Friday, February 28, 2014
Obama Silences Complaining Employers With IRS
President Barack Obama is using the IRS to silence employers unhappy about Obamacare.
That's the hidden purpose behind the employer mandate delay announced on Feb. 10. The administration released 227 pages of mind-numbing regulations ridiculously billed as making "the compliance process simpler and easier" for employers. Hidden in the gobbledygook (on pages 125-126) is a requirement that employers sign a statement to the IRS - meaning under penalty of perjury - claiming they have not reduced the number of employees or cut hours to shield themselves from the costs of Obamacare.
Nine out of every 10 midsize employers already provide coverage, and for them, last Monday's announcement was about hush money, not delay. They are required to continue providing coverage, and worse, most will have to switch to the costlier Obamacare package of benefits because that's the only plan for sale. State insurance regulators and insurance companies have already said "no" to renewing noncompliant plans.
The only thing these employers get from last week's rule change is a "stop complaining" bribe. The Affordable Care Act says employers have to pay a whopping $3,000 each time a worker goes onto the Obama exchanges and gets a taxpayer-subsidized plan. Now the administration is offering to waive that penalty. Employers who want this deal must attest to the IRS that they haven't laid off workers or cut hours to squeeze under the 99-worker threshold.
In the first seven months of 2013, 77 percent of new hires were part-time. Obama rushed to stop the damaging news by announcing last July that he would delay the employer mandate until Jan. 1, 2015. Oops! That date is approaching.
Democrats running for re-election this fall are desperate to avoid similar headlines. This time, instead of the president offering employers a delay, he is offering most of them a bribe to keep quiet. Once employers swear they have not cut hours due to Obamacare, how can they speak out about the law's harm to their businesses?
Deceit is the primary motive behind the newly announced regulation. On page 36, it states that although employers are distressed that the law defines 30 hours a week as a full-time job requiring insurance, nothing can be done because the statute expressly states 30 hours. What? Is this the only part of the statute the administration won't change by fiat?
Obama's rule writers are lying and laughing as they concoct these regulations. None of this is being done to redress legitimate concerns of business. Obama is enlarging the powers of the IRS to silence critics, whether it's the tea party or businesses struggling to stay in the black. Say goodbye to fair elections.
Government Power is an Economic Inequality
The liberal defenders of government power attack concentrations of wealth, but in the true concentration of wealth is not found in the hands of a few billionaires, but in the hands of the government.
The editorialists talk about income inequality and the 1 percent, but they focus on individuals rather than institutions, and it is the concentration of wealth and power in institutions that threaten civil liberties.
The top 10 wealthiest men and women in America barely have 250 billion dollars between them. Federal budgets run into the trillions of dollars, and the national debt approaches 15 trillion dollars. And that's not taking into account state budgets. Even Rhode Island, the smallest state in the union, with a population of barely a million, has a multi-billion dollar budget.
As the 10th richest man in America, Michael Bloomberg wields a personal fortune of a mere 18 billion dollars, but as the Mayor of the City of New York, he disposed of an annual budget of 63 billion dollars that was three times his own net worth. Spending so much money would wipe out the net worth of any billionaire in America.
That is the difference between the wealth wielded by the 10th wealthiest man in America, and the mayor of a single city. And that is the real concentration of wealth. Not in the hands of individuals, but at every level of government, from the municipal to the state houses to the White House.
Monopolistic power in 20th century America lies not in the hands of a few industrialists, but in the massive monopolistic trust of government, and its network of unions, non-profits, lobbyists and SuperPAC's. The railroads are broken up, offshore drilling is banned, coal mining is in trouble and Ma Bell has a thousand quarreling stepchildren-- now government is the real big business.
The 2008 presidential campaign cost 5.3 billion dollars. Another 1.5 billion for the House and the Senate. And that's not counting another half a billion from the 527's and even shadier fundraising by shadowy political organizations. In 2012, the price tag went up to 6.3 billion with 1.7 billion for the House and Senate.
But that's a small investment considering that the political players and their union and corporate allies were spending billions to get their hands on trillions.
Do you know of any company in America where for a few billion, you could become the CEO, run up trillion dollar deficits and parcel out billions to your friends who will then pay the money back to you so you can take over the company again four years later without the shareholders being able to force you out or have you arrested?
This company will allow you to indulge yourself, travel anywhere at company expense, live the good life, and only work when you feel like it. It will legally indemnify you against all shareholder lawsuits, while allowing you to dispose not only of their investments, but of their personal property and that of their children while obligating them to a debt slavery that will run for generations?
There is only one such corporation. It's the United States Government.
Under an ideological cloak of darkness, politicians act as if they can do anything they want. Public outrage is met with alarmist news stories about the dangers of violence, as if this were the reign of the Bourbon kings, not a democratic republic whose right of protest is as sacrosanct as its flag and its seal. Instead the republic is dominated by political trusts, party machines, media cartels, public sector unions and a million vermin who have sucked the cow dry and are starting in on its tender meat.
Consider that in 2008, Obama pulled in 20 million from the health care industry. (McCain took in 7 million). Afterward, he conspired to pass a law which mandated that every American be forced to buy health insurance from the industry. There is no definite figure for how much money the industry will make from this, but it will be a whole lot more than the mere 20 million they invested in him. During the days of the robber barons, the government never mandated that everyone must buy a product from them. Private companies might have contrived such control over the marketplace, but the IRS was never enlisted to collect their bills for them.
How much money has flowed from the Obama Administration to its friends in the private sector in just the last year alone and how much of it was used to secure jobs for its allied unions, which they then kicked back to liberal politicians running for office.
