Currently viewing the tag: “Taxpayer”

Washington (CNN) – As Speaker of the House, John Boehner regularly hosts foreign leaders visiting Washington, presides over joint meetings of the House and Senate, and gives out Congressional commendations. So, as he prepared to take over the post last year, he enrolled an aide in a class at a private school outside Washington, D.C. to learn proper etiquette.

According to public records listing payments by Boehner’s office, and first reported by the publication Roll Call, the then Republican Leader spent $ 5,800 last December in tuition for his aide to attend a five day course this spring given by the Protocol School of Washington.

Because Boehner’s office registered early for the class, which will meet in May in McLean, Virginia, his office received $ 500 discount off the regular $ 6,300 tuition fee for the five- day course.

Michael Steel, spokesman for Speaker Boehner, defended the expenditure of taxpayer funds, saying, “Part of the ceremonial role of the Speaker is hosting foreign dignitaries. It’s appropriate to do this properly.”

Pamela Eyring, the president and director of the Protocol School of Washington, notes there is no formal training given by the government and the school is the only accredited program in the country. Referring to government aides assigned to these duties, Eyring said, “they have high turnover rates and there’s no continuity. You’re struggling, trying to find things on the internet, which aren’t vetted.”

She noted that often those new to dealing with interactions with high level foreign leaders or other dignitaries “can cause serious embarrassment to the United States or to the military if they don’t know protocol.”

The class the Boehner aide will attend is called “Protocol Officer Training” and is likely to include a mix of about 30 attendees from government, military, and corporate offices.

In the last four years the school has also coached an aide from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an aide with the House Sergeant at Arms office that handles security, a staffer for the Library of Congress, and employees of the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The school declined to give specifics on what training an aide from the Senate’s GOP political arm would receive, but said others from academic institutions and other private groups focused on event planning and fundraising have attended sessions in recent years.

The protocol course covers personal leadership, proper rules on how to seat officials at official events, cross cultural awareness, and the basics of how to write invitations and arrange place cards at dinner tables. Attendees who complete the class receive a certificate and can follow up with experts at the school if they have questions about specific situations. The school has trained officials from the FBI, the CIA, NASA, as well as large companies like Boeing.

Eyring, a former chief of protocol at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Boehner’s native state of Ohio, pointed to the speaker’s working class roots and said that dealing with world leaders is likely new territory for him. “A lot of people that don’t have exposure to international delegations or VIP’s don’t know what to do. Is it ‘your Excellency or your honor?’

Boehner has already begun hosting a series of foreign leaders at the Capitol. Earlier this year he hosted a closed meeting with the Chinese President Hu and Wednesday he opened a joint meeting of Congress with a speech by the Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. It’s also an annual tradition for the speaker to host a lunch for the President of the United States and the Irish Prime Minister at the Capitol to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

It’s not uncommon for the Speaker of the House to pay staff to handle the details of arranging visits, planning public events or handling who sits next to who on the dais or a dinner table. Boehner’s office has assigned one aide who will attend the class to those duties, but his predecessor Nancy Pelosi had two full time aides who handled protocol. But the California congresswoman’s spokesman also notes that these two aides had other responsibilities, such as coordinating internal requests from members to host events in various rooms in the Capitol, all of which fall under the speaker’s office.

Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill, said their office did not pay for either of these aides to attend a class to learn proper etiquette. “We never did this.”

One GOP aide said getting up to speed on appropriate procedures helps so Speaker Boehner “knows not to bow to the King of Saudi Arabia,” a not so subtle jab referring to controversy that arose when President Obama appeared to bow when he greeted the King of Saudi Arabia in 2009.


CNN Political Ticker

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Good ideas sometimes take a while to ripen in Washington, D.C. such as Andrew Langer’s 2008 idea to send taxpayers a receipt of what their dollars bought:

“We believe that the government ought to provide a receipt to each taxpayer in October of every year — a note of thanks detailing the total amount in federal income taxes paid by the filer for the prior calendar year,” Langer said. “If Americans are to really exercise their oversight roles, then the federal government has its own obligation to ensure that the populace knows exactly what they are paying. And saying thank you is, frankly, just good manners.”

He said the measure is an alternative to moving tax-filing day to October to coincide more closely with elections — an idea that has been popular on the right for some time.

As for the idea gaining any traction in Congress, Langer said his organization is going to start pushing members on the matter.

