Posts Tagged ‘Business’
What on earth do a bunch of paper pushers need with AR-15′s and shotguns?
Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican Congressman from SC, has started a bit of a firestorm on Twitter. Duncan is the Homeland Oversight Chair, and during a recent tour of a DHS facility, the congressman noticed IRS (yes, the Internal Revenue Service) agents training with AR-15 style rifles.
Why you might ask? Well that’s a good question, and the congressman has the same ones. It’s been known that the Department of Homeland Security has been bulking up their guns and ammo reserves for sometime now. However, this is the first report we’ve gotten of IRS agents getting in on the action. Now, the IRS does have armed enforcement agents, and they have for a long time, but why they now need tactical training is a serious question.
Duncan said he was concerned about what he saw.
“Why do IRS law enforcement agents need standoff capability that you would have with a long rifle or with a weapon similar to an AR-15? They’re generally investigating tax evasion, fraud and money laundering. We think of the IRS as an audit agency more than doing the type of law enforcement where they have to use an AR-15.”
Duncan said the IRS has the resources of the federal government, including the FBI, if they come into a situation where they feel like they need a SWAT team.
Meet some of the everyday Americans who decided to organize groups to fight for their liberties, and found themselves the targets of an abusive, politicized IRS:
Becky Gerritson, Founder and President of Wetumpka TEA Party, Alabama:
View on YouTube
Karen Kenney of the San Fernando Valley Patriots:
View on YouTube
Dr. Karen Kenney of the San Fernando Valley Tea Party Patriots, related the madness of an intrusive questionnaire with 35 topics and 80 sub-topics, which she was expected to complete in just 20 days, under penalty of perjury. One of the questions asked her to list the ways her organization was condoning or promoting illegal activities. ”I think the IRS needs to fix its labeling machine,” Kenney said sarcastically. ”We’re the San Fernando Valley Patriots, not Occupy Oakland.”
She eventually gave up on the “costly and exhausting IRS process,” but kept her organization going with her own money and a few modest donations kept n a cake tin. ”Like patriots before us, we persevere,” she declared. ”The voice of this Republic resides in our citizens, not in the tongue of government. More must grasp that self-evident truth. This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny upon the field of our founding documents. To whisper the letters ‘IRS’ strikes a shrill note on Main Street, USA, but when this behemoth tramples upon America’s grassroots, few hear the snapping sounds.”
[...] Susan Martinek, president of the Coalition for Life of Iowa, talked about the IRS inquisition into the conduct of her group’s prayer meetings, and the “educational” content of their protest signs. She was eventually instructed by the IRS not to protest outside Planned Parenthood offices.
[...] Becky Gerritson of the Alabama Tea Party was one of several who testified that they received intimidating letters personally signed by the infamous Lois Lerner, the IRS official currently on paid administrative leave. ”This is a willful act of intimidation to discourage a point of view,” charged Gerritson. ”What the government did to our little group in Wetumpka, Alabama is un-American.”
“I’m not interested in scoring political points. I want to protect and preserve the America that I grew up in, the America that people cross oceans and risk their lives to become a part of, and I’m terrified that it is slipping away,” Gerritson testified.
Early Tuesday during a House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Jim McDermott blamed tea party groups for IRS targeting. McDermott essentially said that because conservative groups dared to apply for tax exempt status, they deserved to be targeted.
[...] Luckily, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was there to shut down his nonsense and received roaring applause in the hearing room for doing so.
The liberal media is dutifully echoing their spin:
During Tuesday’s testimony, Congressional Democrats attacked the private citizens brought before them to tell their individual horror stories. The witnesses were Tea Party groups and other conservative groups put through months of paralyzing harassment by an IRS that had intentionally singled them out based on their political beliefs.
Well, that is not the point and everyone knows it. Had the IRS put the same number of left-leaning groups through the same hyper-scrutiny as they did right-leaning groups, none of this would be happening. There would be no scandal.
But the idea here is to change the subject from the fact that the IRS singled out Obama’s political foes for paralyzing scrutiny in the run-up to Obama’s re-election campaign, to the supposed abuse of a tax exempt status by conservative political groups.
The thinking goes that if Democrats can make the Tea Party look like tax cheats it will take the heat off of Obama and further damage his opponents.
Well, right on cue, Politico arrives this morning like the cavalry with an appallingly dishonest (but expected) piece of reporting that falls right in line with what Congressional Democrats did yesterday. It is as pure a piece of coordination and left-wing propaganda as you will ever read.
And this is the only kind of investigative reporting Politico ever does. Imagine if Politico poured these same resources into investigating the IRS’s connections to the White House or the shaping of the IRS talking points by the State Department.
Got that, boys and girls? If you dare to exercise your constitutional rights, liberals believe you deserve a target on your backs.
Donors to conservative causes. Conservative activists and businesses. Pro-military donors. Christian, pro-life and pro-marriage groups. Adoptive families. Pro-Israel groups. The list of IRS victims grows by the day.
What is the administration’s response? Blame the little people, of course!
But the truth is, the little people were following orders from D.C., according to the testimony of a former IRS employee:
Q: In early 2010, was there a time when you became aware of applications that referenced Tea Party or other conservative groups?
