Obama’s lies have led to global mistrust

By Michael Goodwin – New York Post

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As a young reporter, I once expressed shock at how routinely and reflexively government officials lied to the press. A savvy newspaper vet who overheard me just smiled and told me not to take it personally.

“Why shouldn’t they lie to you?” the late, great Murray Kempton asked. “They lie to themselves all the time.”

His observation came back to me as I read about President Obama’s trip to Asia. He’s going, the White House says, to tell our allies face to face that America is committed more than ever to their security and prosperity.

In ordinary times, the trip and the promise would mean a great deal to the Japanese, South Koreans and Filipinos nervous about trade and China’s aggressive military moves. But these are not ordinary times and Barack Obama is no ordinary president.

Consider that it’s been three years since Obama first declared a “pivot” to Asia as part of a strategic rebalancing of American interests, but the promise proved hollow. Asia is not alone in feeling misled.

Ask the Syrians about Obama’s promise to act if their government crossed his “red line” and used chemical weapons. Or ask Israelis, Saudis, Jordanians and others in the Mideast about Obama’s pledge that America would never allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. Or ask Ukrainians about his pledge that we will stand with them as they fight for democracy against Vladimir Putin.

OK, the last promise wasn’t so much a lie as a sick joke. It turns out that by “help,” Obama meant we would send military rations and warm socks, but no weapons or intelligence to help Ukraine’s outgunned army.

If that were all the president had done to cause mistrust, it would be enough. But it’s not just foreigners who have been misled.

Worst of all, Obama lies to his fellow Americans. All the time.

Most infamous was his claim that, under ObamaCare, “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Not far behind was his insistence, repeated for weeks during his re-election campaign, that the terror attack on Benghazi was the spontaneous result of a protest against an anti-Muslim video.

Assorted promises to lift the economy, unite the country, get to the bottom of the IRS scandal and be transparent are so routinely violated that they hardly register as false anymore.

Still, the overall impression that Obama is President Pinocchio is catching up to him. A Fox News poll showed that over 60 percent of American voters think he intentionally misleads them about important matters some or most of the time.

A whopping 37 percent think he lies “most of the time,” while another 24 percent say he lies “some of the time.” Twenty percent of voters say “only now and then” and 15 percent “never.”

Abraham Lincoln, supposedly an Obama hero, warned about the corrosive effect of failing to be honest. As he famously put it, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”
That more or less sums up where we are, or, rather, where Obama is. Nearly six years in office, much of the world is united only in not trusting his word.

Even for those inclined to believe, as Murray Kempton did, that a public lie often starts with self-deceit, the impact is enormous. Although it’s possible Obama intended to stand up to Syria’s Assad, or to Iran’s mullahs, or to Putin or China, the fact that he hasn’t is all that matters.

The result is that, while the United States remains the lone superpower, we are not feared by the world’s most malevolent forces.

We are witnessing the making of a tragic history. The fact that America’s leader lacks credibility among friend and foe alike is creating peril without precedent. Absent a sudden stiffening of spine and a president whose word is his bond, the world is heading toward a catastrophe.

That’s the truth.

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Report: IRS gave awards to tax-delinquent workers

By Rachael Bade – Politico

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The Treasury’s IRS watchdog this week handed Republicans a new reason to blast the tax-collecting agency.

The IRS gave bonuses to agents who were delinquent on their taxes and misbehaving, according to a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report released Tuesday.

The news comes just a few weeks after new IRS Commissioner John Koskinen took heat from Republicans on Capitol Hill for giving bonuses to IRS agents who actually performed well.

Republican lawmakers, on a break, have been quiet so far, but that is not likely to last.

In total, the IRS forked over more than $2.8 million in bonuses to 2,800 agency employees who had “recent substantiated conduct issues resulting in disciplinary action” between Oct. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2012, the inspector general reported. Another 27,000 hours was given in bonus time off.

The bonuses included $1 million worth of performance awards handed out to about 1,100 IRS employees who had tax-compliance problems, including unpaid taxes.

The awards were given before Koskinen took the reins of the agency.

The inspector general said nothing was illegal, but the report does raise eyebrows and present some public relations problems.

“While not specifically prohibited, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially those who fail to pay federal taxes, appears to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration,” TIGTA chief J. Russell George said.

The IRS said it agreed with the report’s recommendations and said it has developed a policy linking conduct to performance awards for executives and senior-level employees.

It said it had not awarded any bonuses to executives involved in a disciplinary action.

The IRS is reviewing its procedures to determine if conduct and awards should be linked to the rest of the agency workforce, subject to talks with the Treasury Department union.

TIGTA was the watchdog that last year issued a scathing report on the agency’s handling of tea party groups seeking tax exempt status.