Now, Scott Brown (R-MA aka the former Kennedy seat) and co-sponsor Bill Nelson (D-FL) propose a bill called the Taxpayer Receipt Act of 2011, to do exactly this. The Tax Receipt Bill will take Obama’s attempt at transparency one step further: It will give taxpayers concrete evidence of how their money is spent.

Conservatives like Rush Limbaugh have joked for years about having Tax Day be Election Day. Well, at least with a receipt, the Taxpayers can see what they’re spending money on. My guess, with each American owing $ 45,000 to the Federal government, they’d be keenly interested in knowing how well the government stewards their money.

This bill could be transformational. Imagine receiving an accounting of what each citizen owes-the interest on the national debt, costs for Medicaid, Medicare, national defense, education, foreign aid, etc.

Most people do not pay anywhere near the amount each individual owes, too. Not only would big taxpayers be outraged (they already are outraged), people who pay less in taxes but receive huge benefits would also see how their personal path, affects the goverments’ path, and that it’s unsustainable.

With the country being in such a precarious financial place, it’s difficult for people to understand what the debt means to each individual. How does one compute 14 trillion dollars? How does one carve out his own his own part and responsibility?

The Tax Payer Receipt Act will do just that-kinda like the calorie charts the government loves imposing on food companies. It’s about time a corpulent America learn how overweight they are and how many calories the government is eating turns to fat.

Scott Brown’s legislation is a common sense solution to the getting the Federal Government back in shape.

Sign a petition to encourage Congress to act on this bill at TheTaxReceipt.com

Liberty Pundits Blog

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I’m always highly skeptical of Benny Hinn types who claim to preach from a perspective of faith but then do so without ever citing a single line of Scripture – or worse yet, pervert that which is written. That latter proves that even the Devil can talk faith, a lot like Huffington Post’s Diana Butler Bass.

Bass begins her column with the last-distch effort of shaming Governor Scott Walker as a “bad” Christian by listing an unaccountable list of religious types — who I’m sure have no political leanings at all — as a way of saying God stands in opposition to Walker and Walker has no respect for these religious figures. While Walker’s actions have zero to do with his faith and everything to do with the mandate he was given on November 2nd — I’ll be her Huckleberry: let’s use Bass’s context for the sake of this piece.

Yet none of these prayers or sermons has swayed Scott Walker. He has steadfastly stayed on his original course, unfazed by the full weight of Roman Catholic authority or the mainline social justice tradition pressing upon him and urging him toward compromise and change.

Wait – but the left prattles incessantly about separation of church and state? Yes, except in the instances where they think they can prostitute faith for political purpose. The amazing thing about the United States, as evidence by Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists which the left only knows enough of to be comically dangerous, is how and why we are not a nation under the domination of a denomination. Freedom of religion and from religion, in a country blessed by God, a gift you are given regardless.

Walker hasn’t been swayed because the “swaying” occurred on November 2nd when Wisconsin voters went to the polls and voted for exactly what Walker is doing now: saving Wisconsin’s economy. Bass’s beef isn’t with Walker, who is just a representative of what the people wanted, but rather, with the people. The left can’t say that, though, because it deflates their populist narrative, so they focus on polarizing a bogeyman, in this case, Walker.

This is what I find particularly offensive as a person of faith:

Scott Walker is neither Roman Catholic nor a mainline churchgoer. The son of a Baptist pastor, born in Colorado Springs, the heartland of the Religious Right, Walker is a member of Meadowbrook Church in Wauwatosa, a non-denominational evangelical church. Meadowbrook’s statement of faith, a fairly typical boilerplate of conservative evangelical theology, includes beliefs in biblical inerrancy, sin, exclusive salvation through Christ, and eternal damnation.

In other words, Scott Walker does not give a rip about pronouncements by the Roman Catholic Church, any Lutheran, Episcopal, or Methodist bishop, or the Protestant social justice pastors. These religious authorities, steeped in centuries of theology and Christian ethics mean absolutely nothing in Scott Walker’s world.

“Social justice” is code word for “progressive.” That’s the clue. As a non-denominational Christian, I find Bass’s negative judgment for anyone who does not share her opinions about doctrine completely antithetical to the Gospels, which also warn against worship of legality and reveling in the division of denominations as opposed to focusing one’s heart on worship.

While Bass’s religious citations are flimsy and few, I could easily make the argument that she is advocating for a rejection of democracy and injection of a theocracy.

