IRS Cincinnati Office Pushed Back Hard When Lerner Tried To Throw ‘Rogue’ Employees Under The Bus

Newly released emails from the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division office in Cincinnati show that, from the beginning, Lois Lerner was setting the office up as a “rogue” fall guy for the Tea Party discrimination scandal.

The new batch of emails, products of an ongoing investigation into the scandal by the House Ways and Means Committee, show that Cincinnati exempt organizations director Cindy Thomas called out Lerner directly for attempting to make the scandal appear to be the work of outliers working without authorization from Washington, D.C.

On May 10 (the day the scandal first broke to the media), Lerner was claiming it was all Cincinnati’s fault, and that nobody else within the IRS knew that the agency was holding up conservative groups’ applications to be granted nonprofit status during the 2012 general election cycle.

To say that incensed Thomas, back at the Cincinnati office, is an understatement.

“Cincinnati wasn’t publicly ‘thrown under the bus’ [but] instead was hit by a convoy of Mack trucks,” Thomas wrote Lerner in an email that same day.

“As you can imagine, employees and managers [here in Cincinnati] are furious.” Thomas wrote to Lerner.

Confronted May 10 with questions about the brewing scandal, Lerner, who was attending a conference for the American Bar Association at the time, said rogue employees at the Cincinnati office “didn’t have the appropriate level of sensitivity about how this might appear to others, and it was just wrong.”

Thomas, who never publicized her anger with Lerner, excoriated her via email.

“Was it also communicated at that conference in Washington that the low-level workers in Cincinnati asked the Washington office for assistance and the Washington office took no action to provide guidance to the low-level workers?

“. . . How am I supposed to keep the low-level workers motivated when the public believes they are nothing more than low-level and now will have no respect for how they are working cases? The attitude/morale of employees is at the lowest it has ever been.”

At least they can take solace in the fact that Lerner ultimately did take the fall, most likely in a move by the Obama Administration to decapitate the scandal while the public still believed its head wasn’t attached to the White House. She resigned in September, and poked her head up last month to announce she wanted to volunteer to help a local citizens’ group in Maryland screen grant applications from nonprofit organizations. Old habits die hard.

Hammer In Search Of Nail: If Everyone’s Speeding, Don’t Raise The Speed Limit – Make Them Stop Instead

Philadelphia is testing a new method to get motorists to notice a posted 35 mph speed limit on a local street, with an eye to expanding the pilot project if city leaders like the results.

The city has spent $11,050 to embed speed sensors in the roadway on a stretch of Kelly Drive that trigger a traffic signal to switch from green to red – if the sensor detects a car that’s speeding.

Previously, the Kelly Drive signal only would turn red for pedestrians who pushed the crosswalk button or for cross traffic that had stopped at the opposing light.

What’s odd about this program is that the city had no idea that people were violating the speed limit by an average of nearly 20 mph over the limit – until after it signed on to embed the sensors that trigger the red light.

The story, as covered by local website philly.com, seems to get behind the effort by using the same sort of anecdotal generalizations – the kind not supported by data – that filmmaker Chris Thompson took to task in a recent video. Thompson argues that police, lawmakers and the media often collude to promote the “speed kills” mantra instead of examining whether drivers and pedestrians would be safer if speed limits, in many cases, were raised instead of zealously enforced.

“Daily commuters on Kelly Drive know well the frequent traffic jams caused by accidents and the occasional car veering into the Schuylkill,” offers philly.com.

What about it? If you’re familiar with this area, do you think it warrants strict enforcement of a 35 mph speed limit? Or is the average 54.8 mph driver speed more realistic?

Obama Losing The Hope And Change Generation

The same Quinnipiac poll that shows President Barack Obama in a free fall with voters also reveals that the President who successfully sold young voters a nebulous promise of hope and change is beginning to lose his appeal with the hope and change generation.

Quinnipiac finds that only 40 percent of young people approve of the President’s performance — virtually identical to the general voting population’s 39 percent approval rating. Among 19- to 29-year-olds, 54 percent disapprove of Obama; among 30- to 49-year-olds, the figure is 51 percent. That’s right up there with the general voting population’s 54 percent disapproval rating.

A similar question about Obama’s trustworthiness produced a similar breakdown in numbers. By contrast, when young voters were asked whether they trusted Obama over Congressional Republicans on issues ranging from the economy to immigration to healthcare reform, 18- to 29-year-olds favored the GOP in every category:

  • Healthcare: 41 percent (Obama); 46 percent (GOP)
  • The economy: 39 percent (Obama); 49 percent (GOP)
  • Immigration: 41 percent (Obama); 42 percent (GOP)
  • Federal budget: 41 percent (Obama); 44 percent (GOP)

Of course, what young people think about Obama means little for Obama himself as he rides out the remainder of his Presidency. As his credibility has taken repeated hits over the course of 2013 (and especially since the Obamacare rollout fiasco), political writers and talking heads have begun throwing in “lame duck” references with increasing frequency.

But the extent to which young voters apply the guilt-by-association theory to Obama’s fellow Democrats — many of whom are distancing themselves from their key role in making Obamacare the law of the land — could help determine whether there’s a partisan realignment in Congress in next year’s midterm elections.

In a midterm election cycle that lacks a national stage for a candidate to make an overt push for young voters, it’s likely that young voter turnout for most of the 2014 Congressional races won’t approach the level seen in the past two general elections. Young voters staying at home on Election Day, according to the conventional thinking, is supposed to benefit the GOP. But next year, it could be Democratic incumbents who hope for a light turnout among the young.

Federal Judge Considers Injunction Against NSA Data Collection

A judge for U.S. District in the District of Columbia showed some indication Monday that issuing a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit to stop the NSA from mining American citizens’ personal electronic data is a real possibility in his court.

But, Judge Richard Leon also acknowledged that the matter probably won’t resolve until it’s reached the highest court in the land.

“I don’t know, frankly, how I’m going to come out,” said Leon after hearing arguments on both sides Monday. “I’m not kidding myself… it’s going to the court of appeals and probably to the Supreme Court – one way or the other.”

The lawsuit before Leon was filed in June by Larry Klayman, a former prosecutor in the Reagan Administration and former chairman of the nonprofit court monitoring group Judicial Watch, and two other plaintiffs. Klayman filed two similar suits only days after the NSA’s PRISM spy program was first made public by British newspaper The Guardian.

The suit alleges the government to have illegally spied on the plaintiffs’ Verizon Wireless devices in a violation of the Constitution “and also Federal laws, including, but not limited to, the outrageous breach of privacy, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and the due process rights of American citizens.”

