Category Archives: Tax Payer’s Dime
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.
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 1, 2016
According to Forbes, Ken Griffin, CEO and founder of the hedge fund, Citadel, has a net worth of $7.6 billion. But unbeknownst to most Americans, Citadel received a windfall boost from the taxpayers’ pocketbook sometime between September 18 to December 12, 2008. That was during the Wall Street crash when the U.S. government had taken over the big insurer, AIG, and decided to pay 100 cents on the dollar on AIG’s obligations to Wall Street banks and hedge funds.
Did the U.S. government have to pay 100 cents on the dollar when AIG was unable to pay what it owed. Absolutely not. It could have negotiated prudently on behalf of the taxpayer. Instead, it doled out at least $93.2 billion as payment in full to banks and hedge funds, of which Citadel received at least $200 million. We say, at least, because all U.S. taxpayers are allowed to know in this matter by their government is what happened during that brief window of September 18 to December 12, 2008.
When it comes to Citadel, there is plenty more the government won’t tell the public. In 2014 the Securities and Exchange Commission refused our Freedom of Information Act request to learn how the dark pool operated by Citadel functions. What we did learn during our investigation is that Citadel has a history of fines over charges of serious trading violations. Read our in-depth report here.
We also know from media reports that in 2006, two years before Citadel got $200 million of what was effectively a taxpayer bailout, Griffin and his former wife paid $80 million for a Jasper Johns painting titled “False Start.” We also know that as of this past January, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, Griffin cashed out one of his full-floor condominiums in the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago for $16 million but still owns another full-floor condo there. The newspaper also reveals that Griffin additionally owns: “two full-floor units in the Park Tower [Chicago] — both the 67th floor and the full-floor, 66th-floor unit, which Griffin bought in 2012 for $15 million. He also owns homes in Aspen, Colo., Hawaii and Florida. Topping all of this is his recently reported, $200 million purchase of three full floors of a luxury condo tower under construction at 220 Central Park South in midtown Manhattan.”
Ken Griffin has bounced back nicely from the 2008 crash on Wall Street – unlike millions of other Americans who did not get a bailout and lost the single home they owned to foreclosure and robo-signed fake documents.
One of the reasons that Ken Griffin’s net worth has more than doubled from $3.7 billion in 2008 to today’s $7.6 billion, is that he pays taxes on his hedge fund winnings at a tax rate lower than that paid by plumbers and nurses. The tax dodge is respectably called “carried interest.” Economist Dean Baker has written an understandable article on the topic at Huffington Post, in which he crystallizes the tax dodge as follows:
“Many issues in tax law are complicated; the fund managers’ tax break is not. It’s just a good old-fashioned rip-off of ordinary taxpayers for the benefit of the wealthy. The basic point is very simple. The fund managers’ tax break allows managers of hedge funds, private equity funds, and various other investment funds to have much of their pay taxed at the capital gains tax rate rather than the tax rate applied to wage income.”
How does such a tax ripoff continue in an economy that can’t get out of a subpar two percent or less growth rate and a nation crippled under a $19 trillion debt load, which in no small part results from the 2008 Wall Street crash, bailouts and stimulus packages? When you’re a billionaire, subsidized by the wage-earning taxpayer, you have lots of money to throw around in the world of politics.
According to Mother Jones, Ken Griffin’s name appeared on the 2014 list of the movers and shakers that had private meetings scheduled with the Koch brothers to plot how to make sure the 2014 midterm elections came out to their liking.
And, of course, it also helps to have the quintessential bailout king on your payroll just in case another crisis occurs. Last April, Citadel issued a press release announcing that former Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, would move to the payroll of Citadel as an outside Senior Advisor. Bernanke presided over the largest secret bailout of Wall Street and foreign banks in U.S. history, requiring Bloomberg News to fight for years in court to uncover at least some of the truth.
Fortune Magazine had previously reported that Citadel was holding secret meetings with the Federal Reserve during the Wall Street crisis, writing on December 9, 2008 that “Then there was the most damaging rumor of all: Griffin had been holding ‘secret meetings’ with the Federal Reserve, looking for a bailout.”
We wanted to find out just whom it was that Bernanke had met with during the crisis. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request and waited. When we received Bernanke’s daily appointment calendar in 2014, six long years after the peak of the crisis, it was still heavily redacted, with a whopping 84 meetings between January 1, 2007 and the collapse of Bear Stearns on the weekend of March 15-16, 2008 blacked out.
The anger of the American voter, reflected in their antipathy to anything and anyone considered “establishment,” has been fueled in no small part by an increasingly secret government and a one percent class that has been able to keep it that way.
By John W. Whitehead
January 26, 2016
“Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries.” ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
Adding yet another layer of farce to an already comical spectacle, the 2016 presidential election has been given its own reality show. Presented by Showtime, The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth will follow the various presidential candidates from now until Election Day.
As if we need any more proof that politics in America has been reduced to a three-ring circus complete with carnival barkers, acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, lion tamers, animal trainers, tight rope walkers, freaks, strong men, magicians, snake charmers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, knife throwers, ringmasters and clowns.
Truly, who needs bread and circuses when you have the assortment of clowns and contortionists that are running for the White House?
No matter who wins the presidential election come November, it’s a sure bet that the losers will be the American people.
Despite what is taught in school and the propaganda that is peddled by the media, the 2016 presidential election is not a populist election for a representative. Rather, it’s a gathering of shareholders to select the next CEO, a fact reinforced by the nation’s archaic electoral college system.
Anyone who believes that this election will bring about any real change in how the American government does business is either incredibly naïve, woefully out-of-touch, or oblivious to the fact that as an in-depth Princeton University study shows, we now live in an oligarchy that is “of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.”
When a country spends close to $5 billion to select what is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified homecoming king or queen to occupy the White House, while 46 million of its people live in poverty, nearly 300,000 Americans are out of work, and more than 500,000 Americans are homeless, that’s a country whose priorities are out of step with the needs of its people.
As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”
In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.
As political science professor Gene Sharp notes in starker terms, “Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.”
To put it another way, the Establishment—the shadow government and its corporate partners that really run the show, pull the strings and dictate the policies, no matter who occupies the Oval Office—are not going to allow anyone to take office who will unravel their power structures. Those who have attempted to do so in the past have been effectively put out of commission.
So what is the solution to this blatant display of imperial elitism disguising itself as a populist exercise in representative government?
Stop playing the game. Stop supporting the system. Stop defending the insanity. Just stop.
Washington thrives on money, so stop giving them your money. Stop throwing your hard-earned dollars away on politicians and Super PACs who view you as nothing more than a means to an end. There are countless worthy grassroots organizations and nonprofits working in your community to address real needs like injustice, poverty, homelessness, etc. Support them and you’ll see change you really can believe in in your own backyard.
