The Costs of ObamaCare

ObamacareWhoever said that no government program ever comes in at or under budget should get the Nobel Truth Prize. Anyone who expected the trainwreck called ObamaCare to come in on budget and on time needs to have their medication checked. Its time to count the cost of ObamaCare.

Now that it has become clear that the ObamaCare website will not be ready by November 30th, the Democrats are heading for the exits. They all seem to understand that it is a giant boat anchor dragging down their reelection chances.

Now they’re trying to save their phony-baloney jobs, at least the smart ones are. The kool-aid drinkers and true believers are ready to ride this disaster to oblivion, proving once again that some politicians are simply stupid.

Now it’s time to count the cost for this disaster and it doesn’t just include the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on a non-functioning website.

This misguided attempt to control healthcare costs has turned into a giant black hole for the country. If a large number of older people who generally need more services sign up and are not balanced by healthier younger workers then the costs will rise exponentially.

Why would that be, you might ask? Well, the spread-the-wealth Democrats who wrote this law outsmarted themselves and the American people. In order to attract all demographic segments to ObamaCare they rigged the premiums, charging healthier enrollees more and older, presumably unhealthier, people less.

Surprise, only the unhealthier are signing up while the younger people are taking a wait-and-see attitude. After all they can afford to wait since they use less healthcare services.

Meanwhile, just shy of six weeks to the end of 2013, over 4 million Americans have been told they are losing the insurance they thought would be secure. Many of them do not know whether after January 1 they will still have coverage, or what that coverage will look like.

Doctors and hospitals are in the dark about whether they or their patients will be able to participate in the exchanges. Some doctors are opting out altogether. Premiere institutions like Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai are running costly television and radio advertisements encouraging their patients to be sure their hospital is included in their coverage.

Changing the rules after the game has begun is fraught with all financial implications. Karen Ignagni president of America’s Health Insurance Plans did damage control:

“Making sure consumers have secure, affordable coverage is health plans’ top priority. The only reason consumers are getting notices about their current coverage changing is because the ACA requires all policies to cover a broad range of benefits that go beyond what many people choose to purchase today.”

“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. Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If now fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase and there will be fewer choices for consumers.” 

Yes, if you change the rules now, expect higher premiums later. But remember that this is the administration that announced that insurance for 30 million more people would cost less in total. They also announced that contraception would be provided at no charge by the insurance companies and expected the American people to buy that lie.

Let’s move on to the cost of the ObamaCare website and its related expenses, such as call centers. The often-quoted estimate of $634 million has been challenged by a number of sources.

Government spending is bundled into large contracts that last for years, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is spent for what project. For instance, CGI Federal, generally regarded as the main contractor for healthcare.gov, has one such contract that was signed three years before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law and lasts until 2017.

The news release issued by CGI in 2011 touted a contract of $93 million over two years. The entire backbone of the exchanges, such as the data hub was created by Optum/Quality Software Services Inc., a unit of UnitedHealth Group.

In a June report, the Government Accountability Office said that as of March 31, $55 million had been obligated to QSSI for the data hub. GAO says it does not have any updated figures.

The GAO report also lists a number of other contracts related to supporting the federal exchanges, totally $394 million, but the figure includes projects unrelated to the Web site, such as call centers.

The long list of contracts in the appendix of the GAO report does not give enough detail to fully determine which contracts are directly related to the Web site, though at a glance you could reduce the total to at least $350 million.

In testimony on Capitol Hill, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, in response to a direct question: “Congresswoman, we have spent about $118 million on the website itself, and about $56 million has been expended on other IT to support the web.” That adds up to $174 million and counting.

But that figure does not include the costs incurred in government employee’s salaries and other costs hidden within the Federal budget. It will require an army of accountants with subpoena powers to dig through the piles of government contracts. Don’t hold your breath.

Finally, the costs of ObamaCare to the American economy are staggering but unable to be counted as yet.

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66 Crazy Ways That The U.S. Government Is Wasting Your Money

A bottomless pitHere’s a post from Michael Snyder at http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com with 66 crazy ways that the U.S. Government is wasting your money. If it wasn’t so wasteful some of them would be downright funny.

Why did the U.S. government spend 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly?

Why did the U.S. government spend $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”?

Why did the U.S. government spend nearly a million dollars on a new soccer field for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay?

This week when I saw that the IRS was about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to their employees and that the U.S. government was going to be leaving 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan, it caused me to reflect on all of the other crazy ways that the government has been wasting our money in recent years.

So I decided to go back through my previous articles and put together a list.  I call it “The Waste List”.  Even though our politicians insist that there is very little that can still be cut out of the budget, the truth is that the federal budget is absolutely drowning in pork.  The following are 66 crazy ways that the U.S. government is wasting your hard-earned money…

#1 The IRS is about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to employees even though discretionary bonuses are supposed to be cancelled due to the sequester.

