Americans Must Be Able to Obtain Health Care Coverage As Is Their Right Under the Law

Source: HuffPost

Author: Steven Fulop

“In the 1930’s, Democrats created Social Security over the vocal opposition of Republicans. Today the program is an enduring legacy. It is recognized as the politically untouchable third rail of politics that provides for millions of Americans. In the 1960’s, Democrats created Medicare over the vocal opposition of Republicans. Today, it’s wildly popular among both older Americans and the medical community that treats them. See a pattern? It is likely to continue.

Democrats created the Affordable Care Act. Republican opposition has made the fights about Social Security and Medicare look like a walk in the park. While it’s far too soon to say this program will prove as popular as the others, what is almost criminal is how opponents of the law are essentially denying Americans their now constitutionally guaranteed rights.

In their contempt for the law, too many state governments have made it next to impossible for their citizens to obtain coverage while at the same time almost ridiculing those who want to sign up. On Saturday at a rally in New Jersey, according to The New York Times, Sarah Palin rejected the notion that people should accept the Affordable Care Act though it was passed by Congress, signed into law by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court. Of course, Palin undoubtedly has fine health care coverage for herself yet she chooses to, in essence, criticize those who want to do the same for themselves and their families.

This is a tragedy. Opponents of the law are now so reckless in their hatred that they have shut down the government and threaten the stability and reputation of America not just at home but internationally as well.

While this is going on, ordinary people simply want to ensure they have affordable health coverage that previously they were unable to obtain. So while the opponents scream, let’s take a look on the local level at the practical impact of the law in its first few weeks of implementation. In my city, about 55,000 residents — nearly 20 percent of the Jersey City population — currently have no health insurance. With the launch of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, we had the responsibility to inform residents of their options are and how to apply. That is why the City developed a robust and proactive plan to assist residents in answering their questions and applying online.

The City partnered on a federally-funded mobile Navigator Program through a $400,000 grant that hired four bilingual counselors to visit businesses, community groups, and local non-profits to enroll residents. Only six federal grants were allocated in New Jersey, and Jersey City is the only municipality with a bilingual, mobile model. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has 10 certified application counselors, many of whom are bilingual, to help residents understand their health coverage options and enroll them.

If it is possible to see the demand and need in a mid-size American city, imagine the broader results if each community in the United States undertook to ensure its citizens were aggressively advised of their rights under the law.

With history as a guide, not only will Americans be healthier because of their new right, so will the economy despite the outrageous claims made by opponents. Social Security and Medicare have benefitted not just older Americans but the economy at large as well. It is likely over the next few years and then for generations to come the Affordable Care Act will achieve similar results.

Steve Fulop is the Mayor of Jersey City, NJ.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steven-fulop/affordable-care-act-coverage_b_4096820.html

 

The conservative crackup: How the Republican Party lost its mind

Source: Salon.com

Author: Kim Messick

“In a recent article, I argued that the Republican Party has been captured by a faction whose political psychology makes it highly intransigent and uninterested in compromise. That article focused on the roots of this psychology and how it shapes the Tea Party’s view of its place in American politics. It did not pursue the question of exactly how this capture took place — of how a major political party, once a broad coalition of diverse elements, came to be so dependent on a narrow range of strident voices. This is the question I propose to explore below.

In doing so, we should keep in mind three terms from political science (and much political journalism) — “realignment,” “polarization” and “gridlock.” These concepts are often bandied about as if their connections are obvious, even intuitive. Sometimes, indeed, a writer leaves the impression that they are virtually synonymous. I think this is mistaken, and that it keeps us from appreciating just how strange our present political moment really is.

“Realignment,” for instance, refers to a systematic shift in the patterns of electoral support for a political party. The most spectacular recent example of this is the movement of white Southerners from the Democratic to the Republican Party after the passage of major civil rights laws in the mid-1960s. Not coincidentally, this event was critically important for the evolution of today’s Republican Party.

After the Civil War and the collapse of Reconstruction in the 1870s, the identification of white Southerners as Democrats was so stubborn and pervasive as to make the region into the “solid South” – solidly Democratic, that is. Despite this well-known fact, there is reason to suspect that the South’s Democratic alliance was always a bit uneasy. As the Gilded Age gave way to the first decades of the 20th century, the electoral identities of the two major parties began to firm up. Outside the South, the Democrats were the party of the cities, with their polyglot populations and unionized workforces. The Republicans drew most of their support from the rural Midwest and the small towns of the North. The Democrats’ appeal was populist, while Republicans extolled the virtues of an ascendant business class: self-sufficiency, propriety, personal responsibility.

