Patterico's Pontifications


Email to Lois Lerner Refutes Absurd Claims by Robin Abcarian About the IRS Scandal

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:10 pm

So, busy as I have been, I have not yet had a chance to comment on the House Oversight Committee’s report on Lois Lerner. You’ve probably all read about it already, but if not, John Sexton has an excellent summary at Breitbart. The report alleges several ways in which Lerner appears to have misled the committee. That said, the various accusations in the report are likely to be dismissed by many as partisan, and even though I think the report is dead on, I am also quite sure nothing will come of any of it.

But here’s a fact that caught my attention — and it’s tough to get around this. From Sexton’s summary:

And there is no doubt Lerner was aware who was being scrutinized. In July 2012, Lerner was notified by email that of the 199 501(c)(4) cases which had been set aside “approximately 3/4 appear to be conservative leaning while fewer than 10 appear to be liberal/progressive leaning groups…”

Sexton is dead on. I read the email myself.

For the math-challenged among you, 3/4 of 199 is right around 150. That’s 150 conservative leaning (c)(4) groups, vs. fewer than 10 liberal/progressive groups.

I will add that, according to the email, of the 84 bucketed (c)(3) cases, over half were conservative-leaning groups whereas no others had obvious political leanings. That’s over 42 conservative (c)(3) groups vs. zero lefty groups.

Why do I bring this up? Because, remember our good friend Robin Abcarian? Yeah, she’s the one who said:

[C]onservatives went crazy after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s famous May 2013 audit found the IRS may have flagged groups with “tea party” in their names for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.

But that’s because Issa had asked the inspector general to look only at how tea party-affiliated groups were treated. He didn’t care to know, as we later found out thanks to Democrats on his committee, that the IRS was also flagging applications from liberal groups that used terms such as “progressive,” “medical marijuana” or “healthcare legislation.”

The IRS, see, was trying to prevent groups whose work is mainly political from receiving inappropriate tax-exempt status.

150 (c)(4) conservative groups vs. fewer than 10 lefty groups, Ms. Abcarian. 42 (c)(3) conservative groups vs. zero lefty groups. And that’s from an internal email. Not from the dreaded inspector general. It had nothing to do with Issa’s request. See page 45 of the appendix to the report linked above to read the email.

Go ahead, Robin Abcarian. Ignore this passage in the report. Ignore this post. Confirm our impression of you as a haughty Big Media elitist who doesn’t need to worry about pesky things like facts.

Go ahead.

World Debt, Now $100 Trillion, Increased $30 Trillion in the Last FIve Years

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:20 pm

David Howden, blogging at the Mises Institute, is all upset over the global debt of . . . $100 trillion:

Global debt now exceeds $100 trillion, according to the Bank of International Settlements. Over the past five years, debt has increased by about $30 trillion. What’s more, governments have been the largest issuers.

Low interest rates have attracted governments to the appeal of using debt to fund public projects today. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. At some point this debt is going to become due. At best all these governments have done is shifted expenditure forward by taking from future generations and giving to the present ones.

The magnitude of the indebtedness is what is striking. The $30 trillion of new debt issued over the past five years represents the full output of the American economy for two years. Even ignoring interest payments (which even at low interest rates are fairly hefty on $30 trillion of principal), this is a phenomenal obligation to have to pay back.

. . . .

Over the last five years the press has been full of discussions of austerity. Allegedly, governments have scrimped and saved to get by. Now we find out that we are collectively $30 trillion more in the hole compared to where we were when the recession began? If this is austerity, I’d hate to see the alternative.

(H/t Tom Woods on the Peter Schiff show.)

The gloom and doom crowd will note that a global debt of $100 trillion is $14,000 for every man, woman, and child in the world — including countless millions of Africans who live on less than two bucks a day, for whom $14,000 represents the sum they could live on for 30 years. The gloom and doom crowd thinks such sums cannot be repaid, and never will be repaid.

I guess the gloom and doom crowd never heard of this:

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 8.06.21 PM

I have one of these at the office. Problem solved, pessimists.

Welcome Guest Poster Dana! Topic: “College Kids Win, Administration Loses”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

Commenter “Dana” is a long-time reader of this blog and often sends valuable tips. Almost half the content in recent weeks has been based on her tips (and another half is based on tips from another reader). I recently offered Dana the opportunity to provide content on this blog for no renumeration whatsoever, and for some reason she accepted. We didn’t have time to work it out where she could post using her own account, which is fine, because I wanted to write an introduction to her post anyway. Please welcome her to the blog. What follows is Dana’s post:

[Guest post by Dana]

The last we checked in with those crazy kids at Dartmouth, they were threatening to wreak some havoc if their demands were not met by the administration. Their set deadline was March 24th, 2014, and demands included, but were not limited to: Greater diversity in the faculty and post-doctoral program as well as an increase in enrollment for Black, Latino, and Native American students to 10 percent of the student population each. All students be required to take classes on “social justice” and “marginalization,” that gender-neutral housing be available for all students, and that restrictions on the use of the term “illegal immigrants” be imposed.”

They indicated if the administration did not respond accordingly, those who believe in freedom will be forced to physical action.

