Category Archives: Economy

VA Official Paid $288K In ‘Relocation Payments’ To Move 140 Miles

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DailyCaller: The director of the Philadelphia VA regional benefits office was paid $288,000 in “relocation payments” to move the 140 miles from Washington, D.C. to her new home last year.

Diana Rubens was tapped last June to take over the Philadelphia regional benefits office, which is one of many VA hospitals and benefits offices currently being investigated over benefits claims.

Rubens, who previously served as the D.C.-based deputy undersecretary for field operations, where she oversaw 57 regional offices, was brought in to help fix the embattled Philadelphia facility.

A breakdown of Rubens’ “relocation payments” was not immediately available, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but a VA spokesman said that there was nothing inappropriate with the spending.

Federal regulations allow for the reimbursement of relocation expenses including the “costs of house-hunting, moving, terminating leases, and a per-diem rate for meals and temporary housing for an employee and his or her family,” the spokesman said.

But that hefty repayment is nearly 160 percent of what Rubens earned in base pay all of last year, raising questions over what exactly that money could have gone towards. Rubens was paid more than $181,000 in 2014, according to the website FedSmith.com, which maintains a database of federal employee compensation.

“The government shouldn’t be in the business of doling out hundreds of thousands in cash to extremely well-compensated executives just to move less than three hours down the road,” Florida Rep. Jeff Miller, the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, told the Inquirer.

“For VA to pay such an outrageous amount in relocation expenses at a time when the department is continually telling Congress and taxpayers it needs more money raises questions about VA’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency and true reform.”

Rubens has been mentioned before in articles criticizing other money she’s been paid by the VA. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, in 2011, she received a bonus of more than $23,000 even though patient backlogs — one area Rubens was in charge of managing — increased by 300,000.

The Washington Examiner reported last year that Rubens received more than $97,000 in bonuses between 2007 and 2011 even though the average time to process veterans’ claims doubled to 325 days on her watch. The ratio of backlogged cases nearly doubled as well, from 37 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2013.

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See also:

Obama's War on Veterans

DCG

 

Police departments hire non-US citizens as officers

Claiming difficulty in finding people to staff their ranks, especially in remote places, police departments across America are hiring non-citizens to be police officers, including legal immigrants, those with green cards, those with work permits, and even people with just temporary visas.

global citizenship

Alan Gomez reports for USA Today, March 21, 2015:

Law enforcement agencies struggling to fill their ranks or connect with their increasingly diverse populations are turning to immigrants to fill the gap.

Most agencies in the country require officers or deputies to be U.S. citizens, but some are allowing immigrants who are legally in the country to wear the badge. From Hawaii to Vermont, agencies are allowing green-card holders and legal immigrants with work permits to join their ranks.

At a time when 25,000 non-U.S. citizens are serving in the U.S. military, some feel it’s time for more police and sheriff departments to do the same. That’s why the Nashville Police Department is joining other departments to push the state legislature to change a law that bars non-citizens from becoming law enforcement officers.

Department spokesman Don Aaron said they want immigrants who have been honorably discharged from the military to be eligible for service.

[…] Current rules vary across departments.

Some, like the Chicago and Hawaii police departments, allow any immigrant with a work authorization from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to become an officer. That means people in the country on temporary visas or are applying for green cards can join.

Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Justin Mullins said the department usually struggles to fill trooper positions in less populous corners of the state, including patrol sectors high up in the mountains. He said immigrants from Canada, the Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Mexico and Central America who are willing to live in those remote places have helped the agency fill those vacancies.

[…] Other agencies, like the Cincinnati Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, require that officers at least have a pending citizenship application on file with the federal government. And others, like the Burlington, Vt., and Boulder, Colo., police departments, require that officers be legal permanent residents, or green-card holders.

With more immigrants moving to places far from the southern border or away from traditional immigrant magnets like New York City or Miami, agency leaders say it’s important to have a more diverse police force to communicate with those immigrants and understand their culture. Bruce Bovat, deputy chief of operations in Burlington, said their immigrant officers help the agency be more “reflective of the community we serve.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said he has no problems with green-card holders becoming police officers because they’ve made a long-term commitment to the country and have undergone extensive background checks. But he worries about the security risks associated with allowing any immigrant with a work permit to become an officer, especially considering that the Obama administration has given hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants work permits.

