Tag Archives: Obama administration

21st Century Money-Laundering

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BOGOTA, Colombia – Forget bulk cash. It’s not the most convenient cross-border conveyance for a 21st-century money launderer.

A safer and increasingly attractive alternative for today’s criminal is electronic cash loaded on stored-value or prepaid cards. Getting them doesn’t require a bank account, and many types can be used anonymously.

U.S. crime fighters consider the cards a burgeoning threat that regulators haven’t adequately addressed.

In the past year, said John Tobon, a senior U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, the cards have become the preferred means of paying couriers who transport illicit drugs across the U.S.

No one knows how big a role the cards play in moving more than $20 billion in drug earnings that U.S. authorities estimate crosses from the U.S. to Mexico annually. While anyone crossing that border with $10,000 or more in cash must declare it, prepaid cards are legally exempt.

“These prepaid cards are offering them (criminals) a great alternative to sneak into our financial system,” Tobon said.

It was bank and wire-transfer records that enabled law enforcement to identify the 9/11 hijackers and their overseas cells. “Had the 9/11 terrorists used prepaid (stored-value) cards to cover their expenses, none of these financial footprints would have been available,” a U.S. Treasury Department report observed.

The cards are barely distinguishable from credit or debit cards and the most versatile let users reload them remotely without having to reveal their identity. Some cards can process tens of thousands of dollars a month.

“I’m not so sure we have a sophisticated understanding of how to deal with this,” said Richard Stana, who oversaw a report on prepaid access for the General Accounting Office, the U.S. Congress’ research arm.

Prepaid cards also are changing the way law-abiding citizens, businesses and governments handle money. Walmart uses them to distribute payrolls, U.S. government agencies to deliver benefits and migrant workers to send money home.

In the U.S. alone, an estimated $107 billion moved on branded prepaid cards last year, according to Aite Group, a financial-research firm. Globally, the Boston Consulting Group forecasts, transactions with reloadable prepaid cards will reach $840 billion a year by 2017.

An October report by the 34-nation Financial Action Task Force cites just a half dozen laundering cases involving prepaid cards in their short history – each involving from $200,000 to $5 million and most in the U.S.

The Treasury wants businesses selling cards that can be used internationally to keep customer identity records and report suspicious transactions. That would affect more than 43,000 U.S. sellers. The prepaid-card industry objects, saying that would hike administrative expenses, with the costs passed on to consumers.

US Judge Dismisses Targeted Kill Program

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A judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit seeking to halt the Obama administration’s program to capture or kill American citizens who join militant groups abroad, a case involving a Muslim cleric in Yemen.

The ruling was a defeat for civil liberties groups that brought the lawsuit on behalf of the father of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who joined al Qaeda in Yemen and has been tied to plots against the United States.

U.S. District Judge John Bates threw out the lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds. Bates said the father lacked legal standing to bring the case and that his claims presented political questions that cannot be decided by the courts, requiring dismissal of the lawsuit without addressing the heart of the allegations.

The lawsuit aimed to halt the program and reveal the criteria the Obama administration set for targeting someone.

U.S. officials have refused to officially confirm the existence of the program, although they have said the CIA gave the green light to capture or kill al-Awlaki, who has never been tried or convicted of any terrorism-related crime.

“The serious issues regarding the merits of the alleged authorization of the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen overseas must await another day or another (non-judicial) forum,” Bates concluded in his 83-page ruling.

The judge called it a unique, extraordinary case. “Vital considerations of national security and military and foreign affairs … are at play,” he wrote.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the groups that brought the case, said it still believed the U.S. government’s power to use lethal force against American citizens should be subject to meaningful court oversight.

“If the court’s ruling is correct, the government has unreviewable authority to carry out the targeted killing of any American, anywhere, whom the president deems to be a threat to the nation,” said Jameel Jaffer, the group’s deputy legal director.


Al-Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and who lived in Virginia until leaving the United States shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks, has been sought by Yemeni authorities who also want to capture or kill him.

U.S. officials have described al-Awlaki as having a leadership role in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In addition to communicating with the U.S. Army major who gunned down 13 people at a military base in Texas last year, he has urged attacks on the United States in Internet videos and writings.

