Category Archives: Pay to play

Pay to play, sometimes pay for play, is a phrase used for a variety of situations in which money is exchanged for services or the privilege to engage (play) in certain activities. The common denominator of all forms of pay to play is that one must pay to “get in the game,” with the sports analogy frequently arising.

In politics, pay to play refers to a system, akin to payola in the music industry, by which one pays (or must pay) money to become a player.

Typically, the payer (an individual, business, or organization) makes campaign contributions to public officials, party officials, or parties themselves, and receives political or pecuniary benefit such as no-bid government contracts, influence over legislation, political appointments or nominations, special access or other favors. The contributions, less frequently, may be to nonprofit or institutional entities, or may take the form of some benefit to a third party, such as a family member of a governmental official.

Obama’s Political Heritage? Nothing to Write Home About!

26.11.2016 Author: Martin Berger

Any election, and presidential elections in particular, are a sort of a test for the ruling party. Therefore, the number of votes received by the ruling elite shows if it is going to remain in power or be forced into the dustbin of history.

The latter happened in the US recently, where the ruling Democratic party had to give way to a new presidential candidate, which means that it has failed the test of the vote. It’s curious that to evaluate all the activities of the Obama administration one does not need to search for pro-Kremlin sites on the net, sites Hillary Clinton suggests are more capable of affecting US elections than any Western media source. Yes, we are being told that Russia was trying to manipulate the recent US presidential election, but let’s now take a look at what grade was given to “Obama’s reign” by the Western media itself.

As it was noted by Allen West, the executive director of the National Council for Policy Analysis (NCPA), an author, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and an outspoken former member of Congress in his interview for the Daily Caller, this recent election – is a rejection of the political class that failed the American people. “I think it is a huge referendum on the failures of Barack Obama” – he added, noting that after Obama, the US was reluctant to endure four more years of his successor in office.

In turn, the American Thinker would state that the US president is near the end of an eight year train wreck presidency. Though, it is no secret that he has done nothing for the black community, whose unemployment and crime rates are rising every day, while the demonization of police and the lauding of racist activists who condone assassination and lawlessness is carried on. This media source says that we all know that elitist progressives are nothing if not master liars and puppeteers. They have spent years tailoring and refining their manipulation of black communities, inflaming their resentment, bitterness and hopelessness by reminding them of how little progress they have been able to make, without reminding them that the Democrats have led them for decades into this dead end.

The Democrats are behind the declining role of the United States across the globe, the American Spectator notes. While the American Conservative goes further, noting that it’s looking like it may be Obama’s world vision headed for the proverbial ash heap of history.

Unfortunately for President Obama and his legacy, the American Thinker notes, history won’t be kind at all. Of course, he will always be the first black president but not much more than that. Obamacare is collapsing on its own. Yes, the GOP majority will move to repeal it, but that’s a bit like signing the death certificate on a person dead for months. It’s true that President Obama’s foreign policy is in total disarray. It’s hard to see anyone defending any of it, except for liberal Democrats from safe seats who just want to oppose President Trump. The US economy is desperately calling for liberation from Mr. Obama’s regulations.

According to the latest Gallup poll, Americans’ support for the healthcare law continues to be slightly more negative than positive, with 51% of the population disapproving of it. At the same time 29% of Americans say Obamacare has hurt them and their family. Yet another poll conducted by the same entity shows 50% of Americans say Obama deserves a “great deal” or “moderate amount” of blame.

The Economic Collapse says that President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers announced that 83% of men in the prime working ages of 25-54 who were not in the labor force had not worked in the previous year. So, essentially, 10 million men are missing from the workforce across the US today. This means that the Wall Street Journal is right about dubbing the situation in America as the weakest “economic recovery” since 1949.

This entire seven year stretch since 2008 has come while Barack Obama has been in the White House and he is solidly on track to be the only president in US history to never have a single year when the US economy grew by at least three percent.

