Category: Misappropriation of Funds

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Daily Caller News Foundation

Feds Hide Secret List Of 11 Staggering Obamacare Insurers

Richard Pollock


Federal officials have a secret list of 11 Obamacare health insurance co-ops they fear are on the verge of failure, but they refuse to disclose them to the public or to Congress, a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation has learned.

Just in the last three weeks, five of the original 24 Obamacare co-ops announced plans to close, bringing the total of failures to eight barely two years after their launch with $2 billion in start-up capital from the taxpayers under the Affordable Care Act.

All 24 received 15-year loans in varying amounts to offer health insurance to poor and low income customers and provide publicly funded competition to private, for-profit insurers. The eight co-ops to announce closings served populations in ten states: Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana, Nevada, Tennessee, Vermont, New York and Colorado.

Nearly half a million failing co-op customers will have to find new coverage in 2016. More than $900 million of the original $2 billion in loans has been lost.

The 11 unidentified co-ops appear to be still operating but are now on “enhanced oversight” by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, which manages the Obamacare program. The 11 received letters from CMS demanding that they take urgent actions to avoid closing.

Aaron Albright, chief CMS spokesman, said 11 co-ops “are either on a corrective action plan or enhanced oversight. We have not released the letters or names.” He gave no grounds for withholding the information from either the public or Congress.

CMS officials have stonewalled multiple congressional inquiries into the co-op financial problems. The latest congressional inquiry came in a September 30 letter to CMS acting administrator Andy Slavitt demanding transparency over the troubled program.

“We have long been concerned about the financial solvency of CO-OPs,” three House Ways and Means committee members wrote to Slavitt. “Which plans have received these warnings or have been placed on corrective plans,” the congressmen asked. To date, they have received no reply.

Insurance commissioners in Vermont were the first to refuse to license the federally approved co-op there in 2013 because they feared those financial plans were unrealistic. But then the dominoes began to fall this year, resulting in at least eight co-op failures. And if CMS officials are to be believed, more failures may be on the way.

Sen. Charles Grassley , a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee who has been an outspoken critic of the troubled co-op program, said transparency should be a top priority for the faltering program.

“Since the public’s business generally ought to be public, CMS should have a good reason for not disclosing which co-ops are troubled,” he said.


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Consortium News

US Tax Dollars and Ukraine’s Finance Minister

Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.

Special Report: Though touted as the face of reform inside Ukraine’s post-coup regime, Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko enriched herself at the expense of a U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund – and USAID now says it’s missing some of the audit records detailing Jaresko’s dealings, reports Robert Parry.


By Robert Parry


The U.S. government is missing – or withholding – audit documents about the finances and possible accounting irregularities at a $150 million U.S.-taxpayer-financed investment fund when it was run by Ukraine’s Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko, who has become the face of “reform” for the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev and who now oversees billions of dollars in Western financial aid.

Before taking Ukrainian citizenship and becoming Finance Minister in December 2014, Jaresko was a former U.S. diplomat who served as chief executive officer of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by Congress in the 1990s with $150 million and placed under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help jumpstart an investment economy in Ukraine.

After Jaresko’s appointment as Finance Minister — and her resignation from WNISEF — I reviewed WNISEF’s available public records and detected a pattern of insider dealings and enrichment benefiting Jaresko and various colleagues. That prompted me in February to file a Freedom of Information Act request for USAID’s audits of the investment fund.

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breakingtheset breakingtheset·

Published on Jan 23, 2014

Abby Martin Breaks the Set on Al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Worst of Congress, Georgism, a Police Abuse Round Up, and Snowden’s Q&A.
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EPISODE BREAKDOWN: On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin remarks on fears by Iraqi officials that the al-Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant could be gaining enough strength to attack Baghdad. Abby then calls out 6 of the most corrupt and least popular members of congress, going over some of the conflicts of interests and blatant hypocrisy that have come to characterize the 113th Congress. Abby then speaks with Scott Baker, president of Common Ground NYC about the Georgism Philosophy, and how the elimination of all taxes except a land use tax could be applied and sustained. Abby then calls attention to three recent cases of police abuse in the US, including an instance where an officer ruptured a young man’s testicle. BTS wraps up the show with an interview with David Seaman, journalist and host of the David Seaman Hour, going over Edward Snowden’s recent live online Q&A in response to Obama’s speech on the most controversial aspects of the NSA’s global spying apparatus.

