The Myth of Corporate Welfare

Corporate Welfare is a catch-phrase you are likely to hear tossed into discussions involving welfare in general. The catch phrase is used by the left to defend Social Welfare programs they support, as if social welfare was some kind of moral high-ground and corporate welfare was some kind of dastardly activity. There are numerous articles and graphs describing the evils of Corporate Welfare, but most are not totally factual. If you were to ask the average tax-paying citizen what Corporate Welfare was, their answer would most likely be a vague reference to overpaid CEO’s riding around in their corporate jets, receiving tax breaks they don’t deserve. You mean like Social Welfare, where the recipients receive something they didn’t earn?

What is corporate welfare?

Once you cut through the noise, corporate welfare, as it’s called, can be broken down into two categories: One, tax write-off’s (what you and I would refer to as deductions, or income exclusions), and two, subsidies.

When you do your personal tax return at the end of the year there are certain things that you can claim as deductions. Every deduction has a dollar value, and that dollar value is referred to as adjustments to income. In other words the dollar value of that adjustment is removed from your total taxable income. Children, or dependents are adjustments to income, as well as:

Health care costs, state and local income taxes, Interest paid on a home mortgage, cash contributions to charities and churches, even gambling losses, just to name a few.

Most Americans claim the standard deduction, which is an IRS pre-determined amount covering most of the deductions you would otherwise itemize (list individually). The standard deduction is $6300 for individuals. The amount of income which is taxable or non-taxable is based on the IRS tax code.

Corporations can claim similar deductions as adjustments to their taxable income. In the business world taxable income is referred to as profits. Now here is where Progressives take issue with tax code (legal deductions to deductions) and decry Corporate Welfare; they are unhappy with the deductions allowed in the corporate tax code. Some rightfully so. They like to highlight rare instances where corporate jets were claimed as deductions and so on.

On the flip-side: If a couple decides to have a child, that child is considered an exemption having a dollar value of $1050. So if you or I decide we don’t want to have a child we have to pay more income tax than those who do have a child. The exemption is quite a bit higher for low income families who can claim up to $3250, based solely on the fact they earn less money. Looking at this, it be fair to say if you have a middle class income and don’t have children you have to pay more in taxes than those who have a lower income and a house full of children. Is that fair?

The origin of the term “Corporate Welfare” is traceable to 1990-1995. For most of those years Democrats (Progressives) controlled the Senate and/or the Whitehouse. Which means they could have easily modified the tax code, limiting or eliminating those corporate deductions. But they didn’t. They cried foul, but were themselves guilty of supporting corporate deductions.

Kind ‘a like political double-speak wouldn’t you say? Crying about corporate welfare and refusing to do anything about it.

Now, on to another form of Corporate Welfare, subsidies.

What is a subsidy?

There are two definitions, so let’s consider both.

First; “money that is paid usually by a government to keep the price of a product or service low or to help a business or organization to continue to function.”

Where do subsidies come from? The government! Yet all of the Progressive banter would have you believe it is a creation of those evil corporations. Corporations take advantage of the tax code available – don’t you do the same on a personal level?

The point is; subsidies keep the price of a product or service low enough to be affordable to the general public. Who do products and services benefit? The public of course. You and I are consumers, rich or poor, no matter where our income comes from, we all buy products and employ services.

When did subsidies begin? The first U.S. subsidies were Farm Subsidies. They were offered briefly in the late 1800’s and were quickly withdrawn on a constitutional basis, but re-appeared and took permanent root in the 1930’s under a Democratic President, Franklin Roosevelt. Since then government subsidies have only increased in number and cost.

We can argue about the worth of various subsidies all day long, but subsidies are subsidies no matter if they are corporate or individual.

Let’s consider this:

A gallon of milk today retails for $3.32 (national average). According to the govt. the production cost of a gallon of milk in 2015 was $3.21 and the retail value was $3.11.

If you wanted to buy raw milk at cost, you would need to provide your own jugs, drive to the nearest dairy, and find a dairy farmer willing to sell you a gallon of milk at cost ($3.21 a gallon). Would you be willing to do that? No, you would rather go to the local grocery store and pick up that gallon of milk for $3.32.

According to government information, in 2015 dairy farmers lost an average of .11 cents a gallon on what they produced. Just for the record dairy farmers lost about .57 cents a gallon in 2013. How long would you run a fairy farm if you lost money every year without someone making up the difference? Now add in pasteurization, packaging, transportation, storing, and retailing the true cost of that gallon of milk is now about $8.00 a gallon. Would you continue to buy the same amount of milk at $8.00 a gallon that you currently buy for $3.32? Probably not.

Let’s assume you are on a $50.00 a week food stamp allowance (social welfare), and the price of milk rose from $3.32 to $8.00 a gallon, will you continue to buy the same amount of milk? You couldn’t without cutting back on something else.

But you can still buy your gallon of milk for $3.32 a gallon because the government is subsidizing the dairy industry, or you personally – subsidies allow you to buy milk for $3.32 instead of $8.00. Corporate Welfare in action. So who benefits from this again?

Government welfare programs such as SNAP (food stamps) are managed under the same government agency as farm subsidies; the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). Corporate and social welfare is managed by the same government agency. So the lines of social and corporate welfare become intertwined and at times indistinguishable.

We can dissect any industry and wind up at the same conclusion- corporate and social welfare working hand-in-hand.

The favorite evil industry target seems to be oil companies, which brings us to the second definition of subsidies; “a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public.” Would you admit oil companies are advantageous to the public? Absolutely; virtually every technological advance made in the last 100 years is connected, in some way, to the oil industry.  Plastics, medicine, medical care, fertilizers, insecticides, cars, computers, cell phones and so on, none of which would exist with the oil industry.

You see, the oil industry is absolutely advantageous to the public, and absolutely necessary to our way of life

The Oil industry is a popular target because of the shear dollars involved, $multi-million companies garnering millions in subsidies.