It will be immediately evident that the Republican Party was in many ways a more natural fit for the South, which at the time was largely rural and whose white citizens were overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The South’s class structure, less fluid than that of the industrial and urban North, would have chimed with the more hierarchical strains of Republican politics, and Southern elites had ample reason to prefer the “small government” preached by Republican doctrine. But the legacy of Lincoln’s Republicanism was hard to overcome, and the first serious stirrings of disillusion with the Democratic Party had to wait until 1948. That year, South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond, enraged by President Truman’s support for some early civil rights measures, led a walkout of 35 Southern delegates from the Democratic Convention. Thurmond went on to become the presidential nominee of a Southern splinter group, the States’ Rights Democratic Party (better known as “Dixiecrats”), and won four states in the deep South.

The first Republican successes in the South came in the elections of 1952 and 1956, when Dwight Eisenhower won five and eight states, respectively*. These victories, however, were only marginally related to racial politics; Eisenhower’s stature as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in World War II had a much larger role, as did his party’s virulent anti-communism. Nixon held only five of these states in 1960.

The real turning point came in 1964. After passage of the Civil Rights Act, Barry Goldwater’s conservative campaign, with its emphasis on limited government and states’ rights, carried five Southern states, four of which had not been won by a Republican in the 20th century. No Democratic presidential candidate has won a majority of Southern states since, with the single exception of former Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter’s 1976 campaign. The South is now the most reliably Republican region of the country, and supplies the party with most of its Electoral College support.

The South’s realignment explains a lot about our politics. But it doesn’t, in itself, explain one very important fact: why the post-civil rights Republican Party went on to become the monolithically conservative party we have today. We can put this point as a question: Why didn’t the Republican Party end up looking more like the pre-realignment Democrats, with a coalition of Northern moderates and liberals yoked to conservative Southerners? (And the Midwest along for the ride.) In effect, we’re asking how realignment is related to “polarization” — the ideological sorting out that has led to our present party system, in which nearly all moderates and liberals identify as Democrats and nearly all conservatives as Republicans.

It’s important to ask this question for at least two reasons. First, because it highlights the fact that realignment and polarization are analytically distinct concepts — a point often passed over in discussions of this subject. The sudden migration of Southern whites into Republican ranks is obviously connected with polarization; what we need to know is exactly how and why. Which brings us to the second reason. Because the answer we’re led to is so refreshingly old-fashioned and therefore, in today’s intellectual culture, completely counterintuitive: They are connected through the agency of political actors.

Kim Messick lives and writes in North Carolina. He’s working on a novel.

 

GOP Ignores Children Once They’re Outside The Womb

Source: National Memo

Author: Cynthia Tucker

A recent road trip took me into the precincts of rural Georgia and Florida, far away from the traffic jams, boutique coffeehouses and National Public Radio signals that frame my familiar landscape. Along the way, billboards reminded me that I was outside my natural habitat: anti-abortion declarations appeared every 40 or 50 miles.

Pregnant? Your baby’s heart is already beating!” “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. — God.” And, with a photo of an adorable smiling baby, “My heart beat 18 days from conception.”

The slogans suggest a stirring compassion for women struggling with an unplanned pregnancy and a deep-seated moral aversion to pregnancy termination. But the morality and compassion have remarkably short attention spans, losing interest in those children once they are outside the womb.

These same stretches of Georgia and Florida, like conservative landscapes all over the country that want to roll back reproductive freedoms, are thick with voters who fight the social safety net that would assist children from less-affluent homes. Head Start, Medicaid and even food stamps are unpopular with those voters.

Through more than 25 years of writing about Roe vs. Wade and the politics that it spawned, I’ve never been able to wrap my head around the huge gap between anti-abortionists’ supposed devotion to fetuses and their animosity toward poor children once they are born. (Catholic theology at least embraces a “whole-life” ethic that works against both abortion and poverty, but Catholic bishops have seemed more upset lately about contraceptives than about the poor.) While many conservative voters explain their anti-abortion views as Bible-based, their Bibles seem to have edited out Jesus’ charity toward the less fortunate.