Verizon, the NSA, the U.S. Department of Justice, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and others are named as defendants.

Reporting on Monday’s arguments, U.S. News assessed Judge Leon’s interest in the standing of the case, as well as the merits:

During the hearing Leon expressed concern about two areas of law. First, he questioned his authority to review Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions. The law establishing that court doesn’t provide for review by a U.S. District Court, he said. Leon also questioned whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue – an issue that derailed a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court last year by Amnesty International.

On standing, Klayman said a leaked FISC order showed his clients’ Verizon phone records were collected, giving them standing.

[DOJ attorney James] Gilligan disagreed. That court order actually required a Verizon corporate entity that does not directly route calls to hand over information, he said, not Verizon Wireless – the provider used by plaintiffs.

“The government has not acknowledged the identity of any carrier,” he said.

“If the government holds all the cards,” Leon asked, “they could never establish standing, could they?”

…Leon expressed concern about his authority to declare unconstitutional the decisions of 15 federal judges serving on the FISC who authorized the NSA collection of phone records, but Klayman argued he has the authority – and responsibility – to do so.

“King George [III] had judges too,” Klayman said. “You, your honor, are the last bastion of protection for the American people. [We are] going into the only court we can be in.”

Leon at one point said a 1979 case that NSA and its proponents often fall back on to justify the legal basis for the agency’s surveillance practices may be outdated in the era of Big Data.

That case, Smith v Maryland, ended with a ruling that the defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy “over a list of phone numbers dialed within a two-day period.”

“Things have changed a little since ’79. The technology that was being used in that case paled in comparison – paled in comparison – to the technology the NSA has at its disposal,” said Leon.

Homeland Security Chairman: Obama Just Not That Into National Security

The National Security Agency may be bigger and badder than ever before, Federal agencies may be militarizing and expanding their law enforcement roles in unprecedented ways, local police departments may be lapping up the government’s cast-off tanks and riot gear under the guise of dealing with worst-case terrorism encounters, and the United States may be ready to sell the farm to court nuclear wild cards like Iran.

But don’t let anyone fool you: Whatever he may say to justify America baring its teeth at its own citizens while lying down like a lamb for our known enemies, President Barack Obama must have other motives at heart. According to the Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, at the end of the day, Obama just isn’t all that interested in National security.

Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) told The Heritage Foundation last week Obama “denies reality and tried to wish things away” — when he even bothers to attend national security briefings at all.

The long and short of it is, the leadership starts at the top. And when the leadership denies reality and tries to wish things away, and creates a narrative that defies reality, it’s very hard to work in a bipartisan way. At the end of the day, National security issues above all should be bipartisan. I have attempted to govern my committee, as chairman of Homeland Security in a bipartisan way. In fact every bill that I’ve gotten out of my committee has passed in a bipartisan way, and I think that’s the way we need to govern. I think that’s important that we try to do that. Certainly, when it comes to National security issues we should. I just personally think this President is weak on national security, and I don’t think, frankly, he’s interested in it. It’s not where his interest lies, which is why he doesn’t attend many of his National security briefings.

McCaul’s remarks echo those of American Enterprise Institute fellow Marc A. Thiessen, who observed in an opinion piece for The Washington Post last year that Obama’s campaign rhetoric made him out to be a leader with a deep personal investment in matters of National security.

In reality, though, his handlers were observing a man whose scheduling choices suggested he couldn’t care less — so long as he could go along to get along.

“It turns out that more than half the time, the commander in chief does not attend his daily intelligence meeting,” Thiessen wrote:

The Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization, examined President Obama’s schedule from the day he took office until mid-June 2012, to see how often he attended his Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) — the meeting at which he is briefed on the most critical intelligence threats to the country. During his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his PDB just 536 times — or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent — falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.

…When Obama forgoes this daily intelligence meeting, he is consciously placing other priorities ahead of national security. As The Post story that the Obama White House sent me put it, “Process tells you something about an administration. How a president structures his regular morning meeting on intelligence and national security is one way to measure his personal approach to foreign policy.”

Indeed it is. So is how often he holds it. With President Obama, it seems, the regular morning meeting on intelligence is not so regular.

Senate Candidate Ben Sasse: Obama Is Throwing Nation Into A ‘Constitutional Crisis’

Ben Sasse, president of Midland University and conservative candidate for one of Nebraska’s seats in the U.S. Senate, released a short video from the campaign trail Friday that elegantly criticizes President Barack Obama’s visionary reimagining of his role under the Constitution. Obama’s a la carte enforcement of the unpopular Obamacare law, says Sasse, illustrates the President’s erroneous belief that the Nation’s chief executive holds legislative power.

Here’s a portion of Sasse’s commentary:

Just like my fellow citizens last night, I’m frightened by what occurred in Washington, D.C., yesterday. President Obama offered a supposed “fix” to Obamacare that would direct the secretary of HHS to let Americans keep their insurance policy. The President did not actually “fix” anything, but he did provoke a Constitutional crisis.

Understand: President Obama cannot legally do what he proposed to do yesterday, and the media let him get away with the claim. He can’t “fix” part of a law he doesn’t like by fiat. Our President is not a king. He doesn’t get to make decrees. He doesn’t even have a line-item veto, under our current system of government.

The only branch of government, under our Constitution, that has any power to change this law is the Congress.

This debate is no longer only about healthcare, but has become much larger — it has morphed into a battle over transforming our Constitutional system of separate, coequal branches of government. This is about whether or not the Congress will cede its Constitutional power to a runaway executive branch in a way that our Founders never intended, and would not understand.

… President Obama does not have the unilateral authority to change parts of the law that finds inconvenient, now, for political purposes. The fact that Obama rammed this bill through in the worst possible in 2009 does not now give him the imperial power to go back and change parts of it that he doesn’t like.

Sasse also points out that even Obama’s traditional allies, like former Vermont Governor and  Democratic Presidential aspirant Howard Dean, openly have questioned his unabashed power grab.

Dean wondered aloud on MSNBC last Thursday evening where Obama gets the idea he can stray into legislative endeavors.

“A: I wonder if he has the legal authority to do this, since this was a Congressional bill that set this up,” Dean said. “And, B: I stick to what I said before the President came on [to give his “administrative fix” announcement] — which is, if you want to make this [health care law] work, you’ve gotta get people in system, and the [Healthcare.gov] website’s not gonna work, evidently, for a while.”

“What the President has done here is outrageous; it is illegal, and it is unConstitutional,” Sasse concludes. “If Republicans in Washington are serious about upholding their oaths of office, they must demand that Obamacare be repealed, and that we start over. Republicans should absolutely refuse to be any part of an unConstitutional attempt by President Obama to prop up this bad law.”

