US Court Orders Records Unsealed In Cap-And-Trade Fraud Case

US Court Orders Records Unsealed In Cap-And-Trade Fraud Case

By Ian Talley, Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- U.S. legislators have obtained a court order unsealing documents in a case involving a multi-million-dollar cap-and-trade fraud.

Republican legislators say the records–due to be opened to the public in early January–could shed light on the potential challenges of policing a new, trillion-dollar commodities market that would be created under climate legislation that Congress is considering.

In a rare filing by House lawyers, Reps. Joe Barton (R., Texas) and Greg Walden (R., Ore.), the ranking members respectively of the Energy Committee and the Oversight Subcommittee, asked a federal district court in California to unseal all the closed records regarding the successful prosecution for fraud of Anne Masters Sholtz, a former California Institute of Technology economist.

Lawmakers say Sholtz’s case could expose the weaknesses of a federal cap-and- trade system because it involved the same market mechanism meant to cut emissions.

In particular, said one Republican aide, the case may shed light on the challenges of prosecuting fraud in such a system.

Sholtz, who helped design a small California cap-and-trade program, allegedly hustled New York Investment firm AG Clean Air out of more than $12 million between 1999 and 2001 by selling fake emission credits.

Despite an estimated $50 million to $80 million in claims against her in bankruptcy filings and nine complaints, she pleaded guilty to one of six counts of wire fraud in 2005. Sholtz received what the lawmakers say was a veritable slap on the wrist for the felony–a sentence of five years probation with one year of home detention.

“Did they not have enough proof? Did they have good leads, but faced practical difficulties? Were there witness, evidence, strategic problems? These are the questions that we hope to answer with the unsealed documents,” the Republican aide said.

Health bill money for hospital sought by Dodd

Health bill money for hospital sought by Dodd

The Associated Press
Sunday, December 20, 2009; 11:32 PM

WASHINGTON — A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night.

The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut.

The provision is included in a 383-page series of changes to the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., outlined Saturday. Scattered throughout are numerous items sought by individual lawmakers, many of them directing money explicitly to programs or projects in their home states.

The one sought by Dodd provides $100 million for “a health care facility that provides research, inpatient tertiary care, or outpatient clinical services.” It must be affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in the United States “that contains a State’s sole public academic medical and dental school.”

The money can cover a maximum of 40 percent of the facility’s construction costs.

Based on the criteria set out on the bill, it appeared that state-affiliated hospitals in about a dozen states could compete for the funds.

Dodd has played a key role in development of the health care bill in the Senate. He wielded the gavel earlier in the year when the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee spent weeks drafting its version of the measure. The late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., was chairman at the time, but unable to preside.

Dodd, who is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is seeking a new term in 2010, but polls so far show him in a tight race.

Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II

Lead Story

Cash for Cloture: Demcare bribe list, Pt. II

By Michelle Malkin  •  December 21, 2009 02:48 AM

A month ago, I compiled Part I of the Demcare bribe list as Harry Reid rushed before Thanksgiving to secure his first cloture vote on the government health care takeover. (Quick re-cap: $300 million Louisiana Purchase for Landrieu; $300 million California doctor payments; AARP goodies; abortion and union lobby concessions.)

Here’s Part II of the Cash for Cloture bribe list all in one handy place (hat tip again to my friend ChristinaKB for the apt phrase she first coined on November 21 for the Demcare wheeling and dealing).

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell alluded to all this backroom dealing on the floor early this morning before the cloture vote, but lamely refused to name names on the Senate floor.

Screw Senate collegiality. Let the sun shine in.

1. Sen. Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback.” The CBO says the Nebraska Democrat sellout’s special Medicaid expansion subsidy will initially cost an estimated $100 million. The Hill reports that while Nelson credited Nebraska’s governor for giving him the idea to lobby for the government preference, Nebraska’s governor assailed the payoff:

“Nebraskans did not ask for a special deal, only a fair deal,” Heineman said in a statement Sunday. In response, Nelson fired off a letter Sunday to Heineman saying he’s prepared to ask that the provision covering Nebraska’s Medicaid share “be removed from the amendment in conference, if it is your desire.”

