Special Olympics DOE funding – Political grandstanding targets DeVos

The reporting on this subject is absolutely horrendous. One article headline reads ‘I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children!’

Politicians love to grandstand. In the age of Trump, quite a few elected officials have gone off the deep end with their soundbites and statements. Betsy DeVos, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education is a favorite target of the left. It’s not unusual to see comments on websites and social media calling her an evil witch, heartless and sub-human. Some flatly state she should be in prison.

But this post is not about DeVos. It’s about the absurd claims made by statist Democrats who blow things totally out of proportion with outrageous soundbites, and the media who are complicit through their total lack of intellectual honesty.

First, let me start with a disclaimer. I think the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) should be shuttered tomorrow*. Totally close it down. I realize that will not happen, but am willing to ensure the process gets started by eliminating special earmarks to start. That is what the proposed budget does. Many of the earmark cuts – 29 programs totaling $6.7 billion – are for programs that show little or no evidence of meeting objectives, or programs more appropriately supported through local, state and private funds.

If you look at the proposed budget, you can get into the details. You’ll note no news sites – at least that I could find – provided a link to the proposal. Specifically referring to the Special Olympics program grant award, the proposal states…

Such activities are better supported with other Federal, State, local, or private funds.

I agree, but how much money are we talking about here? What does the $17.6 million cut actually represent? For that, you’ll need to do a bit of research. (By the way, a note to Rolling Stone … no, it’s not 10 percent of the organization’s budget, you purposefully ignored all of the state organizations so you’re WAY too high.)

Let’s ask why most of the news articles about DeVos, the DOE and the Special Olympics dive into what percentage of funding the DOE provided to the organization in the past. Few – and certainly not one politician who “grilled” or “blasted” DeVos – asked about it. I started the research the media should be doing to inform the public. I did not determine the percentage since it would take too much time to collect the data.

From what I can gather this morning, Special Olympics in the USA is made up of at least 50 individual 501(c)3 non-profits, plus the home organization based in DC. Some states have multiple organizations filing returns independently. Our donations to this great organization are tax deductible. Contributing our time is the fun and rewarding part.

On the revenue side in 2017, the main organization took in $116 million, while providing $28 million in grants and assistance to what I assume would be the state organizations. Salaries and benefits at the main organization in 2017 totaled $23 million. The Special Olympics national organization earned $5.7 million in investment income, not included in the $116 million. This is from their Form 990, Returns of Organization Exempt from Income Tax for 2017.

I took a look at the publicly disclosed Form 990 for just eight state Special Olympic organizations. Line 8 on the form lists contributions and grants received. The numbers do not represent the total revenue, as they do not include program service revenue, investment income, or “other” income. These were the most recent 990s I could find for each of the states listed, some were 2016, some were 2017.

  • Connecticut – $5.1 million
  • Arizona – $5.2 million
  • Massachusetts – $5.3 million
  • Rhode Island – $1.6 million
  • New York – $6.8 million
  • California – $8.6 million
  • Texas – $6.7 million
  • Florida – $9.6 million

So the total for contributions and grants just for the eight states I researched is about $50 million. Do you think my information is important for this story? Does it provide additional insight? Did you learn something?

Politicians don’t care about insight, and have no interest in getting the full story to you. They would much rather have you only receive the information and soundbites they want you to hear. They grandstand knowing the media will support their narrative. It’s journalistic malpractice.

It’s better to get lines like “I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget,” [Barbara] Lee [D-Calif.] said Tuesday. She continued, “You zero that out. It’s appalling.”

What makes it worse is the interviews with Special Olympians who think this means the end of the program…

One WaPost article headline?

‘I’m praying for the Special Olympics’: A special-needs athlete responds to Betsy DeVos

The author continued with sentences like this…

But on Tuesday, his athletic fate suddenly seemed to slip further from his control.

And here is a Twitter comment from a representative implying the end, by using the phrase “seeing their support taken away.”

In @BetsyDeVosED’s budget, there are major cuts to programs like the Special Olympics. Sec. DeVos didn’t know the number of kids who would be hurt by that cut, so I made sure she now knows that 272,000 kids are seeing their support taken away.