It’s noted that under Obama, US national debt will come close to doubling. What that means is that during Obama’s eight years Americans would accumulate almost as much debt as they did under all of the other presidents in US history combined. Right now, the US government is responsible for about a third of all the government debt in the entire world.

The Foreign Policy Journal is convinced that the proximate cause behind the rise of Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra and myriads of other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq has been Obama Administration’s policy of intervention through proxies in Syria, which leads to the conclusion made by the Week that Obama will leave his successor a ticking time bomb.

So no matter where you look, it’s unlikely that anybody has any words of praise left for Barack Obama and his eight years in office. One can only hope that the new president-elect will not follow in Obama’s tracks, since it doesn’t look like the US and the world can take any more disastrous decisions right now.

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Clinton Surrogate Helped Get Argentine ‘Dirty Money’ Into the U.S.

Hillary Clinton with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, former president of Argentina.

Florida lobbyist Freddy Balsera partnered with Carlos Molinari, who’s been indicted in the financial scandal in Argentina, on the scheme

By Ken Silverstein • 10/24/16 8:00am

I’m a reporter who intensely dislikes both major party presidential candidates, but my personal experience during this campaign, bolstered by witnessing the incredibly slanted coverage we’ve seen the past month, is that the media is far more interested in running negative stories about Donald Trump than about Hillary Clinton. Trump indisputably received a lot of positive coverage when he was running in the GOP primaries, but once this became a two-person race the gloves came off, which has had a huge impact on coverage and helped Hillary immensely.

One of the most heavily promoted storylines of this year’s campaign is that Trump is a tool of Moscow and Vladimir Putin and no one is pushing it harder than Hillary Clinton’s campaign, as seen in last week’s debate. The idea that Trump is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate is too ludicrous to take seriously, as Paul Starobin, Businessweek’s former Moscow bureau chief, has written.

This storyline gained currency a few months back when Trump’s top campaign advisor, Paul Manafort, was forced to resign following a barrage of negative coverage about his work as a lobbyist in Ukraine. A flurry of stories came out — I wrote a couple of them— that raised legitimate issues about Manafort’s role in Ukraine, but few noted that his efforts mainly took place at a time that Ukraine had friendly relations with the United States, during the Bush and Obama years.

Here’s a story, thus far unreported, about a leading Clinton surrogate and fundraiser named Freddy Balsera who founded a company called Global Development Consultants Inc. with Carlos Molinari, a businessman who’s been indicted in a massive financial scandal in Argentina. Global Development Consultants is mentioned on multiple occasions in Molinari’s indictment, and Argentine prosecutors believe it played a role in laundering money directly into the United States — which would seem to be a good hook for U.S. reporters. The related scandal — which has been heavily covered by major U.S. media outlets — has resulted in the indictment of former Argentine president Cristina Kirchner and a host of financial middlemen and money launderers.

Do I think this made Hillary Clinton a tool of Kirchner’s left-leaning government? No I don’t, just as I don’t believe Manafort’s work in Ukraine somehow makes Trump Putin’s puppet. But I do believe the media would have been all over this story if it had been a Trump surrogate and not a Clinton surrogate who was involved, and that it raises important questions about one of her leading allies in Florida.

(I asked Balsera and the Clinton campaign for comment. Thus far they have not replied.)

Balsera is a lobbyist and PR consultant who runs Miami-based Balsera Communications, and he has a “unique proficiency” in peddling political narratives to the public, according to his bio page on the firm’s website. His partners at the PR firm include David Duckenfield, who took a leave from Balsera Communications to work in a senior job at the State Department under John Kerry between 2014 and 2016.

Balsera is also a Democratic operative with a big, influential political network in Florida, a key swing state, and he claims to have a huge following with Hispanic voters. He was an Obama media surrogate and claims to have crafted a good chunk of Spanish-language political ads for his campaign which “helped deliver an estimated sixty-six percent of the national Hispanic vote.”

