White House Advisor on IRS Scandal: “The law is irrelevant”

| May 20 2013

Spending Daily | May 20, 2013

Bankrupting America Launches New Debt Ceiling Resource Center

Bankrupting America, a project of Public Notice, today launched a Debt Ceiling Resource Center to provide facts and the latest news and developments as Congress debates increasing the nation’s debt ceiling this summer.  The resource center will educate Americans about the key drivers of the debt, provide a 10-year projection of future increases and explain why any deal in Congress must include equal to or greater spending cuts in return. To help put the issue into perspective, Bankrupting America will also launch a new video series, “The Literal Debt Ceiling,” consisting of short web videos that will help break down the key issues, provide a commonsense perspective and highlight the dangers of failing to fix the problem.

 

White House Senior Advisor on IRS Scandal: “The law is irrelevant”

According to The New York Times, “The chief White House lawyer, Kathryn Ruemmler, learned last month that a Treasury inspector general had concluded an audit of the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups, weeks before the matter became public, according to a senior White House official. The White House counsel’s briefing came about the same time that Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew met with the Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, to learn his draft audit of the controversial I.R.S. effort was complete, the official said. The acknowledgment that Ms. Ruemmler knew about the I.R.S. inquiry weeks before it became known publicly came as a senior adviser to President Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, mounted a combative defense of the administration on Sunday. … On ABC’s news program ‘This Week,’ Mr. Pfeiffer said that he did not know whether laws had been broken at the I.R.S., but that regardless, the agency’s actions were seriously wrong. ‘I can’t speak to the law here,’ he said. ‘The law is irrelevant. The activity was outrageous and inexcusable, and it was stopped, and it needs to be fixed so we ensure it never happens again.’”

 

Paul Ryan: IRS Scandal Is “Big Government Cronyism”

The Hill reports, “Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday called the Internal Revenue Service scandal a defining example of ‘big-government cronyism.’ ‘This is rotten to the core. This is arrogance. This is big-government cronyism,’ said Ryan on “Fox News Sunday.” The 2012 GOP vice-presidential nominee and House Budget committee chairman said the mismanagement which allowed IRS to target and delay applications for tax exempt status from conservative groups highlighted the failures of the Obama administration. … ‘This is what’s disturbing about this,’ he said. ‘We had a challenge in the campaign against empty rhetoric. Now the country is seeing what this kind of big unlimited government does in practice. And that is not a pretty picture.'”

 

“Obama’s budget is another instance of lost credibility”

Jennifer Rubin editorializes in The Washington Post, “It turns out that President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget is no more trustworthy than the rest of his administration. His budget, unsurprisingly to conservatives, is not ‘balanced’ and does not deliver on its promise to cut $1.8 trillion in spending over a decade. The Post reports: President Obama’s most recent budget request would reduce borrowing by $1.1 trillion over the next decade compared with current law — almost entirely through higher taxes on the rich, large estates and smokers, congressional budget analysts said Friday. … The same accounting gimmicks remain (‘those savings include money the government never intended to spend anyway, such as a contingency fund for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and nearly $300 billion in unneeded disaster relief’). In fact, without these tricks, ‘Obama’s budget blueprint would actually increase spending over the next decade by roughly $700 billion, according to CBO figures.’ Oh, and his budget never balances. Once again, what he told us is very different from reality. The difficulty the president now faces is not merely the multiple scandals and the perception that his administration has crossed the line from partisanship to illegality, but the growing recognition that almost nothing he says can be taken at face value. The presumption of integrity and assumption of good faith has vanished in a cloud of unkept promises, wrongdoing and ineptitude.”

 

Lawmakers Have Been “Doing Nothing” to Bridge the Gap on a Budget Deal

Reuters reports, “A sudden improvement in the outlook for the government deficit over the next decade has alleviated some of the pressure on lawmakers to act. … The news about the shrinking deficit came Tuesday, when the Congressional Budget Office slashed its deficit forecast for 2013, projecting it will be equivalent to 4 percent of America’s economic output, less than half its 2009 level, and will drop to 2.1 percent, based on current projections, by 2015. But the report said the deficit would start widening again in 2016 and continue on an upward path with ‘serious negative consequences’ on the economy, increasing ‘the risk of a fiscal crisis.’… They [Lawmakers] have been doing little, for example, to bridge the gap between budgets passed in March by the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. No conference committee has been formed to reconcile deep spending cuts in the Republican plan with nearly $1 trillion in tax hikes in the Democratic version.”

 

Small Businesses Fearing Obamacare Aren’t Getting Help from Congress

The Hill reports, “Small businesses looking for a break from President Obama’s healthcare law aren’t getting any help from Congress.  The law’s critics spend a lot of time talking about its potential effects on employers, and small businesses in particular. But there hasn’t been a real effort on the Hill to address the provisions that will have the most immediate impact on small businesses. In part, the lack of action stems from Republican divisions over whether it’s OK to ‘fix’ parts of the healthcare law. Some conservatives say the party should focus solely on repealing the law and shouldn’t help Democrats solve potential problems.”

 

“Employers Eye Bare-Bones Health Plans Under New Law”

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Employers are increasingly recognizing they may be able to avoid certain penalties under the federal health law by offering very limited plans that can lack key benefits such as hospital coverage. Benefits advisers and insurance brokers—bucking a commonly held expectation that the law would broadly enrich benefits—are pitching these low-benefit plans around the country. They cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more. Some of the plans wouldn’t cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all. Others will be paired with limited packages to cover additional services, for instance, $100 a day for a hospital visit. Federal officials say this type of plan, in concept, would appear to qualify as acceptable minimum coverage under the law, and let most employers avoid an across-the-workforce $2,000-per-worker penalty for firms that offer nothing.”

 

Tough Days Ahead for Obamacare Implementation

The Washington Post editorializes, “Thought you had seen the last of the fighting over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare? Since its passage in 2010, after all, it has survived Supreme Court review, innumerable challenges from House Republicans and Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful campaign to evict its author from the White House. Nonetheless, with the heart of the reform set to take effect next year, its most contentious days may lie ahead. The law will affect Americans’ health and pocketbooks, and its implementation entails many challenges and quite a few unknowns. … President Obama last month said nothing will change for the 85 to 90 percent of Americans who have insurance. That’s not quite right. Even some people who are currently insured may see premium increases — or, depending on their health, gender and age, reductions. For example, the 10 percent or so who are in the individual insurance market will shop at ‘exchanges’ — new health-care marketplaces for individual purchasers — where the currently uninsured also will go. The law protects the old and the sick, but that also means that some of the young and the healthy might have to pay more than they do now, particularly if price-control mechanisms don’t work as well as hoped.”

 

S&P Analyst: ‘Political Brinkmanship’ Remains Major Threat on U.S. Credit Rating

The National Journal reports, “The debt-ceiling deal expired over the weekend, but the credit-rating agency that sent shock waves through financial markets when it downgraded the U.S. credit rating in 2011 is again warning Congress that a credible five-year plan to stabilize the federal deficit is as necessary—and elusive—as ever, National Journal’s Stacy Kaper reports. In an exclusive interview, Nikola Swann, Standard & Poor’s top analyst for the U.S. government’s rating, said that making big fiscal decisions in a crisis setting hurts the U.S. rating outlook and that continued ‘political brinkmanship’ remains a major threat. … S&P’s current AA-plus rating with a negative outlook means there is at least a 1 in 3 chance that the agency will lower America’s rating by 2014.”

 

BankruptingAmerica.org is an educational project of Public Notice, an independent, nonpartisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to providing facts and insight on the effects public policy has on Americans’ financial well-being.

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