Florida veterans hit with massive property insurance rate increase on Veterans Day

Many of Florida’s 1.6 million veterans have their property insurance with United Services Automobile Association (USAA). USAA’s membership base is primarily active duty military, military retirees, veterans and their families. Over the Veterans Day weekend policyholders received their new USAA policies. Florida’s veterans were shocked that, for a second year in a row, they are being hit with a massive increase in property insurance rates. Most of Florida’s veterans are on a fixed income.

Senior Chief Geoff Ross USN (Ret.) from Navarre, Florida in an email to WDW – FL writes, “Today your friendly Senior Chief got into a pissing contest with his homeowners insurance company USAA. They just can’t stop jacking up my rates this time almost doubling my policy. So in my polite and cordial tone I called them up and politely told them where to shove their new rate. The lady actually was very nice and tried very hard not to lose me as a customer after 14 years with this company.”

A Sarasota County veteran who has been a member of USAA for thirty-nine years, saw the property insurance on his modest home go up $741.95. According to his USAA policy, “Of this amount, $693.26 is due to a rate increase, and $48.69 is due to other changes initiated by you or us.” Nothing changed on his home in 2013, which was built in 1990, and he changed nothing on his policy other than increase his deductibles in 2012 to reduce his premium. He raised his risk to keep his costs down, as he is on a fixed income.

WDW – FL contributor Ruth Roman wrote, “Flood insurance premiums for Floridians are expected to rise sharply as the result of new rate hikes which have gone into effect October 1, 2013.  ‘They are not aware of what is about to hit them,’ said Pattit Latshaw of St. Petersburg-based Wright National Flood Insurance Co., the largest underwriter of federal flood insurance in the U.S. The repercussions of these hikes will be devastating for homeowners and small businesses alike.”

When the Sarasota veteran contacted USAA about why the dramatic and costly increase he was referred to paragraph 6 of his policy which states in bold letters, “IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA LEGISLATION SB1486, LAW AND ORDINANCE COVERAGE IS AN IMPORTANT COVERAGE THAT YOU MAY WISH TO PURCHASE. YOU MAY ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE FROM THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM. WITHOUT THIS COVERAGE, YOU MAY HAVE UNCOVERED LOSSES. PLEASE DISCUSS THESE COVERAGES WITH YOUR INSURANCE AGENT.”

The Sarasota veteran’s USAA policy also states in paragraph 9, “Your policy does NOT cover loss due to flood from any source. For information about obtaining flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), call USAA at (800) 531-8722, or contact the NFIP directly.”

The NFIP website states, “In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. As the law is implemented, some of these changes have already occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the program more financially stable, and change how Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact policyholders. The changes will mean premium rate increases for some – but not all — policyholders over time.”

Florida is hardest hit as it is both flood and hurricane prone. The Sarasota veterans home is not in, but is near, a floodplain. The Sarasota, Florida veteran also noted that his property insurance policy includes coverage for: Volcanic Eruption; Weight of Ice, Snow or Sleet; Explosion; Riot or Civil Commotion; and Aircraft.

If the Sarasota veteran’s home is not in a flood plain then what caused such a dramatic increase in his annual property insurance premium? Answer: Surcharges.

His USAA policy statement under “surcharges” lists the following:

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT FUND $2.00
FL HURRICANE CATASTROPHE FUND (FHCF) PREMIUM RECOUPMENT $276.45
FL HURRICANE CATASTROPHE EMERGENCY ASSESSMENT $48.51
CITIZENS EMERGENCY ASSESSMENT $37.32
FL INSURANCE GUARANTY ASSOCIATION RECOUPMENT $22.12

Total – $386.40

Chief Ross noted something else strange when talking with his USAA insurance agent.

ross fish pond

Chief Ross’ Koi fish pond. For a larger view click on the image.

“Well what was interesting was this fact. I put in a Koi fish pond a few years ago in my backyard. Its pretty cool and it has fed many Blue Herons in the past that swoop in and steal my aquatic buddies. But check this out. The lady on the phone said I have a beautiful house and my back yard is lovely with a lovely pond. Let me tell you boys and girls I did not tell my insurance company I put in a Koi pond. There is only one way you can see this feature due to my location and that is from the air,” notes Ross.

Ross concludes, “Using my superior skills of decisive intellect and previous life hanging out with CIA operators I conclude these people took aerial pictures of my house to see if I am adding improvements, pool, etc.I am so isolated out here surrounded by trees etc. the only way to see in my back is from above. I asked the lady how did she know I have a fish pond in my backyard and she did not reply. I could here her shuffling the pictures of my home around in her hand. Boys and girls if you have homeowners insurance with USAA and you put in a swimming pool or add on a new room they will know about it…… look above you for the satellite taking pictures. Skinny dippers beware.”

So veterans across Florida are faced with either paying the higher premiums, taking on more risk to reduce their property insurance rate or cancelling their USAA policy. Happy Veterans Day 2013!