Balsera was an Obama bundler and a member of his national finance committee, which appears to have reaped him some notable dividends. His family and Molinari’s bowled at the White House in 2010 (and Molinari’s daughter is an Obama donor). The president appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which sells U.S. foreign policy abroad, and earlier this year Balsera Communications opened a new office in Buenos Aires just as Obama was in the country tangoing his way through a state visit. A picture on Balsera’s Twitter feed shows him and Duckenfield jetting down to Buenos Aires to be there for Obama’s official trip. All a coincidence, no doubt.

Balsera helped secure a U.S. visa for an Ecuadorean woman, Estefanía Isaías, who had been barred from entering the United States because she’d been busted for illegally obtaining visas for her maids. The State Department under Hillary Clinton lifted the ban on Isaias in 2012 — the same year her rich, politically wired family gave more than $100,000 to the Obama Victory Fund and other Democratic causes, the New York Times has reported. “It was one of several favorable decisions the Obama administration made in recent years involving the Isaías family,” which lives in Miami and is accused by the government of Ecuador of having looted a bank,” the Times wrote.

Balsera sponsored Isaías’s visa application, which said she would be employed by his firm. But the Times never found any evidence that Isaias ever actually went to work for Balsera Communications.  A senior executive at the firm had never heard of her and she was not listed as an employee on its website, Facebook page or Twitter timeline. In other words, it looks like Secretary Clinton did a big favor for Obama money man Balsera and for a family of Democratic donors.

Nowadays Balsera raises money for Hillary’s campaign —incidentally, his partner Duckenfield, another Obama bundler, does so, too— and is national co-chair of the DNC’s Hispanic Leadership Council. He’s also a director of Correct The Record, a Super PAC that closely coordinates with Hillary’s campaign and that put together a “rapid response team” that attacks Hillary’s critics. The group spent at least $1 million to target social media users and heavily pushed the “Bernie Bros” meme, which suggested that Sanders’ supporters were mostly deplorable misogynists.

Correct the Record was created by David Brock, the professional propagandist who also set up Media Matters — another Clinton attack vehicle that protects its Supreme Leader in the same way that North Korea’s Central News Agency defends Kim Jong-un.

Like many in the Clinton camp, Brock’s political positions and empathy are decidedly situational.

His vehicles have worked furiously to promote stories about Donald Trump’s awful remarks about women. This is a bit rich because back during Bill Clinton’s years as president — when Brock got his start in propaganda as a Republican hatchet man — he famously labeled Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.”

Anyway, Balsera is a big deal in Washington and Miami and it turns out that he’s well connected in Argentina as well through Molinari and Global Development Consultants (and now with his PR firm’s brand news Buenos Aires office). But for reasons that will become clear shortly, the normally voluble Balsera apparently doesn’t like to talk about Global and all traces of that firm’s presence on the Internet have been scrubbed, seemingly after Molinari’s embarrassing legal problems erupted in Argentina.

I obtained — from the National Legal and Policy Center, which provided key research for this story — a screenshot from the firm’s old website. It shows that Global, registered in Florida, was created by Balsera and Molinari. A third major player at the firm was Diego Molinari, Carlos’ son, who was identified on the now scrubbed Global website as CEO and executive vice president.

Screenshot of the Global Development Consultants website.

Here’s a nutshell summary of the case:

The figure at the center of the scandal is Lázaro Báez, a former bank teller turned oligarch who built a vast business empire through contracts awarded by his close friend Cristina Kirchner and her husband, Néstor Kirchner, who preceded her as president of Argentina. When Néstor died, Báez was so bereft that he erected a three-story mausoleum to house his former patron’s remains.

Prosecutors allege that Báez received huge kickbacks on his government contracts and moved them abroad into offshore accounts with the help of a labyrinth of middlemen. The network was reportedly set up in large part by Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the heart of the now famous Panama Papers scandal, and includes dozens of shell companies set up in the United States, mostly in Las Vegas.

According to the prosecution, tens of millions of dollars in kickback money was moved abroad with the help of SGI Argentina, a financial consultancy firm. SGI was hired to move Baez’s money by a man named Leonardo Fariña, who worked for Molinari for years and, the prosecution claims, retained SGI on his advice.

The whole scandal erupted after video footage from early 2011 emerged showing Martín Báez, the oligarch’s son, and a number of SGI employees counting cash at the company’s office and stuffing it into suitcases to be shipped overseas. Fariña, who later turned state’s witness, claimed that SGI sent so much money abroad, mostly to Switzerland, that the cash wasn’t counted but weighed.

On February 24, 2011, which is close to the time that the video was made, SGI sent a letter to the U.S. consulate in Buenos Aires requesting a visa for Fariña. The letter said he would travel to Florida the following month on a chartered plane with Molinari, who was identified as the president of Global Development Consultants.

Leonardo Fariña.

Leonardo Fariña. Twitter

The letter refers to Fariña as SGI’s representative and said that Global Development Consultants had invited him “to see all the projects in which we may be interested in investing.” Molinari’s November 2013 indictment says that Farina bought 10 percent of the shares of Global Development Consultants for $1 million, which would have made him a partner in the firm.

According to prosecutors, Fariña’s trip with Molinari coincides with a period when SGI was moving all that dirty money abroad and was looking to make investments in Florida. Prosecutors say that during the first six months of 2011 Molinari and a number of friends took a total of 33 chartered flights looking to funnel SGI’s money offshore, including to Florida.

Curiously, in May 2011 Global Development Consultants and another firm formed an LLC called Stambul Ventures to manage the luxury Langford Hotel in downtown Miami. Molinari’s divorce records, which included a list of his assets, and Florida corporate records show that he had an interest in the property as well.

The Langford’s developers raised millions — 35 percent of the total costs — through the State Department’s EB-5 visa program to underwrite the renovation of the property, which was previously a historic bank. They applied for the funding in 2012 and began receiving the money in 2015.

In order to apply for the EB-5 visa, a foreigner must invest $500,000 in a project that produces at least 10 jobs in a rural or high unemployment area – or $1 million elsewhere. “Critics of the visa program say it amounts to little more than buying a visa and it benefits the wealthy more than the high-unemployment communities it’s supposed to help,” NBC News said.

The EB-5 program has been riddled by allegations of fraud and favoritism toward politically connected investors. In 2015, a Department of Homeland Security watchdog report said a top official had repeatedly intervened “on behalf of well-connected participants,” including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and Tony Rodham, a brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Politico has reported.

As of this writing, Báez remains in prison as the case unfolds, former president Kirchner has been called to testify and Molinari remains indicted and has reportedly been barred from leaving the country. And it appears that Balsera’s company Global Development Consultants served as a method for Argentine crooks to move dirty money through the United States.

It’s a ripe, juicy story involving a foreign scandal that helped bring down an overseas president, and it involves allegations of financial criminality in the United States and features an appearance by a major political campaign figure. I look forward, with bated breath, to reporters jumping to pursue this story, as there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered.

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No One Can Stop Her… And She Knows It: “This Election Won’t Be Fair”

In a fair election, my best estimate is that Donald Trump would win in a landslide.

But this election will not be fair. In fact, few of them are.

For Trump’s part, there is no doubt that he has been this year’s sensation. A newcomer to politics, he has thrown out all the conventional rules, played by his own, and found a captivated country hanging onto his every word. Love him, hate him, or somewhere in between… no one can look away from the spectacle.

After a war within the party and the convenient disposal of 16 conventional GOP contenders, Trump is now the official Republican candidate and he is in a strong position. Coming out of the relatively calm Republican National Convention and going into the tumultuous DNC, Trump has enjoyed soaring poll numbers while Hillary has been losing ground fast to the scandals and corruption revealed by Wikileaks and other related mouthpieces.

But the fat lady has not sung.

Hijacking the Party, Keeping Dissent Under Wraps

Hillary’s coronation last night as she formally accepted her party’s nomination could hardly have been more forced. The entire Democratic convention has been stage-managed to downplay the overwhelming noise from Bernie supporter who are outraged and feel betrayed by Hillary.

The entire convention has had a certain air to it, a quality that reveals the desperation for power, and the crisp sense of danger that brings with it.

Protesters Rage Against the DNC: “Hillary Didn’t Get the Nomination. The Nomination Was Stolen”

To a casual observer, things might look typical enough, with a few sore losers and pipe dreamers wishing for an ideal country run by decent and fair people that either don’t exist or haven’t figured out how to win an election. But things are not typical – the paradigm is shifting. Politics realigns every 30 years or so, or at least that is the maxim that has held in political science. Only, the last shift has been 30 or 40 years overdue.

There is a reason for that, and the establishment has been fighting to stop the change for the past generation. They have faked out the cycle and kept the population under their thumb (when was the last time you saw a “real” presidential election that wasn’t a means to keeping the status quo?)

But delaying the inevitable won’t hold.

Why Trump Should Win…

As Michael Moore argued, Trump has been preaching the gospel of restoring America’s manufacturing, and is working to woo and turn to “red” the “blue” Rust Belt states where Americans once had strong middle class jobs, especially in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. According to Moore’s numbers (which are cited to motivate support for Hillary and opposition to Trump), if Trump captures those key states in addition to the red states that Mitt Romney, a weak candidate, won in 2012, then Trump should win the electoral college:

I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes – Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states – but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). In the Michigan primary in March, more Michiganders came out to vote for the Republicans (1.32 million) that the Democrats (1.19 million). Trump is ahead of Hillary in the latest polls in Pennsylvania and tied with her in Ohio. Tied? How can the race be this close after everything Trump has said and done? Well maybe it’s because he’s said (correctly) that the Clintons’ support of NAFTA helped to destroy the industrial states of the Upper Midwest.

In fact, Moore is right. Nobody wants any more Flint, Michigans (where the water is contaminated and poverty seems to be airborne and contagious), least of all Michael Moore.

Trump’s appeal is much broader than just his sensational antics and controversial statements. He is resonating with America because he is speaking to the wounds of those struggling to cling to what’s left of the middle class American Dream.

And the strength of Trump’s position there is buttressed by the cold fact that the Clinton’s strong support for NAFTA played a major role in the downward spiral of the Rust Belt, and many other parts of the United States.

Trump’s appeal to bringing jobs back to America has to sound like not only a good campaign strategy, but an actual sound idea.

Things have reached a point where nearly every American – regardless of how little they pay attention to news and world affairs – is feeling the damage that has been done. NAFTA, GATT, the WTO and an entire shift into pseudo-governing structures of globalism that have eaten away at the sovereignty of the United States and devoured the prosperity of its people have taken a serious toll on our way of life. And we have all been programmed to take it lying down.

The steady flow of funny money, artificially pumped out by the Federal Reserve has kept many from noticing it, but the real world effects are still hitting people on the street. Not only does the dollar not go as far as it used to, but everything in life is increasing in cost, and getting watered down in value and substance. Society is acting out one big charade, and pretending not to notice the outrage, dissent and anger seeping through the cracks and edges.

Inevitable and determined to win at all costs

Rather than let that burst on her watch, and during the only opportunity she has left in this lifetime, Hillary Clinton and her minions have rearranged all the deck chairs in her favor to force a win. It certainly hasn’t come from the grassroots. Where necessary, the Democratic party has fudged primaries and stolen them outright. The mainstream media has been scripted around her as an anointed figure who is untouchable and beyond reproach. They have stifled exposure of Bernie and would have done so to any other rival… if only any others had dared to enter the race.

Instead, the campaign to elect Hillary became an unrelenting junta to force her into office in spite of the will of the people, the rules of the game or the ever-expanding negative image of the former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State whose corruption and ties to bad deeds are both legendary and sufficiently documented to warrant life without parole.

There was a never a realistic chance that Hillary would be prosecuted or even reprimanded over her email scandals, because the fix was in a long time ago. Those who would theoretically hold her into account were appointed by her husband, or by President Obama, and their cooperation was assured in private.

Though many have argued that you can’t put lipstick on a pig, that is exactly what has taken place. 2016 is more of a farce than ever… and there is still another round to go.

Only One Persons Stands Between Her and the Presidency

Can anyone else see that the most rigged and stolen election of all time is shaping up? If the Democratic party doesn’t want Hillary, what makes anyone think the entire country wants anything to do with her?

Before you answer that openly, make a strong educated guess about who the next president is going to be… and how many bodies she will have to climb over to get there.

What Wikileaks exposed with Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the DNC, and what the emails have revealed about Hillary and the Clinton Foundation are surely only the tip of the iceberg. The stories of the delegates who were silenced or kicked out of the convention, and many other deceitful acts to destroy dissent and keep up appearances suggest some of the rest of the story… and it is anything but democratic or “of the people” – though very likely the whole of it will never be known.

There is something very, very wrong going on and it is time that everyone – regardless of ideology, party affiliation or politics – needs to face up to. Preliminary evidence indicates strongly that there has been a very carefully orchestrated coup taking place… and if successful, it will have only one logical conclusion:

Total power, at any price, with a facade of support and momentum that just isn’t there from anyone other than a handful of elite billionaires, and a cadre of clients with addresses that are either foreign or based on Wall Street.

If you missed the convention coverage, then you have got to see Hillary playing with the balloons after her speech.

There really is no wondering who she is concerned about… herself, of course.

As I mentioned above, it is reminiscent – even spot on – of Charlie Chaplin’s amazing parody in The Great Dictator, where his version of a Hitler-esque autocrat toys with the world as his plaything.

We are in for a world of hurt if what I think is going to happen turns out. The entire democratic process is being pushed back under the water, and a crude, fake smile is broadcast for appearances, while holding it all down.

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Progressives Made Their Beds; It’s Time They Lay In It

Oct 20, 2013
Derek Hunter

Throughout the government shutdown, Democrats, who knew Republicans wouldn’t be able to delay Obamacare, routinely said, “It’s settled law.” President Obama was re-elected, they say – though he said almost nothing about Obamacare during the campaign, and what he did say amounted to platitudes he knew were false. And the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.

The debate was over, progressives crowed. It was going to happen. Soon they will be eating crow, and Republicans have to position themselves smartly and strategically now to make sure that crow is served up to them on a silver platter.

The roll out of Obamacare has been a disaster that makes “New Coke” look like the iPad. The website rarely works, and when it does, it sends incorrect information to insurers. And when young and healthy people do sign up, they discover they’re going to be paying exponentially more for insurance to subsidize premiums for wealthy retirees.

That last one should stick in the craw of everyone under 35. They will be paying thousands of dollars per year more so retirees who technically have no income but own their homes and are living off savings and investments – which don’t count as income when it comes to subsidies for the “poor.” And they will be paying for this until they reach 65 and go on Medicare, at which point still younger people will be subsidizing them.

In short: Obamacare is a massive wealth “spreading” from the young and struggling to the old and well off.

Add to that Obamacare’s devastating impact on the economy and part-timing of the American workforce, and you can almost see the train flying off the rails.

There will be attempts at bi-partisan “fixes” to some of the more visible problems caused by Obamacare. Republicans and Democrats have been working together to delay or repeal the medical device tax and change the definition of a full-time employee back to 40 hours per week from Obamacare’s 30 – to name just two.

Republicans must resist the urge to help with these “fixes.”

We just spent a month being lectured by arrogant know-it-alls about how Obamacare is “settled law.” So keep it settled.

Obamacare is failing already, and it will continue to fail in more spectacular ways as we move forward, let it.

Democrat wrote the bill, Democrats voted for the bill, a Democrat president signed it into law. It’s theirs. Make them live with it. As is.

Do not change one comma, one letter. It’s settled law! This is what they wanted, this is what people voted for. If the full failure of Obamacare isn’t allowed to happen, if “fixes” are passed, it will live on in a money-sucking spiral of destruction that will lead to a complete and total government takeover of health care in this country – which is their goal.