#2 According to the Washington Post, the U.S. government is going to leave 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan.

#3 It is being projected that the trip that the Obamas will be making to Africa will cost U.S. taxpayers $100,000,000.

#4 The NIH plans to spend $509,840 on a study that “will send text messages in ‘gay lingo’ to methamphetamine addicts to try to persuade them to use fewer drugs and more condoms.”

#5 The National Science Foundation has given $384,949 to Yale University to do a study on “Sexual Conflict, Social Behavior and the Evolution of Waterfowl Genitalia”.  Try not to laugh, but much of this research involves examining and measuring the reproductive organs of male ducks.

#6 The IRS spent $60,000 on a film parody of “Star Trek” and a film parody of “Gilligan’s Island”.  Internal Revenue Service employees were the actors in the two parodies, so as you can imagine the acting was really bad.

#7 The NIH has given $1.5 million to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts to study why “three-quarters” of lesbians in the United States are overweight and why most gay males are not.

#8 The NIH has also spent $2.7 million to study why lesbians have more “vulnerability to hazardous drinking”.

#9 The U.S. government is giving sixteen F-16s and 200 Abrams tanks to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt even though the new president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi (a member of the Muslim Brotherhood), constantly makes statements such as the following

“Dear brothers, we must not forget to nurse our children and grandchildren on hatred towards those Zionists and Jews, and all those who support them”

#10 During 2012, the salaries of Barack Obama’s three climate change advisers combined came to a grand total of more than $370,000.

#11 Overall, 139 different White House staffers were making at least $100,000 during 2012, and there were 20 staffers that made the maximum of $172,200.

#12 Amazingly, U.S. taxpayers spend more than 1.4 billion dollars a year on the Obamas.  Meanwhile, British taxpayers only spend about 58 million dollars on the entire royal family.

#13 During 2012, $25,000 of federal money was spent on a promotional tour for the Alabama Watermelon Queen.

#14 The U.S. government spent $505,000 “to promote specialty hair and beauty products for cats and dogs” in 2012.

#15 NASA spends close to a million dollars a year developing a menu of food for a manned mission to Mars even though it is being projected that a manned mission to Mars is still decades away.

#16 During 2012, the federal government spent 15 million dollars to help the Russians recruit nuclear scientists.

#17 Over the past 15 years, a total of approximately $5.25 million has been spent on hair care services for the U.S. Senate.

#18 The U.S. government spent 27 million dollars to teach Moroccans how to design and make pottery in 2012.

#19 At a time when we have an epidemic of unemployment in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education is spending $1.3 millionto “reduce linguistic, academic, and employment barriers for skilled and low-skilled immigrants and refugees, and to integrate them into the U.S. workforce and professions.”

#20 The federal government still sends about 20 million dollars a year to the surviving family members of veterans of World War I, even though World War I ended 94 years ago.

#21 The U.S. government is spending approximately 3.6 million dollarsa year to support the lavish lifestyles of former presidents such as George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

#22 During fiscal 2012, the National Science Foundation gave researchers at Purdue University $350,000.  They used part of that money to help fund a study that discovered that if golfers imagine that a hole is bigger it will help them with their putting.

#23 The U.S. government is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to the Palestinian Authority every single year.

#24 Federal agencies have purchased a total of approximately 2 billion rounds of ammunition over the past couple of years.  It is claimed that all of this ammunition is needed for “training purposes”.

#25 During 2012, the National Science Foundation spent $516,000 on the creation of a video game called “Prom Week” which apparently simulates “all the social interactions of the event.

#26 If you can believe it, $10,000 of U.S. taxpayer money was actually used to purchase talking urinal cakes up in Michigan.

#27 When Joe Biden and his staff took a trip to London, the hotel bill cost U.S. taxpayers $459,388.65.

#28 Joe Biden and his staff also stopped in Paris for one night.  The hotel bill for that one night came to $585,000.50.

#29 If you can believe it, close to 15,000 retired federal employees are currently collecting federal pensions for life worth at least $100,000 annually.  That list includes such names as Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Trent Lott, Dick Gephardt and Dick Cheney.

#30 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has spent $300,000 to encourage Americans to eat caviar.

#31 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $666,905 to a group of researchers that is conducting a study on the benefits of watching reruns on television.

#32 The National Science Foundation has given 1.2 million dollars to a team of “scientists” that is spending part of that money on a study that is seeking to determine whether elderly Americans would benefit from playing World of Warcraft or not.

#33 The National Institutes of Health recently gave $548,731 to a team of researchers that concluded that those that drink heavily in their thirties also tend to feel more immature.

