The Price Of Speaking Truth To Power: $80 Million

Holder Obama

Leftists love using the phrase “speaking truth to power.” But when Standard and Poor’s, the respected credit ratings service, told the truth about the federal government’s out-of-control spending, power came crashing down on its head.

In August 2011, S&P lowered America’s credit rating below AAA because it found that the government’s ability to manage its finances had become “less stable, less effective and less predictable.” This set off a firestorm within the White House. The Treasury Department publicly attacked the report, and then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner called the CEO of the company and threatened them. According to reports of the conversation, Geithner promised that the company would be “looked at very carefully” and would “be held accountable for that.” Harold McGraw III, the CEO of S&P’s parent company, said in a sworn deposition that Geithner said: “Such behavior could not occur without a response from the government.” The response came; and it was swift, harsh, and costly.

The Obama Administration unleashed Attorney General Eric Holder on the company. In August 2013, the Department of Justice sued the company for fraud in their ratings of mortgage-backed securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008. According to the DOJ’s theory, S&P ratings of the securities were tied to relationships they had with the investment firms. The government was threating the company with $5 billion worth of fines. There was no mention of the fact that other credit rating services also rated the same securities as safe. The New York Times noted that “S&P, one of three major agencies offering advice to investors about the quality of debt investments and the only one to face a Justice Department lawsuit, stood out as the rare company to actually follow through and fight the government.” It is clear that the actions of the DOJ were in response to the company’s decision to warn Americans about the coming debt crisis.

S&P decided to fight back by making motions in court demanding documents, emails, and other information connecting the White House, the Treasury Department, and the Department of Justice, in an effort to connect the dots between the credit downgrade and the actions of the DOJ. Not surprisingly, DOJ opposed those motions in court, castigating the effort as a “fishing expedition.” Turning the screws, the DOJ, again in the words of the New York Times, “invoked an obscure federal law passed a quarter-century ago after the savings and loan scandals. The law, the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, or Firrea, requires a lower burden of proof than criminal charges and empowers prosecutors to demand unusually large penalties: up to $1.1 million per violation.”

Faced with the threat to the future stability of the company, S&P was forced to settle to get the Obama Administration off their backs. This week, we discovered that the cost of speaking “truth to power” is about $80 million — the amount of money S&P will be forced to fork over to the government for speaking the truth about the country’s financial mess.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama’s HHS Ignores Fraud In Discount Drug Program

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Politicians love to promise to weed out waste, fraud and abuse from federal spending but even when it is staring them in the face they often do nothing.  That’s exactly what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did when confronted with the reality that a congressionally established program to help the poor and indigent get discounted prescription drugs was being abused by corporations to pad their bottom line.

In 1992, Congress established the 340B Drug Discount Program (340B) to help underserved communities get access to prescription medicines. Designed to reduce outpatient drug costs by mandating deep discounts from drug manufacturers as a condition of Medicaid reimbursement. The program remained small until it was radically expanded under provisions enacted by ObamaCare drawing the attention of Wall Street financiers and lobbyists for the contract pharmacies who realized little safeguards existed. They soon realized they could receive drugs at a discounted rate and charge the government and private insurance companies for the full freight, pocketing the difference between the discount and the actual cost of the drug.

Faced the the endless possibilities of profits from the government created goldmine, the 340B program has expanded rapidly with hospitals and chain drug stores like CVS getting into the act.  Duke University made almost $50 million off of the program  when its hospital purchased $65.8 million in drugs through the discount program, which saved $48.3 million. It sold the drugs to patients for $135.5 million, for a profit of $69.7 million.  Some of New York City’s top nonprofit hospitals have gotten on the gravy train.  The wealthiest hospital in the City, New York Presbyterian gave 1 percent of its nearly $4 billion in revenue to discounted services to the poor.

Talyst, that is a consultant to hospitals and contract pharmacies that paid lobbyists to expand the 340b program is now openly bragging to its clients about the profitable possibilities for their clients thanks to the program.  In a recent white paper, the firm stated “There is no requirement to pass the savings on to patients directly. (http://www.talyst.com/wp-content/uploads/Talyst_White_Paper_Benefit_Becoming_Contract_Pharmacy.pdf).  The “Talyst AutoSplit Contract Pharmacy solution” allows the “negotiated dispense fee from the hospital will be in addition to your normal profit margin.”  Translation:  You pocket the discount.