2. New England’s Special Syrup. Vermont and Massachusetts will get similar (though less generous) special treatment by the feds in covering Medicaid expansion costs. Combined with Nebraska’s tab, the exclusive clique’s payoffs will cost taxpayers $1.2 billion over 10 years. At least.

3. Corruptocrat Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd’s Christmas wish: Hospital helper. He’s plunging in the polls and in need of a little bacon to bring home.

A $100 million item for construction of a university hospital was inserted in the Senate health care bill at the request of Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., who faces a difficult re-election campaign, his office said Sunday night. The legislation leaves it up to the Health and Human Services Department to decide where the money should be spent, although spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said Dodd hopes to claim it for the University of Connecticut. The provision is included in a 383-page series of changes to the health care bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., outlined Saturday. …The one sought by Dodd provides $100 million for “a health care facility that provides research, inpatient tertiary care, or outpatient clinical services.” It must be affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in the United States “that contains a State’s sole public academic medical and dental school.” The money can cover a maximum of 40 percent of the facility’s construction costs.

4. “Some insurers are more equal than others” tax exemption. The WSJ reports that nonprofit insurance companies will be exempt from a new, nearly $7 billion tax to pay for Demcare. Democrat Sens. Ben “Blank Check” Nelson and Carl Levin of Michigan pushed hard for the tax exemption, which will exempt insurers in their states.

5. The Frontier freebie. Several lucky states will see an increase in Medicare payments to hospitals and doctors, the NYT reports, — “where at least 50 percent of the counties are ‘frontier counties,’ defined as those having a population density less than six people per square mile. And which are the lucky states? The bill gives no clue. But the Congressional Budget Office has determined that Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming meet the criteria.”

6. More Democrat hospital bennies. Also via NYT: “Another provision of the bill would increase Medicare payments to certain “low-volume hospitals” treating limited numbers of Medicare patients. Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Senate health committee, said this ‘important fix’ would help midsize Iowa hospitals in Grinnell, Keokuk and Spirit Lake. Another item in Mr. Reid’s package specifies the data that Medicare officials should use in adjusting payments to hospitals to reflect local wage levels. The officials can use certain new data only if it produces a higher index and therefore higher Medicare payments for these hospitals. Senate Democrats said this provision would benefit hospitals in Connecticut and Michigan.”

7. Bernie Sanders’ socialized medicine sop. He wanted a public option. Instead, he got socialized medicine satellite clinics funded to the tune of at least $10 billion. In his remarks early this morning before the cloture vote, he gloated about the funding as a crucial step toward universal care. Via the Burlington Free Press:

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., scored a big victory, too, with the inclusion in the amendment package of $10 billion to expand community health centers across the country — including at least two more in Vermont.

“We are talking about a revolution in primary care here,” Sanders said. Funding community health centers in an additional 10,000 communities would extend primary care to 25 million more Americans. The $10 billion, added at Sanders’ request, would also ensure there would be medical professionals to provide primary care by expanding the National Health Service Corps by an additional 20,000 slots. Doctors, dentists, nurses and other medical professionals who agree to work in areas where there are limited medical services get help paying off their school loans. The House version of the health care reform bill contains $14 billion for these initiatives. Sanders said he was hopeful the final amount, which will be hammered out in negotiations between the House and Senate, would be closer to $14 billion.

Vermont has 8 community health centers and 40 satellite offices. “New funding would make it likely centers could be opened in Addison and Bennington counties,” Sanders’ home state paper reports.

8. Fla.-Pa.-NY Protectionism. Via Politico: “Three states – Pennsylvania, New York and Florida – all won protections for their Medicare Advantage beneficiaries at a time when the program is facing cuts nationwide.”

