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Posts Tagged ‘bloated government’

The government is open!

Woo hoo.

Happy days are here again as the massive machine that is our federal government gets back in gear.

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President Obama and the other members of the progressive ruling class are free again to pretend they support our soldiers and veterans.  They can continue to impugn the character and motives of conservative lawmakers, as they borrow even more money in the name of our grandchildren and spend us into ruin and collapse.

They can lay claim to being the winners.  The losers of course, are the taxpayers – the average folks just trying to get by.  They’ll get no relief and will just end up on the hook for more and more as the debt grows larger and larger.

John McCain and the other Republicans who attacked Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul are the cowards.  They claim to be conservatives but were too afraid to go up against that giant government machine in the name of the people who elected them.

The fools?  They are mostly the mainstream media – the water boys and cheerleaders for Team Obama, who don’t yet realize they are the useful idiots.  And they are those who still believe the media is telling them the truth, who believe that government can solve all their problems and are grateful this morning that members of Congress have stopped fighting.  They believe the absence of conflict signals everything is just fine.

The conservatives, the dreaded tea party members of Congress, claim they have no intention of standing down, that they plan to continue the fight.  That’s admirable, but how do they win?  They are a minority, surrounded by life-long political animals who are living the dream and have demonstrated that they are ready to go to any length to squash anyone who tries to ruin it for them.

So celebrate!  Eat, drink and be merry!  Like it or not, the government is back in business!

Oh, and next week?  Amnesty of course!  There’s no such thing as illegal in Washington anymore, no one is held to account for their actions, and it appears there’s not a thing to be done to change that.

The giant machine of government, that rolls along devouring its host, is unstoppable.

-Kathy

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I haven’t been posting regularly here for over a week.  Part of this is just personal things that have been taking up my time.  But mostly it’s because of the nature of the news.  And it’s not because we’re having a slow news cycle, but because the news is so overwhelming.

You know when you face some daunting task, like cleaning out the garage, you may open the door, survey the mess and simply close the door and walk away.  You just don’t even know where to begin.  The news has been like that lately.  I just don’t know where to begin.  So I close the door and walk away.  But that doesn’t get us anywhere.  We need to be vigilant.  So it’s time to catch up.

There was a story about two weeks ago, that didn’t get a lot of notice.  It was about how the Veteran’s Administration is over budget and behind schedule on multiple construction projects.

The Government Accountability Office released a report showing that many of the VA’s construction projects were years behind schedule and their cost overruns were at $1.5 billion.  One example given was a medical center in Aurora, CO.  The medical center was originally scheduled to be completed and opened in 2008 at a cost of $200 million.  It’s still not done.  The GAO report says it will be complete in 2015 at a cost of $800 million.

The contractor however, projects it will open in 2016 at a cost of $1 billion.  The contractor blames the delays and costs on multiple changes the VA has requested to the original plan.  I find no information about anyone being held accountable for any of this.

And that lack of accountability is what is so emblematic of Washington in general.  For me, this story is like a microcosm of all that’s wrong with our federal government.  The GAO, the Government Accountability Office, really isn’t holding anyone accountable.  They simply do the math and supply the information.

The contractor is most likely correct, and the changes made by the VA are to blame.

The VA released a statement that says, “The Department has taken measures to implement recommendations from the Government Accountability Office through several initiatives to improve the scope, cost and schedule information of major construction projects.”

Hmmm, yeah, that ought to fix it.

Congress approves the money for all this and has real oversight authority.  But it is clear that oversight was not exercised here.  And to be fair, how can they know about something like this in time to put a stop to it?  There are thousands of projects just like this going on at any given time.  How would they ever keep an eye on all of them?

And that’s the point.  Our tax dollars are being spent by federal bureaucrats who have no incentive to spend them wisely.  There is no penalty FlushingMoneyfor waste and corruption and no one is held responsible.

No one is watching them.

Only when a project goes bad enough to get some attention from the media, does anyone in Washington even raise an eyebrow.  They are always reacting to bad news, never watching to prevent that bad news.

They can’t.  It’s all just too big.   Our federal government has grown into something it was never intended to be, something that no one can control, not even our elected leaders in Congress.  It rolls along, devouring our tax dollars in a way that would never be tolerated in the private sector where people are made to answer for their mistakes and their employment is on the line.

As I said, this story didn’t get a lot of attention.  It was around for a day or so, and then everyone moved on.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because we’ve become accustomed to being outraged by dollar amounts counted in trillions.  Millions, even billions no longer get our attention.

Maybe it’s because we’ve grown so accustomed to corruption and out of control spending from the federal government that we’re just not surprised by a story like this one.

Maybe we’re just tired – tired of our demands for quality leadership and accountability falling on deaf ears.

-Kathy

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Last night, the Treasury Department (the soon-to-be enforcers of our healthcare) posted an announcement on their website about Obamacare.

“The Administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before the ACA mandatory employer and insurer reporting requirements begin.”