“We’re handing over a gun and a badge to somebody whose background we don’t really know a lot about,” Krikorian said.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said any immigrant authorized to work in the U.S. has already undergone a thorough background check and will undergo even more screening in the police application process.

“The security risk is a straw man,” he said. “This is about people who have gone through criminal background checks, who are meeting the very high standards that we set as a country to stay here and who only want to serve and protect their communities.”

With an official unemployment rate currently of 5.5% but an unofficial rate that’s much higher of at least 11%, I don’t understand why police departments are finding it difficult to fill their ranks. From a March 20, 2015 article in U.S. News and World Report:

[T]here remains considerable “slack” in the labor market (see chart), meaning that an abnormally large number of people who want to work aren’t working or people with a job are not working as many hours as they’d like. The official unemployment rate is the most well-known indicator of slack, but it only counts people who are actively looking for a job.

[…] The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most comprehensive alternative measure of unemployment and underemployment (which it calls U6) includes the unemployed, the marginally attached and those involuntarily working part-time. It stood at 11 percent in February, 2.2 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession. By that measure, about 17.5 million people are unemployed or underemployed, or twice the 8.7 million people in the official unemployment measure.

What do you think of law enforcement hiring non-U.S. citizens as police officers? Sound off in our poll!

See also “Texas police officers are members of Mahmoudberg jihadist compound.”

~Éowyn

Wayne Allyn Root on Obama’s Love for America

Wayne Allyn Root

When Rudy Guliani said he thought “Obama doesn’t love America,” it set off a media firestorm. You know, those same fine ultra-liberal Americans now running the mainstream media who, while in class with me at Columbia University, cheered the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan…and who today no doubt support students at California college campuses who voted to remove the American flag…criticized Guliani for stating the obvious.

Naturally, the media decided to play “gotcha” with GOP presidential candidates and ask them if they agree that Obama doesn’t love America. As usual, GOP candidates panicked and ran away from Guliani’s statement. Well, I have the perfect answer to that question. Scott Walker are you listening?

The answer is, “I believe Obama loves America…the same way Castro has loved Cuba for the past half century. And I believe Obama loves America the same way Hugo Chavez loved Venezuela…the same way Stalin loved Russia…the same way Ho Chi Minh loved North Vietnam…and the same way the Socialist presidents of insolvent, bankrupt EU countries like Greece, Spain and France today love their country.

I’m sure Obama loves America the same way they all loved their countries and their people. Yet they managed to destroy their countries and economies. That’s what socialism, communism, or Marxism (whatever you want to name it) does. It destroys everyone and everything it touches. Ask the people of Detroit now living in an abandoned city.

It’s not a matter of patriotism. Obama may love America. I’m sure Fidel Castro would say he’s the biggest Cuban patriot ever. Castro loves his people…and he will love Cuba until his dying breath.

Yet, look at the results. Castro’s country lies in ruins. The Cuban people own nothing, not even their own thoughts or free speech. Disagree, protest, speak out publicly and the Castro brothers send you to prison to rot or die. People living in the country that Fidel Castro loves so much have spent the last half century escaping through shark infested waters in boats made of spit, glue and rubber tires. The Cuban people were willing to die to get away from the man who loves his country to death.

In all socialist countries “The state” takes care of you. “The state” knows what’s best. “The state” tells you what to think. In each and every case, all that love (and smothering state control) ruins your life.

So, does Obama “love America”? Perhaps, but it’s clear his version of love is similar to the husband who beats his wife, all the while proclaiming “I love you honey…this is for your own good.”

That’s exactly what Scott Walker and other GOP presidential candidates need to say when the media asks “Does Obama love America?” That’s the perfect answer. Watch the media turn ash white and look sick to their stomachs.

No one can prove whether Obama loves America. But I do know he is destroying America. I do know Obama is Castro.

The people I trust who have dealt with Castro…the parents and grandparents of my friends in the Cuban community…all say Obama is Fidel Castro all over again. They’ve seen firsthand the lies, corruption, fraud, propaganda, massive taxation and regulation, the tyrant saying with such sincerity that he loves his country and is here to “save” it. They’ve heard him say that everything he does is for “the good of the people.” They recognize Castro when they see him…and Cubans who lived under Castro are certain Obama is Castro.

It’s not just Castro. Every socialist tin-pot dictator is the same. They all channel Saul Alinsky. Everything they say is the opposite of the truth. Everything they say is to deceive and distract.