The al Qaeda affiliate has said it was behind the plot by a Nigerian man who tried to blow up a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underwear. The group also said it was involved in a more recent plot to send package bombs via U.S. cargo carriers.

Assistant Attorney General Tony West said he was pleased with the ruling and called al-Awlaki “very dangerous.”

If al-Awlaki wants access to the U.S. court system, then he should surrender to authorities and “be held accountable for his actions,” West told reporters at the Justice Department

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Americans Didn’t Reject Obama’s Policies, They Rejected The Economy

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Mr. Obama has made up his mind. The voters did not reject him or his policies on Tuesday. They just rejected the economy. Never mind that it is his policies that have made things worse.

We’ve heard this now since last Wednesday. Mr. Obama has taken it as his mantra that “it’s the economy stupid” and also that people are too stupid to understand what awesome things he has been doing for them.

More significantly, Mr. Obama has taken to repeating that he was just responding to a crisis. He thinks there was no “overreach” just a “perception” of an overreach.

It was, therefore, the message not the policy.

Let’s be clear here — this is the administration with the internal mantra of “never let a crisis go to waste.”

Mr. Obama may believe he was just responding to a crisis, but much of what he did was not part of the crisis. Bailing out and expanding unions was not part of the crisis. Propping up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac was not part of the crisis — heck, they caused the crisis.

Attacking American job creators with language harsher than that used to attack Al Qaeda, Iran, and North Korea was not part of the crisis.

And, most obviously, taking over the American health care system was not part of the crisis. That was part of not letting the crisis go to waste.

For two years now, the Democrats have told us that Barack Obama is the best communicator since God first said “Let there be light.”

Today, they and Mr. Obama himself, would have you believe was a communications problem, not a policy repudiation.

According to Tuesday’s exit polls, a majority of Americans blame Wall Street Bankers for causing the economic collapse. It looks like they got Barack Obama’s message. The problem for Barack Obama is that those people voted overwhelmingly for the Republicans.

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Mid-Terms Cause Obama To Adjust To New Political Climate

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Voters threw a bucket of cold water on Democrats in this week’s midterm elections. As the chief Democrat and commander in chief, President Obama must dry off and adjust to a new political climate.

It will be tempting for the White House to feign a course correction and bipartisanship, but not really change course.

The president, for instance, might refuse to see the elections as a referendum on his leadership, justifying that outlook by exit polls that showed equal dissatisfaction with both parties. And, after all, these were races for congressional, state, and local offices, not for the Oval Office.

Mr. Obama might also see the country as more disappointed by the economy, than by his stewardship, though he said today he took responsibility for failure to grow jobs more quickly. He might also view the House turnover to the GOP as a distorted public statement – the result of a Republican base that was simply more fired up than his own party.

There’s an element of truth in all of these conclusions. But if the president focuses on them, he’ll miss the larger truth that this “shellacking,” as he put it, was also a referendum on Obama Part I.

A majority of voters, 54 percent, disapproved of the job he’s doing, and a similar percent said his policies will harm the country, according to exit polls. And voters who sided with Obama two years ago – independents and women – sidestepped to the GOP this time.

With Republican John Boehner as the presumptive House speaker and with substantial GOP gains in the Senate, Obama will have to take a lesson from Bill Clinton, who moved to the middle after the Democrats lost both houses in the midterms of 1994.

President Clinton was often ridiculed for his small steps in governing – remember his push for school uniforms? But divided government has a way of forcing a president to reduce his stride.

Obama campaigned as a big-ideas, transformational president. Now he’ll have to take another approach. He acknowledged today that there’s more than one way of “skinning the cat” on climate-change legislation. He’ll need to focus more on energy and less on climate; rely more on the states and private industry, and less on the federal government.

He’s also unlikely to make headway with sweeping immigration reform, another campaign promise. But two more years to prove his credentials as an enforcer of immigration law could make reform easier in the long run.

Big ideas are still possible under divided government; they just require compromise. Clinton and Republicans worked together for welfare reform and a balanced budget agreement. George W. Bush worked with Democrats on the landmark No Child Left Behind Act.
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Biden Not Campaigning on Adminstration’s Accomplishments Because It’s Too Hard To Explain

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He’s flown 330,000 miles since taking office, the equivalent of circling the globe 13 times, much of it campaigning for Democrats and telling anxious voters that the $814 billion stimulus measure is working. Vice President Joe Biden knows it’s a hard sell.

