Stopping the Ever-Expanding Power of the EPA

EPA regulationsMost radical environmentalists would like nothing better than to dismantle all carbon-emitting industries in America. If they see a smokestack, they want it regulated by their allies at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Today, the United States Supreme Court will hear challenges to an EPA greenhouse gas regulation. The regulation in question is the EPA’s permitting process for industry sources, which includes coal-fired power plants, chemical facilities and oil refineries.

The EPA maintains that back in 2010 its emissions standards for passenger cars “triggered” a need to regulate greenhouse gas pollutants under permits for new facilities because the gases were deemed an endangerment to “public health or welfare.”

Of course, only the EPA can say that since in this case they were judge, jury and executioner, so to speak. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is allowed to review permits in order to determine if necessary technologies that would help limit pollution are being used in the construction and powering of plants.

The Supreme Court will take up the question today, examining whether the EPA has the power to extend its authority over the regulation of greenhouse gases and include it to the list of pollutants that it can regulate.

Of course, environmental group think that the EPA has the authority to issue new regulations for greenhouse gases. They say that the challenge to the EPA’s authority if found to be illegal would push industry in the “wrong direction.”

In other words, anything that the EPA wants to do when it comes to regulating greenhouse gases is fine because it’s one phase in the war on climate change.

Meanwhile, onerous EPA regulations are being challenged because, as one group led by Michelle Bachmann, says: the regulations in question are “an intolerable invasion of Congress’s domain that threatens to obliterate the line dividing executive from legislative power.”

If the EPA’s power were allowed to expand, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said, it would “reflect an unprecedented expansion of regulatory control over the U.S. economy.”

“The agency has been expansively construing its legal authorities under the Clean Air Act, and this ever-growing web of regulations has the potential to be the most complex, far-reaching and expensive in the agency’s history,” said Whitfield, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Energy and Power.

The EPA’s regulations have added billions of dollars in cost to American industry which in turn has passed on a huge burden on American taxpayers. Couple with the new regulations on coal-fired electricity-generating power plants, they have the ability to cripple the U.S. economy that is already well on its way to a double-dip recession.

 

 

 

 

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Congress must return to Constitutional order to eliminate waste

Garbage Can of CashDespite all of the publicity about waste, fraud and abuse in the Federal government that individuals like Sen. Tom Coburn and organizations like Citizens Against Government Waste have shone a spotlight on, like the poor it is still with us.

We have had Congressional hearings, media stories, blog posts and still no head way has been made against this issue.

Here are just a few of the egregious forms of waste that are undermining our federal budget:

  • The federal government allows legal brothels in Nevada to claim $17.5 million annually in tax deductions through the tax code.
  • The federal government wastes more than 20 percent (amounting to billions yearly) on federal construction projects using a racist Davis-Bacon law. This law is a relic of an era when laws were passed to prevent blacks from competing for economic opportunities, the Davis-Bacon Act has racist origins and continues today to have a devastating impact on economic outsiders.
  • Each year the federal government wastes approximately $1.67 billion maintaining more than 77,000 vacant or underutilized federal properties.
  • The Inspector General’s 2013 report revealed that the State Department squandered $630,000 “buying fans” for its social media accounts.

Most recently, the Congress passed a 1,582 page bill to fund the government. Members of Congress had a mere 48 hours to read the bill. They were not allowed to propose any amendments that might have eliminated reckless spending. And both sides trumpeted that this was a return to ‘regular order’.

‘Regular order’ is far from the Congress’ recent approach to funding the government. ‘ Regular order’ is rather different. The Congress passing a budget resolution and then funding the government with 12 appropriations bills that have been debated in committee and passed individually is ‘regular order’. In fact, the last time ‘regular order’ was used was in 1994.

You would think that with an ever-increasing National Debt and a weak economy, the Congress would do everything in its power to eliminate every ounce of waste, fraud and abuse in the system. But it seems that very few in Congress have the political will. They are more concerned with me than with us.

Congress must be the institution that leads the way in cutting waste. After all, how can we expect the Executive Branch to cut their own prerequisites and benefits? The Congress has the ‘power of the purse’ over the rest of the government. Perhaps, rather than ‘regular order’ we should return to ‘Constitutional order’.

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The Washington Paper Chase

The Washington Paper ChaseThe Digital Age has created a chasm between those who want a paperless society and those who cling to the old ways of documenting every transaction and communication with a hard copy.

