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Moore: ‘Wall Street Has Their Man And His Name Is Barack Obama’ December 8, 2011


December 7, 2011

by legitgov

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Moore: ‘Wall Street Has Their Man And His Name Is Barack Obama’ 07 Dec 2011 MICHAEL MOORE, ON CNN: Well, “The Washington post” three weeks ago had this investigation and they said that President Obama has now raised more money from Wall Street and the banks for this election cycle than all — than all eight Republicans combined. I don’t want to say that, because if that’s the truth, that Wall Street already has their man and his name is Barack Obama, then we’ve got a much bigger problem. But I think President Obama, if he were here in the room, the question I would ask him is why are they your number one contributors? Why are you taking this money?

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FBI Probes Mishandling of Remains at Arlington Cemetery July 1, 2011

The FBI and the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command are now looking into the mishandling of remains and mismanagement at Arlington National Cemetery. The probe is part of a broad investigation run by the Justice Department that also includes a federal grand jury, sources tell The Washington Post.

The criminal inquiry is seeking evidence of contracting fraud and falsification of records.

The investigation into activities of the nation’s most hallowed military burial ground has been ongoing for the past six months.

Congress is also looking into the mess at Arlington that includes poor management, millions in waste, misplaced and misidentified remains, four cases of crematory urns being dug up and dumped in a dirt pile, and a mass grave.

Superintendent John C. Metzler Jr. and Deputy Superintendent Thurman Higginbotham were both forced out, the Post reported.

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DREAM Act Could Stall in Maryland

A petition drive by Maryland GOP lawmakers to halt the state’s version of the DREAM Act appears to have succeeded in getting the measure on the November 2012 ballot. However, court challenges over online signature gathering methods could be on the way, The Washington Post reports.

The Maryland law granted in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants at state colleges and universities, a move that could cost the state $40,000 per student for a four-year education.

Critics of the measure plan to turn in 100,000 signatures this week.

State election officials have already certified the approximately 56,000 needed to suspend the law and put it on the ballot. The measure was to take effect Friday, according to the Post.

“People want to enforce immigration law, not skirt around it,” Republican delegate Neil Parrott said. “This was a highly divisive bill with bipartisan opposition that barely passed. It’s important to allow the residents of Maryland to have the final say.”

The law is the first to be decided by Maryland voters in 20 years. An abortion rights measure went before the voters in 1992 and was affirmed. Regardless, legal challenges are expected in the DREAM Act petition drive as organizers built and used an online tool to gather tens of thousands of signatures.

The online tool prints out a voter’s name and information exactly as it is listed in registration records and the voter then needs only to sign a print out of the petition and mail it to the campaign. State Board of Elections officials note that more than a third of the signatures already validated were generated using the online tool, the Post reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland has already asked the elections board to look into the online tool.

In a letter sent last month, the ACLU said the method could not only “determine the fate of the DREAM Act petition effort, but could also dramatically change the petition process in Maryland going forward, opening many more state and local laws to petition challenges in the future.”

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Survey of 300,000 Seeks Extent of Disease From Camp Lejeune’s Tainted Water June 28, 2011

About 300,000 people who lived and worked in North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune are being asked to fill out a detailed survey to determine what diseases may be linked to the base’s contaminated water supply. As many as 1 million people may have been exposed to toxins in well water that sometimes registered 40 times higher than safety standards, The Washington Post reported.

The Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry also is surveying more than 50,000 people who lived and worked at Camp Pendleton in California before 1986 for comparison purposes. Officials hope the surveys will provide answers to long-standing questions about the health effects of exposure to such chemicals as benzene, a known carcinogen, and tricholorethylene and tetracholorethylene, possible carcinogens, the Post reported.

Registry Director Christopher Portier said, “If we get a good response, we have the potential to see what is happening in populations in ways that we have been unable to do so before.”

The survey will include Marines and sailors stationed at Camp Lejeune between June 1975 and December 1985, and civilian employees who worked at the base between December 1972 and December 1985, the Post reported.

The 26-page survey asks about cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, miscarriages, and other ailments thought to be related to exposure to contaminated well water. The various chemicals were dumped into storm drains and leaked from tanks, making their way into the groundwater. The problem was identified in 1982, and the wells were shut in 1984.

The first wave of surveys was mailed last week, with another round due in July. They will continue through the fall and are due back in December. The agency hopes to release its findings in 2014, according to the Post.