Let’s use the same dissection we used in the gallon of milk to see the subsidies involved: The cost of production of a gallon of oil in Nov of 2015 in the United States was about .86 cents a gallon (at barrel price of $36) according to the government.  The yield of gasoline from a 42 gallon barrel of oil is 19 gallons, which means a gallon of gasoline cost $1.89 to produce.

The average retail price of gasoline in 2015 was $2.26 a gallon. So far we are at .37 cents a gallon above production cost before we add in transportation, storage, and retail cost of making gasoline available at the pump (which is about .16 cents per gallon). Now subtract the federal and state taxes (which average .47 cents a gallon), and we are selling gasoline for a $1.63 a gallon retail, which is selling gasoline at a loss of .26 cents a gallon. That loss is made up by government subsidies (or tax breaks, whichever you prefer).

While the oil industry enjoys large subsidies, it’s products are a huge source of tax revenue for the same government who issued subsidies for the production of the same product.

In 2013 gasoline sales generated over $30 Billion in tax revenue (which was supposed to fund infrastructure repairs).

Consider this: if the price of gasoline goes up, people purchase less, decreasing the federal revenue, and if the price goes down, people buy more and federal revenue goes up.

Once heralded as the green energy answer to fossil fuels, ethanol has turned out to be an over-priced flop; costing taxpayers twice as much as fossil fuels in tax-credits (subsidies), and because it is made from corn, which is subsidized as well, ethanol companies receive two subsidies.

The green energy crowd was gut-punched when it discovered ethanol damages the atmosphere more than fossil fuel do.  Not to mention, it is far less efficient than gasoline.

In the end, everyone screams about the profits made by oil companies, the years when things go right, but you never hear anything from the same crowd when those same companies break even or lose money in a given year. A gallon of gasoline is like a gallon of milk, the subsidies, or tax breaks issued by the government, benefit you and I the consumer as well as the oil companies.

Are corporations guilty of exploiting loop-holes in the tax code? Absolutely! Are individuals guilty of exploiting loop-holes in the tax code? Absolutely! Are individuals guilty of exploiting the social welfare system in this country? Absolutely!

So who’s fault is it the tax code allows ridiculous corporate deductions? The corporations? Or the politicians? The truth is, politicians make mucho-dinaro from the tax codes as is.

Maybe we should focus on political welfare – you know the subsidies those politicians receive.

Originally corporate subsidies were intended to protect the public from extreme price fluctuation and shortages in basic food stuffs; i.e. milk being $1.00 one year and $10.00 the next, and there being no milk at all the next, much like social subsidies were intended to be a temporary helping hand for those in need, not a full time occupation.

There is little distinction between social and corporate welfare. Call it what you will; tax breaks, deductions, subsidies, earned income credit, or school lunch programs, it’s either all or none. One cannot exist without the other. Not without serious re-thinking and an adjustment period which would cause untold social upheaval for half a decade.

But, alas, maybe we should have heeded the warning of President Calvin Coolidge when he vetoed the McNary-Haugen bill, saying: “I do not believe, that upon serious consideration the farmers of America would tolerate the precedent of a body of men chosen solely by one industry who, acting in the name of the Government, shall arrange for contracts which determine prices, secure the buying and selling of commodities, the levying of taxes on that industry, and pay losses on foreign dumping of any surplus.”

His reason for doing so, and an unheeded prophetic warning: “There is no reason why other industries— copper, coal, lumber, textiles, and others—in every occasional difficulty should not receive the same treatment by the Government. Such action would establish bureaucracy on such a scale as to dominate not only the economic life but the moral, social, and political future of our people.”

Welfare is welfare; corporate or social. You cannot justify the one and defend the other since they come from the same government.

How Sam’s Club Destroyed Self-Checkout

sams-clubThe growing trend for retailers to incorporate self-checkout lanes in the stores is both cost effective for business owners and extremely convenient for customers. When first introduced they were a bit cumbersome. The product scanner was not always sensitive, then there were the multiple choice jungles when you had produce that either had to be weighed or didn’t come with a sticker. Yet and still, if you only had a few items and were able to follow simple on screen directions it was the checkout lane of choice.

You didn’t have to stand there while the cashier acted as though they were in a competition to see if they could be the slowest drag-the-item-across-the-scanner cashier in town, of have to deal with their mad-at-the-world attitude. Yes self-checkout was a good thing.

In some grocery stores, they have those annoying self-checkout machines that talk to you, even scold you if you don’t put the damn scanned item in the plastic bag you didn’t wish to use to begin with. But even those where preferable to getting behind a woman with 200 items, who insists on waiting until the last item is scanned before they unpack their purse and hunt for the credit card, or heaven forbid their checkbook.

Anyway, recently (maybe even last year, I lose track of time) Sam’s Club installed self-checkout lanes. Excellent! The lanes were 10 items of less, credit card only machines. Outstanding! As a frequent shopper at Sam’s, and rarely having more than 10 items, I became quite accustomed to the speedy self-checkout machines, and was sad when they were down due to technical difficulties. sams self checkout

Then my speedy checkout experience was slowed by a managerial decision, or maybe a corporate one. Suddenly when you completed your self-checkout, there was a Sam’s employee that had to initial your receipt. What? You still had to have your receipt checked at the exit even though IT WAS ALREADY CHECKED by one employee at self-checkout. But hey ok, maybe some customers missed an item at the scanner, which was caught at the door, and had to go back through the line again. At least they were out of my way, and the 5 other people behind me.

As for me, I’ll take my chances. If I miss count, and have to walk back to the other side of the store to check out again, so be it. At least I’m the only one inconvenienced for my mistake.