Have Senators Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson and Rep. Vern Buchanan turned Florida into a permanent state of dependency?

Three key members of Congress from Florida are Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL District 16). These three men are perhaps the most powerful and influential in the sunshine state. Each has voted in different ways which may have turned Florida into a permanent state of dependency. Each is key to major events occurring in Washington, D.C. such as the national debt, the sequester, government spending and amnesty.

Senator Rubio has become the face of immigration reform and amnesty. Senator Nelson has consistently voted in favor of amnesty and to grow and expand government. Representative Buchanan, along with 86 House Republicans, on October 16th voted to raise the debt ceiling, continue funding government via a continuing resolution and fully implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

According to ImmigrationReform.com, “What Republicans will get from amnesty and continued mass immigration is a lot of new voters who are likely to vote against them – like, about 32 million of them by 2036. Most of the new voters who could be added to the voter rolls as a result of amnesty and increased legal immigration are likely to support bigger government. Among Hispanic voters, whom some Republicans hope to attract by supporting amnesty, 75 percent say they want bigger government, which provides more services and benefits. Only 19 percent say they support smaller government. This is hardly fertile recruiting grounds for the party that stands for cutting the size and scope of government.”

Since 2000, Florida and those living in Florida legally and illegally have become more dependent on federal and state government benefits, grants, funding and largesse.

The Institute for Truth in Accounting state database for Florida, with charts, shows just how dependent the state is on federal programs and funding. Some examples include:

  • Medicaid enrollment has increased from 1.5 million to 3 million since 2000. Medicaid recipients are now over 15% of the population of Florida, up from 10% in 2000. (Under the Affordable Care Act more of those living in Florida will get benefits as eligibility has expanded.)
  • Medicaid spending in Florida has risen from $7.5 billion in 2000 to $17.5 billion in 2011.
  • The Florida poverty rate (ACS) has risen from 13% in 2000 to 17% in 2011 with the PCS poverty rate going from 11% in 2000 to 15% in 2011.
  •  Florida Food Stamp (SNAP) participation has gone from 900,000 in 2000 to over 3 million in 2011.  In 2011 Florida had 16% of its population on SNAP.
  • Federal funds distributed per capita was nearly $10,000 in 2009.
  • State government spending has risen from 8.5% in 2000 to over 12% in 2011 as a percentage of nominal GDP.
  • Total Florida expenditures has risen from $68 billion in 2005 to $82 billion in 2011.
  • Florida state debt has risen from 4.1% of GDP in 2005 to 5.9% in 2011 (it peaked at 6% in 2008).
  • Florida’s total retirement liabilities have risen from less than $.25 billion in 2009 to over $1 billion in 2012 with $13 billion undisclosed. This has happened even as the number of government employees has dropped from 6.1% of the population in 2000 to 5.8% of the population in 2012.
  • Total revenue has gone from $75 billion in 2005 to $102 billion in 2011. Total revenues dropped to $47 billion in 2009 and have doubled since then.
  • Intergovernmental revenues have increased from $19 billion in 2005 to $27 billion in 2011. Intergovernmental expenditures have gone from $17 billion in 2005 to $20 billion in 2011.
  • Expenditures on public education have risen from $14 billion in 2000 to $24 billion in 2010.
  • From 2000 t0 2012 personal income per capita has gone from $30,000 to $40,000.

Florida is becoming more dependent on federal funding to meet its obligations. Those living in Florida have grown to depend on federal and state programs to subsist. Florida now has three distinct classes: the wealthy class, the working class and the dependent class. This does not bode well for a efforts to reduce government spending, cut federal and state programs and reduce Florida’s dependence on government.

RELATED COLUMNS:

1 in 3 Florida retirees who receive Social Security survive solely on government checks – Sun Sentinel

Institute for Truth in Accounting finds Florida can’t pay its bills!

According to analysis by the Institute for Truth in Accounting (ITA), Florida does not have enough assets available ($59 billion), to pay the state’s bills, ($74 billion). The difference between assets and bills is $15 billion. That debt divided by the number of taxpayers reveals Florida’s per-taxpayer burden of $2,500 in 2012.  Only seven states–Alaska, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Nebraska, and Wyoming–achieved a per-taxpayer surplus in 2012.

“Florida lagged behind the 180 day goal time between the close of its fiscal year and release of its 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), publishing the report 221 days after the fiscal year-end,” according to ITA.

