Monday, December 5, 2016

Federal Spending

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Housing

In a final push to end prejudice against minorities throughout the U.S., the Obama administration is spending another $37.3 million to combat housing discrimination and, as usual, the money is flowing straight into the coffers of leftist groups that share the president’s ideology. Throughout his two terms Obama has allocated colossal sums of taxpayer dollars to combat what he believes is an epidemic of discrimination against minorities in everything from the criminal justice system to education, housing and the workforce.

This has been a government wide effort in which a number of federal agencies have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to fund a multitude of controversial initiatives. Among the biggest spenders has been the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Judicial Watch has reported on this waste over the years, including the results of a probe that revealed HUD violated a ban on federal funding for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) by giving the famously corrupt group tens of thousands of dollars in grants to “combat housing and lending discrimination.”

Congress passed a law in 2009 to stop the huge flow of taxpayer money that annually went to ACORN after a series of exposés about the leftwing group’s illegal activities yet the Obama administration has continued giving it cash, mainly to fight housing discrimination.

This is a cause dear to the president’s heart so HUD has funded it generously, increasing the amount each year even when the nation suffered through a financial crisis. In 2011, for instance, JW reported that HUD awarded 108 “fair housing organizations” north of $40 million to educate the public and combat discrimination. The allocation represented a $13.2 million increase over the previous year to end housing discrimination against minorities. In 2012 HUD gave leftwing groups $42 million to provide minorities with “housing counseling.”

Among the biggest recipients was the open borders nonprofit National Council of La Raza (NCLR), which has seen its federal funding skyrocket since one of its top officials got a job in the Obama White House. In one HUD allocation, NCLR got nearly $2 million to help combat predatory lending, train poor Latinos about financial literacy and help them become homeowners.

It appears that the administration plans to keep the cash giveaway alive until the very end. This latest $37.3 million allocation will go to groups that “fight housing discrimination under HUD’s 2016 Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP),” according to an agency announcement. FHIP gives money to organizations that assist people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination and directs them to government agencies to handle their complaints. The groups investigate claims and deploy minority and white “testers” with equal financial qualifications to determine if housing providers treat them differently based on race. FHIP also conducts outreach, education and enforcement initiatives that promote fair housing laws and equal housing opportunity awareness. It’s all in the name of leveling the playing field.

To accomplish this task in other areas the administration utilizes different agencies. For example in the workforce the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the president’s discrimination police. Last year JW reported that the agency earned accolades and shattered performance records by getting more than $525 million in settlements for reported victims of discrimination in both private and public sector jobs. The breakdown includes $356.6 million for “victims” of employment discrimination in private, state and local government jobs and $105.7 million for federal employees and applicants who never got hired, presumably because they encountered discrimination.

Of important note is that the EEOC received 89,385 charges alleging employment discrimination during the fiscal year yet resolved 92,641. The extra 3,256 cases evidently were dug up by the agency’s “front-line staff,” which produced $60 million in monetary benefits over fiscal year 2014, demonstrating “high productivity of the EEOC workforce,” according to the agency’s fiscal year 2015 report.

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Sex Workers

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has been awarding grants to the South African Government to fund a reduction in HIV infections among commercial sex workers in their nation.

Since 2011, U.S. taxpayers have funded a whopping $3,499,670 in grants to protect prostitutes in South Africa.

The latest payment occurred in 2016 where the U.S. government issued an award of $308,785.

The funds are not only used to dole out free condoms, but also educate prostitutes on negotiating tactics to use on their Johns who are reluctant to use protection when paying for sex.

A study conducted in 1995 in the American Journal of Public Health described the risks that South African hookers face . . . but there was no correlation to the health and safety of United States citizens.

Prostitution in South Africa has remained illegal since 1957.

Paying $3.5 million to protect criminals (victimless or not) seems to be burden that the United States taxpayer should not be forced to pay.

The nation of South Africa, since the rule of its African leaders, has produced 38,000 child prostitutes within their society.