Maybe Sam’s thinking was: an employee at the end of the self-checkout lane could catch the customer’s mistake and send them back through, instead of the customer having to walk back from the exit door on the other side of the store. Maybe. Stupid, but maybe. Why it is the majority of shoppers have to suffer on account of the few? Oh well, that’s another story. Of all the times I have used self-checkout I have yet to see the employee guarding the self-checkout lane count my purchased items, much less even look in the shopping cart. So one has to wonder; what’s the point?

Today was the last straw: Now if you go through the 10 item or less, credit card only, self-checkout lane you have to take your items, scan them, put them in another shopping basket, pay with your card, have the employee guarding the self- checkout lane initial your paid receipt, and get your receipt checked at the exit. This is the new requirement.

This is how it works out though: I take my 5 or 6 items through self-checkout, scan the 40 lb $4.00 case of water and have to move it from one shopping cart to the next, pay, have the self-checkout Nazi initial my receipt without looking in my cart, then have my receipt checked once more at the exit, all because some people obviously cannot count from 1 to 10. Or, some manager thought adding steps to a process would somehow speed things up. Logic is a wonderful thing.

I try to give companies the benefit of the doubt when considering customer service, but the new steps implemented at Sam’s Club make no sense whatsoever. We are talking about 10 items. Not 25, not 50, and not 2 flat carts full of merchandise, but 10 items!

self checkout2 Oh, and you may as well take down the sign – Scan, Pay, Go because it no longer has any meaning.

This is how you take a perfectly good idea and ruin it for the customer. If they add any more steps it will be faster to go back to the old line, at least the cashier will have to move the 40lb case of water from one cart to the next, and I won’t have to get my receipt signed off on twice.

Looking At Long Term Unemployment Again

 While we are all focused on the U.S.S. Obamacare dodging more icebergs than the Titanic there is other legislation we need to pay attention to.

Yet another extension of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is looming on the horizon. By the end of 2013, if the EUC is not extended an estimated 4.1 Million long term unemployed will lose their unemployment checks.

The EUC program began in June of 2008 when it was realized the housing bubble was about to burst and plunge the U.S. into recession. What began as an emergency and temporary plan soon became the chosen vehicle to extend unemployment benefits to some 11 Million Americans.

The program went through its first major extension in 2009 with the passing of the Stimulus program (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009); which not only extend the benefits, but raised the amount of those benefits by $25 per week for the remainder of 2009. The unemployment benefit portion of the program was eventually stretched through 2010 and those who remained on the program for the duration were commonly referred to as the 99ers because they were able to collect those benefits for 99 weeks.

The term 99ers began to catch the attention of those who were still employed, some of whom were forced to take less lucrative positions to remain employed, and there were complaints. Unemployed for 2 years and unable to find employment was the common question of the time being asked by those who were still working.

Those complaints became a problem for those in power, so our devious government had to figure out a way to keep the checks going out while avoiding explaining yet another extension. So to disguise further extensions and avoid political backlash after the 2011 extension the EUC became part of other programs, never to be publically referred to as EUC again.

As you may or may not recall, unemployment benefit extension became a political football in negotiations between the Democrats and Republicans during debt ceiling debates, so while we were all focused on the outcome of those childish arguments the EUC was extended quietly, with neither side complaining, and the con was complete.

In Feb 2012 the EUC was extended once again, this time under The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. While few, if any, jobs were created, the benefits for the long term unemployed were extended, through a series of steps, until Dec 2013.

Over the past four years unemployed Americans have collected $434 billion in unemployment benefits and yet some 4 million long term unemployed remain on the rolls. If the program is extended another year it is estimated the extension would cost between $25 and $40 Billion more (the discrepancy is due to difficulty in estimating exactly how many Americans will come off the roles in the next 12 months).

There are those who think if the benefits are ended it would create more job losses because people on unemployment are more likely to spend the money right away. Nancy Pelosi thinks unemployment checks stimulate the economy (Lord help us). Granted it does create economic activity, however it doesn’t stimulate the economy. Stimulation only occurs if said action creates more jobs and increases productivity, thereby creating more capital.

The only thing unemployment, as well as any other form of welfare does, is take money from those who create wealth and give to those who don’t. This is otherwise known as distribution of wealth. While all welfare was intended to be a short term stop gap to those in need, Liberal administrations never want the programs to end. While short term assistance is a helping hand, long term federal commitment only creates additional drain on those who produce.

Sadly many people in positions to influence economic policy today are from the Kenyan school of economics (those who think distribution of wealth is a good thing). And while I am more understanding of those on unemployment (since workers actually contribute to the unemployment pot)than those on welfare in general,  there has to be a limit on those benefits and 5 years down the road is long enough. unemploymentEmbed

Many people will just not put forth the effort to better themselves until they are forced to, maybe the discontinuation of this program is just the motivation they need to get off the duff and start contributing. And before you begin full scale lamentations over those poor unemployed soles consider the fact the current plan is not working and the $17 Trillion National Debt is the proof.

Let’s not allow Congress to kick this can down the road any further, and they will if we are lax in paying attention to their trick of tucking known programs into newly named ones.

Obama: M.I.A.

Have you ever had the feeling something was missing out of your daily activity, but couldn’t put your finger on exactly what it was?

The last few days I’ve had the feeling something was missing. Nothing big, no major events, family seemed normal, things at work seem usual, but something was different.

I guess it happens to all of us who have busy lives and similar day-in day-out routines; let’s face it most of our life is routine.

I struggled with it most of the day yesterday, on my day off no less. As I contemplated the possibilities in my mind I began constructing checklists of things that I did and didn’t do thinking there was a chore I forgot to complete. No, that wasn’t it.

Was I supposed to be somewhere? Nothing came to mind. Maybe it was a TV show that I was planning on watching and missed the start time. No, not that either.

I was finally forced to shelve the continual list checking in my mind, because by this time I was mentally tired, and decided to console myself with the thought ‘it must not have been too important or I would have remembered it, or if it was, I’d think of it latter.’

