Feds accused of ‘colluding’ on ‘booze-gate’ explanations

Feds accused of ‘colluding’ on ‘booze-gate’ explanations

Members of Congress notified about legal requests for public information


Posted: July 02, 2010
11:25 pm Eastern

By Bob Unruh
© 2010 WorldNetDaily

The Pentagon has been accused of coordinating with staff officials for members of Congress on what to release to the public under federal Freedom of Information Act demands for information about a “booze-gate” scandal in which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spent $101,000 in taxpayer money for “in-flight” services, including food and alcohol.

The charge comes from Judicial Watch, a government watchdog organization that frequently utilizes the federal law to obtain information about federal agency operations.

For example, the group previously discovered taxpayers shelled out $101,000 for “in-flight services” for Pelosi over a two-year period.

Get the “Throw The Bums Out!” magnetic bumper sticker here!

Now the organization is reporting that e-mails obtained from the government reveal the Pentagon was checking with and informing members of Congress of specific documents it was proposing to release under the federal law.

“Why is the Pentagon colluding with congressional offices on FOIA requests,” wondered Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “There is absolutely no reason why politicians should have the ability to preview FOIA documents before they are released to the American people. These insider notification e-mails to Congress are inappropriate and should be stopped immediately.”

The public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption said the e-mails from the Department of Defense were to various other officials regarding congressional military travel.

“These ‘heads up’ e-mails involved FOIA requests filed by Judicial Watch, The Wall Street Journal, Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call, among other organizations, related to the use of military aircraft by a number of congressional members, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” the Judicial Watch report said yesterday.

They provided “advanced notification” to members of Congress regarding which organizations were seeking information, when the documentation would be released, and “in many cases, the e-mails included the actual documents to be released as attachments,” Judicial Watch said.

“Moreover, the e-mails, primarily sent from the DOD’s Office of General Counsel also indicate that Pentagon staff contacted congressional offices by phone,” the report said.

For example, a Nov. 17, 2009, message to Wyndee Parker, national security adviser for Pelosi, concerned a Judicial Watch request. It advised that the agency was prepared to release the information but was “happy to discuss further.”

 

 

Judicial Watch reports there were cases in which the Pentagon provided “assurances” to congressional staffers whether or not the documents held “sensitive” information.

It reported, “For example, in a December 9, 2009, e-mail to Mark Lopez, Chief of Staff for Congressman Peter Visclosky (D-IN), the DOD staffer writes: ‘CQ appears to be trolling for something to write re: your boss. I do not see much here, but I don’t know the reporter’s agenda. There will be additional releases on this request. I will give you a heads up on those too.'”

Another e-mail to the House Foreign Affairs Committee a month before had said, “I don’t find any of the documents especially newsworthy, but wanted you to have them before they go out.”

The report said other e-mails from senior staff with the House Intelligence Committee “voiced objections to the Pentagon’s refusal to redact the names of congressional staffers from documents released and requested the opportunity to review redacted material before release.”

“It looks as if, in some cases, documents on military junkets were released to individual members of Congress months before they were released to the public,” the report said.

The watchdog group got the e-mails in its overall investigation of congressional military travel.

WND previously reported when a Florida congressman suggested Pelosi give up her military jet travel privilege. WND also has reported on the tabulation by Judicial Watch of Pelosi’s apparent excesses on her flights.

The California Democrat commutes across the continent in a jet provided by the military, a policy first  authorized for the House speaker following the 9/11 terror attacks.

For example, a receipt for “in-flight services” for the House speaker included a list that looked like a dream order for a wild frat party: Maker’s Mark whiskey, Courvoisier cognac, Johnny Walker Red scotch, Grey Goose vodka, E&J brandy, Bailey’s Irish Crème, Bacardi Light rum, Jim Beam whiskey, Beefeater gin, Dewars scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, Jack Daniels whiskey and Corona beer.

That was only part of the more than $101,000 taxpayers paid for “in-flight services” for Pelosi’s trips on Air Force jets over a two-year period, the Judicial Watch report said.

Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., later applauding Pelosi’s new House rules-change that bans all members of Congress from flying first class on the taxpayer’s dime, suggested that Pelosi, too, fly coach class.

Posey said the move would spare taxpayers the $28,000 it costs per flight for her personal military aircraft when she travels back and forth to her home in San Francisco.

Pelosi had been added to the Judicial Watch list of Top 10 corrupt politicians because of her “sense of entitlement,” the group said.

WND also reported a year earlier Pelosi was shown to have been erratically canceling and scheduling flights, as one would with an on-call taxi service.

“We have … folks prepping the jets and crews driving in (not a short drive for some), cooking meals and preflighting the jets etc,” said one Department of Defense e-mail at the time.

Another official sent an e-mail questioning a series of Pelosi’s requests for aircraft.

“Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi’s team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?” it stated. “[T]here’s no need to block every weekend ‘just in case’…”

The e-mail noted that the speaker’s office had “a history of canceling many of their past requests.”

Judicial Watch said the 2,000 pages of documentation it obtained showed Pelosi’s military travel cost the U.S. Air Force $2,100,744.59 over two years – including $101,429.14 for in-flight expenses, including food and alcohol.

Among the highlights revealed:

  • Pelosi used Air Force aircraft to travel back to her district at an average cost of $28,210.51 per flight. Of 103 Pelosi-led congressional delegations (CODEL), 31 trips included members of the House speaker’s family.
  • One CODEL traveling from Washington, D.C., through Tel Aviv, Israel, to Baghdad, Iraq, May 15-20, 2008, “to discuss matters of mutual concern with government leaders” included members of Congress and their spouses and cost $17,931 per hour in aircraft alone. This flight included the purchase of the long list of alcoholic drinks.
  • According to a “Memo for Record” from a March 29-April 7, 2007, CODEL that involved a stop in Israel, “CODEL could only bring kosher items into the hotel. Kosher alcohol for mixing beverages in the delegation room was purchased on the local economy i.e. bourbon, whiskey, scotch, vodka, gin, triple sec, tequila, etc.

According to the Border Patrol the public is being mislead as to WHO is coming into the US from Mexico. This IS THE TRUTH. as reported by WSBTV in Atlanta.

According to the Border Patrol the public is being mislead as to WHO is coming into the US from Mexico. This IS THE TRUTH. as reported by WSBTV in Atlanta.

If we don’t get this message out to the people, we are dead ducks…and soon!  In LA protesters want Phil Jackson of the Lakers to denounce his statement about Arizonia only enforcing what Federal Law alreadys says!  They are calling him RACIST.  They continue to lie and scream.  Don’t give in!

PLEASE send before the videos expire.

Blame game could ‘boomerang’ on Obama, strategist says

Blame game could ‘boomerang’ on Obama, strategist says

By Kristi Keck, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama frequently points out he “inherited” economic mess from Bush
  • “Playing the blame game only boomerangs on yourself,” GOP strategist says
  • Surveys suggest Obama isn’t the only one blaming Bush and Republicans
  • Democratic strategist says Obama needs to focus more on signs of economic recovery

(CNN) — When signs of a severe economic downfall emerged more than two years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama was quick to point a finger at the man he hoped to replace.

Seventeen months into his administration, the message is often the same, and Republicans say it’s time for him to drop the Bush bashing and take ownership of the problem.

“Nothing makes a president look weaker than pointing the finger at past administrations,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. “By blaming somebody, it looks like you are playing politics and people just want jobs. They don’t care about whose fault it is. Playing the blame game only boomerangs on yourself.”

Obama repeated that message this week when talking about the still-sputtering economy, twice reminding those at a town-hall meeting in Wisconsin that he “inherited” the economic mess.

It’s a familiar message from his days on the campaign trail when criticisms of President Bush were as common as policy proposals.

“History will not judge President Bush kindly for his failure to act in a way that could have prevented or alleviated this economic crisis,” Obama said in March 2008 shortly after Bear Sterns’ collapse, slamming Bush for failing to instill confidence in the American people.