She’s angry that Walker doesn’t give credence to these authorities “steeped in Christian ethics,” yet I’m curious her criticisms in the wake of the various church sex abuse scandals? A quick and simple Google search revealed nothing. Perhaps her numerous criticisms are buried further back.

What makes her side holier for representing the union laborers and not the taxpayer laborers?

What makes the union holy?

Walker is representing the taxpaying laborers. Putting oneself above the others is antithetical to the lessons taught to us in Scripture and underscores Bass’s erroneous logic and attempt to, by way of maliciousness or deliberate obtuseness, bastardize the scope and message of faith. It’s ironic.

Once you know God’s direction, no change is allowed. Doubt opens the door to failure. Obeying Christ’s plan is the only option. In this theological universe, hard-headedness is a virtue, compromise is the work of the Devil, and anything that works to accomplish God’s plan is considered ethically justifiable.

[…]

Walker is listening to One Person and One Person only: Jesus speaking directly to him. God, evidently, has directed him on his current path. Scott’s just trusting and obeying. He bears no responsibility other than that.

Compromise occurred November 2nd. Walker is following the voter’s voice.

And this is why Scott Walker’s religion is actually dangerous in the public square. Because it lacks the ability to compromise, it is profoundly anti-democratic.

He’s not motivated by religion, he’s motivated by the people’s November 2nd voice. So Bass is saying … that the vote of the people is evil? No, Ms. Bass, standing in opposition to what happened on November 2nd, 2010 is what is profoundly anti-democratic. Bass’s inability to put aside her limiting bias obviously impedes her ability to understand Scripture and relying on politically religious figures instead of God’s Word is the first red flag of false prophecy that people of faith are so often warned of throughout the Bible.

Let me enlighten the author of the article with Paul’s Letter to Ephesians, which speaks specifically about division within the body of Christ. I don’t see how Ms. Bass can present herself as a serious source on faith and yet fail to cite the Word Itself, preferring instead her unnamed “religious figures.”

Ephesians 4:2-7

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

Did Ms. Bass happen to miss Romans 13:2?

Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Now, had Walker acted in opposition to our Constitution, which in the Declaration of Independence it is defined that our rights come not from man, but from God, then yes, protest, speak out. But the voters acted within their Constitutional rights by casting their vote for Walker and Walker is governing within the bounds both of what he promised and the Constitution. Protest all you want, it’s your First Amendment right, but if Bass is going to take the ridiculous position that Walker’s opposition to a few religious figures is a defiance of God, then she needs to delve into Romans.

Ephesians 4:25:

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Do you see, Ms. Bass?

I employ Ephesians 4:32 towards Ms. Bass over her actions. She’ll have to crack open the Good Book instead of standing on it to preach in order to discover the verse’s meaning; I just pray that her article’s tone is misleading and it isn’t her first time really reading it.


Big Journalism

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For all his crimes against our economy and our liberty, at least FDR didn’t force us to finance Nazi parades in Germany during the Great Depression, which would have been the historical equivalent of this:

Meanwhile, the nation is literally on the verge of bankruptcy. But so long as the Fed hasn’t yet reduced the money we work for to worthlessness, our liberal rulers will continue to steal it hand over fist and waste it in the most insulting manner possible.

On a tip from Bill T.

Moonbattery

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The House Judiciary Committee finished its mark-up of H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act on Thursday and voted 23–14, on mostly partisan lines, in favor of the bill. Puerto Rico Delegate Pedro Pierluisi was the only Democrat to vote for the bill. H.R. 3 seeks to prohibit federal funding of abortion by permanently codifying an array of protections against government subsidies for abortions.

Keeping federal taxpayer money out of the hands of abortion providers is no small task. From appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services to international aid funding to how locally generated tax monies are spent in the District of Columbia—and in many other instances—Congress fights a continuous battle to block federal funding of abortion. In order to safeguard taxpayers’ financial and conscience concerns, Congress has annually passed numerous appropriations riders like the Hyde, Helms, and Dornan amendments that prohibit the direct or indirect use of federal funds for abortion. Nonetheless, almost every new piece of legislation regarding health care, conscience rights, health insurance tax credits, and even national defense presents the opportunity for federal funds to slip into the pockets of facilities performing elective abortions.