SNAPSHOT BY THE NUMBERS

Florida’s Bills Exceed Its Assets:

  • Assets *$179.24
  • Less: Capital Assets *$94.96
  • Restricted Assets *$24.80
  • Assets Available to Pay Bills *$59.48
  • Less: Bills *$74.29
  • Money Needed to Pay Bills *$14.81
  • Each Taxpayer’s Burden$2,500.00

The Bills Florida has Accumulated:

  • State Bonds *$39.48
  • Other Liabilities *$34.18
  • Less: Debt Related to Capital Assets *$12.75
  • Unfunded Pension Benefits *$6.80
  • Unfunded Retirees’ Health Care Benefits *$6.59
  • Bills *$74.29

* Figures in billions

More detail on Florida’s assets and liabilities can be found in the Florida State of the State (2011). Link to FL CAFR: Florida Comprehensive Annual Financial Report. Publishing Entity:  Florida Chief Financial Officer. According to the ITA:

  • Florida’s per-taxpayer burden shrank to $2,500 in 2012, and the state’s rank remained 14th.
  • With an average personal income of $40,344, Florida’s taxpayer burden shrank marginally to 6.2% of a year’s income.
  • Florida’s unemployment rate was 8.6%, compared to a national average of 8.1% in 2012.
  • Outbound moves from Florida in 2012 were 45.3% of total moves, compared to inbound moves of 54.7%, meaning that the state attracted more people and businesses than the number that left.
  • Florida’s financial reports disclose only $1 billion of retirement liabilities, leaving $13.3 billion undisclosed.
  • Florida’s ‘Net Revenue’ (total general revenue less total net expenses) was positive in 2012 and was negative in only one of the past seven years (2009). This amount, however, does not include changes in liabilities not fully disclosed such as pensions and retiree health insurance. Read more on ‘Net Revenue‘.

ABOUT THE INSTITUTE FOR TRUTH IN ACCOUNTING

The Institute for Truth in Accounting has a unique, comprehensive methodology to analyze all state assets and liabilities, including unreported pension and retirement health liabilities.  The result is shown as the per-taxpayer surplus or liability, the difference in each state’s assets and liabilities divided by the number of taxpayers in the state. 

Benefit Corporations: The new government-industrial complex

President Eisenhower warned America about a growing military-industrial complex stating, “This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Whenever and wherever government and industry partner Americans face “the acquisition of unwarranted influence”.

Most recently we saw how appointed officials working in partnership with a corporation can directly impact every Floridian. Robert Trigaux, Tampa Bay Times Business Columnist, in “At the PSC, a confederacy of yes men — and women” wrote:

The first thing we do is pass a truth-in-government law that changes the name of the Florida Public Service Commission [PSC] to the Florida Utility Suckup Club.

The PSC hearing held in Tallahassee this past week was beyond embarrassing. It was billed as a review and vote on a proposed settlement with Duke Energy Florida to finalize who gets stuck paying for the $5 billion wasted by the company on the broken Crystal River and the proposed-then-canceled Levy County nuclear power plants.

The vote: 4 to 1 in favor of the settlement agreement. Duke Energy’s Florida customers — victims would be a better word — will pay a whopping 64 percent, or $3.2 billion. Duke shareholders will pay just 20 percent, or $1 billion. The rest will be covered by an insurance policy.

This is a terrible precedent.

Trigaux and Floridians should be prepared for ever more “terrible” precedents.

Since Eisenhower’s speech in 1961 Florida has seen a government industrial complex with growing influence — economic, political, even spiritual — felt in every city, county and in Tallahassee. This greatest threat to one-man-one-vote and local control of government goes by many names: globalization, regionalism, sustainability and a new form of corporation called simply “B” Corp or “Benefit Corporation”.

According to the BenefitCorp.net website, “Certified B Corporations are leading a global movement to redefine success in business…Business, the most powerful man-made force on the planet, must create value for society, not just shareholders…Over 600 businesses have already joined our community, encouraging all companies to compete not just to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world. As a result of our collective success, individuals and communities will enjoy greater economic opportunity, society will address its most challenging environmental problems, and more people will find fulfillment by bringing their whole selves to work.”

Esquire magazine is quoted on the B Corp website, “B Corps might turn out to be like civil rights for blacks or voting rights for women – eccentric, unpopular ideas that took hold and changed the world.” B Corps want to fundamentally change American business.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have passed Benefit Corporation legislation. There is a move to pass Benefit Corporation legislation in Florida. The model Benefit Corporation legislations states, “This chapter authorizes the organization of a form of business corporation that offers entrepreneurs and investors the option to build, and invest in, businesses that operate with a corporate purpose broader than maximizing shareholder value and a responsibility to consider the impact of its decisions on all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Enforcement of those duties comes not from governmental oversight, but rather from new provisions on transparency and accountability included in this chapter.”

This fundamental change has been embraced by the Florida Chamber of Commerce in the form or regionalization. In July 2012, Dale A. Brill, Ph.D., wrote on the Florida Chamber website, “Let’s get the bad news out of the way: Too many participants in the private and public economic development arena are missing the considerable opportunity represented by regionalism when they insist on going it alone—even when there is insufficient economic density to make a real difference despite the best of intentions.”