ObamaCare has encouraged hospitals and clinics to move to a paperless system in order to save huge amounts of money. Unfortunately, many hospitals and clinics still have paper records while they duplicate them digitally. So, where’s the savings.

Meanwhile, government departments have moved to paperless office practices sending out checks and communications digitally with huge cost savings.

At the Treasury Department it now costs them only$.09 to send out an electronic payment compared to the former cost of $1.25 per paper check. The treasury Department is looking to save at least $1 billion over 10 years.

The Social Security Administration saved $72 million a year by switching their mailings to 150 million Americans from paper to electronic distribution.

But all of this has not been accomplished with some form of opposition. Enter the new champion of paper, Consumers for Paper Options. Their mission is “access for Americans facing the digital divide.” 

This lobbying group founded in 2010 has had some success rolling back the tide of the paperless society. Last month, they managed to get language in the budget deal that requires the government to plan for the resumption of paper annual Social Security statements to 150 million retirees.

On its face it appears that this group is the champion of the people. Right? Wrong! Consumers for Paper Options actually is the creation of the paper industry. The group was set up by the Envelope Manufacturers of America (EMA).

It receives financial backing from the paper industry’s largest trade group, several of North America’s largest paper manufacturers and EMA. The executive director is John Runyan who previous posts included head of federal government relations for International Paper and treasurer of its political action committee.

The paper industry is on the precipice of a financial calamity. Over the last five years demand for paper products has dropped on the average of 5% a year. The effect has been widespread with envelopes, paper, catalogs and pulp products losing market share.

With the loss of demand has come a loss of jobs in the paper-making industry, the printing industry and paper products manufacturing. Mills and business have closed with the resulting loss of jobs.

Consumers for Paper Options are fighting a desperate battle to preserve the paper industry in America. But Runyan would rather talk about the consumers who don’t use or don’t have access to computers. “If there are Americans who can’t use an iPhone to navigate the Internet, there ought to be an option for them.”

There are other traditional consumer groups that are advocating for the elderly and others that don’t use the Internet but Consumers for Paper Options has been the most active. Last year, they worked with Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-ME) to keep paper prescription information in drug packages.

Runyan claims that a poll taken last year reportedly found that 73% of American adults do not think that they should be required to interact with the government online. They use this survey on their website and ion press releases. Nowhere do they tell the public that they are being funded by the paper industry.

In the past year alone 22 of the largest federal agencies have reduced their spending on paper by about 7%, to $64 million a year, according to the General Services Administration.

With the trend continuing Michaud and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) have introduced a resolution calling for action to ensure that people be provided with “paper-based information” in addition to electronic communications. The measure is awaiting a hearing.

The threat from the government using less paper carries over to the private sector where the use of paper is far greater. If financials firms, retailers and healthcare organizations adopt the same actions as the federal government it will be a severe blow to the paper industry.

 

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The World’s Go-To Guy

American Food AidThe United States is still the world’s go-to guy when it comes to military and non-military crises. Our allies and friends still turn their gaze on Washington for help. And they have for a 100 years.

When you wonder where the money goes, this is one of the primary places. As an example, even though we no longer get our crude oil from the Persian Gulf the United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain. It’s primary mission is to protect the shipping lanes that are used by crude oil tankers.

But since we no longer buy any crude in the Gulf isn’t it time for us to move on and allow the Europeans to maintain a naval presence instead?

The same holds true for our military presence in Central Europe. The Second World War has been over for 69 years. The Cold War ended at least 20 years ago. The world has turned many times. Isn’t it time to bring the troops home?

Korea is still a hot spot but maybe the large number of American troops in the DMZ could be leavened with some from allied nations. After all, the fighting in Korea was under the aegis of the United Nations. Could we swap out some of the 28,500 American troops who could then come home?

Isn’t it time for the American taxpayers to stop paying for the World’s policeman? Other country’s like Germany and Japan seem content to recline under the American nuclear umbrella.

While American troops have resided in Germany, a succession of German governments have reduced the German Armed Forces from the largest in Europe to a shell of itself. Once, the postwar German Army had over one million men.

After the merger of East and West Germany the Army numbered 360,000. Today, it barely tops 62,000 men on active service. By comparison, there are 52,440 American troops stationed in Germany.

The same holds true for Japan. In 2010 the active service personnel of the Japanese Self Defense Forces numbered 230,300 with an additional 41,800 reservists.

