Scandals and Spending in Washington

| June 4 2013

Spending Daily| June 4, 2013

Obama Threatens Veto on Spending Bills Unless Sequester Ended
According to The Hill, “The White House warned Monday that President Obama will veto spending bills for 2014 unless Congress can agree on a budget framework that ends the sequester.

In Statements of Administration Policy, the White House said Obama would veto all spending bills unless they pass Congress ‘in the context of an overall budget framework that supports our recovery and enables sufficient investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and national security for our economy to compete in the future.’ The administration was responding to two spending bills the House will pass this week. One is the bill for the Department of Homeland Security, the other would fund military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

“2010 IRS Conference Featured ‘Happiness Expert,’ $17K Art Session”
CNBC reports, “The now infamous 2010 Internal Revenue Service conference in California — where goofy, expensive video parodies were shown — also featured $135,000 in spending on outside speakers like a ‘happiness expert’ and a session titled ‘Leadership Through Art,’ congressional sources briefed on an upcoming inspector general’s report told NBC News Monday night. The IRS hired 15 speakers to present at the conference in Anaheim, Calif., including $11,430 for positive psychology guru Shawn Achor — referred to as a ‘happiness expert’ by the sources — to lead a 90-minute workshop and $17,000 for artist Erik Wahl to hold a session that used painting as a learning tool, said those familiar with the report.”

Rep. Serrano Calls for Increase in IRS Funding Following Scandals
The Washington Examiner reports, “Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., called for an increase in IRS funding, on the theory that budget cuts will ‘promote more scandals’ at the agency that recently admitted to targeting small-government conservatives for inappropriate reviews. ‘There is no clearer way to promote more scandals than by cutting funding that could be used for oversight, training, and reform,’ Serrano said during a House subcommittee hearing on the IRS today. ‘At the level this subcommittee is funding right now, we are just asking for more trouble at the IRS.”

IRS Victims Testifying on Capitol Hill
According to The Associated Press, “Conservative groups who were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service are getting their say on Capitol Hill just as the details of another IRS controversy are being made public. The leaders of six conservative groups were scheduled to tell lawmakers Tuesday about their mistreatment at the hands of IRS agents. Several of the groups say their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed while agents asked intrusive questions that the IRS has since acknowledged were inappropriate. One group, the National Organization for Marriage, says the IRS publicly disclosed confidential information about donors. Leaders of the groups were scheduled to testify before the House Ways and Means Committee. Ways and Means is one of three congressional committees investigating the IRS’ treatment of such groups. The Justice Department is conducting a criminal investigation.”

“Wife of former IRS chief a top adviser to left-leaning DC group”
Fox News reports, “The former IRS commissioner who ran the agency when it was singling out conservative groups is married to a senior adviser for a prominent left-leaning political organization focused largely on campaign finance reform. Ex-Commissioner Douglas Shulman, who faced a tough round of questioning by Congress last month on the IRS scandal, has denied knowing that the agency targeted Tea Party groups between 2010 and 2012. … Amid the scrutiny, it turns out his wife, Susan L. Anderson, is a senior program adviser for the Washington-based group Public Campaign. The group bills itself as nonpartisan, and states it is working with ‘a broad range of organizations’ to reform campaign-finance rules. However, the group receives much of its funding from such liberal groups as the Ford Foundation, Barbra Streisand’s The Streisand Foundation and Health Care for America NOW, a coalition of labor unions supporting ObamaCare that includes the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union, according to the Public Campaign website.”

“Some Republicans See I.R.S. Troubles as Means to a Big Goal: Tax Overhaul”
The New York Times reports, “When Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, calls conservative activists to the witness table on Tuesday to talk about their experiences in seeking a tax exemption from the Internal Revenue Service, his chief aim will not be to scar the Obama administration or to fuel the continuing Congressional inquiries. Other Republicans see the cloud around the I.R.S. in the light of raw politics and how much damage it can do to President Obama. For Mr. Camp, spotlighting the tax-collecting agency — and stoking voter antipathy for it — are ways to build momentum for his plan to rewrite and simplify the entire tax code, a goal he has set for the end of the year.”