A: In March of 2010, I was made aware.
Q: Okay. Now, was there a point around this time period when [your supervisor] asked you to do a search for similar applications?
Q: To the best of your recollection, when was this request made?
A: Sometime in early March of 2010.
Q: Did [your supervisor] give you any indication of the need for the search, any more context?
A: He told me that Washington, D.C., wanted some cases.
Q: Did anyone else ever make a request that you send any cases to Washington?
A: [Different IRS employee] wanted to have two cases that she couldn’t — Washington, D.C. wanted them, but she couldn’t find the paper. So she requested me, through an email, to find these cases for her and to send them to Washington, D.C.
Q: When was this, what time frame?
A: I don’t recall the time frame, maybe May of 2010.
Q: But just to be clear, she told you the specific names of these applicants.
Q: And she told you that Washington, D.C. had requested these two specific applications be sent to D.C.
A: Yes, or parts of them.
Q: Okay. So she asked you to send particular parts of these applications.
Q: And that was unusual. Did you say that?
Q: And she indicated that Washington had requested these specific parts of these specific applications; is that right?
The Cincinnati employee was clearly perturbed that the administration is making low-level employees the fall guys:
“It’s impossible,” an IRS employee responded to an investigator’s question about the allegations that the targeting of conservative groups was due to “two ‘rogue agents.” “As an agent we are controlled by many, many people. We have to submit many, many reports. So the chance of two agents being rogue and doing things like that could never happen.”
Answering a question about the employee’s reaction to news reports that the targeting was contained in Cincinnati and the fault of the Cincinnati office, the employee said that Washington has been throwing them under the bus.
“Well, it’s hard to answer the question because in my mind I still hear people saying we were low‑level employees, so we were lower than dirt, according to people in D.C. So, take it for what it is,” a Cincinnati IRS employee said. “They were basically throwing us underneath the bus.”
If you’re opposed to the idolatrous cult of the Messianic Nanny State, beware…the Obama administration has you in their cross-hairs.
In a blistering letter to President Barack Obama, the Rev. Franklin Graham said the IRS targeted the two non-profits he heads with an audit last year after the organizations took out ads urging people to support biblical principles on marriage and in choosing political candidates.
In the letter, dated Tuesday, Graham said in light of recent revelations that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, he does not believe the audit was “a coincidence — or justifiable.” Graham, son of famed Christian evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, now heads the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association based in Charlotte, N.C., and Samaritan’s Purse, a worldwide relief organization headquartered in Boone.
“I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us,” Graham concluded in the letter. “This is morally wrong and unethical — indeed some would call it ‘un-American.’”
James Dobson, the pro-life family advocate disclosed today that he was a victim of IRS discrimination, in a revelation that adds to the growing Internal Revenue Scandal.
Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, says he faced discrimination from the federal agency when trying to start a new group.
Family Talk Action Corporation is a Christian ministry that was formed for the purpose of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ; of providing Christ-oriented advice and education to parents and children; and of speaking to cultural issues that affect the family. Dobson is the president and CEO.
On September 2, 2011, Family Talk Action filed a Form 1024 with the Internal Revenue Service requesting § 501(c)(4) status. The attorney completing this form had submitted scores of similar applications over his 26 year career with none being rejected.
In January and February 2013, Family Talk Action’s counsel called the IRS reviewing agent, R. Medley (ID no. 52402), to inquire regarding when there would be a determination of the application. Her voice mail box was full on each of these calls so no message could be left. On March 6, he called Ms. Medley again and got routed to her voice mail again. This time, he was able to leave a voice mail message and requested a return call.
Medley did not call back until March 19. Family Talk Action’s attorney asked her when the IRS would issue its determination letter. Ms. Medley responded saying, I don’t think your Form 1024 (application for exemption) will be granted because Family Talk Action is “not educational” because it does not present all views. She continued, saying that Family Talk Action sounded like a “partisan right-wing group” because, according to Ms. Medley, it only presents conservative viewpoints.
She then added, “you’re political” because you “criticized President Obama, who was a candidate.”
Dobson and Graham weren’t the only targets during the 2012 campaign:
The Biblical Recorder, the official news journal for North Carolina Southern Baptists, found itself in the same situation in March – audited for the first time since the Baptist newspaper was founded in 1833.
The newspaper garnered national attention last summer after Editor Allan Blume published an interview with Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy. In reference to his support of the traditional family, Cathy said he was “guilty as charged.”
The Biblical Recorder also published the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s ads affirming traditional marriage.
And then – came the telephone call from the Internal Revenue Service.
“It raised some red flags and made me wonder why we were being targeted for an audit when we have been around since 1833 and have never been audited before,” Blume told Fox News. “Putting it all together made me wonder.”
Blume said the timing may have been coincidental – but “it didn’t seem that way.”
“There seems to be a very anti-Christian bias that has flowed into a lot of government agencies – oppression literally against Christian organizations and groups,” he said. “It makes you wonder what’s going on.
Blume said the newspaper was eventually cleared, but the audit consumed time and money.