#34 The National Science Foundation recently spent $30,000 on a study to determine if “gaydar” actually exists.  This is the conclusion that the researchers reached at the end of the study….

“Gaydar is indeed real and… its accuracy is driven by sensitivity to individual facial features”

#35 In 2011, the National Institutes of Health spent $592,527 on a study that sought to figure out once and for all why chimpanzees throw poop.

#36 The National Institutes of Health has spent more than 5 million dollars on a website called Sexpulse that is targeted at “men who use the Internet to seek sex with men”.  According to Fox News, the website “includes pornographic images of homosexual sex as well as naked and scantily clad men” and features “a Space Invaders-style interactive game that uses a penis-shaped blaster to shoot down gay epithets.”

#37 The General Services Administration spent $822,751 on a “training conference” for 300 west coast employees at the M Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.  The following is how the Washington Post described some of the wasteful expenses that happened during this “conference”…

Among the “excessive, wasteful and in some cases impermissable” spending the inspector general documented: $5,600 for three semi-private catered in-room parties and $44 per person daily breakfasts; $75,000 for a “team-building” exercise — the goal was to build a bicycle; $146,000 on catered food and drinks; and $6,325 on commemorative coins in velvet boxes to reward all participants for their work on stimulus projects. The $31,208 “networking” reception featured a $19-per-person artisanal cheese display and $7,000 of sushi. At the conference’s closing-night dinner, employees received “yearbooks” with their pictures, at a cost of $8,130.

You can see some stunning pictures of GSA employees living the high life in Las Vegas right here.

#38 Do you remember when credit rating agency Egan Jones downgraded U.S. government debt from AA+ to AA?  Well, someone in the federal government apparently did not like that at all.  Accordingto Zero Hedge, the SEC planned to file charges against Egan Jones for “misstatements” on a regulatory application with the SEC.

Normally, the SEC does not go after anyone.  After all, when is the last time a major banker went to prison?

No, the truth is that the SEC is usually just a huge waste of taxpayer money.  According to ABC News, one investigation found that 17 senior SEC officials had been regularly viewing pornography while at work.  While the American people were paying their salaries, this is what senior SEC officials were busy doing…

One senior attorney at SEC headquarters in Washington spent up to eight hours a day accessing Internet porn, according to the report, which has yet to be released. When he filled all the space on his government computer with pornographic images, he downloaded more to CDs and DVDs that accumulated in boxes in his offices.

An SEC accountant attempted to access porn websites 1,800 times in a two-week period and had 600 pornographic images on her computer hard drive.

Another SEC accountant used his SEC-issued computer to upload his own sexually explicit videos onto porn websites he joined.

And another SEC accountant attempted to access porn sites 16,000 times in a single month.

#39 According to InformationWeek, the federal government is spending “millions of dollars” to train Asian call center workers.

#40 If you can believe it, the federal government has actually spent$750,000 on a new soccer field for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay.

#41 The U.S. Agency for International Development spent 10 million dollars to create a version of “Sesame Street” for Pakistani television.

#42 The Obama administration has plans to spend between 16 and 20 million dollars to help students from Indonesia get master’s degrees.

#43 The National Science Foundation spent $198,000 on a University of California-Riverside study that explored “motivations, expectations and goal pursuit in social media.” One of the questions the study sought an answer to was the following: “Do unhappy people spend more time on Twitter or Facebook?”

#44 In 2011, $147,138 was given to the American Museum of Magic in Marshall, Michigan.  Their best magic trick is making U.S. taxpayer dollars disappear.

#45 The federal government recently spent $74,000 to help Michigan “increase awareness about the role Michigan plays in the production of trees and poinsettias.”

#46 In 2011, the federal government gave $550,000 toward the making of a documentary about how rock and roll contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union.

#47 The National Institutes of Health has contributed $55,382 toward a study of “hookah smoking habits” in the country of Jordan.

#48 The federal government gave $606,000 to researchers at Columbia University to study how heterosexuals use the Internet to find love.

#49 A total of $133,277 was recently given to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games for video game preservation.  The International Center for the History of Electronic Games says that it “collects, studies, and interprets video games, other electronic games, and related materials and the ways in which electronic games are changing how people play, learn, and connect with each other, including across boundaries of culture and geography.”

#50 The federal government has given approximately $3 million to researchers at the University of California at Irvine to fund their “research” into video games such as World of Warcraft.

#51 In 2011, the National Science Foundation gave one team of researchers $149,990 to create a video game called “RapidGuppy” for cell phones and other mobile devices.

#52 In 2011, $936,818 was spent developing an online soap opera entitled “Diary of a Single Mom”.  The show “chronicles the lives and challenges of three single mothers and their families trying to get ahead despite obstacles that all single mothers face, such as childcare, healthcare, education, and finances.”