My mental consolation began to wear off and I resumed feeling that something was amiss. I called a few people and text-ed a couple of more thinking chit-chat may jog my memory, or even provide a clue to what I overlooked, but it didn’t work.

The day was close to over and suppertime had passed, but I had an hour or so of idle time so I surfed through the TV channels looking for something to watch, nothing really captivated my attention for more than a few minutes, so I decided to call it a day, go to bed and read for a little while. I finally went to sleep with the matter unresolved.

The next morning, I woke up, moved right into my morning routine; a cup of coffee, get ready for work, drink another half a cup of coffee while watching the news;  Maybe something important happened , it was on the news and I missed it, no, nothing earth-shattering  in the few minutes I was able to watch.

Off to work. About half way to work it hit me like a revelation, I knew exactly what it was that I was missing, but I wasn’t missing anything personally, but something I was used to seeing was missing the last few days and it was just enough to make an annoying difference.

Barack Obama had not made any grandiose speeches the last few days; in fact Obama was conspicuously missing from the news. Oh, his name was being mentioned, Jay Carney was giving his usual daily question and answer avoidance. But Obama’s televised  appearances were far and few.

The progressives were defending their Fuerer’s healthcare dog, and the Republicans were busying themselves with attacks, and I-told-you-sos about the ACA (Affordable Care Act), meanwhile President Obama was only seen in a well-rehearsed dog and pony show in the Rose garden with a handful of carefully chosen supporters who were in support of the ACA (bet it took a while for the Obama Administration to find that many).

Missing were the Obama speeches bragging about his accomplishments, missing were the Obama appearances on The Tonight Show, Late Night, and Oprah Winfrey.

Missing were the Air Force One trips to dedicate another government funded, but failing, enterprise somewhere in the country.

No President Obama prancing up and down the steps of Air Force One, no vacations, no golf.

Holy cow, Obama was MIA. obama hiding

This had never happened before, so what changed?

This time it was bad, and there was no escape. The ACA website was a total and complete failure and the public would not settle for a scape goat this time, Kathleen Sebelius could have been burned at the stake (which isn’t a bad idea) and it would not be enough to explain away what a failure the ACA website was.

Obama’s signature legislation, his crowning achievement, his legacy, was going down in flames faster than the Red Barron, and no amount of oratory skill could save Obama and he knew it, so he went into hiding, just like the non-leader he is.

The Presidents own supporters, the major news outlets, even TV comedians joke about how bad the ACA website is. When the Progressives try and turn epic failure into comedy you know things are for Obama.

Three years of preparation and $650 Million for a website that fails the first day is a failure of conception and execution without excuse. And the website continues to fail as I am writing this.

However that is not the worst of it, the number of people who have enrolled in ACA has been so far below the projected target the Obama Administration is scrambling to hide the actual numbers.

Just as embarrassing is the number of those who have publicly turned against Obamacare, realizing they been lied to about the individual cost of this program. Not to mention the “you can keep your insurance and your doctor if you want to” sales point presentation.

If the failure of the ACA website is truly only the tip of the iceberg of a larger yet hidden disaster, then Obama may be in hiding for the remainder of his term.

Yes I discovered what was missing from my daily routine, it was Obama in all of his arrogant narcissistic glory making his daily ‘look at me, I’m so great’ speeches.

For me, the failure of the ACA website could be considered a good thing, if the only thing it does is continue to keep Obama off television every day, but alas it is not the only thing. Even if Obama and the Progressives came to their senses and decided to scrap ACA today, we would have wasted $Billions.

In the end I solved my mystery, but sadly it was a short lived victory when I began to recall what a terrible example of Leadership this president displays every day, and what a terrible piece of legislation the ACA is.

And The Clueless Award For October 2013 Goes To

youre_looking_at_the_problem_oval_sticker-rfae333590a7344c5bf5485eaed2b6f00_v9wz7_8byvr_512 ……………… all of us who thought for a second  that John Boehner was a leader, and that he wouldn’t cave in at the last minute…………again.

The excuse was he didn’t have the votes in the House to continue the fight. Why not? If you know you are going to fight and need those votes then you work to get those votes, you work every day to make sure you can count on them; you don’t wait until the last minute and try to get those votes.

If you can’t do the job, then resign; let someone else take the leadership role, which to me is a mystery in its own right. The speaker of the house is a result of the selection of the majority of the members. So the majority selected Boehner to be speaker, and yet they won’t follow his lead?

Let’s review what Conservative’s get out of this ‘deal’ negotiated between Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid – yes the negotiation was between those two – while Mr. Boehner just went along with the deal.

Reopen the government (and giving all of those non-essential government employees back pay) which amounts to a 16 day paid vacation at the taxpayers’ expense. Everyone in the private sector wishes they could get 16 day paid vacation, but it seems that privilege is only available to ‘non-essential’ employees.

I wonder what the chances are that those ‘non-essential’ government employees who received unemployment benefits will return that money since they are going get back pay. Some states will allow those employees to keep the money. Wow, a ‘non-essential’ government employee gets 16 paid days off and some will get to double-dip and keep the unemployment benefits they were collecting in the meantime. And the best part is we get to pay for it.

An increase in the debt ceiling – again – to somewhere close to 18 Trillion. How many times do you think you would be able to call your credit card company, already maxed out, and get a limit increase? Maybe once – how likely would you be if you had already had your credit limit increased by 57% in the last 4 ½ years which is exactly what has happened under Obama? Worse still is until February 2014 there is no official debt ceiling at all. Obama could spend more than the estimated 1 Trillion between now and then and no one could do anything about it

Sadder still is President Obama’s stated position on a debt ceiling increase “It does not increase our debt,” Mr. Obama said. “It does not grow our deficits. All it does is allow the Treasury Department to pay for what Congress has already spent.” Yes, and unicorns are real too.

