(ONE LESS SWAMP CREATURE) – RYAN RUNS FOR EXIT; WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION…

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By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WILL MITCH PLEASE JOIN HIM?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, told Republicans in the House of Representatives on Wednesday he will not seek re-election in November, his office said.

Ryan will serve his full term and retire in January, Brendan Buck, spokesperson for the Speaker, said in a statement.

“After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father,” Buck said.

The departure of 48-year-old Ryan could complicate Republican Party efforts to retain the House in November, when candidates may be dragged down by the unpopularity of President Donald Trump.

The announcement of his departure months before the election will give potential candidates for House Republican leadership positions plenty of time to campaign for support.

The House speaker has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. (1400 GMT).

Reports of Ryan’s departure have circulated for months. Politico reported in December that Ryan told confidants he would like to retire after the 2018 congressional elections.

Friends said Ryan, a longtime champion of tax reform, was ready to step down after passing a tax reform bill, according to the Axios news site, which first reported on Wednesday that Ryan would soon announce his retirement.

The tax bill was Trump’s first major legislative victory since he took office in January 2017 despite being helped by Republican control of Congress.

Lawmakers had expected Ryan might leave Congress if Republicans lose the House in November. The early announcement could have an impact on Ryan’s ability to raise campaign funds for Republican candidates.

More than three dozen House Republicans have said they are retiring, or running for another office, or resigning. Democrats need to win 23 seats in the November elections to retake a majority in the House, which Republicans have controlled since 2011.

Democrats believe that voter concerns over rising medical costs and Republican plans to cut Medicare and Medicaid will assist them in their fight to retake the House.

Trump said in a post on Twitter: “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

Ryan was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 from Wisconsin at age 28 and was quickly pegged as a Republican rising star. He became 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s vice presidential running mate, but Romney was beaten by incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama.

In Congress, Ryan earned a reputation as a fiscal policy expert, serving as chairman of the House Budget Committee from 2011 until 2015, but as speaker was a driving force behind a Republican tax overhaul passed by Congress last year that is projected to balloon the federal deficit.

California Commits Massive Medicaid Fraud

By David Catron

Study: Each Resettled Refugee Costs Taxpayers $15,900 a Year

by IAN MASON  6 Feb 2018

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a pro-American immigration think tank, issued a study Monday showing a strikingly high price tag for resettling refugees in the United States.

When they combined resettlement costs with Medicaid, Food Stamps, public education, public housing, and a bevy of other government programs and benefits, the study’s authors, Matthew O’Brien and Spencer Raley arrived at a figure of $79,600 in taxpayer costs for the first five years of an average refugee’s stay in the U.S., which annualizes to $15,900.

The figures do not include an assessment negative societal impact, if any, from refugee resettlement. The authors write:

It is important to note that this analysis does not address the costs associated with any incurred national security and law enforcement costs associated with some refugees who pose a threat. The total price of additional vetting and screening expenditures, law enforcement and criminal justice costs, and federal homeland security assistance to state and local agencies is hard to quantify.

The $15,900 price tag does not tell the entire fiscal story of refugee resettlement. As advocates of permissive refugee and asylum policy are apt to point out, many refugees do work and contribute to the American economy after resettlement. That contribution has proven difficult to quantify, however. Left-leaning PolitiFact, for example, concluded the extent of that contribution is unclear after a draft Obama-era Health and Human Services report on the matter found a massive offsetting contribution, but was rejected in September.

The FAIR study’s authors, however, provide some data that suggest pessimism as to refugees’ ability to offset their welfare burden in the short-term. “According to [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] ORR, refugees’ earnings are meager throughout their first five years in the United States, increasing from $10.22/hour to $10.86/ hour – only a 6.3 percent increase over five years, on average,” they explain.

Unlike other types of immigration, refugee resettlement is an explicitly humanitarian endeavor. Refugee policy has never been based on a purely fiscal calculation. But, as FAIR’s authors stress, “As the nation considers what levels of immigration we can fiscally and environmentally sustain, it is important to understand the costs of resettling both refugees.”

“Reflecting America’s long tradition of providing refuge to the oppressed, we have admitted over 3.5 million people since 1980 and 96,900 refugees just in the last year in 2016,” reads the study’s summary, concluding:

We continue to admit refugees at a rate of roughly 50,000 to 100,000 refugees per year and 20,000-50,000 political asylees per year. Most of this cohort arrives here without financial resources and possessing few marketable job skills. And the American taxpayer is being asked to feed, clothe and shelter them, in addition to funding job training programs.

