Big government

Poll: Most Californians Favor Vouchers for Private Schools

A poll released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) finds a solid majority of Californians support taxpayer-funded vouchers for private and religious schools. According to the poll, 60 percent of adults favor “providing parents with tax-funded vouchers to send their children to any public, private, or parochial school they choose.” Among registered voters, 55 percent favor vouchers, and, among likely voters, 50 percent favor vouchers. Among adults, the survey finds 73 percent of African Americans, 69 percent of Latinos, 56 percent of Asian Americans, and 51 percent of White Americans favor school vouchers. Republicans are more likely to favor school vouchers than Democrats, 67 percent to 46 percent.

Despite Record Collections, 52,062,499 Filers Paid No Income Taxes in 2014

In tax year 2014, according to a report published by the Internal Revenue Service, the federal government hauled in a then-record $1,377,797,136,000 in individual income taxes. Nonetheless, of the 148,606,578 individual income tax return filers that year, 52,062,499 (or 35 percent) filed what the IRS calls “nontaxable returns,” which means they paid no net individual income taxes. Among these 52,062,499 filers who did not pay income taxes in 2014, according to Table 3.3 in the report, were 31,129,405 filers who also received $90,276,007,000 in payments from the federal government for “refundable” tax credits. “In total, taxpayers claimed $105.6 billion in refundable tax credits,” said the IRS report. “Of this, $5.5 billion was applied against income taxes and $9.8 billion against all other taxes. The remaining $90.3 billion in refundable tax credits was refunded to taxpayers.” “Tax credits are used to offset taxes,” the report explains. “Certain tax credits are also refundable in that if the credit exceeds the total tax owed, the excess can be refunded to the taxpayer.” One example of a refundable tax credit is the “Earned Income Tax Credit.” “The Earned Income Tax Credit for 2014,” the IRS explains, “was a maximum of $496 for taxpayers with no qualifying children, $3,305 for one qualifying child, $5,460 for two qualifying children, and $6,143 for taxpayers with three or more qualifying children.” For a married couple filing jointly to be eligible for the EIC in 2014, said the IRS, “earned income and adjusted gross income had to be less than $43,941 for one child, $49,186 for two children and $52,427 for three children or more.” A married couple with two children earning $50,000 or more would not qualify for this refundable credit.

On this official tax day, just think..  35% of Americans pay no net income tax.  Now, just smile as you file.    🙂

EPA perk — $15,000 tax paid gym memberships

It’s nice to be a tax paid bureaucrat, isn’t it? An employee at the Environmental Protection Agency was just busted for spending $15,000 on gym memberships for 37 people. Kevin Broadax, a contracting officer for the agency’s Las Vegas office, put the one-year memberships for 24-Hour Fitness — actually totaling $14,799.63 — on a government credit card. He was outed when Americans for Tax Reform slapped the agency with a Freedom of Information Act request, and found the receipt. And you know what else? The EPA’s employees already have access to a gym at UNLV — a really top-of-the-line gym that offers volleyball, basketball, racquetball, a massive cardio center, an indoor track, spa, juice bar and swimming pool. Come on now. Even by the wildest stretch of imagination, there’s no just cause for this expenditure — there’s no carbon footprint study that needs to be conducted at the 24-Hour Fitness facility, no greenhouse gas emission testing that needs to be done. This is pure bureaucratic entitlement mindset, at its worst. And slapping Americans’ faces further is the realization that while this corruption is going on, the leftists and environmentalists of the nation are crying about President Donald Trump’s cuts to the EPA, moaning about the destruction of the world and demise of clean air and water. This is fraud. And while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said his agency’s cutting the gym memberships, fact is this $15,000 expenditure is a tiny drop in a very large sea of government waste and financial mismanagement. Just goes to show Americans are taxed enough — it’s the dishonest bureaucrats who aren’t spending properly.

Agreed!!  Cheryl K. Chumley is responsible for that spot on analysis.  Excellent!!

Trump gives states power to cut off Planned Parenthood money

President Trump signed a bill Thursday freeing states to withhold federal family planning grant money from Planned Parenthood, marking the first major pro-life legislation to be signed into law in more than a decade. The bill unravels an Obama-era regulation that insisted states couldn’t refuse to spend family planning money with Planned Parenthood or any other organization that performs abortions. “This is a major pro-life victory,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. More than a dozen states moved to strip Planned Parenthood of government funding in recent years as questions arose about the country’s largest abortion provider. In particular, lawmakers in Republican-led states were reacting to a series of undercover videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of body parts from aborted fetuses. The Obama administration moved late last year to stop the states, enacting a regulation that prohibited states from considering abortion in doling out federal family planning grant money. Congress, though, passed legislation under the Congressional Review Act canceling the new regulation. White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted that the Obama administration imposed the previous rule “on their way out the door.” “Our federal system was set up to allow states to address their own unique needs,” he said. “The president has restored respect for states’ rights on this issue.” The new law applies to Title X federal family planning money, which amounts to about $60 million a year, the Congressional Budget Office said in a 2015 report. The bulk of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes from Medicaid reimbursements, which weren’t affected by the law.

And that should be next on the chopping block.  Per the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has NO business funding Planned Parenthood whatsoever.  Let’s be clear.  This is NOT about the right to have an abortion.  It’s the about whether or not taxpayers should be forced to pay for someone else’s abortion, or other “family planning” services.  THAT is what this is all about.  Kudos to Congress for passing this bill and to President Trump for signing it into law.  There is still much more to do to end federal tax-payer funding of PP.  But, this is a small step in the right direction.