Recent surveys suggest Obama isn’t the only one holding the Bush administration and Republicans culpable.

Though the Democrats controlled Congress in the last two years of the Bush administration and have controlled both the White House and Congress for a year and a half — 41 percent of people surveyed in a recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Republicans are responsible for the current economic problems. Twenty-eight percent blamed Democrats, and 26 percent said both parties share responsibility.

According to a Washington Post/ABC poll conducted in April, 59 percent blamed Bush for the economy, compared with 25 percent who said Obama is at fault.

Job numbers released Friday got mixed reviews. The Labor Department reported the U.S. economy lost jobs for the first time this year, as modest hiring by businesses only partly offset the end of temporary Census Bureau jobs.

The unemployment rate fell to 9.5 percent from 9.7 percent in May. Economists had forecast it would climb to 9.8 percent, but the improvement was due mostly to discouraged job seekers not bothering to look for work and no longer being counted in the labor force.

Obama on Friday vowed to do everything in his power to create jobs, but the problem, according to economist Barry Bosworth, is there’s not much more he can do.

“What can he do on the jobs other than sit around and wring his hands in agony?” he asked. “What could he do? That’s the fundamental problem that we now face because it’s a global problem.”

Coming out of the Group of 20 conference, it was clear Obama’s plans to continue stimulus spending weren’t in step with other nations’.

“The whole world is going to turn toward fiscal restraint now, and he can either join it or he’ll be an outlier,” said Bosworth, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former adviser to President Carter.

After the numbers came out, Obama said the country is headed in the right direction but added, “The recession dug us a hole of about 8 million jobs deep.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, echoed the positive indicators, noting that they followed “nearly a decade of failed Republican policies.”

But Bosworth said it’s not fair to put all of the blame on the past administration.

“They didn’t cause that crisis. Lots of people contributed to it. I really do not think that you can blame administrative authorities for what happened. You can blame a lot of economists because we didn’t see it coming in the exact way it did, but there were many dimensions,” he said, pointing out that in retrospect it’s easy to recognize there was an unbalanced economy.

Bosworth said Obama now needs to move away from blaming Bush because the worst of what happened wasn’t Bush’s fault.

“I don’t see that we are looking at a crisis that was caused by the Bush administration, and I don’t think we are looking at a crisis where the Obama administration has a fundamentally different response to the crisis,” Bosworth added, noting that the Troubled Assets Relief Program was passed under the Bush administration.

Economic recovery has been slow, but there are signs of improvement. The stock market, while wobbly, has risen since the lows reached shortly after Obama took office, and the economy is growing again.

Democratic strategist Julian Epstein said Obama needs to make the argument that the economy is on the climb and the stimulus has worked.

“The message has got to be optimistic and positive. It can’t simply be, ‘I inherited a mess and I’m doing the best I can.’ It’s got to be, ‘I inherited a mess, but we’ve turned the corner and things are getting a lot better,’ ” he said.

The White House needs to go on a confidence campaign and perhaps take a page from President Reagan’s playbook, Epstein said.

“He really needs to spell out how we are coming back and it’s morning in America again,” he said.

GOP prepares as calls for Steele’s resignation grows

EXCLUSIVE: GOP prepares as calls for Steele’s resignation grows

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaks at the Rhode Island Republican Party Convention on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Cranston, R.I. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele speaks at the Rhode Island Republican Party Convention on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 in Cranston, R.I. (AP Photo/Joe Giblin)

By Ralph Z. Hallow

Updated: 12:55 p.m. on Saturday, July 3, 2010

     

With Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele facing a barrage of calls to resign, North Dakota Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth, a social conservative, told The Washington Times on Friday he is quitting his post to prepare a possible challenge of Mr. Steele after November’s midterm elections.

Also on Friday, prominent neoconservatives led by William Kristol and Liz Cheney began a growing chorus demands that Mr. Steele step down now, before the Nov. 2 midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections and before he can decide whether to seek reelection to a second two-year term in January.