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Marine Charged With Firing Shots June 23, 2011

A 22-year-old Marine reservist has been charged with firing shots at military buildings in the Washington, D.C., area last fall. Federal officials reveal in court papers that he videotaped himself shouting “Allah Akbar” after shooting at the U.S. Marine Corps museum, The Washington Post reported.

Yonathan Melaku was arrested last week at the Arlington National Cemetery. He was carrying a backpack with bags of ammonium nitrate, a material that can be used to make a bomb, and a note book with Osama bin Laden, the Post reported.

Court papers allege that between Oct. 16 and Nov. 2 Melaku fired shots at five military sites including into the windows of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the Pentagon. Melaku joined the reserves in 2007 and has not been deployed overseas. He was found at Fort Myer in the early morning hours last week and when approached by base police fled, dropping his backpack. He was later picked up in the Arlington National Cemetery, the Post reported.

A search of his home turned up a video that showed him driving by the Marine Corps Museum and firing repeatedly out of the passenger window. “Alright next time this video turns on, I will be shooting,” Melaku said on the video, according to the Post. “That’s what they get. That’s my target. That’s the military building. It’s going to be attacked.”
The search also found a list of materials that “are consistent with the requirements for a time power unit and firing mechanism of an Improvised Explosive Device,” the complaint states, according to the Post.

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White House Pushes to Add Wind, Solar to Grid June 15, 2011

The White House is pushing policies to upgrade the aging electrical grid to handle energy from the new power sources of wind and solar. The policies include a “smart grid” that would deliver power from renewable sources and reduce blackouts and consumption, The Washington Post reported.

“The task is big but doable,” White House science adviser John Holdren said in announcing the plan, according to the Post. “The Obama administration, with utility companies, is in fact making it happen.” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the U.S. power system is so old that 19th-century pioneer Thomas Edison “would feel really at home with most of today’s power . . . system. We do need a modernized electrical grid.”

Under the plan, the Energy Department will fund smart grid research and the Agriculture Department will provide $250 million in loans to upgrade rural electrical transmission lines. The Electric Power Research Institute has estimated that upgrading the network of 300,000 miles of power lines run by 3,000 utility companies could cost as much as $476 billion, the Post reported.

Such costs combined with power companies that spend only 0.2 percent of revenues on RD call into question the administration’s plans, the Post reported.

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Sen. Sanders Lauds US-Made Producs at Museum June 12, 2011

U.S. Sen. Bernard Sanders is pleased with the progress the gift shop at the National Museum of American History has made in switching over to selling more American-made products. The independent from Vermont had visited the shop before Christmas in search of presents for his grandchildren and was disturbed to find that small busts of U.S. presidents were made in China, The Washington Post reports.

“Any museum owned by the American people, discussing American history, should have American products. I made that my concern,” Sanders told the Post. “I’m proud to see that, in a short period of time, there have been changes.”

After Sanders’ pre-Christmas shopping trip, he met with Smithsonian officials, who promised to search out more American-made products and start getting them into museum shops. The Price of Freedom shop, which stocks about 300 items, was first. Museum Director Brent Glass told the Post, “Now 100 percent of the products in this store — the books, the puzzles, the throw rugs — are all made in America.”

The various Smithsonian museums sell about 12,000 items, with one-third made in the United States. As for those presidential busts, they’re designed by an American, and they will be replaced with busts made in the United States when the inventory is used up, Glass told the Post.

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Repairs to Tomb of Unknowns Shelved Amid Failure June 10, 2011

Efforts to repair cracks in the white marble monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery have failed, and additional repairs that had been set to begin this week have been put on hold. Army officials agreed to stop the repair attempt after preservationists objected, The Washington Post reported.

Cracks in the Tomb of the Unknowns were repaired in 1975 and 1989 but keep returning. (Getty Images Photo)

The preservationists were notified of the second attempt to repair the zigzag cracks across the monument just a week ago and asked officials to slow the process.

Robert Nieweg, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office, told the Post, “This is racing forward. They’ve already failed once. Why would they rush into a second repair when the experts don’t know for certain why the first one failed? . . . If you don’t do it right, you can harm the historic resource.”

Army officials who oversee the cemetery agreed and noted that the second attempt probably would not have gone ahead this week anyway because of the heat wave blanketing the area that would affect the repair grout.

The cracks in the monument, which have grown in length and width over the years, were repaired in 1975 and 1989. In 2007, one was more than 24 feet long.

Officials wanted to replace the monument, but preservationists objected, and the cracks were repaired again in April 2010, the Post reported.