Meanwhile, the United States has 47,236 in East Asia and the Pacific. The U.S. Seventh Fleet is headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan. It is a powerful force with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

All of this military force costs hundreds of billions of dollars that is paid for by the American taxpayers. No one else chips in or aids the U.S. with the huge expense.

In the non-military crises area the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations always turn to the United States first. Not necessarily the American government but more probably the American people.

Cumulatively, the American people are the most generous in the world. Money, food and volunteer assistance springs from America’s generous nature. We figure that we have enough to spare it for those in need.

You don’t even have to be an ally or a friend to be the recipient of our aid. We’ve offered aid to Iran after earthquakes, food for drought-ridden Africa, all types of aid for the flooded  areas of the Philippines and U.S. Navy assistance after the tsunami.

When American aid lands in any country in the throes of a humanitarian crisis the recipients never question our motives, they just say thank you.

All of this cost huge sums of money. As a country we have to decide whether we want to continue to be the World’s go-t0 guy. If you’re a taxpayer then it’s up to you to decide.

 

 

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How the EPA helps Environmentalists sue the EPA

Stop the EPAThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has become ground zero for anti-American activities. By that I mean that they’re trying their hardest to destroy the economic underpinnings of the American economy.

By issuing an avalanche of new regulations that literally beat up American industry with expensive mandates the EPA is slowly destroying American businesses.

To add further insult to their assault the EPA is literally assisting environmental groups to sue the EPA. They are fashioning the rope by which these groups can hang the agency.

One major controversy involves the EPA’s regulations on the coal industry. According to emails sent between a Sierra Club lobbyist and U.S. EPA staff coal industry allies say that they have a smoking gun.

The emails confirm their belief that the agency and environmental advocates colluded to write a new power plant rule that would end coal-fired electric generation in the United States.

The 2011 and early 2012 emails were between John Coequyt, the Sierra Club’s federal and international climate campaigner, and two EPA policy office staffers who were preparing to release the agency’s first proposal to limit carbon dioxide from new power plants in April 2012.

The EPA has since withdrawn the original proposal and proposed a new one last year. But both versions required that new coal-fired power plants include carbon capture and storage technology to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The emails were obtained through a FOIA request by Attorney Christopher Horner, affiliated with the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, and released in mid-January.

Every major federal environmental law, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, contains provisions allowing private organizations to sue the EPA if they believe it is not going far enough in protecting air quality.

All too often, when the EPA is sued by environmentalist groups, it folds without putting up much of a fight. As former EPA official Jeffrey Holmstead has explained matters, “often the suits involve things the EPA wants to do anyway. By inviting a lawsuit and then signing a consent decree, the agency gets legal cover from the political heat.”

One group, the Environmental Defense Fund, has taken the EPA to court on numerous occasions in the past ten years. During the same time frame the EPA has given the group $2.76 billion in grants.

And the Environmental Defense Fund is not the only group that has received the EPA’s monetary largess. Several environmental groups that have received millions in EPA grants regularly file suit against that same agency. A dozen green groups were responsible for more than 3,000 suits against the EPA and other government agencies over the past decade.

The EPA even tacitly encourages such suits, going so far as to pay for and promote a “Citizen’s Guide” that, among other things, explains how to sue the agency under “citizen suit” provisions in environmental laws. The guide’s author — the Environmental Law Institute — has received $9.9 million in EPA grants over the past decade.

Critics say the EPA often ends up paying the groups’ legal fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The act authorizes the payment of attorney’s fees to a prevailing party in an action against the United States absent a showing by the government that its position in the underlying litigation “was substantially justified.”

According to a 2013 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sue and settle has become a common practice:

“EPA chose at some point not to defend itself in lawsuits brought by special interest advocacy groups at least 60 times between 2009 and 2012. In each case, it agreed to settlements on terms favorable to those groups. These settlements directly resulted in EPA agreeing to publish more than 100 new regulations, many of which impose compliance costs in the tens of millions and even billions of dollars.”

Controversy over this less than adversarial relationship continues to grow. Last summer twelve states brought suit against the EPA over what it claims are the agency’s sue and settle practices.

When this type of relationship exists between supposedly “adversarial” parties, the entire system is corrupted. Isn’t it time to change this system that the EPA and its fellow travelers has created for their own benefit and not the benefit of the American taxpayer.

