Category: Lack Of Transparency


The New American

George Will Promotes Plan to Grant President Legislative Powers

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In an April 9 opinion piece published in the Washington Post, commentator George Will praises the Goldwater Institute’s Compact for America and its component calling for an Article V constitutional convention.

Will points out a few of the proposal’s “benefits,” insisting that the balanced budget amendment (BBA) that it aims to enact “delivers immediate benefits to constituents.” Unfortunately, Will’s analysis of the Compact for America ignores several of its distinctly unconstitutional provisions.

First, before state legislatures vote for an Article V con-con proposal such as the Compact for America that could cause real and radical damage to our Constitution, they should first consider whether a balanced budget amendment is necessary and whether it would actually repair the damage already done by a Congress committed to ignoring the constitutional limits on its power.

The fact is that determined citizens and state legislators could rescue the United States from its financial peril without resorting to opening up the Constitution to tinkering by 38 or more state-appointed delegates, many of whom would be bought and paid for by special interests and corporations.

Imagine for a moment the brand of “conservative” delegates that might be chosen by state partisans to represent them at an Article V convention. It isn’t unlikely that Arizona might choose John McCain, Jan Brewer, or Sandra Day O’Connor. New York might send Michael Bloomberg. South Carolina could appoint Lindsey Graham. Similar selections could be predicted in every state.

Next, there is no historical proof that a balanced budget amendment would drive Congress back to within its constitutional corral. Even the most conservative estimates indicate that about 80 percent of expenditures approved by Congress violate the U.S. Constitution. That fact wouldn’t change by adding an amendment to the Constitution.

Whether these bills spend our national treasure on unconstitutional and undeclared foreign wars, billions sent overseas in the form of foreign aid, expanding the so-called entitlement programs, or redistributing wealth via corporate and individual welfare schemes, none of these outlays is authorized by the Constitution.

And don’t forget, a committed, concerned, and constitutionally aware citizenry can balance our budget more quickly than any balanced budget amendment and without the danger of letting the wolves of special interests and their political puppets into the constitutional hen house.

Third, rather than forcing Congress to adhere to spending money in only those areas specifically permitted by the Constitution in Article I, the Compact for America’s Balanced Budget Amendment specifically allows Congress to spend money on anything, no matter how unconstitutional, so long as the amount does not exceed the limits set in Section 2 of their BBA. If approved, the CFA’s BBA would do nothing to break Congress of its unconstitutional spending habits, habits that have nearly ruined the economic might of this Republic.

In fact, under the CFA’s budget-balancing scheme, Congress could continue spending on projects and programs not authorized by the Constitution.

Section 3 of the CFA’s BBA explicitly authorizes an increase in the federal debt limit to 105 percent of the actual debt level on the effective date of this amendment. That hardly sounds like a balanced budget and is not something true conservatives should support as a remedy to a runaway federal government.

 

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Man in despair over billsOr Adding A National Sales Tax To The Income Tax?   

The stated purpose of Compact for America, Inc. is to get a balanced budget amendment (BBA) ratified.  Here is their proposed BBA.  State Legislators recently introduced it in Arizona. 1

The gap between what this BBA pretends to do – and what it actually does – is enormous. It has nothing to do with “balancing the budget” – it is about slipping in a new national sales tax or value-added tax in addition to the existing federal income tax.

We have become so shallow that we look no further than a name – if it sounds good, we are all for it.  We hear, “balanced budget amendment”, and think, “I have to balance my budget; they should have to balance theirs.”  So we don’t read the amendment, we just assume they will have to balance theirs the same way we balance ours – by cutting spending.

But that is not what the BBA does.  In effect, it redefines “balancing the budget” to mean spending no more than your income plus the additional debt you incur to finance your spending.  To illustrate:  If your income is $100,000 a year; but you spend $175,000 a year, you “balance” your budget by borrowing the additional $75,000.  See?

Under the BBA, Congress may continue to spend whatever it likes and incur as much new debt as it pleases – as long as 26 States agree.  And since the States have become major consumers of federal funding, who doubts that they can’t continue to be bought?  Federal grants make up almost 35% of the States’ annual budgets!  The States are addicted to federal funds – who thinks they won’t agree to get more money?

The BBA enshrines Debt as a permanent feature of our Country; gives it constitutional approval; does nothing to reduce spending or “balance the budget”; authorizes a new national tax; and wipes out the “enumerated powers” limitation on the federal government.