They postponed deficit negotiations – until January. It’s déjà vu. Have you ever had one of times when you found yourself somewhere and thought ‘I swear I’ve been here before?’ Or someone says something and you thought ‘I knew you were going say that.’ The start and finish of all of this drama, time after time, is déjà vu.

I do not claim to be a prophet; but look for the same drama and same outcome when these ‘negotiations’ fail again in January because they won’t be negotiations at all, they will be token talks with no give and take, only take. The Libs have won every time thus far and Boehner has lost, so why would we expect the next time to be any different?

Income verification for those applying for Obamacare – well that concession gained by Boehner’s bums is a myth. The Obama Administration initially wanted ‘scaled back’ income verification rules for this year so they could swell the rolls of Obamacare signees (at taxpayer expense) back in July, but the Republicans pitched a fit and the scale back never took place. So the so called concession was a myth.

Well it seems Mitch McConnell took the bribe from old Harry and signed on. What was the bribe? A new Dam for Kentucky. Obama and the Lib’s get what they want, 400,000 non-essential government employees get a paid vacation, McConnell gets a new dam, and we get the bill. What a deal! Thanks John.

Because we continue to allow our elected officials to screw us over and all we do is bitch about it. Because we continue to hope someone else will get the job done, and they don’t. Because we continue to re-elect the same people who don’t put our interests before theirs, we are the clueless award winners this month. images

 

Obama Is Losing The War Against What He Terms As ‘Phony’ Scandals

obamaspeak_20130722_124649

President Obama is losing the battle over what he termed on July 25thphony scandals.” The IRS targeting scandal, Benghazi, and the exposure of NSA spying activities (revealed by the defection of Eric Snowden) has forced the Obama Administration to switch tactics on how to handle them.

Why has the Obama Administration been unable to move past these three scandals like many previous ones?

For one, these three scandals potentially affect all Americans, not just those who disagree with the President’s failed policies. The Benghazi fiasco made America consider it could have been their sons who lost their lives while the President was too busy campaigning to come to their aid. And while this dereliction of duty was bad enough, insult was added to injury by the Administration’s lame cover-up, believed by no-one.

The IRS targeting scandal stoked the fire of mistrust when people realized the IRS could investigate, audit, or refuse license to any person or organization whose political leanings differed from those in power. And the officers of the same could do so without any accountability. If the IRS could target political groups over a difference of ideals, what could prevent the IRS to do what they wished to whomever they wished?

The trifecta of problems came in the person of one Eric Snowden who exposed an out of control government spying agency known as the NSA. This scandal proved to be a thorny one for the administration – every American’s casual belief that the Big Brother was somehow spying on the most personal aspects of their lives was confirmed by Eric Snowden.

What was promised as the “most transparent administration ever,” is anything but transparent, and the public opinion polls are reflecting that fact. Even the most ardent followers of President Obama are giving pause, and taking a closer look at the current scandals, questioning the Administrations explanations.

In an effort to regroup, after his losing the battle with his usual cover up effort, the Administration pulled out the old playbook and manufactured a crisis. Making a mountain out of a molehill the Obama camp devised a plan which they hoped could illustrate to everyone they were willing to do whatever to protect the lives of American emissaries overseas (which they failed to do at Benghazi) and prove the necessity of the NSA in the defense of the nation. I need not remind anyone Senator Obama was against the same NSA activities that now President Obama is a stanch supporter of.

On August 2, 2013 the State Department shut down activities at 19 U.S. embassies in the Middle East. This decision to close the embassies, they said, was based on ‘chatter’ between Al-Qaida leaders intercepted by the NSA. Pretty convenient timing one would think. Most of us gave little credence to this ominous danger being wise to the creation of crises by the Obama Administration. I wonder how the Obama camp thought the  necessity of the closing of the embassy in Afghanistan play out since we have a standing Army completely capable of thwarting any attack by insurgents.

This knee-jerk action signaled a sign of failure from the start. Foreign policy experts, elected officials, and people in general felt this was an overreaction by the administration and another foreign policy blunder by Obama. Dr. Walid Phares, a terrorism expert, said the United States “shouldn’t signal retreat” by closing any embassies in the Middle East, as it would only embolden the enemy.

In an effort to maintain his ‘cult hero’ status the campaigner-in-chief scheduled an appearance on the Tonight Show Tuesday evening hosted by Jay Leno, he was the only guest. A whole hour of Barack Obama, no one considered this was a setup, right? It was sad, the president of the United States talked, joked, and made light of serious issues that affected the lives of the American people. It was reminiscent of a once popular actor, whose career was in decline, running the talk show circuit blaming everyone and everything for their sinking popularity but themselves. Maybe no one would notice the fact Jay Leno, who had already been replaced by Jimmie Fallon, and was only called in for this one performance.

Leno could be trusted not to further embarrass the president by asking awkward questions he was not prepared to answer, nothing was left to chance. But even in this scripted affair, President Obama carefully chose his words, never once linking the term Islamic when speaking of terrorist attacks. Altogether it was a diplomatic failure at the expense of saving face here at home.

Going a step further on August 8, 2013, the White House canceled a meeting with Russian president Putin in protest to Russia’s granting Eric Snowden asylum there. A move that was both expected and appropriate, but failed to garner any accolades; in short it was an insignificant move by the White House. Things were not improving on any of the scandal fronts and Obama facing still unanswered questions, called a news conference on August 8, 2013.

As usual, the President was 6 minutes late to his own scheduled address, revealing a total lack of respect for all of those in attendance. The tone of his remarks could be described as glib, containing little or no substance – it was the same old Obama, just a little more irritated that normal. He was losing the scandal war and it was showing. Instead of his arrogant, scripted address, the President spoke as one under pressure, even some of his favorite terms like ‘folks,’ were missing from his address.