Everyone has been scrambling, trying to figure out how to comply with the law and come up with the money to pay for that compliance, with little direction from the government that imposed it on us.  Implementation is just months away and no one seems to know what to do.  The exchanges promised by the government are still not set up and the law is still being written, as so much was left by Congress to be up to the “discretion” of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.

It’s contributing to unemployment, as companies large and small look for ways to avoid being penalized.  The nation is engaged in a giant game of hot potato.  No one wants to get stuck paying the bill.

The Obama administration, who have loudly been touting Obamacare as “the law of the land,” now seems like it doesn’t want to comply with it either.  Everyone, including some on the left, are calling the entire thing a “trainwreck.”    So, as has become a habit now, the administration is picking another portion of another law that it doesn’t like and announcing that they simply won’t enforce it.

Businesses are to get a free ride for another year.  We won’t have to watch that trainwreck happen, at least not now, not until 2015, at which time the administration says it will enforce the law.  Now, what happens in November of 2014, right before all this?

Think, think, think….

Oh yeah!  Midterm elections!

The left is hoping to take back the House and retain the Senate next year.  But if voters actually see Obamacare in practice, that is simply not going to happen.  Obamacare is such a disaster that the democrats know they will lose even the low information voters who still believe they are going to get super-deluxe healthcare that someone else is going to pay for.  Remember, not a single republican voted for Obamacare.

My own personal opinion is that President Obama and his close, inner circle don’t really care about any of this.  They are content to ride out the minutia and the day-to-day issues in favor of their larger plan.  These are book people.  They are academics and idealists.  Like their foreign policy, all this works out great on a blackboard and in the faculty lounge discussions.  They peer down their noses at those of us who point out the faults of their plans.

It doesn’t much matter to them that Americans are suffering because the country has no direction and the rest of the world is spinning out of control.  It works in their books and so they know in their minds, that it will eventually work in practice if they just get rid of the opposition and give it enough time.  This is naïve at best and insane at worst.

We are living their dream.  We are their guinea pigs.  We are their experiment in progressive ideology.  They are rich and insulated and will pay no price when all this crumbles.  That will be left to us also.

So if they have to put off their grand plan for another year to placate some members of Congress and deceive voters just a little longer, it’s no big deal.  It’s a small price to pay to see their lifes’ work implemented, and their progressive dreams imposed on us all.

-Kathy

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When I was a teenager, I spent too many summer days at the beach, trying to get that perfect tan.  With my pale Irish skin that usually meant more painful sunburn than tan, but that never deterred me from trying.

Now I pay the price.  For at least the last fifteen years, I faithfully visit my dermatologist twice a year, always on the lookout for skin cancer.  This morning I went for my semi-annual checkup.

The lady who runs the front desk asked for my insurance card and my driver’s license.  She explained that they were making the move from paper to electronic records and wanted to scan both of these into their new computerized system.  Since they are participants in my HMO, I had no reason to deny them my insurance ID.  But the license was a different issue for me.

I told her I would prefer not to have my license become part of that record.  She insisted.  I told her I would like to speak to the doctor about it.  And I did.  I told him that there is already so much information about me in his records and I am uncomfortable adding the picture ID.  Hackers are very sophisticated these days and I try to protect myself as best I can.

I also took the opportunity to talk to him about the upcoming portion of Obamacare that will require all those records be added to a national database.  I told him that when the time came that they asked him to hand over his records that I did not want mine included.  He shook his head and shared that he too is concerned about it.  He said some patients had expressed the same concerns.  But apparently not too many.  He told me it was not necessary to provide my license.

We are still peeling back the layers of the onion on just how much of our private information has been compromised by the NSA and the FBI.  The idea that all of our private medical information will soon be available to government officials, government flunkies and any hacker is just too much.

As I left the doctor’s office I passed through the waiting room.  A patient was signing in, and handing over his identification without question.  All the way home I thought about this.  For every person like me who is saying, “Hey, wait a minute.  I don’t want my private information handed over to the government,” how many more are just giving away their privacy?

A giant, out of control government that sees no bounds to its power is no longer the stuff of crazies and conspiracy theorists.  It is front page news.  They are rifling through our communications at will.  And when they can get their hands on our medical records, they will go through those too.

They won’t find anything terribly interesting in mine, but that’s not the point.  What transpires between me and my doctor is my business and no one else’s –ConfidentialMedRecords certainly not the government’s.  And I am choosing to opt out.  As this all gets closer, I intend to let all of the doctors I see know that I do not give permission for them to share my records with anyone unless they have my approval.  That includes the federal government.

I’m not sure where that might end.  But I wonder what might happen if millions of Americans joined me and simply said, “No thanks.  I choose not to participate.”

Perhaps those in charge might get the message they seem to have forgotten – that they work for us.

-Kathy

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Politico is reporting that lawmakers and those who work for them are getting pretty worried about Obamacare.  Some are so worried that they are quitting their government jobs in an effort to lock in their current health plans.  They think they’ll be better off than taking their chances with Obamacare.

From the Politico article:

“Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance  premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking  about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the  year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers  onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits  exorbitantly expensive.”