“It was a lot of time and energy that we didn’t have,” he said. “It took some of our staff literally several weeks of doing nothing but that (the audit),” he said.
IRS officials refused to grant tax exempt status to two pro-life organizations because of their position on the abortion issue, according to a non-profit law firm, which said that one group was pressured not to protest a pro-choice organization that endorsed President Obama during the last election.
“In one case, the IRS withheld approval of an application for tax exempt status for Coalition for Life of Iowa. In a phone call to Coalition for Life of Iowa leaders on June 6, 2009, the IRS agent ‘Ms. Richards’ told the group to send a letter to the IRS with the entire board’s signatures stating that, under perjury of the law, they do not picket/protest or organize groups to picket or protest outside of Planned Parenthood,” the Thomas More Society announced today. “Once the IRS received this letter, their application would be approved.”
Planned Parenthood endorsed Obama in 2008 and 2012.
The IRS also pressured another pro-life group about its religious activities. “The IRS withheld approval of an application for charitable tax-exempt recognition of Christian Voices for Life, questioning the group’s involvement with ’40 Days for Life’ and ‘Life Chain’ events,” according to the law firm. “The Fort Bend County, Texas, organization was subjected to repeated and lengthy unconstitutional requests for information about the viewpoint and content of its educational communications, volunteer prayer vigils, and other protected activities.”
With this much coordination against his “enemies,” there’s NO WAY Obama didn’t know about it.
At this point, I’m not the least bit surprised.
[A]s details of the IRS scandal emerge, it’s increasingly giving the appearance of a wide-scale effort to tilt the playing field against conservative activist groups who might have been helpful to Republican candidates in the 2012 election, while at the same time coddling liberal groups helpful to Obama.
Consider what we now know the IRS did:
• Gave preferential treatment to liberal groups. On Tuesday, USA Today reported that while the IRS was hounding conservative groups and holding up their applications for tax-exempt status, it was quickly ushering liberal groups with names like “Progress Florida” and “Missourians Organizing for Reform” through the process.
USA Today found that in the 27 months after Feb. 2010, the IRS did not approve a single Tea Party application. Over those same months, however, dozens of applications submitted by liberal groups that were engaged in the same type of activities and were seeking the same tax status as the conservative ones sailed through the agency.
[...] • Made unusual document requests. Not only did the IRS target conservative groups for extra scrutiny, it also asked for massive amounts of information that it couldn’t possibly need to determine tax-exempt status.
[...] • Engaged in selective leaks. This week, ProPublica, a liberal-leaning nonprofit journalism organization, revealed that the IRS had leaked it nearly a dozen pending applications, including one submitted by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS.
Tea Party groups reported waiting up to 3 years to get approval for their tax-exempt status, while liberal groups were approved in a matter of weeks. One Tea Party group claims that, after waiting for over a year with no response, they changed their name to one that sounded more “liberal” and were approved in 3 weeks.
Another Tea Party group in Ohio said that the IRS effectively shut down their efforts in the 2012 election:
Tom Zawistowski, executive director of the Portage County Tea Party, said donors stopped contributing to causes and candidates because of the confusion and fear that the IRS created.
“They succeeded in preventing us from doing what we were trying to do in 2012,” Zawistowski said. “Groups literally stopped fundraising in the summer of last year.”
The IRS is under investigation for the excessive scrutiny it gave conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, a practice that elicited complaints from the Portage County Tea Party and other groups during the 2012 presidential election campaign.
Billionaire businessman Frank VanderSloot, a major Mitt Romney super PAC donor who was subjected to three federal agency audits after being slimed by the Obama campaign, says he isn’t the only one of his peers who was audited after donating to Romney.
VanderSloot, who was also national co-chair of the Romney campaign’s finance committee, was described in an April 2012 Obama campaign Web posting as one of eight “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”
Shortly after the post appeared, VanderSloot was subjected to two Internal Revenue Service audits — one focusing on his personal finances, the other related to his business interests — and a Labor Department audit of one of his businesses. When asked about whether any of the other seven donors who appeared on the list were audited as well, VanderSloot spoke cautiously, but did say he “wasn’t the only one.”
“I talked to only a handful of them since,” VanderSloot said. ”I’ve reached out to all of them. But only got calls back from a handful and most of the responses were they’re just laying low, you know, they took their own beatings and they don’t want any more of it and they don’t want to even talk about this.”
We also know that the IRS leaked confidential documents which were used by Obama’s re-election campaign to attack Mitt Romney.
Conclusion: the IRS was turned into the mafia intimidation arm of the Obama campaign.
Are we finally ready to abolish a corrupt agency who’s powers can be so easily weaponized against innocent citizens?
Barely a week ago, President Obama stood before a crowd of new graduates and told them to reject the voices which warned them to be wary of government tyranny and oppression.
His remarks are all the more ironic, given the explosion of scandals which have been exposed this week, not the least of which involves the Obama administration using the IRS to intimidate and harass political opponents.
The Internal Revenue Service apologized Friday for what it acknowledged was “inappropriate” targeting of conservative political groups during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status.
IRS agents singled out dozens of organizations for additional reviews because they included the words “tea party” or “patriot” in their exemption applications, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups. In some cases, groups were asked for lists of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.