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The NEA robs from the poor to entertain the rich

Its not your moneyIt seems the National Endowment for the Arts has become a reverse Robin Hood, taxing working class Americans so that wealthier Americans can enjoy the arts.

Paul Ryan’s House Budget Committee, in its proposed budget for 2014, asserted that the NEA funds programs that are “generally enjoyed by people of higher income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier.”

The National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University released a new study to examine claims by Republican lawmakers that the NEA is disproportionately funding programs enjoyed by wealthy Americans.

Despite a finding that “the idea that the NEA derives its funds from poorer Americans is dubious,” they found the claim that NEA activities were generally patronized by wealthier Americans was “worthy of exploration.”

The study does nothing to refute Republicans’ claims and more importantly this complaint seems to have more impact than previous complaints about the offensive materials being sponsored by arts organizations being funded by the NEA.

The arts community understands that if this charge by Paul Ryan sticks it will deal a serious blow to the government-funded arts scene.

It appears that according to the available data the economic strata of those attending arts performances no inferences can be drawn with regards to income. In fact, with the cost of tickets for events, it seems that most attendees would necessarily in the higher income brackets.

Of course, the New York Times tried to use the study to trumpet their own point of view with a headline that contradicted the very study that it was reporting: “N.E.A. Funds Benefit Both Rich and Poor, Study Finds.”  

According to the NEA’s snapshot of a theater attendee, 20 percent of those attending non profit plays made more than 150,000 dollars a year, a group that makes up 5  percent of the overall population.

For musicals (which are typically more expensive) the number of attendees who make over 150,000 jumps to 40 percent. The fact that those performances may have occurred in the neighborhood of the poor and middle class really doesn’t matter.

In fact, in a recent study Clayton Lord showed that in the San Francisco area, the demographics of theatergoers (wealthy and white) remained unchanged regardless of the demographics of the county in which the play takes place.

Despite the protestations of the arts community everyone knows that NEA funding supports the arts for the wealthier classes in America. Why continue to haggle over the issue? Accept it for what it is?

Would you expect working class Americans to spend this amount of money on the arts? A pair of tickets to a mainstage production at the NEA funded Atlantic Theater Company in New York costs $130. Two seats to see Baryshnikov in “Man in a Case” at Berkeley Rep in San Francisco costs $230.

If the arts community wants to solve this problem then some new ideas on ticket pricing are in order. A cap on ticket prices for NEA funded events, for example, seems a fair balance.

While the National Center for Arts Research might think its dubious that the NEA derives its funds from poorer Americans, there are plenty of middle class Americans who pay a lot of taxes and cannot afford to attend NEA funded events.

Another approach might be the diversion of funding from arts production to arts education. People will not attend arts events if they don’t understand what they are about.

The Republicans have latched on to an issue of basic fairness and they shouldn’t let up. Corporations and wealthy individuals should be encouraged to support the arts community rather than depending on taxpayers: working class or wealthy.

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Food stamp data is off-limits to taxpayers

Food Stamp nationEver wonder how recipients are spending your tax money? What type of items are they buying? Are the items that they’re buying nutritious or are they using their benefits on tobacco, liquor or snack foods?

Well, so did Watchdog.org filed a request to the Virginia’s Department of Social Services for the date, time, amount and location of EBT card transactions in Richmond over a two-month period.

They made the request under the Freedom of Information Act and requested no personal data for the EBT beneficiaries. Sorry. According to both state and federal officials that data was off-limits.

“With respect to privacy laws, if you’re talking about an individual, but the food stamp regulations say that you’re not allowed to provide that information, very clearly,” said Margarita Maisterrena, public affairs director for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service for the mid-Atlantic region. “An aggregate amount, yeah, for the city of Richmond, we could give it to you. But the law says that if I, for example, were to provide you with information by address and in such detail, I could go to jail. … It’s in the act. It’s very clear.”

That refusal to disclose information is actually up for debate. Last week the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of South Dakota’s Argus Leader newspaper, saying that the USDA’s argument that a federal law protecting retailer applications does not mean federal payment data to those retailers is also protected.

In other words, the USDA is intentionally trying to shield the data from the prying eyes of those who are paying for it: the American taxpayers.

In other parts of the country reporters have been able to get the data where EBT cards are used for SNAP and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits.

However, the USDA was embarrassed when it was revealed that EBT cards were used in such places like strip clubs and even Disneyworld.