That brain-busting cognitive dissonance is also on full display in Washington, where just last week the GOP-dominated House of Representatives passed a bill that would outlaw all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. After the bill was amended to make exceptions for a woman’s health or rape — if the victim reports the assault within 48 hours — U.S. Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) withdrew his support. The exceptions made the bill too liberal for his politics.

Meanwhile, this same Republican Congress has insisted on cutting one of the nation’s premier food-assistance programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps. GOP hardliners amended the farm bill wending its way through the legislative process to cut $2 billion from food stamps because, they believe, it now feeds too many people. Subsidies to big-farming operations, meanwhile, remained largely intact.

The proposed food stamp cuts are only one assault on the programs that assist less-fortunate children once they are born. Republicans have also trained their sights on Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s relentless budget-cutter, wants to turn Medicaid into a block grant to the states, which almost certainly means that fewer people would be served. About half of Medicaid’s beneficiaries are children.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Protection Act, whose name implies more medical knowledge than its proponents actually have, has no chance of becoming law since it won’t pass the Senate. Its ban on abortion after 20 weeks, passed by the House along partisan lines, was merely another gratuitous provocation designed to satisfy a conservative base that never tires of attacks on women’s reproductive freedom.

Outside Washington, however, attempts to limit access to abortion are gaining ground. From Alaska to Alabama, GOP-dominated legislatures are doing everything they can think of to curtail a woman’s right to choose. According to NARAL Pro-Choice America, 14 states have enacted new restrictions on abortion this year.

That re-energized activism around reproductive rights slams the door on recent advice from Republican strategists who want their party to highlight issues that might draw a broader array of voters. Among other things, they have gently — or stridently, depending on the setting — advised Republican elected officials to downplay contentious social issues and focus on job creation, broad economic revival and income inequality. Clearly, those Republican lawmakers haven’t gotten the message.

Still, GOP bigwigs get furious when they are accused of conducting a war on women. But what else is it? It’s clearly not a great moral crusade to save children.

(Cynthia Tucker, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a visiting professor at the University of Georgia. She can be reached at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.)

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.nationalmemo.com/gop-ignores-children-once-theyre-outside-the-womb/

Are the Bible Thumpers Losing Their Grip on Our Politics?

Source: AlterNet

Author: Amanda Marcotte

Is the religious right, which has been the electoral backbone of the Republican Party since the creation of the Moral Majority in the ’70s and the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, in trouble? The strongly right-wing Washington Times reports rather dimly on the conference for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, a group founded by religious right luminary Ralph Reed, because it couldn’t even gather 400 audience members, despite having a deep bench of fundamentalist-beloved politicians and celebrities like Pat Robertson, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and Scott Walker. The Times contrasted the small conference with its ’80s and ’90s counterpart, the Christian Coalition’s Road to the White House conventions, which drew thousands of participants every year.

If such a right-wing publication as the Washington Times is willing to hint at it, maybe it’s really time to ask the question: Is the Christian right beginning to lose its numbers, its mojo, and even its power? While it’s definitely too early to count them out—after all, the religious right, weird fantasies about masturbating fetuses and all—still wholly owns the Republican Party at this point. Still, is there some hope on the horizon that their once-mighty numbers and power are beginning to dwindle?

Evangelical writer and pastor John S. Dickerson certainly seems to think so. In a piece published for the New York Times in December 2012, Dickerson bluntly declared that evangelical Christians have become a tiny minority in America:

In the 1980s heyday of the Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority, some estimates accounted evangelicals as a third or even close to half of the population, but research by the Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith recently found that Christians who call themselves evangelicals account for just 7 percent of Americans. (Other research has reported that some 25 percent of Americans belong to evangelical denominations, though they may not, in fact, consider themselves evangelicals.) Dr. Smith’s findings are derived from a three-year national study of evangelical identity and influence, financed by the Pew Research Center. They suggest that American evangelicals now number around 20 million, about the population of New York State.

One major reason is strictly demographic: Older fundamentalists are dying off and not being replaced by younger ones. Research by the Christian Barna Group shows that the 43% of young people raised as evangelicals stop going to church once they grow up. The reasons that young people get disillusioned with the church track nicely to the reasons the religious right is such a danger to American democracy and freedom: They disagree with the homophobic and sexually judgmental teachings. They disapprove of the church’s attacks on science. They find conservative Christianity intolerant and stifling.