During the remarks- regarding the NSA, the President said “we are not out there willy-nilly sucking information in on everybody and doing with it what we please.” Not only is there no proof to support that claim, I have issue with that particular statement. I have in my possession a government metadata file that I found which contains my email address from work!

Much of the remaining address was the usual meaningless comments and plants to fix the problem. Obama spoke of a new website designed to “restore the public’s confidence in their government,” and of course openness to yet another debate. It was reported; Before the press conference President Barack Obama hosted Apple CEO Tim Cook, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Google computer scientist Vint Cerf and other tech executives and civil liberties leaders on Thursday for a closed-door meeting about government surveillance. A closed door meeting to address privacy invasion of the American people does not restore the public’s confidence.

In a last ditch effort to defuse the situation Obama turned his attention to the 2014 Olympics which will be hosted by Russia. While he said boycotting the Olympics would be unfair to all those athletes who were training, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to say he “hoped that a gay U.S. athlete would bring hold a gold medal.” Does this imply if you’re a heterosexual athlete and win a gold medal in 2014 your victory is less meaningful than a gold medal won by a homosexual?

To Obama, Russia’s intolerance for homosexual marriage would serve as a justified reason for cancellation of the meeting with Putin. The fact is Putin, by shrewdly refusing to give up the best source of intelligence since Gary Powers, had embarrassed the President on a world stage. The cost of these ‘phony’ scandals was mounting both home and abroad.

President Obama is losing the war on all three of these real scandals and the only thing phony about them is that way they are being addressed and/ or avoided by this president. Transparency and truth are found in this administration as infrequently as the time President Obama spends in the oval office. It’s time this President spent more time at work and do the job he was elected to do. The next time Obama addresses the American people it should be from the Oval office instead of from a road show appearance.

President Obama has spent less time in the Oval office than any president save James Garfield (who was shot four months after he took office). The argument ‘the president is the president no matter where he is’ becomes indefensible when he continues to fly all over the country in Air Force One, costing the taxpayers $180,000 per hour, when economic issues go unresolved that need to be resolved at the office, in person.

The Obama family left Saturday for their annual vacation at Martha’s Vineyard (leaving on time I bet). One can only guess what the White House minions will come up with to rescue their leader from these latest scandals, but expect something outrageous.

Obama-IRS-Scandal

Mr. President you can run but you can’t hide. You can label these latest scandals ‘phony’ if you wish but they are real, you are responsible for them. You are running out of scapegoats, excuses, and empty promises. Even the media is beginning to limit their gushing support of your policies and subsequent actions, and beginning to ask questions of their own.  These scandals will be waiting for you when you return, and I will do my best to keep everyone aware of what you have been caught doing.

 

Obamacare Delayed… A Warning Sign?

WARNING SIGN

Tuesday a key portion of Obamacare, the employee mandate, requiring businesses with more than 50 employees to provide ‘affordable’ healthcare coverage for their employees or face a fine, was put on hold by the white house.

While this seemed like good news for businesses, there is a stark warning in this decision that is being overlooked.

Obamacare to date has failed to deliver on almost every promise. To name a few;

“You can keep your doctor” – The reality is the medical community is experiencing a shortage in doctors. The passing of Obamacare has influenced many physicians to retire. Those who remain in practice are refusing to take on any new Medicare/ Medicaid patients because of the low fees and the blizzard of paperwork required to get paid, forcing patients who have lost their current physician scrambling to find another.

“Insurance companies will now compete for your business” – You still cannot buy health insurance coverage outside of the state in which you reside, and many states are refusing to set up insurance exchanges because of the legacy cost , so there is no ‘competition’ for your business.

It will make healthcare affordable for everyone- Personally, my health insurance premium has doubled since 2008. There are fewer people covered by health insurance this year than last year, and the number of uninsured continues to grow. The only people who have benefited from the affordability of Obamacare are the same people who didn’t pay for healthcare before.

We all should remember the crooked way in which this legislation was forced upon us. Many congressional members were opposed to this bill even when the democrats controlled both houses of Congress. To even get the bill out of committee a rino (republican in name only) Senator (Olympia Snow) had to be coerced into signing on. The entire state of Nebraska was granted a waiver by the Obama Administration in order to get that senator’s vote. A deal remembered as the ‘Corn Husker kickback.’

Let’s not forget the waivers granted for union members, and the hundreds of other groups the administration owed favors to.

So what is the danger in the decision made by the Obama Administration to delay implementation? The fact the Obama Administration has the authority to turn off and turn on portions of this legislation at a whim without Congressional approval should be a stark warning!

I am as disappointed as anyone that Obamacare became law, but the fact remains it was voted on and passed by Congress then signed into law by the President. But is there provision in the bill giving authority to the President to decide what portions of the law go into effect and which ones are delayed or eliminated?

While the delay caused some small business owners to breathe a short sigh of relief, those on the receiving will now have to wait another year to see if their employer will provide the coverage or just drop it and pay the fine.

Who voted for this delay? Was this decision even mentioned to any Congressional leader – no, the Obama Administration made the decision on their own!

Have the new taxes been delayed, or the new requirements on insurance companies – no!

We all know the reason for the delay; the 2014 elections on the heels of the implementation of this portion of Obamacare would be a serious obstacle to a struggling economy and a potential deathblow to the democratically controlled Senate.

There are no Democrats complaining about this delay – they know, 4 years too late, this bill is a disaster, the majority of Americans hate it and the democrats fear they will pay the price in 2014. So what to do other than shove the implementation date to a time after the elections.

What other portions of this bill will be modified, eliminated, or enforced on the whim of the president? In 2011 the provision for long term care, deemed too costly, was struck from the bill, leaving many elderly people struggling to be able to afford the coverage if they could even find it.