Conservative applicants were forced to answer bizarre and intrusive questions, provide mounds of paperwork, and wait as the IRS stalled on their applications for up to three years. For some groups, these hurdles prevented them from fully participating in the 2012 election.
An IRS campaign to apply additional scrutiny to conservative groups went beyond targeting “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups to include those focused on government spending, the Constitution and several other broad areas.
[...] The internal IG timeline shows a unit in the agency was looking at Tea Party and “patriot” groups dating back to early 2010. But it shows that list of criteria drastically expanding by the time a June 2011 briefing was held. It then included groups focused on government spending, government debt, taxes, and education on ways to “make America a better place to live.” It even flagged groups whose file included criticism of “how the country is being run.”
By early 2012, the criteria were updated to include organizations involved in “limiting/expanding government,” education on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and social economic reform.
It wasn’t just Tea Party groups being targeted. The IRS also targeted pro-life groups, Jewish groups, and individuals who dared to challenge, question or criticize Obama or his policies, including Billy Graham, columnist Todd Starnes, news anchor Larry Conners, businessman and Romney donor Frank VanderSloot, and Wayne Allyn Root, who describes the ugly ordeal:
I am the face of Obama’s IRS attacks. I am proof of how bad it is, when it started, that it was directed at individuals as well as groups, and that it did not involve only “low level IRS employees.”
[...] Most importantly, I’m living proof it was directed at individuals — with the intent of ruining our lives. It almost ruined mine. This is important because the American public needs to see the faces of the targets. I have a wife and 4 children. I didn’t deserve this.
Here is my personal story. I’m a small businessman, but also a national media personality with a megaphone. I’m an outspoken critic of Obama. My views are seen by millions on Fox News Channel, and read at web sites like The Blaze and FoxNews.com. And in almost every media appearance its pointed out that I’m Obama’s Columbia Class of ‘83 classmate. You don’t think Obama noticed?
The result? In January, 2011 an unprecedented IRS attack was launched against me. My personal story of IRS attack was covered extensively by conservative media.
In 30 years of doing business, I’ve had a spotless tax record. And I had never heard a peep from the IRS. The attack was so over-zealous and out of bounds, I was forced to hire one of this nation’s top tax attorneys, who took my case to court where we won a 100% victory.
My relief at being vindicated lasted five days! Then the IRS announced a new tax audit against me.
My attorney had never heard of such a thing and, before me, assumed it wasn’t possible.
The many legal and accounting experts (who drained my savings) all agreed this could only happen if I was on “Obama Enemies List.”
The attack was chilling and intimidating, affecting every aspect of my life. It was meant to bleed me dry, and teach me a lesson — if you dare to criticize Obama, get ready to lose everything.
Former Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld claims that the IRS has been used to retaliate against businessmen who dared to speak out, as well:
“Having been in the position of a chief executive officer, I can understand why a businessman might be reluctant to speak out against the actions of federal agencies that have the power to harm their enterprises,” he wrote in Rumsfeld’s Rules, which goes on sale Tuesday.
“By doing so, corporate leaders could expose themselves and their companies to government retaliation–from the IRS, the SEC, congressional committees, or the many other agencies of the federal government that regulate and oversee their operations,” he added.
Criticism of presidents, he said, is hard. “I suppose if more business leaders defended capitalism, there might not be quite as many smiling photos with politicians.”
As if this weren’t bad enough, it appears that not only was the IRS targeting conservatives for additional scrutiny and investigation, but they were also handing over their confidential information to progressive groups that could use the information against them:
The progressive-leaning investigative journalism group ProPublica says the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office that targeted and harassed conservative tax-exempt groups during the 2012 election cycle gave the progressive group nine confidential applications of conservative groups whose tax-exempt status was pending.
The commendable admission lends further evidence to the lengths the IRS went during an election cycle to silence tea party and limited government voices.
A little over a year ago, I reported that, ”It is likely that someone at the Internal Revenue Service illegally leaked confidential donor information showing a contribution from Mitt Romney’s political action committee to the National Organization for Marriage, says the group.”
Now — on the heels of news the IRS’s apology for having targeted conservative groups — NOM is renewing their demand that the Internal Revenue Service reveal the identity of the people responsible.
“There is little question that one or more employees at the IRS stole our confidential tax return and leaked it to our political enemies, in violation of federal law,” said NOM’s president Brian Brow, in a prepared statement. “The only questions are who did it, and whether there was any knowledge or coordination between people in the White House, the Obama reelection campaign and the Human Rights Campaign. We and the American people deserve answers.”
Eric Holder’s corrupt Department of Justice has promised to investigate the IRS scandal. Congressman Issa scoffed at the idea of the Executive branch legitimately investigating itself, promising a thorough and transparent congressional investigation.
The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight is already demanding all IRS communications which contain conservative buzz words such as “tea party” or “patriot,” along with the names of anyone involved in the scandal.
Repeal the 16th Amendment. Abolish the IRS.