The grout used to fill the cracks began to flake and fall out last fall. Officials plan to experiment with different types of grout and say another round of repairs probably will take place in the fall.

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WashPost Fact Check: Tune Out Political Medicare Ads

Perhaps voters should just make a refrigerator run when political ads involving Medicare appear on their televisions. Both parties are waging war with “half-truths, misleading claims and outright lies,” The Washington Post concluded in a fact check of competing ads.

The Post derideded ads from both the Democrats and Republicans four Pinocchios for the whoppers they tell. The Post noted that, although it didn’t have a chance to fact check the Medicare ads that Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., ran in her upset winning campaign in a special election, many of them “would have merited three or four Pinocchios under our scale.”

The Post did assign many Pinocchios to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathy Sebelius and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., for mischaracterizing Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to remake Medicare.

The National Republican Campaign Committee now is running ads targeting nine Democrats, saying that they would “decimate” Medicare. Hochul used the same word in campaign news releases, the Post reported.

“Washington Democrats already cut $500 billion from Medicare with their government takeover of health care, and [insert name of Democrat X] is making it worse,” the script says, according to the Post.  “[Democrat X] backs a partisan plan that the media says would quote ‘decimate Medicare.’ The [Democrat X]-backed plan will cut Medicare benefits by 17 percent and lead to ‘political rationing’ of health care . . . taking personal health care choices away from seniors.”

The Post’s fact checker commented: “One certainly can argue whether the ideas are good or bad — or go far enough — but it is disingenuous for Republicans to claim that either a) there is no Democratic plan or b) the Democrats want to steer Medicare on a course toward bankruptcy.

“The best advice to voters might be to mute the sound whenever a Medicare ad by either party comes on television,” the Post concluded. “If the Hochul campaign or this NRCC ad are any indication, the battle will be waged with half-truths, misleading claims and outright lies. Four Pinocchios to the NRCC and to [belatedly] Hochul.”

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Govt Printing Office Plans Buyouts for 330 Workers June 9, 2011

The Government Printing Office, facing a declining need for its services, is developing plans to offer buyouts to some 300 employees this fall. The GPO must seek permission from Congress and the Office of Personnel Management to make the offer, The Washington Post reports.

The GPO plans to offer workers up to $25,000 to leave and hopes to pare its 2,200 workforce by about 15 percent.

The office is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year while the digital world has reduced the need for its services printing books, manuals, and budgets.

GPO’s Bill Boarman said: “GPO is open for business. We are an agency with a dedicated workforce that will continue to re-engineer itself in the 21st century to serve as the digital information platform for the federal government.”

The GPO would join a number of agencies seeking to use buyouts to cut staff including the Agriculture Department and the Smithsonian.

Agriculture’s buyouts are directed at 500 employees working on conservation projects and the U.S. Postal Service is offering $20,000 to administrative staff with a goal of cutting 7,500 positions, according to the Post.

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Homeland Security Scales Back Domestic Terror Probes

The Homeland Security Department has cut back from doing its own intelligence and analysis of home-grown extremists in the wake of conservative criticism of a report on domestic terror threats. The department has taken the step despite warnings from law enforcement and civil rights experts that threats are increasing, The Washington Post reported.

Sources reported that the department has cut staff working on domestic terrorism not involving Islam, canceled briefings with state and local law enforcement, and held up reports on extremist groups. The moves followed conservative criticism of the report, titled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” issued just four months into the Obama administration, officials told the Post.

The report, which warned that President Barack Obama’s election and the poor economy could fuel “violent radicalization,” was attacked for being an assault on conservative views on such issues as abortion and immigration. Law enforcement officials and other sources said the unit that produced the report has been gutted and said the department has not reported on domestic extremist groups in depth since 2009, the Post reported.


A recent study showed that a majority of the 86 major terrorist plots in the United States from 1999 to 2009 were unrelated to al-Qaida and allied movements. In the past year, authorities have arrested neo-Nazis for alleged involvement in planting a bomb along the route of a Martin Luther King parade in Spokane, Wash.; members of an Alaska militia for alleged involvement in a plot to kill state troopers; and a Wisconsin man for planning to kill Planned Parenthood workers, the Post reported.

Regardless, a Homeland Security official told the Post that what some see as caution or avoidance stems from concerns that aggressive operations involving home-grown groups could be viewed as civil liberties violation. The officials also pointed out that the FBI is “the primary lead for the federal government” on domestic terrorism, the Post reported.