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HuffPost Live HuffPost Live

Published on Jan 13, 2014

Just days after dismissing two top advisers for their roles in the George Washington Bridge scandal, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is facing questions over the use of Superstorm Sandy relief funds.

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Chris Christie rocked by Superstorm Sandy relief scandal

NEW JERSEY governor Chris Christie is being investigated over claims he used Superstorm Sandy relief funds to make tourism ads starring him and his family.

News of the investigation couldn’t come at a worse time for the “scandal-plagued Republican”, says CNN. Late last week he was forced to sack two aides who allegedly ordered the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge as part of a vendetta against a political opponent.

Christie’s office has been “paralysed” by the bridge scandal which is about to trigger a “flurry of subpoenas”, according to reports.

CNN says the federal probe examining New Jersey’s use of $25m in relief funds for a marketing campaign to boost tourism in the state, could be even more damaging to Christie’s political ambitions than the bridge scandal. That’s because the governor’s performance during and after the storm has been “widely praised and is a fundamental part of his straight-shooting political brand”.

The New York Post understands that Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, are likely to be issued with subpoenas as early as today in relation to the bridge scandal. Kelly allegedly orchestrated the lane closures in an effort to undermine a New Jersey mayor who refused to support Christie’s re-election campaign; Stepien was “kept in the loop” about the plan.

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Published time: November 12, 2013 17:16
Edited time: November 12, 2013 18:14

Michael Nagle / Getty Images / AFP

Michael Nagle / Getty Images / AFP

A former Federal Reserve employee responsible for managing the agency’s quantitative easing program has written an op-ed apologizing for what he called “the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Huszar detailed his concerns about the Fed’s massive bond-buying measures. He argued that while the Reserve initially claimed the program would lower borrowing rates for average citizens, the trillion-dollar initiative primarily ended up lining the pockets of Wall Street executives.

“Despite the Fed’s rhetoric, my program wasn’t helping to make credit any more accessible for the average American,” Huszar wrote. “The banks were only issuing fewer and fewer loans. More insidiously, whatever credit they were extending wasn’t getting much cheaper. QE may have been driving down the wholesale cost for banks to make loans, but Wall Street was pocketing most of the extra cash.”

What’s more, Huszar claimed that several Federal Reserve managers expressed apprehension over the effects of quantitative easing (QE) only to find their concerns ignored.

“Our warnings fell on deaf ears,” he wrote. “In the past, Fed leaders—even if they ultimately erred—would have worried obsessively about the costs versus the benefits of any major initiative. Now the only obsession seemed to be with the newest survey of financial-market expectations or the latest in-person feedback from Wall Street’s leading bankers and hedge-fund managers.”


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Despite Eight Ongoing Criminal/Civil Investigations of JPMorgan, the Bank’s a Law Enforcement Partner With the NYPD

By Pam Martens: November 4, 2013

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly Inside the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center

Nothing reveals the incestuous, one-percent-mindset that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly have with Wall Street than the next to last photo at this link. The photo shows an employee of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s number one target for financial fraud investigations, JPMorgan Chase, working inside a high security spy center in Lower Manhattan to — wait for it — help the New York City Police Department catch crooks.

While most law enforcement bodies around the U.S. would instantly weed out serial wrongdoers as job hires, Bloomberg and Kelly have created an art form out of joint policing ventures with Wall Street, operating both a rent-a-cop program with Wall Street as well as pumping at least $150 million of taxpayer money into the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center where Wall Street employees sit elbow to elbow with NYPD officers.

Under some Orwellian concept of citizen surveillance, the very Wall Street banks that proved they were a far greater threat to the United States than any foreign terrorist when they collapsed the Nation’s financial system in 2008, are part of a joint venture with the NYPD to use high-tech spy equipment to monitor the comings and goings of citizens in the streets of Manhattan – the majority of which, unlike Wall Street, are law abiding citizens.