Brill notes, “Let’s start with three straight-forward explanations of regionalism that you already know to be true but may not recognize as one in the same: ‘There is strength in numbers.’ ‘The sum of the parts is greater than the whole.’ ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’ … Regionalism’s genesis can be traced to the increasing role played by coordinated investments as catalysts for economic development.”

Brill uses Harvard professor Michael Porter’s definition of economic regions, “Economic regionalism exists where geographically contiguous regions coordinate economic development activities tied to a comprehensive economic development strategy.  Economic regionalism focuses on the collaboration of organizations, governments, and businesses across multiple jurisdictions. These stakeholders work to manage the economic opportunities and constraints created by the geographic and social characteristics of a region.”

Regionalism, sustainability and “B” Corps are part of the idea of globalization. Everything feeds into a system that move power – economic, political, even spiritual – away from the city and county into regions that can have grave consequences that Florida is just experiencing with Duke Power – Florida.

Milton Friedman wrote, “Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.” What we are seeing is the government and businesses working in concert to protect each other at the expense of consumers. The Duke Power – Florida is a case in point.

As Trigaux wrote, “There are a few voices expressing opposition. But they are faint and few…I fear for Florida.”

EDITORS NOTE:

Florida League of Cities in addition to individual municipalities, leagues and organizations of local community authorities have also endorsed the Earth Charter. ICLEI – The Local Governments for Sustainability endorsed the Earth Charter – Sustainable Development in the year 2000. The Florida League of Cities, which is a voluntary municipal league comprised of 404 of Florida’s 408 municipalities and six charter counties, endorsed the Earth Charter in 2001. In the same year, the Earth Charter was also endorsed by the US Conference of Mayors, the official nonpartisan organization of the nation’s 1,183 cities with populations over 30,000.

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) serves as the national voice for regionalism. NARC advocates for and provides services to its member councils of government and metropolitan planning organizations.

RELATED: 

What is a corporation?

Benefit Corporations: The Demise of Free Enterprise

VIDEO: Florida Chamber of Commerce – The Importance of Regionalism to Florida’s Future

Regionalism and Fair Housing Enforcement

Walter Tejada Elected to National Association of Regional Councils to promote Regionalism

Community Progress Blog – The BUILD Act of 2013: How EPA brownfield funds can create more sustainable communities by Kate O’Brien, Groundwork USA

The top twelve deficit gimmicks the President & Congress use to defraud the American people

Joseph J. Dioguardi is a former member of Congress from New York and Certified Public Accountant. Dioguardi in his book “Unaccountable Congress: It Doesn’t Add Up” lists the top twelve gimmicks Congress uses to hide the true costs of government from the people. These gimmicks have been used for decades by both Republican and Democrat administrations, Congresses under both parties and government agencies.

The idea behind these gimmicks is to “[K]eep Americans in the dark (or – I should say – in the red!), writes, Dioguardi.

Dioguardi calls this “plastic budgeting”. As David A. Stockman, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Ronald Reagan, stated, “As the fiscal crisis has worsened and the political conflict intensified we have increasingly resorted to squaring the circle with accounting gimmicks, evasions, half-truths and downright dishonesty in our budget numbers, debate and advocacy. Indeed, if the Securities and Exchange Commission had jurisdiction over the executive and legislative branches, many of us would be in jail.”

Fast forward to the 2013 “fiscal crisis” and “political conflict” in Washington, D.C. since October 1st.

Dioguardi characterizes the government budget as, “[F]ar from rock solid. It is metaphorically, plastic budgeting, approved by people with little plastic cards and elastic standards of fiscal integrity.” He lists the following “dirty dozen” methods of “budget chicanery developed over the years.” The following are taken from Chapter 2 of Dioguardi’s book. Readers can point to current examples of each gimmick being used today by the President and Congress.

GIMMICK 1: FUDGING THE ECONOMIC NUMBERS

When you project a federal budget for a future year, someone has to arrive at a set of crucial economic assumptions…But what are the “best” numbers and assumptions to use? That depends in large part upon for whom one works. The OMB, the Executive Office of the President, tends to generate numbers that will make the president look good –  usually low inflation, high real growth, low interest rates, and a shrinking budget deficit. For example, the 1982 budget resolution forecast a $1 billion surplus for fiscal year 1984; in fact, there was a $175 billion deficit.

GIMMICK 2: OFF-BUDGET TREATMENT

If your spending program threatens to increase the budget deficit, there is a very straightforward way of neutralizing it: Put it “off budget.” A recent example of this technique lies in the operation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It takes tax dollars to fill up the SPR with purchased oil, and that exacerbates the deficit. So in 1989 the Bush Administration simply declared the reserve to be off budget. That reduced the expected deficit by $3.7 billion, but the Treasury had to go out and borrow the money to pay for it.