#53 Last year, the federal government spent $96,000 to buy iPads for kindergarten students in Maine.

#54 The U.S. Postal Service once spent $13,500 for a single dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

#55 In 2011, the Air Force Academy completed work on an outdoor worship area for pagans and Wiccans.  The worship area consists of “a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with [a] propane fire pit” and it cost $51,474 to build.  The worship area is “for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of ‘Earth-based’, which includes Wiccans, druids and pagans.”  At this point, that only includes 3 current students at the Air Force Academy.

#56 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $400,000to study why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk.

#57 The National Institutes of Health once gave researchers $442,340to study the behavior of male prostitutes in Vietnam.

#58 The National Institutes of Health once spent $800,000 in “stimulus funds” to study the impact of a “genital-washing program” on men in South Africa.

#59 The National Science Foundation recently spent $200,000 on a study that examined how voters react when politicians change their stances on climate change.

#60 The federal government recently spent $484,000 to help build a Mellow Mushroom pizzeria in Arlington, Texas.

#61 At this point, China is holding over a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.  But that didn’t stop the United States from sending17.8 million dollars in foreign aid to China in 2011.

#62 The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave the largest snack food maker in the world (PepsiCo Inc.) a total of 1.3 million dollars in corporate welfare that was used to help build “a Greek yogurt factory in New York.

#63 The National Science Foundation recently gave a whopping$697,177 to a New York City-based theater company to produce a musical about climate change.

#64 The federal government once shelled out $2.6 million to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly.

#65 The U.S. Department of Agriculture once handed researchers at the University of New Hampshire $700,000 to study methane gas emissions from dairy cows.

#66 The federal government has spent $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”.

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Pay to Play at the Department of Energy

Pay to PlayEven though ObamaCare is sucking all of the oxygen out of newsrooms across America corruption is still proceeding unimpeded.

Pay to Play is a well-known Chicago political practice in which money is exchanged for services or the privilege to engage (play) in certain activities. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to a 14-year prison term for engaging in the practice.

Throughout the Obama administration we have seen Pay to Play practiced by various departments in the Executive Branch. The most flagrant has been the Department of Energy.

Many of the earlier green energy company failures received grants and loans that can be directly attributable to their financial donations to the President’s two successful election campaigns.

And how did Barack Obama fumble the green technology future? He and his administration used green technology funding as a reward for loyalty to their machine.

Many of the grants and loans were awarded on the basis of political loyalty and the donations of cold, hard cash to the Obama machine. Irregardless of Stephen Chu’s demurrals, the trails back to Obama campaign bundlers is as clear as a six-lane highway.

The Obama machine has no shame and even today continues to use Pay to Play as their primary means of distributing political patronage to their financial contributors.

The Washington Times in a June report detailed how James Coyle, a well-connected Obama donor and head of Massachusetts-based SCS Energy acquired Hydrogen Energy California with the help of DOE officials.

Coyle contributed $2,300 to President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and $31,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2010, according to federal contribution records compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Under the revised contract, the project’s estimated costs rose from $2.8 billion to $4 billion, while the Energy Department agreed to boost conditional taxpayer backing by $100 million, to $408 million in all.

In a report dated June 6, Western Audits Division Director David Sedillo said the department allowed SCS Energy to take over the project with a reduced equity share and did not fully verify their financial projections.

Now there is another Washington Times report that details the newest Pay to Play participant and their connection to the Department of Energy taxpayer-funded money machine.

The latest DOE grants involve carbon capture technology with the lion’s share of the tax dollars going to firms that donated heavily to Democrats. Carbon capture technology is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. It is currently considered too expensive and too inefficient.

The DOE awarded $84 million in grants in order to “support the development of advanced technologies that will help enable efficient, cost-effective application of carbon capture and storage (CCS) processes for new and existing coal-fired power plants.”

Of the 14 recipients, employees of nine of the recipient firms gave $112,312 to Democrats (including $35,512 to President Obama) and left-leaning groups like Emily’s List since 2010, according to OpenSecrets.org. By comparison, $25,006 was donated to Republicans by employees at just five of the recipient companies.

It appears that the most direct route to Federal largesse is still through various Democrat campaign committees. Pay to Play is alive and well and living in our nation’s capital.

 

 

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Is the IRS in over its head?

IRS Enforcer cartoonApparently, the Internal Revenue Service is in over its head. Starting with their suppression of tea party groups and other conservative organizations back in 2009, it seems that their plate has been full. The IRS’ suppression swung the 2012 election to Obama, according to a number of observers.

The IRS is so overwhelmed with tasks that it’s become clearer that their future role in ObamaCare is asking for trouble. How can they be expected to enforce the tax side of the healthcare law when they don’t even check where they’re sending refunds?

