Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

220px-US-DeptOfHHS-Logo.svgThe latest figures are in on the seemingly bottomless hole that is healthcare.gov, the troubled federal insurance marketplace web site. By any measure, the Obama Administration was grossly negligent in the creation of the system, which ultimately failed on its rollout despite numerous warnings of substandard work, overruns, and major technical problems. It appears that we are not done with bill for the program. A new Inspector General report stated that the Obama Administration issued sixty contracts from 2009 to 2014 to build Healthcare.gov, which had already cost roughly a half a billion dollars by February 2014. However, the Administration has signed new contracts that obligate the taxpayer to cover an addition $300 million, and the estimated value of the sixty contracts totals $1.7 billion. Despite numerous accounts and reports on the mismanagement of this program, there appears to be little real effort to hold anyone accountable as we continue to pour hundreds of millions into this system. The contracts include money to CGI Federal, the well-connected company that was partially response for the disaster in October as well as other controversies in large contracts.

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By Charlton Stanley, weekend writer

FAA logoAlmost everyone likes model airplanes. Kids and adults have been building model flying machines for centuries. In fact, the Wright brothers experimented with model helicopters as well as fixed wing airplanes. I built my first model when I was nine years old. It was a Guillow’s kit of a Grumman TBF Avenger, the same plane flown by Lt. George H. W. Bush during WW-2. It is amazing to me the same kit is still in production, although a bit more pricey than when my dad bought mine.

When Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, they carved out an exemption for model airplanes and aeromodeling in general. As passed by Congress, §336 prohibits the FAA from promulgating any new rule or regulation regarding model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft …” The law does specify that certain requirements must be met for an aircraft to qualify as a model airplane. However, that did not deter the FAA in its quest to amass more power over anything that can get off the ground higher than the Administrator can jump. After all, the space between the trees in your backyard, the local park, or your model flying club IS airspace, and they see their job as controlling airspace, dammit! All of it.

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300px-Microsoft_building_17_front_door

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Weekend Contributor

We have read in recent weeks and months about the continued movement of corporate profits by US corporations to their overseas subsidiaries in order to avoid paying taxes here on those profits.  Walgreens almost went that route recently but they decided to not do what is called an “inversion” to avoid taxes.  At least for now.

You may be wondering what the picture is all about.  The building in the attached photo is one of the main buildings on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington.  And Microsoft has also been busy working on their taxes.

Microsoft, made news recently, by admitting that they have stashed $92 Billion dollars overseas in an attempt to avoid paying $29 Billions in taxes!  While Microsoft has not officially “inverted” its profits, they have done the next best thing.

Many large US corporations have complained that they have to move profits overseas because they cannot be competitive in the world market without a lower tax base.  Just how true is that claim? (more…)

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President_Barack_Obama305px-USA_PFC_BoweBergdahl_ACU_CroppedThe Government Accountability Office has rendered a decision on the actions of the Obama Administration in swapping five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl earlier this year. At the time on CNN and other forums, I noted that President Obama had again openly violated federal law which requires at least 30 days of advance notice in such a change. The GAO agreed and found that the Administration clearly violated federal law. I recently testified (here and here and here and here) and wrote a column on President Obama’s increasing circumvention of Congress in negating or suspending U.S. laws. As in past cases, defenders of the President insist that any violation was done for the best of reasons, but that is a dangerous rationalization for any violation of law. Presidents always insist that they are acting with the best of motivations when they violate laws. We remain a nation of laws and presidents do not have the option of not complying when the laws are inconvenient or counterproductive. Notably, it was not just one law that President Obama violated in taking this unilateral action.

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225px-alberto_gonzales_-_official_doj_photographPresident_Barack_ObamaFirst there is the record low polls of his popularity. Then there is the growing independent view that there is no chance that the Democrats can retake the House and that the GOP could not only gain seats in the House but retake the Senate. However, nothing likely prepared President Barack Obama for this. His controversial use of unilateral authority has been defended by . . . former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. You may recall Gonzales who was so vilified for his politicalization of the Justice Department and blind support of executive power that he had a difficult time even landing a job. The Gonzales defense is part of a bizarre new world of Democratic politics. Democratic members of Congress recently lined up to quote Associate Justice Antonin Scalia for his restrictive views on standing — a view that has been used to bar public interest organizations in environmental and civil liberties cases. The Obama Administration now routinely pitches appeals to the four most conservative members of the Supreme Court on presidential powers and the most vocal supporters of the President’s use of virtually unchecked power is coming from former Bush officials. Such is the inversive world in which we live. The Democrats have largely abandoned traditional values tied to civil liberties, war powers, privacy, and other core issues in favor of supporting Obama. The result is that you find yourself left with Alberto Gonzales as your pro bono counsel.

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225px-Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_cropPresident_Barack_ObamaHillary Clinton seems to have found a way to get people from moving beyond her disastrous “dead broke” claims, but not in a way that is likely to please those voters tired of wars and military interventions. Clinton used an interview this week to criticize the “failure” of President Obama’s policies in Syria and to insist that she wanted a more interventionist military approach. President Obama was quoted responding to such criticism by calling it “horseshit.” It seemed a return to the 2008 election where Clinton campaigned on her hawk credentials in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — a mistake for many Democratic and independent voters. Recently, she changed her mind and said that the Iraq War was a mistake despite her refusal to listen to a chorus of critics of the war at the time when it was a popular political move. Despite that change, Clinton is suggesting that she would have armed the Syrian rebels and acted more aggressively to stop the Islamic State.

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PrisonCellThe Congressional Research Service (CRS) has issued a report that informed Congress that it has created 439 new criminal offenses between 2008 and 2013. This staggering figure gives a glimpse into the rapid criminalization of America where there are, by some estimates, around 4,500 federal offenses alone and tens of thousands of more on the state and federal levels. Politicians continue to add crimes, which tend to be popular with voters and do not require immediate budget demands (though they add huge costs not just in enforcement but the costs of citizens themselves in being pulled into the criminal justice system).

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