derive from Hawaiian sources that include but are not limited to excise taxes paid by Oahu businesses and residents, as well as tourists. …


(Excerpt) Read more at cnsnews.com ...
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« Reply #1719 on: February 14, 2013, 12:39:31 PM »

Business

Fed Audit Reveals Tax-Payer Backed Battery Factory Hasn’t Produced or Sold a Single Battery Since Awarded Fed Grant in 2009

Feb. 14, 2013








 
A taxpayer-backed battery plant in Holland, Mich., made headlines last year after it was discovered its employees were being paid to do nothing.
 
Now LG Chem Michigan Inc., a subsidiary of South Korea’s LG Group, is back in the news after it was revealed Wednesday that it has not produced or sold a single battery since being awarded a $150 million federal grant in 2009, according to a new report by the Energy Department’s Inspector General.
 
Not a single one.
 
“LG Chem Michigan … [is] likely to miss the grant’s May 2013 deadline for completion,” Nextgov reports. “What’s more, the project created fewer than half of the projected 440 new jobs anticipated by proponents.”
 
One of the reasons LG Chem Michigan hasn’t had any success in sales is because it was created with the idea of supplying GM with batteries for what ended up being a unpopular vehicle: The Chevy Volt. Also, GM long ago decided to purchase its battery cells from LG Chem’s facilitates in South Korea instead of the one based Michigan.
 
The plant was also awarded more than $175 million in state and local tax relief.
 

President Barack Obama gives Gov. Jennifer Granholm a hug as LG Chem Ltd. Chairman Bon-Moo Koo, left, watches (AP)
 
LG Chem Michigan used large portions of its federal grant to pay employees who, in turn, watched movies and played cards because there was no work to be done.
 
“We found that work performed under the grant to LG Chem Michigan had not been managed effectively,” writes Gregory Friedman, the DOE inspector general.

 
.
 
“Our review revealed that LG Chem Michigan inappropriately claimed and was reimbursed for labor charges incurred by a variety of supervisory and staff employees for activities that did not benefit the project,” Friedman adds.
 
The Department of Energy reimbursed the company for what it now calls “questionable labor costs incurred” in Q3 2012. The inspector general was unable to “calculate the exact loss to the government because LG Chem Michigan did not track labor activities in detail,” the Detroit Free Press notes.
 
“However, based on LG Chem Michigan employee revelations, we believe it is likely that the total amount of charges that included at least some non-productive work exceeded $1.6 million, about $842,000 of which was reimbursed in accordance with its cost-sharing arrangement for the project,” the report stated.
 
Here are some of the other findings included in the report (via DFP):
 •The plant has not yet made battery cells that could be used in electric vehicles sold to the public.
 •Only about 60% of the capacity agreed to when the grant was received was constructed even though nearly $142 million of $151 million of the Energy Department’s share of the project’s funding had been spent.
 •LG Chem Michigan officials estimated the government would need to spend $22 million more to complete the five production lines called for in the agreement, an amount that would significantly exceed the remaining funds available.
 •LG Chem Michigan had significantly underestimated labor costs.
 •Documentation to support the grant indicated that production of battery cells would transition from LG Chem’s South Korean facility to the Michigan plant beginning in 2012, but that didn’t happen.
 •Less than half of the 440 expected jobs had been created to support the project.
 •The period of performance for the grant runs through May 2013. Yet, the expected benefits of the project are not likely to be realized within the originally anticipated timeframes.
 
Shortly after the federal audit, LG Chem Michigan released a statement saying it would reimburse the government $842,000 for labor costs.
 
“The company says it is taking steps to prevent such actions in the future and to comply with rules for use of federal grant money,” WKZO reports. “LG Chem says it is aware of concerns that the Holland plant has not produced batteries, but it is still committed to the future of the facility.”
 
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Inspector General declined to comment on the audit, instead citing its status as being independent from the DOE and directed TheBlaze to the DOE’s main office for further comment.
 
Neither the DOE nor LG Chem’s U.S. headquarters immediately responded to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.
 
Attempts to contact the Hollande, Mich., plant were met with busy signals.
 

President Obama greets workers in 2010, at the groundbreaking ceremony at LG Chem Michgan Inc., then known as Compact Power Inc., a battery plant in Holland, Mich. (Susan Walsh/AP)
 
Readers may recall that President Barack Obama in 2010 visited the electric battery plant to promote his administration’s clean energy agenda.
 
“Our goal has never been to create a government program, but rather to unleash private-sector growth,” Obama said. “And we’re seeing results.”
 
“This is a symbol of where Michigan’s going. This is a symbol of where Holland is going. This is a symbol of where America is going,” he added.
 