Last week, JPMorgan Chase revealed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it is under eight separate investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice. Some of the investigations involve potentially criminal matters ranging from allegations of hiring well-connected family members to get business in Asia; turning a blind eye to fraudulent transactions that Bernard Madoff ran through his business bank account at JPMorgan; rigging the Libor interest rate index; manipulating energy trading markets; gambling in London with insured deposits (London Whale episode); to improper credit derivatives and mortgage bond sales.

One of the most serious crimes for which JPMorgan is under investigation is the decades-long Ponzi scheme perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, which stole $17 billion in actual cash from thousands of investors while producing account statements showing the fictitious portfolios had grown to $64 billion. The fraud left hundreds of families destitute or forced to move in with children.

Outside of Madoff and his employees, no one had a better birds-eye view of this operation than JPMorgan Chase, the bank where Madoff held his business bank account for 22 years. According to lawsuits filed by the Trustee handling the Madoff recovery funds, Irving Picard, JPMorgan knew that Madoff was engaged in an investment advisory business for a broad array of customers but the Madoff bank account that JPMorgan Chase oversaw never showed a payment going to clear or process a stock trade.


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Wall Street’s Biggest Banks Had a Trading Scheme With Madoff

By Pam Martens: October 30, 2013

The trial of five former employees of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi operation is currently playing out in Manhattan as the U.S. Justice Department weighs bringing charges against JPMorgan Chase, where Madoff had his primary business banking account, for ignoring flashing red lights that a fraud was taking place.

According to lawsuits filed by Irving Picard, the Trustee handling the Madoff recovery fund, JPMorgan knew that Madoff was supposed to be engaged in managing stock portfolios for hundreds of clients. JPMorgan even created structured investments that allowed investors to make leveraged bets on the returns achieved by Madoff. But the Madoff business bank account that JPMorgan Chase oversaw, showed billions of dollars in cash being wired in and out but no payments ever going to any party engaged in processing or clearing a stock trade. Under Wall Street’s Know Your Customer Rule, the activity in the account should have been reported to U.S. regulators because it was completely incompatible with transactions that would be happening in a legitimate investment advisory account.

On October 28, 2008, less than two months before the Madoff Ponzi scheme collapsed following a confession by Madoff, JPMorgan finally did reveal its suspicions to a regulator that Madoff was running a fraud – to the Serious Organized Crime Agency. That regulator is based in the United Kingdom. According to Picard, JPMorgan never reported its suspicions to U.S. authorities.

But there are four other major Wall Street firms and their high-priced lawyers who have some explaining to do. According to prosecutors trying the current case against the five former employees, Madoff was funneling tens of millions of dollars that he was stealing from his investment advisory clients into his broker-dealer operation. Madoff has heretofore said this was a legitimate business. One such check for $31 million was dated December 28, 1999.

That was a little more than three months after Madoff started a business with four of the biggest names on Wall Street, effectively putting these primary dealers to the U.S. government’s Treasury auctions in business with the biggest financial felon in U.S. history.

On September 14, 1999, Citigroup’s Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs partnered with Madoff to compete with the New York Stock Exchange in a venture called Primex Trading. When Wall Street behemoths create a joint venture with a much smaller firm like Madoff’s, it would be expected that the top law firms on Wall Street would have been crawling all over its books and conducting a thorough due diligence.(Major European banks were harmed in the Madoff collapse. No major Wall Street bank had any serious exposure.)

Madoff had purchased the rights to a new technology called Financial Auction Network (FAN) created by Christopher Keith, a 17-year veteran of technology creation at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Keith had retired from the NYSE and started a technology think tank in lower Manhattan in the early 1990s called Exchange Lab. FAN was one of the early technology offerings and the rights to develop it were bought by Madoff, ostensibly with stolen customer funds it now appears. The firm that emerged was Primex Trading, a division of Primex Holdings.


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It’s About Shutting YOU Down!