And you know there are many more untold payoffs — paid by stealing your money — yet to be stuffed into this bureaucratic monstrosity.

To quote our Chicago Way President: “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”

Senate and Obama ignore the Constitution to Socialize Healthcare

Senate and Obama ignore the Constitution to Socialize Healthcare

December 20th, 2009

By Floyd Brown

In an outrageous example of the abuse of near dictatorial power, the leader of the United States Senate, Harry Reid, forced a vote on nationalized health care. With total disregard for the will of the people and turning a blind eye to the United States Constitution, Reid sought passage for this bill by corrupting the legislative system.

“This process is not legislation. This process is corruption,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, referring to the last-minute blitz of dirty deal making that enabled Obama to lock in the 60 votes needed to pass the bill.

The final hold out was Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. But he hit the jackpot when they bought his yes vote, scoring $45 million to completely cover Nebraska’s Medicaid bill every year into the indefinite future.

Clearly this deal violates Article 1 Section 9 part 6 of the Constitution which says: “No preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one state over another…” and Article 4 Section 2 which says: “The Citizens of each state shall be entitled to all the Privileges and Immunities of the Citizens in the several states.”

Citizens of Nebraska will now have state medical bills, other states must pay, funded courtesy of the United States government (meaning you and me.) Nebraskans are clearly receiving a special privilege. According to this monstrosity, they are more equal than other Americans.

Sitting on high, the President encouraged this corrupt, ugly spectacle. Not only that, he broke the vow he took to uphold the US Constitution as he raised his hand and recited his oath of office.

While we all sleep, the US Senate is stripping us of our freedom. Clearly the time for impeachment is at hand. Reid and Pelosi deserve to be removed right along with Obama.

All these outrages only fuel our efforts. The citizenry is in full revolt.

I am proud that our campaign for impeachment is growing stronger by the hour. We have surpassed 100,000 signatures and are fast approaching 125,000 signatures. This movement cannot be stopped by the corrupt deals in Washington. We will succeed, and the socialist dreams of our president will end on the ash heap of history.

Thank you for continuing to post the links to the impeachment petition. Remember, most people will not sign until they have seen the link ten times or more, so we need to continue pushing. Here is the link:

http://tinyurl.com/ygz4wfe

We have also posted a special page which will provide the HTML code for banner ads. If you have a blog or website, please consider posting these ads. They have been very successful recruiting new people to our cause. Here is the special page:

http://www.c4strategies.com/ImpeachObama/affiliates.html

With gratitude in our hearts from our unprecedented success, we approach the celebration of our Saviors’ birth on Christmas day. The New Year brings us to the next mile-stone of this campaign. If we are to succeed, the 2010 elections must bring to office a pro-impeachment majority.

Every day Barack Hussein Obama occupies the White House, America is in grave danger.

Obamacare Now Limits Senior Citizens’ Right to Use Their Own Money to Save Their Own Lives

Obamacare Now Limits Senior Citizens’ Right to Use Their Own Money to Save Their Own Lives

December 21st, 2009

The Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

The Reid bill duplicates the House bill provision that would effectively allow federal bureaucrats at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) to bar senior citizens from adding their own money, if they choose, to the government contribution in order to get private-fee-for-service Medicare Advantage (MA) plans less likely to ration life-saving treatment.

Medicare—the government program that provides health insurance to older people in the United States—faces grave fiscal problems as the baby boom generation ages. Medicare is financed by payroll taxes, which means that those now working are paying for the health care of those now retired. As the baby boom generation moves from middle into old age, the proportion of the retired population will increase, while the proportion of the working population will decrease. The consequence is that the amount of money available for each Medicare beneficiary, when adjusted for health care inflation, will shrink.

Three alternatives exist.