In 2012 the IRS sent $4 billion to identity thieves filing fraudulent tax returns, according to a recent report released by Treasury Inspector General J. Russell George the IRS.

“Identity theft continues to be a serious problem with devastating consequences for taxpayers and an enormous impact on tax administration,” George said in the statement. “Undetected tax refund fraud results in significant unintended Federal outlays and erodes taxpayer confidence in the Federal tax system.”

George is no favorite of the Obama administration or their allies in the Democrat Party since his audit that detailed the IRS’ targeting of Tea Party groups. His audit revealed that the IRS subjected conservative groups to extra delays and unconstitutional scrutiny.

This included asking Christian groups to provide “both sides of the issues” and detail the content of their members’ prayers, while withholding approvals and slow-walking applications.

Meanwhile, the Internal Revenue Service’s ‘friends’ over at CBS News reported that they sent 343 tax refunds to a single address in Shanghai, and another 655 tax refunds to another in Lithuania.

And in 2011, a statement detailing a similar report filed by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found 1.1 million fraudulent tax returns were filed with clearly fabricated Social Security numbers that IRS could have detected, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion in 2011.

Approximately 2.8 million taxpayers were affected by the IRS’s failure to catch identity thieves from 2012 to 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found. This time frame that with the  agency’s aggressive harassment of conservative groups and its efforts to cull them from the political herd as the 2012 election carried on.

The IRS has become the Obama administration’s enforcer when it comes to their opponents, particularly those who want ObamaCare defunded. It was this type of illegal use of the federal tax collector that contributed to the demise of Richard M. Nixon.

The first step in rehabilitating this seemingly rogue agency should be their removal as the ObamaCare enforcer. It would go a long way in rehabilitating them in the eyes of American taxpayers. The simple fix to mailing refunds to suspicious locations is nothing more than a programming fix that holds them for hand inspection.

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The ObamaCare Fivesome

Cancelled subscriberIf three’s a crowd, then what’s five? In the case of ObamaCare it’s a partnership for a disaster. Except everyone hasn’t been an active partner in this disaster.

Let’s start with the Federal government and more specifically the Department of Health and Human Services. The leader of this group of techie wannabes is back pedaling furiously while she’s until a relentless barrage of criticism from the Republicans (not surprising) but more than two dozen Democrat senators who are afraid for their phony-baloney jobs.

Kathleen Sebelius has appeared before a number of House and Senate committees to try and explain the massive failure of the ObamaCare website. Given almost four years to build and test the eCommerce site, HHS has done neither.

Oh, they have a site that you can visit but it’s non-functioning. In fact, when it was tested the week before the October 1st debut the techies determined that it could handle a mere 1,100 users at a time. But’s that’s okay because three states, Delaware, Kansas, and Alaska, have enrolled less men than we put on the moon.

The next group of active partners are from the Democrat Party. More specifically, they include the Democrat senators who are afraid for their jobs. As they watch their crashing poll numbers they contemplate Terry McAuliffe freefall in Virginia.

At the beginning of October McAuliffe led in the Virginia gubernatorial race by double digits. Depending on the poll that you viewed he was leading by between 12 to 18 points.

Once the Cuccinelli campaign used ObamaCare as their primary issue those numbers began to drop like a rocket going downhill. On election day he won by 2.5%. Given another week the Republicans might have won.

The Democrats are looking at that example and a chill runs down their spine. It appears that the President has become toxic. No one wants to be associated with him. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) is in a tough fight to retain her seat. Today, she’s flying to New Orleans with Obama but will not appear with him at his speech.

This is just the beginning. Politicians have an acute sense of smell and the smell the failure of ObamaCare. They don’t want to be caught in the riptide of this debacle.

The Republicans by and large can stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at their opponents. Except there are a few Republicans in the Senate who don’t understand the phrase, “when your opponent is digging a hole for himself, give him the shovel”.

They need to stop throwing lifelines to the Democrats and stand back. Misguided senators seem to want to be seen as heroes but is it heroic to allow an incompetent Federal bureaucracy manage 1/6 of the U.S. economy? The Democrats made this rope. Let them hang themselves with it.

Then, we have the insurance companies who supported this legislation because of greed. They saw it as an opportunity to clean up by enrolling 30 million uninsured. However, they didn’t see the trap that the liberal;s had set.

You see, liberals see insurance companies as blood-sucking parasites who charge inflated premiums. Their goal here is to create a single-payer system run by the Federal government. There’s no place in it for insurance companies. ObamaCare is a one-way ticket to oblivion for them.

Finally, we have the American people. They’ve been lied to by their President. They’ve seen their once-thriving economy been trashed by this group of incompetent amateurs. The U.S. economy has gone from full-time workers to part-time workers due to ObamaCare.

