Have nothing to do with the [evil] things that people do, things that belong to the darkness. Instead, bring them out to the light... [For] when all things are brought out into the light, then their true nature is clearly revealed...

-Ephesians 5:11-13

Tag Archives: taxpayer

The Wall Street Journal Tells Investors Not to Worry About Illinois. Really.

This article was published by the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, June 30, 2017:

Seal of Illinois. Center image extracted from ...

Seal of Illinois.

The Journal declared that although the state of Illinois is in deep trouble, that shouldnt be troubling to those investors holding billions of the states debt that is about to be downgraded to junk. On Saturday morning, barring a miracle, S&P Global will keep its promise and announce that Illinoiss debt rating is being reduced by at least one more notch, to junk status.

The Journal said that downgrade reflects the fact that the state faces large uncertainties and has major exposure to adverse conditions. But none of those need bother investors, said the Journal. Even though several bond mutual funds have bailed since the first of the year, offloading an estimated $2 billion of the states $25 billion in investor-owned debt, the Vanguard Group is standing firm. It has the largest exposure to Illinois in its seven mutual funds, holding $1.2 billion of its debt and claiming that it is comfortable with (its) risk/reward.

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Illinois Countdown to Junk Status Continues

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 29, 2017:

English: IL State Rep. Susana Mendoza 2011 Pho...

Susana Mendoza

Despite the clock’s ticking on the downgrade of Illinois’ $25 billion of indebtedness to junk status on midnight Friday, investors remain complacent. True, some mutual funds have offloaded $2 billion of Illinois debt in the last few months, but the Wall Street Journal provided salve to investors’ concerns that those remaining invested will be badly hurt. Unnamed analysts, wrote the Journal, “predict prices would drop only a few cents in the event of a junk downgrade.” They noted that Vanguard Group has $1.2 billion of Illinois bonds spread across seven of its bond mutual funds, with a company spokesman saying that it is “comfortable with the risk/reward” of investing in the state’s bonds.

Besides,

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Illinois Sends “Dear Contractor” Letters Ordering Them to Stop All Road Construction

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Thursday, June 15, 2017: 

English: A photograph of the Springfield Capit...

A photograph of the Springfield Capitol Building

Illinois contractors working on the state’s roads just received a “Dear Contractor” letter from the state ordering them to halt work because the state is out of money to pay them:

At this time appropriate funding is not available after June 30, 2017. Thus, work shall cease effective June 30, 2017.

Please bring all projects to a condition that will provide a clear and safely traveled way….

On July 1, 2017, all work shall cease except for maintenance.… The department will notify you when work may resume.

Right now the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills, an increase of nearly $4 billion just since the end of December, with no end in sight. When Republican Governor Bruce Rauner took office in January 2015, he promised he would bring order out of chaos by

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Puerto Rico’s Vote for Statehood Means Nothing

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, June 12, 2017:

Despite 97 percent of Puerto Ricans voting for statehood in Sunday’s plebescite, the chances of adding the island as the country’s 51st state are between slim and none.

The island’s voters had three choices on Sunday’s ballot: Stay as a U.S. territory, move ahead with statehood, or seek full independence as a sovereign nation. This is the fifth vote on the issue since 1967, with the first three failing to gain a majority vote for statehood. That majority is required for the U.S. Congress to consider it. The fourth vote was marred by some 500,000 voters boycotting it to protest the ballot allegedly being rigged in favor of statehood.

The chances this time aren’t any better.

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Puerto Rico’s Governor Seeks an American Taxpayer Bailout

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 12, 2017:

Ever since he announced his campaign for governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, who was installed as the island’s new governor in January, has been pushing for statehood. Offloading his country’s financial problems onto American taxpayers is the American way. By gaining statehood, Puerto Rico would be poorer than Mississippi, the poorest of the American states, and therefore would be the likely recipient of federal largesse by the truckload. As Rossello said so clearly,

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Democrats Love to Tax the Rich – Except When it’s THEIR Rich

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

The Trump tax reform proposal has put the Democrats into a deliciously difficult position. He wants to eliminate state and local deductions for income and property taxes (but leave charitable and mortgage deductions alone) as part of his attempt to keep his proposal revenue-neutral.

The amounts involved are enormous. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that, if passed, it would cost the rich $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years. The Tax Foundation ran the same numbers and came up with an even bigger number: $1.8 trillion.

