I’ve been tracking the childcare unionization debate for about an hour. First, it’s important to summarize what’s happened thus far. First, Rep. Kresha submitted an A-39 amendment, requiring a size 14 font. Rep. Nelson, DFL-AFSCME, said that the union’s literature met that standard so the amendment was frivolous. Rep. Nelson then urged a red vote. After a long round of questioning from Rep. Kresha, Rep. Franson and Rep. Peppin.
Rep. Nelson’s standard line was that this was covered by BMS regulations and that “the BMS has been doing this for 40 years and they’ve been doing a fine job.”
Later, Rep. Peppin returned from talking with child care providers outside the House floor. She held up a card that didn’t meet the standard Rep. Nelson said it would meet.
Finally, Rep. Sarah Anderson asked if any audits had been done on the elections. When Rep. Nelson said he wasn’t sure if the BMS had audited these elections, Rep. Anderson then asked how Rep. Nelson knew that they’d been doing a fine job. Rep. Nelson didn’t have an answer for Rep. Anderson’s question.
3:35 — Rep. Peppin: “There’s nothing in the BMS (Bureau of Mediation Services) rules that address font size.” She then asks why Rep. Nelson won’t agree to the amendment.
3:38 — Rep. Franson offers an A-78 amendment. Rep. Franson says that SF778 disenfranchises child care providers if they don’t care for CCAP children.
3:45 — DFL votes to disenfranchise potential childcare voters.
4:30 — Rep. Sarah Anderson just finished giving a stirring speech in which she said Rep. Nelson was “rigging the election to get the result you want.”
This article is fantastic news for Minnesotans:
DFL legislative leaders say plans to raise the gas tax for road projects and a metrowide sales tax for transit projects are dead for the year. “I would say they’re probably both dead,” said DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk.
Senate leaders have been pushing to increase the gas tax to pay for additional road and bridge projects. But historically high gas prices and opposition from Governor Dayton has proved too big of an obstacle.
There’s still next year but that’ll be a tricky subject. Will the DFL want to raise more taxes heading into an election year? Speaker Thissen’s statement is interesting:
DFL House Speaker Paul Thissen suggested there was discomfort in raising gas and sales taxes at a time when they’re also raising other taxes to balance the budget and spend more on schools.
That’s an interesting statement considering the fact that the DFL insists that they’re only taxing the rich. If the DFL Tax Bill is only taxing the rich, a gas tax increase wouldn’t be an additional tax on the middle class. Likewise, the metro-wide sales tax wouldn’t be a major addiotional tax.
The bad news is that Gov. Dayton, Speaker Thissen and Senate Majority Leader Bakk have agreed to a new Tax Bill:
Although a new fourth-tier income tax rate on the state’s highest earners has been part of the mix since the start of budget negotiations, it has been unclear until tonight what that rate would be, 9.85 percent. That is higher than the House’s original position of 8.84 percent and lower than the Senate’s proposal of 10.7 percent. The 2 percent surcharge on those taxpayers to pay off the money the state owes the schools has been dropped. Gov. Mark Dayton said that money will be allocated this biennium toward a payment, and he expects to have the debt paid off during the next biennium.
While new taxes on alcohol have been dropped from the bill, cigarette smokers are likely to pay about $1.60 a pack more, a House position. Additionally, smokers could be subject to new taxes announced today to fill any funding shortfall to pay the state’s share of the stadium for the Minnesota Vikings.
Right now, 19% of cigarettes sold to smokers come from the black market, the internet, other states or gaming casinos. When this cigarette tax increase goes into effect, 30% of cigarettes will be sold through the black market, the internet, other states or gaming casinos. Meanwhile, convenience stores will lose customers, which will result in smaller profits and fewer jobs.
Simply put, this cigarette tax will shrink cigarette tax revenue to the state because people will change their buying habits.
Further, the income tax increases will be stifling. In addition to the higher tax rate, small businesses will get hit with fewer deductions and a sales tax increase will be levied on warehouses, electronic repairs and telecommunications.