Their taxes have risen because of ObamaCare. Their taxes have been wasted on a non-functioning website and then as an added insult, millions have seen their health insurance cancelled because of fine print and red tape.

But there is an upside. The once low information voters are starting to pay attention. The Democrats biggest asset, disinterested voters, have begun to pay attention. I can’t wait for next November.

 

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Fraud at the USDA

Money Hay RollsThe conventional thinking is that most of the fraud that takes place at the USDA is related to the food stamp program but a July report from the Office of the Inspector General paints a different picture.

According to the Inspector General’s investigation, 10 cases involving USDA programs have wrapped up in the past two months and only one of them involved fraud on the part of a SNAP or “food stamp” recipient.

Five of the remaining cases involved the improper use of Rural Development funds. In one case, a former Texas mayor obtained approximately $115,000 in RD grants and loans in March 2010 to buy three fully equipped police vehicles.

The former mayor used the vehicles as collateral to obtain a $40,000 loan from a local bank to pay city employees, in violation of the grant agreement which prohibits grantees from encumbering or disposing of property without RD’s consent.

In April, a jury found the mayor guilty of felony charges including misapplication of fiduciary property, theft by a public servant, and abuse of official capacity. The mayor was removed from office following her conviction and sentenced to four terms of imprisonment.

In May, the former owner and chief operating officer of a Kentucky livestock company were sentenced for operating a check-kiting scheme in order to access and maintain a $32.5 million line of credit that the producers used to purchase livestock.

“When the bank discovered the scheme and closed the company’s accounts in November 2010,” OIG reports, “hundreds of businesses and individuals holding checks that could not be honored suffered financial losses.”

The livestock producers have been sentenced to 70 and 57 months imprisonment, respectively, and will forfeit at least $4.8 million in assets.

The remaining cases involved SNAP abuse on behalf of the estimated 250,000 retailers who help implement the program—not recipients—accepting SNAP benefits.

In one example, the owner of a Wisconsin meat delivery company was found to have exchanged $716,000 in SNAP benefits for cash. In another, a Maine man funneled federal funds from his community action corporation into accounts used to pay for personal expenses.

Ever since the USDA went to Electronic Benefit Transfer cards it appears that the incidence of fraud has been decreasing despite the spiraling use of EBT cards.

A 2011 USDA report that studied SNAP trafficking between 2006 and 2008 found that instances of that crime are on the decline. The department lost $811 million to trafficking in 2003, but $446 million in the period covered by the report which is still a significant amount of money

“The reality is…there maybe is more fraud in crop insurance than SNAP, but nobody knows,” House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-MN said. “We have made progress in both programs. We’re using data mining to determine where there’s a problem…Frankly, we should put more money into data mining, both in SNAP and in crop insurance…because it kind of tells you where the problem is.”. 

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ObamaCare=Fewer Doctors

Overworked DoctorWhile ObamaCare flounders through its first month we are seeing critics point out some serious issues with both the website and the program behind it.

The most obvious issue is the non-functionality of the website itself. The several million who have seen their current policies being cancelled are beginning to panic. Even if they wanted to enroll with ObamaCare they are unable to do so because they can not access the site.

The administration must assume that the American people can be fooled again. Even though it took 3 to 4 years to build the current nonperforming site, they have announced that the site will be up and running in four weeks. Once bitten, twice shy.

The pitiful sign-up numbers are not only due to problems with the sight but are also due to the insurance programs that are available for purchase. Due to all of the required features in the standard policy most plans are more expensive than people require.

For example, why does a couple beyond childbearing years need obstetrics coverage? Or people without children need pediatric coverage?

The other major long-term issue is the imbalanced numbers of sign-ups between ObamaCare and Medicaid. In some places, nine out of 10 enrollees are in Medicaid rather than Obamacare.

And therein lies the problem. With ObamaCare the insured pay the premiums. With Medicaid the taxpayers pay the premiums. For the first three years, the Federal taxpayers pay the bills but eventually the Federal contribution drops and the state taxpayers are on the hook.

ObamaCare versus Medicaid

 

While the Democrats are desperate to defend the law. Republicans are relentlessly attacking the law on a number of fronts.

“This law is becoming quickly less about helping Americans purchase affordable coverage and more about compelling millions of Americans into a struggling Medicaid program,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who chairs the House Republican Conference, said at a congressional hearing this week.

Beyond all of the skirmishing, committee hearings and political speeches about ObamaCare another more ominous problem is cruising under the radar: doctors who are unwilling to treat ObamaCare patients.

Although details are sketchy it appears the doctors around the country are opting out of any involvement with ObamaCare and Medicaid. The reasons range from the volume of paperwork that is required to the low rates of reimbursement.

In 2011, nearly one-third of doctors were unwilling to treat Medicaid patients.