Evangelical leaders themselves certainly believe they’re seeing a decline in influence in the United States. In a 2011 Pew Forum poll of evangelical leaders around the world, 82 percent of American evangelical leaders said that evangelical Christianity was losing influence. Compare this to evangelical leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America and most of Asia, 58 percent who said that their faith was gaining influence. Which, sadly for the people of those countries, means more gay-bashing, more attacks on women’s rights, and more scientific illiteracy, though presumably the evangelical leaders see all these effects as good things.

Of course, if you were gauging by the behavior of Republican politicians, you’d think that evangelical Christianity was not only growing in popularity but growing in conservatism. The past few years have seen a dramatic escalation in the attacks on women’s rights, which politically can only be a bid for the fundamentalist votes, as most people outside the world of conservative Christianity are either pro-choice or don’t care enough about the issue to vote on it. (Yes, there are also Catholics, but despite their leadership, the majority of Catholics are pro-choice.) Not only that, but Republicans seem to have grown bolder in portraying themselves as religious extremists to pander to the religious right, often embracing absolutist approaches to abortion, opening up the war on choice to attacks on contraception, and sharing the bizarre, anti-science attitudes towards rape and pregnancy they pick up in their churches. While the majority of Americans turn toward favoring marriage equality for gays and straights, Republicans attack like the country still views the issue the way a megachurch pastor would, even going so far as to hire separate lawyers to defend DOMA when the Obama administration refused to do it.

All of this, as Todd Akin can attest, hurts you in the polls, and yet Republicans keep at it like they’re facing a country on the verge of having an evangelical majority, when in fact the exact opposite is happening. What gives?

Part of the problem is that while politicians have a reputation for being able to change their views on a dime, the reality is that they’re often thrown off by change and struggle to adapt. Many, possible most, Republican politicians are fundamentalist Christians themselves, and they started out in politics during the multi-decade heyday when being a Bible thumper was a sure path to power. It’s hard for them to accept that things have changed that quickly.

Akin is a classic example. Since 1988, Akin’s schtick as a wild-eyed anti-choice lunatic spouting every fundamentalist conspiracy theory under the sun helped him win one office after another, usually annihilating his competition at the polls. When he made the move to run for Senate, it’s not surprising he thought the same strategy would work. After all, he’s tight with Paul Ryan, whom Republicans think of as their “mainstream” offering. They even authored anti-choice legislation together. Indeed, it’s easy to see how Akin would have easily won a few election cycles ago, “legitimate rape” comment and all. Back in the Bush era, being a dim-witted Bible thumper didn’t even block you from the presidency, so a Senate seat from highly religious Missouri should have been a breeze. The change has been happening so fast it’s no surprise Akin didn’t see it. Really, who could have?

Of course, as things can swiftly change for the better, they can just easily take a turn for the worse, so liberals shouldn’t sit on their laurels, confident that this decline in fundamentalism will last. This change was the direct result of many years of liberals highlighting, protesting, and fighting the Christian right’s abuses of power. To make sure this change takes, it’s important for liberals to keep up the fight.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.alternet.org/belief/christian-right-0?akid=10604.123424.58nOvN&rd=1&src=newsletter858343&t=9&paging=off

 

11 GOP Positions Loathed by Young People — According to College GOP Report

Source:Think Progress via AlterNet

Author:Igor Volsky

“The College Republican National Committee released a report on Monday outlining the major challenges facing the GOP as it seeks to rebrand and redefine itself in the aftermath of the 2012 election. The survey criticizes the party’s singular focus on “big government” and “tax cuts” and calls on Republicans to become more tolerant and open on issues like same-sex marriage and women’s reproductive health.

But a close reading of the 90-page report finds that young people have strong disagreements with Republican policies — including large parts of former candidate’s Mitt Romney’s platform — and are far more likely to support progressive positions. Here are 11 examples:

1. GOP economic polices are to blame for the recession. “Although ‘Republican economic policies’ is the factor least likely to be viewed as playing a major role in causing the crisis, this is mostly due to young Republicans in the sample hesitating to pin blame directly on their own party, and an outright majority of young people still think those Republican policies are to blame – hardly an encouraging finding.”