This is fraud, pure and simple, yet when confronted with the evidence, HHS decided to do nothing.  Last week, HHS withdrew a proposed regulation to create sweeping rules that would have damaged the cottage industry bilking taxpayers, insurers and patients of hundreds of millions of dollars.  Instead, the agency intends to offer “guidance” to the stakeholders.

Congress must get involved and reform the program, but it won’t be easy.  The beneficiaries have formed their own lobbying group known as the 340 Coalition not only to fight any reforms of the program but to seek further expansion.  Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are among those who have been leaning on the Obama administration to fix the program.  With a Senate majority, they should move quickly to end the abuse.

Photo Credit: Delores (Flickr)

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

See Who Is Actually The Most Powerful Person In DC. (Hint: It’s Not Obama, Pelosi, Or Reid)

The most powerful man in Washington today is not President Obama.  Nor is it Sen. Harry Reid. It is a California billionaire named Tom Steyer, whose promise to spend $50 million and raise another $50 million to help the Democrats maintain control of the U.S. Senate has given him veto power over one of the most critical projects in America — the Keystone Pipeline.

As America struggles to get back on its feet economically, the Keystone Pipeline is an opportunity to put tens of thousands of blue-collar workers back on the job.  Many unions who have held hands with the environmentalists (for hopes of unionizing green energy jobs that never materialized) are pleading to the White House to allow the project to move forward, but to no avail.  Mr. Steyer has what these workers do not — a billion dollars in his checkbook and the willingness to spend it on politics.

With a critical deadline looming for the president to approve the project, Mr. Steyer’s political advisor Chris Lehane issued a threat.  If the president approves the pipeline, Mr. Steyer will not be writing any checks.  It was extortion, pure and simple — and it worked. The project was delayed again a few days later, and Rolling Stone reports that the president will drive the final nail in the Keystone coffin shortly after the November elections.

Senator Everett McKinley once quipped, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”  That’s why Steyer is not working alone in the effort to write big checks for the Democrats.  He is part of the Democracy Alliance, a shadowy organization founded with the help of George Soros, that gathers millionaires and billionaires together to pool their resources to push the country left.

The Democracy Alliance just met in Chicago with a key speech coming from New York Mayor Bill de Blazio. Comically, the theme of his speech was “income inequality.”  It hasn’t seemed to dawn on the group of the uber-rich that the policies they are promoting are causing income inequality.

Opposing Keystone will kill tens of thousands of blue collar jobs.

Pushing Ethanol drives up the price of food for families.

Killing the coal industry and preventing fracking will put tens of thousands on the unemployment lines.

Taxing carbon will destroy the economy, turning the country into an economic basket case.

Those are just some of the issues at stake this November.  Should Steyer and his ilk buy enough Senate races to keep Harry Reid in power, the uber liberal rich will still have their money; but blue collar Americans will suffer to an even greater extent.  There is income inequality in this country; but when you can afford to write $50 million checks to politicians, you might be able to talk about it. Still, you can’t admit you are causing it.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Obama Lackeys Push For Job-Killing Carbon Taxes

Carbon tax SC Obama Lackeys Push for Job Killing Carbon Taxes

President Obama’s campaign staff morphed into Organizing for America (OFA), and they are using the slow days of August to try to corral its forces to push the president’s scheme to raise taxes on carbon.

A carbon tax would devastate the American workforce, and the turnout at their events show the lack of support for the initiative. In Tennessee, a massive turnout of four Obamabots turned out at the offices of Rep. Scott DesJarlais to demand he vote for the president’s job killing tax increase. Of course, the group is using bogus statistics to push their agenda.  Other members of Congress will face a similar onslaught of half a dozen progressives marching in unison for more taxes and control of our economy.