A survey conducted by Sandra L. Decker, PhD, of the National Center for Health Statistics found that 4% of physicians turned away new patients, 31% did not accept new patients on Medicaid and nearly 20% would not accept new patients on Medicare or private insurance.

A higher number of physicians (60%) would not accept new Medicaid patients in New Jersey compared to 5% or less of doctors in Minnesota, Wyoming and North Dakota, Decker said.

“…Payment rates to physicians for caring for Medicaid patients vary widely across states and that, on average, state Medicaid programs pay only about three-quarters of what Medicare pays physicians for the same services,” said Decker.

Even though there will be a greater opportunity to obtain healthcare under the Affordable Care Act there will be more limited access because of a lack of doctors.

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The Federal Government is out of control

EPA Swat Team memberThe Federal government’s spending is out of control! We all know it but we struggle to understand where all of the money is going. The hidden part of our government is the regulatory agencies that have proliferated in the last 100 years.

Congress and the Ecutive Branch constantly complain when U.S. companies outsource labor to other countries. But the Federal government has been outsourcing the work of cabinet departments by creating a proliferation of agencies for 100 years.

The Federal Reserve System was created on December 13, 1913. The Fed was originally intended to regulate monetary policy in response to a series of financial panics. Over the past 100 years it has grown like topsy.

The first question that many critics of Fed ask is why do we have it in the first place. Politicians are inherently lazy and usually they take the easy way out of a problem. The Fed is the perfect example of this method of operating.

Why do we have the Fed when we have the U.S. Treasury Department? Couldn’t many of things that the Fed does be done by the Treasury? Yes, but that would require the political will to make the hard decisions.

Currently, the Fed is regulating interest rates in order to help the economy. The biggest problem of this policy is that banks and businesses have become addicted to low interest rates. What will happen when the Fed begins to push up those rates from their current 0%?

Despite the fact that the Fed is self-funded it could cost the American people billions when the inflation that the Fed has created with their policy of low or no interest rates hits the U.S. economy.

Most Americans don’t know much about the Federal Trade Commission yet it impacts our everyday lives more than we know. Founded in early 1914, the FTC is another agency that has grown exponentially. Their original mission was to act as the government’s trust buster, enforcing various anti-trust laws.

But the FTC has become an agency that is responsible for consumer protection, prevention of “anti-competitive” business practices and a bureau of economics to support these function of the commission.

But a little known aspect of the FTC’s power resides in their administrative law courts.  These courts are supposed to be independent but in reality the FTC acts as judge, prosecutor and jury when a complaint is made against a company. By the time that a case may go to the U.S. Court of Appeals many companies have submitted because of financial pressures.

What happened to the Department of Justice and the U.S. court system? The FTC is operating a parallel investigative and judicial system that holds a complete advantage against those it prosecutes.

Couldn’t the functions of the FTC be carried out by the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior or the Treasury Department?

I recently saw a newspaper article about the Environmental Protection Agency raiding a small Alaskan gold mine with a SWAT team of armed EPA agents. They were looking for violations of the Clean Water Act.

“Imagine coming up to your diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body armor, with jackets that say “POLICE” emblazoned on them, and all packing side arms,” gold miner C.R. Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch.

This example of government overkill also included armed and armored shock troops from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and the Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Park Service.

The incident has raised the ire of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell who ordered ordered an investigation, saying “This level of intrusion and intimidation of Alaskans is absolutely unacceptable.” Both of Alaska’s senators have enquired with the EPA about this incident.

The EPA’s raid has highlighted the role of armed officers in the agencies of the Federal government. Nearly 40 federal agencies have armed officers. The agencies employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.

We all know that agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Prisons carry weapons. But one wonders why the Library of Congress and the Federal Reserve Board have armed SWAT units.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Park Service are among 24 federal agencies employing more than 250 full-time armed officers with arrest authority, according the federal report, which is based on the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement Officers.

The other 16 agencies have less than 250 officers and include NOAA as well as the Library of Congress, the Federal Reserve Board and the National Institutes of Health.

The number of federal department with armed personnel climbs to 73 when adding in the 33 offices of inspector general, the government watchdogs for agencies as large as the Postal Service to the Government Printing Office, whose IG has only five full-time officers.

The number of agencies with armed personnel illustrates a serious problem with the Federal government. Rather than cooperating with other federal agencies, agencies want to control everything in sight. Agencies seem to think that cooperation is not the order of day and every agency wants their own policing operation.

Isn’t the FBI capable of carrying out the law enforcement requirements of the Federal government? Apparently not. You’ll notice that the list of raiders in the Alaska incident omits the FBI.

The Federal government is out of control. Not only are we being subjected to a brutally expensive regulatory state but we’re also being subjected to a police state that is rapidly growing. Aren’t these police forces the beginnings of government militias?