Finally and most importantly, the DFL’s tax increase and their budget won’t strengthen Minnesota’s economy because it only focuses on the middle class. This budget hurts businesses. You can’t be create jobs if you hate the employers. It’s that simple.
Peggy Noonan’s article about the IRS scandal is her best writing in some time. She nails it when she talks about how the IRS became a political instrument in the Obama administration’s hands:
The Journal’s Kim Strassel reported an Idaho businessman named Frank VanderSloot, who’d donated more than a million dollars to groups supporting Mitt Romney. He found himself last June, for the first time in 30 years, the target of IRS auditors. His wife and his business were also soon audited. Hal Scherz, a Georgia physician, also came to the government’s attention. He told ABC News: “It is odd that nothing changed on my tax return and I was never audited until I publicly criticized ObamaCare.” Franklin Graham, son of Billy, told Politico he believes his father was targeted. A conservative Catholic academic who has written for these pages faced questions about her meager freelance writing income. Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they’re afraid of saying they were audited.
All of these IRS actions took place in the years leading up to the 2012 election. They constitute the use of governmental power to intrude on the privacy and shackle the political freedom of American citizens. The purpose, obviously, was to overwhelm and intimidate—to kill the opposition, question by question and audit by audit.
It is not even remotely possible that all this was an accident, a mistake. Again, only conservative groups were targeted, not liberal. It is not even remotely possible that only one IRS office was involved. Lois Lerner, who oversees tax-exempt groups for the IRS, was the person who finally acknowledged, under pressure of a looming investigative report, some of what the IRS was doing. She told reporters the actions were the work of “frontline people” in Cincinnati. But other offices were involved, including Washington. It is not even remotely possible the actions were the work of just a few agents. This was more systemic. It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party’s foes. It is not remotely possible nobody in the IRS knew what was going on until very recently. The Washington Post reported efforts to target the conservative groups reached the highest levels of the agency by May 2012—far earlier than the agency had acknowledged. Reuters reported high-level IRS officials, including its chief counsel, knew in August 2011 about the targeting.
President Obama’s high-profile ‘announcement’ that Jack Lew had asked for and accepted the resignation for the acting IRS commissioner was insulting. He’s leaving in 2 weeks anyway.
There’s too many instances of the IRS going after Republicans to ignore. There’ve been too many times where Republicans were targeted by multiple offices of the IRS to think this is the work of 2 rogue agents in Cincinnati. I wrote here about Michele Bachmann’s explanation of how the IRS bureaucracy works. She said it was apparent a week ago that the official White House statement was fiction.
The president speaks in the passive voice. He attempts to act out indignation, but he always seems indignant at only one thing: that he’s being questioned at all. That he has to address this. That fate put it on his plate.
This fits his pattern. When Jeremiah Wright first became news, Sen. Obama said that he couldn’t criticize his rants. Then Wright criticized Obama. Wright got shoved under the proverbial bus in a New York minute.
That’s the pattern. After 5 years of watching the Tyrant From Chicago, we shouldn’t be surprised that he’d use the IRS as a weapon against his political enemies.
When Mark Dayton ran for governor in 2010, he criticized Tom Horner’s cigarette tax increase proposal. He constantly talked about the need for making Minnesota’s tax system more progressive. Apparently, Gov. Dayton doesn’t have the same priorities as then-Candidate Dayton:
Dayton is now backing a cigarette tax increase from $1.23 per pack now to $2.52, more than he initially proposed. The money from the stocking tax would be diverted to a stadium reserve fund. Smoking will not be allowed at the new Vikings stadium, due to open in time for the 2016 season.
Earlier this year, Dayton proposed a cigarette tax hike of 94 cents a pack. In now backing a $1.29 per pack hike, he’s moving even further from his previous opposition to cigarette tax increases of any kind. When running for governor in 2010, he called cigarette tax hikes “money out of the pockets of working people and poorer people.”