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Episcopal Parish in Md. Converts to Catholicism June 8, 2011

An Episcopal parish in Maryland has become the first congregation in the United States to convert to Catholicism under new Vatican rules. The church and its pastor made the move under regulations that Pope Benedict XVI adopted to appeal to Protestants, The Washington Post reported.

St. Luke Church in Bladensburg has a majority of members from Africa and the Caribbean. Under the Vatican rules, the church will retain some of its Anglican traditions, including keeping its married pastor, the Rev. Mark Lewis, the Post reported.

Pope Benedict XVI approved the invitation to welcome Protestants into the fold. (Getty Images Photo)

Pope Benedict reached out to Anglicans in 2009, offering to let the parishes interested in Catholicism keep various traditions, including married pastors. Heading the outreach in the United States is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Washington’s archbishop. He is to give an update on the issue next month at a meeting of bishops, the Post reported.

“We welcome the St. Luke community warmly into our family of faith . . . [noting] our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognizing and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican Church,” the Post quoted Wuerl as saying.

Catholic Church officials believe interest is high enough that a national diocese for Anglican converts may be necessary.

However, others say the movement is small, and most breakaway congregations are leaving because of the ordination of a gay bishop. Those breakaways generally end up joining more conservative parts of the Anglican Communion, the Post reported.

Although St. Luke parish is the first to convert under Pope Benedict’s rules, three Episcopal churches in Texas converted to Catholicism in the 1980s under a system that Pope John Paul II created. The churches were placed under the local Catholic diocese. An Anglican church in Baltimore is in the process of converting but has become bogged down on property issues, the Post reported.

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WashPost Fact Check: Obama Misled on Auto Bailout Speech

President Barack Obama’s recent speech in Ohio extolling the success of the auto bailout is a misleading collection of assertions and virtually every claim “needs an asterisk, just like the fine print in that too-good-to-be-true car loan,” The Washington Post concluded in a fact check of the address.

President Barack Obama speaks at a Chrysler plant. (Getty Images Photo)

The Post started with the president’s claim that Chrysler has repaid every “dime and more of what it owes American taxpayers for their support during my presidency.”

What the president didn’t say is that, although the auto company paid back the $8.5 billion loan from the Obama administration, still outstanding is the additional $4 billion borrowed from the Bush administration.

The Treasury Department has said that the government will not recoup about $1.3 billion of the entire $12.5 billion investment, the Post reported.

The president also played fast and loose with claims that U.S. automakers are adding shifts and creating jobs at the strongest rate since the 1990s, that GM plans to hire back all those laid off during the recession, and that many in Washington thought the country should do nothing when Chrysler and GM faced collapse.

“The president is straining too hard. If the auto industry bailout is really a success, there should be no need to resort to trumped-up rhetoric and phony accounting to make your case. Let the facts speak for themselves,” the Post concluded.

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GOP House Leaders Propose Plan to Cut Federal Workforce

Key House GOP leaders have detailed plans to cut the federal workforce by hiring one person for every three who leave jobs. If adopted, the plan would cut the number of federal workers by 10 percent by 2015, The Washington Post reported.

Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida: As “these workers leave, we cannot let this opportunity to save taxpayer money pass.”

Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Dennis Ross of Florida, and Jason Chaffetz of Utah put forth the plan, which would save an estimated $127.5 billion over 10 years, if enacted, the Post reported.

Under the plan, the government would be required to track the number of employees and report to Congress quarterly. If the workforce exceeded 90 percent of the current size of government, no agency would be allowed to make hires. Exceptions would be made for emergencies, national security, and war, according to the Post.

Ross told the Post that government statistics show that about 400,000 federal workers are eligible for retirement and, as “these workers leave, we cannot let this opportunity to save taxpayer money pass.” The proposal stems from President Barack Obama’s bipartisan fiscal commission and was part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s wide-ranging budget plan, the Post reported.

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Few States Make Progress on Obamacare June 7, 2011

Less than a quarter of the states have taken necessary steps to create health insurance marketplaces, a key feature of Obamacare, while 43 states have made new cuts to Medicaid. Taken together, the two trends highlight the challenges facing healthcare reform at the state level, The Washington Post reported.

States must have exchanges in place by 2014. Seven states have adopted laws establishing the exchanges that are designed to make it easier for people to compare health plans and create enough customers to slow rising prices. Those states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia, the Post reported.

Two other states, North Dakota and Virginia, have passed laws saying they will form exchanges. An additional seven states have accepted federal money to set up the exchanges but have not passed legislation.