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Measuring the Success of Obamacare: Don’t Be Misled

By Scott W. Atlas – Real Clear Politics

Many key provisions of The Affordable Care Act were finally implemented earlier this year, and widespread dismay over the reality of an overreaching government immediately followed. Initially, the predominant focus was on the inept rollout of the Obama administration’s website, a fiasco that cost well over $500 million of American taxpayer money — more than was spent to develop Facebook and Twitter combined, more than the cost of developing Apple’s iPhone. With more than two dozen executive branch decisions to delay some of the law’s deadlines — but ignoring fixes more substantive than repairing the basic functions of its website — the Obama administration cynically pushed forward.

Intentionally or simply out of naiveté, the focus of many media outlets initially remained on low hanging fruit, the IT challenges that would undoubtedly be overcome. The message to the public was set in nearly as perfect a manner as any propaganda machine could want: Diverting attention from the destructive longer-term consequences of the law on American health care access, choice, and quality as well as its drastic damage to the economy and jobs, the depiction of Obamacare was dumbed down to simple, but solvable, ineptitude.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans personally experienced far more significant harms from the new law. They lost their existing insurance coverage, and with it they lost access to their chosen doctors and hospitals. Millions saw dramatic increases in insurance prices and higher out-of-pocket costs, with insurance premiums now higher in more than 40 of the 50 states compared to before the law.

Despite the unsettling assessment by the Congressional Budget Office that millions of Americans will become newly dependent on government subsidies and will exit from the workforce specifically because of this law, President Obama simply declared that a superficial number of insurance enrollees would be the definition of the law’s success. And once again, the media bought in.

We now see the headlines. Albeit under threat of penalties imposed by the ever-intimidating IRS and after a massive billion-dollar marketing campaign, the short-term magic number of enrollees was achieved. President Obama then claims that “the final score speaks for itself” and “the law is working,” so we should all move on.

Seriously?

Our problems from the ACA have only just begun. Excessive regulations for health insurance, such as fixing prices and profit margins while requiring bloated coverage that most people never wanted, and then minimizing the fundamental considerations of risk in pricing insurance, is a recipe for increasing premiums and reducing coverage choices. Major insurers all across the country are already declining to participate in the exchanges or limiting their offerings to plans that severely restrict choice of doctors and exclude many of America’s best hospitals. These trends are certain to worsen after the expiration of the administration’s ad hoc deadline delays.

Longer term, even if Obamacare doesn’t lead to an overt single payer system run by the government — the admitted preference of the president and leading Democrats — the future is quite predictable unless this law is drastically revised. Just as in the United Kingdom and all systems where everyone is “insured” by government-defined health insurance, we too will soon be plagued with problems unheard of in our pre-Obama system. It’s only a matter of time until we see unconscionable waits for care, overt restrictions on access to tests, drugs, and treatments, worse treatment outcomes — all proven by the data and the facts from floundering nationalized health systems, as we see reported in the news all over the world.

True to form for big government lovers, our president presses forward. We have yet another technocrat (rather than a health care expert), Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, appointed to run the Department of Health and Human Services and oversee our entire health care system.

The greatest irony of all lies in what will undoubtedly also follow the first taste of Obamacare — a full blown, two-tiered health system. No one here should doubt that those with money or power in our society will react like those in Britain, where the overwhelming majority of financially successful people avoid the NHS and use a separate, parallel private system with private insurance. And rest assured, the most vocal proponents of more government authority over health care, the very elected officials who socked it to the average American despite widespread disapproval of the policy, will manipulate and connive behind the scenes to access the best doctors, the latest innovations, the leading edge tests and treatments, for themselves and their families. As in the U.K., only the lower and middle classes in America will suffer the full consequences of ObamaCare.

This story is not speculation. It has already been written in other countries with unmitigated government control over health care. Government-controlled health care is unraveling before our eyes, if we choose to look. And paradoxically, just as countries like England — the very nation that served as our president’s model for health care — turn desperately to more privatization to solve the problems their overreaching governments created, we in America will become further divided, with even more inequality, directly due to the greatest government fiasco in generations, driven by our own elected leaders whom we, the voters, empowered.

 

 

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Billionaire Liberal Donor Gets Way on Keystone Pipeline

By Rich Lowry – Real Clear Politics

In their wisdom, our Founding Fathers created a system of checks and balances and competing influences among the president and Congress, the states and the federal government, and billionaire liberal donor Tom Steyer.

Tom Steyer isn’t Senate majority leader, or chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, or even Senate president pro tem. He’s merely the man who wants to spend $100 million on Democrats this year and who hates the Keystone pipeline.

President Barack Obama famously boasted that he has a pen and a phone that give him the power to make Washington act. Except, evidently, if Tom Steyer doesn’t want him to.