Federal Tax Revenues Set To Break Records In 2014

The U.S. Treasury Department released its monthly statement last week, which estimates that Federal revenues from taxes are projected to hit a historic high next year.

How high? According to the Treasury statement, which uses estimates from the White House Office of Management and Budget’s mid-year report to Congress, the Federal government will take in more than $3 trillion in tax revenues for the first time in the Nation’s history.

That easily exceeds the next-highest tax revenue year for the Feds: 2007, when the government reported tax revenues of $2.57 trillion.

But, as in every year since 2001, the government is on track to spend far more than it will take in. The OMB is projecting an increase in the Federal deficit, for 2014, of $750 billion.

CNS News put the numbers in perspective by dividing the 2014 tax revenue estimate by the number of people currently living in the United States. The result:

In fact, the record $3,023,004,000,000 in tax revenues that the White House is predicting the federal government will rake in during fiscal 2014 not only exceeds the inflation-adjusted revenue taken in by the government in any previous year, it also equals $29,673 in tax revenue for every full-time worker in the country.

It is also equals $9,534 for every man, woman and child currently living in the country.

… According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 101,877,000 full-time workers (who usually worked at least 35 hours a week) in the average month during 2012. The $3,023,004,000,000 in taxes the administration plans to collect this year equals $29,673 for each of those full-time workers.

For each household where there are two full-time workers, the federal government is planning to collect $59,346 in this fiscal year. In 2012, according to the Census Bureau, the median household income was only $51,017.

Of course, the annual tax haul pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars printed by the Federal Reserve each year — money that has now swollen the Nation’s cumulative debt to more than $17 trillion.

The U.S. tax structure may be onerous, profligate and, deceitful — but the Fed is running a much bigger spending juggernaut that’s grown so big, and occupies such a central role to the U.S. fiat economy, that Washington, D.C., both condones and depends on it. The economy won’t collapse if Congress reforms taxes. The same can’t be said of the Federal Reserve’s Ponzi scheme.

Note from the Editor: As a reader you deserve to know the truth behind the economic disaster America faces. I’ve arranged for readers to get free copies of two books that reveal the sinister plot by the US Government to steal our wealth—a plot Merrill Jenkins, Sr. (the Original Monetary Realist) tried to expose at great risk. His books are hard to find, but these books include rare transcripts from his lectures. Click here for your free copies.

Biden Takes On The Tea Party

Vice President Joe Biden went into full-on John McRINO mode in his bid to shore up the reelection campaign of embattled North Carolina Democratic Senator Kay Hagan Friday, telling donors at a fundraising event the Nation needs a Republican Party that’s emancipated itself from the influence of unwavering Tea Party conservatism.

Biden’s hope for the GOP? A predominance of “mainstream conservatives” who nominally like to carry the flag for big businesses, but otherwise differ little from their Democratic kin.

“Your father’s Republican Party is trying to come back,” said Biden.

Biden alluded to the victory of Alabama Republican Bradley Byrne, who lost his 2010 gubernatorial primary bid to Tea Party darling Robert Bentley but won a seat in the State’s 1st Congressional district last week over Tea Party opponent Dean Young, as an example of where he hopes his own party’s political adversaries come from in the future.

“The business community [in Alabama]… came along and said enough is enough,” said Biden.

“You are going to see the Republican Party wrestle back eventually to a mainstream conservative position and that’s good. We need a strong Republican Party. Because we have to have somebody we can look across the aisle and make a deal with.”

Was there not a single Republican in all of Congress you could persuade to vote for Obamacare, Mr. Vice President? Or do you just want pliable “opposition” that can be counted on to break under Democrats’ unilateral bullying?

It’s telling that neither Biden nor Hagan breathed a word about Obamacare during the event – even though Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) keeps insisting that Democrats will ride the success of Obamacare all the way to victory in the 2014 Congressional midterms.

“You’re darn right that our candidates are going to run on the advantage that Obamacare will be going into the 2014 election,” she told CNN Thursday. “The choice will be very clear.”

How about it, Biden and Hagan? Got Obamacare listed on your campaign talking points yet?

The Affordable Care Act Disaster Is Not Obama’s ‘Katrina’

The New York Times went there yesterday, drawing a facile comparison between President Barack Obama’s handling of the Obamacare rollout with the way his predecessor, George W. Bush, dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

How is Obama’s egg-on-face bungling of his own pet law anything like Bush’s response to an act of God? Did George W. Bush badger Congress, from the very beginning of his first term in office, to legislate a Category 5 hurricane into existence on a partisan vote and aim it at one of the Nation’s critical industrial corridors?

Did he promise the Nation for two years that everyone just needed to stop worrying and bend over and take whatever nature — at the behest of his political supporters — throws our way? That we’d all end up grateful, in the end, for his foresight?

Did Bush lie without equivocation about who would benefit from his hurricane — and continue to lie about how beneficial the hurricane was, even as it made landfall and marched into the interior of the Gulf States? Did he gloat when the hurricane was allowed to proceed after a Supreme Court challenge and tell his detractors to get over it, that Katrina was the established law of the land?

Did he then try to bypass Congress by authorizing NOAA, or HAARP, or whatever weather-manipulating powers the Commander in Chief may have at his disposal, to unilaterally modify the hurricane after Congress had already devoted thousands of pages of legislation to fine-tuning its every devastating feature? Did he double down on the disaster-in progress by offering an “administrative fix” — a Presidential decree to roll back the storm surge for a year so that people and businesses who’d already battened down the hatches would have time to undo their original escape plan and waste more time and money coming up with a better one?

In the run-up to landfall, did Bush blame Democrats for driving a wedge between the American people? Did he accuse them of Chicken-Little doomsday political tricks, of sermonizing the approaching hurricane’s deleterious effects, of attempting to make the Katrina issue an all-or-nothing bid to hold the rest of the Federal government hostage?

Did Bush then set about devising a scheme to bail out all his political supporters in Congress as Americans, beginning to realize that the hurricane was indeed devastating and was all the Republicans’ fault, started targeting their Republican Congress members as scapegoats?

George W. Bush may be guilty of a lot of terrible things. Some Americans believe he was guilty of truly unconscionable horrors on a scale that no amount of declassification of public documents will ever fully reveal. But however he coordinated the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina, or failed to assuage the pain of Ray Nagin and other political opportunists who knew how to milk a good emergency, Bush bears no culpability for creating the circumstances that led to the devastation of the Gulf Coast in August of 2005.

