Category Archives: Government Reform

That buy your green card pitch by Kushner’s sister in China renews controversy over visas for the rich

If you had $300 during the Civil War you could avoid that first Draft by just paying the dough and walking away. No money, you could go to jail or possibly become one of the 620,000 Americans killed on the battlefields.

When it comes to citizenship, the rich don’t need to climb that wall or swim that Rio Grande, now they just put up money, $500,000 or more to be exact, to invest in some project in the U.S. and agree that somehow that will create ten new jobs.

Some 85% of all these “investment citizens” are from China. The deal is called EB-5 Visa, and not only can you become an American, but so can the wife and children – all for the same price.

By this criterion, anyone with enough money can buy citizenship. Poor folks need not apply.

The program was extended last week by President Donald Trump, even though he said he had qualms about it during the campaign last year. The day after he signed the extension, the Kushner organization was in Beijing, selling investments in the luxury apartment building, One Journal Square, that is set to be built next year in Jersey City. A brochure blasted:

“Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.”

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How to instantly add $54 billion to Trump budget revenues and end every cut to every department

It’s as easy as: one, two, three!

The 2018 Donald Trump Federal Budget can be balanced, even when including nearly $54 billion in increased Defense Department spending, and not one federal department would require any cuts in spending.

These are the proposed $54 billion in department cuts that would not have to take effect under my 123 Plan:

Agriculture 2018 Budget

  • Eliminates $500 million Water and Wastewater loan/grant program
  • Eliminates $200 million McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program
  • Cuts Women, Infants and Children nutrition assistance from $6.4 billion to $6.2 billion
  • Unspecified staff reductions at USDA service center agencies
  • Cuts $95 million from Rural Business and Cooperative Service

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HUD is serving banks your bread and butter, insuring no Castro elected to the White House

His mom started La Raza Unida.

His dad was a mathematics school teacher.

His brother is an identical twin and also a politician.

His education was only made possible by affirmative action.

“Joaquín and I got into Stanford because of affirmative action. I scored 1210 on my SATs, which was lower than the median matriculating student. But I did fine in college and in law school. So did Joaquín. I’m a strong supporter of affirmative action because I’ve seen it work in my own life”

Julian Castro has been on the high road to political success for many years. He was mayor of San Antonio, keynote speaker at the 2012 National Democrat Convention, was touted as H. Clinton’s best candidate for vice president on her ticket, and is the current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, appointed by Barack Obama.

But his high road has crashed into a sinkhole, and his choice as v.p. candidate with Hillary might just look like two politicians both in bed with Wall Street and serve as symbols of a cozy relation with politicians and financiers.

castro

Julian’s disaster is called “Distressed Asset Stabilization Program. (DASP)” It is HUD’s attempt to help homeowners avoid foreclosure by selling more overdue mortgage loans to nonprofit community organizations, rather than Wall Street banks. Julian, who once had his own law firm with his brother, knows that the big banks want to buy these loans at a discount, then hound the homeowners into paying the full amount of mortgages, rather than working with borrowers.

Castro has done just the opposite. Look at last year’s results:  98% of homes sold through HUD’s DASP program went straight to Wall Street (15,309 out of 15,624). Community Development Financial Institutions only got 1% of loans sold in 2015, despite promises in April 2015 by Castro to stop feeding the loans to Wall Street. (That promise only came after pressure applied by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Other political leaders are also concerned with Castro’s caving to Wall Street.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., requested a briefing on the program in a Feb. 1 letter to Castro. (full text of letter)

The letter cites the Center for Public Integrity’s investigation of the program: (Link to story).

Over 98,000 mortgages have been sold through DASP with the stated goal of helping homeowners to avoid foreclosure while also getting troubled loans off the FHA’s books. The Center investigation revealed that the mortgages were sold for as little as 41 percent of their value and that only 16.9 percent of DASP mortgages avoided foreclosures.

The Blackstone Group bought the majority of these loans last year. With some $311 billion of assets it is best known for its founder, Pete Peterson, an ancient magnate, who has backed everything from Fix the Debt to The Fiscal Times in his war to cut Social Security benefits and to raise the retirement age.