Mr. Emineth said what moved him to consider a bid for national chairman is what he called Mr. Steele’s dismal failure with big donors who are giving to other, more trusted GOP campaign organizations as polls continue to show Republicans, if adequately financed, stand a good chance of regaining control of Congress.

“I was shocked at the last RNC meeting to learn how little money we got from our major donors,” Mr. Emineth told The Times.

Mr. Emineth said he is resigning as state chairman to devote more time to his expanding burrito-manufacturing business. Resigning now has the added advantage of freeing him to campaign for national party chairman after Nov. 2.

Like other RNC members, Mr. Emineth has refrained from criticizing Mr. Steele until now, and until now no prominent Republican has called for Mr. Steele’s head.

What suddenly triggered resignation demands from the influential neoconservatives wing of the GOP — its foreign-policy hawks — was Mr. Steele’s saying in Connecticut on Thursday that Afghanistan is President Obama’s war and one that should not have been fought in the first place. (Click here to see the video.)

The social and neoconservative wings of the party, with their shared concern for the safety of Israel and focus on “Islamo-fascism,” have decided that Mr. Steele — the author of numerous gaffes in the past — has crossed the line this time.

On Friday, Mr. Kristol, editor of the neoconservative Weekly Standard, said in an open letter to Mr. Steele: “Your comment is more than an embarrassment. It’s an affront — both to the honor of the Republican Party and to the commitment of the soldiers fighting.”

Ms. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, told Politico that the “chairman of the Republican party must be unwavering in his support for American victory in the war on terror — a victory that cannot be accomplished if we do not prevail in Afghanistan. I endorse fully Bill Kristol’s letter to Chairman Steele. It is time for Chairman Steele to step down.”

In his missive, Mr. Kristol pointed out that the “war in Afghanistan was not ‘a war of Obama’s choosing.’ … It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort.”

Saying on Fox News’ Special Report that Mr. Steele “has to go,” another prominent neoconservative intellectual, Charles Krauthammer, called Mr. Steele’s apostasy on Afghanistan “a capital offense.”

Skepticism about the war is shared by many traditional conservatives such as commentator George F. Will.

“There are, of course, those who think we should pull out of Afghanistan, and they’re certainly entitled to make their case. But one of them shouldn’t be the chairman of the Republican party,” Mr. Kristol said.

Hinting that Mr. Steele’s stand might undermine the war effort, the Democratic National Committee jumped on RNC chairman’s remarks, circulated on a video of his appearance at a small GOP fundraiser in Connecticut.

Among members of Mr. Steele’s own committee, however, the disappointment with him has grown in proportion to the disappointment with his fundraising efforts.

“I have raised more money per capita for my party in my tiny state than New York or any other big state has raised for its party, but North Dakota gets no financial support from the RNC,” Mr. Emineth said,

“The real contribution from a chairman is the ability to raise money from major donors,” said Mr. Emineth. “We raised $400,000 in a single night in Fargo, North Dakota. Chairman Steele has managed to raise only $2 million from major donors all told.”

“At times his hands-off approach to managing the national committee and his miscues have hurt the party,” Mr. Emineth said. “He has been disappointing to many members.”

In later posting the following words on the RNC’s website, Mr. Steele appeared to eat his earlier words on Afghanistan — and stand by them at the same time.

“As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I proudly remember standing with Maryland National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East and later stood with the mothers of soldiers lost at war. There is no question that America must win the war on terror.

“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.

“As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”

 

 

Obama and Immigration: Rewriting History?

Obama and Immigration: Rewriting History?

Posted By Pam Meister On July 2, 2010 @ 12:00 am In Column 2, Culture, History, Homeland Security, Immigration, US News | 55 Comments

This week, while shilling for “comprehensive immigration reform” (aka amnesty for illegal aliens), President Obama cited the famous poem “The New Colossus” ( “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”) written by Emma Lazarus in 1883. For one whose intellectual powers are constantly being touted by his followers, it’s interesting to note how little he seems to know about the Statue of Liberty’s history — or, perhaps, how little he cares about twisting that history in order to push his radical progressive agenda.