Plus you’ve got the Washington Post’s Twitter feed stating…

Five Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago would cover Betsy Devos’s proposed Special Olympics cuts

Is that even news? That’s a political hit and nothing more. Jeff Bezos, the owner of the Washington Post, is worth well more than $100 billion. Just one of Bezo’s New Glenn rockets costs $2.5 billion.

Why not tweet…

Just one of Bezo’s rockets could cover the proposed US DOE Special Olympics cuts for 125 years

This entire spectacle is just that. Do your research. Don’t trust what politicians say and remember most of the media is part of – if not absolutely running – the establishment left.

* We already have Departments of Education at the school, local, regional and state levels. This is why – in my opinion – the entire department is redundant. I wrote about shuttering of the federal DOE back in January 2012 and December 2011. Read those posts for additional insight.

Ocasio-Cortez and her plan for the 70% tax rate bracket

There has been enough commentary on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) suggestion to add a tax bracket of 70 percent for income earned more than $10 million that I need to chime in. We’ve all heard the cries of “the rich don’t pay their fair share” for years. It’s a complete lie and I’ve discussed it in at least one column in the past.

So how does Ocasio-Cortez’s plan hold up? What does it do, how many people will it affect and more importantly, how much money will it bring in?

It’s not hard to calculate an estimate. I headed to the IRS website, and hunted down data including Individual Statistical Tables by Size of Adjusted Gross Income. Then I opened the 2016 spreadsheet for All Returns: Selected Income and Tax Items. (2016 is the most recent data provided.)

In that spreadsheet, we find:

  • There were 16,087 individual federal returns who had an adjusted gross income more than $10 million
  • That’s 0.0107 percent of all returns. Yes, that’s about 1/100th of a percent.
  • Those 16,087 individuals (or families) currently pay 5.6 percent of the total federal income tax collected

Stop and look at the last figure again.

The spreadsheet shows the average adjusted gross income for those 16,087 making more than $10 million is about $30 million. So at best, Ocasio-Cortez’s plan would bring in 33 percent of $20 million, multiplied by 16,087. (Families currently pay 37 percent income tax on earnings more than $600,000, so the difference is 33 percent.) That’s $6.6 million per family, or a total of $106 billion.

So the plan is to confiscate $106 billion per year from 16,000 families who are already contributing more than 5 percent of the income tax collected.

And that’s a best-case scenario where no families take legal steps to reduce their tax burden. And trust me, they will do everything possible and legal to reduce their tax burden. Including electing to not make that much. Would you work harder to take home less than 30 cents of every dollar you earn?

Don’t forget many are paying state income tax. In Connecticut you’ll take home less than 24 cents for every dollar earned. California? How about less than 17 cents?

The federal government spent about $4 trillion in 2016. $100 billion is 2.5 percent of the total amount spent. The 2016 federal deficit was $587 billion. The increased tax collected – if this plan was implemented in 2016 – would not even cover 20 percent of the deficit.

And get this, even if we confiscated 100% of every dollar those 16,000 families earned in 2016 … we still would have been $105 billion short of covering the deficit! That’s a hypothetical that could never happen, but it is illustrative of the problem.

Stefanowski and the payday loan business

A post in the Washington Times this morning concerning Connecticut’s Republican candidate for governor Bob Stefanowski’s previous business ventures caught my eye. I wrote about payday loans previously about eight years ago, so I thought I would revisit the subject.

Stefanowski led DFC Global Corp. in Pennsylvania for a couple of years during 2014 and 2016. DFC Global provides financial services – short term loans and other services – to “unbanked and under-banked” consumers. When pundits refer to “payday loans” it’s in-part reference to unsecured short-term consumer loans. These are the type of loans your local bank is normally not interested in providing.

No matter what you hear from the pundits, the short-term, unsecured loan market is regulated by the federal government and individual states where they are legal. The other important aspect is there is a demand for loans less than $250 for days or a couple of weeks.

There are many who will heavily criticize Stefanowski for “taking advantage of poor people.” Others will point out payday loan outfits provide a needed service to a community not being served by traditional financial institutions.