Published on Oct 9, 2013

Forget the Government Shutdown — It’s About Shutting YOU Down!
Americans are being treated to political theater at its finest. It’s not a theater of entertainment, however, but a coliseum of enslavement where in the world of deception, perception becomes reality. This theater requires audience participation, where we, the theater-goers, become part of the play. We are a truly captive audience, entranced into mindlessly choosing sides at the frenzied urging of the corporate media and partisan cheerleaders firmly seated behind the microphones and television cameras of the nationally syndicated media. From RINF:…


Americans Are Being Treated to Political Theater: Forget the Government Shutdown – It’s About Shutting YOU Down


The government is red, the middle class is dead & they want us all dead

Americans are being treated to political theater at its finest. It’s not a theater of entertainment, however, but a coliseum of enslavement where in the world of deception, perception becomes reality. This theater requires audience participation, where we, the theater-goers, become part of the play. We are a truly captive audience, entranced into mindlessly choosing sides at the frenzied urging of the corporate media and partisan cheerleaders firmly seated behind the microphones and television cameras of the nationally syndicated media.

As the play progresses, we, the American people, become part of each act, believing that we actually have a voice in this pre-scripted performance. We are bombarded with lie after lie, each worse than the previous in an attempt to convince us that we can making a difference by choosing and cheering seemingly opposing sides on the stage before us. The biggest lie of them all is that there are not two sides, but just one. It’s “them versus us” in a fight to the death playing out before us in this 21st century Shakespearean tragedy. It’s not just death, but the premeditated murder of the middle class and anyone without a reservation at the globalists’ table. And the space at that table is limited.

The actors of this play are ostensibly at odds over funding the Affordable Care Act while a peek behind the curtain tells a different story altogether. Like any play, the ending of this has already been determined.  The ending, however, is not the same as written in the commemorative program you were given upon your arrival at this theater.

The house lights have been dimmed not just for the performance, but to induce us into a hypnotic trance further enabled by the media mouthpieces of malice. As you gradually become accustomed to the theater lighting, you’ll see that it’s not just a play, but you’re being played. You’re being manipulated into believing that the government shutdown is the actual plot of the play, while it is merely the method to continue the lie of a fictitious political paradigm.

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Is the government shutdown actually the ground work of a well laid out plan to confiscate money in the US ?


Money Confiscation Legal?


Published on Apr 26, 2013

A chilling peek into the future by way of the past from Matthias Chang. here;…

Ask your local police, sheriffs, lawyers, judges the following questions:

1) If I place my money with a lawyer as a stake-holder and he uses the money without my consent, has the lawyer committed a crime?

2) If I store a bushel of wheat or cotton in a warehouse and the owner of the warehouse sold my wheat/cotton without my consent or authority, has the warehouse owner committed a crime?

3) If I place monies with my broker (stock or commodity) and the broker uses my monies for other purposes and or contrary to my instructions, has the broker committed a crime?


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Devastating Trump Card

Business Insider

bridge cards trump card

Bruno Vincent/Getty

The shutdown battle has become, essentially, a high-stakes blame game.

Republicans tried to raise those stakes yesterday by offering a piecemeal plan to reopen popular parts of the federal government, in the hopes that it would be politically costly for the Democrats to oppose things like aid to veterans. The bill failed to move forward.

But in a note to clients, Potomac Research Group’s Greg Valliere says that President Obama still has one “trump card” of his own left to play, Social Security:

THE HEAVY ARTILLERY:  We have thought for weeks that Obama would play the Social Security trump card if there was no deal on the debt ceiling by mid-October. This is one of several reasons why we think a default is unlikely, and it’s one of several reasons why Boehner will capitulate; the only questions are when and under what terms. We think he may get a few crumbs, but no major concessions.