Let’s look at the BBA, section by section, using plain and honest English.  And then let’s look at how our Framers wrote our Constitution to strictly control federal spending.

Compact for America’s BBA

Section 1 says the federal government may not spend more than they take from you in taxes or add to the national debt. [Yes, you read that right.]

Section 2 accepts debt as a permanent feature of our Country – the “Authorized Debt”. This is the maximum amount of debt the federal government may incur at any given point in time.

  • Initially, when the Amendment is ratified, the “authorized debt” may not be more than 105% of the then existing national debt.  So!  If the national debt is $20 trillion when the Amendment is ratified, the federal government may not initially add more than 105% of    $20 trillion [or $1 trillion] to the national debt.
  • After that initial addition to the national debt, the “authorized debt” may not be increased unless it is approved by State Legislatures as provided in Section 3.

Section 3 says whenever Congress wants, it may increase the national debt if 26 of the State Legislatures agree.  [Yes, you read that right.]

Section 4 says whenever the national debt exceeds 98% of “the debt limit set by Section 2”, the President shall “impound” sufficient expenditures so that the national debt won’t exceed the “authorized debt”.  And if the President doesn’t do this, Congress may impeach him!

This is a hoot, Folks!  I’ll show you:

  • No debt limit is set by Section 2!  The national debt can be increased at any time if Congress gets 26 State Legislatures to agree.  Can 26 States be bought?
  • Section 6 defines “impoundment” as “a proposal not to spend all or part of a sum of money appropriated by Congress”.  Who believes Congress will impeach the President 2 for failing to “impound” an appropriation made by Congress?

Section 5 says any new or increased federal “general revenue tax” must be approved by 2/3 of the members of both houses of Congress.

Now pay attention, because this is a monstrous trick to be played on you:  Section 6 defines “general revenue tax” as “any income tax, sales tax, or value-added tax” levied by the federal government.

And when you read the first sentence of Section 5 with the definition of “general revenue taxin place of “general revenue tax”, you see that it says:

“No bill that provides for a new or increased income tax, sales tax, or value-added tax shall become law unless approved by a two-thirds roll call vote…” 

Do you see?  This permits Congress to impose a national sales tax or value added tax in addition to the income tax, 3 if 2/3 of both houses agree.  [Yes, you read that right.]

 

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Independence Hall, where the 1787 Constitution was crafted

Q: How are amendments to the federal Constitution made?

A: Article V of our Constitution provides two method of amending the Constitution:

  1. Congress proposes amendments and presents them to the States for ratification; or
  2. When 2/3 of the States apply for it, Congress calls a convention to propose amendments.

Q: Which method was used for our existing 27 amendments?

A:  The first method was used for all 27 amendments including the Bill of Rights which were introduced into Congress by James Madison. 3

Q:  Is there a difference between a constitutional convention, con con, or Article V Convention?

A:  These names have been used interchangeably during the last 50 years.

Q:  What is a “convention of states”?

A:  That is what the people pushing for an Article V convention now call it. 

Q: Who is behind this push for an Art. V convention?

A:  The push to impose a new Constitution by means of an Article V convention (and using a “balanced budget” amendment as justification) started in 1963 with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.  1    Today, it is pushed by:

Q:  Why do they want an Article V Convention?

A:  The only way to get rid of our existing Constitution and Bill of Rights is to have an Article V convention where they can re-write our Constitution.  Jordan Sillars, Communications Director for Michael Farris’ “Convention of States”, said:

“… 3. I think the majority of Americans are too lazy to elect honest politicians. But I think some men and women could be found who are morally and intellectually capable of re-writing the Constitution” [boldface mine].

Q: How can they impose a new constitution if ¾ of the States don’t agree to it?

A: Only amendments require ratification by ¾ of the States (see Art. V). But a new constitution would have its own new method of ratification – it can be whatever the drafters want.  For example, the proposed Constitution for the Newstates of America is ratified by a referendum called by the President.

Q: Can a convention be stopped from proposing a new Constitution?

A:  No.  Once the delegates are duly appointed & assembled, they are acting under the inherent authority of A People to alter or abolish their form of government [Declaration of Independence, 2nd para]; and have the sovereign power to do whatever they want at the convention.

Q: Is this what happened at the Federal Convention of 1787?

A:  Yes.  Pursuant to Article XIII of The Articles of Confederation, the Continental Congress resolved on February 21, 1787 (p 71-74) to call a convention to be held at Philadelphia “for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation”.  But the delegates ignored this limitation and wrote a new Constitution.  Because of this inherent authority of delegatesit is impossible to stop it from happening at another convention.  And George Washington, James Madison, Ben Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton won’t be there to protect you.