Entire states are going bankrupt because of political trusts formed by politicians and public sector unions which pass money back and forth to each other in the plain sight of the taxpayers they are robbing blind.
This is not merely a concentration of wealth, but a ruthless concentration of power. The real money isn't coming from that top 1 percent, it's coming from unions, lobbies and companies which use political power to extract public money.
And that money goes to the party which is so determined to keep on extracting that money no matter what it takes.
The big government left keeps playing the class warfare card, but even the worst company in the world isn't as larcenously extortionate as the worst politician. Some of the greediest and abusive companies were either created by the government or operate in close partnership with it.
HMO's were created by the government. Banks fed off Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's subsidized mortgages like vultures. Do we really need to go into insurance companies, defense contractors or Sallie Mae. AT&T is considered one of the worst companies in America, and it's also one of the biggest political donors. Is there a connection there? Only that companies close to the government don't need to worry as much about what the public thinks of them.
Hate the airlines? They've both been overregulated and subsidized into incompetence. Airlines have been bailed out and protected from competition too many ways to count, because of the unions riding on their coattails. And those unions are destroying airline after airline, while the non-union airlines prosper.
American business is looking a lot like Soviet business did, full of companies with contempt for their customers, and an unctuous smile for the government. They know where the money is coming from. And in an era of cut throat price competition, and high labor and regulation costs, it's just easier for them to extract the public's money by going over their heads to the politicians. Don't feel like paying for any of it? It's no longer a free market in which individuals make economic choices, but a collective economy with government fixing prices and then turning around and taking more of your money to pay back the companies to cover the difference. That's how ObamaCare works.
The new trusts operate out of Washington D.C. for the benefit of the public. Much like the food markets of Venezuela or the hospitals of Cuba. The money goes back and forth, lobbyists, unions, politicians, consultants, contractors, activists and lunatics huddling together and passing bills that no one has read.
And still the defenders of big government treat any calls for reform as a conspiracy of the rich. Yet the two richest men in America, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, were holding fundraisers for Obama. And the tenth richest man in America runs one of the biggest bastions of liberalism. And number 14 on the list, George Soros, is the left's sugar daddy.
This isn't a battle of billionaires. Mere money no longer means what it once did. The billionaire is a dinosaur. The wealthiest men in America can't wait to get rid of their holdings. In the free market, money made you king. But under socialism, money just buys you access and leverage. The leverage to force every man, woman and child to buy your product.
The real concentration of wealth is no longer among men, but among institutions. Like electricity passing along copper wire, it jumps among unions, political machines, companies, non-profits and back again. Its function is to provide the motive power for the great beast of government to grind on. And the American taxpayer is left lying flat in the street.
Separation of Government From Press
After much criticism from conservative quarters, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided, at least for now, to withdraw plans for its proposed study of how media organizations gather and report news. The expressed goal of the survey was to determine if the "critical information needs" of the public are being met. In making the announcement on Friday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler indicated the survey would be "revised" and that the government agency had "no intention" of regulating political speech of journalists or other broadcasters.
You couldn't prove that from reading the initial study.
The obvious question is: Who gets to define my or your "information needs"? The answer begins with two universities commissioned by the FCC to conduct the study: the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. Both associated with a liberal political philosophy.
The reasoning behind this proposed newsroom intrusion is that certain categories of the public ("underserved" consumers in multiple "media ecologies" in the bureaucratese of the study) may not be getting enough "balance" in its news diet.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), says the FCC "must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to meeting the needs of those in varied and vibrant communities of our nation -- be they native born, immigrant, disabled, non-English speaking, low-income, or other." But not, apparently, political conservatives, regular churchgoers, or patriotic Americans who believe their beliefs are "underserved" by most journalists. Seemingly, no one at the FCC cares overmuch if this particular "constituency" is underserved.
That there has been little more than a low decibel outcry from mainstream media about the FCC study is instructive. It is difficult to imagine Ms. Clyburn and her minions storming into network newsrooms, demanding to know how many conservatives are reporting the news. I once asked Lesley Stahl of CBS News if she could name a single conservative colleague. She could not. Maybe those concerned with our supposed news malnutrition can start at CBS.
This "study" -- and possibly its revised edition -- is a form of intimidation designed to target not the broadcast networks (which is why they seem unconcerned), or even mainstream newspapers. "Fox News executives feared they were the ultimate target of this exercise, and who can blame them for this suspicion?" writes RealClearPolitics.com. "From the beginning of the Obama presidency, White House communications officials and Obama political advisers have leveled attacks on Fox, even going so far as to proclaim that it is not 'a legitimate' news organization." Is it so far-fetched to think that the FCC would not try to monitor conservative news outlets?
There is a reason America's Founders selected only one profession -- the press -- for special protection in the Bill of Rights. As expressed by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Jay in 1786: "Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it."
Politicians throughout American history, including Jefferson, have been targets of press criticism, sometimes unfairly, even inaccurately, but still the press has remained free, or was allowed to regain its freedom after wartime censorship.
The organization Reporters Without Borders recently ranked the United States 46th in the world when it comes to press freedom, just one spot ahead of Haiti. Why the low ranking? The Atlantic.com explains, "...the heritage of the 1776 constitution was shaken to its foundation during George W. Bush's two terms as president by the way journalists were harassed and even imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources or surrender their files to federal judicial officials. There has been little improvement in practice under Barack Obama. ... No fewer than eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush's two terms."
If the FCC moves forward with even a revised agenda that is intrusive and unconstitutional, that ranking is likely to decline even further.
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Posted by JR at 1:42 AM