“Less bad is never good enough,” Biden said in an interview on board Air Force Two on Oct. 8, the same day that Labor Department figures showed the jobless rate held steady at 9.6 percent in September, the last yardstick before voters in the Nov. 2 elections determine which party controls Congress.

“Voters want to be told the truth,” Biden said on the way to Madison, Wisconsin, jacketless, kneeling against the back of an airplane seat and holding gold-trimmed aviator sunglasses. “They want to know, ‘Tell me, man, do I have a shot?’” he said, his enthusiasm undeterred by a cold.

With unemployment topping 9.5 percent for 14 straight months, Biden is having difficulty trumpeting the 3.3 million jobs created or saved by the White House’s economic stimulus.

“It’s just really hard to convince people that when there weren’t, up until the first of the year, when there weren’t net new jobs it’s awful hard to say, ‘It’s working,’” he said at the end of a three-state campaign swing Oct. 7-8 for four Democratic candidates in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Washington. “It’s counterintuitive.”

Middle-Class Emissary

As President Barack Obama’s emissary to middle-class voters, Biden has visited 27 cities in 17 states, stumping for 24 Democratic candidates in just the last month.

Eleven of those stops were in middle-income areas of Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Obama was defeated in the 2008 primaries and Biden’s middle-class roots — he grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania — may be an asset.

When Biden meets people in a crowd he cups their faces, pinches their cheeks, and eagerly poses for pictures. At a recent rally he teased one woman: “Can I have my picture taken with you?”

“He’s certainly got much more of a common touch than Obama does, there’s no question about that,” said Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Still Biden, 67, has “a colossal selling job” to do, saidBaker. “You’re talking about mass merchandising at a time when the value of the product is uncertain.”

Childhood Memories

Biden draws on his own childhood, the son of a car salesman who was laid off, to tell voters he feels their pain.

“I am angry, I am angry because I see what happened to middle-class people,” Biden said at a fundraising dinner for Senate candidate Robin Carnahan in Springfield, Missouri.

“People like my parents, like my family, people I know, people I grew up with, who have just been battered by the greed, battered by the indifference,” he said, his voice reaching a crescendo.

Carnahan is running against Republican Representative Roy Blunt for Senator Kit Bond’s Senate seat. The contest is on the non-partisan Cook Political Report’s list of the 11 most competitive U.S. Senate races.

Biden sent Obama a 25-page report released Oct. 1 that said the stimulus has created or preserved 3.3 million jobs and is on pace to create the intended 3.5 million jobs. The money was obligated quickly and with little fraud, the report said.

Voter Skepticism

In an Oct. 7-10 Bloomberg National Poll, 52 percent of likely voters said the stimulus package for state and local governments would weaken the economy or make no difference, compared with 44 percent who said it would make the economy stronger. Sixty percent said they disapprove of Obama’s handling of the budget deficit, which ballooned in part because of the stimulus. And 53 percent said they disapproved of Obama’s record of job creation. The poll of 721 likely voters has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

“People aren’t blaming Obama for the fact there’s a recession; they’re blaming him for the fact that it’s going on so long,” said James Bennett, 39, an information technology worker in Tacoma, Washington.

Republicans, who need a net gain of 39 seats to gain a majority in the 435-member House and a 10-seat pickup to take over the Senate, are seizing on the administration’s communication challenge.

In Washington state, Republican challenger Dino Rossi is running television advertisements accusing Senator Patty Murray of being “in the other Washington” while “we face lost jobs, lost savings and falling home prices.”

“She says she works for Washington, the question is which one?” the ad says.

On a rainy day in Tacoma, Biden told a crowd of about 1,000 people at an outdoor rally for Murray that he welcomes the fight.

Boxer’s Jab

“These rich guys always underestimate us, that’s one thing that I kind of like about it, that’s one of the parts of my job I’ve enjoyed over the years, a little straight left and a right hook, it works,” Biden said, imitating a boxer’s jabs, wearing a purple raincoat and baseball cap with the University of Washington insignia. Later on as the sun broke through he took off his jacket and rolled up his shirtsleeves.