Barack Obama owns Obamacare. Depending on the mood of his party brethren, he’s even warmed to the “Obamacare” moniker (though not so much over the past seven days). He started the snowball rolling on Feb. 24, 2009, when he stood before Congress and said, “So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”

He told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009:

And that means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. … If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. … No one will take it away, no matter what.

And he kept saying it for four more years, all the while making damn sure everybody knew whose great idea it was — and calling out all of his nefarious opponents, who only saw gloom and doom in store.

Obama stumped at a Maryland business right at the start of the October government “shutdown,” telling people all about how settled and established his Obamacare law was, after years of challenges from Republican luddites:

So I would think that if, in fact, this was going to be such a disaster that the Republicans say it’s going to be, that it was going to be so unpopular, they wouldn’t have to shut down the government.  They could wait, nobody would show any interest, there would be, like, two people on the website – (laughter) – and everybody would then vote for candidates who want to repeal it.

It’s not as if Republicans haven’t had a chance to debate the health care law.  It passed the House of Representatives.  It passed the Senate.  The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional –you remember all this.  Last November, voters rejected the presidential candidate that ran on a platform to repeal it.  (Applause.)  So the Affordable Care Act has gone through every single democratic process, all three branches of government.  It’s the law of the land.  It’s here to stay.

“There would be, like, two people on the website.” Prophetic.

If you’ve read a better indictment of Obama’s hypocritical “administrative fix” speech than that offered by RedState contributor John Hayward, drop a link in the comments section. Here’s Hayward on Obama’s power play for royalty:

Not only does President Obama lack the legal authority to impose the “fix” for insurance cancellations he described on Thursday, but his entire proposal boils down to inviting insurance companies to violate federal law, and promising not to prosecute them for it.

That’s not an oversimplification – it’s literally true.  The Affordable Care Act – which Obama has previously been fond of describing as “the settled law of the land,” evidently confident that his dimmer constituents will believe settled laws have never been changed or repealed before – includes legal requirements for the content of insurance policies.  Obama’s “fix” invites insurance companies to violate those laws for a year, while he instructs the relevant regulatory agencies to look the other way.

This isn’t the rule of law.  It’s Chicago corruption – no different, at heart, from the inspector who takes a cash payoff to look the other way while seedy nightclubs violate city ordinances.  It’s one of the most shameful utterances a high government official has ever made, to say nothing of being rather hard to square with those photos of Obama’s signature on the ACA, with the caption “IT’S. THE. LAW.” that his political operation likes to spread across social media. The key element of the Obamacare defense, throughout the last-ditch Republican effort to defund or delay the law before it failed in precisely the ways they predicted, was the belligerent shriek that no one can dare oppose this almighty law, which is more powerful and permanent than the very Constitution itself.  But at the same time, they’re telling us the whole thing is written in pencil, and Barack Obama can erase anything he finds politically inconvenient.

Back to The New York Times:

The disastrous rollout of his [Obama’s] health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.

But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn.

That makes sense: Blame Republicans as you help the President put down the talking points and step gingerly away from the Obamacare. As The Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher wrote Friday, “Their fingerprints aren’t on the murder weapon, which only proves they made ‘im do it.”

Obama took ownership of this thing and used it as a political status symbol until it started betraying him by functioning exactly as it was designed to function. Now he’s being stoned by fellow Democrats and is seeking a solution that doesn’t leave his Administration, or his party, politically destitute.

Obamacare isn’t to Obama as Katrina was to Bush. To borrow the Times’ silly simile, though, it would be equally appropriate to say that Obama’s second-act “fix” for his own self-made mess looks like it could do a Rita on the Constitution.

Obama Administration Admits Obamacare Will Cost More; The Failure Of Partisan Social Liberalism; Obama Backer Tapped For Surgeon General; Tech Gets Technical To Block NSA; Venezuela Arrests ‘Bourgeois’ Capitalists – TGIF Friday Morning News Roundup 11-15-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories making the Internet rounds this morning. Click the links for the full stories.

  • The Obama Administration has directly conceded for the first time that ‘in many cases,’ health insurance plans offered through government exchanges are more expensive than plans consumers bought before the Affordable Care Act became law – even when government subsidies are figured in. Source: Daily Mail…

 

  • Charles Krauthammer quickly penned an opinion piece Thursday after President Barack Obama’s “administrative fix” speech, noting the disaster isn’t just driving a wedge between Congressional Democrats; it’s pushing a revolt against Obama’s wider vision of America: “As the only socially transformational legislation in modern American history to be enacted on a straight party-line vote, Obamacare is wholly owned by the Democrats. Its unraveling would catastrophically undermine their underlying ideology of ever-expansive central government providing cradle-to-grave care for an ever-grateful citizenry. For four years, this debate has been theoretical. Now it’s real. And for Democrats, it’s a disaster.” Source: The Washington Post…

 

  • President Barack Obama will nominate the head of a doctors group that promotes his signature healthcare law to be the next U.S. surgeon general, the White House said on Thursday, shortly after Obama proposed a “fix” for the latest problem with the law. Source: Reuters…

 

  • Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. are fighting back against the National Security Agency by using harder-to-crack code to shield their networks and online customer data from unauthorized U.S. spying. The companies, burned by disclosures they’ve cooperated with U.S. surveillance programs, are protecting user e-mail and social-media posts with strengthened encryption that the U.S. government says won’t be easily broken until 2030. Source: Bloomberg…

 

  • Venezuela’s socialist government has arrested more than 100 “bourgeois” businessmen in a crackdown on alleged price-gouging at hundreds of shops and companies since the weekend, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday. The successor to the late Hugo Chavez also said his government was preparing a law to limit Venezuelan businesses’ profits to between 15 percent and 30 percent. Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent. Critics say failed socialist economic policies and restricted access to foreign currency are behind Venezuela’s runaway inflation. Source: Reuters…

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

Texas Voter Participation Skyrockets Under New ID Law

Opponents of voter identification laws reliably say it’s racist, exclusive and oppressive to require registered voters to show photo identification when they exercise their right to vote. Voter ID, the story goes, denies some people their Constitutional rights by locking out eligible citizens who, for whatever reason, don’t possess qualifying ID.

But a recent amendment ballot in Texas could be an early indication that those kinds of fears are unfounded. Texas voters went to the polls on Nov. 5 to approve nine amendments to the State constitution (all nine measures passed), and voter turnout — even among Hispanics — trounced that of a similar series of measures that came before voters in 2011.