Obama said in his speech on Thursday [1] that Emma Lazarus wrote the poem and donated it for an auction in order to “help pay for the construction of a new statue.” He went on to say that the funding for the statue was garnered by small donations from people all across America. Unfortunately, he gets it wrong.

The Statue of Liberty [2], commissioned in 1876 and designed by sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, was a gift to America from France in honor of this nation’s centennial. The only cost to Americans was that of the pedestal upon which the statue would be placed, and fundraising for that effort began several years before the statue arrived, in pieces, to be reassembled upon arrival in 1885. In fact, the poem written by Lazarus was forgotten soon after it was donated to the fundraising effort and it wasn’t until 1903, 16 years after her death, that the poem was engraved on a bronze plaque [3] and placed inside the pedestal as a memorial.

Perhaps pointing out the discrepancy about the wording of his speech (“the construction of a new statue” rather than “the construction of the new statue’s pedestal”) seems like nitpicking. But had a Republican president made such an error, innocent or otherwise, he’d have been pilloried in the “mainstream” press as an ill-educated boor. It reminds us of how the MSM ignored [4] Obama’s infamous “57 states” gaffe while on the campaign trail in 2008. Besides, it’s a lot more glamorous to talk about fundraising efforts for the statue itself, not the statue’s base.

It’s also somewhat galling to hear Obama speak of Lazarus’ Jewish heritage, considering his attitude toward Israel [5] — a nation created in the traditional Jewish homeland as a refuge for Jews once again escaping from Europe “to the sounds of gunfire” and seeking refuge to create new lives for themselves.

But here’s the icing on the cake: Obama made the claim [6] that “being an American is not a matter of blood or birth, it’s a matter of faith” and said that “we can’t forget that this process of immigration and eventual inclusion has often been painful. Each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentment towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval.” In other words, those of us who are against illegal aliens breaking our laws by sneaking in through our borders and other ports of entry are a bunch of racists who are looking to deprive these people of their livelihoods.

Ed Morrissey brings up another salient point [7]:

We know what Obama meant in this passage — a similarity to those who have expressed the notion that they were Americans before ever setting foot in the US, thanks to their love of liberty.  However, the people expressing that concept came to the US through legal immigration, and didn’t presume to break our laws in order to express their desire to live in freedom.  They understood that the aspirational concept of being American and the legal status of American citizenship (or even residency) are two completely different things.

Besides, if being an American is a matter of faith, then the religion in question is devotion to the rule of law.  We have created the laws by which we live through representative democracy within a framework set by our Constitution.  Breaking the law to get into the country isn’t an expression of faith; using Obama’s construct, it’s actually heresy.

But as I said recently [8], it’s not about enforcing current law to protect actual Americans — you know, those of us who do not base our citizenship on “faith” alone. It’s about courting a large group of people who, if given amnesty, would constitute a juicy voting bloc just waiting to be snapped up.

Clinton-Obama Rift Begins

Clinton-Obama Rift Begins

A little bit of daylight has begun to emerge between the Clintons and President Obama. As the president’s ratings drop — recently, particularly among liberals — the first signs are beginning to show of distance between the former rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
 
As always with the Clintons, the signs are made evident by a carefully choreographed two-step in which they fill their separate roles, one as an outsider and the other as a loyal insider to the Obama administration. But never doubt that everything these two do is coordinated and orchestrated.
 
On Bill’s end, there emerge faint signs of disagreement with the president. Commenting on the Gulf oil spill, the former president warned against ratcheting up the rhetoric against BP noting that it is that firm’s expertise upon which the administration must rely to end the spill and terminate the slide in his ratings that it has triggered.
 
More confrontationally, Bill has endorsed Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff for the Democratic Senate nomination in Colorado even as the Obama White House is strongly backing Michael Bennet, the Democratic senator appointed to fill the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
 
For Bill Clinton to challenge Obama so overtly to a proxy battle in the Colorado Senate primary is, indeed, remarkable considering his wife’s role in the administration.
 