The law currently allows state and local income and property taxes to be deducted in calculating an individual’s federal tax liability. But, as both tax groups noted, those benefitting the most from the deductions happen to live in liberal, Democrat-leaning and supporting states. This forces Democrats to face a conundrum:

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Trump’s Plan to Eliminate State, Local Tax Deductions Puts Dems in Difficulty

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, June 6, 2017: 

Tax Foundation

Two tax policy groups — the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation — agree on at least one thing in President Trump’s tax proposal: The elimination of favorite tax deductions used by the wealthy would cost them dearly. The Tax Policy Center calculated that it would cost the rich $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years, while the Tax Foundation put the figure at more than $1.8 trillion.

The law currently allows state and local income and property taxes to be deducted in calculating an individual’s federal tax liability. But as both tax groups noted,

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What’s Wrong with Connecticut?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, June 5, 2017: 

English: Aetna building in Hartford, Connectic...

Aetna building in Hartford, Connecticut

The state has a staggering deficit of more than $5 billion, home prices are about where they were a decade ago, unemployment is rising (not falling as it is elsewhere in the northeast), and big companies who have been there for decades are leaving.

What is going on?

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Credit Rating of Illinois Cut Again to One Notch Above Junk

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Friday, June 2, 2017: 

English: 1987 Illinois license plate

The day after Illinois failed to reach a budget agreement (for the third year in a row), Moody’s Investors Service followed S&P Global Ratings by downgrading the state’s credit rating to just one notch above junk status. The legislature has 30 days to come up with a budget or else the state’s rating will be downgraded further to junk status.

Moody’s was blunt in its assessment of the rolling catastrophe: “Legislative gridlock has sidetracked efforts not only to address pension needs [$129 billion in unfunded liabilities] but also to achieve fiscal balance [the state has $14.5 billion in unpaid bills with $800 million in late fees and penalties adding to the total]. Moody’s analyst Ted Hampton added:

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Trump’s Plan to Revise SNAP Draws Howls of Protests From Liberals

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 30, 2017: 

English: Logo of the .

Modest revisions to the federal government’s present SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) proposed by Trump’s budget released last week have drawn howls of protests from predictable places. The New York Times and ThinkProgress are calling the cuts “full of horror,” “backbreaking,” and sufficient to “destroy the food stamp program.”

What’s proposed is a cut of less than $20 billion a year to a program that currently costs taxpayers more than $70 billion annually. It also would involve a modest shift of financial responsibility back to the states where it properly belongs.

The cuts are predicated on the impact the imposition of “work rules” would have

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The Sausage-Making in Washington Begins

his article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 24, 2017: 

Engraving of Otto von Bismarck

Engraving of Otto von Bismarck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the White House has released the budget for fiscal year 2018, the quote from Otto von Bismarck becomes operative: “Laws are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.” But that only becomes operative after the election, about which H. L. Mencken said, “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” And when those stolen goods exceed $4 trillion, everyone has a distinct interest in getting, keeping and expanding his share.

When Trump’s “blueprint” was rolled out in March, it provided the bare bones of what he hoped it might accomplish:

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Puerto Rico Headed to Bankruptcy Court, Likely Costing Investors Billions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Wednesday, May 3, 2017: 

English: Map of Peuto Rico, with inset showing...

The federal fiscal oversight board created by Congress last June to fix Puerto Rico gave up on Monday, putting the island country into the hands of a federal bankruptcy judge.

The board, created last June, was designed to help newly elected Governor Ricardo Rossello come to terms with mutual funds and hedge fund owners that own the bulk of the island’s $73 billion debt. Rossello’s first effort, which would have applied a one-third financial “haircut” to them was turned down by the board, which called it too generous.

Rossello’s second effort would have applied a 50-percent haircut, but Franklin Advisers and Oppenheimer Fund, the two largest entities holding the island’s debt, pushed back.

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Have the Environmentalists Stooped to this Level?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, May 3, 2017:  

When the final tally of the costs of cleaning up after the so-called “environmentalists” protesting the Dakota Access pipeline was completed, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum asked for federal help. The tally? $38 million! This included not only overtime for the overworked Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier and his deputies, but private security people from outside the state brought in to help them. It didn’t include the thousands of dollars incurred by the owners of the local Comfort Inn in Cannonball after their Good Samaritan efforts – offering free rooms to those protesters caught in the cold – were rewarded by their “guests” trashing them.