Obama Just Played His Big ‘Trump Card’ On The Debt Ceiling

Business Insider

Brett LoGiurato Oct. 3, 2013, 11:59 AM
Barack Obama
Early Thursday morning, Potomac Research Group analyst Greg Valliere predicted that if the debt-ceiling deadline grew closer, President Barack Obama would play his “trump card” in the debate. He would remind seniors that if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling, seniors wouldn’t get their Social Security checks.”GOP strategists like Karl Rove surely know that it’s just a matter of time before President Obama throws a game-changer — warning senior citizens that their Social Security checks won’t be mailed because of John Boehner,” Valliere wrote in a note to clients.A few hours later, Obama did just that during a speech at M. Luis Construction Company in Rockville, Md. He spent much of the speech warning that while the ongoing government shutdown was damaging, failure to raise the debt ceiling by an Oct. 17 deadline would be even worse.

“In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time. In an economic shutdown — if we don’t raise the debt ceiling — they don’t go out on time,” Obama said. “In a government shutdown, disability benefits still arrive on time. In an economic shutdown, they don’t.”

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freespeechtv freespeechtv

Published on Oct 3, 2013

The partial shutdown of the federal government has entered its third day. More than 800,000 federal workers are furloughed, and numerous governmental programs have been forced to stop running. For example, the government shutdown has already caused as many as 19,000 children to lose access to Head Start. Many recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, will lose assistance. As negotiations remain stalled, Imara Jones of looks at who is being hardest hit by the shutdown.


Absolutely everything you need to know about how the government shutdown will work

A government shutdown starting Tuesday, Oct. 1, is now upon us. The House and Senate couldn’t agree on a bill to fund the government, and time has run out.

The photograph is cleverly shot to make it look like the gates of the federal government are literally closing. Neat, eh? (The Washington Post)

The photograph is cleverly shot to make it look like the gates of the federal government are literally closing. Neat, eh? (The Washington Post)

So… it’s shutdown time. Let’s take a look at how this will work.

Not all government functions will simply evaporate come Oct. 1 — Social Security checks will still get mailed, and veterans’ hospitals will stay open. But many federal agencies will shut their doors and send their employees home, from the Environmental Protection Agency to hundreds of national parks.

Here’s a look at how a shutdown will work, which parts of the government will close, and which parts of the economy might be affected.

Wait, what? Why is the federal government on the verge of shutting down?

The fiscal crises will continue until morale improves. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (Scott Applewhite/AP)

Short answer: There are wide swaths of the federal government that need to be funded each year in order to operate. If Congress can’t agree on how to fund them, they have to close down. And, right now, Congress can’t agree on how to fund them.

To get a bit more specific: Each year, the House and Senate are supposed to agree on 12 appropriations bills to fund the federal agencies and set spending priorities. Congress has become really bad at passing these bills, so in recent years they’ve resorted to stopgap budgets to keep the government funded (known as “continuing resolutions”). The last stopgap passed on March 28, 2013, and ends on Sept. 30.

In theory, Congress could pass another stopgap before Tuesday. But the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House are at odds over what that stopgap should look like. The House passed a funding bill over the weekend that delayed Obamacare for one year and repealed a tax on medical devices. The Senate rejected that measure. They voted a few more times and still no agreement. So… we’re getting a shutdown.

Does a shutdown mean everyone who works for the federal government has to go home?

Not exactly. The laws and regulations governing shutdowns separate federal workers into “essential” and “non-essential.” (Actually, the preferred term nowadays is “excepted” and “non-excepted.” This was tweaked in 1995 because “non-essential” seemed a bit hurtful. But we’ll keep things simple.)

The Office of Management and Budget recently ordered managers at all federal agencies to conduct reviews to see which of their employees fall into each of these two categories. If a shutdown hits, the essential workers stick around, albeit without pay. The non-essential workers have to go home after a half-day of preparing to close shop.

Which parts of government stay open?

Air traffic control stays open. (Jim Weber/AP)

Air traffic control stays open. (Jim Weber/AP)

There are a whole bunch of key government functions that carry on during a shutdown, including anything related to national security, public safety, or programs written into permanent law (like Social Security). Here’s a partial list:

— Any employee or office that “provides for the national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property.” That means the U.S. military will keep operating, for one. So will embassies abroad.