GIMMICK 3: THE CURRENT SERVICES BUDGET

The 1974 Budget Act requires the president to submit a “current services” budget showing what it would cost to keep government running another year if there were no changes in policy. Congress’ trick is to make a change in policy to restrain spending, then brag about a cut, when in fact the only cut is to the projected level of spending under existing policy.

GIMMICK 4: THE MAGIC ASTERISK

The magic asterisk is probably one of the most notorious budget gimmicks, and also one of the easiest to understand. In his book David Stockman describes its invention in the crucial 1981 budget very candidly. The [Reagan] Administrations “Chapter Two” reductions fell far short of the $130 billion needed to meet the budget target. “Bookkeeping invention this began its wondrous works. We invented the ‘magic asterisk.’ If we couldn’t find saving in time – and we couldn’t – we would issue an IOU. We would call it ‘future savings to be identified.’ It was marvelously creative. A magic asterisk item would cost a negative $30 billion … $40 billion … whatever it took to get a balanced budget in 1984 after we totaled up all the individual budget cuts we’d actually approved.” That year the magic asterisk came out to equal $44 billion.

GIMMICK 5: THE FRAUD, WASTE AND ABUSES EXCUSE

Since there are few if any defenders of fraud, waste and abuse, a member of Congress can denounce such things with impunity, and sound very good to the constituents back home. Actually achieving savings by rooting out these costly activities is a lot more difficult. For instance, in the fiscal 1982 budget, the House Budget Committee simply invented savings of $6 billion the expected benefit from finding and eliminating the terrible threesome.

GIMMICK 6: TRUST FUND DEFICIT MASKING

This is a dandy little scam because it produces big numbers – mainly because the biggest trust fund is Social Security…Now one of the most cherished Social Security fictions is that the trust fund balance is invested to accumulate at interest for 30 or 40 years, until it is needed to pay benefits to future retirees. Of course, nobody had the faintest idea where the fraud, waste and abuse could or would be found. Congress just declared that eliminating it would produce this amount of savings…[T]here is no such trust fund in any meaningful sense: it is just the accounting equivalent of a large cookie jar filled with notes reading “Ma, I’ll pay the missing cookies back later – honest.

GIMMICK 7: THE GIVE-AND-TAKE

The debt limit increase bill of 1972 contained a bold, unequivocal provision, section 201(a), which declared that not a penny more than $250 billion could be spent on federal programs in fiscal year 1973. Immediately below it came section 201(b), which said the ceiling imposed by section 201(a) would become null and void one day after the bill was signed into law, along with any action taken during that one day – presumably by President Nixon.

GIMMICK 8: PHONY LIABILITY VALUATIONS

What if you unwisely lend your shiftless brother-in-law $5,000 to buy a used car, and soon after he skips town for Mexico. You are later asked by your bank for a net-worth statement so you can get a loan for a new home. On your statement, under “Assets,” you put “Promissory note – $5,000″…Unfortunately Uncle Sam makes this kind of bluff all the time. For example, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures your bank account to $100,000, collects premiums from banks to build up a reserve…But in the 1980s a massive contraction of agricultural land values and oil prices hit parts of the county… Banks started going under everywhere. The FDIC continued to value the loans of their insured banks at face value, even though the values obviously were plummeting.

GIMMICK 9: FRONT LOADING

A favorite trick of budgeteers is to front-load a new program – collecting taxes to pay for it for a year or so before the benefits begin to be paid out. Thus for a year or two the deficit is reduced by the new revenues. Only in the later years do the program costs overwhelm the revenues and add to the deficit – but, of course, that somebody else’s problem.

GIMMICK 10: RECONCILIATION SAVINGS

Some of the most creative work ever done by Congress comes in the statements by House committees as to how they propose to meet the guidelines of the first budget resolution. That resolution tells each authorizing committee of the House (and Senate) to adjust its program to meet a target number. “Bold face lying” would be too mild a term to describe the responses to this unwelcome instruction.

GIMMICK 11: SHIFTING SPENDING TO ANOTHER YEAR

This gimmick has been around for a long time and is very popular. If requires only changing the date of an expenditure to fall into a different fiscal year, so that the current fiscal year’s deficit objectives are more likely to be met.

GIMMICK 12: THE MONSTER BILL

The bigger and more impenetrable a spending bill is, the more likely it is to conceal lots of budgetary stinkers…The monster bill has another vice. Once passed by Congress, the bill either can be signed or vetoed by the president – there is no middle ground. Thus Congress is fond of throwing in lots of separate provisions that the president ordinarily would veto, but can’t, since he would have to veto the whole bill and shut down the government.

Americans are waking up to these gimmicks and others used to pull the wool over their eyes. Since Dioguardi wrote his book we have seen TARP, QE 1 and QE 2, massive fraud, waste and abuse in multiple government programs and bailouts of banks, investments in pet green projects and the auto industry. All gimmicks that cost taxpayers, not the members of Congress.