Rather than protecting prostitutes from HIV and AIDS in a foreign nation, the United States government, if anything, should be forcing the South African government to put an end to child prostitution in that nation.

Comment below.

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carry guns

After Obama’s 2013 executive order authorizing the study of “causes and consequences of gun violence” the National Institutes of Health has released $288,529 to Arizona State University to conduct a study.

However, the study is restricted only to research of young “urban” males, which they later explain is limited to “minority” males and their reasoning for carrying firearms.

The grant title, “Psychological and socio-contextual factors in gun carrying and firearms violence” came with the following description, which appears to draw its own conclusions:

Murder is the second leading cause of death among young males in the US, with most of these killings resulting from gun violence in urban minority communities. Policy and behavioral interventions to address this problem have been largely ineffective. Existing research on this issue has been almost exclusively cross- sectional, meaning that many of the factors linked to gun carrying and use (i.e., as part of an antisocial lifestyle, for self-protection, or as a product of social influence) may or may not be influential.A 2013 Presidential Memorandum provided an opportunity to conduct NIH-funded research on the causes and consequences of gun violence in urban males (PA-13-363); research previously banned by Congress. This is a response to that call for innovative research to address this issue. Longitudinal studies would provide more valid information than currently available about the purported factors related to gun carrying and use. These would, however, be lengthy and costly. The proposed project uses two of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies of males ever conducted to examine the mechanisms related to gun carrying and use in urban males from adolescence to young adulthood. Complementary analyses, using comparable measures, will be conducted with a high-risk community sample (i.e., Pittsburgh Youth Study; N=1,009) and a sample of serious juvenile offenders (i.e., Pathways to Desistance study; N=1,107). Together, these studies have information on gun carrying/use as well as theoretically relevant factors related to these behaviors (e.g., drug dealing, victimization) measured at least annually from ~ages 10 to 25. Both have a substantial proportion of youth who have carried guns and shot at others. This is a unique opportunity to do theoretically, programmatically, and policy relevant research on a pressing social problem. Applying state-of-the-art longitudinal approaches, this study will a) use intra-individual analyses to delineate the inter-related effects between individual psychological and socio-contextual variables across development, focusing on factors implicated in the current theoretical formulations regarding gun carrying and use (e.g., psychopathy, gang membership), b) examine the bidirectional effects (i.e., variables as both a cause and a consequence) of gun carrying/use and victimization and attitudes toward violence, c) identify the factors related to the transition from gun carrying to gun use, and d) examine whether certain factors (e.g., drug dealing) are more influential for gun carrying/use among minority vs. White males and whether any racial/ethnic differences are attributable to a disproportionate exposure to specific risk factors (e.g., neighborhood crime). This proposed project is a unique, cost effective opportunity to move research on gun violence forward substantially. It enriches theory about the processes of gun carrying/use, and informs interventions to make them more effective. It will identify what specific risk factors should be targeted, to whom certain types of interventions are most relevant, and the developmental point when specific interventions are most salient.

The study is clearly aimed at those young black makes who illegally carry, despite gun laws such in Chicago that are the most restrictive in the nation despite the highest crime rate.

How young black males obtain firearms as they pretend to be gangsters is not a focus of the study, rather a touchy, feely, “how do we intervene” and get them to stop wanting firearms.

The government could have saved nearly $300k of taxpayer’s hard earned dollars by realizing that in areas where violent crime is most prevalent (Chicago and D.C.) is also where citizens are not permitted to own firearms.

The correlation to race has nothing to do with a desire to own a firearm.

Personal protection, regardless of a criminal/legal occupation is a necessity . . . and only criminals own firearms where none are permitted. Those who illegally carry in a virtual “gun free zone” wield significantly more personal power and the equivalent social standing. I.e., it’s cool.

The government can make it “uncool” by honoring the Second Amendment.

There you go.

[Note to the National Institutes for Health: please remit a check for $288,529 through the address on our contact page.]

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welfare

If you’re having trouble making ends-meet with your job, you might want to go on welfare.

Apparently, thanks to the wasteful programs of the federal government, welfare pays even better than working!