In Connecticut, payday loans are pretty much illegal. The state legislature ensured that by capping the interest rate at 12 percent. If you need $200 to cover your car payment for the next week until you get paid – hence the term payday loan – you’re totally out of luck. There is not a financial institution in the state who will help you. The risk is way to great for a return for a profit of about 53 cents. ($200 at 12 percent for about one week.)

I took a look at the website for a large payday loan outfit in Florida. It took me about three minutes to locate their finance charge schedule. The first think you’ll notice is the annual percentage rates … they are between 286 and 521 percent. If you have moral objections to these interest rates, that’s fine. But I’ll ask you to take a closer look.

In Florida, the amount financed can be as little as $50, and up to $500. If you need $300, you’ll owe $335 in two weeks. (That’s a 304 percent interest rate.) You’ll need to meet certain qualifications and present some required items to get the loan, but you’ll get the money you need. The loan term is between 10 and 31 days. Again, these are short-term loans.

As I mentioned, I wrote about payday loans almost eight years ago. I’ll use the numbers above for another example.

… let’s say you have to make a $300 car payment today, but you will not have the money to pay the debt until your next paycheck coming in two weeks. We’ll lay out two options for you.

Option 1: An offer of a $300 loan – due in two weeks – that you will have to pay a $35 to get. (Total cost $335)

Option 2: Car most likely repossessed within the next 14 days.

What would you do? If you morally object to the $35 interest charge, what would your advice be to that person? Be honest with the answer. If you morally object to the rate paid, would you be willing to invest in a company offering financial services to underserved customers at an interest rate you find morally acceptable? What would that rate be?

Below is the video I included in my previous post for reference. Some information may be out-of-date.

Note the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 – passed and signed four years prior to Stefanowski running DFC Global – gave the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the power to oversee financial products and services, including payday loans. (They really did not start implementation until 2012.) President Obama promised he would limit payday loan rates to 36 percent. Although some sources say he kept his promise, those same sources note…

It’s worth noting that the 36 percent interest cap, something Obama specifically cited in this promise, is not included in the new agency’s purview.

Nice how the “fact finders” lie is it not?

Final comment. There has been plenty of discussion and articles concerning the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the federal act passed in 2010. Sorry, but I just do not have time to dive into any of that.

NYT anonymous “Trump administration insider” opinion piece

On the big radio show this morning – 9 a.m. to noon ET – Jim will be discussing the very unusual anonymous New York Times opinion piece posted yesterday.

Mike Walsh will be a guest on the show today, and he’s got his own commentary posted over at American Greatness … The Spy in the White House, the Dogs in the Manger.

Jim will also take a look at Allahpundit’s updated post over at Hot Air, including this tweet in response to the NYT OpEd.

Trump budget increases Medicare funding $4 trillion in next decade

After seeing dozens of news reports about “devastating cuts” to Medicaid, you might think the Trump budget reduces the amount of spending on Medicaid. In reality, the proposed spending for Medicaid would increase by $4.7 trillion during the next decade.

Welcome to the world of baseline budgeting. Forecasters assume spending will go up in future years, and if a new budget still spends more – but less than what was planned previously – the media gets to use the “cut” word and liberal politicians get to claim “this budget will kill people.”

I have a huge problem with the way the media deals with this. But it really should be expected, since most are in total support of the liberal agenda – and the goal to destroy the Trump administration. You’ll have to ask them why they refuse to take just a few moments to provide the real information, instead of dishing out not even half the story.

Let’s say you take over leadership of a large sports apparel marketing department. Your budget this year is $1 million, and your predecessor’s budget assumed a $100,000 increase in spending every year for the next 10 years. Eventually, the budget would be $2 million per year.

You’ve been hired to run the department more efficiently, while still providing a quality product and good service. You work with your team and come up with a budget that increases $50,000 each year for the next 10 years. Your budget will be $1.5 million per year 10 years from now.

After you release your budget plans and inform the media, the financial reporters announce you’re cutting the marketing budget to the tune of $500,000 over the next decade. How absolutely absurd is that?