The FAIR study’s findings largely comport with the 2015 results of another pro-American immigration reform group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). At that time, CIS found a figure $64,370 per Middle Eastern refugee during the first five years of resettlement.

Sen. Dick Durbin: I’m Working ‘Full Time’ for DACA Illegal Aliens

by JOHN BINDER 16 Jan 2018Washington, D.C.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) says his sole focus in Congress is making sure illegal aliens are given amnesty to remain permanently in the United States.

In comments on Monday, Durbin said it is illegal aliens, not his Illinois constituents, who he is working “full time” and around the clock for.

Durbin said:

Listen, politics ain’t beanbag. When you get into tough, complicated, contentious issues, sometimes rhetoric gets very fiery. If you don’t have a tough skin, this is not a good business to get into. I know what happened. I stand behind every word that I said in terms of that meeting. I’m focused on one thing — not that meeting — but on making sure that those who are being protected by DACA and eligible for the DREAM Act have a future in America. I am focused on that full time. [Emphasis added]

In the statement, Durbin was referring to a meeting at the White House where President Trump allegedly asked lawmakers why the U.S. was admitting thousands of foreign nationals every year from “shithole countries,” though Trump and others at the meeting have denied the allegations.

Durbin, Democrats and the Republican establishment have scrambled together to negotiate with the White House on a deal where potentially millions of illegal aliens shielded from deportation by the President Obama-created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program are given amnesty.

Under Durbin’s DREAM Act, working and middle-class Americans would be put in further competition for U.S. jobs against up to 3.5 million newly legalized foreign nationals. A recent report found that 1 in 5 illegal aliens given amnesty under the DREAM Act would end up on food stamps and nearly 1 in 7 would end up on Medicaid, further straining the social safety net for America’s poor.

Kentucky first state to implement Medicaid work requirements…

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By Yasmeen Abutaleb

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kentucky on Friday became the first U.S. state to require that Medicaid recipients work or get jobs training, after gaining federal approval for the fundamental change to the 50-year-old health insurance program for the poor.

The approval came one day after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued policy guidance allowing states to design and propose test programs with such unprecedented requirements.

Kentucky’s waiver, submitted for federal approval in 2016, requires able-bodied adult recipients to participate in at least 80 hours per month of “employment activities,” including jobs training, education and community service.

Most recipients must pay a premium based on income. Some who miss a payment or fail to re-enroll will be locked out for six months. The new rules will go into effect in July, Kentucky state officials said.

“Kentucky will now lead on this issue,” Governor Matt Bevin said at a news conference on Friday. “They want the dignity associated with being able to earn and have engagement in the very things they’re receiving,” he said of Medicaid recipients.

Democrats and health advocacy groups blasted the federal policy on Thursday, saying it would make it tougher for the most vulnerable Americans to have access to health care. The Southern Poverty Law Center liberal advocacy group said it planned to file a legal challenge.

Certain groups are exempt, including former foster care youth, pregnant women, primary caregivers of a dependent, full-time students and the medically frail. The Trump administration also said states would have to make “reasonable modifications” for those battling opioid addiction and other substance-use disorders.

Kentucky, along with 30 other states, expanded Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level under the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement commonly called Obamacare.

More than 400,000 Kentucky residents gained health insurance through the program, the highest growth rate of Medicaid coverage of any state.

Among adult Medicaid recipients aged 18 to 64, 60 percent already have jobs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation health policy research group. Most adult Medicaid recipients who do not work reported major impediments as the reason, according to Kaiser.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has said that the program had become financially unsustainable under Obamacare, although the federal government covers the majority of its cost. The waiver is projected to reduce the number of people on Medicaid by nearly 86,000 within five years, saving more than $330 million.

At least nine additional states, mostly Republican led, have proposed similar changes to Medicaid: Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin.

Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb,; Editing by Alistair Bell and Richard Chang

*(ABOUT TIME) – PAUL RYAN TO STEP ASIDE IN ’18, LEAVE DC

Spirits were high inside the House chamber on Thursday, November 16, when, in the early afternoon, the gavel fell and a measure to rewrite the American tax code passed on a partisan tally of 227 to 205. As the deciding votes were cast—recorded in green on the black digital scoreboard suspended above the floor—the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, threw his head back and slammed his hands together. Soon he was engulfed in a sea of dark suits, every Republican lawmaker wanting to slap him on the shoulder and be a part of his moment.