But, but, but, I thought Obamacare was a great thing.  That’s what they told us.  It would be like magic – everyone getting high quality healthcare and we were going to save all that money to boot.  So why are all those people in Washington so afraid of it now that it’s about to kick in?

We’ve been sold the proverbial bill of goods.  All those nightmare scenarios so many of us warned of are about to become reality – skyrocketing costs, death panels, long waits for sub-standard care, doctors leaving their practices…

And now those in Washington, many of whom thrust this monster on the rest of us, are running for the exits.

And if we don’t keep a very close eye on them, they will be bailing themselves out, exempting themselves from what they expect the rest of us to accept.

-Kathy

Full Politico article.

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Today we’ll try to break down the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service.  Like the others, this story continues to drip out with new information sometimes by the hour.  It’s already long and twisted, but let’s try to hit the high points.

The tea party took root in early 2009.  People were angry about too much spending under President Bush, especially the TARP bailout.  Now it seemed that President Obama was going to triple-down on big spending as he signed the Stimulus bill in February and Congress was talking about Obamacare.

Americans who had never been involved in protests or political organizations started to meet and look for ways to influence politicians.  These groups were loosely organized but most were focused on the same issues – fiscal responsibility and smaller government.  They came to be known collectively as the Tea Party.

The left attacked them.  They were accused of racism, homophobia, even violence, when the only record of any violence at a tea party event was committed by those on the left against tea party members.

Some of these groups applied for tax-exempt status and this is where the IRS scandal begins.  Groups with names that indicated they may be part of the tea party had their applications singled out.  The reported number of such targeted groups has grown since this story began and we now know that hundreds were in the IRS’ crosshairs.

Requests languished in the bowels of the IRS machinery for months, many for more than a year.  When they finally did hear from the IRS it was requests for more and more information, much of it far outside the law.  They were asked about their donors, their volunteers, what books they read, if they might ever run for office, what prayers they said, their jobs and how many hours they worked….

These usually came with a 2 week timeline for return and always with a warning that any false information would be considered perjury.  For grandmothers and business owners who had never participated in government before, this was a scary threat.

Many applicants complained to their congressmen, who in turn questioned the IRS.  132 of these members of Congress contacted the IRS over a 2 year period, trying to find out what was going on.  In March of 2012, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee and told them, “There’s absolutely no targeting. This is the kind of back and forth that happens to people” (when they apply for status.)

Not satisfied with Schulman’s answer, Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa requested an investigation by the Inspector General.  IG Russell George conducted this audit and has testified that he notified Treasury officials that he was doing so.

His final report substantiated the claims of the tea party applicants that they had been treated improperly by the IRS.  This report was to be made public on May 11, 2013.

Wanting to get ahead of the story, Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Division, Lois Lerner, arranged a “planted question.”  She was to speak before a conference of the American Bar Association on May 10 and asked someone in attendance to pose a question about the IG report.  We have since learned that the White House and Treasury Dept. were involved in this strategizing.

Since then, this story has spiraled and spread as bureaucrats and elected officials scramble to cover their behinds.  Initially it was all blamed on a couple of “rogue” employees in one IRS office.  But while the creep of responsibility continues to climb the pecking order, all we hear from those in charge is that they didn’t know, they hadn’t heard, they can’t recall or they thought someone else was fixing it.  President Obama says he heard about it on the news, just like the rest of us did.

It would take pages and pages for me to run through it all.  But click here for a great timeline of events from Director Blue.  It shows the twisting and turning of a too big government at work.  It’s breathtaking.

High level government officials, earning six-figure salaries and perks you and I can only dream of, all paid with our tax dollars, now face congressional scrutiny.  And they sit before us as arrogant and condescending as possible, offering incredulous reasons for what has happened.  We are asked to believe that no one in charge knew what was going on.  Ms. Lerner, who started the ball rolling, claimed Fifth Amendment protection yesterday, saying she refused to answer Congress’ questions.

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Imagine that.  She was part of the machinery that denied thousands of Americans their rights under our First Amendment, but has no issue asserting her own, and apparently no interest in finding the truth.

If Ms. Lerner and Mr. Schulman and all the rest of the bureaucrats and politicians are innocent, if none of them has done anything wrong, where does the problem lie?

Perhaps it’s in a government that has grown so large that it has taken on a life of its own.  Everyone involved can point to someone else and trap us all in a maze of secrecy, bureaucracy and lies.  No one is running the store.  No one knows what’s going on.  No one is to blame.  No one pays any price when things go wrong.

Except the average American, crying out for someone to listen to him.  It seems to me that the tea party has been right all along.

-Kathy

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Michael Huerta, the head of the FAA, told members of Congress yesterday that airports around Washington, DC will feel little to no impact from the furloughs of air traffic controllers that are being blamed on sequester cuts.  So lawmakers travelling in and out of DC will be unaffected.

Isn’t that nice?

So when we peasants are wasting precious vacation time standing around an airport, or trying to make a meeting that our small business depends on, at least we know our elected leaders and their buds won’t be inconvenienced.

Once again, it is the hard-working citizens of American who suffer the consequences of the short-comings of those in Washington, while those who made the mess pay no price.

Washington Times story

-Kathy

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