Republicans say the stimulus didn’t live up to Obama’s billing.

“The massive growth of the federal government didn’t result in a similar growth of jobs,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement released Oct. 8.

Rebuts Republicans

Biden, in the interview, called Republican criticism “phony” and said the Labor Department report “shows how wrong they were” in limiting assistance for states. He said more jobs would have been created if Republicans had approved an additional $150 billion originally in the stimulus and the creation of an infrastructure bank.

Democrats aren’t running on the administration’s accomplishments like health-care and financial-regulatory overhaul and the stimulus because “it’s just too hard to explain,” Biden said. “It sort of a branding, I mean you know they kind of want the branding more at the front end.”

In contrast to Obama’s style, Biden speaks to voters like they are his neighbors and often has been accused of speaking too honestly and too much.

“You’re the dullest audience I’ve ever spoken to,” Biden chided 340 people paying more attention to their scrambled eggs and bacon than to him at an Oct. 7 fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett in Madison, Wisconsin.

“It’s the message itself, not the messenger,” said Baker. “It’s certainly not the strength of his persuasive powers but rather the receptivity of people.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at kandersen7@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva@bloomberg.net
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This Week in Politics – September 20, 2010

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by Brian Darling

The House has 39 suspension votes scheduled for Wednesday and possible work final passage of TARP, Jr. (H.R. 5297 – the Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010), as amended by the Senate for this week. The Senate will debate and vote on the motion to proceed to S.3454, the Department of Defense Authorization bill. There will be no roll call votes during Monday’s session of the Senate, but a vote on cloture is expected on Tuesday.

The big controversy in the Senate this week is over the Defense Authorization Bill. There are the numerous controversial issues that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is seeking to tack on to the measure. The hot button issues of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the DREAM Act and non defense related matters may be added to the legislation during the Amendment process. Expect a critical vote Tuesday on the question of whether the Senate will even proceed to debate on the bill

Extension of the ‘01/’03 Tax Cuts is another issue expected for debate this week, but there is no clarity on whether the Democrats roll out of town to campaign for re-election.

Does President Obama know that he is the best thing to happen to the conservative movement since Ronald Reagan? The New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is considering a campaign against the Tea Party. So much for the lefty talking point that all politics is local in the ‘10 Elections.

President Obama’s political advisers, looking for ways to help Democrats and alter the course of the midterm elections in the final weeks, are considering a range of ideas, including national advertisements, to cast the Republican Party as all but taken over by Tea Party extremists, people involved in the discussion said.

There is no rational explanation for this. It is as if the President is part of the Republican get out the vote effort. This year has proven to be the largest turnout of Republicans in the primary season since the early 70s and Democrats have depressed turn out numbers. This effort on the part of the Obama Administration seems ill conceived.

Then you pick up the Wall Street Journal and the story line gets more surreal. The Wall Street Journal reports that President Obama has decided, mere weeks before the election, that this is a great time to attempt a re-education campaign to convince the American people that ObamaCare is good for them. Has he looked at any recent polling on ObamaCare?

From the WSJ:

The Obama administration this week plans to revive its pitch for the health-care overhaul, hoping that a slate of consumer-friendly provisions will boost public support before midterm elections. Starting Thursday, insurers officially must adhere to about a half-dozen key changes under the law, including eliminating co-payments for preventive services and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance policy until their 26th birthday. Democrats structured the provisions so they would kick in right before the elections, thinking incumbents would have a tangible achievement to promote on the campaign trail.

First of all, the polling for ObamaCare is bad for liberals. The WSJ reports that taxes and jobs are the most important issue for voters. These issues are far more important than a education campaign on the merits of ObamaCare.

But public support for the law continues to lag, with Americans split roughly in half over whether they support it, and the debate over jobs and taxes is squeezing the health law out of Democrats’ election narrative.

Furthermore, Democrats are more likely to campaign against ObamaCare rather than support it. More from the WSJ story:

In recent weeks, insurance companies have started mailing consumers letters informing them of double-digit rate increases starting this month, partially attributing them to the mandates that begin Thursday. That is sowing confusion among consumers, and muddying the Democrats’ contention that the law will rein in sharply rising premiums. The administration is chiding insurers for such increases, saying the new benefits only minimally increase insurers’ costs.