That’s exactly what the mainstream media does. And the liberal politicians love it. They absolutely love to cry wolf, claiming the Republicans and the Trump administration have no problem with kids and adults dying with “no access” to health care. Right from the playbook.

ABC News is the only mainstream media outlet to attempt to explain this. That said, they still used the term “artfully evasive” when referring to Budget Director Mick Mulvaney’s real-world, easy-to-understand explanation. But still, right there in the story, they admit…

So, yes, Medicaid spending would increase by $4.7 trillion over a decade.

I guess they figured they had to explain things in a “AP Fact Check” article.

Below, is Mulvaney’s tutorial during a press conference earlier this week.

Wondering how bad it is? Just take a look at media headlines concerning Trump’s budget. Keep in mind, the proposed budget* does not cut funding dollars much at all, if anything. The federal government spends more and more every year.

The above are just a few of the examples. In my world, if you spend more money next year than you did this year, you’re increasing your budget. Sure, many will claim it’s “more complicated” implying you’re too stupid to understand. Many will state it’s important to look at budget numbers as a percentage of GDP. Many will state it’s important to consider inflation. Fine, do that if you wish, but stop claiming there are cuts. Be honest, and say the budget reduces the previous administration’s rate of growth. We’re spending more than previous years, just not as much as proposed previously.

Don’t let the media and Washington insiders brainwash you with claims of “devastating cuts” to any program when the federal government’s budget for those programs continues to grow.

* The Trump Administration did remove the budget [PDF format] from the White House website. Do you blame them? In the document they clearly show increases in spending, but the media ignores the facts. I don’t blame them for pulling it, why bother even publishing it if the media will lie about it?

Criminal illegal aliens kill people

Not all, but some do. Sanctuary cities. Light enforcement of the law – if any enforcement. This is a problem, and President Trump really seems to be the only one to call these atrocities for what they are. From the Denver Post.

Ever Valles, 19, was arrested on Oct. 20 in Denver and held on multiple charges including possession of a weapon, vehicle theft and eluding.

ICE tagged a “detainer” notice on Valles, with the expectation that when he was released, ICE would be notified by Denver jail officials. ICE agents would then be at the jail to take Valles into federal custody.

Before October, Valles was a known gang member and juvenile offender.

… ICE believed him to be a “known gang member whose gang history is documented in the Colorado gang database.”

A Colorado Bureau of Investigation arrest report for Valles says he received 2 years with the Colorado Department of Youth Corrections for a drug case in 2014.

Let’s make something really clear. You don’t get two years in youth corrections for “smoking a little weed.”

This criminal illegal alien is no “dreamer.” There are hundreds of thousands of these criminal illegal aliens in the country, and due to the political correct hogwash, they frequently roam free. Even though Immigration & Custom Enforcement (ICE) put a detainer on Valles, Denver didn’t care one bit. They released him on Dec. 20, giving ICE a total of 26 minutes to come pick him up.

Denver jail officials said Friday they sent notification of Valles’ impending release by fax to the local ICE office at 11:33 p.m. Dec. 20 after Valles posted $5,000 bond earlier in the day. Valles was then released from jail at 11:59 p.m.

On Feb. 7, Valles and another criminal illegal alien robbed and murdered Tim Cruz.

A man who was shot to death early Tuesday near an RTD station on the Denver-Lakewood border has been identified as 32-year-old Tim Cruz, authorities said.

Cruz was shot during a robbery at 4:33 a.m. Tuesday on the 1100 block of Sheridan Boulevard, according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner.

He was pronounced dead at the RTD station, according to a news release by Steven Castro, spokesman for the coroner’s office. The manner of death is homicide, Castro said.

On Feb. 17, Valles and the other scum ball were charged with Cruz’s death.

You tell me. Does someone have blood on their hands here? Sanctuary cities are a serious problem that must be dealt with harshly. They should not be considered a “point of pride” for any city.

Connecticut budget – Malloy wants 325% increase for pistol permits

Section 15 of Connecticut’s Constitution reads “Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defense of himself and the state.” There are no qualifiers. There are no limits written or implied. And there is no mention of a $370 mandatory fee to a participate in this right.