Candidate Dayton was right. Sin taxes are regressive. The devil is in the details but I’m skeptical of this proposal being the solution to the Vikings stadium mess. This post highlights the fact that past cigarette tax increases produce revenue shortfalls. How will that solve the Vikings stadium problem?
Further, this literally means that Gov. Dayton is building a stadium for billionaires on the backs of the middle class and working poor. If it isn’t bad enough to have the middle class pay for a billionaire’s football stadium, which it is, if shrinking revenues isn’t bad enough, then here’s another thing that makes this terrible: This cigarette tax increase will increase black market sales of cigarettes while eliminating customers for convenience stores.
Forget about this not being a perfect solution to a big problem. Forget about this being a less-than-perfect solution to the Vikings stadium problem. This isn’t a solution to the Vikings stadium problem. What’s worst is that it doesn’t solve that problem while creating a problem for small businesses.
That’s the definition of terrible policymaking.
Wednesday night, Michele Bachmann was interviewed by Greta van Susteren about the IRS scandal. What she said is quite pertinent to the scandal:
Here’s the first exchange between Greta and Michele:
GRETA: And, of course, we’re all chewing on the news that Bret Baier sent me that he was at the end of his term at the end of the month and President Obama making the announcement that he’d resigned just a month early.
BACHMANN: Well, he was the perfect scapegoat. He was exiting the stage anyway and so they might as well make it look like they’re chopping his head off on the way out because it wasn’t going to happen anyway.
By the time Jay Carney gives the daily press briefing, people will be criticizing President Obama for attempting to pull a fast one on people. This scandal will hurt the administration because the IRS has a history of intimidating people and because of the fear IRS audits have caused.
Later in the interview, Ms. Bachmann talked about a major TEA Party press conference:
BACHMANN: This is a major press conference where all of the major TEA Party organizations from across the United States are coming together. We are having a major press conference at the Capital. Joining us will be Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Mike Lee. There’ll be many members of the House of Representatives. But it’s to give a voice to the TEA Party because they are livid as you can imagine and these leaders want to react and tell their story publicly.
People have asked where the TEA Party has been. Frankly, they’ve been hiding after the left successfully vilified them. Rest assured, though, that they’ll be fired up after they’ve been targeted by the IRS. Rest assured, people will sympathize with them because people hate and fear the IRS.
Later, Rep. Bachmann dispatched with the notion that a couple agents went rogue:
GRETA: So I’m curious with the IRS, doing this, what is the usual time period for people to get their tax exempt status from the IRS?
BACHMANN: Well, within a reasonable amount of time. Certainly within 2 years. It certainly doesn’t take the IRS to do it. But I knew this was a phony story last Friday, when the story came out because when I was a federal tax attorney and did this work, we had very strict jurisdictional limits within the IRS because we were handling people’s tax data. We had to act within that tax zone. We had very strict procedures where we check a lot of boxes. Our supervisors up the food chain check them. It’s impossible for them to go rogue.
In short, President Obama and his handlers are attempting to sell a BS story to the American people. The thing that’s going to trip them up are little details like this. If people “up the food chain” are checking these applications off, then this must be a cultural systemic problem, not a couple rogue agents acting irresponsibly. If you read the type of intrusive questions that the IRS asked some conservative applicants, you’ll realize that it’s ideological and possibly systemic.
Last night on Red Eye, Greg Gutfeld and John Bolton got into talking about what’s wrong with government. Here’s their brief exchange that highlights their frustrations:
GUTFELD: This title — senior technical advisor to acting tax exempt and government entities division commissioner — is that title what’s wrong with government?
BOLTON: How about the administrative assistant to the assistant administrator of administration
GUTFELD: That’s a real title.