Everything they do is to bribe the poor with free stuff- stolen from the middle class and business owners. The politically correct name is “income redistribution.” But it’s theft. It’s the central tenant of communism and Karl Marx’s “Communist Manifesto.”

Rip off your opposition to make them poor and redistribute the stolen loot to the dependent poor, buying their loyalty and votes. That’s socialism… that’s Castro… and that’s Obama.

I have one more recommendation to GOP presidential candidates. When asked what you think of Guiliani’s comments, tell them you’ll answer only when they’ve asked Democrat presidential candidates if they agree with Obama’s comments that Muslim terrorists have “legitimate grievances”?

Do Democratic candidates agree with Obama that “Muslim” and “terrorist” can’t be used in the same sentence? Do they agree with his use of illegal Executive Orders to make law or his use of the IRS to destroy political opponents? Do they agree that illegal aliens given amnesty should collect up to $24,000 in income tax credits even though they paid no taxes?

Do they agree that $8 trillion in new debt added by Obama could destroy our economy and our children’s future?

Tell them you’ll answer their questions when you hear the Democrats’ answer to these.

It’s time to fight fire with fire. It’s time to stop bringing a knife to a gun fight. This is war. This is a battle for the very survival of America, American exceptionalism, small business, capitalism, free enterprise and free speech.

Sure Obama loves America, just like those communist tyrants loved their country. That is, as long as they own it…control it… and fundamentally change it. So perhaps the corrupt, Marxist, Muslim sympathizer, sociopath, tyrant in the White House loves America too. You can quote me.

It’s time to speak up now, before America is gone. It’s time to stand up to evil. It’s time to stand up to bullies. It’s time to take back America from the tyrant who loves it…to death.

Wayne Allyn Root, a former Libertarian Vice Presidential nominee, is one of the most popular political and media stars in America. His columns and commentaries are read at the biggest political & news web sites in America- includingFoxNews.com. He makes regular appearances at Fox News Channel, and hundreds of radio stations across the country. Wayne is a Capitalist Evangelist, entrepreneur and small businessman, home-school dad, best-selling author, and Tea Party Libertarian conservative. His web site: http://www.ROOTforAmerica.com

Democrat Suggests Kids Should Be Drug-Tested Before They Can Inherit From Their Parents

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DailyCaller: Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez offered a baffling defense of the death tax Wednesday during a hearing examining the sometimes unbearable burden it places on family farms and businesses.

People receiving food stamps have to pass drug tests or meet work requirements to receive taxpayer dollars, Sanchez reasoned, so it’s only fair that those “lucky” enough to inherit wealth should have to do something to earn it or, in this case, pay a tax.

“What work requirements are there to inherit up to $10 million tax free?” she asked a witness, rhetorically.

Why is that [a single mother] should be drug tested, which is an unrelated requirement to receive food assistance, to make sure that her family has enough to eat,” she asked. “And people who are lucky enough to inherit millions of dollars are literally required to do nothing to get the federal tax benefit with their inheritance?” 

Sanchez acknowledged that Americans should value hard work, but bemoaned the “paradox” that occurs when they want to work hard so they can accumulate wealth to live off of in retirement and pass on to their children.  “We don’t believe in an aristocracy, or that it’s a good societal thing for dynasties to hoard their wealth and leave the rest to fight over the crumbs,” she said. “That’s just not how this country was founded.”

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“But we have a paradox here in this country, where we think you should work hard to get where you are … but by the same token, everyone wants to make enough money to where they can retire and not have to work,” she continued. “And they want to preserve increasingly larger and larger chunks of their wealth.”

Sanchez made the remarks after hearing a witness describe the heartbreak her family is going through watching her father try to find a way to pass his business along to his children without breaking it up in order to pay the death tax.

“Our whole lives we watched my dad work,” Illco, Inc. CFO Karen Madonia said. “You know, 10 to 12 hours a day … he did all of it. And we watched him struggle through all that, and to watch him figure out how he can pass it onto us and let us make our mark on it without having to dismantle part of it is really just heartbreaking.”

The government currently taxes inheritance at a rate of up to 40 percent. 

“I understand the desire to keep things running in a family business,” Sanchez said. “I get that. I get the hardships you guys encounter. But let’s not throw the entire baby out with the bathwater and say we’re going to eliminate the estate tax altogether.

Republican Rep. Kevin Brady introduced legislation last week that would repeal the death tax, which prompted the hearing Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Select Revenue Measures Subcommittee.