Hillary, as befits her position — but not necessarily her personality — is more demure. While she takes no shots at her boss and does not cross him in any way, she is gradually expanding her purview beyond the foreign affairs mandate of her job.
 
It was Secretary of State Clinton who first released to the media the fact that Obama’s Justice Department would be suing the state of Arizona over their new anti-illegal immigration law. And it was also the secretary of state who noted that she felt that rich people were not paying their “fair share” of taxes in the U.S., while carefully explaining that she was only expressing her personal views.

Read The Full Article

Calls for Steele’s resignation grow louder

Calls for Steele’s resignation grow louder

Rick Moran

The RNC chairman’s comments about Afghanistan were pretty clueless, but I think the growing chorus from GOP heavyweights for Michael Steele to step down is a cumulative effect of his verbal gaffes rather than this particular instance of idiocy.

Bill Kristol:

You are, I know, a patriot. So I ask you to consider, over this July 4 weekend, doing an act of service for the country you love: Resign as chairman of the Republican party.Your tenure has of course been marked by gaffes and embarrassments, but I for one have never paid much attention to them, and have never thought they would matter much to the success of the causes and principles we share. But now you have said, about the war in Afghanistan, speaking as RNC chairman at an RNC event, “Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” And, “if [Obama] is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

Needless to say, the war in Afghanistan was not “a war of Obama’s choosing.” It has been prosecuted by the United States under Presidents Bush and Obama. Republicans have consistently supported the effort. Indeed, as the DNC Communications Director (of all people) has said, your statement “puts [you] at odds with about 100 percent of the Republican Party.”

I think he should have resigned after the fund raising scandals last spring, but GOP insiders thought differently. Now he has not only undercut his own party, but has shown himself to be out of touch with candidates for office who support our mission in Afghanistan.

Steele will likely force the GOP to fire him, knowing how bad it would look for the party to fire one of the few visible blacks in a leadership position. He has banked on this before, but it might not save him this time.

“Historic” Rise in Taxation in 6 Mos.

“Historic” Rise in Taxation in 6 Mos.

Posted by Veronica (Profile)

Friday, July 2nd at 12:20PM EDT

53 Comments

We’ve been here before.

Americans For Tax Reform culled a few things from the List of Expiring Federal Tax Provisions 2009-2020 off the government’s website:

In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect.  They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.  These will all expire on January 1, 2011:

Personal income tax rates will rise. The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

– The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
– The 25% bracket rises to 28%
– The 28% bracket rises to 31%
– The 33% bracket rises to 36%
– The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family. The “marriage penalty” (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax. This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors. The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare

There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The “Medicine Cabinet Tax” Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The “Special Needs Kids Tax” This provision of Obamacare imposes a cap on flexible spending accounts (FSAs) of $2500 (Currently, there is no federal government limit).  There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year.  Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education.

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike. This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, they’ll be in for a nasty surprise—the AMT won’t be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  The major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress’ failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying families—rising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear. Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or “depreciate”) equipment purchases up to $250,000.  This will be cut all the way down to $25,000.  Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  In January of 2011, all of it will have to be “depreciated.”

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses. There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the “research and experimentation tax credit,” but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced. The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed. Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual “required minimum distribution.”  This ability will no longer be there

Obama’s Immigration Hypocrisy

Obama’s Immigration Hypocrisy

July 2nd, 2010

By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

When Obama could have passed comprehensive immigration reform – when he still had 60 Senate Democrats – he didn’t lift a finger to push it. Now that he can’t pass it – it is too late in the year, he doesn’t have 60 votes, and many Democrats will defect – he aggressively pushes it in a national speech.

The opportunism and hypocrisy of his attempt to manipulate America’s Latinos into forgetting his previous inaction is transparent and obvious. Polls show him losing Hispanics due to high and continuing unemployment and losing Congressional seats in the bargain, so Obama has dug up the immigration proposals of former President George W. Bush, dusted them off, and made them his own. He knows it won’t pass. But he hopes that it will reignite Latino enthusiasm for his failing presidency and anger at Republicans for frustrating immigration reform.