There is a big difference between SNAP cards and TANF cards. TANF benefits are distributed through direct deposit and debit cards which makes them very difficult to track. SNAP cards can only be used at certain retailers that have been approved by the Federal government.

Watchdog.org has resubmitted its FOIA request with some slight changing in the wording and hope to receive the requested data but they shouldn’t hold their breath.

The Obama administration is tired of being embarrassed with disclosures about the illegal use of benefits cards. Despite promising to be the most transparent administration in American history it seems that they are the most opaque. Why would they change now?

 

 

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The Danger with Executive Orders

Emancipation_proclamation_typeset_signedBarack Obama warned all of us in his State of the Union address that if he didn’t get his way through Congressional action he would by using Executive Orders. Like the king who overturned the chess board when he was losing, Obama stamped his foot and threatened dire consequences.

Just how did the President come to get the enormous power of executive orders. Although there is no constitutional provision nor statute that explicitly permits executive orders, there is a vague grant of “executive power” given in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution, and furthered by the declaration “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” made in Article II, Section 3, Clause 5.

All presidents beginning with George Washington in 1789 have issued orders that in general terms can be described as executive orders. Fast forward to the modern era and it seems that modern presidents have taken the use of executive orders to new highs or lows, depending on your point of view. (See list of Presidents and their number of orders)

President Theodore Roosevelt had an expansionist view of executive orders. He believed that the president should be the most powerful office in the land. At times, TR seemed drunk with power, as when he remarked: “I don’t think that any harm comes from the concentration of power in one man’s hands.” Barack Obama would like to follow in his footsteps.

The Supreme Court ruled in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 US 579 (1952) that Executive Order 10340 from President Harry S. Truman placing all steel mills in the country under federal control was invalid because it attempted to make law, rather than clarify or act to further a law put forth by the Congress or the Constitution.

Justice Hugo Black, who wrote the majority opinion, explained that an executive order (1) “must stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself” and (2) an executive order is on dubious ground if it’s “incompatible with the express or implied will of Congress.”

Presidents since this decision have generally been careful to cite which specific laws they are acting under when issuing new executive orders.

Let’s look at the consequences of one of Obama’s executive orders, #13563 issued on January 18, 2011. The original intent was that federal agencies were only supposed to propose or adopt regulations upon a “reasoned determination that its benefits justify the cost.” The regulations must be tailored to “impose the least burden on society.”

The results have been far different from the stated intent of the executive order. Since the President signed that order the federal government has issued 8,516 new regulations at a net cost of $10.2 billion according to the American Action Forum.

Sam Batkins of the American Action Form, who authored the study, said that regulations act as hidden taxes with very little oversight by Congress. Their only recourse is suing in federal court.

This particular regulation had very little enforcement power with federal agencies being asked to report their cost savings. None have bothered to do so since 2012.

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Congress Simply Can’t Resist Pork Spending

Bales of MoneyToday, the House passed the massive new Farm Bill with the Senate expected to pass this monstrosity in the next several days. After almost two years of hearings, negotiations and horse trading the current bill is almost the same as past bills. It’s good to be a farmer.

Let’s take a look at the current bill. The Farm Bill consists of two unequal components: food stamps and farm programs. Nearly 80% of the cost is devoted to food stamps. Early on the House split to two parts into separate bills but they didn’t stay divided for long.

Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Thad Cochran (R–MS) explained farm bill politics well when he argued that the farm bill includes food stamps “purely from a political perspective” since “it helps get the farm bill passed.”

The House wanted to cut food stamp spending by $39 billion over 10 years.  The Senate bill would have reduced spending by $4 billion. It appears that the Senate’s big spenders won with a cut of a mere $8 billion in the current bill.

Within the food stamp portion of the bill any attempt at means-testing was removed. You could have a million dollars in the bank and still receive food stamps. To its credit, the House did close the loophole in its bill.  Then, their negotiators folded when it came to the conference bill.  If this loophole had been closed, taxpayers would have saved about $12 billion.

The Farm Bill has no work requirement for recipients. The work provision in the bill is nothing more than a mere work “suggestion.” A strong work requirement is the most crucial reform for food stamps, but Congress has failed to include such a policy.

Here’s where it gets really great to be a farmer. The current bill attempts to remove all of the risk from farming. The crop insurance portion of the bill was untouched with the American taxpayers paying 62% of the cost.