But it did include the bill from an environmental cleanup and fumigation company from Florida brought in to remove thousands of tons of unspeakably vile trash the protesters left behind. This writer now refuses to grace those thugs and criminals with the appellations “environmentalists” or even “hypocrites.”

In his request to President Trump, Burgum said:

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North Dakota Demands U.S. Taxpayers Pay for Pipeline Protest Cleanup

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, May 2, 2017:  

When the last of the pipeline protesters were removed, some by force, from the Dakota Access campsites in late February, Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier thought that would be the end of it, and folks could get back to their regular lives:

I am very happy to say that we finally introduced [the] rule of law in the Oceti camp. I am hopeful that this announcement brings us closer to finality in what has been an incredibly challenging time for our citizens and law enforcement professionals. Having dealt with riots, violence, trespassing and property crimes, the people of Morton County are looking forward to getting back to their normal lives.

Except for the bills.

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Senator Ted Cruz Introduces Bill to Have Drug Lord El Chapo Pay for the Wall

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 1, 2017: 

When Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced his bill — the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act — on Tuesday, he said the $14 billion seized from the Mexican drug lord would help build President Trump’s wall:

$14 billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border.

The money isn’t available just for the taking, added Cruz:

The U.S. government is currently seeking the criminal forfeiture of more than $14 billion in drug proceeds and profits from El Chapo, the former leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel who was recently extradited to the U.S. to face criminal prosecution for numerous alleged drug-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and money laundering.

As part of the agreement between Mexico and U.S. authorities, El Chapo won’t face the death penalty, but his confiscated assets might be available if Cruz’s bill passes the Senate and the House, and is signed into law by the president. Confiscated assets such as these are usually directed to law enforcement efforts in the United States.

Cruz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday that it’s “only fitting” that drug money be used to build the wall:

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Schumer, Pelosi Celebrate Stop-gap Government Spending Bill

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, May 1, 2017: 

After debating hundreds of items in the stop-gap government spending bill to fund the government through September, congressional leaders birthed a beast that rejected nearly all of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises.

On Sunday night Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gushed: “This is a good agreement for the American people, and takes the threat of a government shutdown off the table.” He made sure that everyone took note that most of Trump’s priorities were rejected: “The bill ensures taxpayer dollars aren’t used to fund an ineffective wall, excludes [160] poison pill riders [offered by Republicans], and increases investments in programs that [Republicans resisted but] that the middle-class relies on, like medical research, education and infrastructure.”

California Democrat Representative Nancy Pelosi was delighted to see a provision included that would require the U.S. taxpayer to bail out Puerto Rico to the tune of $295 million, calling it Medicare relief rather than a bailout:

From the beginning, Democrats have sought to avert another destructive Republican government shutdown, and we have made significant progress improving [this] omnibus bill.

Bloomberg, in its reporting, couldn’t restrain itself: “GOP leaders … bowed to Democratic demands to eliminate hundreds of policy restrictions aimed at curbing regulations, leaving the Trump administration with few victories.”

When two big-spending, Constitution-ignoring liberal Democrats get excited about a government spending bill, one knows something is dreadfully amiss.

The White House sought $30 billion for the Pentagon. It got just $15 billion, with $2.5 billion of it on a conditional basis. The White House wanted funding for the wall. It got $1.5 billion for “border security” but with the proviso that none of it be spent on the wall.

The White House has promised to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood got an increase. The White House wanted to cut funding to sanctuary cities. That was rejected. Those cities will get their federal funds. It wanted to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health. The NIH got a $2 billion boost. The White House has promised to cut the EPA’s budget. It got millions more in funding, along with a promise that there would be no staff cuts.

The White House has stated it wanted cuts to the Energy Department. Instead, the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — which funds experimental energy research and has been targeted for elimination by the White House — got millions more to spend instead.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities? They got increases.

In addition, more than 70 items that Bloomberg called “anti-environment policy riders” were scrapped.

Most annoying to those thinking that the new president would actually be keeping his promises was his statement that he would sign the bill if it arrives at his desk “as we discussed.” That could happen as early as Wednesday.

Perhaps the president is making a deal? Give up a little now in order to press for more later? After all, the bill, once signed, would only fund the government through September. The 2018 budget is still a work in progress.