Wasn’t Obamacare originally proposed to us as insurance against these very situations? Of course it was, but the truth is those ‘death panels’ laughed off by liberals as a conservative scare tactic are a reality. And the coverage provided by Obamacare may just depend on whether the patient is a young potential liberal voter or an elderly conservative.

Obamacare was never about affordable healthcare, it’s already failed there, its about control, government control of more of our lives. When one man controls the healthcare of the American people and with it 1/3 of our economy; how is that different from tyranny?

And The Clueless Award of The Month Goes To

US-Senate-300x195 The 66 members of the Senate who approved this $955 Billion give-away program known as The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013.

A fine article written by Sallie James  hits some of the high-points of this legislation.  Sighting the fact there is no ‘real‘ deficit reduction and the Farm Bill is no longer just a farm bill but a welfare and environmental bill rolled into one, which at its core is the exact opposite of the free-market.

I would like to touch on some additional items included in this bill, items that make no sense whatsoever, but are typical of government mentality, such as:

1.      Paying farmers’ subsidies supporting commodity prices instead of letting the market adjust them naturally-while handing out food stamps to buy the same commodities we are subsidizing. Please explain how this is a good thing.

2.      Grants which “Encourage Healthy Food Choices” modeled after a program currently under way in Michigan known as “Double Up Food Bucks” whereby SNAP recipients can double their SNAP purchasing amounts if they use those amounts to buy veggies (healthy fruits and vegetables) – all at your expense – what a deal for them. A reciprocal program which the taxpayer pays twice for someone else making the right choices in food purchases.

3.  And my personal favorite; The Community Wood Energy Program. “This program provides  competitive, cost-share grants for communities to supply public buildings with energy from sustainably-harvested wood from the local area.”

How many government buildings are in use currently that have wood-burning stoves? If the answer is none, then it begs the question why do we need a program providing a service for a nonexistent need? Because its government mentality.

The bills summary is full of the usual grandiose promises – saving taxpayers money, creating jobs, strengthening our future, along with the other non-factual drivel, when in reality it does none of these things. 

There are political jabs and “well duh” moments incorporated in this bill which may be needed, but are comical because they are loopholes that should have been plugged to begin with. Yet another example of a government that is incapable of managing the people’s money effectively. Our government has grown too large too fast to be effective and with zero accountability huge mistakes and fraud are all too common.

For instance – the portion of the legislation “Prevents Lottery Winners from Receiving Food Assistance” is the result of a loophole that was exposed when the media discovered an unemployed woman was collecting SNAP benefits even though she had just won the lottery.

Ends Farm Payments to Millionaires” is a topic I’m sure will make the liberal base happy in its claim, but maybe we should consider not throwing out the baby with the wash water – maybe revising the system to where it makes more sense. It would be hard to argue the fact most farm commodities are produced by large farms and many of them are able to produce commodities at a reasonable price because of their size and the efficient manner in which they are run. Many of these ‘large farms’ would eclipse the $750k AGI- do we arbitrarily penalize their efficiency?

Should we reward farmers who are inefficient or worse yet not growing anything at all, paying them for doing a poor job? This, by the way, is exactly what most welfare programs do.

The bill includes insurance coverage for cotton crops and a reduction in domestic cotton commodity price supports while paying an annual settlement to Brazilian cotton farmers over a WTO lawsuit. Instead of fighting, our government has decided to just pay the Brazilian farmers $150 million a year.

Some of the nonsense in this bill has been put forth in the past two Federal Budget proposals submitted by the Obama administration. Those budgets were so bad Harry Reid refused to bring them to the floor of the Senate for a vote, and yet they have found their way into this bill.

So, congratulations to the 66 Members of the Senate who passed this piece of farm fertilizer (commonly known as cow dung) legislation and in their winning the clueless award of the month for June 2013.

 

Hurricane Sandy Pork Bill part II

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In part one of our Hurricane Sandy Pork Bill we left off at the $44 million allocation for NOAA airplane repairs. I doubt any of the victims of Sandy give a rats .. well.. you know ..about the hurricane airplanes.

So if it doesn’t help the recovery effort, then why is it in the bill at all? Its simple…its pork.

A million here and a million there we get to The Dept of Defense. They get $88.3 million for repairs as the result of Sandy (beginning Chapter 3 pg.11)

Gotta love some of the wording in the legislation – “for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy:”

What exactly are ‘necessary expenses’ and who determines that?

Now we get to the meat of the issue; The Corps of Engineers.

They want $5.35 Billion for Sandy repairs. There’s not much point in arguing the merits, or lack there of, of all of the expenditures here, but there are a few things worth mentioning.

1. $50 Million to “For an additional amount for ‘‘Investigations’’ to expedite studies of flood and storm damage reduction related natural disasters,”

Now boys and girls $50 million for studies is laughable. If you have a mental picture of a family with no house, no car, etc, please tell me how you can rationalize a $50 million expenditure for ‘studies’?

Once again I ask – How did you arrive at that number, and who did it?

There is even a stipulation: “Provided, That using $29,500,000 of the funds provided herein, the Secretary shall expedite and complete ongoing flood and storm damage reduction studies in areas that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy in the North Atlantic Division of the U.S.

So $29.5 Million is earmarked for flood and storm damage reduction studies. With the treasure trove of studies already conducted and paid for relating to storm and flood damage across the country how could we possibly need more studies?

$50 Million for studies sounds like paybacks to institutions for their support of certain candidates – prove me wrong!

This bill places FEMA under the umbrella of the Dept of Homeland Security, why I have no idea, but we find 3 bullet points in the summary sheet one of which we will take a closer look at.