“The Death Tax is still the No. 1 reason family-owned farms and businesses in America aren’t passed down to the next generation,” Brady said in a statement announcing the bill. “It’s the wrong tax at the wrong time and hurts the wrong people.”

DCG

Texas attorney general: U.S. is heading toward a constitutional crisis because of Obama flouting Congress and courts

Ken Paxton

In an interview on Fox News yesterday, Ken Paxton, the attorney general of the State of Texas, was asked whether America is heading toward “a constitutional crisis” because of Obama’s total disregard for Congress and now the courts. (The segment begins at the 2:55 mark in the Fox News video, here.)

Paxton replied:

“I think we are. If you think about what’s going on here — the President is violating federal law, the U.S. Constitution, which is going past what Congress is supposed to be doing, and now we’ve got the administration in court not being forthcoming about they’re supposed to be forthcoming about. We definitely have a huge issue here related to whether the Obama administration is going to follow the Constitution, and then once they get into court, whether they’re going to tell the truth.”

Paxton’s stunning remark was precipitated by Obama’s latest “F-you” to the court, specifically to Andrew Hanen, the federal judge who is single-handedly doing the job of the useless Congress by standing up to Obama’s reckless amnesty.

Judge Andrew Hanen

Judge Andrew Hanen

On Feb. 16, 2015, U.S. District Judge Hanen issued a preliminary injunction to temporarily block Obama’s amnesty so as to give a coalition of 26 states the time they need to pursue a lawsuit to permanently stop the amnesty orders. If the implementation of Obama’s amnesty were not blocked, Hanen reasons, the 26 states will “suffer irreparable harm in this case” because once the millions of illegals obtain amnesty, “the genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle.” (See “Federal judge stops Obama’s executive amnesty for illegals”)

At issue are two executive memoranda signed by Obama last November:

  1. The first memorandum expands eligibility for Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which halts deportations and allows work permits for certain undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children.
  2. The second executive memo, known as DAPA, would extend similar benefits to the parents of U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents.

See also “Obama has issued more executive orders than any U.S. president in history.

Combined, DACA and DAPA could affect as many as 5 million immigrants living in the country illegally. Some estimates are as high as 10 to 12 million illegals.

4 days after Judge Hanen’s order blocking the implementation of Obama’s amnesty, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it would seek an emergency stay of the judge‘s injunction. (See “Obama emergency order to restart amnesty in defiance of federal judge Hanen”)

Hanen responded by denying the DOJ’s request. So the federal government has asked the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to lift Hanen’s injunction while the case is appealed.

Obama vs. Hanen

 

The latest tussle between Judge Hanen and Obama took place last Thursday, March 19, 2015.

As reported by FoxNews, at a Texas hearing on Obama’s amnesty executive actions, Judge Hanen sharply scolded a DOJ attorney — that the administration had misled Hanen on a key part of the program, for which Hanen fell “like an idiot.” Hanen said he could order sanctions against the administration if he finds the DOJ indeed had misrepresented the facts.

At issue is whether the DOJ had misled the judge into believing that a plank of the Obama amnesty program would not go forward before he made the Feb. 16 ruling to temporarily halt it. The program is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that gives deportation reprieves (i.e., effective amnesty) to thousands of young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as “minors.” The problem is that even before Hanen’s ruling on Feb. 16 to block DACA’s implementation, federal officials had already given 3-year reprieves and work permits to more than 108,000 illegal aliens.

Kathleen Hartnett Associate White House Counsel Kathleen Hartnett, a Harvard Law grad like Obama, successfully worked on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

At the Thursday hearing, Hanen chided DOJ attorney Kathleen Hartnett for telling him at a January hearing before the Feb. 16 injunction was issued that nothing would be happening with regard to DACA until Feb. 18.

“Like an idiot I believed that,” Hanen said.

A flustered Hartnett repeatedly apologized to Hanen for any confusion related to how the reprieves and work permits were granted. “We strive to be as candid as possible. It truly became clear to us there was confusion on this point,” she said.

“Can I trust what the president says? That’s a yes or no question,” Hanen asked.

“Yes your honor,” Hartnett replied.

The coalition of 26 states have asked that Hanen consider issuing sanctions against the Obama administration because, in the words of the coalition’s lead attorney Angela Colmenero (who is also a lawyer with the Texas Attorney General’s Office), DOJ attorneys had made “representations (that) proved not to be true or at a minimum less than forthcoming.”