According to The Daily Caller, turnout in predominantly Hispanic Hidalgo County was roughly four times the turnout in the 2011 ballot measure, even though the Nov. 5 election marked the State’s first referendum in which a new voter ID law was enforced.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s widely believed to have the inside track in the 2014 Governor’s race, said last week’s turnout and relatively problem-free polling should silence progressives who’ve facetiously decried voter ID laws as a return to Jim Crow-era voter segregation.

“I haven’t ever seen anything that was overhyped as much as some partisan efforts to overhype concerns about this, when in reality, there has been no problems whatsoever,” Abbott told the Houston Chronicle.

Abbott, who himself had to sign an affidavit confirming his identity at the polls, said there was nothing onerous or disenfranchising about the process.

GAO Finds TSA Profiling To Be Ineffective, Costly, Wasteful

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Wednesday that concludes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should curb its policy of profiling air passengers’ behavior as a means of discovering potential terror threats, because the practice just isn’t working.

GAO investigators advised the TSA to curb the practice unless the agency modifies its methods and can demonstrate that some form of behavioral profiling of passengers can succeed at foiling terrorism.

The report to Congress, titled “TSA Should Limit Future Funding for Behavioral Detection Activities,” takes direct aim at the TSA’s SPOT program (Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques), arguing: “10 years after the development of the SPOT program, TSA cannot demonstrate the effectiveness of its behavior detection activities.

“Until TSA can provide scientifically validated evidence demonstrating that behavioral indicators can be used to identify passengers who may pose a threat to aviation security, the agency risks funding activities that have not been determined to be effective,” investigators conclude.

The TSA started the SPOT program in 2007, and has spent roughly $1 billion to maintain the program over the course of its five-year run. Officers trained in the SPOT program aren’t baggage screeners; they’re behavioral detection officers (BDOs) who’ve been trained to watch people.

The BDOs are supposed to look for travelers who appear stressed or afraid, or who, based on behavioral cues, appear to be in deception mode.

But the GAO report said the TSA’s behavioral observation is just about as effective as random suspect targeting.

The meta-analyses we reviewed — which collectively included research from over 400 separate studies related to detecting deception conducted over the past 60 years — found that the ability of human observers to accurately identify deceptive behavior based on behavioral cues or indicators is the same as or slightly better than chance (54 percent).

The bipartisan House Subcommittee on Transportation Security seemed to agree with the report’s findings Thursday, with both Republican and Democratic members saying the program’s funding could be better spent elsewhere. But the TSA viewed the report quite differently, saying in a statement Wednesday that behavioral detection is “vital to TSA’s layered approach to deter, detect, and disrupt individuals who pose a threat to aviation.”

Obama’s ‘Administrative Fix’ Speech: There’s No One Left To Shaft

President Barack Obama’s Thursday switcheroo announcement that he (not Congress, which makes laws, but he himself, alone) would unilaterally cut people a break under Obamacare into 2014 ought to vindicate Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), whom the mainstream media exiled to buffoon island after his stand against implementation of the Affordable Care Act last month.

But media moves on. That won’t happen.

Just about the only people or groups who by now haven’t been directly shafted by Obamacare, along with Obama’s new “administrative fix,” are those who’ve become eligible for Medicaid and, perhaps, supporters of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential ambitions.

Congressional Democrats are panicking over how to spin their role in the Obamacare disaster with the 2014 midterm elections looming.

Many Congressional Republicans are wondering how Obama is capable of saying, with a straight face, that he wants to do the same thing they attempted to do when they sent draft after draft of a bill delaying the Obamacare individual mandate – a bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the Congressional Obama contingent shut down the government in order to avoid passing.

People who had individual coverage – five million of them and counting – are now without individual coverage thanks to policy cancellations brought about by Obamacare’s supposedly “higher” standards of coverage.

Full time employees are becoming part time employees, as businesses try to keep their expenses in check by eliminating the number of employees eligible for higher-priced, employer-subsidized insurance plans, thanks to Obamacare.

Governments in States that accepted the Obamacare yoke, along with its mandate to expand the Medicaid base, have to come up with incrementally more money without a commensurate expansion in their revenue bases to support the additional cost.

And now insurers – a group that Obama certainly never intended to ostracize – are beginning to see just how deeply Obama’s signature law, as well as the enforcement liberties he’s threatening to take to “fix” its many problems, will affect their profitability.

After Obama revealed his illegal plan today to bypass Congress and force insurance companies to continue offering plans that many of them have already cancelled (thanks to Obamacare), the industry started biting back. And for good reason: insurers have played along as the health care exchanges have been set up, perhaps benignly convinced that whatever market changes Obamacare brought about would just be passed along to consumers. The President’s revelation Thursday that he’d now “allow” these same companies to violate the law by offering their “substandard” policies for another year left many in the business wondering why they’d just sent out millions of cancellation letters.

It also left them wondering how useful their idiocy had been to the President’s Obamacare politics this whole time. “[N]ow the Obama administration wants to make them [insurers] into a scapegoat,” wrote The Washington Post Thursday afternoon:

“This doesn’t change anything other than force insurers to be the political flack jackets for the administration,” an insurance industry insider told Evan McMorris-Santoro. “So now, when we don’t offer these policies, the White House can say it’s the insurers doing this and not being flexible.”

“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” industry trade group representative Karen Ignagni told The Hill right after the President’s speech.

Sounds like Obama’s scapegoats are already playing right into his hands.

Watch out for Hillary, though. The Democrats need an Obamacare savior – and it has to come from someone on their side. GOP conservatives, which in this instance were right all along, will never have their voices heard – at least not unless Congress undergoes a major restructuring next year.

“[T]he Obamacare battle is destined to become a proxy battle over control of the Democratic Party: a battle between presumed 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, and President Obama,” Breitbart’s Ben Shapiro wrote Thursday. “Obama wants to defend his program; Hillary wants to run against it, recognizing its inherent unpopularity.”

Here’s a link to the full text of Obama’s Thursday Obamacare announcement.

Participation In American Labor Force Drops To Historic Low (Again)

Not since the Presidency of Jimmy Carter has participation in the U.S. labor force been as low as it is today. The difference between the Carter Administration and that of President Barack Obama, though, is that job growth under Carter was outpacing the rate at which people were entering, or re-entering, the labor force.

Today, under Obama, the opposite is happening. People are dropping out, because there’s often more incentive to accept a bevy of ever-expanding, low-threshold government doles than a part-time, low-wage service job.

Carter finished his single term in office with 10.5 million more Americans working than when he took office. The Obama Administration has taken credit for a steady uptick in job creation, with the President repeatedly touting the creation of 4.5 million new jobs as he campaigned for re-election.