“An increase of $9.7 billion in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) borrowing authority (FEMA is expected to exhaust current borrowing authority by January 7, 2013)”

Here is a perfect example of a government run insurance company and a couple of fun facts:

1. You have to buy flood insurance from the government.

2. NFIP collects total annual premiums of $1.8 billion (entire U.S.).

3. NFIP holds $527 Billion worth of insured properties (entire U.S.).

4. The payout for Katrina alone was $16 Billion.

5. “The second largest fiscal liability of the U.S. government, behind social security, is the National Flood Insurance Program.”

And they are already broke. That’s what the $9.7 Billion is for and what the House will vote on; they have no money to pay out.

There is a long list of other pork projects included in this bill.

Even if half of this money was legitimately needed, there should be scrutiny and accountability to go along with it, but there won’t be.

Katrina was a perfect example; before the hurricane devastated New Orleans the Federal government allocated funding to sure-up the levy system around New Orleans, the money was re-directed by the state and local officials to repair locks and other projects.

Katrina came, the levies failed, the rest is history.

In a rush to help money was given away to victims by the truck load, very soon it was discovered the “victims” were living better than ever, with more money than ever, and fraud was the name of the game.

Years later, those who received money they were not entitled to were given a free-pass by President Obama – If you made less than $90,000 a year just keep the money.

Why would we expect anything different this time around?

Pork packing a bill is nothing less than a sign of laziness on the part of our Legislators. Instead of doing the work and individually addressing legislation as it should be, they take the lazy way out.

Let’s start with $20 Billion that will cover the funds needed by NFIP, the requested monies by the Corps of Engineers, the emergency repairs, with funds left over.

bureaucratsThen force the legislators to do their jobs – with full accountability.

Hurricane Sandy Pork Bill

When you consider the enormity of the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy its apparent the cost of restoration will be large and you want to help those whose lives were basically turned upside down, physically and financially.

We also expect our government to assist physically and financially, that is one reason we pay taxes (some of us anyway) so those in need have the resources necessary when a disaster strikes.

We want those funds available and a plan in place to put those funds to work without delay. What we don’t want is to rush to spend, wasting those funds. But waste is exactly what is going on with the relief bill for Hurricane Sandy victims.

You would have thought that we gained some insight in how to plan, manage, dispense, and account for the funds spent for disaster recovery given the history of such events, but alas it seems we have learned little if anything and the Hurricane Sandy relief bill is an example of that failure.

The bill itself, while well meaning, is criminal since so many expenditures listed are not related to Hurricane Sandy at all. Criminal in the sense that those people and areas so desperate for financial help will be deprived because of the waste packed in this bill.

An examination of this bill reveals allocations that are unnecessary, many which could be postponed, and some border on ridiculous.

Looking at some of these allocations, which are grouped according to department, you don’t have to read very long before you begin to question the allocation of funds.

First section – Agriculture Department;

‘‘Emergency Forest Restoration Program’’ (pg2 line 17) – $58,855,000, to remain available until expended, of which $49,010,000 is for expenses resulting from a major disaster.

And just what is the EFRP? EFRP provides payments to eligible owners of non-industrial private forest (NIPF) land to carry out emergency measures to restore land damaged by a natural disaster.

Really? $49 Million for private forest land restoration? I’m sure there are tree farmers and tree huggers who would argue the legitimacy of this funding but the timing couldn’t be worse.

Isn’t this something that could wait to be addressed at a later time or couldn’t this funding be put to better use in the wake of Sandy? On a comparative note; $15 million allocated for food yet $49 million for trees on private land?

Next up; ‘‘Emergency Watershed Protection Program’’ (pg3 line 6), –$125,055,000, to remain available until expended, of which $77,085,000 is for expenses resulting from a major disaster.

The EWPP is defined as a department to help communities address emergency watershed impairments that pose imminent threats to lives and property either through erosion or natural disaster.

Two things to bear in mind are one; the work this agency does is temporary in nature and two; they operate under the Department of Agriculture. Why not under the Army corps of engineers? They are the ones who are going to be involved in the permanent projects of this nature so why not be efficient and get them on the same game plan?

You will see later in the bill the Corps of Engineers funding is $5.3 billion, so why the $125 million for temporary measures?

Next up; NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION OPERATIONS, RESEARCH, AND FACILITIES – $482 Million

This whole expenditure deserves severe scrutiny, but I want to focus on just 3 points.

1. $150,000,000, for necessary expenses related to fishery disasters as declared by the Secretary of Commerce in calendar year 2012:(pg. 5 line 14) Here is an attempt to address the entire loss for all fishery disasters for 2012.

You would be hard pressed to convince me there was $150 Million worth of uninsured fishery losses in 2012 much less related to Hurricane Sandy. Here is one of those expenditures which could be cut to realistic levels and/or addressed at a later time.

2. $197,000,000 to evaluate, stabilize and restore coastal ecosystems affected by Hurricane Sandy ;( pg.5 line 6). First isn’t that what the EWPP is supposed to do?

Secondly, how in the world do you arrive at that figure? Did someone just fly over the affected area and guess? If you consider the governments past spending habits it will probably wind up at three times that amount so why not get a handle on this before the money is spent.

There is a major departmental overlap as well, when you consider that  $47 Million of that is destined for “the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program to support State and local restoration in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy;” (pg. 6 line 5).

I think some very detailed investigation needs to go into this before any checks are written.

3. $44,500,000 for repairs and upgrades to NOAA hurricane reconnaissance aircraft ;(pg. 6 line 12). Here is another expenditure while may be needed, surely it is not needed at this time and should be addressed at a later time when the disaster caused by Sandy is under control.

Why is it we have legislators that rush to spend? Is it because they are so concerned about their public image they are afraid to take the time to do the right thing instead of just the immediate thing?

Is it because they are to lazy to do the work required to find out what is needed (exactly) and how much is needed to repair the damage?

Why do they feel compelled to pack a bill with items not directly related to a bills original purpose?

Maybe if it was their money and not our money a little more scrutiny would be employed?

This relief bill needs a closer look.