Or is he going along to get along, not wanting to have the Democrats hang the “shutdown the government again” albatross around the Republican Party neck?

Or is he betraying his promises to his constituents in order to get “something, anything” about which he can claim victory during the early days of his administration.

He is the president, after all, and still has plenty of political capital that he could invest in keeping his promises. Why wouldn’t he consider vetoing the bill rather than folding, especially when it contains odious pro-death funding for Planned Parenthood? Wouldn’t this be a good time for him to stand tall and reject the bill, unless and until it reflects his promises and policies? Wouldn’t this be the time, as Ron Paul just said, “to shut down most of the federal government, starting with bringing the troops home and drastically cutting the military-industrial complex’s budget?”

Or has the president been assimilated by The Borg — the powers-that-be in Washington — and just decided that “resistance is futile” and that he’ll be happy that the cuts to his projects and priorities weren’t even worse?

Is History About to Repeat Itself – Building the Wall to Keep Drugs Out?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, May 1, 2017:

Cover of "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of...

As Samuel Taylor Coleridge expressed it, “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.”

Those unfamiliar with the lessons history teaches regarding attempts to legislate morality are about to get another one. One of those, surprisingly, is the Republican Senator from Texas who has just introduced a bill to let El Chapo pay for the wall. After all, said Ted Cruz, it’s “only fitting.” Cruz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday:

These drug cartels are the ones crossing the border with impunity, smuggling drugs, smuggling narcotics, engaged in human trafficking. They’re the ones violating our laws and it’s only fitting that their ill-gotten gains fund securing the border.

Cruz’s bill specifically targets El Chapo’s assets for use in building the wall:

All illegally obtained profits resulting from any criminal drug trafficking enterprise led by Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera (commonly known as “El Chapo”), which are criminally forfeited to the United States Government as a result of the conviction of [El Chapo] … shall be reserved for security measures along the border between the United States and Mexico, including the completion of a wall along such border, for the purpose of stemming the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States and furthering the Nation’s security.

Cruz sounded very much like another member of Congress who hasn’t read, or remembered, his history: Rep. James Sensenbrenner. In March Sensenbrenner offered his bill, cleverly titled the BUILD WALL (Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted) Act, explaining:

If we do nothing, we put the people of this nation at risk, as well as allow illegal immigrants to take away jobs, opportunities, and social funding from U.S. citizens – all at the expense of the American taxpayer. The BUILD WALL Act is a creative solution to a complex problem.

When quizzed about his bill in March, Sensenbrenner reiterated the case that drug lords should rightly pay for the wall:

This is a way to fulfill the president’s desire to have Mexico pay for the wall. Having the money seized from Mexican drug cartels would mean that bad Mexicans would end up paying for the wall – the bad Mexicans [who] have been terrorizing the good Mexicans with crime and kidnappings and murders within Mexico itself.

But why is no one asking the real question: if the wall is built, will it work in keeping drugs and criminals out of the United States? Or will it, just like the Volstead Act, cause misery beyond measure, with consequences still being felt today nearly a hundred years later?

Films over the last few decades have attempted to answer that question, films such as The Untouchables (1987) or, more recently, Lawless (2012) which just touch on the horrors inflicted upon innocents as those illegal liquor merchants plied their wares, operating as simply businessmen doing their best to “meet a demand.”

As Borderland Beat, the relatively unknown but highly-regarded source of information about the border drug wars, recently noted: “With U.S. support Mexican authorities have been able to kill or capture 33 out of the 37 most dangerous cartel leaders. The recent extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States is a testament to the value of high-level cooperation between the two countries. As a result of these notable successes, several larger cartels have fractured and have descended into in-fighting.”

But they haven’t gone away. That have reorganized, are adapting to the new reality, and continue their drug trafficking. First, they consider themselves as businessmen providing a product to meet market demand. Thwarting border protections is an industry in its own right, whether it’s developing tunnels (with electric lights, air-conditioning and motion sensors) under the border, or creating false documentation to get their mules through border checkpoints. They still have immense resources and can buy all the talent they need to counter any protective schemes the Trump administration might dream up.

When they wish to move large sums of cash across the border, the cartels have used “cloned” vehicles that resemble official cars. When that fails, they buy up and ship across the border vast numbers of gift cards, thus reducing law enforcement’s ability to track down the movement of money.

