U.S. Created 175,000 Jobs in May, Unemployment up to 7.6%

| June 7 2013

Spending Daily |June 7, 2013

U.S. Created 175,000 Jobs in May, Unemployment up to 7.6%

MarketWatch reports, “The U.S. created 175,000 jobs in May in a sign that the economy continues to grow at a moderate pace despite higher taxes, federal spending cuts and a weak global economy. The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.6% from 7.5%, the Labor Department said Friday, as more people entered the labor force in search of work. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch expected an increase of 164,000 jobs last month and a jobless rate of 7.5%. Employment gains for April and March were little changed. The number of new jobs created in April was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000, while March’s figure was revised up to 142,000 from 138,000. … The U6 jobless rate dipped to 13.8% from 13.9%, while the civilian participation rate rose for the first time since October to 63.4%, as 420,000 people joined the labor force.”

 

“IRS workers say supervisors directed targeting”

The Associated Press reports, “Two Internal Revenue Service agents working in the agency’s Cincinnati office say higher-ups in Washington directed the targeting of conservative political groups when they applied for tax-exempt status, a contention that directly contradicts claims made by the agency since the scandal erupted last month. The Cincinnati agents didn’t provide proof that senior IRS officials in Washington ordered the targeting. But one of the agents said her work processing the applications was closely supervised by a Washington lawyer in the IRS division that handles applications for tax-exempt status, according to a transcript of her interview with congressional investigators.”

 

“Misfired 2010 email alerted IRS officials in Washington of targeting”

Reuters reports, “A misfired email from a U.S. Internal Revenue Service employee in Cincinnati alerted a number of Washington IRS officials that extra scrutiny was being place on conservative groups in July 2010, a year earlier than previously acknowledged, according to interviews with IRS workers by congressional investigators. Transcripts of the interviews, reviewed by Reuters on Thursday, provided new details about Washington managers’ awareness of the heightened scrutiny applied by front-line IRS agents in Cincinnati to applications for tax-exempt status from conservative groups with words like ‘Tea Party’ in their names.”

 

Did EPA Also Discriminate Based On Politics?

The Hill reports, “Republican lawmakers are piling on demands that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) addresses accusations that it discriminated against conservative groups in the fees it charges for retrieving public records. Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and 34 other House Republicans sent a letter to acting EPA Administrator Bob Perciasepe on Thursday regarding the agency’s policy for granting waivers from charges incurred by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. They write that they are “extremely concerned” that the EPA has shown a bias against conservative organizations in deciding whether or not to waive fees for FOIA requests. … Their complaints come in response to a May report from the Conservative Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank, that showed that the agency waived fees for FOIA requests from environmental groups 92 percent of the time, compared to just 27 percent of the time for conservative outfits.”

 

“A long time ago, in a government far, far away…”

In reaction to the recent IRS scandals, The Wall Street Journal editorializes, “But for our taxpayer money, the highlight of the news was the reaction of Acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. He’s the guy the White House is touting as its cleaner, the man who’s supposed to make the IRS politics-free. So it was striking to hear Mr. Werfel tell Congress that while the agency is working to restore taxpayer trust, those conferences were merely ‘an unfortunate vestige from a prior era.’ Prior era? Mr. Werfel makes it sound as if he wants Americans to think those conferences took place in the Pleistocene era, circa 11,700 years ago, but they happened in Mr. Obama’s first term. Next we’ll hear that the 2010-2012 heyday for targeting conservative groups was the Mesozoic Era. Before the Administration tries to make this all sound prehistoric, let’s first find out who did what and why.”

 

IRS Conference Goodies Included Plastic Squirting Fish

The Washington Post reports, “House lawmakers on Thursday rattled off a long list of supposed excesses relating to the Internal Revenue Service’s 2010 conference in Anaheim, which cost an estimated $4 million, according to a recent inspector general’s report. Judging from the way Democrats and Republicans criticized the spending during a congressional hearing on Thursday — not to mention the apology from an agency official — this event would seem to be a classic boondoggle. Lawmakers from both parties jabbed at the IRS for its spending on the conference, but several Republicans mentioned a squirting fish that supposedly counted as excess. …The plastic fish actually came with a batch of trinkets — including keychains, plastic coins and miniature stuffed animals — that cost the IRS $750, according to the IG report. Mica’s $64,000 figure actually covers the total cost for all gifts at the conference, not just the fish. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, lashed out about two videos the IRS produced for the Anaheim event — one was a ‘Star Trek’ parody, the other was a line-dancing video.”

 

“Will New Health Insurance Be Too Expensive for America’s Lowest-Paid?”