However, nearly a dozen states have defeated or allowed to expire measures that would have set up exchanges and another 13 have not even considered such proposals. Louisiana has told the federal government it will not set up an insurance marketplace, the Post reported.

Health and Human Services’ Paul Dioguardi told the Post he was confident states that have not acted will do so.

Also starting in 2014, the federal law will expand Medicaid to Americans with incomes higher than most states have allowed until now, putting further strain on a system already struggling as a result of the poor economy, the Post reported.

In Maryland, Medicaid enrollment has grown by 11 percent in the past year to nearly 920,000 participants. The General Assembly has just ordered cuts to the program’s $7 billion budget totaling about 1 percent, according to the Post.

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Medicare Experiment Fails to Save Money Expected June 3, 2011

An experiment designed to lower costs and coordinate care for those on Medicare has failed to save the amounts of money expected. The experiment forms the base of a plan the Obama administration hoped to take nationwide as part of Obamacare, The Washington Post reported.

The five-year test offered financial bonuses to 10 healthcare systems if they could save money in treating the elderly while still proving a high level of care. In the final year of the study, only four of the 10 saved enough money to qualify for a bonus, two sites cut cost enough to get bonuses all five years, and three never qualified for a bonus, the Post reported.

The experiment involved accountable care organizations (ACO), which is a key part of Obamacare. Under the year-old healthcare law, Medicare must start approving such groups in January. Although there are differences between the groups in the experiment and ACOs, the theory is the same: If healthcare groups can save money in treatment and retain quality, Medicare shares any savings, the Post reported.

The experiment began in 2005 under the George W. Bush administration and ended in 2010. The bonuses came if spending could be cut by at least 2 percent and retain quality as judged by 32 measures. All 10 medical groups met the quality requirements.

Innovations created under the program include round-the-clock telephone access to nurses that cut down on doctor visits and a call-line for heart patients, the Post reported.

Gail Wilensky, who was President George H.W. Bush’s head of Medicare and Medicaid, told the Post that the experiment’s results suggest that the idea may not be ready to go nationwide, adding, “If it was this tough for this group that I had just assumed would be hands-down winners, what does it say for groups that don’t have a long history of coming together?”

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Feds Biggest Users of US Postal Snail Mail

While first-class mail usage is declining across the county as people move to various electronic alternatives, the federal government increased its use 11 percent between 1997 and 2010. The federal government is now the largest user of the mail system accounting for more than 2 percent of all first-class mail sent last year, The Washington Post reported.

The government spends about $1 billion each year on mailing and shipping with the U.S. Postal Service and as much as $250 million on packages sent through private companies such as FedEx and UPS, according to a study by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The study shows that the government switch to electronic communication may be overblown, the Post reported.

“One vital function of the United States Postal Service is to form an essential communications backbone of the government . . . ensuring reliable and timely delivery of communications essential to the functions of government,” the authors of the study wrote.

Most of the items sent by mail are things that the government must be able to get to citizens at real addresses as opposed to electronic mailboxes. Those include permits, benefits, voting materials, warning letters, military correspondence, tax information, immigration documents, retirement information, and regulatory compliance, according to the Post.

The Social Security Administration leads the way with postal usage, spending $237.7 million in 2010, followed by the Department of Commerce, at $223.9 million; the Department of Veterans Affairs, at $223.5 million; and the Treasury Department, at $210.8 million.

The study concluded money could be saved if the mail was pre-sorted, something currently done by a small number of federal agencies, according to the Post.

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Republicans Seek to Rekindle Evangelical Zeal

Republicans are hoping to reignite the political zeal of evangelicals that once was a deciding factor in national elections. The first test of whether it can be done is taking place this weekend at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington that will include nearly all the GOP presidential contenders, The Washington Post reported.

The group bills itself as a 21st-century version of the Christian Coalition, but much has changed since the Christian Coalition became a political force more than three decades ago. Gone from the front lines are the Moral Majority’s Jerry Falwell and the Christian Coalition’s Pat Robertson, the Post reported, noting that today’s pastors are more likely to focus on the gospel than turning out the vote.

However, GOP leaders contend that the enthusiasm is there, as evidenced by the Christian involvement in the tea party movement. A Pew Research Poll showed last year that 42 percent of tea party supporters said they agree with the religious right, the Post reported.

“What’s likely to happen is what a lot of us have wanted to see happen for a long time — a social conservative movement that speaks to a broader set of issues but which never strays from the foundational issues of life and family and marriage,” Ralph Reed told the Post.