An excellent expose of Blackstone’s rental housing practices is here.

Hillary flubs socialist/democrat question – here’s answer from former card-carrying member of SWP

democracy-not-capitalism

Capitalism is not the same thing as democracy

“It is not a question of substituting one ruling clique for another, but of changing the very methods of administering the economy and guiding the culture of the country. Bureaucratic autocracy must give place to Soviet democracy. A restoration of the right of criticism, and a genuine freedom of elections, are necessary conditions for the further development of the country. This assumes a revival of freedom of Soviet parties, beginning with the party of Bolsheviks, and a resurrection of the trade unions. The bringing of democracy into industry means a radical revision of plans in the interests of the toilers. Free discussion of economic problems will decrease the overhead expense of bureaucratic mistakes and zigzags. Expensive playthings—palaces of the Soviets, new theaters, show-off subways—will be crowded out in favor of workers’ dwellings. ‘Bourgeois norms of distribution’ will be confined within the limits of strict necessity, and, in step with the growth of social wealth, will give way to socialist equality. Ranks will be immediately abolished. The tinsel of decorations will go into the melting pot. The youth will receive the opportunity to breathe freely, criticize, make mistakes, and grow up. Science and art will be freed of their chains. And, finally, foreign policy will return to the traditions of revolutionary internationalism.”

— Leon Trotsky, The Revolution Betrayed, 1936

In late October 1960 I watched John F. Kennedy in a motorcade at Kensington and Allegheny avenues (K&A) in Ward 3 of Northeast Philadelphia, waving to a huge crowd of Irish residents, overwhelmed to tears in some eyes, but nearly all overjoyed with the chance he would be the President. I was just 19 and though not old enough to vote (the age was 21 then), that excitement of a political revolution and government change was intense.

Kennedy TripAfter the parade passed and the crowd left, I looked for something to do. My home was just a few blocks away and the “corner” boasted two large movie theaters, a Horn and Hardart, two “five and dimes”, and it was Monday afternoon, just after 4, too early for dinner, too late for lunch.

I spotted a pair of card tables with signs and pamphlets, but more important, an attractive girl to ply away some time. That began months of involvement with her and the Trotsky-inspired Socialist Workers Party, a  group dedicated to changing our economic system to restrict capitalism and enhance worker control of the means of production. I learned much of the support of the group was from young, wealthy suburban youth, and many of the leaders spoke with a Russian grumble.

The party was under attack and membership at Girard avenue and Broad street headquarters was only a few dozen, but you did get membership cards – flimsy and mimeographed. We were recruited for marches in front of the White House, picketing Continue reading →

Medicare age hike to 68 is Heritage GOP plan

With the exceptions of Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump, all of the Republican candidates for President want to change Medicare so that it costs you much more, but guarantees profits for campaign-funding insurance companies.

The details are in the Heritage Foundation plan to replace Medicare with a “premium support” plan in which you buy Medicare on the open market and the government reimburses you, based on the lowest price from solicited private bids:

During the first five years of the premium-support program, the government’s contribution is based on the weighted average premium of the regional bids of competing health plans. After the first five years, the government contribution is based on the lowest bid of competing plans in a region.

Last week, I blasted the foundation for its miserable plan for Social Security. Their suggestions for Medicare are just as bad. What would such a plan cost, and what would be gop-no-ideas2its benefits to seniors? An examination of a typical Obamacare plan for a single 64-year-old may reveal some answers.

We couldn’t compare plans for 70 or 85-year-olds, because Obamacare won’t allow them for anyone past their 65th birthday. Since someone in their 90s requires more care than the average 64-year-old, whether Heritage blends rates (one rate for all) or age adjusts like Obamacare, premiums could easily be twice as much. What’s the difference, you might ask, if the government pays all the premium cost? Keep reading and learn why.

The cheapest (Bronze) Obamacare plan in Montgomery County, PA this morning was $533 a month for a single person, or $6,396 a year. Under the Heritage plan for Medicare this seems like a likely low-ball comparison – many co-pays, no dental or hearing aids, etc. In addition, there is a

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Does Heritage Foundation want Communist plan for Social Security? GOP candidates should denounce!

The Heritage Foundation is the think tank for so-called conservative Republicans, who offer flat tax plans, skeleton government goals and the destruction of Social Security as we know it today.

social-security.gifThe current Social Security program is regressive, and pays a lower percentage in retirement pension, the more you contribute. A retiree, who has paid in the maximum amount (on wages less than about $118,000 in current dollars), will contribute three times as much FICA taxes and receive only twice the benefit at retirement. But at least there is some relationship between the amount of taxes paid and the value of benefits received.

Rather than attempting to make the program more fair, the so-called capitalist Heritage think tank has gone completely Communist by urging a Marxist doctrine of “from each according to their earnings to each according to their needs.”

The foundation wants to pay anyone, who contributes even a pittance into the Continue reading →

Rich look poorer, poor much richer – report distorted to make average Joe happy – despite Depression

350px-Personal_Household_Income_UIt’s so very wonderful to learn this week that “median household income” in 2014 was $53,657, even if it was down from $57,843 in 1999. You can still buy a nice basket of goodies on $50 grand a year. If only it were true.

Most jobs pay about $31k. Many families have just one parent or one spouse working. Something doesn’t add up. Welcome to the world of making statistics lie to fool the peons into believing serfdom is almost as good as living in a castle.

First, the bad news for the poor. The government is reporting your household income much higher than your wages. You may be earning $20k at a lousy job, but Uncle Sam’s statisticians massage that number upward by adding:

  • The value of the free lunches your children eat in school.
  • The estimated net price of the Medicaid and Medicare received for healthcare.
  • Pensions, unemployment insurance, welfare, workman’s comp.
  • Social Security retirement and disability payments.
  • Tax refunds, alimony and childcare payments to you.
  • Supplemental Social Security and Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Heating and utility subsidies for the poor.
  • Women’s and children’s subsidized clinic care.
  • The estimated value of government-provided childcare.
  • Employer cost of healthcare premiums, pension payments and insurance.

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Why are we ignoring criminal emails? Time for federal government to prosecute and prevent fraud hucksters!

online-email-fraud-seminar-invitiation-01Spam filter on your email server? Think that big internet provider is helping keep away the criminals? Wondering why the federal government has time to look at every email sent every day by every person, but no time to go after the fraud experts preying on the vulnerable citizen?

The answer is that nobody cares except the victims of fraud. If you steal a CD from a store, you can go to jail for years. If you try to steal the life savings of a senior, our politicians turn the other way. I get emails – 50 to 100 a day. Here’s a recent one that smells like danger to me, but maybe not to someone older and less perceptive:

reply to: simonmartha66@yahoo.com.ph
MESSAGE FROM THE HOSPITAL
My Beloved One,
This is Ms Martha Simon from Estonia writing from the hospital in Ivory Coast; therefore this mail is very urgent to attend. I am dying here in this hospital right now which i don’t know if i will see some days to come.
I was informed by my doctor that i was poisoned and the poison damaged my liver and i can only live for some days.
My Beloved, the reason why i contacted you today is because i know that my step mother wanted to kill me and take my inheritance from my late Father. I have a little adopted child named Andrew C. Mannik that i adopted in this Country when my late Father was alive and $3.5 million Dollars i inherited from my late father. My step mother and her children they are after Andrew right now because they found out that Andrew was aware of the poison and also because i handed the documents of the fund over to him the day my step Mother poisoned my food, for that they do not want Andrew to expose them, so they are doing everything possible to kill him.
My beloved, please i want you to help him out of this country with the money because he is the only one taking care of me here in this hospital right now and even this email you are reading now is the one helping me out. I know that you have adopted Children already, but i believe that when Andrew will stay with you as your Son that you won’t regret having him as your Son because am always proud of him.
I want you to get back to me so that he will give you the documents of the fund and he will direct you to a well known lawyer that i have appointed, the lawyer will assist you to change the documents of the fund to your name to enable the bank transfer the money to you..
This is the favor i need when you have gotten the fund :
(1) Keep 30% of the money for Andrew until he finish his studies to become a man as he has been there for me as my lovely Son and i have promised to support him in life to become a medical Doctor because he always desire for it with the scholarship he had won so far. I want you to take him along with you to your country and establish him as your son.
(2) Give 20% of the money to handicap people and charity organization. The remaining 50% should be yours for your help to Andrew.
Note; This should be a code between you and my son Andrew in this transaction “Hospital” any mail from him, the Lawyer he will direct you to, without this code “Hospital” is not from the Andrew, the Lawyer or myself as i don’t know what will happen to me in the next few hours.
Finally, write me back so that Andrew will send you his pictures to be sure of whom you are dealing with. Andrew is so little therefore guide him. And if i don’t hear from you i will look for another person or any organization.
May Almighty God bless you and use you to accomplish my wish. Pray for me always.
Ms Martha Simon