Q: Did the delegates at the Convention of 1787 introduce a new mode of ratification for the new Constitution?

A:  Yes. The Articles of Confederation required the approval of all 13 States for amendments to the Articles to be ratified.  But the new Constitution provided it would become effective if only 9 of the 13 States ratified it (Art. VII, cl. 1, U.S. Constitution).

Q:  Who would be delegates at a Convention?

A:  Either Congress appoints whomever they want; or State governments appoint whomever they want.

Q: Who would be chairman at a convention?

A: We don’t know.  But chairmen have lots of power – and George Washington won’t be chairman.

Q: But if the States appoint the delegates, won’t a convention be safe?

A: Who controls your State?  They will be the ones who choose the delegates if Congress permits the States to appoint delegates.  Are the people who control your State virtuous, wise, honest, and true?  [Tell PH if they are, so she can move there.]

Q: But aren’t the States the ones to rein in the federal government?

A: They should have been, but the States have become major consumers of federal funding.  Federal funds make up almost 35% of the States’ annual budgets. The States don’t want to rein in the feds – they don’t want to lose their federal funding.

Q: Did Thomas Jefferson say the federal Constitution should be amended every 20 years?

A: No! In his letter to Samuel Kercheval of July 12, 1816, Jefferson wrote about the Constitution for the State of Virginia, which he said needed major revision.  And remember James Madison’s words in Federalist No. 45 (3rd para from the end):

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which … concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” [boldface mine]

The powers delegated to the feds are “few and defined” – what’s to amend?  All else is reserved to the States or the People – so State Constitutions would need more frequent amendments.  Do you see?

Q:  Did Alexander Hamilton say in Federalist No 85 (next to last para) that a convention is safe?

A:  No!  He said, respecting the ratification of amendments, that we “may safely rely on the disposition of the State legislatures to erect barriers against the encroachments of the national authority”.  But today, our State legislatures don’t protect us from federal encroachments because:

  • We have been so dumbed down by progressive education that we know nothing & can’t think;
  • State legislatures have been bought off with federal funds; and
  • Our public and personal morality is in the sewer.

Q: Did Our Framers – the ones who signed The Constitution – think conventions a fine idea?

A:  No!

“Conventions are serious things, and ought not to be repeated.”

 

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Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints

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The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on Monday said changes in the healthcare market meant it did not need to make those cuts to Medicare Advantage this year.

It cited an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare, which it said has lowered projected costs for that program.

CMS separately is delaying a risk assessment proposal that was set to take affect under ObamaCare.

 

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Obama administration proposes 1.9% cut in Medicare Advantage payments

February 21, 2014 8:08 pm by

Barack ObamaMedicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015.

CMS said Friday its preliminary estimate is “the combined effect of the Medicare Advantage growth percentage and the fee-for-service growth percentage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans said they are reviewing the details of the announcement to determine the total impact of the federal payment rates. In a statement, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni was critical of the proposed rates, saying, “The new proposed Medicare Advantage cuts would cause seniors in the program to lose benefits and choices on which they depend.”

 

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Obama flip-flops on Medicare drug coverage

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

The Obama administration, in an abrupt about-face, said on Monday it would drop proposed changes to Medicare drug coverage that met wide opposition on grounds they would harm health benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Late last week, more than 370 organizations representing insurers, drug makers, pharmacies, health providers and patients urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw changes it had proposed for Medicare Part D.

One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees.

Critics said the changes, if adopted in coming months, could not only undermine Part D benefits but impact drug benefits available through Medicare Advantage, a program that allows Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their major medical coverage through private insurers.

“Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time. We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner advised in a letter sent on Monday to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The proposals were opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party had already begun to look for ways to leverage popular anger over the changes into campaign attacks on Democratic incumbents who could be vulnerable in November’s election showdown for control of Congress.

Elated critics of the proposed changes said the government had effectively agreed to start over in the face of broad, bipartisan opposition.

 

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New York Times SundayReview

The Obama administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance plans that cover almost 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries — are fair and reasonable. As it happens, they are also mandated by law. Yet Republicans, sensing a campaign issue, are telling older and disabled Americans that the administration is “raiding Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare.” The health insurance industry, for its part, is warning that enrollees will suffer higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer choices among doctors if the cuts go into force.