As the 33-year-old leader of Christian Coalition in 1995, Reed was called “The Right Hand of God” on the cover of Time magazine. However, he suffered a serious setback when he was defeated in his 2006 run for Georgia lieutenant governor and was harmed by association with the scandals surrounding former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the Post reported. He is now heads of the Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Although white evangelicals have voted Republican since the 1980s, many have soured on partisan politics. Jim Daly, head of the Focus on Family group since 2005, has turned it in a less partisan direction. He has described “the idol of political power” as “one of the errors that we’ve made, to be forthright and honest.”

“Christian leadership has become about the victory, and that’s led to us becoming the predator and the world our prey. That’s not very much a Christian doctrine,” he said recently according to the Post. “I’m very concerned about the politicization of the faith . . . I think being owned by a party is dangerous.”

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Geithner Touts GM, Chrysler Rebounds Since Bailouts June 2, 2011

The further success of General Motors and Chrysler is by no means guaranteed, but the decision for the federal government to spend tens of billions of dollars to bail them out was the right one, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote in an Op-Ed published in The Washington Post. Geithner noted that American automakers have returned to profitability just two years after GM filed for bankruptcy.

Timothy Geithner: “We cannot guarantee their success . . . But we’ve given them a better shot. (AP Photo)

“The industry has added new shifts and 115,000 jobs, and GM and Chrysler have returned more than 50 percent of the government’s investment,” he wrote. “The industry is mounting one of the most improbable turnarounds in recent history.”

The industry was facing the prospect of liquidation when President George W. Bush first provided the two automakers $17 billion in loans in December 2008, he wrote. (Ford Motor Co. eschewed the bailouts.) When the Obama administration came in in 2009, it was clear that more money was needed.

“The companies needed to make dramatic changes. Years of bad decisions had caused them to progressively lose market share to foreign competitors, and the financial crisis had dried up financing for almost everything, compounding the collapse in demand for vehicles. It was not clear whether there was a responsible way to put taxpayer dollars on the line in a way that helped ensure the companies emerged stronger, not weaker.”

However, Geithner said the link between the automakers and their supply chains and dealerships “led some experts to estimate that at least 1 million jobs could have been lost if GM and Chrysler went under.”

In return for the bailout, the government demanded tough concessions from Chrysler and from GM. They were forced to go through bankruptcy and adopt plans that would lead to profitability. The sacrifices, he wrote, included those from managers, unions, stockholders, creditors and dealers.

“Today, six years earlier than planned, Chrysler has repaid its outstanding government loans. While it has a long way to go, Chrysler has made enormous strides. Tough decisions, stemming from the restructuring, have helped Chrysler post five consecutive quarters of operating profit. It has announced more than $3 billion in investments in plants and technology since emerging from bankruptcy and is poised to hire back workers.

“The story has been similar for GM — and the industry as a whole. The domestic automakers are getting stronger. For the first time since 2004, each has achieved positive quarterly net income.”

Geithner acknowledged that the government will “not get back all of our investments in the industry, we will recover much more than most predicted, and far sooner.”

He concluded by noting, “We cannot guarantee their success, and at some point they may stumble. But we’ve given them a better shot. The choice to stop the American automobile industry from unraveling was the right one.”

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Study: Closing Tax Breaks Might Not Whittle Much Deficit June 1, 2011

Closing some tax breaks may not do as much to solve the deficit problem as previously thought. Projections about retirement plans such as 401(k) accounts are overstated, according to a study by the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries reported in The Washington Post.

Government estimates show a tax loss of about $600 billion over the next five years as a result of the retirement plans. However, the loss of tax revenues to the government may be as much as 77 percent lower than estimates, the study found.

Various tax breaks deny the federal government about $1 trillion a year. The biggest are mortgage interest deductions and tax-free health benefits. However, the amount of taxes lost does not take into consideration how much actually would come back to the government if the tax breaks were eliminated.

Some experts believe that much of the money would end up in other shelters. The estimates are “an accurate measure of the extent to which the preference is being used by taxpayers,” Ed Kleinbard, former director of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, told the Post. “But that’s a completely different question than how much revenue could be raised if the preference were eliminated.”

Judy Miller, regulatory affairs director for the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries, said estimates for taxes that could be recouped if tax breaks ended are “very distorted.”

She told the Post that, “if the system were mature, then it might not make much difference. But the system is still growing,” and the “taxes being deferred are far more significant than the amounts being paid out.”

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