Recent Posts From Jason Pye
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.
FreedomWorks PAC became the latest conservative group to back T.W. Shannon in the U.S. Senate race to fill the remaining two years of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) term.
The grassroots organization announced its endorsement yesterday, calling the former state House Speaker the “clear choice for Oklahomans looking to preserve individual freedom and rein in Washington’s out-of-control spending.”
“T.W. Shannon is a principled leader who doesn’t simply talk about small-government reforms, he works to make them a reality,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks PAC, in a statement. “He has blocked ObamaCare implementation in Oklahoma, signed a pledge to fight Common Core, founded the first States’ Rights Committee to protect Oklahomans from overreaching federal regulation, and consistently voted for lower taxes and more individual freedom.”
FreedomWorks PAC cited Shannon’s consistent votes to reduce taxes and debt. The organization, which endorses free market candidates, also noted that the former Oklahoma House Speaker sponsored legislation “to impose work requirements for able-bodied recipients of food stamps.”
“We have enough talkers in Washington,” said Kibbe, it’s time to send more leaders like T.W. Shannon who will get things done.”
Shannon is facing Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) in the June 24 Republican Senate primary. An early February poll conducted by Harper Polling, found Lankford with a 27-point lead over Shannon.
Ed Morrissey of HotAir has a post today highlighting a column written by the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell, in which she talks about homeownership not being all its cracked up to be. Morrissey, however, ledes with this:
Most people include home ownership as one of the basic elements of the American Dream. It stands not just for independence, but also in most minds an investment in tangible and significant property. It’s not a universally-held goal — some people prefer to rent even with the means to own — but home ownership is usually seen as one of the building blocks to middle-class wealth.
Guys, before we go any further, I have a confession to make: I don’t believe in the “American Dream,” at least not the one that has been so heavily emphasized over the years.
Don’t get me wrong, the negative liberty, Lockeian views of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” outlined in the Declaration of Independence are principles in which I strongly believe. That is, in my view, the real “American Dream.” It’s basic and simplistic, sure, but that’s what makes it unique.
The media firestorm over the Bundy family ranch has open the federal Bureau of Land Management’s actions up to more scrutiny. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is now sounding the alarm about another situation that could be unfolding along the border between the Lone Star State and Oklahoma:
The under-the-radar issue has caught the attention of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who fired off a letter on Tuesday to BLM Director Neil Kornze saying the agency “appears to be threatening” the private property rights of “hard-working Texans.”
“Decisions of this magnitude must not be made inside a bureaucratic black box,” wrote Abbott, also a Republican gubernatorial candidate.
At issue are thousands of acres of land on the Texas side of the Red River, along the border between Texas and Oklahoma. Officials recently have raised concern that the BLM might be looking at claiming 90,000 acres of land as part of the public domain.
According to background materials put out by Texas Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry’s office, the BLM is revisiting its management plan for lands including those along a 116-mile stretch of the Red River. His office said the possibility has been discussed of opening that land up for “hunting, recreation and management.”
And he was right! Well, sort of. It’s not Charles and David Koch, the libertarian brothers who’ve been the target of vicious attacks by Harry Reid (D-NV). But rather, it’s Tom Steyer, a billionaire and radical environmentalist.
Steyer, who has met with Reid and other Democrats, has pledged $100 million to make climate change a big issue in the 2014 mid-term election. At the heart of the environmentalist’s personal campaign is his rabid opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
When the State Department announced last week that it would delay a decision on the oil pipeline, the latest example of this administration putting party over policy, Steyer came out as a big winner.
The State Department recently concluded that Keystone XL would have little impact on the environment, also noting that alternatives would result in higher carbon emissions, making Steyer’s objection to the pipeline look petty and paranoid.
It also makes President Obama and Democrats look exceedingly hypocritical because, after all their attacks on the Koch brothers, Steyer has successfully managed to buy a presidency, but it’s a Democrat. That’s a fact that National Review’s Tom Rogan pointed out yesterday on Fox and Friends.
