The United States Postal Service’s business model is antiquated. The agency is going broke. It reported a $5 billion loss in the last fiscal year, the seventh consecutive year it incurred a net-loss, and some $40 billion in deficit liabilities.
There have been reasonable efforts in the proposed in the past to reform the United States Postal Service (USPS) and allow it address its fiscal problems without putting the onus on taxpayers. Unfortunately, those efforts have been fruitless, largely because of Democratic and labor union opposition.
Given the fiscal issues facing the agency, USPS looked for potential solutions, and it found one through a partnership with Staples, a to bring its services to some of the office retailer’s stores. But the American Postal Workers Union isn’t having it. The labor union is planning to protest some Staples locations, claiming that the move it a step toward privatization:
Responding to an internal watchdog report finding the IRS gave bonuses to workers who haven’t paid their taxes, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) fired off a letter to Commissioner John Koskinen demanding that the agency take immediate action to rescind the bonuses.
“I am appalled by the findings outlined in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s recent report that exposes millions of dollars in bonuses and awards paid to Internal Revenue Service employees with conduct issues and federal tax compliance problems,” Manchin wrote to Koskinen. “This is completely unacceptable and must be remedied immediately.”
The TITGA report found that bonuses totaling $2.8 million were IRS employees with disciplinary issues between 2011 and 2012. This includes more than $1 million to workers with outstanding tax issues.
Koskinen was only recently appointed to serve as IRS commissioner. The bonuses came under Douglas Shulman, who served as the agency’s commissioner from March 2008 to November 2012. It was also on Shulman’s watch when the agency targeted conservative groups.
“The faith of the American people in the integrity of their government is corroded every time gross negligence and indecency of this sort comes to light,” said Manchin. “How can we expect the American people—many of whom are struggling to make ends meet—to trust their government when they learn that the very agency charged with collecting their tax dollars is rewarding employees who haven’t paid theirs?”
Mother Jones, a leftist publication, released several videos yesterday of Rand Paul, both before and after he was a U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky, telling a crowds that President Ronald Reagan lacked budget discipline, as evidenced by the budget the growth of budget deficits under his administration and the national debt.
David Corn, the Mother Jones journalist who released the videos, along with hawkish Republican outlets, including the Washington Free Beacon and the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, have ramped up their attacks on Paul in recent weeks in hopes to derail his presidential hopes for 2016.
While it may seem strange that leftists and neoconservatives are working, coordinated or not, to damage Paul in advance of the presidential cycle, both sides have an interest in taking him down a peg.
Paul has emphasized policies like privacy rights and mandatory minimum reforms that the stranglehold Democrats have had on certain voting blocs. Neoconservatives, too, are threatened by the Kentucky Republican because of his noninterventionist foreign policy views challenge a war weary public.
In the first video, this one from 2007, Paul noted that his father, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), voted against Reagan’s “very first” budget because it created a $100 billion budget deficit.
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy positioned himself (with the help of conservative media and grassroots activism) as a champion of liberty against the oppressive federal government in his cattle dispute with the Bureau of Land Management. It turns out Mr. Bundy doesn’t actually believe in liberty, at least not for everyone.
After winning his fight with BLM, he continues to wage a pitched battle to maintain his 15 minutes of fame by holding daily press conferences on his property, usually with no more than single digit press coverage. During one such skirmish for relevancy on Sunday, he exposed himself as a disgusting racist and a dubious freedom fighter (emphasis added):
“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.
The Obama administration’s PR machine continues to use any kind of number to state that the Affordable Care Act is a success.
The president’s latest effort to lead the public to believe the healthcare law was a success consisted of his insistent remarks regarding the number of Americans who picked plans through the Exchange website. He called them “enrollees,” but the actual number of sign-ups that paid for their plans was never reported.
The latest statement coming from the Obama administration that touts ObamaCare as a success is associated with the latest Congressional Budget Office report. According to Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, the new report “demonstrates the Affordable Care Act is working”:
The ACA is still going to cost taxpayers, a lot. According to Billy House of the National Journal, “the nation is doomed to return to trillion-dollar shortfalls by 2024 if lawmakers don’t alter existing tax and spending policies…the rising debt [will] have serious consequences.” How has President Obama addressed the nation’s bleak financial future? By creating an unsustainable healthcare program and no original framework to help alleviate the nation’s financial woes as evidenced by the 442 tax hikes Obama has proposed since taking office.
Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), a candidate for Iowa open U.S. Senate seat, was one of 30 House Democrats who signed onto a March 2012 letter urging then-IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman to scrutinize nonprofit groups.