Even a minor reform in the Senate version that lowered the subsidy for farmers with adjusted gross income of $750,000 or more was removed. The new bill actually increases costs by about $6 billion.

Once again Big Sugar came through unscathed. Sugarcane and sugar beet processors can receive loans through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They can pay back the loan, or they can just forfeit their sugar to the government instead. This gives them the ability to avoid paying off the loans if market prices fail to cover their costs. Nice work if you can get it.

Another part of the crop insurance program subjects the American taxpayers to near limitless liability. At one time there was a price ceiling on liabilities, limiting the exposure that taxpayers would have to pay out for these unknown and costly programs.

The new bill doesn’t appear to have such a cost cap—basically, taxpayers are faced with a blank check while farmers are being covered for virtually any risk.

The Department of Agriculture will also be establishing new federal standards for “the identity of honey.” Apparently even bees are helpless without the federal government.

Finally, two egregious programs were either left out of the Farm Bill. One was the repeal of the controversial and duplicative catfish inspection program that costs the taxpayers $14 million a year.

The other program that was included was the mandatory assessment (i.e. “tax”) on Christmas trees. It creates a National Christmas Tree Board, funded through a 15-cent tax on every Christmas tree sold.What’s next, taxing Santa Claus’ visits?

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Great Moments in Wasteful Spending

Do what I sayToday, we’re going to look at some of the great moments in wasteful spending that our government inflicts on its taxpayers. Trust me, you can’t make this stuff up.

According to Townhall.com HHS will spend up to $8 billion to promote ObamaCare. In Section 4402 of the bill the staggering amounts of money are detailed. In 2010 it is $500 million, in 2011, $750 million, 2012, $1 billion, 2013, $1.25 billion, 2014, $1.5 billion and in 2015 and on, $2 billion per year.

The Affordable Care Act actually reads like an open-ended invitation for a constant stream of propaganda that will indoctrinate the American people on a constant basis.

The Prevention and Public Health Fund will provide for expanded and sustained national investment in prevention and public health programs to improve health and help restrain the rate of growth in private and public sector health care costs.

The media blitz started when funds were given to media companies like NBC, The Washington Post, Reuters, and CBS along with journalist symposiums.

Propaganda is currently being woven into the storylines of television shows like Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy along with other popular shows.

Commercial ads are being taken out as well to tout the fabulous law that is ObamaCare! There is even word around town that TV executives are toying with creating a reality show around a family who has no health care!

Fortunately, the website roll out and the subsequent “you can keep your plan” lies have poisoned the American people’s perception of this intrusive law. With fewer than anticipated young people signing on the future of ObamaCare is in jeopardy.

Now, let’s move on to some government spending that defies belief. The New York Post in a a story this week reported that the National Institutes of Health will spend $224,863 to test 95 “custom-fitted” condoms so every American man can choose the one that fits just right.

The six-figure grant was awarded to TheyFit of Covington, Ga., which offers a wide variety of condoms that vary in length — from a bit more than 3 inches to nearly 9 ¹/₂ — and in width. They’re available in European Union countries, but not in the United States, where they would have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

This study matches up well with another one on the same subject. In 2009, the very same National Institutes of Health awarded a research grant to Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for $423,500 for the study about why “young, heterosexual adult men” have problems using condoms. The study will include “skill-based intervention” to teach grown men how to use protection. You simply can’t make this stuff up.

While we’re discussing government activity bordering on the ridiculous, let’s look at the NIH grants of $402,721 involving underwear that can detect when a person smokes cigarettes.

The goal of the three-year study is to “develop a wearable sensor system comprised of a breathing sensor integrated into conventional underwear.” People with any degree of sense must ask the question: “Why is the government involved in this?”

Finally, we have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an agency that is filled with bureaucrats who have nothing better to do than fill up rule books with unnecessary regulations.

In 2010, Gary Heffernan, a 35-year veteran of the tuckpointing(masonry repair) business, had run-in with an inspector from OSHA. The inspector wrote up Heffernan with thousands of dollars in fines, though no one had been injured and the business’s only other employee, Heffernan’s nephew, had not complained.

The violations included letting the nephew work on a chimney without posted warnings of the toxic dangers of sand.

The bureaucrats are clearly running amok under the Obama administration. With so many agencies, administrations and departments issuing new regulations on a daily, almost hourly, basis it is impossible for us to keep up.

The result: American businesses are sinking into a quicksand bog of costly and restrictive rules and regulations.

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