Take from that what you will.
 
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
 
Featured image AP.
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« Reply #1720 on: February 14, 2013, 12:41:32 PM »

Administration Will Spend $1.8 Billion to Build 20-Mile Railroad on 30-Mile-Wide Island (Oahu)
 Cybercast News Service ^ | February 13, 2013 | Patrick Burke

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:04:40 PM by Olog-hai

The Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that $1.55 billion in new federal tax dollars will be allocated for the first-ever Hawaiian Transit Rail system on the island of Oahu, which will serve downtown Honolulu, at a total federal and state cost of $5.1 billion.

The train circuit will be 20 miles long, with 21 stops on an island that is 30 miles wide. …

An additional $4 million has been obligated from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “stimulus”), and $209.9 million is coming from other sources within the DOT. Both the $1.55 billion and the $209.9 million are proposed funding plans, and will be contingent upon future appropriations from Congress.

The $3.358 billion of the project’s $5.1 billion total cost will derive from Hawaiian sources that include but are not limited to excise taxes paid by Oahu businesses and residents, as well as tourists. …


(Excerpt) Read more at cnsnews.com ...


I support this.   Smiley  We have about 950 million people on this island. 
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« Reply #1721 on: February 15, 2013, 07:27:58 AM »

great day for cut/paste.
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« Reply #1722 on: February 20, 2013, 02:37:39 PM »

With Election Over, Obama Announces Medicare Cuts to Fund ObamaCare
 
by Dr. Susan Berry

20 Feb 2013, 9:47 AM PDT35post a comment

During the 2012 election campaign, Democrats denied that ObamaCare made $716 billion in cuts to Medicare in order to provide funding toward $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years.
 
In an announcement on Friday, however, the Obama administration revealed that it would be significantly reducing funding for Medicare, a move that one health insurance analyst said “would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.”
 
Health insurance stocks tumbled following the announcement that a big chunk of the Medicare cuts would come from the popular Medicare Advantage program, a market-oriented system in which participants can choose coverage by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all Part A and Part B benefits.

According to health care analyst Carl McDonald, the new rates proposed by the Obama administration will have the net effect of reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans by seven to eight percent in 2014. McDonald projects:


If implemented, these rates and the program changes CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] is suggesting would be enormously disruptive to Medicare Advantage, likely forcing a number of smaller plans out of the business and creating disarray for many seniors.

According to Richard Foster, former chief actuary to the Medicare program, ObamaCare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage will likely force half of its current participants back into the old Medicare program, originated in 1965. It is estimated that this change will cost Medicare enrollees an average of $3,714 in 2017 alone.



Democrats have long been unfriendly toward the Medicare Advantage plan, which was passed as part of the Balanced Budget Amendment of 1997 and has seen tremendous growth over the past 10 years. Today, more than 25 percent of seniors receive their health benefits through Medicare Advantage.

Regarding the cuts, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni said, “Washington cannot tax and cut Medicare Advantage this much and not expect seniors to be harmed."

Last year it was revealed that, while AHIP was openly supporting ObamaCare and working on a deal with the White House, it was also secretly funneling over $100 million to the Chamber of Commerce to be spent on advertising designed to convince Americans that the new legislation should be defeated.

The administration’s proposal is open to outside comments until March 1st, ahead of the final announcement of the cuts on April 1st.
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« Reply #1723 on: February 22, 2013, 10:03:28 AM »

Obama ally got $340 million to set up health care co-ops
 The Washington Examiner ^ | February 21, 2013 | Richard Pollock

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 11:33:25



A health insurance company headed by an old friend from Obama's days as a community organizer got a $340 million federal loan to establish Obamacare co-ops in New York, New Jersey and Oregon despite having a chronic record of consumer and regulatory complaints.

The New York-based Freelancers Insurance Company has been rated the "worst" insurer for two straight years by state regulators, and data compiled by a national insurance association show an extremely high rate of consumer complaints.

The firm was founded in 2008 by Sara Horowitz, who worked with Obama before his career in elective politics to launch Demos, a left-wing, New York think tank funded in part by George Soros.

Before May 13, 2011, the Demos website described Horowitz and Obama as members of the founding group in 1999 that became "the core of Demos' staff and Board of Trustees."

Sometime between that date and Nov. 6, 2011, the Obama reference was deleted, according to cached versions of the site stored by the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

...

In 2011, the New York State Insurance Department ranked FIC last among commercial insurers with the most complaints and 49th of 50 among all the state's insurance providers, including health maintenance organizations.

In 2012, the Empire State insurance regulator again ranked Freelancers "worst" in complaints and 51st among 54 rated New York-based insurers.