2. Lower taxes will not create jobs.” In the August 2012 XG survey, there was not a strong consensus around the virtues of lowering taxes and regulations on business. Only 34% of respondents in that survey thought they’d be better off if the corporate tax rate were lowered, and only 36% thought such a move would make it easier for young people to get jobs.”

3. Increase taxes on the wealthy. “Perhaps most troubling for Republicans is the finding from the March 2013 CRNC survey that showed 54% of young voters saying ‘taxes should go up on the wealthy,’ versus 31% who say “taxes should be cut for everyone.”

4. End the attacks on women’s reproductive health. “[T]he issue of protecting life has been conflated with issues around the definition of rape, funding for Planned Parenthood, and even contraception. In the words of one female participant in our Hispanic voter focus group in Orlando, “I think Romney wanted to cut Planned Parenthood. And he supports policies where it would make it harder for a woman to get an abortion should she choose, even if it were medically necessary. That goes head in hand with redefining rape.”

5. Expand universal health care coverage. “Many of the young people in our focus groups noted that they thought everyone in America should have access to health coverage. In the Spring 2012 Harvard Institute of Politics survey of young voters, 44% said that “basic health insurance is a right for all people, and if someone has no means of paying for it, the government should provide it.” … As one participant in our focus group of young men in Columbus put it, “at least Obama was making strides to start the process of reforming health care.”

6. Provide comprehensive immigration reform. “The position taken most frequently by young voters was that “illegal immigrants should have a path to earn citizenship,” chosen by 35% of respondents… Some 19% chose “illegal immigrants should be deported or put in jail for breaking the law,” while another 17% took the position that “illegal immigrants should have a path to legal status but not citizenship.”

7. Cut the defense budget first. “Indeed, a large number of respondents pointed to the defense budget as the place where cuts should start. In the survey, 35% of respondents thought that “we should have a smaller defense budget and leaner military,” including 49% of young independents.”

8. Democrats are more responsive on student loans. “Many focus group members did think that Democrats were responding to the student loan crisis. “I think they’re more in tune to what we need right now with student loans, getting a job, fixing the housing market and the environment,” observed one participant from Orlando, with another adding that he had “heard Obama once say, oh, he has student loans, he went to school, he knows what we’re going through.”

9. Climate change is real. “Ultimately, while voters may say they are concerned about climate change, they rarely list it among the issues on the top of their minds.”

10. Bush’s wars blew up the deficit. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan themselves, however, were largely viewed as having been a net negative for the U.S. In fact, during focus group discussions about the recession, one respondent said she felt that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had contributed in part to the economic crisis.”

11. Marriage equality for all. “Surveys have consistently shown that gay marriage is not as important an issue as jobs and the economy to young voters. Yet it was unmistakable in the focus groups that gay marriage was a reason many of these young voters disliked the GOP.”

Igor Volsky is a Health Care Researcher/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean’s Prescription for Real Healthcare. Reform.

Emphasis Mine

see: http://www.alternet.org/gop?akid=10516.123424.HktpYH&rd=1&src=newsletter849631&t=7

 

Actually, Tea Party Groups Gave the IRS Lots of Good Reasons to Be Interested

Source: Mother Jones

Author: Stephanie Mencimer

“Virtually everyone in Washington agrees on at least one thing about the IRS scandal: The tax agency’s trolling for tea party groups and giving extra scrutiny to their applications for nonprofit status was an egregious violation. Exactly how and why that conduct took place remains under investigation. But as conservatives in particular decry the IRS failure, it’s also worth considering the dubious fiscal history of some tea party groups, including their pursuit of non-profit status. While the IRS had absolutely no business profiling any groups based on political criteria, it is not blaming the victim to observe that scrutiny was warranted in specific cases—and they include some major tea party outfits and their leaders, documents show.

Indeed, despite the tea party’s emphasis on fiscal prudence in government, would-be nonprofit groups launched since the movement’s rise in 2009 have left a trail of tax-code shenanigans, infighting, and fiscal irresponsibility. Money raised by some groups was spent frivolously, and in some cases in ways that appeared to flout the tax rules barring nonprofits from political activity. There have been lawsuits between competing organizations over money, and tea party groups have disintegrated because of financial and other mismanagement.