It’s going to be painful, but it’s also going to be quick. And the pain will be nothing compared to the damage to the economy and our future if this Frankenstein’s monster is helped to limp into permanency.

Meanwhile, this is also a chance for conservative groups to flex their muscles (and ample money) in a non-circular firing squad way. I have to address them directly now.

Set up a website as a clearinghouse for Obamacare failure stories.

I know you don’t play nice with each other, but get over it. One website, not competing websites – and the focus has to be spreading these collected stories to the media, both national and local. I know you love adding to your email lists, but this can’t be about that. This has to be about spreading the truth the media will do its damnedest to ignore.

Gather stories from any source possible, including user-submitted. Verify them and record the actual people going through them on video in 30- and 60-second clips. Then blast them out daily to every local media outlet in their area. And post new ones on the site daily. Go around the media like President Reagan used to. Overwhelm them into covering the truth.

It’s going to take money, but this can’t be a fundraiser for you. Asking people for money is understandable in normal circumstances, but this is not a normal circumstance. Collect stories, film them and get them out there – that is the only purpose here. If you want to win, that is. If you’d rather be the voice of the conservative movement or the Tea Party group, then that’s your priority – not making the country a better place – and I can’t help you.

Republicans have to be united. Conservatives have to be united. If done right, this effort will have no spokesman on TV. It will be a conduit for getting real people with real Obamacare horror stories in front of any camera, at any time, anywhere in the country. It will be a major undertaking, a massive database and possibly the most important thing any or all of you can do over the next year.

Progressives are unified and indignant. They are indifferent to the cost to both the country and individual, and the pain to the individual is, to them, irrelevant. This is about the concept.

To protect their agenda, they will highlight any success story, no matter how dubious. Conservatives must beat them at their own game. They trot out personal stories constantly; we must do the same. If the president gives a speech touting Obamacare in Fresno, Calif., every reporter within 100 miles should be served up a menu of people suffering under it before Air Force One touches the ground.

This is a winnable fight. It’s our fight to win. But if there’s one thing Republicans and conservatives excel at, it’s snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Obamacare is a disaster, not just in code on a website, but in concept and construction. It survives if we allow it to survive. No more delays, no more defunds, and no more changes. Every unconstitutional change the president makes must be immediately met with a court challenge, even if it’s good. It’s his law. It’s his “medicine.” Make him take it.

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The President’s Legal Authority at the Debt Limit

By Andrew Kloster

Some time between the middle and the end of October, the federal government will reach a hard limit on the amount of debt it can issue, and its ability to finance governmental operations will be affected. Confusion about the debt limit abounds, and this Issue Brief will address some common questions.

What Is the Debt Limit?

The United States debt limit, or debt ceiling, is the statutorily defined amount of debt the U.S. Treasury can issue, either by borrowing from the public or issuing an intragovernmental receipt to special accounts, such as the Social Security or Medicare trust funds.[1]

The Treasury Department has to have liquidity, or cash on hand, to disburse the funds necessary to meet its contractual obligations. The federal government maintains this liquidity by managing governmental receipts (such as income tax payments) and selling debt (such as Treasury bonds).

Will a Government Shutdown Occur If the Debt Limit Is Not Raised?

The debt limit is often confused with the expiration of appropriations bills. Reaching the debt limit is distinct from a government shutdown. A government shutdown occurs when appropriations authorization expires: Unless there is a law saying that money may be spent on a project, money may not be spent on that project.[2] A debate over an appropriations bill is a debate over whether to fund a specific government function. When the government shutdown began, only certain statutorily defined “essential” government functions have continued to operate.[3]

The debate over the debt limit, however, is a debate over how to finance governmental operations—reaching the debt limit would not force a government shutdown. Currently, the debt limit is $16.699 trillion.[4] The federal government reached this limit on May 19, 2013, and Treasury has since used statutorily allowed “extraordinary measures” to avoid issuing additional debt and still have the cash on hand to finance day-to-day operations. When the Treasury exhausts these extraordinary measures, the federal government will continue operating. However, the President might decide that federal employees, for example, will not necessarily be issued checks available to cash immediately.