A shocking study from the free market think tank, Cato Institute, revealed that, in the vast majority of states, welfare pays higher than the federal minimum wage.

But, even more surprising, a number of states pay even higher than the average national household income of $50,500—putting welfare recipients in the top 50% of wage “earners” in America.

That means, if you make roughly what the average middle-class American makes, people on welfare may be taking home more money than you—and they’re making wages that the middle class can only dream of.

Hawaii leads the pack—handing out a whopping $60,590 a year to people on welfare. That’s the equivalent of $29.13 per hour, if welfare was a job that required a 40-hour work week (it doesn’t.) More than 4 times the minimum wage.

$60,590 a year for doing absolutely nothing, other than sitting on a beach in Hawaii all day, doesn’t sound too shabby.

But Hawaii isn’t alone: if you’re a welfare recipient in the District of Columbia or Massachusetts, you’re also making more than the national average, at $50,820 and $50,540, respectively.

In fact, 35 states pay a welfare recipient more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, enabling them to take home more money than many people who actually put in a full day of honest work.

So if you’re looking for a new “job,” without all of that pesky “working” involved, government handouts may be for you!

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clean cookstoves

The U.S. government has spent over $300 million on “efficient cook stoves” for developing nations and the federal employee behind the costly initiative just got a prestigious award that’s supposed to honor those “whose work makes our country better, healthier and stronger.”

It’s not clear how American taxpayer-funded stoves operating in a poor African village makes the U.S. better, healthier and stronger. What we do know for certain is that Uncle Sam has been a major contributor to a United Nations project, called Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, that aims to improve the lives of those living in the poorest areas of the world by reducing the health risks of indoor smoke from cooking meals over open fires and crude stoves.

Exposure to indoor smoke from cooking is the world’s fourth worst health risk, the U.S. government asserts, citing the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that it kills 4.3 million people annually. In all, 500 million lives in 100 million impoverished households will benefit from the multi-million-dollar clean stove program, according to the U.S. government. The hardest hit areas include sub Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, Guatemala and India. Stoves will “save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions,” the Clean Cookstoves website states.

It’s a noble cause, but how does the U.S. and its residents benefit from this? The federal employee who just received an award for his role in the initiative works at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His name is Jacob Moss and he’s being recognized for his “commitment and innovation in helping to create and lead an initiative to enable homes in developing nations to adopt cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels to improve and save lives.” This month he won the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies), known as the Oscars of government service.

Winners represent the many federal employees whose work makes our country better, healthier and stronger. “The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals highlight excellence in our federal workforce and inspire other talented and dedicated individuals to go into public service,” according to the awardwebsite. It goes on to say that the awards align with the founder’s “vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people.” This brings up a valid question; how are the needs of the American people met by providing third-world countries with stoves?

Moss is getting the honor because he was a central architect in the program to enable homes in developing nations to adopt cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels to improve health and save lives, according to the EPA. “Jacob truly embodies the spirit of commitment and service that this award honors,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “He has dedicated his professional life to eliminating the risks of toxic smoke from indoor cookstoves – one of the deadliest threats facing billions of people across the developing world.” Nearly 500 nominations were submitted this year and winners were chosen by a committee of leaders in government, academia, media and the private sector.

In 2010 Judicial Watch reported on a similar U.S.-funded program to replace “inefficient cook stoves” that were supposedly contributing to climate change and deforestation in developing countries. The Hillary Clinton State Department was responsible for that project, which received at least $50 million from American taxpayers and was formally announced at a Clinton Global Initiative Conference in New York. The allocation was justified with claims that smoke from “primitive stoves” was a leading environmental cause of death and disease and a huge contributor to global warming.

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government-fraud

At a time when the federal government is running hundreds of billions of dollars in annual budget deficits… is carrying a national debt of well over $18 trillion dollars… and with unfunded entitlement programs trillions of dollars in the red… the Social Security Administration (SSA) overpaid nearly $17 billion in fraudulent SSA disability payments over the last decade.