You decide.

 

 

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The Food Stamp Cliff

Food Stamp SignWe’ve all heard about the fiscal cliff, the shutdown and debt ceiling deadline but hardly anyone has heard of the food stamp cliff. This newest deadline will take place on November 1st when cuts to the food stamp allowance will go into effect.

The food stamp cliff will be precipitated by an end to a funding increase that Democrats wrapped into President Obama’s 2009 stimulus law.

Even the biggest supporters of food stamps, the Democrats, are not pressing for emergency legislation, their standard operating procedure for these periodic crises.

Conservatives argue that food stamp spending has spiraled out of control under Obama, creating a disincentive to work and ballooning the budget deficit. Food stamp cuts have emerged as the flashpoint in the fight between the House and Senate over farm bill legislation.

Hunger groups are fighting a House proposal to cut an addition $40 billion from food stamps in the farm bill. Those cuts come primarily from provisions that would make it harder to qualify for food stamps when receiving other aid, such as home heating assistance, and by stopping states from waiving work requirements.

“Welfare spending at the end of this year will total out to $217 billion more than welfare spending in 2008,” said Stephen Miller, a spokesman for Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

For a family of four, the cut will be $36 per month, or about 20 meals under the Department of Agriculture’s estimate for the cost of a “thrifty meal.”  Single adults will see their monthly benefits reduced to $189 per month, for a cut of $11.

“We have never seen a cut like this affecting all beneficiaries,” said Lisa Davis of the food bank network Feeding America. “With the government shutdown and other national and international issues going on, many people have no idea this is coming.”

Meanwhile, the House-Senate conference committee is scheduled to start meeting on October 30th in an attempt to reconcile the different versions that each chamber passed on the Farm Bill.

The Republican-led House proposed a $40 billion cut to the nutrition program, while the Senate bill cuts $4.5 billion.

Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), one of the lawmakers selected by the House Democrats negotiate, called the cuts, particularly those in the House, unacceptable. “The farm bill should not be making people hungry,” he said.

Mr. McGovern said he has heard from a number of groups urging members of Congress to resist cuts to the food stamp program. “It’s going to be a fight,” he said, adding that if the program’s opponents insist on such huge cuts, “they’re going to ensure that there will be no farm bill.”

If the two chambers can’t come to an agreement then all spending reverts to 1949 levels. That would result in significant increases in government spending on farm support programs. There are a number of other divisive issues in both versions of the Farm Bill that will cause the negotiations to be long and drawn out.

 

 

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The New Marine “Girly” Hats

Current and proposed Marine HatsIn the era of sequestration the Federal government, including the President, still doesn’t understand the difference between needs and wants. According to the New York Post, President Obama’s has a plan to create a “unisex” look for the Corps.

So let’s get this straight. The President of the United States in whose hands rests war and peace, the direction of the country and the fate of Western Civilization has now become a military fashion consultant. What a Renaissance Man!

Marine Corps has officials are on the verge of swapping out the Marines’ iconic caps with a new hat that some have derided as so “girly” that they would make the French blush.

“We don’t even have enough funding to buy bullets, and the DoD is pushing to spend $8 million on covers that look like women’s hats!” one senior Marine source fumed to The Post. “The Marines deserve better. It makes them look ridiculous.”

“The Marine Corps is being ‘encouraged’ by DoD to standardize on a unisex/universal dress and service cap,” Marine brass noted in an internal memo obtained by The New York Post.

Let’s remember this is a force that has nicknames like devil dogs, Leathernecks and gyrenes. Now, according to inside sources, the President wants them to be French poodles. Some Marines have called the new hats a glorified “porter’s cap.”

Even though Marine legend Daniel Daly who twice was awarded the Medal of Honor wore a similar style of hat the current hats have been in use since 1922 and replacing them would be an unnecessary cost some Marine sources say. (Daly supposedly told his men at the Battle of Belleau Wood: “Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?”)

Apparently, the DOD hasn’t learned from the previous hat controversy. Obama should have asked his Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki about it. At the time he was Army Chief of Staff and he implemented the wearing of a black beret for all Army personnel.

Up to that time only Army Rangers were allowed to wear a black beret. The Special Operations community was outraged and it sparked an almost two year battle within the Army. The idea of having the entire Army wear berets was met with anger by the soldiers already wearing berets, like Special Forces, Airborne troops and especially the Army Rangers.

Now, Obama has stepped into a new hat controversy that will enmesh him in military politics. Marine Corps Commandant James Amos will have the final say on the hats.

According to the memo obtained by The New York Post, requiring all troops to use the Daly cover will cost $8,221,958. Going with the traditional cap will save $284,043, because the current female caps are more expensive.

 

 

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