The Obama Administration really does not get it. They are going to attack the Tea Party and campaign in support of ObamaCare. It is as if the Republican National Committee is writing the strategy for the Democrats. Are they sitting in a room and saying, “how can we make this worse?”

As Americans are receiving notices that the rates on insurance is going sky high as a result of ObamaCare, this is the time to push for the idea of repeal of ObamaCare. The law is a disaster for the economy and average Americans.

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Obama admin gives illegal aliens backdoor amnesty

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by Dan Spencer
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

The so-called backdoor amnesty for illegal aliens is no longer merely another bad idea from the Obama administration. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to dismiss thousands of deportation cases against “suspected illegal immigrants.”

The Chronicle reports the Obama amnesty effort began “about a month ago” in Houston, where the Department of Homeland Security now has five attorneys working full-time on this backdoor amnesty for illegal aliens. The amnesty program is expected to be rolled out nationwide soon.

Senator John Cornyn blasted the Obama amnesty:

This situation is just another side effect of President Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise to make immigration reform a priority in his first year. Until he does, state and local authorities are left with no choice but to pick up the slack for prosecuting and detaining criminal aliens.

Earlier this year, President Obama affirmed his support for the Schumer/Graham immigration legislation outline.

Obama ran for president promising secure borders, increased number of legal immigrants, to remove incentives for illegal immigration, and to allow undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

President Obama promised to make immigration reform a top priority of the first year of his presidency. When Obama backed away from that promise, Politifact rated his promise stalled.

As I have said before, Amnesty for illegal, whether it is backdoor or contained in a comprehensive reform bill, sends a simple message – get into the United States anyway you can because eventually you will be legalized. That message will be heard loud and clear just as it was with the adoption of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (”IRCA”). That “immigration reform” legalized four million illegal aliens. IRCA was a monumental failure. Twenty-odd years later there millions of new illegal aliens to legalize.

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Minority leader Boehner: Fire Obama’s economic team, extend tax cuts

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By Paul Kane and Michael D. Shear
Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CLEVELAND — House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Tuesday for the mass firing of the Obama administration’s economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House adviser Larry Summers, arguing that November’s midterm elections are shaping up as a referendum on sustained unemployment across the nation and saying the “writing is on the wall.”

Boehner said President Obama‘s team lacks “real-world, hands-on experience” in creating jobs that are needed for a full economic recovery. The Republican lawmaker cited reports that some senior aides complained of “exhaustion,” including the recently departed budget chief Peter Orszag.

(44: Boehner not the only one who wants Geithner out)

“President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council,” Boehner said in the morning speech to business leaders at the City Club of Cleveland. The mass dismissal, he added, would be “no substitute for a referendum on the president’s job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies.”

Vice President Biden lashed back at Boehner, called his “so-called” economic plan nothing but a list of what Republicans are against and devoid of innovative new ideas that can help move the country forward.

In a sarcastic tone, Biden thanked Boehner for the suggestion that the president fire his top economic advisers.

“Very constructive advice and we thank the leader for that,” Biden said.

With President Obama on vacation Martha’s Vineyard, the White House largely left it to Biden to respond to the speech. He accused Boehner and the GOP of wanting to take the country back to failed policies of the past.

“Mr. Boehner is nostalgic for those good old days, but Americans are not…We’ve seen this movie before Mr. Boehner,” Biden said. “We’ve seen it before. And we know how it ends.”

Calls for Cabinet officials to be fired is nothing new for the party out of power — during the Bush administration many Democrats called for the ouster of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a demand that was not met until Democrats swept the 2006 midterms.

Bill Burton, the White House deputy press secretary, said he had reviewed Boehner’s speech and found “what was most surprising was his full-throated defense of the indefensible,” a reference to the congressman’s proposal to give tax breaks to companies that Burton said “ship jobs overseas.”

He rejected Boehner’s call for Obama to dismiss Geithner and Summers, saying the “irony of this is that Boehner would fire the people who made the tough decisions, who did the hard work to get the economy going again.”