RELATED: The Most Expensive Credit Card in the World – A Congressman’s Voting Card

The Most Expensive Credit Card in the World – A Congressman’s Voting Card

As the government shut down debate rages inside the Washington, D.C. beltway over the continuing resolution, as there has been no budget for five years, and the debt ceiling, Floridians and Americans in general are seeing the true nature of a dysfunctional federal government. Many are concerned that Congress is exceeding the ability of taxpayers to pay for government.

As Thomas Jefferson, who faced huge personal debt throughout his lifetime, wrote in a June 1807 letter to John Norvell, “I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.”

When Congress fails to place economy as the first virtue, the economy suffers.

Terence P. Jeffrey from CNS News reported, “The U.S. Treasury needed to pay off a record of approximately $7,546,726,000,000 in maturing Treasury securities in fiscal 2013, which ended last Monday, according to Treasury’s official accounting. During the same period, the Treasury turned around and issued another $8,323,949,000,000 in new Treasury securities. The spread between the old debt held by the public that matured and was paid off during the fiscal year and the new debt that was sold to cover government spending over and above tax revenues, increased the net federal government debt held by the public by $777.223 billion during the fiscal year.”

This act by the US Treasury is the equivalent of paying off a credit card with a credit card. But how can Congress and the Executive Branch do this?

Simple according to Joseph J. Dioguardi, former member of Congress from New York and Certified Public Accountant. Dioguardi in his book “Unaccountable Congress: It Doesn’t Add Up” writes, “Now what if you had a charge card with no credit limit, one that sends you only one statement a year – and a confused one at that. And suppose that your weren’t required to pay the balance: you could postpone payment into next year or event to the next century. What would you say?”

US House of Representatives voting card

Dioguardi had one of these cards and so do 435 other Americans. It is a member of Congress’ voting card.

Dioguardi wrote, “And the best part of it: Once you’re a member of Congress, you never get the bill, and they don’t deduct the amount of your congressional spending votes from your paycheck…[I]ts the closest thing to financial Easy Street there is in America today.”

“There is one small annoyance with The Most Expensive Credit Card in the World. It’s called the debt limit or, more specifically, the Second Liberty Bond Act,” notes Dioguardi.

According to Dioguardi when the Congress, “borrows to finance the deficit, it never worries about paying it back. When its bond, notes and bills come due, the Treasury simply issues more bonds, notes and bills and uses the proceeds to redeem the old ones. This is the fiscal equivalent of what Ponce de Leon was looking for in the jungles of Florida – the Fountain of Youth.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, “Total debt of the federal government can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt.”

The public and the government are one in the same. The federal debt is held by every US citizen. According to the US Debt Clock that is $53,556 per citizen or $148,227 per taxpayer. This does not include the $1,100,984 per taxpayer for all unfunded liabilities incurred by Congress for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Dioguardi calls Congress a “House of Ill Repute.” It is difficult for WDW – FL to disagree with a CPA.

The waste, fraud and abuse in the Social Security administered disability program is highlighted in this CBS News 60 Minutes special investigative report:

FL Rep. Grayson declares “Stealth Socialism” in America

The New American reports, “Stealth socialism’s been created,” Grayson, a second-term congressman from Florida’s Ninth District, said in an interview with Salon.com on a range of political and economic issues. “We’ve had a government takeover of the bond market,” he said in describing what has happened since the financial industry crisis of 2008. He continued,

Government simply ends up owning more and more and more. If government had taken over the steel industry, maybe it would have been more noticeable. They’ve taken over the financing of housing industry as well, with a desired result. The result is now, finally, particularly in areas that were hard-hit, like mine in Central Florida, housing is ticking up again. So the Fed did in essence create an economic baseline that has led to something along the lines of 50,000-100,000 jobs created a month, setting a foundation for recovery for the U.S. economy.

Jorge Bonilla, Republican candidate for FL District 9.

Jorge Bonilla, the Republican candidate for FL District 9, states in an email, “Mr. Grayson touts current monetary policy as providing a baseline for recovery, yet fails to notice that current job creation does not keep up with population growth, and that labor participation continues to crater (312,000 alone dropped out of the labor force last month).”

The New American notes, “Grayson is far from alone in noting the socialist trends in federal economic policy. In February 2009, less than a month after the inauguration of Barack Obama, Newsweek magazine published a cover story with the title “We Are All Socialists Now.” The article was about the new president’s bailout and economic recovery plans, but noted “the U.S. government has already — under a conservative Republican administration — effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries.” Even the late Marxist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela hailed the federal takeover of a number of U.S. financial institutions, taunting President George W. Bush with the jibe that Bush had become a bigger socialist than Chavez himself.”

Bonilla takes exception to the idea that we are all Socialist now. Bonilla’s email retort, “As Americans, we must continue to champion small business creation, which is the true engine of our economy and its  recovery, as well as continue our efforts to repeal Obamacare, and promote true healthcare reform. In addition, we must continue to oppose President Obama’s job-and-economy-killing policies that Mr. Grayson is content to champion.”