(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonexaminer.com ...
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« Reply #1724 on: February 22, 2013, 10:36:31 AM »

Citigroup’s Man Goes to the Treasury Department

By Jonathan Weil Feb 21, 2013 6:30 PM ET




Jack Lew is the nominee for Treasury secretary whose own bonus as an investment banker was bailed out by the Treasury Department when it rescued Citigroup Inc. (C) in 2008. He owes much to America’s taxpayers. He should also be grateful to Citigroup for agreeing to let him rejoin the government without suffering much for it financially.

An intriguing revelation from Lew’s Senate confirmation hearing last week was that he stood to be paid handsomely by Citigroup if he left the company for a top U.S. government job, under his 2006 employment agreement with the bank. The wording of the pay provisions made it seem, at least to me, as if Citigroup might have agreed to pay Lew some sort of a bounty to seek out, and be appointed to, such a position.


 .
Lew didn’t shed much light on the subject after Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, asked him about it at the hearing. “I’m not familiar with records that were kept, so I don’t have access to things that I don’t know about,” Lew said. It wasn’t clear which records (or even which question) Lew was referring to, and Hatch didn’t press the matter.

READ: Lew Employment Agreement With Citigroup, Excerpts (PDF)

So I did some digging. I wasn’t able to find someone who would show me an entire copy of Lew’s employment agreement with Citigroup. But I did get a look at the first three pages of it, as well as a related addendum from January 2008. Here goes.

Rubin Connection

Lew was director of the Office of Management and Budget during President Bill Clinton’s administration, after which he worked at New York University as an executive and a professor. He joined Citigroup in 2006 as chief operating officer of its global wealth-management division. Lew was recommended by former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who at the time was chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee. (There seems to be an unwritten rule that every Treasury secretary must have deep ties to Rubin.) He became chief operating officer of the bank’s alternative-investments unit in January 2008.

Lew’s employment agreement with Citigroup said his “guaranteed incentive and retention award” wouldn’t be paid if he quit his job, with limited exceptions. One was if he left Citigroup “as a result of your acceptance of a full-time high level position with the United States government or regulatory body.” This applied if he left “prior to the payment of any incentive and retention award for performance year 2008 or thereafter.” Such an award wasn’t guaranteed but would be consistent with the company’s practice, the document said.

A similar provision concerned his stock-based compensation. If Lew left in 2008 or afterward to accept a high-level U.S. government position, all of his outstanding equity awards, including restricted stock, would vest immediately, the document said. Alternatively, Citigroup had the option of paying Lew the cash equivalent of any shares he forfeited upon leaving. The terms didn’t mention other kinds of public-service work, such as a midlevel U.S. government job, a position in municipal or state government, or working at a nonprofit organization such as a university.

Lew stood to receive $250,001 to $500,000 worth of accelerated restricted Citigroup stock when he left the company, according to a disclosure report he filed in January 2009. The same document listed $1.1 million of “salary and discretionary cash comp” from Citigroup. Lew said at last week’s hearing that his salary for 2008 was $350,000.

Lew was named a deputy secretary of State in 2009, Office of Management and Budget director again in 2010, and then became President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in 2012. Now he’s up for Treasury secretary, where he would play a critical role in overseeing the U.S.’s financial industry and rescuing it should another crisis ensue. Citigroup couldn’t have planned this better if it tried, which raises the natural question: Did it try?

Government Work

When I asked Citigroup what its rationale was for including the government-service exception, a spokeswoman, Danielle Romero-Apsilos, said: “Citi routinely accommodates individuals who wish to leave the firm to pursue a position in government or nonprofit sector.” I pointed out that the contract terms I was asking about didn’t mention anything about a nonprofit, but she declined to elaborate on her statement.

Later I asked Romero-Apsilos if Citigroup had a policy of providing financial incentives to senior executives to encourage them to seek high-level federal jobs. She replied: “We have no such incentives, then or now.” I’m not sure I agree with her after reading the part about government service in Lew’s “incentive and retention award.” A Treasury Department spokeswoman, Natalie Earnest, declined to comment.

It makes sense that Lew would have been thinking ahead to his next career move when he joined Citigroup in 2006. It’s also understandable that Citigroup sought to discourage Lew from joining a competitor. Why no mention of other kinds of public service, say a city hall job or returning to teaching? Why reward him for landing only a high-level U.S. government post, but not jobs such as those, which also are of high social importance?

We don’t know the whole story, except that Lew’s agreement clearly attached unique value to the possibility that he might get a top U.S. government position someday. Should that be of concern to the public? It ought to be.

(Jonathan Weil is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Jonathan Weil in New York at jweil6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this article: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.net
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