Ending the continuous race to amend, reword, and preempt new and old proposals to use taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion, H.R. 3 would permanently prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize elective abortions. In addition to addressing the various loopholes for federal abortion funding, the bill prevents funding for:

  • Elective abortion through appropriations for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;
  • International aid for contraceptive programs where abortion is used as a method of family planning;
  • Insurance coverage for federal employees that includes elective abortions; and
  • Subsidized abortion with monies congressionally appropriated for the District of Columbia, as well as locally generated tax dollars.

Americans most recently witnessed the result of not having permanent, broad-based prohibitions against federal taxpayer funding of abortion last year in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The PPACA includes federal subsidies for health plans offering abortion, a loophole for grant funding for community centers that could provide abortions, and a similar loophole for high-risk insurance pools in the states. After Hyde amendment language that would negate some of these concerns was omitted from the final bill, President Obama issued a tenuous executive order that no funds appropriated through PPACA would subsidize elective abortions. Without permanent congressional action on the issue of federal abortion funding, however, that order is in danger of executive or judicial reversal.

H.R. 3 not only permanently rectifies the federal abortion funding loopholes in the PPACA and spending bills; it also addresses the conscience rights of pro-life medical professionals and institutions. Both the weak conscience protections in the PPACA and the Obama Administration’s recent decision to partially rescind federal conscience regulations have placed the rights of doctors, pharmacists, and hospitals in a precarious situation. Codifying the annual Hyde–Weldon clause, H.R. 3 provides protection from discrimination in federally funded programs to medical professionals and institutions that decline participation in abortion.

To keep track of developments on issues like these, subscribe to the Richard and Helen DeVos Center’s weekly Culture Watch.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday, Sen. Jim DeMint argued that if PBS, CPB, and Sesame Street can afford lavish salaries for their executives, then surely they have the money to survive as private, non-commercial broadcasters. (He doesn't even mention how people chipping in $ 25 to "save" shows like Sesame Street might feel misled if they saw the salary numbers.)

PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $ 632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.

The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. According to CPB's 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $ 298,884 in reportable compensation and another $ 70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year. That's practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $ 1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.

Harrison was a wildly controversial choice when she was appointed to the CPB by President Bush in 2005, since she had been co-chair of the Republican National Commitee from 1997 to 2001. Once appointed, she quickly "went native," becoming a fierce protector of the subsidized liberal sandbox. DeMint continued:

Despite how accessible media has become to Americans over the years, funding for CPB has grown considerably. In 2001, the federal government appropriated $ 340 million for CPB. Last year it got $ 420 million. As Congress considers ways to close the $ 1.6 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Instead, Mr. Obama wants to increase CPB's funding to $ 451 million in his latest budget.

Meanwhile, highly successful, brand-name public programs like Sesame Street make millions on their own. "Sesame Street," for example, made more than $ 211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006. Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $ 956,513 in compensation in 2008. With earnings like that, Big Bird doesn't need the taxpayers to help him compete against the Nickleodeon cable channel's Dora the Explorer.

PS: The sad state of the National Lampoon brand is proven by an attempt by "humorist" Philip Rodney Moon to explore how terrible PBS will get if conservatives defund it, including a show called "Mr. Roger Ailes' Neighborhood."

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

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In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday, Sen. Jim DeMint argued that if PBS, CPB, and Sesame Street can afford lavish salaries for their executives, then surely they have the money to survive as private, non-commercial broadcasters. (He doesn't even mention how people chipping in $ 25 to "save" shows like Sesame Street might feel misled if they saw the salary numbers.)

PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $ 632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.

The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. According to CPB's 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $ 298,884 in reportable compensation and another $ 70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year. That's practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $ 1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.

Harrison was a wildly controversial choice when she was appointed to the CPB by President Bush in 2005, since she had been co-chair of the Republican National Commitee from 1997 to 2001. Once appointed, she quickly "went native," becoming a fierce protector of the subsidized liberal sandbox. DeMint continued:

Despite how accessible media has become to Americans over the years, funding for CPB has grown considerably. In 2001, the federal government appropriated $ 340 million for CPB. Last year it got $ 420 million. As Congress considers ways to close the $ 1.6 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Instead, Mr. Obama wants to increase CPB's funding to $ 451 million in his latest budget.

Meanwhile, highly successful, brand-name public programs like Sesame Street make millions on their own. "Sesame Street," for example, made more than $ 211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006. Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $ 956,513 in compensation in 2008. With earnings like that, Big Bird doesn't need the taxpayers to help him compete against the Nickleodeon cable channel's Dora the Explorer.