Welcome to the “new normal” under Obamanomics. In Europe, where Keynesian economics and Democratic Socialism has dominated for decades, unemployment rates are in the 20′s. For the younger generation, they’re even higher. Yet, instead of learning from their mistakes, Obama and the Democrats insist on repeating them. Millions of innocent people are being hurt in the process.
After a full year of fruitless job hunting, Natasha Baebler just gave up.
She’d already abandoned hope of getting work in her field, working with the disabled. But she couldn’t land anything else, either — not even a job interview at a telephone call center.
Until she feels confident enough to send out resumes again, she’ll get by on food stamps and disability checks from Social Security and live with her parents in St. Louis.
“I’m not proud of it,” says Baebler, who is in her mid-30s and is blind. “The only way I’m able to sustain any semblance of self-preservation is to rely on government programs that I have no desire to be on.”
Baebler’s frustrating experience has become all too common nearly four years after the Great Recession ended: Many Americans are still so discouraged that they’ve given up on the job market.
Older Americans have retired early. Younger ones have enrolled in school. Others have suspended their job hunt until the employment landscape brightens. Some, like Baebler, are collecting disability checks.
It isn’t supposed to be this way. After a recession, an improving economy is supposed to bring people back into the job market.
Sadly, until we get rid of Obamanomics, the jobs won’t be coming back. Business aren’t hiring because they never know when they’re going to be hit with a costly new regulation or tax. Entrepreneurs aren’t willing to take the risk to start a new business in such a hostile business climate.
Donald Lambro at Human Events predicts that we’re in for “Four More Years of Pain“:
President Obama heads into the third month of his second term, still unable to find a cure for a sluggish economy, weak employment numbers and his own slipping job approval scores.
Second terms are usually challenging for presidents who have won re-election without having the slightest idea about what they will do over the next four years. And that’s what we are witnessing now with Obama, whose biggest problem is the anemic, job-challenged economy.
[...] The depressing headlines of the past few days tell a sad tale of what the economy is like under his presidency:
– “Weekly Jobless Claims Get Weaker as Outlook Dims” was the gloomy headline over a Reuters news wire story Thursday morning on the CNBC website.
“The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose to its highest level in four months last week, suggesting the labor market recovery lost some steam in March,” Reuters reported.
– “Hiring Is Weaker at Private Companies,” a Washington Post headline blared Thursday.
“Companies hired at the weakest pace in five months in March as recent strong demand for construction jobs evaporated and growth in the vast services sector slowed, signs that the economic recovery could be hitting a soft patch,” the newspaper reported.
That’s the conclusion of the ADP National Employment Report Wednesday, which showed “that private employers added 158,000 jobs last month.” The ADP job survey said “the gain was the smallest since October.”
A separate report Wednesday on the services industry, the economy’s largest job sector, showed that employment growth “pulled back in March.”
You do not hear any of these reports on the nightly TV news because the networks cherry-pick reports that feed the White House line of a continuing economic recovery.
[...] Thankfully, there are economic reporters who resist touting the White House line that everything is rosier under Obama’s policies.
“We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of the economic recovery, and it still doesn’t feel like much of one, what with the unemployment rate at 7.7 percent and wages stagnant over the past five years,” Neil Irwin, the Post’s veteran economic analyst, recently reported.
Obama is so blinded by ideology that the tragic results of his policies on display all around him aren’t enough to convince him that his policies need to change.
Even as the Obama White House prepares for a star-studded White House concert featuring Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, and Justin Timberlake, figures from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that roughly 50 million Americans—one in six—now live below the poverty line.
Additionally, one in five American children have fallen below the poverty line; the last time poverty levels were this high, Lyndon Baines Johnson was president.
“In the last three years, there’s been a great change in the kinds of people we are serving,” said Director of Community Services at Catholic Charities of Baltimore Mary Anne O’Donnell. “There are increasing numbers of people who owned a home, lost their jobs, end up living in their car and are coming with children to our soup kitchen.”
The U.S. government defines a family of four earning under $23,021 as living in poverty. Income used to compute poverty status does not include non-cash benefits, such as food stamps and housing subsidies.
Welfare program enrollments have exploded under President Barack Obama. Americans on food stamps now outnumber the combined populations of 24 U.S. states, costing taxpayers more than double the amount spent on food stamps five years ago. In January 2009, 31.9 million Americans received food stamps. Today, that figure is 47.79 million.
In Cyprus, politicians are trying to bail themselves out by stealing directly from people’s bank accounts. In America, the government is more subtle.
It’s been stealing from us for years – through inflation. Thomas Sowell explains:
One of the big differences between the United States and Cyprus is that the U.S. government can simply print more money to get out of a financial crisis. But Cyprus cannot print more euros, which are controlled by international institutions.
Does that mean that Americans’ money is safe in banks? Yes and no.
The U.S. government is very unlikely to just seize money wholesale from people’s bank accounts, as is being done in Cyprus.
But does that mean that your life savings are safe?
No. There are more sophisticated ways for governments to take what you have put aside for yourself and use it for whatever the politicians feel like using it for.
If they do it slowly but steadily, they can take a big chunk of what you have sacrificed for years to save, before you are even aware, much less alarmed.
That is in fact already happening.