Connecticut’s Budget Mess

Connecticut’s Gov. D.P. Malloy (D) is asking for that 325 percent increase in pistol permit fees as he makes an attempt to fix the state’s budget. Remember three years ago when the Hartford Courant breathlessly reported a budget surplus of $500 million? Malloy commented…

”There’s much work to do, but make no mistake: our economy is improving, private sector jobs are growing at the strongest pace in decades, and we are reducing the state’s overall indebtedness,” Malloy said in a statement. ”And we are accomplishing all of this at the same time we are putting money away in the rainy day fund. That’s a record to be proud of.”

Within hours many were openly laughing at the governor’s comments. Within three months, the CT Mirror let us know

Plummeting tax receipts have ripped a nearly $300 million hole in the next state budget, leaving legislators and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy just one week to fix it, according to a new report Wednesday from fiscal analysts.

… the $500 million-plus surplus Malloy touted just two months ago when he proposed a tax rebate has disintegrated to $43 million.

How the hell does that happen? Mismanagement, making promises you can never expect to keep, and spending policies that absolutely defy the imagination is how. Now back to the fees.

Connecticut’s Pistol Permit Fees

For the simple reason anti-gun advocates think firearm owners should be punished, Malloy figures increasing the fees on pistol permits will be accepted. The simple fact is many good people live in communities that are hard-hit by crime. They have the right – as does every other law-abiding person – to defend themselves and the US Constitution and Connecticut’s Constitution confirms that God-given right. Why is anyone forced by the State of Connecticut required to pay close to $600* to get a permit to exercise this right? How is that moral?

It’s not. Some may say Malloy’s suggestion to raise permit fees is racist. It’s hard to argue it’s not. Maybe Malloy thinks pistol permits should only be available to those who have enough disposable income? Yeah, that’s it: Malloy hates the poor and could not care about their right to self-defense. I’m convinced.

Other Fee Increases

Malloy is also suggesting raising the cigarette tax .45 cents per pack, increasing fees on criminal history record checks, record filing, cremation services, urgent care center licensing and doubling the bottle deposit fee. (Why does the government get any of bottle deposit money?)

But more importantly, let’s look at some fees the governor has not mentioned raising which includes a criminal background check, just like a pistol permit.

I could go on-and-on, but Malloy is not suggesting any of these fees be raised even though every one requires a complete background check and investigation of some sort.

Why are those wishing to participate in a God-given right, confirmed by both the US and Connecticut Constitution being targeted by Malloy? We know the reason.

* Along with the initial $370 state fee, Connecticut requires a training class that varies in cost between $100 and $160, plus the individual town’s tack on additional fees of at least $70. Hence … almost $600, not including the eight hours of time you need to take the class plus at least another four to six hours of your time with the local and state police. And that’s per person.

No ambiguity: Trump has authority to suspend entry of aliens

The president has a tremendous amount of power – confirmed by the Constitution and the Supreme Court – concerning the entry into the United States of all aliens. The law is clear. No ambiguity at all.

Code § 1182(f)
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

Of course, none of the blow-hard media “expert” journalists from the main stream media even acknowledge this law actually exists. They do say the president “has a lot of authority” or something like that, but then they say other parts of the Constitution may “temper” the power he has.

No, there is nothing that tempers 1182(f), nothing.

From the National Review, with my emphasis.

Writing for the Supreme Court in 1948 (in Chicago & Southern Air Lines v. Waterman), Justice Robert Jackson — FDR’s former attorney general and the chief prosecutor at Nuremburg — explained that decisions involving foreign policy, including alien threats to national security, are “political, not judicial” in nature.

NR refers directly to Jackson’s decision, which in part reads…

Such decisions are wholly confided by our Constitution to the political departments of the government, Executive and Legislative. They are delicate, complex, and involve large elements of prophecy. They are and should be undertaken only by those directly responsible to the people whose welfare they advance or imperil. They are decisions of a kind for which the Judiciary has neither aptitude, facilities nor responsibility and have long been held to belong in the domain of political power not subject to judicial intrusion or inquiry.