In his speech, Boehner sought to personalize mounting concerns among voters about Obama’s handling of the economic recovery – arguing that Obama’s advisers unfairly highlight brief signs of marginal improvement to suggest a coming surge in job creation.

“The American people are asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ and all the president’s economic team has to offer are promises of ‘green shoots’ that never seem to grow,” Boehner said. “The worse things get, the more they circle the wagons and defend the indefensible.” After the speech, he held a question-and-answer session with business leaders in this economically distressed Rust Belt city.

Democratic National Committee officials organized a conference call Monday to critique what they consider a lack of new proposals from the GOP and unveil a Web ad rehashing attack lines against the minority leader, including a 15-year-old story about handing out campaign checks from tobacco companies to Republicans on the House floor.

“It was John Boehner and Republicans who invented the ways of Washington,” the narrator says in the ad.

House Republicans do not plan to unveil a detailed policy agenda until late September, and Boehner’s speech did not expand the GOP’s existing economic proposals in any significant way. The speech was part of a bus tour of battleground House districts, focusing on manufacturing-centric regions such as Indiana, Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

Boehner told the City Club officials that the key to sparking job growth is extending the tax cuts implemented by then-President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts across the board, while Democrats have argued for extensions to all but the top 2 percent of income earners. Both proposals would result in sharp increases in deficit spending — more than $3 trillion under the Democratic plan and $3.7 trillion for the GOP plan — but both sides argue that some extension of tax cuts would provide an additional stimulus to spur consumer purchasing power.

Boehner needs a net gain of 39 or more Republican seats to seize control of the House and fulfill his self-proclaimed campaign of “Boehner for Speaker.” No issue will be more key to that effort than the economy. In Boehner’s home state of Ohio — a critical battleground in the past two presidential campaigns — unemployment has remained higher than the national average, at 10.3 percent in July. Neighboring Indiana is barely better, at 10.2 percent.

Vulnerable House Democrats from Ohio have embraced Obama’s stimulus legislation as something that has, at the least, helped mitigate the damage to the region. Rep. Zack Space (D), elected in 2006, last week hailed a $66 million grant from the Recovery Act to expand high-speed access to the Internet in his eastern Ohio district. Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) trumpeted a $1.6 million grant to a local port authority for a project that would ultimately create 500 jobs in his district. Republicans, however, say Obama’s Recovery Act has been a failure.

Boehner said that extending the tax cuts for all income brackets would help small business owners, who have been the toughest hit since the financial collapse of 2008. “Raising taxes on families and small businesses during a recession is a recipe for disaster – both for our economy and for the deficit. Period. End of story,” he said. “That’s why President Obama should work with Republicans to stop all of these job-killing tax hikes.”

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Staff writer Scott Wilson also contributed to this report. kanep@washpost.com

Obama vs. Obama on Afghanistan

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Huffington Post Video Editor Ben Craw has put together a devastating video of President Obama debating Senator Obama about Obama’s Afghanistan war strategy.

Craw accomplished this fete using clips of Senator Obama questioning Rice about Iraq in January 2007 with comments President Obama has made about his own Afghan exit strategy in a speech in March 2009, an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” in March 2009, an address to the nation in December 2009, remarks to the troops in Afghanistan in March, an interview with ABC in April, and an appearance on ABC’s “The View” in July.

Watch for yourself:


I can’t decide which is more infuriating, that the biased media wing of the Democrat party gives Obama a pass on such outrageous inconsistency, or that Obama always tries to be on both sides of so many issues. Just how stupid does the JournolLst crowd think the American people are?

Like Obama has done with issue after issue, his “new strategy” for the War in Afghanistan tries to have it both ways. Obama’s strategy is a Bush-like surge, but with a timetable for ending, not winning the war.

I remain an unrepentant supporter of the war against terror the Islamic extremists have forced upon us, but I find it very hard to support Obama’s Afghan “new strategy” because of his misguided artificial withdrawal date. As I have written before, a war our leaders are not willing to fight to win, is not a war we should fight.