None of which is particularly surprising, given the deluge of fledgling groups. After the tea party movement took off in 2009, thousands of people around the country rushed to join in, many of them creating small nonprofit groups in their local areas. It didn’t take long for infighting to set in and for claims of financial improprieties to fly—for example, there was the story of Saint Augustine Tea Party vs. Saint Augustine Tea Party Inc. Scuffles arose around the country as aspiring tea party groups saw money disappear or rules violated.

Since 2009, the Tea Party Patriots, a large national umbrella group, has claimed no fewer than 3,500 affiliates. Many applied for nonprofit status with the IRS, a prime reason the agency was so overwhelmed with applications. The people leading these groups were often neophytes politically and organizationally—or, as Dan Backer, a lawyer for TheTeaParty.net, explained in an interview with Mother Jones this week, “they didn’t understand the complexity of what’s involved.”

Other tea partiers were part of a constellation of right-wing groups that seek to make money with fundraising appeals for conservative causes. And finally, some high-profile tea party leaders wrestled with personal tax problems before trying to start new political organizations.

Whether the IRS focused on any specific groups for any of these reasons is not clear. But here are some examples of these groups and why the IRS might have wanted to take a closer look at them:

True The Vote/King Street Patriots: True the Vote was among the active conservative groups that sought to police the polls during the 2010 and 2012 elections to root out alleged voter fraud. The group was created by the King Street Patriots, a Houston-based tea party organization and a 501(c)(4). But True the Vote is a 501(c)(3), a tax-exempt designation that allows a group’s donors to write off their contributions but also has strict rules prohibiting electioneering and partisan political activity. True the Vote and King Street share board members and often co-sponsored events.

True the Vote trained volunteers to go into predominantly minority neighborhoods across the country and keep an eye on potential violations by presumed Democratic voters. Its activities drew accusations of voter intimidation; in Ohio, its volunteers were banned from Franklin County polling places amid allegations that it had forged signatures to secure poll-watcher status. In TexasTrue the Vote’s alleged partisan activity included a poll-watching guide instructing trainees to consult the Harris County Republican Party website for advice on voting rules, and the group only invited Republicans to its candidate forums.

Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote’s president, is among those now complaining that her group was inappropriately targeted. “The IRS treatment of us lends to the appearance of a politically-motivated abuse of power and an assault on free speech,” she told Breitbart News. (She did not respond to a request for comment.)

Engelbrecht has released a letter from the IRS requesting extensive documentation and information from True the Vote as part of its nonprofit application. But the IRS’ requests point to concerns that critics have long raised about the organization. In 2010, an ethics complaint and lawsuit against King Street Patriots alleged illegal political activity, and last year a Texas judge agreed, ruling that the organization was not a nonprofit but in fact was operating like a political action committee and illegally helping the GOP. In August 2012, True the Vote donated $5,000 to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a 527 group that raised nearly $30 million dollars to elect GOP candidates in state legislatures.

TheTeaParty.net/Stop This Insanity: TheTeaParty.net/STI is a 501(c)(4) group incorporated in Arizona in early 2010 by Todd Cefaratti, who runs a “lead generation” company that provides contact information to reverse-mortgage companies, some of whose operations have been compared to those of the subprime lending industry. The group advertises under a number of variations on the tea party name, and some other tea partiers have complained almost from its inception that the group is nothing more than a data harvesting operation. (Cefaratti defended himself against the criticism in a long post here.) FEC filings show that a “leadership fund” set up by the group raised almost $1.2 million in 2012, and gave only $52,000 to candidates for federal office.

TheTeaParty.net/STI has not yet received non-profit status approval; Dan Backer, the group’s lawyer, says he is now considering suing the IRS for targeting his clients. Yet, Backer also describes the group’s founders as neophytes, and he acknowledges that some tea party groups may have run in to trouble trying to properly manage grassroots organizing around politics. “These are folks who are not lawyers, they’re not part of the political establishment,” he says. “In fact they deeply reject the political establishment, so they’re trying to navigate a system designed by the establishment.”

More than one aspect of TheTeaParty.net/STI’s forays into politics might have triggered a closer look from the IRS. Its founders initially set up the group as both a 501(c)(4) and a political action committee that it registered with the FEC—as a single entity. That was a clear violation of the non-profit rules on political activity, as Backer himself acknowledged to me. (The group eventually shut down the PAC.) In 2012, when the group sought to create a “leadership fund” in hopes of collecting unlimited campaign contributions, it ran afoul of federal campaign finance rules; it ended up suing the FEC, arguing that the agency should be prevented from enforcing those laws against it (and it lost).