Last week, the Obama administration yet again delayed its long-delayed determination whether or not to approve the Keystone pipeline, a nondecision strategically announced not just on a Friday, but a Friday that is one of the holiest days of the year. The administration had enough self-awareness to know its latest exercise of executive inaction was nothing to be proud of.

Even in the mainstream media, almost everyone assumed the move was entirely political. The project has undergone multiple reviews beginning in 2009 and always gotten a clean bill of health. The administration cited a lawsuit in Nebraska that might affect the path of the pipeline as reason for the new delay. This is an absurd fig leaf. A fight over the pipeline in one state doesn’t affect whether the State Department — which is involved because the project crosses an international boundary — can determine whether the pipeline is in the national interest or not.

One theory is that the White House thinks the delay is good politics because it allows endangered Red State Democrats who favor the pipeline to distance themselves from the president by attacking his foot-dragging. If so, this is highly counterintuitive political strategy: We’ll do you a big favor by making another in a series of indefensible nondecisions that are unpopular in your state.

The simpler explanation is that Tom Steyer, as well as the liberal donors and climate activists allied with him, is getting his way. They were always an influential constituency in the Democratic party, but became even more so a few months ago when Steyer pledged $50 million of his own money to Democrats in the midterms, to be matched by another $50 million from other donors. In a punishing year for Democrats, this was rare good news. Why mess it up by deciding Keystone on the merits?

For all the complaints about money in politics, it is unusual that a high-profile decision seems to have such a direct connection to one big-time donor. This isn’t sneaking a small but consequential provision into a 1,000-page bill in the dead of night. It is blocking a project in broad daylight that is important to a close ally (Canada), that will instantly create thousands of construction jobs, that will send a signal to Vladimir Putin that we are serious about developing energy resources, and that will have no net effect on global warming (as the latest State Department review established).

Steyer deserves perverse credit for his success defying what would otherwise be uncontroversial public policy. Rarely does a meritless cause get so much traction. But union workers can be forgiven for not appreciating Steyer’s virtuosity. The president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America went further than any Republican in denouncing the latest delay. He called it a “gutless move,” “politics at its worst,” and “another low blow to the working men and women of our country.”

Needless to say, Steyer hasn’t received a fraction of the press coverage of the Koch brothers, whose funding of conservative groups has made them an obsession for the New York Times and other outlets. Steyer isn’t nearly as interesting — he’s just the guy with effective veto power over a major infrastructure project clearly in the national interest.

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IRS revokes group’s tax exemption over anti-Clinton statements

By Gregory Korte – USA Today

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The Internal Revenue Service has revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative-aligned charity for engaging in political activity as far back as the 2004 presidential election — including statements opposing Hillary Clinton for president.

The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, based in Manassas, Va., “has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications,” according to a written determination released by the IRS Friday.

Although the name of the group was redacted from the determination, the facts of the case match statements made by the Patrick Henry Center’s founder. A separate IRS notice confirms that the Patrick Henry Center’s tax exemption was revoked in February.

The group’s founder, Gary Aldrich, did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Aldrich, a former FBI agent, established the group after publishing a book critical of President Bill Clinton in 1996 — alleging, among other things, that First Lady Hillary Clinton decorated the White House Christmas Tree with crack pipes and condoms. The purpose of the Patrick Henry Center was to represent government whistleblowers, and its first client was Linda Tripp, the Pentagon employee whose recorded phone calls with Monica Lewinsky launched an effort to impeach Clinton.

In 2004, Aldrich wrote an article — posted on the Patrick Henry Center’s website and elsewhere — as part of the “Swift Boat” campaign against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

I’m quite certain Senator John Kerry will be a “hero” to today’s peaceniks, anarchists and any others who hate Amerika. But for the more than 50,000 Vietnam Veterans whose names appear on the Vietnam Memorial, Senator John Kerry is nothing but a skunk.
Let’s see what happens when he brings his medals to the first presidential debate. I’m willing to bet George W. Bush will have no trouble dealing with this coward.
Another piece that raised eyebrows at the IRS was a 2005 article headlined “Stop Hillary Now!” It rallied “Clinton haters” to inform voters of Hillary Clinton’s “atrocious conduct.”

Under the tax code, it’s illegal for a charity to engage in electoral politics. In its response to the IRS, the Patrick Henry Center said its statements could be interpreted differently by different people, and that many of them did not advocate voting for or against a candidate.

The center’s most recent tax return disclosed $343,503 in revenue for tax year 2012. In recent years, it’s become aligned with the Tea Party movement, contributing to at least one of the groups targeted for extra scrutiny by the IRS beginning in 2010. Also in 2010, the Patrick Henry Center merged with Liberty Central, an advocacy group headed by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese serves on the center’s board.

The IRS’s revocation means contributions to the Patrick Henry Center are no longer tax deductible.

 

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