PS: The sad state of the National Lampoon brand is proven by an attempt by "humorist" Philip Rodney Moon to explore how terrible PBS will get if conservatives defund it, including a show called "Mr. Roger Ailes' Neighborhood."

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

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In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Friday, Sen. Jim DeMint argued that if PBS, CPB, and Sesame Street can afford lavish salaries for their executives, then surely they have the money to survive as private, non-commercial broadcasters. (He doesn't even mention how people chipping in $ 25 to "save" shows like Sesame Street might feel misled if they saw the salary numbers.)

PBS President Paula Kerger even recorded a personal television appeal that told viewers exactly how to contact members of Congress in order to "let your representative know how you feel about the elimination of funding for public broadcasting." But if PBS can pay Ms. Kerger $ 632,233 in annual compensation—as reported on the 990 tax forms all nonprofits are required to file—surely it can operate without tax dollars.

The executives at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which distributes the taxpayer money allocated for public broadcasting to other stations, are also generously compensated. According to CPB's 2009 tax forms, President and CEO Patricia de Stacy Harrison received $ 298,884 in reportable compensation and another $ 70,630 in other compensation from the organization and related organizations that year. That's practically a pittance compared to Kevin Klose, president emeritus of NPR, who received more than $ 1.2 million in compensation, according to the tax forms the nonprofit filed in 2009.

Harrison was a wildly controversial choice when she was appointed to the CPB by President Bush in 2005, since she had been co-chair of the Republican National Commitee from 1997 to 2001. Once appointed, she quickly "went native," becoming a fierce protector of the subsidized liberal sandbox. DeMint continued:

Despite how accessible media has become to Americans over the years, funding for CPB has grown considerably. In 2001, the federal government appropriated $ 340 million for CPB. Last year it got $ 420 million. As Congress considers ways to close the $ 1.6 trillion deficit, cutting funding for the CPB has even been proposed by President Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission. Instead, Mr. Obama wants to increase CPB's funding to $ 451 million in his latest budget.

Meanwhile, highly successful, brand-name public programs like Sesame Street make millions on their own. "Sesame Street," for example, made more than $ 211 million from toy and consumer product sales from 2003-2006. Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $ 956,513 in compensation in 2008. With earnings like that, Big Bird doesn't need the taxpayers to help him compete against the Nickleodeon cable channel's Dora the Explorer.

PS: The sad state of the National Lampoon brand is proven by an attempt by "humorist" Philip Rodney Moon to explore how terrible PBS will get if conservatives defund it, including a show called "Mr. Roger Ailes' Neighborhood."

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

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Apparently, President Obama likes to ignore his advisors. Either that or some agencies in Washington missed the President’s speech when he said he wanted job creation to be his number one priority.

You see, one would think that, if the President really wanted to create jobs, he would listen to his economic advisors, like former National Economic Advisor Larry Summers, who wrote:

Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization. High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy.

Presumably, the President realizes that unions cause long-term unemployment and, if his number one priority is job creation, one would think that he might consider sending a note over to the union-controlled National Labor Relations Board and tell them to stop trying to cripple companies. Especially since the NLRB has become the de-facto union organizing committee for union bosses and is intent on cramming unions down companies’ throats by any means necessary.

In addition, since the national debt is so high and cutting spending is allegedly a priority, one could also expect the President to tell his union-controlled NLRB to stop spending tax-payers’ money to advertise for unions.  Literally.

It’s bad enough that top AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka thinks that raising taxes or fighting for more regulations on business will somehow create jobs. However, to have an agency of the federal government actually doing the unions’ bidding to the level that the NLRB is, it is shameful

On Thursday, February 17th, the House of Representatives voted 176-250 against defunding the NLRB. Among those voting against defunding, 60 of them were Republicans (see list below). Perhaps the next time a vote to waste taxpayer dollars on the NLRB comes up, these GOP House members will think twice about funding an agency that is doing all it can to aid big union bosses while the continue stifling job creation.