Democrat scare tactics continue … “take away health care…”

Unbelievable liars. All of them. Below is part of the email the “DNC War Room” just sent out with the subject line Add your name: Tell Congress to protect health care.

Let’s get something straight. Nobody .. not one conservative or Republican is trying to “take health care away” from anybody.

Prior to the Affordable [my ass] Health Care for America Act, everyone had access to health care. Walk in to any hospital and get treated. It was the absolute rule of law across the United States. You could not be turned away if you were sick or in need. In 1986 – during the Reagan administration – Congress passed the Emergency Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

EMTALA imposes 3 distinct legal duties on hospitals. According to the statute, only facilities that participate in Medicare are included, but this encompasses almost 98% of all US hospitals. First, hospitals must perform a medical screening examination (MSE) on any person who comes to the hospital and requests care to determine whether an emergency medical condition (EMC) exists. Second, if an EMC exists, hospital staff must either stabilize that condition to the extent of their ability or transfer the patient to another hospital with the appropriate capabilities. Finally, hospitals with specialized capabilities or facilities (e.g., burn units) are required to accept transfers of patients in need of such specialized services if they have the capacity to treat them.

Furthermore, the law prohibits any participating hospital from delaying such screening examination or further care “in order to inquire about the individual’s method of payment or insurance status.”

Get treated, get better, go home … and we’ll bill you later.

In no way, shape or form would even the complete, immediate repeal of the Affordable [my ass] Health Care for America Act result in “taking health care away.” That’s a total lie.

Everyone has access to health care, and now thanks to Obamacare, almost nobody can afford paying the bills that come with the service. Health care insurance premiums are through the roof. High-deductible health plans that used to have annual deductibles in the $750 to $1,000 range just eight years ago, now have annual deductibles at or more than $5,000 per year. Back in Nov. 2016 I wrote…

If you’re middle class on a non-subsidized ACA plan, a family of four spends about $1,300 a month in premiums. The deductible for those plans is $13,000 per year. So once you pay $28,600 out-of-pocket each year, your insurance kicks in.

That’s not an anomaly, those are the figures I ran in November and I’m not sure what the plan level was. I just ran the numbers again, and a family of four with two kids (12 and 14) who are shopping for an unsubsidized plan will pay a minimum of $20,496 out-of-pocket for the least expensive plan required by law. Dental and vision not covered. If you’re one of the unlucky families that are required to – by law – buy these outrageously high policies that simply provide you with catastrophic care due to the high deductibles and premiums, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’re an employer working hard to keep 50 to 200 employees covered in a group plan, you know what I’m talking about. Prices are out of control.

Of course, if you’re “lucky” enough to get a subsidy – where other people’s money is covering part of your tab – and you’re the same family of four making $50,000 a year in Connecticut, you’ll still be paying out more than $10,000 in premiums and deductibles before insurance picks up anything.

Don’t let the DNC liars take the high ground here. Don’t let them lie and continue their fear-mongering. Call them out on it. The president lied when he said we could keep our plan and our doctor. He lied when he said costs would go down $2,500 a year. Lie, Lie, Lie.

Breaking Defense: Trump’s Generals – Mattis & Flynn & Kelly

In a three-part series, James Kitfield from Breaking Defense provides brief overviews of the experienced military men that will, or may be working for President-elect Trump in leadership positions.

Among the many anxieties inspired by the rise of Trump, one of the most profound is his fondness for generals. Does naming so many retired military men to top positions undermine the principal of civilian control? How might their shared experiences in our post-9/11 conflicts shape the way they govern? This week, award-winning defense reporter James Kitfield takes us in depth with profiles of Jim Mattis, John Kelly, and Mike Flynn. Today, Kitfield starts the series with a look at Trump’s generals as a group. Besides Trump, what do they all have in common? The answer is one word: war.

Trump’s Generals: How Wartime Service Shaped Mattis, Kelly, & Flynn

Trump’s Generals, Part 2: Jim Mattis vs. Iran

Trump’s Generals, Part 3: Mike Flynn vs. Al-Qaeda