Ryan was the man of the hour. Having spent a quarter-century in Washington—as an intern, waiter, junior think-tanker, Hill staffer and, since 1999, as a member of Congress—he had never wavered in his obsession with fixing what he viewed as the nation’s two fundamental weaknesses: its Byzantine tax system and ballooning entitlement state. Now, with House Republicans celebrating the once-in-a-generation achievement of a tax overhaul, Ryan was feeling both jubilant and relieved—and a little bit greedy. Reveling in the afterglow, Ryan remarked to several colleagues how this day had proven they could accomplish difficult things—and that next year, they should set their sights on an even tougher challenge: entitlement reform. The speaker has since gone public with this aspiration, suggesting that 2018 should be the year Washington finally tackles what he sees as the systemic problems with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Tinkering with the social safety net is a bold undertaking, particularly in an election year. But Ryan has good reason for throwing caution to the wind: His time in Congress is running short.

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.

Ryan was tiring of D.C. even before reluctantly accepting the speakership. He told his predecessor, John Boehner, that it would be his last job in politics—and that it wasn’t a long-term proposition. In the months following Trump’s victory, he began contemplating the scenarios of his departure. More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season. Ryan has never loved the job; he oozes aggravation when discussing intra-party debates over “micro-tactics,” and friends say he feels like he’s running a daycare center. On a personal level, going home at the end of next year would allow Ryan, who turns 48 next month, to keep promises to family; his three children are in or entering their teenage years, and Ryan, whose father died at 55, wants desperately to live at home with them full-time before they begin flying the nest. The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020.

And yet speculation is building that, Ryan, even fresh off his tax-reform triumph, might not be able to leave on his own terms. He now faces a massive pileup of cannot-fail bills in January and February. It’s an outrageous legislative lift: Congress must, in the coming weeks, fund the government, raise the debt ceiling, modify spending caps, address the continuation of health-care subsidies, shell out additional funds for disaster relief and deal with the millions of undocumented young immigrants whose protected status has been thrown into limbo. It represents the most menacing stretch of Ryan’s speakership—one that will almost certainly require him to break promises made to his conference and give significant concessions to Democrats in exchange for their votes. To meet key deadlines, he’ll have to approve sizable spending increases and legal status for minors who came to the U.S. illegally—two things that could raise the ire of the GOP base and embolden his conservative rivals on Capitol Hill. There is no great outcome available, Ryan has conceded to some trusted associates—only survival. “Win the day. Win the next day. And then win the week,” Ryan has been preaching to his leadership team.

The speaker can’t afford to admit he’s a lame-duck—his fundraising capacity and dealmaking leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern. When asked at the end of a Thursday morning press conference if he was leaving soon, Ryan shot a quick “no” over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.

Soros says he wants to pay more taxes, but prefers Ireland where he paid less than $1,000

George Soros has joined a petition to scrap tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. But the billionaire prefers Ireland, where his hedge fund paid just $962 in taxes in 2013, according to Bloomberg.

Four hundred wealthy Americans have appealed to the US Congress urging Republican lawmakers not to cut their taxes. They say the GOP shouldn’t cut taxes for the wealthiest when the US debt is at all-time high and inequality is rising.

The letter, signed, among others, by George Soros and Steven Rockefeller, says the proposal “would lead to deep cuts in critical services such as education, Medicare, and Medicaid, and would hamper our nation’s ability to restore investments in our people and communities.”

The signatories are among the highest earning five percent of Americans, who have $1.5 million in assets or who are making $250,000 or more a year.

The proposed cuts are part of President Donald Trump’s program aimed to spur growth and jobs in the country. They would add at least $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the current national debt. This deficit “would leave us unable to meet our country’s current needs and restrict us in advancing any future investments,” the letter said.

One of the rich who signed the document is George Soros, who has always said wealthy people should pay more taxes. However, he prefers not to pay taxes in the United States, but in countries with more favorable tax laws.

In 2015 Bloomberg reported that Soros’ hedge fund paid $962 in tax in Ireland on $3,851 net income through 2013, while the remaining $7.2 billion operating income was allocated to investors.

A year later, Soros shut down the Irish company and set up another in the tax-friendly Caymans.

By the time the new company in the Caymans was created, Soros had reportedly funneled $13.3 billion in fees, which means he had dodged almost $7 billion in taxes if his business had been entirely located in the United States.