By Michael Hausam 23 hours ago
Remember last summer, when President Obama appointed Joe Biden to head the Campaign to Cut Waste to root out wasteful government spending?
Like you, we’ve been anxiously awaiting the results of the comprehensive report that’s surely coming any day now. In the meantime, it seems like he’s adding to the list of things to root out.
Last month it was reported that every weekend he gets a lift from D.C. to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, via Air Force Two — the V.P.’s airplane — and Marine Two — the V.P.’s helicopter. And he often gets a mid-weekend lift back to the Andrews Air Force Base for a round of golf with the President.
Based upon the $22,000 an hour cost for the airtime, that works out to about $1 million per year in shuttling costs. That doesn’t count the cost of the 20 condominiums that the Secret Service rents in Wilmington nor the cost of Air Force Two sitting and waiting for him while he plays 18 holes of golf.
Just this week, details were released for his one-night trip to Brazil for the USA versus Ghana World Cup game, as well as some meetings with the President and Vice President of Brazil.
According to the State Department documents, four different hotels were needed, but the actual number of rooms obtained was not released. Although establishing a total “room night” count is standard practice, it can be assumed that more than one room per hotel was used.
The total cost for the one-night was $2,245,343, spread over all four hotels. It must be nice to be ‘down for the working man,’ while living like royalty in foreign lands spending big bucks that can be put to better use here in America.
Ed. Note: Ironically, much like when Biden called J-O-B-S a three-letter word, the editor wrote that it was a 6-Figure hotel bill. He was giving Biden’s cost-cutting skills a bit too much credit. Corrected.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is currently claiming that seven different IRS officials experienced computer crashes that erased their emails and made it impossible for the IRS to cooperate with congressional investigations into the IRS targeting matter.
The wave of computer crashes apparently struck both Washington, D.C. — where Lois Lerner oversaw the agency’s Exempt Organizations division — and also Cincinnati, Ohio — where agents processed tax-exempt applications.
The Federal Records Act requires IRS employees to save all of their emails pertaining to agency business and to also print those emails out in case they have a computer crash.
IRS commissioner John Koskinen claimed in testimony in March that the IRS employees’ emails were saved on servers, but then testified this month that he doesn’t know of any “magical way” to get the missing emails back.
The IRS canceled its six-year business relationship with the email-archiving firm Sonasoft in September 2011, weeks after Lerner’s computer crash, and also prematurely retired data storage devices at its IT offices in Maryland.
Here are the seven IRS employees who could use a tutorial on hard drive-fixing:
Lois Lerner: Lerner was the Washington-based head of the IRS Exempt Organizations division until her recent resignation. Lerner originally apologized in May 2013 for targeting conservative groups, but later attested to her innocence and repeatedly pleaded the Fifth at House Oversight hearings. The House of Representatives voted in May to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress. New IRS commissioner John Koskinen testified that nobody at the IRS tried to extract any emails from a six-month backup disk after Lerner’s computer hard drive allegedly crashed in June 2011. Lerner’s hard drive was “recycled.” Lerner and her attorney husband Michael Miles live on a $2.4 million property in Bethesda, Maryland.
Nikole Flax, former chief of staff to IRS commissioner Steven Miller: Flax was a busy bureaucrat during her tenure at the IRS, where she worked for Lerner in the exempt organizations division among other roles. Flax made 31 visits to the White House between July 12, 2010 and May 8, 2013, according to White House visitor logs. Flax’s visits started in the early days of the IRS targeting program and ended just two days before the IRS scandal broke on May 10, 2013. Flax met twice in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with Jeanne Lambrew, a top adviser to President Obama who exchanged confidential information on conservative groups with Lerner.
Flax previously worked at the Joint Committee on Taxation as a legislative counsel, but left about six years ago, sources told TheDC. Flax attended Louisiana State University. She is married to Ryan H. Flax, a litigation consultant at the Washington firm A2L Consulting and a former intellectual property lawyer at the major D.C. law firm Dickstein Shapiro. The couple live in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Reached by phone, Ryan Flax declined to comment for this report, telling TheDC that he is “not really a part of this [controversy].”
Michelle Eldridge, IRS national media relations chief: This 23-year IRS veteran was tasked with defending the IRS when it came under scrutiny in 2012 for whistleblower reprisal from its inspector general and from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who Lerner tried to target, and when it was revealed in 2013 that the agency leaked confidential information on conservative groups to the liberal nonprofit ProPublica. Eldridge visited the White House on March 22, 2010, to meet with Vice President Joe Biden’s scheduling director Alex Hornbrook.
“Eldridge leads the IRS’ national media relations office to provide public information on key announcements and tax law changes, including new health care tax law implications and recovery act provisions,” according to a speaker bio. “As chief, national media relations, she manages the day-to-day issuance of news releases and guidance drops, handles national media inquiries, and implements communication and media strategies for key IRS initiatives, such as offshore tax compliance and the Return Preparer Initiative.”
Kimberly Kitchens, agent: Kitchens, who donated to President Obama’s 2012 campaign, worked in the IRS Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements office in Cincinnati in 2012, according to IRS documents. The IRS’ plague of computer crashes, therefore, was not merely confined to Washington, D.C., but also ensnared the Cincinnati office that Lerner oversaw and initially tried to blame the entire scandal on.
Nancy Heagney, agent: Another Cincinnati-based Exempt Organizations official that worked under Lerner.
Julie Chen, agent: Chen is another Exempt Organizations official, according to IRS documents.
Tyler Chumny, supervisory agent: After some confusion as to the identity of Tyler Chumney, a source informed us that he served as a Cincinnati-based contact person on at least one tax-exempt decision letter signed by Lerner.