In theory, taxes could be increased dramatically to make up the shortfall – an unlikely and politically difficult proposition. The second alternative—to put it bluntly but accurately—is rationing. Less money available per senior citizen   would mean less treatment, including less of the treatments necessary to prevent death. For want of treatment, many people whose lives could have been saved by medical treatment would perish against their will. The third alternative is that, as the government contribution decreases, the shortfall could be made up by payments from older people themselves, so that their Medicare health insurance premium could voluntarily be financed partly by the government and partly from their own income and savings.

Read More:

Cheap Natural Gas and Its Enemies

Cheap Natural Gas and Its Enemies

By Ed Lasky

A vast reservoir of clean-burning natural gas could be available at reasonable cost in the coming years, freeing us from some of our dependence on imported energy. Yet there are those who  consider such a development a threat.

A small group of billionaires (and mere multimillionaires), formed under the aegis of the Democracy Alliance, has amassed a great deal of political influence in America on behalf of the Democratic Party and Democratic politicians. Among the more important members of this “club” are George Soros and his liberal allies, Herbert and Marion Sandler. The latter two are billionaire beneficiaries of the mortgage bubble who timed their exit from the savings and loan industry before the bubble popped. They went on to fund (with George Soros) the Center for American Progress — otherwise known as Obama’s “idea factory.”
One other venture that the Sandlers started is a media group called Pro Publica — an outfit supposed to “engage in investigative journalism” and provide its findings to larger media outlets for greater impact. These “exposés” are provided at no cost to newspapers (and others), who, in an era of cutbacks, are happy to have good copy written by respected journalists. Free material is a no-brainer.
But why would the politically active Sandlers suddenly enter the media world? Perhaps it’s because they realize the political and financial benefits that can flow from influencing the news. We may be seeing a sample of this type of handiwork now.
Among the first “exposés” Pro Publica undertook was an attack on energy companies for developing the Marcellus Shale, a vast natural gas reservoir stretching across several states. The “exposé” focused on putative environmental effects that might result from tapping these reserves. The technology used to unleash this natural gas from the shale in which it is trapped is called “fracking.” Energy companies inject water, sand, and drilling fluids into the rock to “crack” it and release the natural gas. The potential for this technology is huge: America is a vast storehouse of this type of gas. Much of this is located not just in the Marcellus formation, but throughout the Rocky Mountain states. Also, the Barnett Shale region of Texas and the Bakken Shale region of North Dakota are rich with this type of natural gas.
Fracking is a proven technology. Energy experts are now predicting this technology will help free us from dependency on foreign sources of natural gas. The quantity is so vast that there is even potential for substituting natural gas for petroleum in cars and trucks. Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel that can replace coal in electric power plants. Already, the impact of this technology is beneficial. The prospect of this huge resource being tapped for years to come has brought down the price of natural gas, both in the spot market (where it is priced now) and in the futures market (where it is priced for future delivery). Indeed, the price has come down so much that the publicly held exploration and production companies that focus on natural gas have seen their share prices weaken.
Exxon Mobil was so entranced with the prospects of this technology that it has offered $31 billion dollars for XTO Energy, an energy company that has vast reserves of shale gas that can be tapped at a relatively small cost through fracking.
But there is one potential snag in the deal: Exxon can walk away if laws are passed that restrict the use of fracking. These laws would be a response to claims that fracking can harm the environment. Already, Representative Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Subcommittee (of the Energy and Commerce Committee — the Russian-doll nature of Congressional committees and subcommittees can be mind-boggling) has called hearings into the Exxon-XTO deal. He will focus on the environmental concerns related to air pollution and water contamination (fracking uses water).
Now how coincidental is it that the Sandler-funded Pro Publica focuses on “fracking” as their inaugural topic? The Sandlers have no apparent experience in or knowledge of the energy industry. Why not have Pro Publica focus on other investigative topics — say, the savings and loan crisis and the malefactors of great wealth who made out like the proverbial bandits? We know the answer to that question, but maybe we have an inkling of why Pro Publica has been pushing the “fracking” story, and why Democrats in Congress are going along with the media/political campaign.
George Soros is a pal and ally of the Sandlers. He also owns major stakes in energy companies that don’t rely on shale gas for their revenue. These companies would be harmed and become less profitable if shale gas were released onto the market in the vast quantities industry experts believe are available through fracking. He also owns a major interest in InterOil, an energy company that has discovered a vast natural gas find in Papua New Guinea. The potential of that find is enormous and could lead to a very profitable export of liquefied natural gas to the American market.
However, the potential value of InterOil and Soros’s other investments would suffer if the vast reserves of shale natural gas that lie below much of America are tapped. Furthermore, Soros operates through a hedge fund domiciled overseas. We cannot know who his investors are. They are rumored to include some of the world’s petrocrats, who also have a vested interest in ensuring that America’s own energy resources remain undeveloped so that we can send our billions to them…but of course, only Soros insiders know.
Did Soros foresee the problem that shale natural gas might pose? He is a legendary investor who sees risks and reward years before anyone else. That is how he made his billions. Did he ask the Sandlers to have Pro Publica focus on fracking? Is he now using his vast influence with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party (symbolized by Congressman Markey, also a pal of one of those petrocats, Hugo Chavez) to derail the potential of fracking? Will Soros use his influence with Barack Obama to command the Environmental Protection Agency to focus on the environmental consequences of fracking? Is he behind efforts by Senator Feingold (D-WI) to give the EPA more power over water resources throughout America?
Of course, this is all conjecture. After all, George Soros and company are not the type of people who leave e-mails on servers or fingerprints on their plans.

Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/12/cheap_natural_gas_and_its_enem.html at December 21, 2009 – 11:45:52 AM EST

Health plans on collision course

Health plans on collision course

Carrie Budoff Brown, Patrick O’Connor Carrie Budoff Brown, Patrick O’connor Sun Dec 20, 8:01 pm ET

Despite a last-minute weekend deal that put the Senate on the brink of passing health care reform this week, liberal and moderate Democrats remain on a collision course over the bill, as both sides dug in Sunday for the next phase of negotiations.

President Barack Obama’s liberal base and powerful union leaders once hoped the expected House-Senate conference would partly undo a year of retreats and compromises, with Obama weighing in to nudge the moderate Senate bill to the left.

But the titanic struggle to lock in Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) as the 60th senator for the first key test vote early Monday morning has changed all that. The need to hold Nelson and other moderates in line means major changes on the public option, abortion, taxes, Medicare and Medicaid are unlikely — and that the Senate’s vision of health reform is likely to prevail over the House’s in the final talks.

“It is very clear that the bill — the final bill — to pass in the United States Senate is going to have to be very close to the bill that has been negotiated here,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Otherwise, you will not get 60 votes in the United States Senate.”

Nelson, who received assurances of a “limited conference” to secure his vote for the Senate bill, has already laid down at least two deal breakers in the House bill that he can’t support: the inclusion of a government insurance plan and an income tax increase on wealthy individuals.

“That would break it,” Nelson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

House Democrats acknowledge that they will be limited in how far they can tweak the Senate compromise. But House leadership also knows that its rank and file need to force some changes, however small, before they will accept the final package — as a face-saving measure to be able to swallow late changes to the bill in the Senate, most notably the decision to eliminate a public option.

But on the left, the sentiments of a liberal base that revolted over concessions to moderates were channeled Sunday by Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, who last week repeatedly called on Democrats to scrap the bill.

“This can’t be the final version of the bill,” Dean said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “It simply sets us on a track in this country which is expensive and where we’re going to have lots more political fights.”

In a slight shift, however, Dean tempered his words, saying the bill is better than it was earlier in the week.

“I would certainly not vote for this bill if this were the final product,” Dean said. “I would let this thing go to conference committee, and let’s see if we can fix it some more.”

Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union, identified areas beyond the public option in which Democrats in both chambers could agree, including boosting the federal insurance subsidies for middle-income Americans and strengthening insurance regulations.

“It is about progress, and we now have to fight for the changes in the conference committee and decide, when it is over,” whether to support it, Stern said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Senior administration officials contend the conference will not be as difficult as predicted because the differences between the two chambers have been known for months. “Once the Senate passes this bill, obviously there’s work to be done,” White House senior adviser David Axelrod said on “State of the Union.”

Two big voices in the health-reform debate came out with endorsements of the measure moving ahead in the Senate this week: the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents private community hospitals, and AARP, the nation’s largest seniors organization, which urged the Senate to move ahead with debate.

In addition, Democrats desperately tried to avoid an ugly public fight over abortion, but it looks as though the issue will haunt them right up until the end.

Abortion-rights supporters and foes alike blasted the compromise Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cut with Nelson late Friday night. But it’s unclear whether their opposition will be enough to sink the broader bill.

“I have some deep reservations with this Nelson language on first examination,” Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a co-chairwoman of the Congressional Pro-Choice Caucus, told POLITICO on Sunday.

Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), a leading abortion opponent, said during the weekend, “While I and many other pro-life Democratic House members wish to see health care coverage for all Americans, the proposed Senate language is unacceptable.”

The final Senate bill grants state legislatures the right to prevent insurance plans that operate in the proposed health insurance exchange from covering elective abortions. The changes also require people who seek abortion coverage through the exchange to pay two separate checks each month to their insurance company to “segregate” federal funds from private funds that pay for abortion.

Reproductive-rights advocates argue the new system would create a more onerous burden for women seeking coverage for the procedure, while abortion opponents have argued throughout the debate that segregating payments still violates the existing prohibition on federal funds being used to pay for abortion.

Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee, called the changes “book-keeping contortions” and said that his group plans to put pressure on any senator who votes to consider the changes Reid unveiled.

But the real fight will occur in negotiations between House and Senate leaders over a final bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California can’t afford to lose any Democrats. And with Stupak threatening to vote against the Senate compromise, she’ll need to offset his vote with other Democrats who voted against it the first time. She might be able to pick up some moderate-to-conservative Democrats who favor the Senate approach, but many of these lawmakers will need to be OK with the final abortion restrictions.

On the other side, a bloc of abortion-rights backers, led by DeGette, has already promised to vote against any bill that includes Stupak’s amendment, which would prevent people who receive government subsidies from purchasing coverage for elective abortions through the exchange. DeGette believes many of the 41 Democrats who voted for Stupak and “yes” on the House health care bill are willing to work with party leaders to find a middle ground.

The opposing camps are similarly entrenched on the public option and the method for financing the health care expansion. The House would create a government-sponsored insurance plan, but the Senate bill is silent on this point. After several attempts at compromise, Reid nixed the public option altogether.

The taxes could prove difficult to bridge. The House relies on a so-called millionaires’ tax, and has refused to consider the tax on expensive insurance plans. The Senate has taken the exact opposite posture. But because the White House has weighed in several times in favor of the tax on “Cadillac” plans, as a key component to slow the growth rate in health care spending, the Senate is likely to win this round.

Meanwhile, Republicans increaed their attacks on the bill Sunday, criticizing a variety of deals cut to win the votes of Democratic senators, such as Nelson, who got the federal government to pick up the cost of any Medicaid expansion under the health reform bill in the state of Nebraska forever. Republicans said Democrats have refused to say which state would get about $100 million inserted into the bill on behalf of a still unidentified university hospital.

“This process is not legislation. This process is corruption,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). “And it’s a shame that that’s the only way we can come to consensus in this country is to buy votes.”

But Nelson defended his efforts. “I always put Nebraska first,” he told POLITICO in an interview Saturday. “But I looked at this through the standpoint of Nebraskans and the country. … There is a difference between holding out for something and holding up. I was holding out for something to make it better.”

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.