Here is the list of GOP representatives who voted against defunding the NLRB:
________________

David Schweikert (AZ) (not voting)
Mario Diaz-Balart (FL)
David Rivera (FL)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL)
Tom Latham (IA)
Raul Labrador (ID)
Mike Simpson (ID)
Judy Biggert (IL)
Robert Dold (IL)
Randy Hultgren (IL)
Tim Johnson (IL)
Adam Kinzinger (IL)
Peter Roskam (IL)
Bobby Schilling (IL)
Aaron Schock (IL)
Larry Bucshon (IN)
Ed Whitfield (KY)
Dave Camp (MI)
Thaddeus McCotter (MI)
Candice Miller (MI)
Mike Rogers (MI)
Tim Walberg (MI)
Chip Cravaack (MN)
John Kline (MN)
Jo Ann Emerson (MO)
Sam Graves (MO)
Denny Rehberg (MT)
Jeff Fortenberry (NE)
Charlie Bass (NH)
Leonard Lance (NJ)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ)
Jon Runyan (NJ)
Chris Smith (NJ)
Joe Heck (NV)
Chris Gibson (NY)
Michael Grimm (NY)
Richard Hanna (NY)
Peter King (NY)
Tom Reed (NY)
Johnson (OH)
Steven LaTourette (OH)
Steve Stivers (OH)
Patrick Tiberi (OH)
Mike Turner (OH)
John Sullivan (OK) (not voting)
Greg Walden (OR)
Lou Barletta (PA)
Charlie Dent (PA)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA)
Jim Gerlach (PA)
Mike Kelly (PA)
Patrick Meehan (PA)
Tim Murphy (PA)
Bill Shuster (PA)
Blake Farenthold (TX)
Rob Wittman (VA) (not voting)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA)
Dave Reichert (WA)
Sean Duffy (WI)
Tom Petri (WI)
Paul Ryan (WI)
Jim Sensenbrenner (WI)
Shelley Capito (WV)
David McKinley (WV)

Not Voting
David Schweikert (AZ)
Bill Shuster (PA)
John Sullivan (OK)
Rob Wittman (VA)

_________________

“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

X-posted.


Big Government

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Koch Industries, the international conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch, is not only the second largest private company in America, it is the most politically active. As ThinkProgress has carefully documented over the last three years, Koch groups have spent tens of millions to influence government policy — from financing the Tea Parties, to funding junk academic studies, to undisclosed attack ads against Democrats, to groups promoting climate change denial, to a large network of state-based and national think tanks. In an opinion column for the Wall Street Journal today, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch fired back at his critics, who have grown more vocal as it has become clear that Koch groups are providing the political muscle for Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) union-busting power grab.

In his piece, Charles portrays himself as simply an ideological advocate, and says his money to political groups is only meant to “enhance true economic freedom.” He chides special interests that have “successfully lobbied for special favors,” claiming “crony capitalism is much easier than competing in an open market.” But in reality, the focus of the Koch political machine is geared towards “crony capitalism” — corrupting government to make Charles and his brother David Koch richer. Koch’s Tea Party libertarianism is actually a thin veneer for the company’s long running history of winning special deals from the government and manipulating the market to pad Koch profits:

– The dirty secret of Koch Industries is its birth under the centrally-planned Soviet Union. Fred Koch, the founder of the company and father of David and Charles, helped construct fifteen oil refineries for Joseph Stalin before expanding the business in the United States.

– As Yasha Levine has reported, Koch exploits a number of government programs for profit. For instance, Georgia Pacific, a timber company subsidiary of Koch Industries, uses taxpayer money provided by the U.S. Forestry Service to provide their loggers with taxpayer-funded roads and access to virgin growth forests. “Logging companies such as Georgia-Pacific strip lands bare, destroy vast acreages and pay only a small fee to the federal government in proportion to what they take from the public,” according to the Institute for Public Accuracy. Levine also notes that Koch’s cattle ranching company, Matador Cattle Company, uses a New Deal program to profit off federal land for free.

Koch Industries won massive government contracts using their close relationship with the Bush administration. The Bush administration, in a deal even conservatives alleged was a quid pro quo because of Koch’s campaign donations, handed Koch Industries a lucrative contract to supply the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve with 8 million barrels of crude oil. The SPR deal, done initially in 2002, was renewed in 2004 by Bush administration officials. During the occupation of Iraq, Koch won significant contracts to buy Iraqi crude oil.

– Although Koch campaigned vigorously against health reform — running attack ads, sponsoring anti-health reform Tea Parties, and comparing health reform to the Holocaust — Koch Industries applied for health reform subsidies made possible by the Obama administration.

– The Koch brothers have claimed that they oppose government intervention in the market, but Koch Industries lobbies aggressively for taxpayer handouts. In Alaska, blogger Andrew Halcro reported that a Koch subsidiary in Fairbanks asked Gov. Sarah Palin’s administration to use taxpayer money to bail out one of their failing refinery.