Some of this could in fact happen, although the industry has cried wolf before and continues to thrive. But the key point is this: Over the past decade, enrollees in Medicare Advantage have received lots of extra benefits, thanks to unjustified federal subsidies to the insurance companies. Now they will have to do with somewhat less, unless the insurers are willing to absorb the cuts while maintaining benefits. Enrollment in these private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, has more than doubled since 2006, in part because of lower premiums and extra benefits, like gym memberships, that are not included in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

What made these perks possible was, in effect, a subsidy from taxpayers and other Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government paid the private plans, on average, 14 percent more in 2009 than it would cost to treat the same people in traditional Medicare. The insurers used this extra money to reduce enrollees’ costs and add benefits.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act rightly required that these subsidies be reduced, although it stopped short of completely eliminating them. The reductions began to take effect in 2012, and have not, so far, visibly harmed beneficiaries or the plans. Since enactment of the law, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent, the opposite of what some expected, and enrollment has increased by nearly 33 percent, according to the administration. But as the law intended, federal payments to the private plans dropped — from 7 percent more than services under traditional Medicare in 2012 to 4 percent more last year. The administration now proposes to further reduce the payments to Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. The loudest criticism has come from Republicans, but plenty of Democrats have chimed in.

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Why Did FBI Monitor Occupy Houston, and Then Hide Sniper Plot Against Protest Leaders?

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Harry Reid: People Are Not Educated On How To Use The Internet

 

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Gale halts search for lost plane

The Boeing 777 was just leaving Malaysia-controlled air space when the final words were heard. Photograph: Greg Wood/Pool/EPA

Malaysian authorities have released a new account of the final words spoken by one of the pilots of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

The last words heard by air traffic control in Kuala Lumpur were “goodnight Malaysian three seven zero” – not “all right, goodnight,” as previously reported, Malaysia‘s civil aviation authority said on Monday.

The correction of the official account of the last words was made as Malaysian authorities face heavy criticism for their handling of the disappearance, particularly from families of the Chinese passengers on board Flight MH370, who have accused Malaysia of mismanaging the search and holding back information.

“We would like to confirm that the last conversation in the transcript between the air traffic controller and the cockpit is at 01:19 (Malaysian Time) and is “goodnight Malaysian three seven zero,” the Department of Civil Aviation said in a statement.

Malaysia’s ambassador to China told Chinese families in Beijing as early as 12 March, four days after the flight went missing, that the last words had been “all right, goodnight.”

“Goodnight Malaysian three seven zero” would be a more formal, standard sign-off from the cockpit of the Boeing 777, which was just leaving Malaysia-controlled air space on its route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

 

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“No Country Has The Right To Send In Troops To Another Country Unprovoked” Obama

MOXNEWSd0tC0M MOXNEWSd0tC0M

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Published time: February 18, 2014 17:12
Stefan Selig.( Reuters / Mike Segar )

Stefan Selig.( Reuters / Mike Segar )

 

 

A controversial trade deal being touted by the White House is expected to give American corporations broad new authority if approved. Now according to newly released documents, big banks gave millions to the execs that are now orchestrating the agreement.

 

Investigative journalist Lee Fang wrote for Republic Report on Tuesday this week that two former well-placed individuals within the ranks of Bank of America and CitiGroup were awarded millions of dollars in bonuses before jumping ship to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership on behalf of the White House.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, is a widely-contested trade deal between the US and 11 other nations adjacent to the Pacific Rim, and has been negotiated by representatives for those countries in utmost secrecy. According to leaked excerpts of the TPP and remarks from experts following the news closely, though, it’s believed that the arrangement would allow corporations to oppose foreign laws while at the same time limiting the abilities for governments to regulate those entities.

On Tuesday, Fang wrote that two major United States-based financial firms have significantly awarded former executives who have since attracted the attention of President Barack Obama and subsequently been offered positions that put them directly involved in TPP talks.

Former Bank of America investment banker Stefan Selig, Fang acknowledged, received more than $9 million in bonus pay after he was nominated to join the Obama administration in November. And Michael Froman, the current US trade representative, was awarded over $4 million from Citigroup when he left them in 2009 in order to go work for the White House. Republic Report were provided those statistics through financial disclosures included in Fang’s article.