The Wall Street Journal reports, “For people like Salvador Martínez, a 50-year-old grounds crewman, the health-care law seems to be a potential game changer. Because of the law, his employer, a landscaping service in Santa Clarita, Calif., will begin offering coverage to him, and to its 230 other low-wage workers, next year. But Chris Angelo, a second-generation owner of the landscaping firm, Stay Green Inc., doesn’t expect a groundswell of enrollments next year from lower-wage workers such as Mr. Martínez. … ‘They’d rather have the cash than pay the employee portion of the premium.’ …  Indeed, Mr. Martínez, who earns $10.50 an hour, says he’d love to have insurance, but he can’t afford the estimated $140 monthly cost for his share of the premium next year. ‘I make too little to spend on insurance. How am I going to pay for food?’ he says, speaking in Spanish.”

 

Republican Obamacare Critics Now Seek Grants

The Hill reports, “At least 11 Republican lawmakers who oppose ObamaCare have sought the law’s grants for their constituents, according to documents obtained by The Nation.  Letters from GOP lawmakers to the Obama administration reveal that many of healthcare reform’s staunchest critics have actively lobbied for the law’s funds.  Most of the letters, obtained through a public records request, express Republicans’ support for grant applicants based in their states.  The letters focused primarily on two grants, both authorized under healthcare reform, to fight chronic disease and support community health centers. Several other letters came from Republicans who are no longer in office, including Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas). Another request came from Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) when he was a state assemblyman.  Most GOP lawmakers emphasized that the money would help uninsured patients in their districts. … Republican lawmakers vehemently oppose healthcare reform and have sought to thwart its implementation at every turn.  The issue has united the right over the past four years. Critics say the law will consume federal and state budgets and allow government to intrude on businesses and families in an unprecedented way.”

 

Analysis: Obama’s agenda scorched in firestorm”

USA Today reports, “President Obama, meet the second-term curse. Revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting a massive database of telephone usage by millions of Americans — citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing — created a firestorm Thursday that would be damaging for any administration. But it is especially problematic for Obama because it stokes controversies he already was struggling to contain and reinforces criticism that has dogged him from the start. Republicans have long depicted Obama as an advocate of a big, dangerous and overreaching government, back to the federal bailout of the auto industry he undertook during the financial crisis that greeted his first inauguration. That has been their fundamental philosophical objection to his signature Affordable Care Act, now just months away from implementation of its major provisions. … Now the headlines are focused on governmental monitoring that touches not just reporters but, apparently, just about anyone who makes a phone call. Thursday began with explosions over a story in The Guardian in London of a broad secret U.S. warrant for phone records from Verizon. By midday, Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein had confirmed the surveillance had been going on for years. By the end of the day, The Washington Post and The Guardian reported that a data-mining program targeting foreigners was tapping into such Internet companies as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.”

 

Threat of Shutdown Underlines Budget Differences

Roll Call reports, “The White House and Speaker John A. Boehner exchanged barbs Thursday over the potential for a shutdown showdown this fall, underscoring the yawning budget gap between the parties that threatens to torpedo this year’s appropriations bills. The House passed the first fiscal 2014 spending bills this week despite two veto threats, and the Senate is set to mark up funding measures in the coming weeks. But the two chambers are operating off vastly different numbers — given that the House and Senate haven’t come close to reaching a budget deal — setting the stage for another stopgap spending bill this fall and, theoretically, a shutdown fight if the two sides can’t agree. … ‘In veto threats of two House spending bills — both of which passed with overwhelming support — the White House said the president would not sign any — any — spending bills unless we agree to his demands on a broader budget deal. In short, the president said give him higher taxes and higher spending or we’ll shut down the government,’ Boehner said Thursday. ‘That’s reckless.’ Republican appropriators dismissed the veto threat earlier in the week, but Boehner said it violated his March 1 deal with the president to keep the appropriations bills separate from deficit talks. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage responded to the Ohio Republican with some snark of her own.”

 

Feds Fail to Catch Student Loan Fraud Because of Outdated Technology

The Washington Guardian reports, “The Education Department, charged with helping students compete in the 21st century, isn’t using basic online tools to fight rapidly rising student loan fraud that is now costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. A new assessment by the department’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, found officials were not using basic digital investigative tools like checking Internet Protocol (IP) addresses or verifying email addresses, allowing easy avenues for defrauding federally backed student loans. In short, students and criminals seeking to spoof them have moved online while the Department’s prevention efforts have lingered with outdated tools. …The inspector general first flagged the concerns about fraud in January and this month renewed the concerns with a subsequent mention in its semiannual report to Congress. The Education Department agrees with the findings of the internal investigation, promising to begin using the recommended safeguards this year.”

 

HOAP for Obamacare

POLITICO reports, “House Republicans are planning a coordinated messaging operation against Obamacare starting this summer. They call it HOAP — the House Obamacare Accountability Project. The effort will target the negative effects the GOP says the law will have on jobs, health costs and access to health care. It starts as the White House and the Democrats begin their own massive effort to encourage people to enroll in the new health coverage options starting Oct. 1.”

 

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