I know that Red Eye is mostly about sarcastic humor and that they don’t take themselves seriously but they’ve hit on something here. Governments that have employees with titles like these are too big by orders of magnitude. It’s impossible to manage something that size. Further, I’m wondering what these people’s salaries are. How many other people are employed by the federal government with equally appalling titles? If we eliminated these positions, would anyone notice? This goes back to Sen. Coburn’s Sequester This Youtube videos. I’m betting that Mssrs. Gutfeld and Bolton would agree with this video:
How much money is pissed away on employees with titles like the administrative assistant to the assistant administrator of administration or the senior technical advisor to the acting tax exempt and government entities division commissioner? I’ve written tons of articles about how bloated the federal government is. This article was the first I wrote about Sen. Coburn’s Sequester This series. This article highlights more of the federal government’s spending stupidity.
Thanks to Ambassador Bolton and Greg Gutfeld, we now have something concrete to grasp in terms of the federal government’s spending stupidity.
When Sen. Boxer talks, I start looking for my waders because the BS is about to fly. This op-ed is proof that the BS flies when Sen. Boxer speaks:
The facts are clear: The day after the attack, President Obama appeared in the White House Rose Garden and called the events in Benghazi an “act of terror.” And within eight days of the attack, Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and said that the “attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi” is “proof” that “acts of terror and violence continue to threaten our citizens and our interests around the world.”
It’s true that Matthew Olsen said that during the hearing. It’s equally true that he said it in response to a question. It’s equally true that Olsen got chewed out for admitting that in committee. Most importantly, President Obama repeatedly talked about an offensive video being the thing that triggered the terrorists’ attack. President Obama either referred to the offensive video or said it was too early to say anything, that his administration was still investigating.
The administration sought to relay the best information it had at the time. When Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on Face the Nation, sharing information that was prepared and signed off on by multiple government agencies, she made clear that the information was preliminary and warned that “we’ll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions.”
That’s a bald-faced lie. This administration, specifically Victoria Nuland, insisted that most of the CIA’s initial intelligence report be deleted because she worried that “members of Congress would use the talking points to criticize the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warnings.’”
Furthermore, Gregory Hicks testified that there was never a mention of a protest by Christopher Stevens or any other diplomats in Benghazi. Finally, the CIA, the US diplomats and the Libyan president all knew within hours that this was a terrorist attack. The intelligence didn’t “evolve.” The only thing that evolved is the Obama administration’s story.
As a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I well remember Secretary Clinton’s testimony following the Benghazi attack. She took responsibility and pledged to do everything in her power to put corrective measures in place. And she didn’t gloss over the profound pain and suffering this tragedy caused for the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
Pat Smith, the mother of slain diplomat Sean Smith, said Sec. Clinton talked to her and promised to stay in touch. Last week, Pat Smith said that Hillary never called her after the ceremony on Sept. 14. Hillary’s faux empathy apparently only lasted a couple hours.
Finally, Sen. Boxer glosses over the fact that Hillary’s State Department turned down Ambassador Stevens’ request for more security. In fact, the State Department cut the security team instead.
President Obama and his apologists have insisted that the changes in the CIA’s intelligence community’s report on the Benghazi terrorist attack were the result of bureaucratic infighting. We’ve been told that that’s typical. This morning, Jim Geraghty wrote this in his morning e-letter:
If there was evidence that everyone within the State Department, military, and White House were doing everything they could to rescue our guys on that awful night, we would have heard about it long ago. If there was a good reason for the “talking points” to get edited down from a false premise (a demonstration) but at least serious information (previous CIA warnings about terrorist activity) to false pabulum, we would have heard it by now; the latest lame excuse is that the 14 edits merely reflect “bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and State.”
It’s time to return to Realityville, people. Bureaucratic infighting is typical when people are putting a plan together or figuring out a long-term strategy. Bureaucratic infighting isn’t supposed to happen when people are trying to determine the truth about events.
Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to beef us security for diplomats. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when deciding whether to attempt a rescue of diplomats during a terrorist attack. Bureaucratic infighting might happen when people try to determine the proper response to repeated terrorist attacks on foreign missions.
Once the attacks have happened, however, the infighting stops. To determine the truth, the experts on the ground must be talked to. At that point, the only exercise left is determining whether the CIA’s report was accurate. If it was, then their report should be given to the proper people.