Has America become a Socialist state?

Coalition formed to repeal the 16th Amendment

A broad coalition of national organizations, hosted and managed by Competitive Governance Action, whose initial members include Americans For Fair Taxation®, Tea Party Patriots, Free Market America and Americans for Limited Government, announced a joint effort called “Repeal 16: A Coalition to Repeal the 16th Amendment.”

The coalition’s message to Washington lawmakers is straightforward: End the current corrupting tax system and the IRS.

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director Americans For Fair Taxation

Cynthia T. Canevaro, Executive Director, Americans For Fair Taxation, in an email states, “As FairTax supporters we know how the current tax code has corrupted our economy, our political system, small businesses and the livelihood of countless American citizens.  This summer’s scandalous revelations of IRS abuses are just the latest example of how the IRS, for 100 years, has systematically violated the fiduciary trust given to it by the American people.”

“Although there have been numerous hearings and calls for action, it has turned out to be much ado about nothing because the current tax code is, in reality, an incumbent Member’s delight.  Why? Because it enables the status quo to maintain complete control over you the taxpayer,” notes CGA.

According to CGA, “Repealing the 16th Amendment will allow citizens from all political perspectives to finally have an open, transparent and honest debate about comprehensive tax reform, without getting bogged down on which plan is best. Repeal 16 will finally give supporters of fundamental tax reform a neutral vehicle to address the most pressing issue of the day – eliminating the IRS and Repealing the 16th Amendment.”

Canevaro states, “While supporting the coalition, Americans For Fair Taxation will continue to proudly and aggressively advocate the FairTax Plan as the only viable choice for fundamental tax reform.  With a successful Repeal 16 campaign, we know the FairTax Plan will now be in a position to be the tax reform plan of choice for elected officials and the American people who want jobs and economic growth.”

repeal petition has been posted at www.Repeal16.org for those who see the IRS and income tax as a a threat to American prosperity. The coalition’s initial goal is to recruit 10,000 Americans to sign the petition. “With Congress coming back into session this week, timing is of the essence”, notes Canevaro.

Canevaro, states, “We are excited about the opportunities the new Repeal 16 coalition will bring to the FairTax, and look forward to being on coalition team.”

ABOUT COMPETITIVE GOVERNANCE ACTION

Competitive Governance Action is a 501(C)(4) organization committed to education and advocacy to manifest the concept that problems should be solved by the smallest, least centralized, most local authority that may effectively address the matter. Central to the concept is the devolution of political power from the federal government to state and local governments, to individuals and to non-government community and religious institutions.

Message to “defund Obamacare” resonated with Florida grassroots

Jim DeMint speaks at the “Defund Obamacare” town hall tour in Tampa on August 21, 2013. Photo courtesy of Eve Edelheit, Tampa Bay Times staff.

Heritage Foundation President and former Senator Jim DeMint and Raphael Cruz, father of Senator Ted Cruz, came to Tampa, Florida to bring their message that now is the time to defund the Affordable Care Act. The Heritage Action for America sponsored event was over booked. Tampa was the third stop on a nine city tour. Over 850 signed up for the event, with only 550 seats available.

Raphael Cruz gave the invocation and was greeted with a standing ovation when he was introduced by Karen Jaroch, Tampa Regional Coordinator for Heritage Action, as the father of Senator Ted Cruz. Cruz ended the event with a stirring call to action.

Senator DeMint then took the stage to a standing ovation. DeMint looked over a packed house of diverse concerned citizens, who traveled from across the state of Florida. DeMint then said in his soft southern voice, “We had you wait in line to get into this event so you can get used to standing in line to get medical care under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. With the over 550 people jammed into this hall you now know what your doctor’s waiting room will look like very soon.” These comments were like throwing raw meat to the grassroots activists in the audience.

Senator DeMint then went into detail on how the Affordable Care Act can be defunded. DeMint explained defunding Obamacare means attaching a legislative rider to a “must pass” bill (e.g. debt limit, annual spending bill or continuing resolution to fund the government) that 1) prohibits any funds from being spent on any activities to implement or enforce Obamacare; 2) rescinds any unspent balances that have already been appropriated for implementation; and 3) turns off the exchange subsidy and new Medicaid spending that are on auto-pilot.