When Selig was asked to head the International Trade Administration by the White House last November — a Commerce Department job — the New York Times considered it “a rare appointment of a Wall Street banker by the Obama administration.” If he is confirmed by the Senate as expected, he will work directly with US trade officials on hammering out final arrangements for the TPP. Froman has been the US trade representative since last June, and according to his biography on that department’s official website, is directly overseeing TPP discussions.

 

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Obama trade officials received huge bank bonusesSalon.com

Obama trade officials received huge bank bonuses

http://www.salon.com/…/obamareceived_huge_bank_bonuses

Obama’s TPP trade officials took bonus money from big banks

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/16564785-obamas

Obama Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks

Obama Trade Officials Received Hefty Bonuses From Big Banks
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/17/obama-trade-banks

 

 

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Enlarge Photo

** FILE ** President Obama speaks at a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Oct. 24, 2012. (Associated Press)

The Washington Times

By Valerie Richardson

DENVER — Bankers should beware of the Obama administration’s newly issued green light for banks doing business with the legal marijuana industry, according to the head of the Colorado Bankers Association.

Memos released Friday by the Justice Department and Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network were intended to give banks leeway to open accounts for marijuana businesses in states like Colorado and Washington that have legalized retail pot. Instead, the guidance “only reinforces and reiterates that banks can be prosecuted for providing accounts to marijuana related businesses,” said the CBA in a Friday statement.


SEE ALSO: Obama admin.: Banks can do business with marijuana sellers


“In fact, it is even stronger than original guidance issued by the Department of Justice and the Treasury,” said CBA president and CEO Don Childears. “After a series of red lights, we expected this guidance to be a yellow one. This isn’t close to that. At best, this amounts to ‘serve these customers at your own risk’ and it emphasizes all of the risks. This light is red.”

Colorado’s first-ever legal marijuana market, which kicked off Jan. 1, has been hampered by a lack of access to bank accounts and small-business loans. Many of the state’s retail pot shops are cash-only enterprises, making them vulnerable to crime.

Washington is expected to start sales of retail pot in June. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved in 2012 ballot measures legalizing limited amounts of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over.

“Now that some states have elected to legalize and regulate the marijuana trade, FinCEN seeks to move from the shadows the historically covert financial operations of marijuana businesses,” said FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery in a statement.

“Our guidance provides financial institutions with clarity on what they must do if they are going to provide financial services to marijuana businesses and what reporting will assist law enforcement,” she said.

But the FinCen memo makes it clear that banks must avoid doing business with illegal marijuana operators or those that violate the eight priorities laid out in the Justice Department’s so-called Cole Memo, issued in August by Deputy Attorney General James Cole.

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Forbes

The Feds’ Scary Reassurances To Banks That Deal With State-Licensed Marijuana Businesses

Jacob Sullum, Contributor

On Friday the Treasury Department and the Justice Department issued guidelines for banks that do business with state-licensed marijuana suppliers. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, the aim of the memos is to reassure financial institutions that are leery of accepting cannabusinesses as customers because they worry it will attract unwanted attention from federal regulators and prosecutors. But as with the August 29 memo in which Deputy Attorey General James Cole said that prosecuting properly regulated marijuana growers and sellers would not be a high priority, there are no guarantees, and that fact is likely to deter traditionally cautious banks more than plucky cannabis entrepreneurs.

The Treasury memo, issued by the department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), says the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requires financial institutions to file “suspicious activity reports” (SARs) for all marijuana businesses. But FinCEN draws a distinction between marijuana businesses that violate state law or implicate one of the Justice Department’s “enforcement priorities” and marijuana businesses that do neither. The former merit “marijuana priority” reports, while the latter fall into a newly invented “marijuana limited” category. According to the memo, this distinction “aligns the information provided by financial institutions in BSA reports with federal and state law enforcement priorities.”

What are those priorities? Cole’s August 29 memo lists eight: 1) “preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors,” 2) “preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states,” 3) “preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use,” 4) “preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands,” 5) “preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property,” 6) “preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises,” 7) “preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana,” and 8) “preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs.” At the end of the memo, Cole adds that the feds might also intervene for other, unspecified reasons.

The FinCEN memo lists “red flags” that suggest a marijuana business deserves special scrutiny, including “international or interstate activity,” an inability to “demonstrate the legitimate source of significant outside investments,” signs that the business is “using a state-licensed marijuana-related business as a front or pretext to launder money derived from other criminal activity,” and “negative information, such as a criminal record, involvement in the illegal purchase or sale of drugs, violence, or other potential connections to illicit activity.” Such red flags are supposed to inform banks’ decisions about which customers to reject or drop as well as which sort of SAR to file. FinCEN warns that the red flags it mentions “do not constitute an exhaustive list.” Although FinCEN says its advice “should enhance the availability of financial services for, and the financial transparency of, marijuana-related businesses,” it never actually says banks that follow the guidelines need not worry about getting into trouble with regulators.