Even without the ability to issue additional debt, the government will continue to accrue legal obligations; it will simply not be able to immediately liquidate (pay cash for) those obligations.[5]

What Happens to the U.S. Debt If We Reach the Debt Limit?

It is impossible to tell what would happen if the debt limit is not raised.[6] If Congress and the President are unable to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, markets and credit rating agencies might interpret this negatively as unwillingness of the U.S. government to honor its obligation. If the President chooses to default on all obligations rather than a few (discussed below), this could exacerbate the problem. Market perception of U.S. sovereign debt directly affects bond yields (interest rate paid) on U.S. debt, so decisions the President makes can actually save or cost the government money in the long term.

The Prompt Payment Act[7] provides that the “temporary unavailability of funds to make a timely payment” does not excuse delayed payment and that the government is responsible for paying interest charges on such delayed payments. Over time, these interest penalties capitalize, so the federal government ends up paying compound interest. Depending on how the President manages payments, statutory interest payments may be greater or smaller.

What Would the President Prioritize?

While there have been proposals to cabin the authority of the executive to prioritize payments,[8] as it stands there is no statute governing how to manage government finances past the debt limit. Since governmental obligations would exceed receipts, exceeding the debt limit logically implies that at least some obligations would be delayed. These obligations would thus, by definition, be in default. There is no general “governmental default” past the debt limit; default would occur with respect to specific obligations that the President chooses not to prioritize.

There are constitutional backstops on the President’s otherwise plenary authority to prioritize payments.[9] Of these, the most important is that the President may not prioritize payment in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifteenth Amendment. He may not, for example, choose to pay the salaries of federal employees of one race before paying the salaries of federal employees of another race. Subject to this limitation, the President’s prioritization choices are essentially unbounded.

The President could, of course, play a game of political brinksmanship and fail to pay any obligations until the debt ceiling is raised. He could argue that all obligations are on an equal footing and that prioritizing payments violates some principle of fairness. Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made statements about the political unworkability of prioritization in the past,[10] but to date, Treasury has not disavowed its legal authority in this area. Failing to prioritize debt obligations would have far-reaching consequences, however, including potentially increasing the cost of servicing the debt long after the debt limit crisis ends.

Further, to the extent that this situation would involve having cash on hand and failing to pay some receipts, this option implicates the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Act of 1974, which prevents the President from deferring any “budget authority.” This phrase is defined to include “borrowing authority, which means authority granted to a federal entity to borrow and obligate and expend the borrowed funds.”[11] Holding cash until such time that the Treasury can meet all of its payments necessarily includes deferring expenditures of borrowed funds until such time as the debt ceiling is raised, which would implicate these statutory limitations.[12]

The President could also choose to continue payments for “essential” services analogous to those defined in the appropriations context.[13] There is no statutory requirement for this decision, but the idea that there are “core” functions of the federal government that ought to remain liquid is easily understandable. Meeting debt obligations and paying military personnel might be prioritized at the expense of other obligations, such as issuing certain grants and loans to private-sector firms and to state and local governments, for example. So-called mandatory spending, such as Social Security payments, do continue during a government shutdown, but they need not be prioritized at the debt limit.[14]

The President could also pick and choose among programs he likes and those he does not like. He might direct Treasury to pay Department of Defense employees before Department of Education employees, or vice versa. Whatever decision he makes would be essentially unchallengable in court.

Ultimately, however the President chooses to manage payments, delays will accumulate and worsen until either spending is cut or the debt ceiling is raised.

Broad Authority

In brief, the President has broad authority to manage government payments to avoid defaulting on federal obligations. He can choose which payments to make and in which order, and these choices will impact the effects on the average U.S. taxpayer and the economy.

—Andrew Kloster is a Legal Fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

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