Politicians depend on votes, so stop giving them your vote unless they have a proven track record of listening to their constituents, abiding by their wishes and working hard to earn and keep their trust.
Stop buying into the lie that your vote matters. Your vote doesn’t elect a president. Despite the fact that there are 218 million eligible voters in this country (only half of whom actually vote), it is the electoral college, made up of 538 individuals handpicked by the candidates’ respective parties, that actually selects the next president.
The only thing you’re accomplishing by taking part in the “reassurance ritual” of voting is sustaining the illusion that we have a democratic republic. What we have is a dictatorship, or as political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page more accurately term it, we are suffering from an “economic élite domination.”
Of course, we’ve done it to ourselves.
The American people have a history of choosing bread-and-circus distractions over the tedious work involved in self-government.
As a result, we have created an environment in which the economic elite (lobbyists, corporations, monied special interest groups) could dominate, rather than insisting that the views and opinions of the masses—“we the people”—dictate national policy. As the Princeton University oligarchy study indicates, our elected officials, especially those in the nation’s capital, represent the interests of the rich and powerful rather than the average citizen. As such, the citizenry has little if any impact on the policies of government.
We allowed our so-called representatives to distance themselves from us, so much so that we are prohibited from approaching them in public, all the while they enjoy intimate relationships with those who can pay for access—primarily the Wall Street financiers. There are 131 lobbyists to every Senator, reinforcing concerns that the government represents the corporate elite rather than the citizenry.
We said nothing while our elections were turned into popularity contests populated by individuals better suited to be talk-show hosts rather than intelligent, reasoned debates on issues of domestic and foreign policy by individuals with solid experience, proven track records and tested integrity.
We turned our backs on things like wisdom, sound judgment, morality and truth, shrugging them off as old-fashioned, only to find ourselves saddled with lying politicians incapable of making fair and impartial decisions.
We let ourselves be persuaded that those yokels in Washington could do a better job of running this country than we could. It’s not a new problem. As former Senator Joseph S. Clark Jr. acknowledged in a 1955 article titled, “Wanted: Better Politicians”: “[W]e have too much mediocrity in the business of running the government of the country, and it troubles me that this should be so at a time of such complexity and crisis… Government by amateurs, semi-pros, and minor-leaguers will not meet the challenge of our times. We must realize that it takes great competence to run a country which, in spite of itself, has succeeded to world leadership in a time of deadly peril.”
We indulged our craving for entertainment news at the expense of our need for balanced reporting by a news media committed to asking the hard questions of government officials. The result, as former congressman Jim Leach points out, leaves us at a grave disadvantage: “At a time when in-depth analysis of the issues of the day has never been more important, quality journalism has been jeopardized by financial considerations and undercut by purveyors of ideology who facilely design news, like clothes, to appeal to a market segment.”
We bought into the fairytale that politicians are saviors, capable of fixing what’s wrong with our communities and our lives, when in fact, most politicians lead such sheltered lives that they have no clue about what their constituents must do to make ends meet. As political scientists Morris Fiorina and Samuel Abrams conclude, “In America today, there is a disconnect between an unrepresentative political class and the citizenry it purports to represent. The political process today not only is less representative than it was a generation ago and less supported by the citizenry, but the outcomes of that process are at a minimum no better.”
We let ourselves be saddled with a two-party system and fooled into believing that there’s a difference between the Republicans and Democrats, when in fact, the two parties are exactly the same. As one commentator noted, both parties support endless war, engage in out-of-control spending, ignore the citizenry’s basic rights, have no respect for the rule of law, are bought and paid for by Big Business, care most about their own power, and have a long record of expanding government and shrinking liberty.
Then, when faced with the prospect of voting for the lesser of two evils, many simply compromise their principles and overlook the fact that the lesser of two evils is still evil.
Perhaps worst of all, we allowed the cynicism of our age and the cronyism and corruption of Beltway politics to discourage us from believing that there was any hope for the American experiment in liberty.
Granted, it’s easy to become discouraged about the state of our nation. We’re drowning under the weight of too much debt, too many wars, too much power in the hands of a centralized government, too many militarized police, too many laws, too many lobbyists, and generally too much bad news.
It’s harder to believe that change is possible, that the system can be reformed, that politicians can be principled, that courts can be just, that good can overcome evil, and that freedom will prevail.
So where does that leave us?
Benjamin Franklin provided the answer. As the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trudged out of Independence Hall on September 17, 1787, an anxious woman in the crowd waiting at the entrance inquired of Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”
What Franklin meant, of course, is that when all is said and done, we get the government we deserve.
A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved, whether that means forgoing Monday night football in order to attend a city council meeting or risking arrest by picketing in front of a politician’s office.
Most of all, it takes a citizenry willing to do more than grouse and complain.
We must act—and act responsibly—keeping in mind that the duties of citizenship extend beyond the act of voting.
The powers-that-be want us to believe that our job as citizens begins and ends on Election Day. They want us to believe that we have no right to complain about the state of the nation unless we’ve cast our vote one way or the other. They want us to remain divided over politics, hostile to those with whom we disagree politically, and intolerant of anyone or anything whose solutions to what ails this country differ from our own.
What they don’t want us talking about is the fact that the government is corrupt, the system is rigged, the politicians don’t represent us, the electoral college is a joke, most of the candidates are frauds, and, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we as a nation are repeating the mistakes of history—namely, allowing a totalitarian state to reign over us.
Former concentration camp inmate Hannah Arendt warned against this when she wrote, “No matter what the specifically national tradition or the particular spiritual source of its ideology, totalitarian government always transformed classes into masses, supplanted the party system, not by one-party dictatorships, but by mass movement, shifted the center of power from the army to the police, and established a foreign policy openly directed toward world domination.”
Clearly, “we the people” have a decision to make.
Do we simply participate in the collapse of the American republic as it degenerates toward a totalitarian regime, or do we take a stand at this moment in history and reject the pathetic excuse for government that is being fobbed off on us?
June 5, 2015
Memo to the Fed: you are the enemy of the middle class, capitalism and the nation.
The Federal Reserve is appalled that we’re not spending enough to further inflate the value of its corporate and banking cronies. In the Fed’s eyes, your reason for being is to channel whatever income you have to the Fed’s private-sector cronies–banks and corporations.
If you’re being “stingy” and actually conserving some of your income for savings and investment, you are Public Enemy #1 to the Fed. Your financial security is nothing compared to the need of banks and corporations to earn even more obscene profits. According to the Fed, all our problems stem from not funneling enough money to the Fed’s private-sector cronies.
Fed media tool Jon Hilsenrath recently gave voice to the Fed’s obsessive concern for its cronies’ profits, and received a rebuke from the middle class he chastised as “stingy.” Hilsenrath Confused Midde-Class “Responded Strongly” To “Offensive” Question Why It Isn’t Spending.