— Any employee who conducts “essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property.” So, for example: Air traffic control stays open. So does all emergency medical care, border patrol, federal prisons, most law enforcement, emergency and disaster assistance, overseeing the banking system, operating the power grid, and guarding federal property.

— Agencies have to keep sending out benefits and operating programs that are written into permanent law or get multi-year funding. That means sending out Social Security checks and providing certain types of veterans’ benefits. Unemployment benefits and food stamps will also continue for the time being, since their funding has been approved in earlier bills.

— All agencies with independent sources of funding remain open, including the U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Reserve.

— Members of Congress can stick around, since their pay is written into permanent law. Congressional staffers however, will also get divided into essential and non-essential, with the latter getting furloughed. Many White House employees could also get sent home.

Do these “essential” employees who keep working get paid?

The 1.3 million or so “essential” civilian employees who stay on could well see their paychecks delayed during the shutdown, depending on the timing. They should, however, receive retroactive pay if and when Congress decides to fund the government again.

The 1.4 million active-service military members, meanwhile, will get paid no matter how long the shutdown lasts. That’s because the House and Senate specifically passed a bill to guarantee active-duty military pay even when the government is closed. Obama signed it into law Monday night.

So which parts of government actually shut down?

Closed! Well, unless Arizona wants to pay to operate it. (Ron Watts / Corbios)

Closed! Well, unless Arizona wants to pay to operate it. (Ron Watts / Corbios)

Everything else, basically. It’s a fairly long list, and you can check out in detail which activities the agencies are planning to halt in these contingency plans posted by each agency. Here are a few select examples:

Health: The National Institutes of Health will stop accepting new patients for clinical research and stop answering hotline calls about medical questions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will stop its seasonal flu program and have a “significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations.”

Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development will not be able to provide local housing authorities with additional money for housing vouchers. The nation’s 3,300 public housing authorities will also stop receiving payments, although most of these agencies have enough cash on hand to provide rental assistance through the end of October.

Immigration: The Department of Homeland Security will no longer operate its E-Verify program, which means that businesses will not be able to check on the legal immigration status of prospective employees during the shutdown.

Law enforcement: Although agencies like the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency will continue their operations, the Justice Department will suspend many civil cases for as long as the government is shut down.

Parks and museums: The National Park Service will close more than 400 national parks and museums, including Yosemite National Park in California, Alcatraz in San Francisco, and the Statue of Liberty in New York. The last time this happened during the 1995-96 shutdown, some 7 million visitors were turned away. (One big exception was the south rim of the Grand Canyon, which stayed open only because Arizona agreed to pick up the tab.)

Regulatory agencies: The Environmental Protection Agency will close down almost entirely during a shutdown, save for operations around Superfund sites. Many of the Labor Department’s regulatory offices will close, including the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (The Mine Safety and Health Administration will, however, stay open.)

Financial regulators. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which oversees the vast U.S. derivatives market, will largely shut down. A few financial regulators, however, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, will remain open.

(Small parts of) Social Security: The Social Security Administration will retain enough staff to make sure the checks keep going out. But the agency won’t have enough employees to do things like help recipients replace their benefit cards or schedule new hearings for disability cases.

Visas and passports: The State Department says it will keep most passport agencies and consular operations open so long as it has the funds to do so, although some activities might be interrupted. (For instance, “if a passport agency is located in a government building affected by a lapse in appropriations, the facility may become unsupported.”)

During the previous shutdown in 1995-’96, around 20,000 to 30,000 applications from foreigners for visas went unprocessed each day. This time around, the State Department is planning to continue processing visas through the shutdown, since those operations are largely funded by fees collected.

Veterans: Some key benefits will continue and the VA hospitals will remained open. But many services will be disrupted. The Veterans Benefits Administration will be unable to process education and rehabilitation benefits. The Board of Veterans’ Appeals will be unable to hold hearings.

What’s more, if the shutdown lasts for more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans Affairs has said that it may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans.

Women, Infants, and Children: The Department of Agriculture will cut off support for the Women, Infants and Children program, which helps pregnant women and new moms buy healthy food and provides nutritional information and health care referrals. The program reaches some 9 million Americans. The USDA estimates most states have funds to continue their programs for “a week or so,” but they’ll “likely be unable to sustain operations for a longer period” — emergency funds may run out by the end of October.

Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) has a list of other possible effects of a shutdown. Funds to help states administer unemployment benefits could get disrupted, IRS tax-refund processing for certain returns would be suspended, farm loans and payments would stop, and Small Business Administration approval of business loan guarantees and direct loans would likely cease.

Would the city of Washington D.C. be affected?

D.C.’s garbage collection stops during a shutdown. (The Washington Post)

Only if the shutdown goes on longer than a few weeks. In theory, the District of Columbia is supposed to shut down all but its most essential services during a government shutdown. But Mayor Vincent Gray has said that he will label all city services “essential” and use a cash reserve fund to keep everything going for as long as possible.

Some background: The District of Columbia is the only city barred from spending funds during a federal government shutdown, save for a few select services. During the 1995-’96 shutdown, the city was only able to keep police, firefighters and EMS units on duty. Trash collection and street sweeping came to a stop until Congress finally intervened.

This time, however, the District is taking a more defiant stance. Gray has recently said that he will declare all city services “essential” and keep them running. And the city has $144 million in funds to carry out services like trash collection and street sweeping for two weeks. If the shutdown drags on longer, however, it’s unclear what will happen…

How many federal employees would be affected by a government shutdown?

Half of you go home. (Jeffrey MacMillan / For The Washington Post)

Half of you go home. (Jeffrey MacMillan/For The Washington Post)

The government estimates that roughly 800,000 federal workers will get sent home if the government shuts down.

That leaves about 1.3 million “essential” federal workers, 1.4 million active-duty military members, 500,000 Postal Service workers, and other employees in independently-funded agencies who will continue working.

Can you give me an agency-by-agency breakdown of the impacts?

Yes. We’ve been compiling a detailed list here at the Post, but here’s a brief overview, showing how many employees are furloughed, and examples of who stays and who goes:

Department of Commerce: 87 percent of the agency’s 46,420 employees would be sent home. (The Weather Service would keep running, for instance, but the Census Bureau would close down.)

Department of Defense: 50 percent of the 800,000 civilian employees would be sent home while all 1.4 million active-duty military members would stay on. (Environmental engineers, for instance, would get furloughed, and the agency could not sign any new defense contracts.)

Department of Energy: Thanks to multi-year funding, parts of the agency can actually operate for “a short period of time” after Sept. 30. But eventually 69 percent of the agency’s 13,814 employees will be sent home. (Those in charge of nuclear materials and power grids stay. Those conducting energy research go home.)

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Reason . com

Democrats Want to Use Government Shutdown For Leverage on Debt Ceiling

open for business if not for youucumari/foter.comSenate Democrats apparently consider a prolonged partial government shutdown an advantage in the upcoming debate over the debate ceiling. The Hill reports:

Previously, Democrats were resistant to such an idea. That was at least in part because President Obama is refusing to negotiate on the debt limit. But a Democratic senator told The Hill this week that is no longer a concern, saying the White House can effectively deal with the GOP’s tactics.

Democrats are eager to deal with the debt limit now, when polls show most of the public blames Republicans for the shutdown. They contend it would be difficult for the GOP to make additional demands linked to the debt limit while they’re embroiled in a crisis over a six-weekend spending stopgap.

On the second day of the partial government shutdown, Republicans are already working to put themselves on the record in favor of reopening vital government services, like the national parks and the National Institutes of Health. Nick Gillespie noted earlier today the national parks and landmarks cost the feds at least $2.75 billion a year. With the government spending about twice as much as it collects in revenue, fiscally-minded lawmakers should be focusing on how to cut costs, and spending. The closure of the national parks is largely for show, appearing to be an attempt by the executive branch to exaggerate the effects of the partial shutdown, a tactic known as Washington Monument Syndrome.