But those weren’t “new” jobs. They were old jobs people had lost during the recession. Only 300,000 of those jobs represented a net gain for the U.S. labor force. Here’s how CNN’s Election Center explained Obama’s spin:

[T]otal nonfarm payrolls, including government workers, are down from 133.6 million workers at the beginning of 2009 to 133.2 million in July 2012. There’s been a net loss of nearly 1 million public-sector jobs since Obama took office, despite a surge in temporary hiring for the 2010 census.

Meanwhile, the jobs that have come back aren’t the same ones that were lost.

Are you better off?

According to a study released last week by the liberal-leaning National Employment Law Project, low-wage fields such as retail sales and food service are adding jobs nearly three times as fast as higher-paid occupations.

And even The Washington Post took Obama to task over the summer for bumping up his claims of increasing manufacturing jobs, taking apart the President’s broken-record refrain that he’d added 7 million new jobs, including 500,000 in the manufacturing sector:

By July 2012, the number of manufacturing jobs had risen to 11.957 million, or just shy of a 500,000 job gain. That’s when it became part of the President’s campaign rhetoric.

But at that point, the number also stopping (sic) climbing and instead began bouncing around.

In August 2012, 14,000 manufacturing jobs were lost. In the next month, an additional 18,000 were lost. Then came several months of gains — followed by three months of losses. The preliminary numbers in the employment report released Friday show a loss of 9,000 manufacturing jobs in April and 8,000 in May.

So here we are, nearly one year later, and the United States is still stuck at a gain of 500,000 jobs.

More striking, rather than month-by-month figures, look at the trend when year-to-year calculations are made:

Gain in manufacturing jobs

Jan. 2012 to Jan. 2013: +124,000

Feb. 2012 to Feb. 2013: +118,000

March 2012 to March 2013: +74,000

April 2012 to April 2013: +55,000

May 2012 to May 2013: +41,000

In other words, it’s a downhill trend — headed possibly to zero.

Sure, there’s a bright side, if you’re looking for part-time work with no insurance: part-time jobs have grown a rate sevenfold that of full-time jobs under Obama.

And swinging back around to the shrinking labor force, we come to the latest round of numbers released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. What we learn is that a record-high 91.5 million people aren’t even participating in the labor force, that labor force participation stands at 62.8 percent, and that 932,000 more Americans gave up looking for work in October alone.

“At this pace the people out of the labor force will surpass the working Americans in about 4 years,” observes investment website Zero Hedge.

Obama continues to spin the facts about job growth as a way to demonstrate he’s turned around the abysmal economy he inherited from George W. Bush, but he touts his job growth numbers in a vacuum –one that disregards the troubling fact that more and more people are discouraged from (or enticed, by the welfare state) from even looking for work.

Obama, who’s been President for nearly five years now, doesn’t have to contend with double-digit inflation, as Carter did. And even though participation in the labor force was similarly light during Carter’s Presidency, the economy continued to add jobs eventually drawing dormant job seekers back into the labor force.

 

Crackhead Toronto Mayor Has A Higher Approval Rating Than Barack Obama

Rob Ford, the scandal-plagued Toronto mayor who’s been outed on video smoking what appears to be crack cocaine — and who even admitted before the city council this week that he recently purchased illegal drugs — has a higher approval rating among his constituency than President Barack Obama has among Americans.

Just to be clear, we’re talking about this guy, a guy who admits to hitting the crack pipe but has “zero tolerance” for drugs, guns and gangs:

http://youtu.be/UhcqAYrswYo

Ford’s approval rating may be higher than it should be, but it’s not high. The Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) found that Toronto voters are holding steady on Ford, who maintains an approval rating of 44 percent in spite of the crack scandal.

Obama doesn’t have a crack scandal (well, not one that anybody’s saying much about, anyway); but he does have a Hydra of other self-made problems, almost all of which have consistently driven down his approval ratings throughout his still-nascent second term. A Pew survey released last week shows Obama faces high disapproval on every policy point except terrorism.

A Quinnipiac poll released yesterday showed Obama’s overall approval rating at 39 percent — the lowest point in his five years as President. Even among women, considered a barometer of the health of a Democratic President, Obama is losing trust, polling a 51 percent disapproval rate compared with only 40 percent of women who approval of the job he’s done.

Similarly, Obama is losing the public trust. “For the first time today, American voters say 52 – 44 percent that Obama is not honest and trustworthy,” Quinnipiac reports. “His previous lowest marks on honesty were May 30, when 49 percent of voters said he was honest and 47 percent said he wasn’t.”

Here’s more:

“Like all new presidents, President Barack Obama had a honeymoon with American voters, with approval ratings in the high 50s. As the marriage wore on, he kept his job approval scores in the respectable, though not overwhelming, 40s. Today, for the first time it appears that 40 percent floor is cracking,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

“Any Democrat with an 11-point approval deficit among women is in trouble. And any elected official with an 8-point trust deficit is in serious trouble.”

Obama’s approval rating now has sunk to the same figure George W. Bush earned among voters at the same point during his second term, though he’s getting hammered far less in mainstream media for it.

Graph: Barack Obama’s Pre-Midterm Slide In Popularity Rivals George W. Bush’s

The Washington Post ran a timeline graph today superimposing the approval rating trends of Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush through their second terms. The graph, supplied to the paper by Robert Blizzard, a Republican pollster at Public Opinion Strategies, also includes Barack Obama’s approval rating through the first ten months of his second term.

obama_approval

What’s interesting is how closely Obama’s approval rating through his second term mirrors that of George W. Bush – a potentially dire sign for Congressional Democrats and State governors seeking office in the 2014 midterm election cycle.

“[I]f you believe that at least some portion of a president’s legacy is built on — or broken by — the state he leaves his party in when he departs office than Obama’s poll standing matters a whole heck of a lot as we get closer and closer to 2014,” writes the Post’s Chris Cillizza.

“The loss of the Senate majority and a smaller minority in the House after November 2014 would make any attempt to rack up second term accomplishments before he left office extremely difficult for Obama. Combine that with the reality that Obama’s second term has not exactly been larded with major wins to date and you understand why Obama and his legacy are on the ballot in 2014 — even if his name is not. And that means his poll numbers matter. A lot.”

Cillizza points out that every midterm election from WWII to 1986 saw the President’s party lose an average of 48 House seats and seven Senate seats during midterm elections, and that the trend has dipped only slightly since then. Add in an unpopular President who appears to be doubling down on an equally unpopular agenda, and the potential for turnover in 2014 is ripe.

News That’s Too Bad To Spin: Obamacare Has Enrolled 3 Percent Of Its Target Customer Base

If you started a company with a fully subsidized startup cost and were granted free publicity months ahead of your product launch that got your product in front of every eligible buyer in the United States, would you be disappointed when your product achieved a 3 percent market share in its first month?

What if the court system had cleared a path for your ambitions to reach monopolistic proportions by giving you permission to dictate to your competitors what they could or couldn’t sell? What if the government set the wind at your back with buyer mandates and a guaranteed market presence in all 50 States?

Even assuming all your startup costs had been paid by a mysterious benefactor and you had no financial skin in the game until the day your widgets hit the market, would you even want to stay in business after you mustered a 3 percent market share? Or would you cut your losses before you incurred any and try your hand at something else?

Government doesn’t have to play by any of the rules that force free markets to be profitable, so it can cruise along indefinitely — or until its financiers grow restless enough to revolt against its policies — by pumping money into a sinking ship.

And according to a Reuters report Monday, that’s the shape of things in the early going for Obamacare, which has managed to enroll only 3 percent of the number of people the Department of Health and Human Services predicted it would. The kicker is that 3 percent is an optimistic figure, one that derived from Obamacare enrollment statistics in the 12 States where online health insurance exchanges are “mostly working smoothly,” according to the report.

HHS expected the State-managed exchanges to enroll 1.4 million people for 2014. They’ve enrolled 49,100 instead. Of course, the enrollment period is ongoing through March 31 of next year. But there’s no universe in which the sign-up rate will accelerate rapidly enough to come anywhere near the 1.4 million target by the time the enrollment period ends.

“Supporters of Obamacare and health insurers fear that scant participation in the private insurance exchanges will prevent them from becoming a sustainable new individual market, including the right mix of young and healthy members to offset coverage for older, sick people,” Reuters observes.

And those are the “supporters.” Far down in the same article, another revealing nugget demonstrates just how doomed the as-implemented configuration of the Affordable Care Act truly is: Part of the paltry 49,100 tally of new Obamacare enrollees includes people who’ve signed up for Medicaid.

And when the Obama Administration finally divulges some numbers on how many people have signed up in all States, as is expected later this week, those numbers – however meager they will appear – will nonetheless be inflated by the White House’s inclusion of anyone who’s put insurance in his or her online shopping cart at Healthcare.gov.

“Health insurance plans only count subscribers as enrolled in a health plan once they’ve submitted [sic] a payment,” The Washington Post reported Monday. “That is when the carrier sends out a member card and begins paying doctor bills.

“When the Obama administration releases health law enrollment figures later this week, though, it will use a more expansive definition. It will count people who have purchased a plan as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid.”

Lest you need some evidence that the Administration is doing everything it can to spit-shine the Obamacare disaster with unsustainably deceitful tactics, check out the latest “glitch” in the online marketplace: About 8,000 would-be shoppers at the Washington State Obamacare website were informed they would qualify for a healthcare subsidy on their tax returns.

But after following through with their Obamacare purchase, those same customers were informed the prices they’d been quoted were too low and that they don’t, in fact, qualify for the generous subsidies and low prices on which they made the decision to buy the coverage in the first place.

“That led many enrollees in the Washington exchange to select generous insurance plans they likely won’t be able to afford once their subsidies are reduced,” reports The Hill. “Those 8,000 individuals likely will need to go through the entire application process again to see what plans at what prices they qualify for under the correct tax subsidy.”

Student Borrowing Increases More Than Fourfold Under Obama

A recent report shows the total debt load borne by borrowers of Federal student loans has increased 463 percent since President Barack Obama began his first term. And it grew at a rate that outpaced student borrowing in the George W. Bush era by more than 500 percent.

CNS News, which crunched the numbers last week, reported that the current balance of outstanding student debt has reached $674.6 billion, compared with $119.8 billion in January 2009, at the start of Obama’s first term.

The dramatic jump isn’t simply coincidental with Obama’s Presidency; it’s a result of it. As CNS observes:

Direct federal student loan spending began to rise rapidly in fiscal year 2010, when the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act — one of the two laws that make up Obamacare — gave gave the federal government complete control over federal loans for education, the Direct Student Loan (DL) program.  This aspect of HCERA became effective July 1, 2010, when the amount of outstanding loans stood at $178,806,000,000. Since then, the balance has increased by 277 percent.

As private lenders have bowed out of the student loan market, thanks to an absence of profit motive as government continues to keep interest rates artificially low, the government itself has begun to play an increasingly prominent role as a primary lender.

And the government doesn’t hold borrowers to the same repayment standards that banks do.

“The problem is further complicated by Obama’s willingness to use debt forgiveness programs to absolve certain students of their obligations,” writes The Daily Caller’s Robby Soave. “The president has frequently championed and expanded such programs, which allow graduates to unload their debt burdens if they work for certain government agencies for lengthy periods of time.”

It’s just one more example of the Obama Administration’s push to expand the welfare state in a calculated effort to capture a greater swath of the broad American middle class.

No Duh, Feinstein! Dem Senator Breaks With Obama To Back ‘Keep Your Coverage’ Bill

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is breaking rank with the Obama Administration by throwing her support behind a bill that would require insurers to continue offering coverage to current customers who are happy with their existing health plans.

Feinstein said today she’s co-sponsoring legislation introduced by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) because, well, it forces the Obama Administration to honor the President’s infamous –and broken – promise that, under Obamacare, people could keep their coverage if they liked it.

“This bill provides a simple fix to a complex problem,” Feinstein said Tuesday in a statement supporting the measure, which would require insurers to honor their current policies “indefinitely.”

Here’s the full text of that statement (H/T: San Francisco Chronicle):

I have decided to cosponsor Senator Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) legislation: Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act. This bill provides a simple fix to a complex problem. This bill will extend the grandfather date for individual insurance plans so that individuals who have insurance policies they like can keep them indefinitely, unless the individual chooses another plan or the insurer stops providing health insurance in the individual market.

Specifically, the bill requires the following:

· Insurance companies must continue to offer—indefinitely—all currently existing insurance plans as of December 31, 2013, on the individual market;

· Future renewal notices must clearly inform customers they have the choice to keep their current plan or shop for insurance in a health exchange, such as Covered California; and

· Insurance companies must clearly state why the plan does not meet new minimum benefit standards.

Since the beginning of September, I have received 30,842 calls, emails and letters from Californians, many of whom are very distressed by cancellations of their insurance policies and who are facing increased out-of-pocket costs.