Many government jobs to remain unfilled despite Trump’s lift on hiring freeze

Many federal government jobs will remain unfilled despite President Trump’s plans to lift the hiring freeze Wednesday, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said. Mulvaney told reporters Tuesday that the move was part of the president’s campaign to “drain the swamp” in Washington and save taxpayers money. The White House hopes to overhaul the executive branch and reduce its work force. “It does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly,” Mulvaney said. “What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on Day One in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan.” Trump signed a memorandum in January freezing large portions of federal government hiring, barring the military and positions deemed necessary for national security and public safety. As part of the memorandum, Trump gave the Office of Management and Budget 90 days to come up with a long-term plan to reduce the federal government’s size. While the guidance to be issued Wednesday does not contain agency-specific hiring goals or limits, Mulvaney said that agencies targeted with significant budget cuts in Trump’s first budget proposal, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, would be expected to make significant cuts to their workforces. Agencies that Trump wants to spend more on, like the Department of Veterans Affairs, would be expected to see their payrolls rise.The budget blueprint calls for a 6 percent increase in VA funding, mostly to pay for rising health costs to treat veterans. Mulvaney declined to say how many jobs, overall, the administration intends to eliminate, but said: “I think it probably goes without saying that net, we think we could run the government more efficiently than the previous administration.” Under the guidance, agencies will also have until June to submit drafts for overhauling their workforces and coming up with ideas for streamlining operations as part of a larger effort to restructure the federal government. The administration is surveying the public, academics, lawmakers and others for ideas such as potentially moving the National Nuclear Security Administration to the Department of Defense from the Department of Energy, where it currently resides. “The president of the United States has asked all of in the executive branch to start from scratch,” Mulvaney said. He acknowledged that many such changes would require congressional sign-off. “We’re not trying to ram it down their throats,” he said.

Trump Admin Releases ‘Drain the Swamp’ Guidance to Restructure the Federal Government

After almost two months of a federal government hiring freeze, Trump administration officials have released guidance on the President’s plan to “drain the swamp,” with what Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney described as the first-ever rebuilding of the federal government. An April 12 memorandum provides guidance to federal agencies tasked with complying with the Reorganization Executive Order entitled “Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch” as the January 23, 2017 hiring freeze is lifted. Agencies are instructed to take “immediate actions to achieve near-term workforce reductions and cost savings, including planning for funding levels in the President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Blueprint, develop a plan to maximize employee performance by June 30, 2017, and submit an Agency Reform Plan to OMB in September 2017 as part of the agency’s FY 2019 Budget submission to OMB that includes long-term workforce reductions. An initial, high-level draft of the Agency Reform Plan is due to OMB by June 30, 2017.” The memorandum outlines “the steps that OMB will take to formulate a comprehensive Government-wide Reform Plan for publication in the President’s FY 2019 Budget … this plan will rely on three primary sources of input: Agency Reform Plans, OMB-coordinated crosscutting proposals, and public input.” The reform efforts are purported to, among other things, “create a lean, accountable, more efficient government that works for the American people.” The government hiring freeze that President Trump instituted on January 23, 2017 ends with release of the new guidance memo, Mulvaney said on Tuesday. “This does not mean that the agencies will be free to hire willy nilly,” he added. Mulvaney stated that the guidance simply replaces the “across the board hiring freeze” with “a more surgical plan.” As the Trump Admin FY 2018 Budget Blueprint shows, some agencies were appropriated more federal funds, while others received fewer — so some will correspondingly be granted an increase in hiring allowance while others will “end up paring their FTEs even greater than they would have had during the hiring freeze.” Mulvaney called the government reorganization, “one of the biggest stories nobody’s talking about.” He defined the plan as doing something that goes “much deeper into the very structure of government … trying to do something that has never been done before.”

That’s an understatement!  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Excerpt from Congressman Ken Buck’s ‘Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think’

Representatives want committee seats for a variety of reasons, some of them honorable, some of them not. For some members, committee assignments aren’t so much about public service as they are about raising one’s public profile—and attracting special interest donations to one’s campaign fund. Because congressional leadership understands that self-interest motivates many members to serve on committees, they leverage that desire by unofficially ranking the committees. Numerous high-level members of the Republican House leadership have confirmed to me that committees are ranked. The ranking system is understood by members, though seldom spoken of. Committees are assigned letters—A, B, or C—based on how important they are deemed to be by leadership. There are five A committees in the House: Appropriations, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, Rules, and Financial Services. Both parties use committee appointments to raise money. If you want to serve on a committee in Congress, you have to pay for the privilege. Here’s how it works for Republicans. If you want to serve on a committee, you have to raise money for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). The amount varies depending on the committee and role. For example, to serve on a B or C level committee, a GOP House freshman member must raise $220,000 every two years. I paid that amount to the NRCC in my first term in Congress, but now must pay more than double that amount. Veteran members on A committees must raise more than twice that amount—$450,000. That’s right, almost half a million dollars to do what the people elected them to do. Republican representatives from districts deemed to be at risk by the NRCC get their dues discounted by at least 30 percent. Twelve Republican members were designated in 2015 to be part of this “Patriot” program,5 but other members whose districts were equally at risk, like Rod Blum, were not included in the program, because they did not play the leadership’s game. As it is, some members of Congress spend at least half their time fundraising to keep their dues paid and campaign coffers full. If you become the chair of a B committee—congratulations—you’re now expected to raise $875,000 a year for the NRCC. Chairing an A committee means you must raise $1.2 million. The higher your role in the House leadership, the higher the price tag.

Very interesting inside baseball..  To read the rest of this excerpt from Colorado Congressman Ken Buck’s (R-CO) book, click on the text above.