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Obama Earmarks $1 Billion in Stimulus Money for Company in Illinois

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Posted by Brian Darling

The biggest earmark in American history has been doled out to a company in Illinois, the President’s home state, in the name of green jobs. The President’s $862 billion Stimulus plan has been an abysmal failure. It provided states and localities with billions in bailout moneys, funded wasteful projects like the Monkey cocaine study at Wake Forest and given false hope to Americans that the President has ideas to turn around the economy. This earmark is an outrage and the signature project of the President’s Stimulus plan. Thankfully, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is sounding the alarm bells and educating the American people to this new Obama outrage.

President Obama is earmarking $1 billion in Stimulus money “to build FutureGen 2.0, a clean coal repowering program and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage network” in his home state of Illinois. According to a Department of Energy press release, this billion is being provided to ”FutureGen Alliance, Ameren Energy Resources, Babcock & Wilcox, and Air Liquide Process & Costruction, Inc. to build FutureGen 2.0, a clean coal repowering program and carbon dioxide (CO2) storage network.” That is right — $1 billion. This is the largest earmark of money in U.S. history and they are taking money right out of your pocket to pay for it.

The Department of Energy projects 1,900 jobs as a result of $1,000,000,000 in new spending. This works out to $526,315.79 of your tax dollars spent per job. A half million dollars per job seems to be a bad deal for the taxpayer. Of more concern to the taxpayer, Senator Tom Coburn believes this project to be more about bringing home pork to Illinois than providing stimulus to average Americans.

According to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu yesterday:

Today’s announcement will help ensure the US remains competitive in a carbon constrained economy, creating jobs while reducing greenhouse gas pollution. This investment in the world’s first, commercial-scale, oxy-combustion power plant will help to open up the over $300 billion market for coal unit repowering and position the country as a leader in an important part of the global clean energy economy

Although the President promised to keep the $862 billion stimulus plan free from earmarks, this project was an earmark in the Stimulus, yet the Washington Post reported on March 6, 2009:

Deep inside the economic stimulus package is a $1 billion prize that, in five short words, shows the benefits of being in power in Washington. The funding, for “fossil energy research and development,” is likely to go to a power plant in a small Illinois town, a project whose longtime backers include a group of powerful lawmakers from the state, among them President Obama.

Now, the Department of Energy has announced the $1 billion in funding for the earmark in President Obama’s home state. This earmark funnels tax dollars from Americans to Illinois. Senator Tom Coburn criticized the first version of this project, FutureGen 1.0, and an argues that this project calls in to question President Obama’s Stimulus plan.

Senator Coburn said of the $1 billion earmark:

This costly and gratuitous earmark further calls into question the integrity of the Recovery Act. This decision appears to have more to do with politics and geography than science. FutureGen 1.0 was called ‘YesterGen’ because it had little scientific value. Now, taxpayers are being forced to finance the largest pork-barrel project in our nation’s history with borrowed money. Adding another $1 billion to our debt for a dubious project will only delay our recovery.

Coburn isn’t the only one concerned. Some greenies on left argue that this project is not efficient and will not do enough to protect the environment. The original FutureGen plan was scaled back and the promises of capturing 90% of carbon emissions became a promise FutureGen could not keep.

The environmental group, the Clean Air Taskforce, was quoted in the Wyoming Business Report:

The reinstatement of FutureGen should be an important milestone and a day for celebration. Unfortunately, it is not. In scaling back the amount of carbon the plant will capture from 90 percent to 60 percent in order to cut costs, the Obama Administration has turned FutureGen to YesterGen.

For months, the Obama Administration and Congress said that the Stimulus language was not an earmark for this company in Illinois. We now know that assertion to be false. The actions yesterday from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu confirm suspicions that this is the biggest earmark in American history. FutureGen in Matoon, Illinois gets $1 billion and average Americans are provided with the bill.

President Obama, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Secretary Chu need to explain to the American people how this happened. How did this earmark get into the Stimulus? Why is the Obama Administration funnelling $1 billion into Illinois for a project of dubious effectiveness. Unemployment today stands at 9.5% and the Stimulus has proven to have had no effect on unemployment rates.

Ths President’s Stimulus is a failure and many on the Hill are concerned about this project as evidence of special treatment for some companies in the President’s home state. This is exactly the type of waste, fraud and abuse that motivate average Americans to join the Tea Party movement to continue to distrust the federal government

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