When officials of the Federal Reserve System speak in vague and lofty terms about “quantitative easing,” what they are talking about is creating more money out of thin air, as the Federal Reserve is authorized to do — and has been doing in recent years, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars a month.
When the federal government spends far beyond the tax revenues it has, it gets the extra money by selling bonds. The Federal Reserve has become the biggest buyer of these bonds, since it costs them nothing to create more money.
This new money buys just as much as the money you sacrificed to save for years. But more money in circulation, without a corresponding increase in output, means rising prices.
Although the numbers in your bank book may remain the same, part of the purchasing power of your money is transferred to the government. Is that really different from what Cyprus has done?
Through the centuries – in historic cultures like that of Yap Island who used giant, immovable stone disks for commerce, to today’s United States, whose Dollar fiat currency exists primarily in digital form – “money” is able to be exchanged for goods and services because society agrees to accept it (at a certain rate of exchange).
But what happens when a society starts doubting the value of its money?
Fed, the Great & Powerful
The podcast goes into the mind-blowingly simple process by which new money is created in America by the Federal Reserve (or the “Fed”). That is to say:
- The Fed holds a meeting
- Those in the room decide how many more dollars they think the world needs
- Someone walks over to a computer and adds that many dollars to the banks, with a few clicks of the keyboard
The banks then, if they want to, lend this new money out into the economy on a fractional basis, adding even more “thin air” dollars to the nation’s money supply.
This unique ability in America lends the Fed enormous power. The power to create new money from nothing. With no limit.
And with that power, the Fed can control and/or influence economies and markets the world over.
Should such power exist? And if so, should a single private entity owned by the major players in the banking system be allowed to wield it?
Such power certainly has its dangers.
[...] Money is not wealth. It is merely a claim on wealth.
You can’t print your way to prosperity. History is abundantly clear on that.
With the clarity of hindsight, it’s now obvious how the Fed has now painted itself into a corner.
[...] Cyprus has awakened the world to the reality that central planners can appropriate their money with the bang of a gavel. And while we don’t yet know with certainty how things will unfold in Cyprus, we can project that events there have shaken society’s confidence in the soundness of fiat currency in general. If we know it can be confiscated or devalued overnight, we are less likely to unquestioningly accept its stated value. This doubt that strikes at the very foundation of modern monetary systems.
Cyprus is meaningful in the way that it shines a light on both the importance of hard assets and the risk it poses to market stability. It certainly increases the risk of our prediction of a 40%+ stock-market correction by September, as investors begin to realize that current high values are simply the ephemeral effect of too much money, instead of a sign of true value.
At this point, prudence suggests we prepare for the worst (by parking capital on the sidelines, investing in our personal resilience, etc.) and add to our hard asset holdings (like precious metals bullion, productive real estate, etc.) as insurance to protect our purchasing power. The dollar may strengthen for a bit versus other currencies and perhaps the financial markets, but the long-term trend is a safer and surer bet: Dollars will be inflated. There will be more of them in the future than there are today. So, while our dollars still have the purchasing power they do, we should use the window of time we have now to exchange paper money for tangible wealth at today’s prices.
It’s been three years since Obamacare was rammed down our throats, and damage is already apparent, even before it is fully implemented.
Over one-third of the 9.1 million full-time jobs among America’s diverse business franchises could be cut back or eliminated by Obamacare as small businesses struggle to maintain profitability while coughing up money to pay for Washington-mandated health care coverage, according to the International Franchise Association.
John Merline at Investors Business Daily lists other nasty features that are finally coming to light:
Cause premiums to skyrocket. In December, state insurance commissioners warned Obama administration officials that the law’s market regulations would likely cause “rate shocks,” particularly for younger, healthier people forced by ObamaCare to subsidize premiums for those who are older and sicker.
“We are very concerned about what will happen if essentially there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all,” said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
That same month, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.
Cost people their jobs. The Federal Reserve’s March beige book on economic activity noted that businesses “cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.”
Around the same time, Gallup reported a surge in part-time work in advance of ObamaCare’s employer mandate. It found that part-timers accounted for almost 21% of the labor force, up from 19% three years ago.
Meanwhile, human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.
Tax the middle class. IBD reported in February that much of the $800 billion in tax hikes imposed by ObamaCare will end up hitting the middle class, including $45 billion in mandate penalties, $19 billion raised by limiting medical expense deductions, $24 billion through strict limits on flexible spending accounts, plus another $5 billion because ObamaCare bans using FSAs to buy over-the-counter drugs.
Boehner Agrees To Fund Obamacare In Next Continuing Resolution; Won’t Risk ‘Shutting Down the Government’
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would not include language to defund Obamacare in the continuing resolution bill when it returns to the House, stating, “our goal” is “not to shut down the government.”
Why on earth are they so afraid of a government shutdown? It certainly didn’t kill us in the 90′s – most people can’t even remember how (or if) it even affected them!
Maybe what they’re REALLY afraid of is Americans realizing that their lives can go merrily along just fine – and a lot freer – without Big Government interference every step of the way. That we really don’t need them as much as they need us (and our money) to legitimize their existence.