When drones become pesky, they develop countermeasures to defend against them. And they are developing “narco drones” of their own to deliver drugs across the border to the U.S.

In addition, they have the resources to bribe successfully hundreds of Department of Homeland Security employees who have taken in nearly $15 million in bribes since 2006. As Borderland Beat notes, all of this means “that a new border wall will not end or significantly reduce the capabilities and power of Mexican drug cartels. From the days of tequila smuggling into the United States during Prohibition, illicit trafficking across the southwest border has remained a constant.”

As Kyle Smith wrote in his review of “Prohibition,” a PBS special a few years ago:

Banning the sale or manufacture of alcohol made ours “a nation of scofflaws,” as Burns and Novick entitle the second episode of their miniseries. After an initial dip in alcohol consumption, booze sales spiked, with one cop estimating there were 32,000 speakeasies in New York City.

 

No one who backed the 18th Amendment thought much about the additional police needed to enforce it, the ease with which those police would be bought off, the job losses it would cause, or the innocent bystanders who would be shot when the government decided to crack down.

 

Prohibition lessened respect for the rule of law and created a big business in bootlegging, which in turn led to murder and mayhem on the streets. Organized crime barely existed before the Al Capones of the world found their calling in Prohibition, and in order to lessen turf wars the gangland bosses began to carve out spheres of influence on a nationwide scale.

 

“Prohibition was the finishing school, the college and the graduate school for the criminal syndicates of America,” says Dan Okrent, author of “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” in the film.

If the wall is built (regardless of who pays for it), people like Cruz and Sensenbrenner (and others who should know better) are very likely to learn this lesson from history: one cannot legislate morality, and attempts to do so are likely to have painfully negative and long-lasting consequences. Unfortunately, Coleridge’s lantern, for many, shines only on the waves behind.


Sources:

History quotes

The New York Post: What we learned from Prohibition

Fox News: Sen. Ted Cruz: ‘It’s only fitting’ cartel money be used for border wall

Washington Examiner: Jim Sensenbrenner: Make Mexican cartels pay for the wall

Borderland Beat: THE BORDER WALL: MAKING MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS GREAT AGAIN

Background on Borderland Beat

Conservative Tribune: Congressman: Pay for Border Wall by Seizing Money From Mexican Drug Cartels

CNNOfficial: Mexican cartels use money, sex to bribe U.S. border agents

Breitbart: Ted Cruz Calls for $14 Billion Seized from ‘El Chapo’ to Fund Border Wall

Text of Cruz’s bill, S.939

The Untouchables (1987)

Lawless (2012)

Pew Research: Gap Between Promises and Assets Widens for State Pensions

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 24, 2017:

A RETIRED COUPLE FROM CALIFORNIA STOP TO FISH ...

After reviewing the investment results for 230 public pension plans for the last two years, Pew reported last Thursday that, despite strong recent stock market performance, the gap between liabilities (promises) and assets for those plans widened by 17 percent, to $1.4 trillion. Put another way, those plans should have nearly $4 trillion in assets to enable them to keep their promises. The latest data shows them with just over $2.5 trillion instead.

Said Greg Mennis, director of the project,

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Trump’s Strange Reversal on Ex-Im Bank: Names One Opposed to It to Run It?

This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Monday, April 17, 2017:

English: Congressman Justin Amash

Congressman Justin Amash

When Representative Justin Amash (R-Mich.) learned on Friday that President Trump intended to resuscitate the Export-Import Bank by naming two people to its board (it has been limping along with just three out of five board members present), he nailed it, tweeting, “ExIm corporate welfare bank is the symbol of D.C. cronyism. It steals from taxpayers to subsidize big corporations. End ExIm. Drain the Swamp.”

For a while it looked as if the Ex-Im Bank was for all intents and purposes dead. In 2015, the House failed to renew its charter for the first time since 1945. However,

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Is Trump Pulling a Pruitt – Putting an Anti-Ex-Im Exec in Charge of the Bank?

This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, April 17, 2017:

English: Export-Import Bank of the United Stat...

Many were surprised when President Trump named the EPA’s fiercest enemy – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt – to head up the agency. For years Pruitt has raged against the agency for overstepping its bounds and writing rules, mandates, and regulations that negatively impacted the fossil fuel industry. He sued the agency more than a dozen times in the last eight years.

What was Trump thinking?

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Many of the articles on Light from the Right first appeared on either The New American or the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor.