March 31, 2009

Six days until the Tribe’s season opener.



This is simply outrageous.

Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius becomes yet another Obama nominee who can’t seem to figure out the tax code. Apparently, she has corrected three years worth of tax returns after finding “unintentional errors.”

Uh huh.

This embarrassment is just the latest example of Democrats’ failing to pay taxes:

  • Obama’s original nominee for secretary of HHS Tom Daschle.
  • The “Indispensable Man” Tem Geithner.
  • Nancy Killefer, who was supposed to be the government’s “chief performance officer”. Ooops.
  • Ron Kirk, the former mayor of Dallas whom President Obama nominated to serve as United States trade representative, who agreed to pay $9,975 in back taxes for failing to report speaking fees as income and for incorrectly deducting season tickets to Dallas Mavericks basketball games.
  • Congressmen Pete Stark and Eliot Engel, from California and New York, respectively, who claimed to have lived in Maryland in order to claim property-tax breaks on million-dollar vacation homes.

Etc., etc.

And when they’re not avoiding their taxes, Democrats seem to find other ways to engage in financial shenanigans:

On March 25, yet another Obama administration nominee was forced to withdraw under a cloud of scandal. Jon Cannon had been President Barack Obama’s choice to become second in command at the Environmental Protection Agency. But the appointment has been scuttled by allegations of financial “irregularities” at the now-defunct America’s Clean Water Foundation, on whose board Cannon once served.

Two days later, the administration was hit with another personnel problem. One of the country’s main bank regulators, Scott Polakoff, was forced to take an open-ended “leave of absence” from the Treasury Department after internal audits suggested that he allowed financial institutions like IndyMac and AIG to exaggerate their balance sheets – in effect, to cook the books – a failure of oversight that contributed to the current financial meltdown. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told the Senate Budget Committee on March 3 that American International Group (AIG) “exploited a huge gap in the regulatory system” and that “there was no oversight of the Financial Products division,” an indictment that would seem to fall on Polakoff, who was second-in-command at the Treasury Department unit known as the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS).

Oh, well.  At least the “culture of corruption” is over.


March 30, 2009

Only seven days until the season opener. The Tribe starts the season in Texas.

Go Tribe!

The Wall Street Journal reports on massive government fraud:

A new report found widespread fraud in a government program designed to help small businesses secure federal contracts, a sign of the obstacles the government faces as it launches programs designed to help small businesses dig out of the recession.

The report, issued last week by the Government Accountability Office, uncovered repeated instances of fraud among companies participating in the Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zone, which provides federal contracts to small companies located in low-income communities.

In an investigation of 36 companies in four metropolitan areas, GAO investigators found that 19 didn’t meet program requirements; they were using fake addresses, subcontracting to larger firms, or the majority of their employees were located in a non-HUBZone location. The investigation followed a GAO report issued last summer, which found fraudulent program participants in the Washington, D.C., area and warned the SBA that lax oversight left the program vulnerable to more fraud and misappropriation.

When the GAO recently checked back into 10 fraudulent companies it found last July, two had been removed from the program. Seven were still HUBZone certified.

Didn’t Candidate Obama promise to go through the budget with a scalpel and to remove ideology from the budget process, using a pragmatic approach to funding the policies that work? Apparently not:

The problems raise questions about the SBA’s ability to manage programs when more money is being funneled into the agency as part of the government’s stimulus plan. Under a new program announced earlier this month, the Treasury department will push $15 billion into small-business lending, by raising government guarantees of SBA loans and buying loan-backed securities.

Of course, the usual suspects claim that the solution is stricter oversight. These apologists for government largesse ignore the fact that when the government spends lots of money, lots of people have perverse incentives to take short cuts and bend the rules.

Obama takes over General Motors and Chrysler:

President Obama announced what amounts to a do-or-die ultimatum for the struggling automobile industry on Monday, laying out strict standards that the carmakers must meet to get more government aid and declaring that the industry must survive because it is “like no other, an emblem of the American spirit.”

A failure of leadership “from Washington to Detroit” over the years has led the industry to the brink of collapse, the president said, and in more recent days both General Motors and Chrysler have failed to come up with plans adequate to justify the billions more in government help that they are requesting.

“And so today, I am announcing that my administration will offer G.M. and Chrysler a limited period of time to work with creditors, unions and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional tax dollars; a period during which they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success.”

Speaking a day after the White House pushed out the chairman of G.M., the president said Chrysler has been instructed to form a partnership with the Italian automaker Fiat within 30 days as conditions for receiving another much-needed round of government aid.

Vice President Joe Biden thanks Spanish President Zapatero for the latter’s help in Iraq – when, in fact, Zapatero pulled Spain’s troops out of Iraq as soon as he was elected. Good grief!

Or not.

According to the New York Times:

The Obama administration has made fortifying the I.M.F. one of its primary goals for the meeting of the Group of 20, which includes leading industrial and developing countries and the European Union. But China, India and other rising powers seem to believe that the made-in-America crisis has curtailed the ability of the United States to set the agenda. They view the Western-dominated fund as a place to begin staking their claim to a greater voice in global economic affairs.

One reason the I.M.F. has emerged as such a popular cause is that the United States has been unable to rally countries behind its other major priority: economic stimulus. The European Union opposes further stimulus packages in 2010, arguing that its social safety net makes an increase in government spending unnecessary.

 European and American officials are also still divided, to a lesser degree, on how to rewrite international financial regulations. France and Germany are more receptive than the United States to giving regulators supranational authority to scrutinize global banks and other financial companies.

Further, the current head of the European Union, Czech Republic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, called President Obama’s economic policies a “road to hell.”

It’s almost as if nations have their own interests to promote and protect regardless of who occupies the White House. Who knew?