 

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Forbes

Steve Forbes, Forbes Staff

|2/12/2014 @ 6:06AM
This story appears in the March 3, 2014 issue of Forbes.

English: President Barack Obama, Vice Presiden...

English: President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and senior staff, react in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, as the House passes the health care reform bill. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One question congressional and presidential candidates should be asked is how we should go about restoring the rule of law to our federal government. Not even during the world wars of the last century was the executive branch as brazen in assuming sweeping and unlegislated powers, changing laws without the consent of the legislative branch and ignoring laws it didn’t like.

Lawsuits are certainly one possible avenue to take, but a slow one–which is what the White House is counting on. It will do what it wants, and by the time an unfavorable decision is handed down, it will have done many other things. It will also find ways to circumvent such a decision or just ignore it altogether.

How will the Administration act when, as is likely, the Supreme Court delivers an adverse ruling concerning the President’s appointment of members to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate wasn’t technically in recess? Obama’s appointees went on to make rulings that were harmful to business. Of course, the

Administration will promise to comply and will then pull who knows what cards it has up its sleeve to make an end-run around the decision.

The IRS got caught singling out conservative groups for harassment–and nothing was done. The President, with a straight face, told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that there wasn’t a “smidgen” of evidence of any corruption, and the Justice Department has made clear it’s deep-sixing any serious probe. But even worse is the fact that the IRS is readying regulation that will make it legal to deny tax exemptions to predominantly conservative groups, while it turns a blind eye to organizations more friendly to the Administration’s Big Government agenda.

To add insult to injury, the new IRS commissioner has decreed that the agency will pay $62 million in bonuses, declaring, “I firmly believe that this investment in our employees will directly benefit taxpayers and the tax system.”

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 Washington Examiner

By Richard Pollock and Kelly Cohen | FEBRUARY 5, 2014 AT 7:11 PM

A New York nonprofit improperly diverted $25 million meant to help establish three Obamacare health insurance co-ops to a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, a congressional oversight committee said Wednesday.

The Freelancers Union, which received $340 million in federal loans to set up co-ops in New York, New Jersey and Oregon, gave some of that cash to a for-profit entity called Independent Worker Services.

The accusation appeared in a congressional report made public Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by outspoken Obamacare critic Darrell Issa, a California Republican.

“The shortcomings of Obamacare co-ops demonstrate” the Department of Health and Human Services‘ “mismanagement of the co-op loan awarding process as well as serious deficiencies in the Administration’s healthcare reform efforts as a whole,” the report said.

The report was the focal point of an acrimonious hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, in which two of the key Democrats on the committee walked out in protest, saying they did not get the report until an hour before testimony began. “I am here protesting this report that was dumped on us,” Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania said before leaving.

The report referenced documents the committee obtained showing that the Freelancers Union “sought to further the group’s ‘power in markets’ and ‘power in politics’ through the CO-OP program. Freelancers Union, by transferring co-op funding through one of its subsidiaries, received approximately $25 million of taxpayer funds,” the report said.

Also: “Emails between Freelancers Union officials discuss the intention to ‘use returns from the CO-OPs to advocate for our members in states where they are served now and served in the future. Example: We will push to get colonoscopy legislation passed in New Jersey.’ “

Since federal regulations barred co-op funds from going to for-profit enterprises, officials from Freelancers Union successfully lobbied HHS and the Obama White House for an exception.

The Freelancers Union officials met and communicated repeatedly with HHS officials, as well as at least 30 times with senior White House presidential aides in seeking the exception, according to the report.

Sara Horowitz, the founder and sponsor of the Freelancers Union and founder and sponsor of both Health Republic and IWS, told the oversight committee Wednesday that the $25 million that went to Independent Worker Services funded support services to get all three states’ co-ops launched.

“I really want to be able to explain it to you, but it’s complicated,” Horowitz told the committee Wednesday.

“IWS’ job — as was put in our application to begin with — was to be able to help to launch, setting up their IT systems, their back-end operations, helping them to select their vendors. And for that IWS was paid $25 million in the last two years.

“That’s how the three co-ops were able to launch on time and on budget,” she said.

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