Veto Threat Foreshadowing “Shutdown Politics” in Fall?
POLITICO reports, “Could Republicans push President Barack Obama to the point where he feels he has to play shutdown politics when the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1? Monday’s veto threats against the first two bills reported from the House Appropriations Committee hinted strongly that such a fight could be coming. …The immediate targets are budgets for military construction, veterans and the Department of Homeland Security. But the greater goal is to draw a line against the House Republican plan that would impose sequester spending levels but protect defense-related programs by using Obama’s domestic priorities as a bank. This shift of funds will affect ‘hundreds of thousands of low-income children losing access to Head Start programs, tens of thousands of children with disabilities losing federal funding for their special education teachers and aides, thousands of federal agents who can’t enforce drug laws,’ the White House warned.”

“Flashback: Obama Promised Lower Health Care Insurance Premiums For Everyone”
Buzzfeed reports, “When he was selling his health care overhaul as a presidential candidate and then as commander-in-chief, Barack Obama repeatedly argued that the plan would lower insurance premiums for everyone. But in California, at least, healthy young people — the vast majority of whom voted for Obama in 2012 — are seeing their costs go up. Conservative author Avik Roy at Forbes reported Thursday that ‘for the typical 25-year-old male non-smoking Californian, Obamacare will drive premiums up by between 100 and 123 percent.’ Roy cited data on eHealthInsurance.com showing that the median cost of the five cheapest health care plans in California was only $92 for young people, while under the ObamaCare exchanges the cheapest plan will cost an average of $184 a month. Obama himself promised that everyone’s premiums cost would be lower under his health care plan. ’My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less,’ Obama said in his May 2007 speech unveiling his health care plan.”

“ObamaCare Is Raising Insurance Costs”
Daniel Kessler, professor of business and law at Stanford University, editorializes in The Wall Street Journal, “California and Oregon have recently announced the premiums for the health plans that will be offered through their ObamaCare insurance exchanges in 2014. Supporters of the law are jubilant. KQED, northern California’s largest public radio station, reported that ‘experts had warned of “rate shock.” That has not happened.’ The New York Times editorial page chimed in, writing that “For the most part, the premiums will increase only slightly or even decrease for individuals and family coverage on the exchanges.” A closer examination of these health plans reveals a less rosy picture. Although the premiums are lower than some anticipated, this has been achieved by designing the plans around much more limited provider networks and including greater cost-sharing than the typical commercial health-insurance plan. The premiums for the policies that will be offered on the states’ exchanges are much higher than analogous plans being sold today. One of the most important feature of any health plan is its ‘network’—the group of doctors and hospitals that agree to serve the plan’s enrollees. Although the California and Oregon networks are not final, there are indications they will be narrow.”

“ObamaCare Bait and Switch”
The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “Liberals have spent years claiming that ‘rate shock’ under the Affordable Care Act—the 20% to 30% average spike in insurance premiums that every independent analyst projects—is merely the political imagination of Republicans and the insurance industry. So they immediately claimed victory when California reported last month that the plans that will be available on the state’s new insurance exchange next year would be cheaper than they are today. Except now it emerges that California goosed the data to make it appear as if ObamaCare won’t send costs aloft as the law’s regulations and mandates kick in. It will, by a lot. And now liberals have suddenly switched to arguing that, sure, insurance will be more expensive but the new costs are justified. Needless to say that was not how Democrats sold health-care reform.”
 
EPA Warehouse Contractor Lifted Weights, Watched TV, Ignored “Moldy, Rat-Infested Conditions” for $750k Annually
According to The Washington Guardian, “The Environmental Protection Agency paid $750,000 a year to a warehouse contractor in suburban Washington whose employees watched television and lifted weights while taxpayer-paid supplies decayed in moldy, rat-infested conditions, an internal investigation found. Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins’ report about the ‘deplorable’ conditions inside the 70,000 square foot facility in Landover, Md., stunned top EPA officials and prompted the immediate removal of the contractor. … The company’s only federal contract was to manage the warehouse, which it won from EPA in 2007.”

 

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