According to OFA, members of Congress who do not believe that man can control the weather through carbon taxes are described as “deniers” and “anti-science” because “99%” of scientists believe what they are preaching.  It’s all bunk. Forbes reported that this  famous “consensus” claim — that “98% of all scientists believe in global warming” — is bogus. It originated from an endlessly reported 2009 American Geophysical Union (AGU) survey consisting of an intentionally brief two-minute, two question online survey sent to 10,257 earth scientists by two researchers at the University of Illinois. Of the 10,257 earth scientists who were sent the survey, only about 3,000 responded. But 82 percent of those answered “yes” to the two intentionally ambiguous questions in the “anything but scientific” survey.

Of course, OFA will never mention the fact that 31,487 scientists signed a petition that said “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing (or will in the foreseeable future cause) catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth.”

So who is really denying science?

There is one other thing OFA will never mention — the impact the Obama’s carbon taxes will have on jobs.  A tax will drive up the cost of energy, and higher energy prices ripple through the economy. Businesses face higher operating costs and pass those costs on to the consumer. The Heritage Foundation found that significantly reducing coal, as the President’s climate plan would do, would destroy 500,000 jobs by 2030.

The media will probably do their job — reporting on how half a dozen zealots were protesting members of Congress to demand this scheme and never report the truth behind the rhetoric.  We have come to expect nothing less.

Photo credit: peace chicken (Creative Commons)

 

 

The “Stupid Party” Carries Hollywood’s Water

Hollywood SC The Stupid Party Carries Hollywoods Water

News that President Obama has gone back to his Hollywood well to promote ObamaCare enrollment is another reminder of why the GOP is often called the “stupid party.”

Hollywood and the recording industry are the backbone of the Democrat party. They can always be counted on for campaign contributions and support.  During the last presidential campaign, the “stars” raised and donated tens of millions of dollars for the Obama campaign, allowed the campaign to use their names for promotion, and hosted fundraisers across the country.  From music to movies, the content industry is the Democrat Party.
Considering these facts, why on earth would Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) include in his faux border security amendment a special giveaway to Hollywood?  Why would Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees continue to carry water for Hollywood on issues of copyrights?  Why would so-called conservative groups come out and oppose efforts to get government price-fixing out of Internet royalty pricing? The answer is obvious: Money.  But unlike the Democrats who get millions from the industry, the Republicans are willing to sell out and do their bidding for crumbs off their plate.
Late last year, a staff member on the House Republican Study Committee, Derek Khanna, wrote a paper outlining his opposition to Hollywood’s copyright agenda.  Entitled” Three Myths About Copyright Law and Where to Start to Fix It,” Khanna described how today’s strict copyright system hampers progress and runs contrary to constitutional principles.  “Today’s legal regime of copyright law is seen by many as a form of corporate welfare that hurts innovation and hurts the consumer. It is a system that picks winners and losers, and the losers are new industries that could generate new wealth and added value,” he wrote. He went on to advocate lighter penalties for copyright infringement and an expansion of fair use.
He was summarily fired.  Word on Capitol Hill was that Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a water-carrier for the music industry, pressed for his removal.  Rather than supporting the free exchange of ideas and supporting a constitutional conservative, Blackburn and her allies in the content industry got her way.
The same reaction was seen when conservative Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced legislation to help Internet radio stations that are drowning under a price fixing regime established by the government.  The government established a price for music royalties for songs played on the Internet six times higher than for other mediums.  Companies like Pandora are forced to give over 50% of their revenue back in royalties because of a dictate from the Library of Congress.  Chaffetz’s bill would allow Internet radio stations to negotiate performance fees under the same process used for cable music channels and satellite-radio providers.  But out of the woodwork came a handful of Beltway conservative groups to oppose the introduction of market forces in the price negating process. Seems clear that they are doing the bidding of the big boys.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)  has a chance to do what Corker and Senate Republicans apparently couldn’t– demonstrate that he is not part of the “stupid party.”  Goodlatte has pledged to review the issue of music royalties and copyrights, and perhaps we will finally have a leader in the House willing to stand up for free markets and technology by telling Hollywood and the content industry to take their price fixing schemes elsewhere.  He may lose a few campaign contributions in the process, but he would be doing the country a big favor.
Photo Credit: Kiran Ambre (Creative Commons)