Tax Refunds For Federal Tax Cheats

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While millions of Americans (myself included) continue to send back bigger portions of their hard earned wages to Washington, many federal employees are tax cheats and getting large tax refunds. During the year of sweeping budget cuts, millions of federal employees faced layoffs, furloughs, and other cutbacks as a result of Congress’ failure to replace sequestration with responsible, targeted cuts. Most of these federal employees are responsible citizens who pay their taxes. Some, however, don’t feel they have to live by the rules like other Americans.

In 2011, the IRS found nearly 312,000 federal employees and retirees were delinquent on their federal income taxes, owing a total of $3.5 billion in unpaid federal income taxes. This represented an 11.5 percent increase in the number of federal employees failing to pay their taxes, and a 2.9 percent increase in the total taxes owed the Treasury by these public servants. The 2011 figures, the most recent year for which data are available, include 107,658 civilian federal employees owing more than $1 billion in unpaid taxes; 141,980 were military and civilian retirees $2.1 billion in delinquent taxes; and 61,928 were current military with $329 million in outstanding taxes.

It is inappropriate for any individual in violation of the law, including tax law, to retain full time employment with the federal government. And yet, nearly every federal agency and office, starting with the White House, Congress, and even the Treasury Department, continue to employ individuals who are failing to pay their taxes. Congress, the Courts, and the White House have failed to lead by example, with the three entities employing a total of 1,622 individuals owing a combined $23.8 million in taxes as of 2011. Federal employees have a clear obligation, just as the rest of American citizens do, to pay their federal income taxes.

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Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.

The Effects Of Healthcare Dot Gov

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With nearly half-a-billion dollars in government funding put behind promoting a product relatively few people seem interested in purchasing from a website that doesn’t work, Obamacare is perhaps the biggest marketing flop the world has seen in a very, very long time. The cost to build Healthcare dot gov is estimated at $319 million so far. The total amount to be spent nationally on publicity, marketing and advertising will be at least $684 million, according to data compiled The Associated Press from federal and state sources. As the Washington Post reported on Obamacare’s infamous website Healthcare dot gov, when the Web site went live Oct. 1, it locked up shortly after midnight as about 2,000 users attempted to complete the first step.

As time went by, things did not much improve. Fewer than 107,000 people had enrolled in Obamacare as of early November, even though more than 4.8 million Americans were notified their health insurance plans were canceled as a result of the new Obamacare rules and regulations. There were only 23 people per day that enrolled during the first month in the Federal Exchange. And the latest polls show growing opposition to the program, with 57 percent of Americans now opposing the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”. President Obama candidly acknowledged what millions of Americans had concluded after trying to use the new HealthCare dot gov website: it was not working: “The rollout of the new health care [website] has been rough, to say the least… We always knew that that was going to be complicated and everybody was going to be paying a lot of attention to it,” he said. “We should have done a better job getting that right on day one — not on day 28 or on day 40.”

A significant part of the response to Healthcare dot gov’s failures, however, has been an intensifying ad campaign. ads based on research about the uninsured have already been popping up on radio, TV and social media. The pitch: If you don’t make much money, the government can pick up some of the cost of your health insurance. If you can afford a policy, by law you have to get one. The unintended punch line is the ads direct the uninsured to sign up for a plan on the website. One health insurance company executive questioned “why would you spend $1 million sending people to a website that’s broken.” A very good question since administration officials were warned by consultants in March that the healthcare dot gov website was “at risk of failure.” Yet the Administration went ahead and signed lucrative contracts with a number of big name Washington PR firms for more than $60 million to promote the site anyway.

In July, HHS (Health and Human Services) inked a $33 million contract with PR giant Weber Shandwick. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid had already signed a $3 million and $8 million contracts. Porter Novelli also has a $20 million contract with the agency. As one Washington PR veteran noted, “you can have the greatest PR program imaginable on all different platforms — social, media, advertising and earned media — but you have to have a product that is functioning”. The states setting up their own health care exchanges “will receive proportionally more federal money for outreach, advertising and marketing than” the states where the federal government is running the program. In those states, “community groups with federal grants will lead the effort” to convince people to sign up.

ABC News showcased what it labeled “The Strangest Ads to Promote Obamacare Sign-Ups.” Topping the list is Minnesota’s ads “using legendary folklore hero Paul Bunyan (and his blue ox Babe) to show Minnesotans that the land of the north is also ‘the land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.’” The two appear in a series of ads  “in which the famous lumberjack suffers some kind of typical Minnesota injury — an axe wound, a water ski collision”. Nearly $28 million will be spent promoting Obamacare in Washington. One of the state’s ads has a woman playing “paper, rock, scissors” to escape the attack of a rabid raccoon.

Oregon is spending $10 million advertising Obamacare with advertisements that don’t even mention the program or how to enroll in it. One of the television ads, produced by the Portland advertising agency North, Inc., does not mention the word “insurance” or how or why to enroll in the program. Another Oregon ad does not mention the word “insurance,” but features what appears to be Gumby riding on the Beatles’ yellow submarine. Between Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, however,  just 44 residents were able to sign up for private insurance through Cover Oregon.

Colorado is spending more than $20 million to promote the program hoping to enroll 136,000 patients in health exchange network by the end of March. So far, fewer than 4,000 have been enrolled, though one of the enrollee’s turned out to be a man’s pet dog. The state’s ad campaign compares enrolling in Obamacare to winning at a casino and features an Elvis impersonator. In Kentucky, outreach workers attended a number of bourbon festivals and visited college campuses across the state to make young people aware of the program. California is spending $94 million on its Obamacare enrollment campaign, including “radio and television commercials, highway billboard advertisements, and a number of Twitter and Facebook posts” and promotion at county fairs and street festivals.