Tea Party Patriots: One of the largest tea party umbrella groups that formed as a 501(c)(4), it was co-founded by Mark Meckler, a former high-level distributor for Herbalife, a multilevel marketing company that has repeatedly been accused of operating in a manner similar to a pyramid scheme. (Meckler, who left TPP in February 2012, has long refused to talk to Mother Jones and never responded to requests for comment on his past business enterprise when we first exposed it in 2010.) In 2009, the organization raised $12 million in fiscal 2010. But only about $3 million of that went to its “social welfare” mission, according to an IRS 990 form filed in May 2012. Millions more went to professional telemarketing firms, which in some cases cost more than they raised; extensive travel costs; and legal fees incurred as the group sued competitors over its claim to own the “tea party” franchise.

Some conservative leaders came to the tea party with significant tax or financial problems of their own. Another TPP founder is Jenny Beth Martin, a Georgia-based political activist. When she started TPP in 2009, her husband Lee Martin had a half-million dollars in federal tax liens against him; he went on to serve as the group’s “assistant secretary” in 2010 and 2011 and was intimately involved with the group’s financial management.

Other tea party leaders with tax problems include:

Michael Patrick Leahy, a management consultant who organized the National Tea Party Coalition, had $150,000 worth of IRS tax liens and court judgments to his name.

Judson Phillips, the founder of the (for-profit) Tea Party Nation filed for bankruptcy in 1999, and had $22,000 in federal tax liens in his past. After Tea Party Nation planned a July 2010 tea party convention in Las Vegas and then canceled due to lack of interest, the organization stiffed the Venetian Hotel for more than 1,500 rooms it had reserved. That resulted in ajudge ordering the organization to repay the hotel nearly $750,000.

And then there was tea partier Christine O’Donnell, the Senate candidate from Delaware whose IRS tax lien for nearly $12,000 came to light during her 2010 campaign.

Conservatives now say there was a partisan motive behind the IRS targeting of tea party groups. (An Inspector General’s report released Tuesday did not find any evidence to that effect.) As evidence, they point to a lack of similar scrutiny directed at liberal groups. But it is also true that the tea party movement does not have an equivalent on the left; the Occupy Wall Street movement, perhaps the closest parallel, did not receive financial support on the scale that tea party organizations did, nor did it spawn legions of aspiring tax-exempt groups. When Occupy groups did seek out formal structure, they tended to use the traditional charitable 501(c)(3) status, which bars all political activity.

The tea partiers, on the other hand, went for the c(4) designation for political non-profit organizations, helping make them the focus, as we now know, of IRS staffers.”

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/05/irs-tea-party-tax-problems

 

Republicans Altered Benghazi Emails, CBS News Report Claims

Source: Huff Post

Author: Chris Gentlviso

“One day after The White House released 100 pages of Benghazi emails, a report has surfaced alleging that Republicans released a set with altered text.

CBS News reported Thursday that leaked versions sent out by the GOP last Friday had visible differences than Wednesday’s official batch. Two correspondences that were singled out in the report came from National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

The GOP version of Rhodes’ comment, according to CBS News: “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”

The White House email: “We need to resolve this in a way that respects all of the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.”

The GOP version of Nuland’s comment, according to CBS News: The penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency (CIA) about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda.”

The White House email: “The penultimate point could be abused by members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings.”

The news parallels a Tuesday CNN report which initially introduced the contradiction between what was revealed in a White House Benghazi email version, versus what was reported in media outlets. On Monday, Mother Jones noted that the Republicans’ interim report included the correct version of the emails, signaling that more malice and less incompetence may have been at play with the alleged alterations.

In that April interim report on Benghazi (which Buck noted), the House Republicans cited these emails (in footnotes 56 and 57) to note an important point: “State Department emails reveal senior officials had ‘serious concerns’ about the talking points, because Members of Congress might attack the State Department for ‘not paying attention to Agency warnings’ about the growing threat in Benghazi.”

Despite the White House’s Wednesday move to release emails, Republicans continued to call for more information on Thursday.

“While these hundred are good and they shed light on what happened, we have nearly 25,000 that they haven’t released,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Fox News on Thursday.”

 

Emphasis Mine

see:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/republicans-benghazi-emails_n_3289428.html