Today in Liberty: Rand Paul-backed House candidate wins in Florida, SCOTUS upholds affirmative action ban
“We cannot wish away the objections of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions, or browbeat them into submission. Even in our constitutional system, persuasion is a minority’s first and best strategy. It has served us well and we should not be done with it.” — Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent: Why We Must Have Both
— Clawson wins special election in FL-19: Curt Clawson, a self-funder backed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tea Party Express, won the special election in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, to fill the seat left open by Trey Radel’s resignation. Clawson took 38 percent of the vote to state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto’s 26 percent. Benacquisto was backed by Sarah Palin. “I got into this race because I felt like we needed more Outsiders in Congress,” said Clawson, according to The Hill. “The career politicians aren’t getting the job done, and I don’t see a whole lot of people in Washington with the experience as a CEO in making the tough decisions to save our country.” No Democrat ran in the special election.
Are you among the 5 to 6 million Americans who lost the health insurance coverage that you had and liked? Well, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry has a message for you, and it’s one that she wants Democrats to run on in 2014: “Yeah, you can’t keep your crappy plans. Just deal with that!”
Harris-Perry, one of the network’s more annoying leftists, made the comments on Sunday, during which she compared the dramatic and consequential changes taking place in the health insurance market to “flipping a house.”
“But try thinking of it this way. It’s kind of like flipping a house. No, I really mean a real house. You do a whole lot of little things. You replace the counter tops, you add crown molding, you refinish the floors,” said Harris-Perry, according to the Media Research Center. “It all adds up to something entirely different than where you started.”
Harris-Perry ripped Republicans, whom she said “will go into a fallen down blighted house, slap on some granite counter tops, while ignoring real problems, and declare their work is the best thing ever.” She praised Democrats and Obamacare’s “more substantial, structural changes,” but criticized the party’s elected officials for not adequately selling the law, which, again, she compared to a flipped house.
While President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats say the debate over Obamacare is over and that the country should move on, one of the nation’s largest voting blocs strongly disagrees.
At a press conference last week, President Obama declared that Democrats running in the 2014 mid-term election “should forcefully defend and be proud” of Obamacare,” adding, “ I don’t think we should apologize for it, and I don’t think we should be defensive about it.”
But a recent Fox News poll found that 53 percent of registered voters prefer a candidate who “promises to fight against Obamacare.” A deeper look at the poll reveals that 54 percent of independents and 53 percent of Millennials, those under the age of 35, share that sentiment, an ominous sign for Democrats who take President Obama’s advice.
Overall, 56 percent of voters oppose Obamacare, including 63 percent of independents and 52 percent of Millennials. The poll also found that 73 percent of voters say that a candidates position on Obamacare will be either the “single most important factor” or “one of several important factors” in how they vote this fall. That includes 72 percent of independents and 66 percent of Millennials.
Call it an election year move to rally his base or call it a move that’s long overdue, or maybe even a little of both. Whatever the case may be, President Barack Obama and the Justice Department are considering granting clemency to hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders:
A Department of Justice review of the nation’s clemency system that could free thousands of prisoners was motivated by President Obama’s desire “to make sure that everyone has a fair shot,” the White House said Monday.
“He has asked the Department of Justice to set up a process aimed at ensuring that anyone who has a good case for commutation has their application seen and evaluated thoroughly,” press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
That review is expected to place a special emphasis on non-violent drug offenders, and especially those given longer sentences for crack cocaine. In recent years, federal lawmakers have moved to reduce additional penalties for those in possession of crack, rather than powder, cocaine, in a bid to both reduce prison populations and the unequal prosecution of minorities.
There has been a bipartisan push in the Senate to reform the United States’ drug laws. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) have introduced a measure to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent offenders.
Separately, though similarly, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) teamed up to address sentencing reforms for nonviolent crack cocaine offenders.