Healthcare dot gov features a tool to search through health insurance providers in your area to see how much Obamacare can save you. The catch? The catch is, those prices are all AFTER maximum subsidies are calculated into the price by the website. This is apparently the lack of insecurity you can expect from the folks at HHS and healthcare dot gov.  A level of incompetence and lack of common sense programming I didn’t even think were possible for government until today. Want to see what the prices are without subsidies? Well someone forgot to password the database the prices are fetched from.  If you want to see it in all its glory head on over to data.healthcare.gov and see it for yourself but be sure to hurry before the government shuts it down for showing the truth.

Why do we find ourselves in this healthcare pickle?  How did the federal government get the idea they could insert themselves into our health insurance industry?   People forget that government is force; and that it is force at the point of a gun.  A model for the Obamacare law can be found in the federal seat belt law, requiring car manufacturers to install seat belts in every car, just as the Obamacare law requires insurance companies to place Obama’s requirements into your health insurance policy.

Information found for this “Your Tax Dollars @ Work” post was done by using a Google search. Information compiled from multiple public websites & media outlets.

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The Obamacare Exchange

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This information was original found @ YouViewed.com and with many attempts to reblog the post and failing attempts I decided to borrow the picture/chart because I really wanted to share it. Please visit YouViewed.com for the original article in it’s entirety.

U.S. Government Shut Down

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I know everyone out there has been hearing about the shutdown and here is a look at how a shutdown will work, which parts of the government will close, and which parts of the economy might be affected. So, lets look at what services are going to be affected by the government shutdown as of 01 October 2013. This is only a partial list with short descriptions of each area affected. If you would like more information then I highly recommend doing an internet search or contact your Congressman because asking me won’t yield any more information beyond what you read here. I just thought I would share the information I have read and found with all of you. This is, of course, only about 10% of the information one can find and there is much more “commentary” to be sought out and read. Now that I have went out and read a multitude of information I can tell y’all that I’m real disappointed in our Government and the games they play. Everything the Government does affects you and I at some level or another. Based on that alone it makes me wonder why the American people are treated like dirt when the Government can’t play well together. I hold no political party near and dear to my heart and don’t write this post with a slant towards or away from any particular side. I write this post as an American citizen, a taxpayer, and a father. My concerns go beyond either side wanting to take their toys and go home, my concerns are here because stupid shit like this make us as a country vulnerable and really makes us look stupid in the world’s eye. I know what the world thinks of the United States of America means very little to most people, but I still care.

Federal Employees

  • About 800,000 federal employees are not furloughed and will not be paid. Already hit hard by several unpaid furlough days caused by sequestration this year some workers have begun lobbying to receive back pay in the event of a shutdown. While Congress agreed to retroactively pay them during previous shutdowns, the fractured nature of this Congress makes such a step unlikely.

U.S. Military

  • The military’s 1.4 million active-duty personnel will stay on duty, but their paychecks initially faced a threat of delay. Amid the division, the House passed – and Obama signed – a bill to ensure their checks would still be delivered on time. “You and your families deserve better than the dysfunction we’re seeing in Congress,” Obama said.
  • About half of the Defense Department’s civilian employees are furloughed.

Public Health

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are facing a reduced ability to detect and investigate disease outbreaks. The annual influenza program – the one that tracks the flu and helps people get flu shots – has been shut down. The CDC has also stopped offering its usual assistance to state and local authorities, who rely on the agency for help in tracking unusual outbreaks.
  • The National Institutes of Health will continue to treat patients at its hospital center, but no new clinical trials will begin.

Animals

  • None of our live animal cams will broadcast during the shutdown. The cams require federal resources, primarily staff, to run and broadcast. — National Zoo (October 1, 2013)
  • The animals at the National Zoo are being cared for, but the zoo, like all Smithsonian museums, is closed to the public. The live animal cams have been shut down. That’s right, Congress’ inability to reach a deal means no more panda cam, America.

Science

  • NASA will furlough almost all of its employees, though it will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space Station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service will keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings, and the National Hurricane Center will continue to track storms.

Travel

  • Federal air traffic controllers will remain on the job and airport screeners will keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints, though some airports have warned of delays at security. Federal inspectors will continue enforcing safety rules.
  • The State Department will continue processing foreign applications for visas and US applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas will continue to provide services to American citizens.

Courts

  • Federal courts will continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases will continue to be heard.
  • The US supreme court is scheduled to begin its new term on October 7. In previous government shutdowns, it continued to operate as normal.

Mail

  • Deliveries will continue as usual because the US Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.

District of Columbia

  • The city, which does not have autonomy over its own budget, briefly flirted with the idea of using the potential shutdown to make a stand when mayor Vince Gray moved to designate all city employees “essential,” thereby avoiding the cuts in services like libraries that were expected. Some District politicians were willing to go so far as to get arrested over the show of defiance, but on Friday the city’s lawyers approved using a $144m contingency fund to make up the difference when the federal government funds dry up.
  • Weddings, however, are on hold in the city.

Homeland Security

  • The majority of the Department of Homeland Security’s employees will stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country’s borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. US Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will continue to process green card applications.

Veteran’s Services

  • Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA’s health programs. Veterans will still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators will still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers will still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits.
  • But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board will not issue any decisions during a shutdown.
  • 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.

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 & 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.

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 & 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.”)

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Parts of the information gathered and re-used here today came from The Guardian and was used without their permission. Other parts of information were gathered and re-used today here from the Washington Post and was used without their permission. The pictures were borrowed from the internet using a Google search. As far as everything else, well, I guess that all belongs to yours truly.