Thankfully, it appears there are at least a few Republicans in Washington with some spine left:
All Republican members of the Senate voted to defund Obamacare as an amendment to the Continuing Budget Resolution. The vote definitely puts a little heat on certain Dem. Senators up for re-election in 2014.
House Republican leadership recently pushed through a Continuing Resolution that included funding for Obamacare, despite the protests of many members of the GOP. Speaker Boehner and House Majority Whip Eric Cantor received flak in conservative circles for rushing through a hasty vote.
The House of Representatives possesses the “power of the purse” under Constitutional law, so it is not required to fund the executive branch’s activities. It would be extremely rare to withhold funding for government programs, but if there ever was a program as unethical and fiscally ruinous ever devised, it would be Obamacare.
The last pope, Benedict XVI, blamed capitalism for poverty and was a staunch advocate for socialized medicine. Apparently he didn’t see the connection between that and violations of religious liberty such as the HHS mandate.
Argentina, like most of Latin America, is a hotbed of Marxist “Liberation Theology” (Obama is an adherent of the racist version, Black Liberation Theology). But does Francis I subscribe to it? Unfortunately, the reports are contradictory and somewhat cryptic.
The Guardian calls him “a champion of liberation theology.”
Catholic Online says “Bergoglio is an accomplished theologian who distanced himself from liberation theology early in his career.”
According to John L. Allen Jr. of National Catholic Reporters, the Jesuit Bergoglio has long spoken out on behalf of the world’s poor and criticized free-market economic policies.
“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least,” Bergoglio told an assembly of Latin American bishops in 2007.
“The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
Here’s Lynch quoting from that 2011 speech delivered by, now, Pope Francis I:
Said Cardinal Bergoglio in said speech that “The economic and social crisis and the consequent increase in poverty has its causes in ways policies inspiredneoliberalism considering profits and market laws as parameters, to the detriment of the dignity of individuals and peoples. In this context, we reiterate the conviction that the loss of the sense of justice and lack of respect for others have worsened and led us to a situation of inequity. ” Later stressed the importance of “ social justice ”, the” equal opportunity “damage” transfers of capital abroad, “which should be required” distribution of wealth ”, said the damage of economic inequalities and the need to “prevent the use of financial resources is shaped by speculation,” especially in the context of the “social debt”-which in his opinion is of eminently “moral” – is to reform “economic structures” in expressed the sense before.
Again, I may have lost something in the translation, but it appears the new Pope fails to understand markets and holds the concepts of social justice, equal opportunity and distribution of wealth, as important. Concepts which, of course, generally lead to advocacy of much government intervention and much central planning. It as though the new Pope has somehow given up on the good in people, and perhaps even in God, and has decided to replace both with a central role for the coercive state.
The Investors Business Daily editorial board, however, contends that Francis I is no friend to Big Government:
The change that swept Eastern Europe in the 1980s and fueled the collapse of the Soviet Union may find itself repeated by a new pope with similar disdain for the authoritarian governments of his region.
When Cardinal Karol Wojtyla stepped out on the balcony of St. Peter’s in 1978 as Pope John Paul II, Soviet communism still stood astride Eastern Europe and his native Poland.
He would be the moral force helping to lead half a continent out of the human bondage of totalitarianism.
Argentina’s 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I, is no stranger to — or compromiser with — the oppression of authoritarian government.
During his tenure as Archbishop of Buenos Aires and head of Argentina’s Conference of Bishops, the new pope had a strained relationship with the governments of President Cristina Kirchner and her late husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, who once called Bergoglio “a real spokesman for the opposition.”
The cardinal who eschewed limousines to ride his bicycle or take the bus, is known as a man of the poor and of the people.
He gained admiration for living in a modest apartment instead of the palace in Buenos Aires that was adjacent to the Casa Rosada where the president resides (and where Juan and Evita Peron often harangued the Argentine people).
The new pope has fought a long battle in Argentina against leftist government, Peronist anticlericalism, the spread of evangelical Protestantism and the secular temptations of modern society.
Like Pope John Paul II, he is likely to resist calls to “modernize” the church, to make it more “popular” and “appealing.”
Like Pope John Paul II, Pope Francis is a strong opponent of what is called “liberation theology,” a bizarre mix of Marxism and Catholicism often embraced by left-leaning politicians and clerics in Argentina and elsewhere in the hemisphere.
Rosendo Fraga, a well-known Argentine political analyst, told the Miami Herald’s Andres Oppenheimer that Pope Francis “is definitely bad news for the Argentine government. His homilies, as recently as two weeks ago, were very critical of economic and social conditions, and of corruption in Argentina.”
“Francis may become a critic of governments such as those in Venezuela, Ecuador or Bolivia, in the same way that John Paul II became a critic of communism in Eastern Europe,” says Daniel Alvarez, a professor of religious studies at Florida International University.
[T]o be sure, South American governments are, with certain exceptions, nothing like the monolithic, totalitarian USSR.
Moreover, Pope Francis I is not as young as Pope John Paul II. Nor does he have a Ronald Reagan and a Margaret Thatcher to work with.
Even so, he does provide a rallying point for a region beset by authoritarianism that badly needs one.