In the process, Obama is neglecting the real answer to immigration. It is ridiculous to speak of sealing the border. A border of more than 1500 miles can’t be sealed. It can’t even be controlled. As long as people want to cross, they will be able to get over. Some won’t make it. They will just keep trying until they do.

To sell his amnesty program for those already here, Obama raised the red herring of deportation, saying that we could never round up and send away 11 million people.

But he brushed over the real answer: To dry up the jobs. If employers would not hire illegal immigrants, they would stop coming here and those already here would pack up and go home of their own accord. Obama’s promise, in his speech, to invigorate the enforcement of sanctions on employers who hire illegals rang hollow. If he hasn’t done it over the past year and a half, what confidence do we have that he will see the light now?

Read More

NASA = No Americans in Space Anymore?

NASA = No Americans in Space Anymore?

By Russ Allen

American exceptionalism has been under attack for a long time. Now, with the Obama administration’s new “plan” for NASA effectively ending nationally funded human spaceflight, we drop a torch others are grabbing.
The Bush administration instigated a flood of research and development throughout the nation by charging NASA with getting us back to the moon, and eventually to Mars. NASA began developing technologies for a new series of vehicles for this project: the Ares rockets and the Orion crew capsule, which together have been dubbed the Constellation program.  Constellation represents five years of R&D and a $10-billion taxpayer investment, and it has demonstrated success. However, Obama has said that Constellation should be canceled because it was “over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation.”
It is true that NASA projects have often fallen behind schedule and have certainly gone over budget estimates. However, NASA is charged with exploring and studying space, which happens to be, well, out in space. It costs a great deal of money and skull sweat just to get out there, even if it’s only to find out that your equipment doesn’t work correctly. Schedule and budget problems are to be expected, as NASA is dealing with many unknowns. And they rarely fail in conquering those unknowns; U.S. footprints and flag are on the moon.
Time and money issues aside, accusing NASA of a lack of innovation is ludicrous. According to NASA Scientific and Technical Information, NASA has filed over 6,300 patents with the U.S. government. So much new technology has come from NASA that one can hardly look around without seeing devices and techniques that originated from the space program — exercise machines, satellite radio, scratch-resistant lenses, memory foam, shoe insoles, water filtering systems, cordless tools, home security systems, and flat-panel televisions, to name just a few. In addition to reducing our national energy consumption by such innovations as Radiant Barrier, it has been estimated that for every dollar the U.S. government has given NASA for space R&D, seven dollars are returned in the form of corporate and personal income taxes from increased jobs and economic growth. One NASA innovation, “safety grooving” in concrete for highways and airport landing strips, was so successful that it has been estimated to have reduced highway accidents by 85%, as well as created an entire industry, as shown by the International Grooving and Grinding Association.
Medical knowledge and technology have also benefited tremendously from NASA research. The health difficulties that humans encounter in space spawned a slew of techniques and devices that have since been adopted by doctors and hospitals throughout the U.S. medical system, and subsequently the world, saving innumerable lives and untold amounts in medical costs. Improved pacemakers, the ear thermometer, breast biopsies, ultrasound imaging systems, invisible braces — the list goes on.
The Obama administration has publicly acknowledged the current economic problems and has sworn to do everything possible to revive the economy and “create” jobs. The administration has also sworn to do everything possible to make the U.S. medical system better for everyone. Given all that NASA has done to bolster the U.S. economy and medical system for the past fifty-plus years, and the thousands of high-paying, high-tech jobs involved with the Constellation program, it seems strange for Obama to accuse NASA of being “over budget, behind schedule, and lacking in innovation.” Perhaps he thought he was talking about Social Security or Medicare.