Robert Gehl, June 23, 2014
Joe Biden really is a goofy guy. Which would be amusing if he wasn’t a heartbeat away from the presidency.
At a speaking event recently, he took a pot-shot at Hillary Clinton’s wealth by proclaiming he was poorer than she was. That may be true, but he also claimed he didn’t have any stocks or bonds – and not so much as a savings account. This – of course – is not true.
On the video, he says: “Don’t hold it against me that I don’t own a single stock or bond, I have not savings account. But I got a great pension and I get a good salary.”
Sharp rise in migrants crossing the border illegally has overwhelmed US immigration agencies
The White House has announced it will open more detention facilities to temporarily house migrant families caught crossing the US border illegally, along with new aid programs to funnel millions of dollars to Central American countries in an attempt to tamp down gang violence and “reintegrate” migrants the US deports to their home countries.
A sharp rise in migrants crossing the border illegally has overwhelmed US immigration agencies. US vice-president Joe Biden was scheduled to speak in Guatemala on Friday about the humanitarian crisis driving the migrants north and the impact it is having on US border towns.
Up to 1,000 new migrants a day are flowing across the US-Mexico border in an immigration surge caused by violent drug cartels in countries such as Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, according to border patrol officials. An especially high proportion of the new migrants are unaccompanied children. Most are ferried through dangerous routes by smugglers.
“Our first priority is to manage the urgent humanitarian situation by making sure these children are housed, fed and receive any necessary medical treatment. We also are taking steps to improve enforcement and partnering with our Central American counterparts in three key areas: combating gang violence and strengthening citizen security, spurring economic development and improving capacity to receive and reintegrated returned families and children,” Biden’s office said.
White House officials blamed human traffickers for causing the crisis. “So much of what we are seeing on the southern border is the result of a deliberate misinformation campaign that is propagated by criminal syndicates in central America,” said Obama spokesman Josh Earnest.
“That misinformation is causing some people who are in a rather desperate situation to risk their lives to come to the US border expecting that they will be able to stay in this country. That is simply not true.”
Officials rejected criticism that the administration was itself encouraging increased immigration attempts by proposing a path to citizenship for currently undocumented migrants.
Instead, the White House argues that its plan for comprehensive immigration reform would help make the appeals process more efficient and prevent the dangerous perception that undocumented migrants can simply fall through the cracks.
“The inefficiency of our legal immigration system is not irrelevant here,” added Earnest. “If we did have a much better functioning legal immigration system, as is currently contemplated by the current reform proposal, that would contribute to solving this problem. It probably wouldn’t solve it entirely but there is much more that can be done.”
The administration did not say where it would place the new detention centers. It currently houses migrants in border patrol facilities and US military bases across the south-west. After a tour of two border patrol facilities this week, the Associated Press described a crowded station not meant for long-term custody, filled with unaccompanied children in the custody of an agency ill-equipped to care for them.
Dozens of young boys were divided from dozens of young girls. Mothers with children still younger were in another cell.
In New Mexico, some of the families caught crossing the border together illegally will be housed by the Catholic church, advocates said Friday.
Thomas Baca, executive director of Catholic Charities in Las Cruces, told AP that close to 300 people will be housed at a parish in Anthony after they are released by federal immigration authorities.
“Right now we are working on raising money, applying for grants and getting the parish ready so people can take showers,” Baca said.
The Diocese of Las Cruces expects to house around 280 people, he said. The Diocese of El Paso already is housing around 300 migrants, Baca added.
In Richmond, Virginia, an elected official speaking anonymously to the Associated Press said a plan to shelter hundreds of children there had been scrapped after local opposition.
The decision came after a public meeting in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where hundreds of people attended and an overwhelming number spoke out against the proposal.
Meanwhile, the leader of the US House of Representatives urged Obama to send troops to the Mexican border.
In a letter to the president, John Boehner blamed Obama administration policies for the huge increase in migrants and said the president must act.
“The policies of your administration have directly resulted in the belief by these immigrants that once they reach US soil, they will be able to stay here indefinitely,” Boehner wrote.
For its aid programme to Central America, the administration will $74.6m over the next five years for programs to prevent at-risk youth from joining the gangs and to reintegrate returned migrants. Part of the aid would go toward more than doubling the number of youth outreach centers in El Salvador, from 30 already in existence to 77 supervised by the US Agency for International Development.
In Honduras, $18.5m will benefit the Central American Regional Security Initiative, a program to “confront gangs and other sources of crime.”
Another $161.5m will go to “rule of law” programs in the countries, “including activities to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs and encouraging their involvement in community crime prevention efforts and programs to expand education and job training.”
The fact sheet said that the administration would collaborate on, “campaigns to help potential migrants understand the significant danger of relying on human smuggling networks,” and would try to make migrants aware they would not be eligible for measures such as DACA.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is a measure enacted by executive order in 2012. Children brought to the country when they were under 18 years old before 2007 are eligible for deferred deportation. Children crossing the border in the most recent surge of immigrants would not be eligible for deferred deportation.
In his letter to Obama, Boehner said the US military should help ensure the safety of the children and their families. And he said the State Department should work with Central American nations to help speed processing times to return children and families to their countries and to make sure that people know of the dangers of heading north.
“While we understand that many of these individuals are coming to this country to escape violence and hardship in their home country, the current climate along the border and our enforcement policies are only encouraging them to risk their lives and those of their children. It is time that we confront the crisis along the border head-on through immediate and aggressive action.”
Boehner made no mention in his letter of immigration legislation and the House appears to have no inclination to move on it, particularly after the surprise primary defeat last week of Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the hands of a conservative who accused him of supporting “amnesty.”