Well, not surprisingly, the threat worked and Dartmouth’s administration rolled over. In a statement posted on the campus website, President Philip J. Hanlon and Interim Provost Martin Wybourne reassured students:

We hear your concerns about ensuring that Dartmouth is not only diverse in numbers, but also a place where all community members thrive. And we hear your desire to share your ideas with us and to engage with us on these and other important issues. We couldn’t agree with you more. Diversity is one of the cornerstones of our academic community and, like you, we want Dartmouth to be a campus where our students gain the confidence and skills to work and lead in a global society.

These are a few of the concessions:

• More than $30 million will be invested in the Society of Fellows program to bring recent post-doctorates to campus. Post-doctoral programs have been an effective tool for recruiting diverse faculty from other campuses.

• Dartmouth will provide $1 million in recurring funds to support the cost of hiring faculty who bring diverse perspectives to campus.

The statement concludes:

Our vision for Dartmouth is limited only by the energy and engagement we invest in it. Now is the time to make your investment by actively participating in campus discourse that encourages a continuous and healthy exchange of ideas.

Because nothing says actively participating in healthy discourse and encouraging a continuous and healthy exchange of ideas quite like threatening violence.

— Dana

WSJ: Obama Administration Quietly Extends Individual Mandate for Two Years

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

The Wall Street Journal says that new rules quietly announced by the Obama administration last week amount to an extension of the individual mandate until 2016:

ObamaCare’s implementers continue to roam the battlefield and shoot their own wounded, and the latest casualty is the core of the Affordable Care Act—the individual mandate. To wit, last week the Administration quietly excused millions of people from the requirement to purchase health insurance or else pay a tax penalty.

This latest political reconstruction has received zero media notice, and the Health and Human Services Department didn’t think the details were worth discussing in a conference call, press materials or fact sheet. Instead, the mandate suspension was buried in an unrelated rule that was meant to preserve some health plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare benefit and redistribution mandates. Our sources only noticed the change this week.

That seven-page technical bulletin includes a paragraph and footnote that casually mention that a rule in a separate December 2013 bulletin would be extended for two more years, until 2016. Lo and behold, it turns out this second rule, which was supposed to last for only a year, allows Americans whose coverage was cancelled to opt out of the mandate altogether.

In 2013, HHS decided that ObamaCare’s wave of policy terminations qualified as a “hardship” that entitled people to a special type of coverage designed for people under age 30 or a mandate exemption. HHS originally defined and reserved hardship exemptions for the truly down and out such as battered women, the evicted and bankrupts.

But amid the post-rollout political backlash, last week the agency created a new category: Now all you need to do is fill out a form attesting that your plan was cancelled and that you “believe that the plan options available in the [ObamaCare] Marketplace in your area are more expensive than your cancelled health insurance policy” or “you consider other available policies unaffordable.”

I’m glad that someone is finally putting some meat on this bone, although “zero” media notice is a slightly inaccurate rhetorical flourish. The truth is that it has been mentioned, but not with any of the fanfare or controversy that one would think would accompany such a sweeping change. It’s almost as if Obama wanted it kept quiet, and the media kept it quiet — but told you about it, in asides, just like he would want.

I noticed noise on Twitter last week about an extension of the individual mandate until 2016, and indeed I quoted this passage from a New York Times editorial:

The Obama administration announced a new policy on Wednesday that will allow many people to renew their existing insurance policies for two more years even though the policies don’t provide the comprehensive coverage and consumer protections required by the Affordable Care Act. The move is designed to provide political cover for Democratic senators facing tough re-election campaigns in Republican-leaning states where the president is especially unpopular.

I meant to muse on the meaning of that passage in my post, but failed in a hurry to get out the door. I kept an eye on media coverage, and I when I saw no major stories about it, I figured it couldn’t be that big a deal.

Because it’s not like Obama could essentially repeal the individual mandate on his own for two years and not have the media talk about it. Right?

Well, of course, it appears that’s exactly what happened. And now, what are Republicans going to do? Scream about it, when they have been calling for exactly that? Stand on constitutional principle, and say that any such change must happen with legislative approval, when that stand would be unpopular?

You already know the answer to that question.

And, understand: it’s not like Obama cares that individual citizens aren’t going to be paying for all these subsidies by contributing a penalty. It doesn’t matter to him if young people are buying unneeded policies to ease the burden on insurance companies saddled with pre-existing conditions.

Because ultimately, he thinks the government should be paying for all this. So the idea is: give out the goodies now, and delay (perhaps forever) the pain that pays for the goodies. What’s a few more billion dollars in deficits? And if anyone notices, you can always pretend that a tax hike on the rich would take care of everything.

And so, it’s not surprising none of this made the news. As power continues to become more centralized in Washington instead of the states, that power continues to be centralized in the hands of a single man, and the country continues apace on its headlong rush towards financial collapse.

In other words, business as usual. Why would any of that merit a front-page story?

P.S. You’re going to see me talking a lot more about secession on this blog: about saving the parts of the country that can be saved. It’s a little ironic, since I’m in a part that couldn’t be saved. But if we could get a groundswell going, I can see moving. But that’s another post — or several.

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