Who knows whether this pope will stand up against the unscriptural tenets of Socialism? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Nanci Pelosi said we had to “pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”
Well, now we know what’s in it, thanks to a photo tweeted by Senator Mitch McConnell:
The stack of regulations is 7 feet tall…so far. The regulations are still being written by bureaucrats, who do not have to submit them for a vote by the people or their representatives.
This was the Republicans’ LAST CHANCE to stop the horror of Obamacare from being fully imposed on the American people, and they folded like a deck of cards.
Terence P. Jeffrey reports at CNS News:
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 267-151 on Wednesday to approve a $982-billion continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through the rest of fiscal 2013 that fully funds the implementation of Obamacare during that period.
The House Republican leaders turned aside requests from groups of conservative members to include language in the bill that would have withheld funding for implementation of all of Obamacare, or, alternatively, that would have withheld funding for the Obamacare regulation that requires health-plans to provide cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Every last RINO who voted for this should be primaried out of their seats. They are traitors against the American people, the constitution, and liberty.
Daniel Horowitz observes at Red State:
Watching the filibuster, the thought occurred to me that this is exactly what should have been done with Obamacare in 2009/2010. Why didn’t Mitch McConnell use every parliamentary procedure to block Obamacare? More relevant to today, these same senators should engage in the same educational filibuster against funding Obamacare next week when the Senate considers the CR. If nothing else, we’re long overdue for a national discussion over Obamacare, personal liberty, and free markets. We need to take this #StandWithRand show and run with it.
Obamacare doing less for fewer and costing more
View on YouTube
We tried to warn you….
First on Obamacare’s hit list…children in poverty:
Come January, many children currently enrolled in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will be compulsorily moved out of their current health plans and into state-run Medicaid plans – as a result of Obamacare.
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.”
[...] 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.”
Who’s pushing grandma off a cliff, again?
Young adults are not spared the bruising mandates of Obamacare, either:
Younger, healthier people, many of whom voted for Mr. Obama in droves, will see their insurance premiums climb sharply as Obamacare demands that insurers provide them with more medical coverage than they want or need.
[...] Mark Bertolini, CEO of Aetna Inc. — the nation’s third-largest health insurance company — warned at the end of 2012 that Americans will face a “premium rate shock” when the president’s tidal wave of regulations kick in next year.
Mr. Bertolini predicts unsubsidized insurance premiums will shoot up by 20 percent to 50 percent, on average.
Those numbers may be just for the lucky ones. Some consumers will see their costs double. “We’re going to see some markets go up as much as 100 percent,” Mr. Bertolini told Bloomberg News.
In less than a year, Americans will be hit with not only higher insurance premiums, but massive tax increases:
While much of the dialogue on healthcare reform centers on the federal mandate of health coverage for all Americans – which many conservatives call the largest tax increase in U.S history – less attention is being given to the massive sales tax increase on the purchase of health insurance also implicit within the legislation that will dramatically escalate costs for employers and consumers.
[T]he tax increases that remain on the books will cost taxpayers more than $675 billion over the next ten years. Chief among these will be the sales tax on the purchase of health insurance, totaling $101.7 billion, and making it larger than all the other industry-specific taxes combined.
“The health insurance tax will add a financial burden on families and small businesses at a time when they can least afford it, and it should be repealed, ” says AHIP, a trade association representing health insurance industry providers, in today’s call for the repeal of the health insurance tax before it can take affect.
The costs and regulations are so onerous, some insurance companies are already warning they may not participate in the state exchanges at all:
Last month, the CEO of the nation’s largest health insurance company warned that he and his peers may balk at participating in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges — online, government-run portals where consumers and small businesses without conventional employer-sponsored coverage may shop for policies starting next year.
[...] That’s ominous news for Obamacare. If insurers don’t participate in the law’s exchanges, then consumers who had hoped to secure affordable coverage through the new marketplaces will instead find few choices and high prices. Taxpayers could be hit hard, too, as higher premiums in the exchanges will require more public spending on subsidies.
Due to rising costs, many businesses and individuals may simply choose not to buy health insurance:
[A]s ObamaCare’s official launch date approaches, even its backers are beginning to admit that the law could actually create powerful incentives for millions of people and thousands of businesses to drop their coverage, despite the mandate.
[...] ”We are very concerned,” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones told federal health officials at a December meeting, “if there is so much rate shock for young people that they’re bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all.”
The cause of this rate shock is simple: ObamaCare imposes what is called “community rating” on insurance companies, effectively forcing them to charge the young and healthy more so they can charge older and sicker consumers less.
[...] ObamaCare also forbids insurance companies from turning anyone down — a reform called “guaranteed issue” — which also will provide an incentive for some to drop coverage, knowing they can get it back any time.
“Even with the tax penalty … some healthy people would avoid purchasing coverage until they are sick,” Howard Shapiro, director of public policy at the Alliance of Community Health Plans, told regulators .
The problem is that if the young and healthy drop coverage, the result would be what the industry calls a “death spiral.” Premiums will climb as the pool of insured gets sicker, causing still more to cancel their policies.
Of course, the plan all along has been to bankrupt insurance companies and force the creation of a single-payer system.
Ask them if they care.