Archives for FUBAR

Health care ‘reform:’ Just another lost freedom

One thing President Barack Obama and some other politicians have figured out about Americans is that you can't trust them to manage their own affairs, and if you want to fix health care in this country you are going to have to take away some more freedoms even if the Constitution doesn't permit it. Specifically, you may very well have to mandate that everyone buy health insurance because, otherwise, you are not going to have the premium money necessary to make this whole new scheme of things work and you could leave the door open to something akin to cheating.
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More Americans ratting out tax cheats

Dangle some cash and a lot of people are happy to turn in their employers for cheating on their taxes. Since Congress beefed up whistleblower rewards in late 2006, tips about suspected tax cheats owing at least $2 million have jumped more than tenfold, the Internal Revenue Service said in a report Thursday. In 2008, the agency received tips on 1,246 suspected tax dodgers, each owing more than $2 million. That's up from 116 big-money tips in 2007. IRS officials, however, don't know yet whether many of the tips will pan out. The report says the IRS is still in the middle of the lengthy process of conducting audits and processing appeals. One key lawmaker praised the program but prodded the IRS to move faster on the cases.
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Consumer spending up: Are we on a rebound?

Consumer spending, the bulwark of economic growth, is showing signs of life as the economy transitions from recession to recovery. The key question is whether the spending rebound can be sustained while U.S. households face rising employment, tight credit conditions and other obstacles. Economists believe that consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of total economic activity, surged in August, reflecting the success of the government's Cash for Clunkers car rebate program.
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Public option? DOA or still on life support?

This week's headlines declared the so-called public option dead on arrival after the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday rejected two versions of it offered by Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. Dead? It is not dead, but it is dead. Let me explain. Last week I attended a breakfast hosted by the Democratic Women's Working Group in the House, and four female House Democrats insisted at that event that if any form of health care reform emerges from the Senate, the public option will be included in the House version. They added that Democrats have the votes to push it through when the House-Senate conference committee meets to iron out differences between the two chambers' bills.
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Ohmigod! An honest man in Washington?

Frankly, the investigative journalism gig has gotten pretty easy these days. In the corridors of power, evidence is as easy to pick up as cigar butts used to be, of the cynical way the game is played. Evidence abounds fingering the rule-breakers and wrongdoers, deceivers and distorters, buck-passers and buck-wasters, and of course, the standard-bearers who get caught baring their double standards. So today's news is about a rare find among the Washington elite: A straight-talking top official who answers tough questions without the usual duck-and-dodge, who has a top job he never sought and doesn't really want -- and who even volunteers to take the blame for recommending a controversial presidential policy that flopped. Yes, Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
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Supreme Court revisits handgun laws

The Supreme Court could ignite a vigorous new fight over state and local gun controls across the nation when it rules on a challenge to Chicago's handgun ban. The court said Wednesday it will consider a challenge to Chicago's ban, and even gun control supporters believe a victory is likely for gun-rights proponents. If the court rules that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms doesn't allow the city's outright handgun ban, it could lead to legal challenges to less-restrictive laws that limit who may own guns, whether firearms must be registered and even how they must be stored.
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Solving the world’s problems

When publishers call their editorial writers together for the daily conference, they often like to say: "So, how are we solving the world's problems today?" This is a little publisher joke, because in all of recorded history, no evidence suggests that any world problem has been solved by an editorial. Those of us who write them are not discouraged. We press on in the hope that one of us is going to get lucky and eventually solve a world problem. Still, I wouldn't sit on the edge of your seat waiting if I were you. As one who has attended countless meetings to solve the world's problems, I am bound to note with wonder and a hint of envy that the G-20 economic summit that recently concluded in Pittsburgh achieved a remarkable feat in the annals of world-problem solving.
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Afghanistan: Forgetting the lessons of Vietnam

Anyone who has paid much attention to 20th-century warfare should be getting nervous about Afghanistan. The war there is developing the ominous characteristics of other modern unconventional conflicts. These wars have little in common with traditional ones, the kind where the proper objects of military action are straightforward targets like beachheads and bunkers.
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Agencies use tricks to conceal information

President Barack Obama's new standards of openness in the federal government have not trickled down to some of its agencies, where officials have used special statutes inserted into bills to skirt the Freedom of Information Act, open government advocates said Wednesday. Efforts to strengthen the 42-year-old law "have been hampered by the increasing use of legislative exemptions that are often sneaked into legislation without debate or public scrutiny," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said in remarks prepared for a hearing on the issue. News organizations and media groups said new legislation was needed to limit the information agencies may keep secret and for how long.
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