Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

220px-911report_cover_HIGHRES

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

In light of the recently observed 13th anniversary of the events on 9/11/01, I read an article this week that caught my eye.  According to reports, there is a 28 page section of the 9/11 Commission report that has never been released publicly and remains secret to this day.  Indeed, Congressmen must go through numerous security reviews before they can read the document in a secure room in Washington, D.C.

What kind of secret and clandestine information can be found in such a guarded document?  Since it is top-secret, we can only go by the reviews of people who have read the report.  What is found in that report may surprise you in light of its level of secrecy. (more…)

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260px-capitol_building_full_viewOn Monday, the Senate will hold a hearing in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on entering a new state into the Union: New Columbia. I was asked if I could testify on S. 132 since I have written a long academic publication on the status of the District of Columbia and testified at the prior hearings on allowing for voting representation of District residents. See Jonathan Turley, Too Clever By Half: The Partial Representation of the District of Columbia in the House of Representatives, 76 George Washington University Law Review 305-374 (2008). Unfortunately, the hearing was moved to the afternoon on Monday, which made it impossible because I have to be in Newport News on Monday for a long-planned debate with John Yoo on presidential powers. Accordingly, I had to reluctantly decline. I have great respect and sympathy for those trying to secure a vote for the District residents. I have previously suggested different means to accomplish that end. However, before Congress embraces the path to statehood, it should give the original concerns of the Framers (and some new ones) full consideration.

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President_Barack_Obama220px-B-2_spirit_bombingPresident Obama is again asserting his right to act unilaterally and without congressional approval in going to war. In what has become a mantra for this Administration, Obama reportedly told members of Congress that he does not need congressional approval to unleash a comprehensive military campaign against the Islamic State. The President informed a few members at a dinner — a striking image of how low congressional authority has become in our tripartite system of government.

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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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