NASA has long been planning to cancel the Shuttle program, which is understandable, considering budget constraints and the priority of the Constellation program. But to cancel both programs leaves the U.S. with no viable human space transport. The International Space Station, which represents a $100-billion investment by U.S. taxpayers, will be unreachable by scientists and astronauts from the U.S. without hitching a ride on Russian or Chinese space transport. This is unacceptable. The “space race” began when Communist Russia successfully delivered a Sputnik satellite into low-earth orbit, and it culminated with the still-unmatched feat of the U.S. putting menand an American flagon the moon. As a nation, we spent years and money and lives to remain at the forefront in space exploration because we recognized the dangers of having communist powers rule space. Now, after our Shuttles have done most of the heavy lifting for the ISS, and our taxpayers most of the heavy paying, we are going to turn it all over to Russia and China. This places our space capabilities and experiments in their hands and poses an intolerable national security risk.
Incidentally, sending an astronaut or scientist to the ISS currently costs NASA approximately $26.3 million per person. With the ending of the Shuttle program, requiring us to “purchase tickets” from Russia, the cost will jump to $51 million starting next year and climb to $55.8 million by 2013. We will not save money this way.
One possible way to cut down on the costs of human spaceflight would be for NASA to consider nuclear-powered vehicles, capable of constant acceleration for those long trips to the moon and very long trips to Mars. Constant acceleration would eliminate the need for lengthy, dreary Hohmann orbits, getting us to our destination much more quickly while significantly reducing transit costs. If NASA needs a jump-start on the technology for nuclear-powered ships, they could talk to the U.S. Navy. The Navy has been utilizing nuclear-powered ships for decades with great success, all maintained and operated by eighteen-year-old kids.
The Obama administration’s plan for NASA outlines a “steady stream” of robotic missions “to scout locations and demonstrate technologies to increase the safety and capability of future human missions.” Whose future human missions? The Russians’ and Chinese’s? With the ending of the Constellation program, there are no future human missions for the U.S., except those made possible in commercial spaceflight. While commercial spaceflight is tremendous in its future implications, it will progress only in areas that have demonstrated a possible fiscal return…and space operations are so expensive and difficult that it is highly unlikely that any true exploration would occur. Commercial space flight is space exploitation, not space exploration. For the foreseeable future, an entity like NASA — which is nationally funded and not constrained by profits and losses — and a project such as Constellation is the best way to extend our reach into and knowledge of space. Robotic missions are all well and good for certain applications, but one does not learn anything about putting humans in space by putting robotic vehicles in space.
In fact, the immense economic and job value of the Constellation program led to a congressional ban against its being dismantled. But NASA head Major General Charlie Bolden, an Obama appointee, has told aerospace contractors to cut back immediately on Constellation-related projects. Legislators have accused the Obama administration of trying to slip termination of Constellation “through the back door” in order to avoid a battle on Capitol Hill. “It’s bordering on arrogance by the administration to boldly and brazenly go forward with this approach,” says Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT). “It shows a blatant disregard for Congress.”
While sneakily destroying the U.S. human spaceflight program, the White House is directing NASA to concentrate on “earth science projects” — principally researching and monitoring climate change. So NASA will quit developing human space exploration capabilities and become what? A weather station? A prop-up for the failing global warming propaganda? It’s no wonder former astronauts Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan (the first and last men on the moon) complain that abandonment of the Constellation project sets U.S. space capabilities on a “downhill slide to mediocrity.”
Interestingly, Britain’s Margaret Thatcher enacted a ban on human spaceflight beginning in 1986. We often hear that we should be more like the U.K. and other European countries. But Britain removed the ban in 2009. Lord Drayson, the British Minister of Science, said, “Britain should be playing a full role in space exploration…there are important benefits that come from manned spaceflight[.]” They tried the ban for nearly a quarter of a century, and now they have realized their mistake. This is one instance in which we should learn from one of our allies, yet the Obama administration is pointedly ignoring the lesson.
As a conservative, I have always considered myself firmly grounded in reality. But I don’t want to be firmly grounded to Earth by Obama. Let’s go back to the moon. Let’s put some footprints and an American flag on Mars. Let’s continue to allow our exceptional space program to inspire our children to become astronauts and scientists. Let’s get out there and see what there is to see! Also, I have long planned to retire to the moon, where the low gravity will be easy on my tired old bones…and I really don’t want to have to learn to speak Russian or Chinese to do so.