Memo to the Fed and its media tool Hilsenrath: we’re not here to further enrich your already obscenely rich banker and corporate cronies by buying overpriced goods and services we don’t need. Our job is not to spend every cent we earn on interest to banks and mostly-garbage corporate goods and services. Our job is to limit the amount we squander on interest and needless spending. Our job is to build the financial security of our families by saving capital and prudently investing it in assets we control (as opposed to letting Wall Street control our assets parked in equity and bond funds).
Your zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP) has gutted our ability to build capital safely. For that alone, you are an enemy of the middle class. Let’s say we wanted to buy a real asset that we control, for example, a rental house, rather than gamble our retirement funds on Wall Street’s Scam du Jour (stock buybacks funded by debt, to name the latest and greatest scam).
Thanks to your policies of ZIRP and unlimited liquidity for financiers, we’ve been outbid by the Wall Street/private-equity crowd–your cronies and pals. They pay almost nothing for their money and they don’t need a down payment, while we’re paying 4.5% on mortgages and need 30% down payment for a non-owner occupied home. Who wins that bidding process? Those with 100% financing at near-zero rates.
Here’s a short list of stuff we don’t need to buy:
1. New house: overpriced. Debt-serfdom for a wafer-board/sawdust-and-glue mansion? Pay your banker buddies $250,000 in interest to buy a $300,000 house? Hope the bursting of the real estate bubble doesn’t wipe out whatever equity we might have? No thanks.
2. New vehicle: overpriced. We can buy a good used car and a can of “new car smell” for half the price, or abandon car ownership entirely if we live in a city with peer-to-peer transport services. We can bicycle or ride a motorscooter.
3. Anything paid with credit cards.
4. Any processed food.
5. A subscription to the Wall Street Journal and other financial-media cheerleaders for you, your banker buddies and Corporate America.
How Wall Street Devoured Corporate America: Thirty years ago, the financial sector claimed around a tenth of U.S. corporate profits. Today, it’s almost 30 percent
Here’s how your cronies have fared since you started your low-interest rate/free money for financiers policies circa 2001: corporate profits have soared:
Now look at median household income adjusted for inflation: down 4%–inflation which we know is skewed to under-weight the big ticket items such as healthcare and college education that are skyrocketing in cost:
And here’s how the middle class has fared since the Federal Reserve made boosting Wall Street and the too big to fail banks its primary goal, circa 1982: the bottom 90% have treaded water for decades, the top 9% did well and the top 1% reaped fabulous gains as a result of your policies.
If you’re wondering why we’re not spending, look at our incomes (going nowhere), earnings on savings (essentially zero) and the future you’ve created: ever-widening income disparity, ever-greater financial insecurity, ever-higher risks for those forced to gamble in your rigged casino, and a political/financial system firmly in the hands of your ever-wealthier cronies.
Capital–which includes savings–is the foundation of capitalism. If you attack savings as the scourge limiting corporate profits, you are attacking capitalism and upward mobility. The Fed is not supporting capitalism; rather, the Fed’s raison d’etre is crony-capitalism, in which insiders and financiers get essentially free money from the Fed in unlimited quantities that they then use to buy up all the productive assets.
Everyone else–the bottom 99.5%–is relegated to consumer: you are not supposed to accumulate productive capital, you are supposed to spend every penny you earn on interest paid to banks and buying goods and services that further boost corporate profits.
This inversion of capitalism is not just destructive to the nation–it is evil. Funneling trillions of dollars in free money for financiers while chiding Americans for not going deeper into debt is evil.
Memo to the Fed: you are the enemy of capitalism, the middle class and the nation.
By Michael Snyder, on February 24th, 2015
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide? During testimony before Congress on Tuesday, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? But of course the Federal Reserve is not a government agency. It is a private banking cartel that has far more power over our money and our economy than anyone else does. And later on in this article I am going to share with you dozens of reasons why Congress should shut it down.
The immense power wielded by the Federal Reserve is clearly demonstrated whenever Janet Yellen speaks publicly. On Tuesday, her comments about interest rates sent stocks to brand new record highs…
Yellen, in her semi-annual testimony before the Senate banking committee, used a word familiar to investors when she reiterated that the central bank will be “patient” on raising interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Traders took that as a sign that interest rates would remain unchanged until autumn.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.35 points (0.5%) to 18,209.19, while the Standard & Poors 500 gained 5.82 points (0.3%) to 2,115.48, both eclipsing Friday’s record closes.
But Yellen was also unusually defensive on Tuesday. The “Audit the Fed” bill that is being sponsored by Rand Paul (among others) has her really freaked out. The following comes from the Hill…
Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen was on the defensive, as Republicans questioned how the Fed conducts monetary policy and Democrats put forward ideas for getting tougher on Wall Street.
In the midst of all of it, Yellen generally argued the Fed was designed as an independent entity for a reason — and it would be best not to change it.
“Central bank independence in conducting monetary policy is considered a best practice for central banks around the world,” she said. “Academic studies, I think, establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that independent central banks perform better.”
In fact, she went so far as to mention the “Audit the Fed” bill by name…
A GOP-controlled Congress has given the bill its best chances yet of passage, and that renewed interest led Yellen to deliver her most spirited opposition yet.
“I want to be completely clear,” she said. “I strongly oppose Audit the Fed.”
Yellen argued the audit measure would allow politicians to second-guess the Fed’s decisions, which, in turn, would weaken the central bank. And the ultimate victim of that process, she said, would be the U.S. economy.
So what is she so concerned about?
We are all accountable to someone.
What is so wrong about the Federal Reserve being accountable to Congress?
Why can’t we find out what is really going on inside the Fed?
And of course it isn’t just Yellen that is freaking out. Just consider these comments from Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas…
“It is always politically convenient to make something sound mysterious, if not malevolent, by claiming it is opaque,” Fisher said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York that is part of an effort by Fed officials to fight the legislation.
“My suspicion is that many of those in Congress calling for ‘auditing’ the Fed are really sheep in wolves’ clothing,” he said. “Having proven themselves unable to cobble together with colleagues a working fiscal policy or to construct a regulatory regime that incentivizes rather than discourages investment and job creation — in other words, failed at their own job — they simply find it convenient to create a bogeyman out of an entity that does its job efficiently.”
Obviously this is a very, very touchy subject over at the Fed.
It is quite clear that they do not want the rest of us to be able to see what they are really up to.
And the truth is that if the American people really did know how the Federal Reserve works and what it has been doing behind closed doors, most Americans would want it shut down tomorrow.
At the end of the day, the reality of the matter is that we don’t even need a Federal Reserve. I really like how David Stockman made this point the other day…
At the end of the day, American capitalism does not need recycled political hacks like Jerome H. Powell or clueless school marms like Janet Yellen to thrive. If we need a Fed at all, it is the one designed by Carter Glass 100 years ago. That is, a “bankers bank” that was intended to provide standby liquidity at a penalty spread above the free market interest rate in consideration for good collateral originating from inventory and receivables in the real economy.