The BS that this administration has been spreading since the caskets returned to the United States has been insulting. It’s time this administration puts to rest their ‘the video made them do it’ storyline.
Finally, it’s time to utterly discredit James Clapper’s statement that he felt sorry for Susan Rice for telling the truth. Nothing she said on those Sunday morning talk shows was the truth. Clapper’s insistence that the talking points are accurate indicates that he’s a political appointee, not an intelligence officer.
Last week, Benghazi erupted when Gregory Hicks testified that a) Hillary Clinton called him during the terrorist attack and b) he told her that they were in the midst of a terrorist attack. Later that week, the IRS admitted that they had targeted TEA Party organizations in an investigation. This afternoon, this headline will rock the White House to its core:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.
The records obtained by the Justice Department listed incoming and outgoing calls, and the duration of each call, for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, general AP office numbers in New York, Washington and Hartford, CT, and the main number for AP reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery, according to attorneys for the AP.
In all, the government seized those records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012. The exact number of journalists who used the phone lines during that period is unknown but more than 100 journalists work in the offices whose phone records were targeted on a wide array of stories about government and other matters.
Benghazi is about this administration’s decision not to protect its diplomats. The IRS scandal is about this administration’s use of the IRS’ investigative authority to target political opponents. This AP scandal is about having a chilling effect on the gathering of news.
If a government knows who the AP or any other media organization is talking to, that’s certain to have a chilling effect on people who might otherwise become whistleblowers. This is a good summarization:
In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said the government sought and obtained information far beyond anything that could be justified by any specific investigation. He demanded the return of the phone records and destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.
That’s chilling. This is worse:
The government would not say why it sought the records. U.S. officials have previously said in public testimony that the U.S. attorney in Washington is conducting a criminal investigation into who may have leaked information contained in a May 7, 2012, AP story about a foiled terror plot. The story disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen that stopped an al-Qa’ida plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate a bomb on an airplane bound for the United States.
This isn’t a conspiracy theory. An integral part of a conspiracy theory is a theory. It stops being a conspiracy when facts and proof are added into the equation.
Apparently, when it comes to Obama administration scandals, when it rains, it pours.
In a stunning statement this morning, President Obama insisted that the Benghazi investigation is much ado about nothing:
“And suddenly three days ago this gets spun up as if there’s something new to the story,” Obama said in response to a question about Benghazi. “There’s no there there.”
The president continued, “Keep in mind, by the way, these so-called talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice, five, six days after the event occurred, pretty much matched the assessments that I was receiving at that time in my presidential daily briefing.”
There’s plenty that’s new here. Prior to Wednesday, I didn’t know that Hillary Clinton talked with Gregory Hicks while the Benghazi attacks were happening. Prior to Hicks’ testimony, I didn’t know that Hicks told Hillary that there was an attack going on.
In addition to new information from the testimony, there’s also tons of new questions to get answers to. First, who eliminated the FEST option? Next, why was the FEST option eliminated? Third, who gave the orders to Lt. Col. Gibson to not rescue Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods? Fourth, why was this order given? Fifth, why did the State Department’s objections to the CIA’s report take precedence over the truth? After all, the CIA got it right the first time. Sixth, why did Beth Jones send out an email calling the Benghazi attack a terrorist attack? Seventh, why was the truth the final casualty of the terrorists’ attack?
As for President Obama saying that the “talking points that were prepared for Susan Rice” “pretty much the assessments” he was receiving during his PDBs, that’s BS. It’s insulting. The CIA’s initial report talked about a terrorist attack, with members of Ansar al-Shariah participating in the attack. The CIA’s initial report also talked multiple warnings from the CIA of mounting terrorist threats to foreign interests in Benghazi. That was deleted from the State Department’s talking points. Make no mistake, either, about the talking points. What started as a CIA intelligence report was eventually turned into a State Department CYA talking points memo.