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The New American

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 13:14

Polish Government Seizes Private Pension Assets

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Authorities in Poland last week announced the confiscation of bonds held in private pension funds without compensation, implausibly claiming that the move did not amount to a nationalization of the assets. While Polish officials engaged in rhetorical games and semantics to conceal the severity of the “transfer” of privately owned assets to a “state pension vehicle” known as ZUS, the controversial move is still fueling confusion and fierce criticism from analysts and economists. Some experts fear other governments may follow suit.

The private pension funds, many managed by prominent foreign firms, declared the scheme unconstitutional because private property was being seized without compensation. Some even suggested the private pension system may shut down entirely. While authorities have not yet confiscated equities from the private pensions — to which Polish workers have been obligated to contribute — officials defended the bond confiscations by arguing that they helped avoid even more radical options, such as seizing everything outright, including company stocks held by the funds.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that future enrollees in the mandatory pension scheme would no longer be required to pay into the private element, known as OFE, of the hybrid government-private system. Analysts said that could result in even fewer resources held in the private funds, which currently hold assets worth about 20 percent of GDP and represent the largest investors in the Polish stock market.

Tusk, however, tried to paint the confiscation as a positive development. “The system has turned out to be built in part on rising public debt and turned out to be a very costly system,” he said at a press conference, drawing swift criticism. “We believe that, apart from the positive consequence of this decision for public debt, pensions will also be safer.” Of course, seizing private wealth may reduce government debt for the time being, but it was not clear how “safety” was being improved.

Critics lambasted Tusk’s statement from all angles, pointing out that confiscating private assets does not make them any safer and that, in essence, the government simply had too much outstanding debt to be able to issue even more debt. Some analysts also suggested the move was actually a half-baked ploy to build political support with voters by increasing its ability to borrow and spend more money on government programs.

Indeed, among the primary official justifications for the scheme was a bid to reduce government debt by about eight percent of the country’s GDP, according to estimates cited by Polish Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski. With the national government already officially owing more than 50 percent of GDP, above a threshold that makes it more difficult to borrow, the transfer of assets to government balance sheets will allow authorities to continue creating more debt and borrowing more money — a move celebrated, unsurprisingly, by Poland’s central bankers.

“Changes to the pension system are positive and create a chance for an impulse, for a growth engine, in the form of investments that are so important,” Polish central bank policymaker Anna Zielinska-Glebocka claimed in a statement to Reuters, alleging that the post-announcement decline in the value of its fiat currency, the zloty (shown), was only temporary. “This will be helping the economy in 2014, although mostly in 2015…. Investments and consumption demand are key for the Polish economy. A healthy economy must be based on domestic demand, not just exports. From this perspective changes to pensions are a good move.”

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Polish central banker says pension changes can boost economy

New members of the Polish Monetary Policy Council meet at the National Bank of Poland headquarters in Warsaw February 23, 2010. Jan Winiecki (L-R), Andrzej Bratkowski, Anna Zielinska-Glebocka, Zyta Gilowska, Adam Glapinski, Slawomir Skrzypek, Elzbieta Chojna-Duch, Andrzej Kazmierczak, Andrzej Rzonca, Jerzy Hausner. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW | Sat Sep 7, 2013 3:10am EDT

(Reuters) – A Polish central bank policymaker has defended the government’s decision to transfer more than half of private pension fund assets to the state, saying the move would give the economy a vital investment boost.

Anna Zielinska-Glebocka told Reuters Poland would not be able to reach potential growth levels of 3.0-4.0 percent, up from 0.8 percent, unless domestic demand reinforced the current main driver, exports.

“Changes to the pension system are positive and create a chance for an impulse, for a growth engine, in the form of investments that are so important. This will be helping the economy in 2014, although mostly in 2015,” Zielinska-Glebocka said in comments made on Thursday and authorized for release on Saturday.

“Investments and consumption demand are key for the Polish economy. A healthy economy must be based on domestic demand, not just exports. From this perspective changes to pensions are a good move,” she said.

Poland, the largest of central Europe’s emerging economies, said on Wednesday it would transfer many of the assets held by private pension funds, including treasury bonds, to a state vehicle. This means the government can book those assets on the state balance sheet to offset public debt, giving it more scope to borrow and spend.

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