Under that arrangement, there would be no monetary central planning or pointless attempts to manage the level of GDP, the number of new jobs, the rate of housing starts, the fluctuations of the CPI or the amplitudes of the business cycle. There would also be no pegging of the money market rate, no helping hand for Wall Street gamblers, no cheap debt to enable profligate politicians to kick-the-can down the road indefinitely.
In short, what the nation really needs is not an “independent” Fed, but one that is shackled to a narrow and market-driven liquidity function. The rest of its current remit is nothing more than the self-serving aggrandizement of the apparatchiks who run it; and who have now managed to turn the nation’s vital money and capital markets into dangerous, unstable casinos, and the nations savers into indentured servants of a bloated and wasteful banking system.
The Federal Reserve has been around for just over a hundred years, and it has done an absolutely abysmal job for the American people.
I want to share with you some facts and figures that I have shared before, but they bear repeating. Please share this list of 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down with everyone that you know…
#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.
#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government. In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.
#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.
#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve are private banks. The U.S. government owns zero shares.
#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions. This should not be happening.
#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”. So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?
#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top. In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.
#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve. He was assassinated shortly thereafter.
#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.
#11 The Federal Reserve determines what levels some of the most important interest rates in our system are going to be set at. In a free market system, the free market would determine those interest rates.
#12 The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government“.
#13 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.
#14 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine. The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape. Since the Federal Reserve was established 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.
#15 A permanent federal income tax was established the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was created. This was not a coincidence. In order to pay for all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve would create, a federal income tax was necessary. The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.
#16 The period prior to 1913 (when there was no income tax) was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.
#17 Today, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.
#18 From the time that the Federal Reserve was created until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value.
#19 From the time that President Nixon took us off the gold standard until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 83 percent of its value.
#20 During the 100 years before the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. economy rarely had any problems with inflation. But since the Federal Reserve was established, the U.S. economy has experienced constant and never ending inflation.
#21 In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent. In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent.
#22 The Federal Reserve has stripped the middle class of trillions of dollars of wealth through the hidden tax of inflation.
#23 The size of M1 has nearly doubled since 2008 thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.
#24 The Federal Reserve has been starting to behave like the Weimar Republic, and we all remember how that ended.
#25 The Federal Reserve has been consistently lying to us about the level of inflation in our economy. If the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.
#26 Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
#27 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.
#28 The Federal Reserve created the conditions that caused the stock market crash of 1929, and even Ben Bernanke admits that the response by the Fed to that crisis made the Great Depression even worse than it should have been.
#29 The “easy money” policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for the great financial crisis of 2008.
#30 Without the Federal Reserve, the “subprime mortgage meltdown” would probably never have happened.
#31 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessions since 1950. The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.
#32 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis. The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…
Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion
#33 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in “fees” to help “administer” those secret loans.
#34 During the last financial crisis, big European banks were allowed to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money from the Federal Reserve at ultra-low interest rates.
#35 The “easy money” policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have created the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen, and this has set the stage for the great financial crisis that we are rapidly approaching.
#36 Since late 2008, the size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than 4 trillion dollars. This is complete and utter insanity.
#37 During the quantitative easing era, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington through the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton.
#38 Overall, the Federal Reserve now holds more than 32 percent of all 10 year equivalents.
#39 Quantitative easing creates financial bubbles, and when quantitative easing ends those bubbles tend to deflate rapidly.
#40 Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy.
#41 According to a prominent Federal Reserve insider, quantitative easing has been one giant “subsidy” for Wall Street banks.
#42 As one CNBC article stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris“.
#43 Donald Trump once made the following statement about quantitative easing: “People like me will benefit from this.”
#44 Most people have never heard about this, but a very interesting study conducted for the Bank of England shows that quantitative easing actually increases the gap between the wealthy and the poor.
#45 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.
#46 The mainstream media has sold quantitative easing to the American public as an “economic stimulus program”, but the truth is that the percentage of Americans that have a job has actually gone down since quantitative easing first began.
#47 The Federal Reserve is supposed to be able to guide the nation toward “full employment”, but the reality of the matter is that an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now. That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.
#48 For years, the projections of economic growth by the Federal Reserve have consistently overstated the strength of the U.S. economy. But every single time, the mainstream media continues to report that these numbers are “reliable” even though all they actually represent is wishful thinking.
#49 The Federal Reserve system fuels the growth of government, and the growth of government fuels the growth of the Federal Reserve system. Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has.
#50 The Federal Reserve is supposed to look out for the health of all U.S. banks, but the truth is that they only seem to be concerned about the big ones. In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States. Today, there are only 6,891 left.
#51 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.
#52 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets. The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
#53 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.
#54 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.
#55 The Federal Reserve has allowed an absolutely gigantic derivatives bubble to inflate which could destroy our financial system at any moment. Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.
#56 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.
#57 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good.
#58 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.
#59 The Federal Reserve was created by the big Wall Street banks and for the benefit of the big Wall Street banks.
#60 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.
#61 There has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.
#62 The Federal Reserve system has been described as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world“.
#63 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.” Without a doubt, the Federal Reserve has failed in those tasks dramatically.
#64 The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be and what the size of the money supply is going to be. This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.
#65 A couple of years ago, Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.
#66 The Federal Reserve has taken some other very frightening steps in recent years. For example, back in 2011 the Federal Reserve announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs. Someone at the Fed will almost certainly end up reading this article.
#67 Thanks to this endless debt spiral that we are trapped in, a massive amount of money is transferred out of our pockets and into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy each year. Incredibly, the U.S. government spent more than 415 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt in 2013.
#68 In January 2000, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent. If we got back to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and it would collapse our entire financial system.
#69 The American people are being killed by compound interest but most of them don’t even understand what it is. Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…
“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
#70 Most Americans have absolutely no idea where money comes from. The truth is that the Federal Reserve just creates it out of thin air. The following is how I have previously described how money is normally created by the Fed in our system…
When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars.
Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve.
The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.
#71 What does the Federal Reserve do with those U.S. Treasury bonds? They end up getting auctioned off to the highest bidder. But this entire process actually creates more debt than it does money…
The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.
There is a problem.
Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created.
So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt?
Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt.
But that never actually happens, does it?
And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well. They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt. They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.
#72 Of course the U.S. government could actually create money and spend it directly into the economy without the Federal Reserve being involved at all. But then we wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt and that wouldn’t serve the interests of the bankers at all.
#73 The following is what Thomas Edison once had to say about our absolutely insane debt-based financial system…
That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.
Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.
But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.
#74 The United States now has the largest national debt in the history of the world, and we are stealing roughly 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day in a desperate attempt to keep the debt spiral going.
#75 Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing…
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.
#76 At this moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at $18,141,409,083,212.36. If we had followed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, it would be sitting at zero.
#77 When the Federal Reserve was first established, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 2.9 billion dollars. On average, we have been adding more than that to the national debt every single day since Obama has been in the White House.
#78 We are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.
#79 If all of the new debt that has been accumulated since John Boehner became Speaker of the House had been given directly to the American people instead, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck.
#81 Since 2007, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to 101.6 percent.
#82 According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt.
#83 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.
#85 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
#86 Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is. If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
#87 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#88 In addition to all of our debt, the U.S. government has also accumulated more than 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. So where in the world will all of that money come from?
#89 The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt. If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops buying our debt, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.
#90 Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been monetizing a staggering amount of U.S. government debt even though Ben Bernanke once promised that he would never do this.
#91 China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars. If the Federal Reserve was not recklessly printing money, this would probably not have happened.
#92 Most Americans have no idea that one of our most famous presidents was absolutely obsessed with getting rid of central banking in the United States. The following is a February 1834 quote by President Andrew Jackson about the evils of central banking…
I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.
#93 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank. Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?
#94 The capstone of the global central banking system is an organization known as the Bank for International Settlements. The following is how I described this organization in a previous article…
An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe. It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks. It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City. It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws. Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.” The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system. Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does. Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”. During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on. The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.
#95 The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve has turned all of us into debt slaves.
#96 Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate all the rest of us. 40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (all government debt, all business debt, all consumer debt, etc.) was sitting at about 2 trillion dollars. Today, the grand total exceeds 56 trillion dollars.
#97 Unless something dramatic is done, our children and our grandchildren will be debt slaves for their entire lives as they service our debts and pay for our mistakes.
#98 Now that you know this information, you are responsible for doing something about it.
#99 Congress has the power to shut down the Federal Reserve any time that it would like. But right now most of our politicians fully endorse the current system, and nothing is ever going to happen until the American people start demanding change.
#100 The design of the Federal Reserve system was flawed from the very beginning. If something is not done very rapidly, it is inevitable that our entire financial system is going to suffer an absolutely nightmarish collapse.
Part 1 :: How This Phony CIA Agent Pulled Off a ‘Scam’ to Impose Environmental Regulations on Americans
Kevin Mooney / @KevinMooneyDC / February 10 2015
Remember the EPA bureaucrat who got caught receiving $900,000 in pay without working because he claimed he also was employed by the CIA?
According to a report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the man, former climate policy expert John Beale, “retired” when questions arose about his spotty attendance and expense records.
Only he didn’t file his retirement paperwork and continued to draw an active-duty salary for some time after. His boss at the time in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, now-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, knew this for about seven months and did nothing to stop it.
>>> This is the first of a two-part series.
“On March 29, 2012, an OAR official raised concerns about Beale’s retirement when he informed McCarthy that Beale was still on payroll,” the report stated.
“Despite being aware of the fact that one of her subordinates was collecting a paycheck without providing any work product, this arrangement continued for seven more months before McCarthy ever contacted Beale.”
In December 2012, McCarthy met with Beale for the first time in nearly 15 months, and he informed her that he was no longer planning on retiring. Two more months passed before concerns with Beale were officially reported to the inspector general. On April 30, 2013, McCarthy had cause to fire Beale, but instead elected to allow him to voluntarily retire with full benefits.
Liz Purchia, press secretary for McCarthy, told The Daily Signal in an email: “[McCarthy] believed he was retired, and [that] was the reason he was not in the office.”
How Did He Do It?
According to the Senate report, Beale’s career at the EPA was marked by relentless dishonesty on matters large and small and a cadre of supervisors who, like McCarthy apparently in the matter of his retirement pay, enabled his self-dealing behaviors.
He claimed an injury so he could ride first-class on flights for government business, which in one case drove the ticket price from $1,000 to $14,000. He forged expense forms, claimed to be away on CIA business for 2½ years worth of work days and flew to Los Angeles and stayed in posh hotels on the EPA’s tab for family visits that had nothing to do with agency work.
Few even attempted to question Beale’s frequent absences, enormous expense reports, exorbitant salary—he retired as the agency’s highest-paid employee—and lack of accountability. He was personally popular, well-connected and believed to be among the agency’s most effective employees.
But Beale’s greatest deception has nothing to do with first-class flights and fancy hotels.
Beale, who is serving a 32-month sentence in the federal prison in Cumberland, Md., for pleading guilty to felony theft of government property, spent most of his career devising regulations under the Clean Air Act that are justified by science few have seen and no one has peer-reviewed, according to the Senate report.
“We should all question how John Beale became a senior official at the EPA and played a major role in long-lasting policy decisions while pulling off a scam I thought only Hollywood could make up,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Daily Signal.
“But this egregious case helped us successfully reveal how EPA has wasted taxpayer resources and mismanagement in a manner that is far too common.”
John Beale and the Clean Air Act
Beale’s penchant for bilking the EPA out of money eroded the trust Americans place in their government and EPA employees place in their superiors and coworkers. But it was the role he played beginning in the mid-1990s in creating and implementing regulations pursuant to Clean Air Act that continues to reverberate and linger at the expense of the American people.
Staffers with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee set out last year to probe the relationship between “sue-and-settle” arrangements and evidence they had uncovered that pointed to the manipulation of scientific data.
What they discovered, as detailed in their report, titled “EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Secret Science,” was how agency officials concealed and misled about the science that underpinned its most significant initiatives and silenced and marginalized their own internal watchdog offices, which enabled the agency to greatly overstate the benefits and underestimate the costs of its Clean Air Act rulemaking.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to create National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter and ozone. The American Lung Association sought to jumpstart this process with a so-called “sue-and-settle” suit filed in 1995.
The idea behind “sue-and-settle” is for friendly plaintiffs to sue a government agency, work out agreeable terms—perhaps even beforehand—and emerge with a court order to implement rules or regulations that could not have been achieved through the democratic or even regulatory process.
The American Lung Association suit resulted in a consent decree that called for the EPA to propose final standards for particulate matter by Nov. 29, 1996, and issue the standards by July 19, 1997. The decree set no deadline for ozone standards because they had been reviewed in 1993 and were not up for another review until 1998.
But Beale and Robert Brenner, his best friend and erstwhile boss, made what documents called a “policy call” and seized on the urgency to produce new particulate matter standards to rush through a new ozone standard as well.
This put the agency in the position of advancing two regulatory standards simultaneously, which it had never done. And it put the agency and those charged with reviewing such regulations, including the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, under impossible deadline pressure.
Why Beale Was Emboldened
The EPA admitted in court papers filed pursuant to the American Lung Association lawsuit that any period shorter than Dec. 1, 1998, for promulgation of the particulate matter standard “would require the EPA to reach conclusions on scientific and policy issues with enormous consequences for society before it has had an adequate opportunity to collect and evaluate pertinent scientific data” and that further time was needed to reach a “sound and scientifically supportable decision.”
Beale had no time for that. He needed an ally to move things along and found one in Carol Browner, the Al Gore acolyte and former staffer who served as administrator of the EPA through both terms of the Clinton administration. Beale formed a close relationship with her and met with her multiple times per week to discuss his progress on this.
The urgency, as well as his influence with the boss and an unwillingness of others at EPA to block him, gave Beale “the mechanism he needed to ignore opposition to the standards.”
Beale’s efforts to include ozone in the new regulations proved expensive for Americans.
The EPA estimated the cost at $2.5 billion, but its estimate was based on receiving the full benefits of cutting ozone but achieving only a partial attainment of the standards, which the law did not permit. The Council of Economic Advisers also measured the cost and found it to be $60 billion—24 times the EPA estimate.
Indeed, as was the case with him getting away with not showing up for work and submitting exorbitant expense reports, succeeding in this regulatory sleight of hand only emboldened Beale to go further.
‘Hidden and Unverified’
That first round of standards, which regulated coarse particulate matter, such as pollen and dust, became known as PM10. But Beale wanted more.
In 1997, with the backing of his superiors, he sought to engage the agency in regulating fine particulate matter—particles a fourth the size of those regulated under PM10 and too small to be visible to the human eye.
But to enact these regulations, EPA first had to produce scientific research that established these smaller particles posed a threat to humans.
To accomplish this, Beale pulled data from two controversial studies—the Harvard Six Cities Study and an American Cancer Society study known as ACSII. The data was not trusted. The air advisory committee pointed out it had not been peer-reviewed, and others indicated Beale was exaggerating the findings for his desired result.
Further undermining those studies’ credibility is that even now, 20 years later, EPA still refuses to release the data, despite McCarthy’s promise to do so during her confirmation hearings.
Though Beal is out of the picture and in prison, his rulemaking techniques he employed to advance the 1997 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter remain firmly entrenched.
“This effort codified EPA’s now customary practice of using fine particulates (PM2.5) to inflate the benefits of nearly all regulations issued under the Clean Air Act,” the Senate report concludes. “Yet the science supporting nearly all of EPA’s alleged benefits remain hidden and unverified.”
Part 2 :: EPA Under Fire for Concealing Controversial Scientific Data, Silencing Skeptics
Kevin Mooney / @KevinMooneyDC / February 11, 2015
For more than 15 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has resisted releasing data from two key studies to the general public and members of Congress. Government regulators used those studies to craft some of the most expensive environmental rules in U.S. history.
When skeptics within the federal government questioned and challenged the integrity of the studies—the Harvard Six Cities Study and an American Cancer Society study known as ACS II—they were silenced and muzzled.
That’s when the Republican staff on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee stepped in to shine light on the situation, revealing the scope of the scandal in in a report titled, “EPA’s Playbook Unveiled: A Story of Fraud, Deceit and Secret Science.”
>>> This is the second of a two-part series. Read the first part: How This Phony CIA Agent Pulled Off a ‘Scam’ to Impose Environmental Regulations on Americans
The key player in the scandal is John Beale, who was sentenced to serve 32 months in federal prison on Dec. 18, 2013, after pleading guilty to stealing almost $900,000 from U.S. taxpayers.
It was in 1994 that Beale first began to beguile EPA employees and supervisors into believing he worked for the CIA. When he failed to report for work, Beale would enter “D.O. Oversight” on his calendar, which meant he was a director of operations responsible for covert operations at the CIA.
But it was the role Beale played beginning in the mid-1990s in creating and implementing regulations pursuant to Clean Air Act that continues to reverberate and linger at the expense of the American people.
Two Allies at the EPA
Over the past decade, evidence has emerged to reveal the Six Cities and ACS II studies did not support enacting one of the most controversial, far-reaching and expensive regulations in American history. Otherwise, the agency would have provided access to the data without a fight.
The political appointees who led the EPA at the time feared the consequences of enacting such a regulation without being able to offer scientific evidence of its necessity.
Beale needed an ally. He needed someone to explain the problems with the research and the reasons the data could not be released. Someone who could run interference with various actors in Washington. He found one in top EPA official Robert Brenner.
Brenner had recruited Beale, his former Princeton University classmate, to the EPA as a full-time employee in 1989.
Brenner, then deputy director of the EPA’s Office of Policy Analysis and Review within the Office of Air and Radiation, hired his friend despite Beale’s lack of legislative or environmental policy background. He also placed Beale in the highest pay scale for general service employees—a move typically reserved for those with extensive experience.
He then allowed Beale to collect retention bonuses, which go to only the most highly qualified employees to keep them from jumping ship—an unlikely scenario for a man who had picked apples and worked in a small-time law firm in Minnesota before joining the agency. Employees are supposed to be eligible for such bonuses—potentially worth as much as a fourth of the employee’s annual salary—for only three years, but Brenner helped Beale receive them for more than 10.
The two would work together at the EPA for 25 years—during which time the Office of Policy Analysis and Review would grow “in both scope and influence” as Beale and Brenner worked in tandem to muzzle dissenting voices within the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee.
‘Beale Memo’ Details Regulatory Agenda
At the crux of their agenda—the initiative that would build their legend within the agency—was implementation of a fine particle standard regulating air pollution.
The formula had been set with the American Lung Association sue-and-settle agreement and codified in a confidential document known as the “Beale Memo,” which described how Beale pressured regulatory and clean air bodies to back off criticisms of EPA rulemaking both within the agency and in correspondence with members of Congress.
The EPA attempted to conceal this document from Sen. David Vitter’s committee investigators, but a conscientious whistleblower “turned it over surreptitiously,” the report said.
The memo outlined how Beale and Brenner would work to compress the time the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and the voluntary Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee had to review regulations so they could get away with using “secret science.”
The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee opposed from the start the move to regulate fine particulate matter. Members claimed there was no precedent or court order to establish these regulations, that research had not distinguished between dangers posed by PM 10 particles and those a fourth that size under PM 2.5, and that the PM 2.5 target was arbitrary and tied to no known science. (PM stands for particle matter, a term “for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets,” according to EPA.)
Further, the committee, known as CASAC, complained it was being asked to do the work that took eight years on the previous air quality review in 18 months.
“The Beale memo is interesting in that it provides evidence of Beale’s direct role in ensuring concerns raised by other agencies, CASAC members and OIRA were not considered in the final rulemaking,” wrote Luke Bolar, spokesman for Vitter, in an email to The Daily Signal.
“While there were major concerns with the science and the cost-benefit analysis as outlined in comments filed on the rule, the Beale memo was written to push back against OIRA publicizing those concerns,” Bolar added. “They didn’t have to directly ‘blunt’ criticism, as Beale got his way through his close ties to Mary Nichols (then head of the Office of Air and Radiation) and Carol Browner (EPA administrator.”
Efforts to slow Beale, Brenner and their highly charged regulations failed. As a result, today the “co-benefits” of PM 2.5 are used to justify almost the entirety of the Obama administration’s air quality initiatives even though the immediate benefits still have yet to be proven.
“There is no watchdog now inside the EPA,” laments Steve Milloy, the former editor of JunkScience.com, which has posted a fact sheet that debunks the EPA’s PM 2.5 claims. “Whatever the EPA wants it gets. The agency is allowed to run rampant. There was a time when OIRA use to have stopping power, but now it’s just ignored. OIRA has become a rubber stamp.”
This is especially true of PM 2.5, Milloy says. “There is no real world evidence” PM 2.5 has caused sudden or long-term death, he said. “The claim that PM 2.5 kills people is at the heart and soul of how the EPA is selling these regulations. But it’s a claim that’s not supported by the facts or evidence. The EPA has rigged the whole process.”
Indeed, the purported co-benefits have become the benefits, according to Vitter’s report.
“Historically, EPA used co-benefits in major rules as one of several benefits quantified to justify a rule in the RIA,” the report says. “Yet, at the beginning of the Obama administration, there was a ‘trend towards almost complete reliance on PM 2.5-related health co-benefits.’ Instead of being an ancillary benefit, EPA started using PM 2.5 co-benefits as essentially the only quantified benefit for many CAA regulations.”
The Senate report claims all but five air pollution rules crafted between 2009 and 2011 listed PM 2.5.
Lack of Transparency at EPA
The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect public health with an “adequate margin of safety.” In its review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the EPA considers factors such as the nature and severity of health effects, the size of the at-risk groups affected and the science.
Several exhaustive scientific reviews prior and subsequent to the 1997 standards were conducted following open, public processes that allowed for public review and comment prior to updating the standards.
EPA press secretary Liz Purchia told The Daily Signal in an email that the process is open enough.
The National Ambient Air Quality Standards are bolstered by “sound science and legal standards,” she said, and “several exhaustive scientific reviews prior and subsequent to the 1997 standards were conducted following open, public processes that allowed for public review and comment prior to updating the standards.”
Beale’s involvement in no way undermines the rational basis for the agency’s decisions nor the integrity of the administrative process. Reducing the public’s exposure to ground-level ozone and PM protects millions of Americans from costly and dangerous illness, hospitalization, and premature death.
All that may be true, but the EPA still won’t provide the underlying data to put the matter to rest.
Vitter and his team say this is because the EPA can continue to overstate the benefits and understate the costs of federal regulations—just as Beale did in the 1990s.
“This technique has been applied over the years and burdens the American people today, as up to 80 percent of the benefits associated with all federal regulations are attributed to supposed PM 2.5 reductions,” the report states.
By Mollie Hemingway October 14, 2014
As the Ebola situation in West Africa continues to deteriorate, some U.S. officials are claiming that they would have been able to better deal with the public health threat if only they had more money.
Dr. Francis Collins, who heads the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Huffington Post, “Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.” Hillary Clinton also claimed that funding restrictions were to blame for inability to combat Ebola.
Conservative critics have pointed out that the federal government has spent billions upon billions of dollars on unnecessary programs promoting a political agenda rather than targeting those funds to the fight against health threats.
Other limited government types point to the Progressive utopian foolishness seen in opposing political factions, both sides of which seem to agree humanity could somehow escape calamity if only we had a properly functioning government. People who don’t want an all-powerful government shouldn’t blame it for not having competence when crisis strikes.
What’s particularly interesting about this discussion, then, is that nobody has even discussed the fact that the federal government not ten years ago created and funded a brand new office in the Health and Human Services Department specifically to coordinate preparation for and response to public health threats like Ebola. The woman who heads that office, and reports directly to the HHS secretary, has been mysteriously invisible from the public handling of this threat. And she’s still on the job even though three years ago she was embroiled in a huge scandal of funneling a major stream of funding to a company with ties to a Democratic donor—and away from a company that was developing a treatment now being used on Ebola patients.
Before the media swallow implausible claims of funding problems, perhaps they could be more skeptical of the idea that government is responsible for solving all of humanity’s problems. Barring that, perhaps the media could at least look at the roles that waste, fraud, mismanagement, and general incompetence play in the repeated failures to solve the problems the feds unrealistically claim they will address. In a world where a $12.5 billion slush fund at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is used to fight the privatization of liquor stores, perhaps we should complain more about mission creep and Progressive faith in the habitually unrealized magic of increased government funding.
Lay of the Land
Collins’ NIH is part of the Health and Human Services Department. Real spending at that agency has increased nine-fold since 1970 and now tops $900 billion. Oh, if we could all endure such “funding slides,” eh?
Whether or not Dr. Collins’ effort to get more funding for NIH will be successful—if the past is prologue, we’ll throw more money at him—the fact is that Congress passed legislation with billions of dollars in funding specifically to coordinate preparation for public health threats like Ebola not 10 years ago. And yet the results of such funding have been hard to evaluate.
See, in 2004, Congress passed The Project Bioshield Act. The text of that legislation authorized up to $5,593,000,000 in new spending by NIH for the purpose of purchasing vaccines that would be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack. A major part of the plan was to allow stockpiling and distribution of vaccines.
Just two years later, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which created a new assistant secretary for preparedness and response to oversee medical efforts and called for a National Health Security Strategy. The Act established Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as the focal point within HHS for medical efforts to protect the American civilian population against naturally occurring threats to public health. It specifically says this authority was established to give “an integrated, systematic approach to the development and purchase of the necessary vaccines, drugs, therapies, and diagnostic tools for public health medical emergencies.”
Last year, Congress passed the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 which keep the programs in effect for another five years.
If you look at any of the information about these pieces of legislation or the office and authorities that were created, this brand new expansion of the federal government was sold to us specifically as a means to fight public health threats like Ebola. That was the entire point of why the office and authorities were created.
In fact, when Sen. Bob Casey was asked if he agreed the U.S. needed an Ebola czar, which some legislators are demanding, he responded: “I don’t, because under the bill we have such a person in HHS already.”
The Invisible Dr. Lurie
So, we have an office for public health threat preparedness and response. And one of HHS’ eight assistant secretaries is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism.”
In the video below, the woman who heads that office, Dr. Nicole Lurie, explains that the responsibilities of her office are “to help our country prepare for, respond to and recover from public health threats.” She says her major priority is to help the country prepare for emergencies and to “have the countermeasures—the medicines or vaccines that people might need to use in a public health emergency. So a large part of my office also is responsible for developing those countermeasures.”
Or, as National Journal rather glowingly puts it, “Lurie’s job is to plan for the unthinkable. A global flu pandemic? She has a plan. A bioterror attack? She’s on it. Massive earthquake? Yep. Her responsibilities as assistant secretary span public health, global health, and homeland security.” A profile of Lurie quoted her as saying, “I have responsibility for getting the nation prepared for public health emergencies—whether naturally occurring disasters or man-made, as well as for helping it respond and recover. It’s a pretty significant undertaking.” Still another refers to her as “the highest-ranking federal official in charge of preparing the nation to face such health crises as earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and pandemic influenza.”
Now, you might be wondering why the person in charge of all this is a name you’re not familiar with. Apart from a discussion of Casey’s comments on how we don’t need an Ebola czar because we already have one, a Google News search for Lurie’s name at the time of writing brings up nothing in the last hour, the last 24 hours, not even the last week! You have to get back to mid-September for a few brief mentions of her name in minor publications. Not a single one of those links is confidence building.
So why has the top official for public health threats been sidelined in the midst of the Ebola crisis? Only the not-known-for-transparency Obama administration knows for sure. But maybe taxpayers and voters should force Congress to do a better job with its oversight rather than get away with the far easier passing of legislation that grants additional funds before finding out what we got for all that money we allocated to this task over the last decade. And then maybe taxpayers should begin to puzzle out whether their really bad return on tax investment dollars is related to some sort of inherent problem with the administrative state.
The Ron Perelman Scandal
There are a few interesting things about the scandal Lurie was embroiled in years ago. You can—and should—read all about it in the Los Angeles Times‘ excellent front-page expose from November 2011, headlined: “Cost, need questioned in $433-million smallpox drug deal: A company controlled by a longtime political donor gets a no-bid contract to supply an experimental remedy for a threat that may not exist.” This Forbes piece is also interesting.
The donor is billionaire Ron Perelman, who was controlling shareholder of Siga. He’s a huge Democratic donor but he also gets Republicans to play for his team, of course. Siga was under scrutiny even back in October 2010 when The Huffington Post reported that it had named labor leader Andy Stern to its board and “compensated him with stock options that would become dramatically more valuable if the company managed to win the contract it sought with HHS—an agency where Stern has deep connections, having helped lead the year-plus fight for health care reform as then head of the Service Employees International Union.”
The award was controversial from almost every angle—including disputes about need, efficacy, and extremely high costs. There were also complaints about awarding a company of its size and structure a small business award as well as the negotiations involved in granting the award. It was so controversial that even Democrats in tight election races were calling for investigations.
Last month, Siga filed for bankruptcy after it was found liable for breaching a licensing contract. The drug it’s been trying to develop, which was projected to have limited utility, has not really panned out—yet the feds have continued to give valuable funds to the company even though the law would permit them to recoup some of their costs or to simply stop any further funding.
The Los Angeles Times revealed that, during the fight over the grant, Lurie wrote to Siga’s chief executive, Dr. Eric A. Rose, to tell him that someone new would be taking over the negotiations with the company. She wrote, “I trust this will be satisfactory to you.” Later she denied that she’d had any contact with Rose regarding the contract, saying such contact would have been inappropriate.
The company that most fought the peculiar sole-source contract award to Siga was Chimerix, which argued that its drug had far more promise than Siga’s. And, in fact, Chimerix’s Brincidofovir is an antiviral medication being developed for treatment of smallpox but also Ebola and adenovirus. In animal trials, it’s shown some success against adenoviruses, smallpox, and herpes—and preliminary tests show some promise against Ebola. On Oct. 6, the FDA authorized its use for some Ebola patients.
It was given to Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died, and Ashoka Mukpo, who doctors said had improved. Mukpo even tweeted that he was on the road to recovery.
Back to that Budget
Consider again how The Huffington Post parroted Collins’ claims:
Money, or rather the lack of it, is a big part of the problem. NIH’s purchasing power is down 23 percent from what it was a decade ago, and its budget has remained almost static. In fiscal year 2004, the agency’s budget was $28.03 billion. In FY 2013, it was $29.31 billion—barely a change, even before adjusting for inflation.
Of course, between the fiscal years 2000 and 2004, NIH’s budget jumped a whopping 58 percent. HHS’s 70,000 workers will spend a total of $958 billion this year, or about $7,789 for every U.S. household. A 2012 report on federal spending including the following nuggets about how NIH spends its supposedly tight funds:
- a $702,558 grant for the study of the impact of televisions and gas generators on villages in Vietnam.
- $175,587 to the University of Kentucky to study the impact of cocaine on the sex drive of Japanese quail.
- $55,382 to study hookah smoking in Jordan.
- $592,527 to study why chimpanzees throw objects.
Last year there were news reports about a $509,840 grant from NIH to pay for a study that will send text messages in “gay lingo” to meth-heads. There are many other shake-your-head examples of misguided spending that are easy to find.
Indeed. The Progressive belief that a powerful government can stop all calamity is misguided. In the last 10 years we passed multiple pieces of legislation to create funding streams, offices, and management authorities precisely for this moment. That we have nothing to show for it is not good reason to put even more faith in government without learning anything from our repeated mistakes. Responding to the missing Ebola Czar and her office’s corruption by throwing still more money, more management changes, and more bureaucratic complexity in her general direction is madness.
October 12, 2014 By Jeff Foxworthy
If you can get arrested for hunting or fishing without a license, but not for entering and remaining in the country illegally — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you have to get your parents’ permission to go on a field trip or to take an aspirin in school, but not to get an abortion — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you MUST show your identification to board an airplane, cash a check, buy liquor, or check out a library book and rent a video, but not to vote for who runs the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government wants to prevent stable, law-abiding citizens from owning gun magazines that hold more than ten rounds, but gives twenty F-16 fighter jets to the crazy new leaders in Egypt — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If, in the nation’s largest city, you can buy two 16-ounce sodas, but not one 24-ounce soda, because 24-ounces of a sugary drink might make you fat — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If an 80-year-old woman or a three-year-old girl who is confined to a wheelchair can be strip-searched by the TSA at the airport, but a woman in a burka or a hijab is only subject to having her neck and head searched — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If your government believes that the best way to eradicate trillions of dollars of debt is to spend trillions more — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If a seven-year-old boy can be thrown out of school for saying his teacher is “cute,” but hosting a sexual exploration or diversity class in grade school is perfectly acceptable — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If hard work and success are met with higher taxes and more government regulation and intrusion, while not working is rewarded with Food Stamps, WIC checks, Medicaid benefits, subsidized housing, and free cell phones — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If the government’s plan for getting people back to work is to provide incentives for not working, by granting 99 weeks of unemployment checks, without any requirement to prove that gainful employment was diligently sought, but couldn’t be found — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If you pay your mortgage faithfully, denying yourself the newest big-screen TV, while your neighbor buys iPhones, time shares, a wall-sized do-it-all plasma screen TV and new cars, and the government forgives his debt when he defaults on his mortgage — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
If being stripped of your Constitutional right to defend yourself makes you more “safe” according to the government — you might live in a nation that was founded by geniuses but is run by idiots.
What a country!