– SolveClimate recently reported that Koch Industries will reap huge profits from the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, which runs from Koch-owned tar sands mining centers in Canada to Koch-owned refineries in Texas. To build the pipeline, politicians throughout the Midwest, many of whom have received large Koch campaign donations, have used eminant domain — government seizures of private land. In Kansas, where Koch-funded officials advise Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and the Republican legislature, the Keystone XL Pipeline is likely to receive a property tax exemption of ten years, a special loophole that will cost Kansas taxpayers about $ 50 million.

– Koch Industries has been the recipient of about $ 85 million in federal government contracts mostly from the Department of Defense. Koch also benefits directly from billions in taxpayer subsidies for oil companies and ethanol production.

Charles has compared himself to a libertarian “Martin Luther,” evangelizing to the world for their supply side cause. However, the tens of millions in campaign donations and the dozens of front groups funded by Koch work in tandem to promoting the business interests of Koch Industries.

Koch funds both socially conservative groups and socially liberal groups. However, Koch’s financing of front groups and political organizations all have one thing in common: every single Koch group attacks workers’ rights, promotes deregulation, and argues for radical supply side economics. Not only do the Koch’s front groups pad Koch Industries’ bottom line, they supply the Koch brother’s talking points. In fact, for his opinion piece today, Charles heavily relied on front groups he finances for statistics. The “freedom index” cited by Charles is a creation of the Koch-funded Heritage Foundation, and the erroneous “unfunded liabilities” claim was supplied by the Koch-funded National Center for Policy Analysis.

ThinkProgress

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Medicare and Social Security are important retirement security programs for millions of Americans. But they are ticking time bombs with trillions in future unfunded obligations that will bankrupt America if they are not changed. Though awareness of this critical situation continues to grow, Americans remain reluctant to support reform, understandably fearful of the prospect of paying into a program and then not receiving what they paid for. As Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar wrote for the AP, “You paid your Medicare taxes all those years and think you deserve your money’s worth: full benefits after you retire.”

But recent research from the Urban Institute’s C. Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane shows that Americans actually receive benefits well in excess of what they pay in. The truth is, American taxpayers do not actually pay for their own future retirement benefits. Instead, their tax dollars pay for current Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries. Steuerle writes, “The complication is that [recent retirees’] Social Security taxes mainly supported their parents in retirement, and the only way they can do as well in a money-in-money-out (at times partially funded) system is to foist higher tax rates on their children.”

As the baby boomer generation begins to retire in 2011 and the growth rate of medical costs continues to increase, the cost of Medicare in particular will soar. To call the current trajectory of spending on this program unsustainable is an understatement. It would require raising taxes on the children and grandchildren of retirees to unrealistic rates that would devastate the United States economy.

Steuerle and Rennane’s data show just how significant the problem really is. Take for example a married couple who turned 65 in 2010 and earned the average wage (in 2010 dollars) of $ 43,100 each. This couple will have paid a total of $ 690,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes, but will receive $ 882,000 in total benefits over their lifetimes.

The trend extends to Americans of all earning levels. A one-earner couple earning the average wage and retiring in 2010 will pay $ 345,000 into the system, but receive $ 778,000 in benefits. And a single man earning the same wage will pay $ 345,000 into the system but receive $ 417,000 in benefits.

Clearly, current benefit levels greatly exceed what citizens pay into the system. According to Steuerle, “To pay for the rest, we borrow from China and elsewhere, and use up ever-larger shares of income tax revenues, leaving ever-smaller shares for other government functions. Bottom line: without reform, current workers would continue to shunt many of their future Medicare costs onto younger generations, just as their parents did with Social Security.”

The best way forward in Medicare reform is to transform the program into a premium support system, allowing seniors to use a federal contribution to purchase a health plan that best suits their needs from a wide array of options. This would control the cost of the program while allowing seniors to receive the best value for their health dollars. It has received bipartisan support over the years and is supported by younger Americans, who stand to receive the short end of the stick under the current path. An Associated Press-Gfk poll found that 47 percent of those born after 1980 favored moving Medicare to a voucher system compared to 41 percent who did not.

Though President Obama and liberals in Congress continue to resist serious entitlement reform, the facts show that there really is no other choice.

The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

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**Written by Doug Powers

For those of you keeping score at home, this amount of money is the equivalent of about 1.2 million packages of Ramen noodles.

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

In Mike Allen’s morning newsletter, we learn Planned Parenthood will spend $ 200,000 on television ads, urging Congress to not cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

You know, folks, if you can afford to spend $ 200,000 on television ads, maybe you don’t need all of that federal funding.

By way of Weasel Zippers, here’s the ad. They fail to mention one of their primary services though. See if you can guess which one:

“If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Conversely, how many would be here today?

As with most stories about Planned Parenthood activities, I’m required to add the obligatory “poor and minorities hardest hit” tag at the end.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Michelle Malkin

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By Benjamin H. Friedman

The Defense Department announced yesterday that it is awarding its aerial refueling tanker contract to Boeing. We’ll pay them $ 3.5 billion for the first 18 tankers and $ 35 billion if all the planned 179 tankers get built. These are essentially gas stations in the sky that extend the range of bomber and fighter aircraft.

The decision is causing great consternation in Alabama, where EADS, the losing bidder, would have located most of the manufacturing for the deal. Governor Robert Bentley compared the loss of federal spending to a “death in family.” I’ll leave it to others to speculate as to what that says about his priorities and just point that the decision is good for Americans generally.*

From a military perspective, both aircraft likely would have performed well. Tanker technology is not cutting edge these days, so technical risks in development are relatively low. And given that the Pentagon knows that its decision will come under great scrutiny, it is reasonable to accept its judgment that Boeing’s offer is better.  

The main reason why taxpayers come out ahead here is, however, one that the Pentagon is not allowed to consider when weighing bids: how the award affects future political pressure for spending.  I explained these politics in 2008, before EADS took over the bid of its Airbus subsidiary:

The political problem with the Airbus deal is that it opens a production facility in Alabama to make conventional aircraft assembled elsewhere into tankers, but will not close Boeing’s similar plant in Wichita, Kansas. This means taxpayers have a new mouth to feed. Because they create concentrated interests, US military production facilities are nearly impossible to close. In the private sector, sellers make money by cutting costs and delivering products more efficiently. In defense contracting, companies succeed by keeping production lines open and relying on local Congressman, workers and lobbyists to get them work. That’s why the US has twice the number of shipyards it needs despite consolidation in the shipbuilding industry. It would have been better to keep all the production in Europe, preventing new domestic lobbies from forming, or more realistically, accomplish the same thing by making Airbus lease Boeing’s plant.

*It’s worth asking whether 179 is excessive, given that precision munitions are vastly increasing the striking power of each aircraft. Today we can destroy exponentially more targets with the same forces relative to twenty years ago, and we continue to grow that ratio.

Boeing’s Tanker Win Is a Small Taxpayer Win is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog


Cato @ Liberty

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This doesn’t strike me as a a very good example of small government philosophy in action:

The company that produced Sarah Palin’s Alaska, the TLC show starring the former vice presidential nominee, is set to receive $ 1.2 million in state subsidies, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The funding has led to criticism that then-Gov. Palin may have approved of tax credits for programs filmed in Alaska as a way of boosting her profile in the future.

Whether that’s the case or not, one wonders what exactly is fiscally conservative about taking taxpayer dollars for a reality show after having quit the job they elected you to.

H/T: Pajama Pundit




Outside the Beltway

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The last time Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) went after public sector unions it had “disastrous results” for him and for taxpayers. As Milwaukee County Executive in 2009, Walker tried to get rid of the unionized security guards at the county courthouse and replace them with contractors, which he promised would save the county money. The County Board rejected the idea, but in March of 2010 Walker “unilaterally ordered it,” claiming there was a budget emergency. Walker hired the British security contractor Wackenhut — of Kabul Embassy sex scandal fame — to replace the guards. Unfortunately for Walker and Milwaukee taxpayers, an arbiter later ruled that Walker had overstepped his authority, and ordered the county to reinstate the unionized workers, pay backwages, and pay tens-of-thousands of dollars in arbiter fees. As MSNBC’s Racheal Maddow pointed out last night, Walker’s “dress rehersal” for his current union busting effort may end up costing Milwaukee taxpayers an extra half a million dollars. Watch it:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

While his anti-union crusade proved to be a boondagle for Milwaukee County, Walker had escaped in time to wash his hands clean of it, as the arbiter’s ruling against didn’t come down until last month — after Walker had been sworn in as governor. Maddow also notes that the man put in charge of Wackenhut’s security at the courthouse had a criminal record and had served prison time.

ThinkProgress

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