Obama’s DOJ lawyer Hartnett insists “There is absolutely no basis for sanctions here. The government is absolutely trying to do the right thing.”

Hanen said he would issue a ruling “promptly” on what action, if any, he will take against the Justice Department.

See also:

~Éowyn

Godzilla returns to Tokyo!

Michelle Obama with Japanese Emperor and Empress March 19, 2015

First Lady POS “Michael” Obama is in Japan for 3 days to promote the Let Girls Learn, an initiative that advocates education for girls worldwide by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The initiative costs U.S. taxpayers $231.6 million for education programs in Nigeria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Jordan, and Guatemala.

Does Mooch not know that the Japanese are the world’s most literate people (100% literacy rate) and Japan has no barriers to educate girls?

Yesterday, March 19, wearing a garish floral-patterned jacket and skirt, Mooch paid a visit to the Imperial Palace to meet Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

Today, FLPOS travels to Kyoto visit the Kiyomizu-Dera Buddhist Temple and the Fushimi Inari Shinto Shrine, after which she’ll fly to Cambodia.

Elizabeth Harrington reports for The Washington Free Beacon that FLPOS’s Kyoto visit is costing taxpayers nearly $80,000 for rental cars, according to a government contract.

H/t Birther Report reader-commenter TonyUnplugged from whom I stole the title for this post. LOL

~Éowyn

Despite restaurants closing, supporters of Seattle’s higher minimum wage hail judge’s ruling

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KOMO: Supporters of higher pay for minimum wage workers hailed a federal judge’s decision clearing the way for Seattle’s new minimum wage law to take effect as planned next month.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones rejected claims by franchises of big national chains that the law discriminates against them.

“Although plaintiffs assert that they will suffer competitive injury, loss of customers, loss of goodwill, and the risk of going out of business, the court finds that these allegations are conclusory and unsupported by the facts in the record,” Jones wrote Tuesday night, dismissing arguments brought forth by the International Franchise Association, which represents national chains ranging from fast food joints to hotels.

You get what you vote for: Seattle mayor Ed Murray

You get what you vote for: Seattle mayor Ed Murray

“This is a great day for Seattle’s fast food franchise workers,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. “This ruling ensures that on April 1st, the minimum wage will go up for everyone in our city.”

The president and CEO of the International Franchise Association said the group would continue to fight the parts of Seattle’s new wage law that apply to franchises.

“Yesterday’s decision is clearly a disappointment but it is not the end of this fight,” said Steve Caldeira, the association’s president and CEO, in a statement. “The ordinance is clearly discriminatory and would harm hardworking small business owners who happen to be franchisees.” He said the group would continue it legal efforts.

Lawyers for the franchise association, including Paul Clement, the former U.S. solicitor general, have insisted that they were not challenging the minimum wage itself. Instead, they were challenging how quickly their clients must adopt it.

The law, which will eventually raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, is phased in more quickly for big companies than small ones. Among those determined to be big companies under the law are franchises that are connected to networks that have a total of more than 500 workers.

On April 1, the large businesses and national chains must raise their pay to at least $11 an hour. Smaller ones must pay at least $10 an hour. Seattle’s current minimum wage is $9.47, the same as the Washington state minimum wage.

In arguments before the judge last week, Clement said the franchises are essentially small businesses, but by 2017 they’ll have to pay their workers a minimum wage $4 an hour higher than their purely local competitors.

The franchises cited various legal grounds, including the argument that the city’s law would affect interstate commerce – in violation of the U.S. Constitution, which reserves its regulation to the federal government.

Jones dismissed that notion and ruled that the possible harm to the franchises “does not outweigh the concrete harm” that would be suffered by employees who are entitled to an increase in their wages under the law.

The judge said there was simply “no evidence” that the city’s ordinance would have any effect at all on interstate commerce, and that its adoption fell well within the purview of the City Council and the mayor.

The city argued that the advantages franchises receive from their national organizations – including marketing, advertising and training – provided legitimate reason to require them to adopt the $15 wage more quickly.

The franchises sought a preliminary injunction that would block the relevant part of the law from taking effect, pending a ruling from Jones expected later this year on the full merits of the case.

Seattle’s law gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally three years to phase in the increase – four if they provide health insurance. Smaller employers get seven years.

May I suggest the good judge read this: More Seattle restaurants close doors as $15 minimum wage approaches.

DCG