For example, a father from Rancho Mirage called and said: ‘I work three jobs to pay the bills for my wife and daughter. I got a letter that my plan is going from $420 to $943. I went to HealthCare.Gov, then Covered California. I researched my premiums. A policy almost identical to my old one is being offered for $863. I’m now being forced to come up with over $400 a month with 30 days’ notice. Let me spell it out: I do not have the income to afford this.’

Too many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. We must ensure that in our effort to reform the health care system, we do not allow unintended consequences to go unaddressed.

I believe consumers should be allowed to choose their plans, and they should be adequately informed about those choices. Consumers must be told what their coverage does and does not include so families don’t find themselves paying for an insurance policy they believe is comprehensive when in fact it is not.

The Affordable Care Act is a good law, but it is not perfect. I believe the Landrieu bill is a commonsense fix that will protect individuals in the private insurance market from being forced to change their insurance plan. I hope Congress moves quickly to enact it.

Obama Has Lost America On Immigration Reform

A Pew survey released Friday shows Americans are increasingly frustrated not only by President Barack Obama’s overall performance, but by his handling of almost every matter of policy that has confronted his Administration throughout the ineffectual, scandal-plagued first year of his second term.

Surprisingly, few Americans are fans of Obama’s stance on immigration reform.

According to Pew:

Only about a third of the public (32%) approves of the job Obama is doing on immigration policy; 60% disapprove. Obama’s ratings for this issue among Democrats are mixed: About half (53%) approve of his handling of the issue while 42% disapprove.

Interpreting the reason for that kind of lopsided disapproval among all Americans, as well as for the lack of clear consensus among Obama’s Democratic supporters, is a murky exercise. It’s possible that some who are dissatisfied think Obama’s not being progressive enough; that he shouldn’t wait for Congress to open a path to amnesty when the President could just bypass the rule of law by issuing an executive order.

But the fact that Democrats aren’t closing ranks with Obama suggests an alternate explanation: people don’t like what Obama and the Congressional Gang of Eight are selling.

Breitbart’s Matthew Boyle made exactly that point over the weekend, writing that “Obama’s immigration disapproval rating has skyrocketed as he has ramped up his efforts to lobby Congress for the passage of an amnesty — particularly the Senate’s ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill.”

Boyle continues:

As the American people have learned more and more about the Gang of Eight bill and the effects which amnesty and a drastic influx of millions of new workers would have on the hurting economy, they have grown more and more outraged with what Washington, D.C., is doing regarding immigration reform. In February — before Obama and lawmakers like Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and DIck Durbin (D-ll.L) began their push for immigration reform — the President’s immigration policy approval rating among the American people, according to Pew, was higher than his disapproval rating. His approval rating on immigration then was 44 percent, whereas his disapproval rating was 43 percent.

Over the next several months, the Obama administration worked with the Senate Democrats and a handful of Senate Republicans to develop the more-than-thousand-page-long Gang of Eight bill. The administration helped Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rush the bill to the floor with hardly any substantive review from members, staffers, the media, and the American people.

In mid-June, before the Senate bill passed and as its ultimate passage became questionable, Obama’s Pew Research disapproval rating on immigration spiked up to 47 percent, and his approval rating on the issue dropped to 43 percent.

That’s a big swing in public opinion over a brief period of time. But it mimics the President’s freefall in most other policy arenas.

“The new survey finds that majorities disapprove of the way Obama is handling four of five issues tested, with terrorism the lone exception (51% approve, 44% disapprove),” the Pew study observes. “For every issue, including terrorism, his ratings are lower than they were earlier this year.”

Indeed. George Will riffed on the Pew study Sunday on Fox News, saying Obama’s fifth year in office – highlighted by the poor reception Americans have given the launch of the Affordable Care Act – is more disastrous than any other President’s except for Richard Nixon.

“Well, it is one thing for Bill Clinton to say ‘I feel your pain.’ It is another thing for Barack Obama to say ‘I feel your pain that I have caused,’” said Will. “And for him to say it was caused by a situation – that’s the word he used in the operative sentence – we, this week, marked the one-year anniversary of his reelection.

“Has there ever, with the exception of Richard Nixon in 1973, been a worst first year of a second term?”

 

Government Redistributed $2 Trillion From Upper Income Classes To Poorest In 2012

A new report from The Tax Foundation shows that the Federal government redistributed more than $2 trillion in income from the Nation’s highest earners in 2012 to the bottom 60 percent of income earners.

The extensive study, released Nov. 8, reveals that low-income Americans receive $5.28 in government spending for every dollar they pay in taxes, while high-income families receive $.25 for every dollar they pay. The shrinking middle class shows signs of sliding toward the lower-income bracket, with middle-class income earners receiving $1.48 back for every tax dollar they pay to the government.

The study targets the effectiveness of government schemes, taken as a whole, to shore up the needs of lower-income Americans by seizing and reallocating the wealth earned by top earners.

“While the distribution of the tax burden is a frequent topic of debate — especially in Washington, D.C. — there is little attention given to the distribution of spending programs,” the authors explain. “And rarely has there been any attempt to analyze the totality of tax and spending programs across all levels of government. This study seeks to fill this void by analyzing the distribution of both taxes and government spending at both the federal and state and local levels.”

Here are more of the report’s key findings:

  • As a group, the bottom 60 percent of American families receive more back in total government spending than they pay in total taxes.
  • Government tax and spending policies combine to redistribute more than $2 trillion from the top 40 percent of families to the bottom 60 percent.
  • The total amount of redistribution has increased slightly over the past 12 years. Middle-income and working lower-income families were the biggest beneficiaries.
  • Lawmakers can remove equity as an issue in tax reform by matching any loss in progressivity on the tax side with an equal increase in progressivity on the spending side.

As noted above, there’s an increasing tendency on the part of government to include more middle-class Americans in the entitlement culture – a tendency The Tax Foundation says is deleterious to the Nation’s economic backbone.

“Interestingly, we find that the biggest net beneficiaries of this increase in redistribution from 2000-2012 are middle-income families and working lower-income families (those in the second quintile). These were the families most targeted by economic stimulus programs and more generous tax credits,” the authors note.

“…These findings have particular relevance to the current tax reform debate because distributional issues are one of the key sticking points to reform proposals that would cut marginal tax rates while broadening the tax base. But tax progressivity is only half the picture, because progressivity can be achieved through both taxes and spending. Thus, if moving to a flatter, more economically neutral tax code reduces progressivity in the tax code, overall progressivity of the fiscal system can be maintained with slight adjustments to federal spending.”

In other words, a flat tax would be more equitable for all Americans, regardless of their income, and would negate much of the tax inequity that serves as pretense for the government to its base of financially-dependent citizens.