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Medicare Part B hike of 52% in 2016 is major tax increase

illnessA 52% increase in Medicare Part B premiums is anticipated next year for about 30% of all participants. Nearly everyone older than 65 is on Medicare, so this huge change will affect 12 million or more Americans.

And it’s all thanks to legislative changes by our politicians, who get virtually free healthcare for life. Most seniors (about 70%) will  pay $104.90 a month, or, oddly, $147 monthly just for the first year.

The current Part B premium schedule follows. For those unaware of it, the premiums are based on how much you earn. The more you make in retirement income, the more you pay in premiums. If you make very little you pay no premiums.

If your yearly income in 2013 (for what you pay in 2015) monthly was: 2015
File individual tax return File joint tax return File married & separate tax return
$85,000 or less $170,000 or less $85,000 or less $104.90
above $85,000 up to $107,000 above $170,000 up to $214,000 Not applicable $146.90
above $107,000 up to $160,000 above $214,000 up to $320,000 Not applicable $209.80
above $160,000 up to $214,000 above $320,000 up to $428,000 above $85,000  up to $129,000 $272.70
above $214,000 above $428,000 above $129,000 $335.70

The Medicare monthly premiums above are those without the rate hike.

With the planned 52% rate hike:

  • $146.90 jumps to $223 monthly, or $2,676 a year.
  • $209.80 jumps to $318 monthly, or $3,816 a year
  • $272.70 jumps to $414.20 monthly, or $4,970.40 a year
  • $335.70 jumps to $509.80 monthly, or $6,117.60 a year.

As part of the Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act of 2015, in 2018 (at that Continue reading →

“Undertime” will solve many of our economic woes

This is my proposed amendment to The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill), a federal statute of the United States:

In addition to the payment of overtime wages at 1.5 times the normal rate for workers, who exceed eight hours per day or 40 hours a week, the Federal Government shall require employers, who schedule any employee less than 30 hours per week or six hours per day, to pay all such employees at 1.25 times the prevailing rate for the same occupation of said employee, who works more than 30 hours per week. That requirement will extend to all hours worked at an undertime schedule.

This regulation is designed to recognize that such “undertime” employees are burdened with travel to and from their place of employment, often for minimal hours which are not equivalent to the proportional burden on full time employees.

In addition this regulation recognizes that employees who work less than 30 hours per week are generally not entitled by employers to various benefits, such as vacations, sick time or profit-sharing. It would be inequitable to pay them the same wages as full time employees if they receive far fewer benefits of employment.

Finally, this change in the FLSA recognizes that the American way of life depends on adequate employment and compensation of its citizens and that undertime employment creates a deficit in earnings for millions of workers.

Let it be resolved that this amendment be instituted no later than January 1, 2016. The co-sponsors are:

The goal is to get sponsors and public recognition that working 25 hours a week is not okay in America. If employers have to pay more per hour for part-time, they will hire more full-time (less expensive) workers instead. If companies want to juggle hours and shorten the week, they can do it – but they will be the ones to pay for it, not the employees.

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