Another Memorial Day: Another Day of Golf for Obama
I guess this is a CHANGE from our last president.
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I tend to consider the degree to which papers have demonstrated to covering the White House regularly and fairly in determining local pool reporters...My point about the op-ed was not that you ran it but that it was the full front page, which excluded any coverage of the visit of a sitting US President to Boston. I think that raises a fair question about whether the paper is unbiased in its coverage of the President’s visits.
In the crossroads, er, cross-hairs, are nonprofit groups that register under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code and spent millions on political advertising in the last election cycle. Big donations to those groups, the agency now says, should have been subject to gift taxes and may be owed retroactively. In a letter to one donor, the IRS noted that it "had received information that you donated cash to . . . an IRC Section 501(c)(4) organization . . . and your contribution should have been reported on your 2008 federal gift tax return."
The letters are especially odd since the purpose of the gift tax has traditionally been used in coordination with the estate tax, to prevent people from avoiding the tax by divesting their wealth before they die. Contributions to 501(c)(4)s aren't a routine death tax avoidance mechanism, and the contributions now under scrutiny are a pittance compared to overall gift tax revenues. So, hmmm, what could be the reason to start asserting the provision now, and only against a handful of high-profile political donors?
All this is done in the name of "transparency," which is a nice way of saying, we know where you live. The real goal is to intimidate business and big donors from giving money to Republicans.
...Unleashing the IRS is an especially nasty turn.
Obviously, government agencies are not private businesses. They don't care about P&Ls or efficiency since the taxpayers will pick up the tab. They've never dealt with layoffs, so they don't know where to begin unless someone forces it upon them.
The odds of a multibillion-dollar rescue package went way up this week when Postal Service management reported a $2.2 billion loss for the first quarter, more than 25% higher than last year despite the economic recovery. It now appears that the $15 billion line of credit the feds have offered USPS will be used up by the end of this year, with low odds on ever being paid back.If that isn't ugly enough, the Postal Service expects $42 billion in additional losses over the next four years...
If this were a private business, the obvious response to these losses would be urgent cost-cutting to avoid insolvency. Instead, Postal Service management recently concluded negotiations offering the 205,000-member American Postal Workers Union a new four-and-a-half-year contract that will provide a 3.5% pay raise over three years, dole out automatic cost of living wage hikes after 2012, and expand no-layoff protections.
Costs are rising in Massachusetts, price controls are in the offing, and the plan is losing popularity. We understand that Romney does not feel that he can flip-flop on what he had touted as his signature accomplishment in office. But if there is one thing we would expect a successful businessman to know, it is when to walk away from a failed investment.
A new survey released yesterday by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state's primary care practices are accepting new patients, down from 70% in 2007, before former Governor Mitt Romney's health-care plan came online. The average wait time for a routine checkup with an internist is 48 days. It takes 43 days to secure an appointment with a gastroenterologist for chronic heartburn, up from 36 last year, and 41 days to see an OB/GYN, up from 34 last year.
None of this is surprising, though it does dismantle the liberal nostrum that a new entitlement will somehow reduce health spending. When government subsidizes something, you get more of it, which means higher demand for insurance and health-care services. Combined with insurance regulations that suppress innovation and competition, this reality helps explain why Massachusetts premiums are among the highest in the U.S. The current physician shortage was inevitable without new doctors.
Forest Labs entered into a federal plea agreement in September over misconduct in its marketing of antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro. The allegations were among a rash of government suits claiming that marketing to doctors common among drug companies amounted to fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. The charges were odd given their implication that major companies would be dumb enough to try to hoodwink their biggest customer. The charges also had a political flavor as an attempt to blame drug companies, rather than the fee-for-service design of the federal programs, for runaway costs. But some companies including Forest chose to settle rather than engage in extensive litigation.
Only after a federal court ratified the deal in March did HHS drop its intent-to-ban bomb. Mrs. Sebelius unearthed a dusty provision in the Social Security Act that allows officials to bar executives of health companies from doing business with the government when the firms are guilty of criminal misconduct.
The feds have rarely invoked this awesome power, given the potential for coercive abuse. But Mrs. Sebelius seems bent on making it more common policy and says she can employ it even against executives who had no knowledge of an employee's misconduct. A year ago Mrs. Sebelius used it to dismiss the CEO of a small drugmaker in St. Louis.
Don't support Obamacare? Watch out - the government will shut you down and run you out of business.