“We write to urge the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate whether any groups qualifying as social welfare organizations under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code are improperly engaged in political campaign activity,” the letter states.
The 30 House Democrats went onto frame their narrative about the purpose of nonprofit groups, which, they said, “is to increase civic engagement and foster social improvements,” later suggesting that some nonprofits were engaged in political activity and trying to influence the outcome of elections.
In light of recent reports about the political activities of certain social welfare organizations,” the 30 Democrats wrote, “we respectfully request that the IRS review these organizations and take appropriate actions to ensure that they are in full compliance with all federal tax laws.”
The letter was signed by a who’s who of leftist House Democrats, including Braley, Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Raul Grijalva (D-NM), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Sam Farr (D-CA), and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL). In fact, many (if not most) of the signers to the letter were members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus at the time.
The IRS began targeting conservative groups in March 2010. The Orwellian inquiries into at last year, just before disgraced official Lois Lerner admitted that the power tax agency had inappropriately scrutinized these groups based on their political views.
A reporter asked a State Department spokeswoman early this week to name some accomplishments that come out of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).
“Off the top of your head, can you just identify one tangible achievement that the last QDDR resulted in?” Matt Lee asked.
“Well, Matt, obviously it’s an extensive, expansive topic…,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki replied before being cut off. The two went back and forth for a moment before the frustrated, skeptical reporter said that he “won’t hold [his] breath” for an answer to his question.
While this is just one video, it is the latest in a series of similar responses to a similar question: “What exactly are Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments?” It’s like that scene out of Office Space in which the “Bobs” quiz Peter, the protagonist of the movie, on the ins and outs of his job at Initech.
“The difference between government and organized crime is that organized part.” — Anonymous
— Veterans die while waiting for government-run healthcare: CNN’s Anderson Cooper touched on an outrageous, very serious problem with the government-run veterans’ healthcare system. “At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list,” CNN reports. “The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.”
— Rand Paul talks up school choice: Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) spoke to a crowd of Latino parents and students in Milwaukee yesterday about Wisconsin’s school voucher program. National Review notes that Paul hailed the city at the “home of school choice” and explained that the tax dollars used for voucher problems belong to parents, not bureaucrats. “The exact ways the programs are set up is more of a state issue,” Paul told National Review, ”but I think the more school choice the better, so I would really allow everybody to have school choice regardless of income. I think for political reasons it’s been easier just to start with some. What I see is it’s a great advantage for everybody that I’ve seen participating in it.”
You can’t form a group with other concerned conservative activists without scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service, but you can, apparently, work for the powerful tax agency and still receive a bonus, even if you haven’t paid your taxes:
The Internal Revenue Service handed out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary issues — including more than $1 million to employees who didn’t pay their federal taxes, a watchdog report says.
he report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said 1,146 IRS employees received bonuses within a year of substantiated federal tax compliance problems.
The bonuses weren’t just monetary. Employees with tax problems received a total of 10,582 hours of paid time off — valued at about $250,000 — and 69 received permanent raises through a step increase, the report said. The report looked at bonuses in 2011 and 2012.
Employees’ tax problems included “willful understatement of tax liabilities over multiple tax years, late payment of tax liabilities, and underreporting of income,” the report said.
The IRS doesn’t take noncompliance into consideration when awarding bonuses. Because the law doesn’t matter when you’re the ones in enforcing it. Or something.
Anyone who have ever owed the IRS money or been subjected to an audit knows how much of a pain in the ass it can be. It’s not like the IRS cuts taxpayers any slack when it comes to collecting the revenue it says you owe to the Treasury.
In response to residents’ complaints, the Washington state insurance commissioner is getting ready to announce new regulations that would prohibit health insurance companies from offering plans with narrow provider networks:
The practice of offering relatively inexpensive health plans with bare-bones provider networks has created tension between making health care affordable and keeping it accessible. It’s set to come to a head this week in Olympia.
The growth of “narrow networks” in Washington comes as the Affordable Care Act limits the ability of insurance companies to control their costs. That’s made it harder to offer plans at a range of prices — something the companies want to do as they compete for comparison shoppers on the health exchanges.
Many companies figured out they could sell cheaper plans that offer consumers fewer choices of where to get care. That caught some consumers, and Washington’s insurance commissioner, by surprise.
[Commissioner Mike] Kreidler is expected to approve new rules this week that would make it harder for insurers to thin out their networks. He says consumers should have some basic safeguards: You shouldn’t have to drive too far or wait too long for care, and you should be able to find the specialists you need.