According to an audit of the SSA’s books by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), some beneficiaries were paid disability benefits for 10 years even though they were ineligible including 216,070 payments to fugitives and prisoners.

The OIG based its estimate of $16.8 billion overpayments on a sample of more than 1,500 Americans who received disability benefits since 2003 that found nearly half were overpaid.

“Our review of 1,532 beneficiaries in current pay status as of October 2003 found that over a 10-year period (from October 2003 through February 2014), SSA assessed overpayments for 44.5 percent of sampled beneficiaries,” the audit said.

“SSA assessed overpayments totaling about $16.8 billion between October 2003 and February 2014 for approximately 4 million beneficiaries who were in current payment status in October 2003…” according to the audit document.

Of that, the agency was able to recover approximately $8.1 billion, though it is still trying to retrieve $6.3 billion in benefits.

The average beneficiary in the OIG’s sample received improper payments for 14 months. Most earned too much or were able to work, making them ineligible for disability. The findings also included 209,643 payments to dead people.

Frank Cristaudo, counselor to SSA Commissioner Carolyn Colvin, said federal law requires the agency to continue paying beneficiaries who may be medically ineligible until after they appeal, a process that can take years.

“We appreciate OIG’s follow-up work from the previous review”…“While the report does not contain any recommendations, we suggest some further clarification of the text of the report,” Cristaudo said.

“During our review of the preliminary findings, we suggested that the OIG clarify the characterization of payments made during the appeal of a medical continuing disability review (CDR) determination to cease benefits,” he said.

“We are required to continue payments for the duration of an appeal, and these payments are later deemed overpayments if we uphold the CDR cessation on appeal. These payments are clearly not ‘improper’ as that statute requires that we make the payment.”

The SSA began conducting annual audits of the SSA disability program at the request of Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) back in 2006. The audit also revealed that:

The SSA “prevented about $8 billion in overpayments between October 2003 and February 2014 to approximately 1 million beneficiaries in current pay status in October 2003 by suspending monthly payments.”

When asked for his response to the audit results, Senator Grassley said:

“Every dollar that goes to overpayments doesn’t help someone in need. Given the present financial situation of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Trust Fund, the program cannot sustain billions of dollars lost to waste.

While the complete elimination of overpayments for either the SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs may not be feasible, the agency is failing beneficiaries and needs to improve its work to rein in the problem.

Congress also may need to look at what additional tools could be provided to further track down and prevent overpayments.”

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food-stamps

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government spent $100 billion on food assistance programs last year to feed 110 million people.

Most of this total – $75 billion – was spent on food stamps issued to 46 million Americans in 2014 according to congressional testimony from the GAO’s Director of Education, Workforce, and Income Security Kay E. Brown.

The national school lunch program came in second at a cost of $11.3 billion with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at $7.1 billion. Puerto Rico received food assistance worth $1.9 billion.

Brown testified that “inefficient use of federal funds” may exist due to the government’s “complex network of 18 food assistance programs, administered by three federal agencies” rendering these agencies unable to determine how effective the programs are. Brown continued:

“In 2010, research GAO reviewed suggested that participation in seven of these programs was associated with positive outcomes, such as improving nutrition among low-income households”…but that “Little was known about the effectiveness of the remaining 11.”

The GAO report referred to in Brown’s testimony included a list of the 18 federal programs which, taken together, served a total 109.9 million Americans in 2014. The effectiveness of the 18 programs as a whole could not be determined since there is no mechanism in place to identify and track individuals participating in multiple nutrition assistance programs.

Brown said the GAO has urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address potential overlaps in their programs – an effort undertaken by the USDA in 2013 “to study the impact of participation in multiple food assistance programs on the nutritional status of participants.”

“While such a study will provide important information, it does not address GAO’s recommendation,” Brown said. “GAO continues to believe that further action is needed.”

One outcome parameter missing from the GAO report was the effect that Food Stamps and other “nutrition assistance” programs are having on the motivation by beneficiaries to finds jobs and stay employed.

There is an old axiom in the theory and practice of government assistance programs that states if you subsidize something, you get more of it.

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