DeMint was then joined by Mike Needham, Chief Executive Officer for Heritage Action for America, to answer questions. The issue of what is the urgency to defund Obama care now was raised. According to DeMint and Needham on January 1, 2014, Obamacare’s new main entitlements – the Medicaid expansion and the exchange subsidies – are scheduled to take effect. Open enrollment for both programs begins on October 1, 2013, at the start of the new fiscal year. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government will spend $48 billion in 2014 and nearly $1.8 trillion through 2023 on these new entitlement programs. Also on January 1, Americans will be forced by their government to buy a product, health insurance, for the first time in history. Individuals and families who don’t comply will be penalized by tax penalties administered through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

One Floridian asked Senator DeMint isn’t is mean to not provide the funding for healthcare. Senator DeMint replied that it is mean for the President to promise Americans that they can keep their current insurance and doctors under Obamacare. It is mean for the President to say that health insurance premiums will go down $2,000 when in fact they will go up over $2,000 or more in some states. It is mean for the President to say everyone will receive better health care when we know from the experiences of Canada and England that socialized medicine leads to rationing and poor care, even to patients dying for lack of attention..

The question of some House Republicans supporting the repeal of Obamacare but not defunding it came up.

DeMint noted that some fear if they take a stand on Obamacare it will hurt them in the 2014 elections. He then pointed out that same tactic of “first do no harm” lost Republicans the US Senate and White House twice. DeMint noted that when he was in the Senate, and since he has become President of the Heritage Foundation, he experienced a Republican leadership that will “cut the legs out from under any who oppose them”.

DeMint said that Republicans took the House of Representatives in 2010 and retained the majority in 2012 on the promise of repealing Obamacare. Either Republicans keep their promise or go home and explain why they lied. DeMint noted that repealing Obamacare is not enough. The House has had numerous votes to repeal the law, but the chances of statutorily repealing the law decreased once President Obama won a second term. Those who oppose Obamacare, he said, cannot wait another three and a half years to ” begin dismantling Obamacare; they need to leverage current opportunities to defund using ‘must-pass’ spending bills.” DeMint said time and again, it is now or never.

The Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact blog took exception to four of the things Senator DeMint said during his presentation. However, DeMint’s message clearly resonated with the audience. The devil is always in the details.

ABOUT HERITAGE ACTION FOR AMERICA:

RELATED:

Congressman Mark Meadows : Letter Encouraging House Leadership to Defund Obamacare

Should We Delay or Defund Obamacare?

Warning: That Jacksonville or Tampa city employee you deal with may be a criminal

In 2008, the Jacksonville City Council adopted an ordinance reforming both its hiring procedures and its contractor bidding policies. In July 2009, the City’s Human Resources Department released the revised standard. In 2010 Jacksonville revised its screening summary for city employees and contractors.

The directive states that department heads will “not inquire about or consider criminal background check information in making a hiring decision.” Instead, “criminal information disclosure is required as part of the post-offer new hire process.”

The application instructions even encourage people with a criminal record to apply for city jobs.

The criminal background check screening is centralized in the City of Jacksonville Human Resources Department. Moreover, the screening process requires taking into account the specific duties of the job, the age of the offense, and rehabilitation. Denied applicants may appeal to Human Resources. Contractors are required to tally job opportunities for people with criminal records and report back to the City.

On January 14, 2013 Bob Buckhorn, the Mayor of Tampa, signed the ban the box ordinance approved by the City Council which covers city employees. Advocates in Tampa continue to work on expanding the ordinance to include city contractors. The Tampa Ordinance 2013-3 may be viewed by clicking here. The Tampa ban the box program is administered by Sharon Streater HOPE lead organizer, from the Direct Action & Research Training Center.

This effort is part of the Ban the Box project and National Employment Law Project. The ordinance only applies to the City Jacksonville employees. As of April 2013 there are fifty cities in twenty-one states that have implemented some form of Ban the Box ordinances. California, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, Connecticut and Massachusetts have statewide Ban the Box legislation.

For a larger view click on the map.

According to its website, “Ban the Box is a nationwide effort to remove criminal history inquiry; i.e. ‘the box’ from employer job applications. All employers have the right to know an applicant’s conviction history but the inquiry should be deferred until later in the interview process and not utilized as an automatic bar to employment at the application stage.” [Emphasis mine]

WDW – FL contacted both the City of Tampa and Jacksonville to determine how many people with criminal records have been hired as city employees and in the case of Jacksonville by contractors. According to Sharon Streater who administers the program for Tampa she has no data as the program is new. However, Streater did state that the disclaimer in the city announcements for job openings saying those with criminal records need not apply has been deleted.

The City of Jacksonville Civil Service and Personnel Rules and Regulations (revised in 2010) states:

The following are examples of extraordinary situations in which an employee may be immediately suspended without pay:

1. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs on the job.
2. Use of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job or during the employee’s work day, to include breaks and lunch period.
3. Commission of an act which constitutes a felony offense or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude under the criminal laws of the State of Florida or Federal Government. [Emphasis added]

The question: Are those Jacksonville public employees and contractors with criminal records given access to sensitive citizen information?

As Milton Friedman wrote, “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”

Tipping the public sector job market to favor convicted criminals is problematic at the least and dangerous at the worst.

But, voters, like in the case of Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, re-elect criminals from time to time but that is another story. BTW Washington, D.C. passed a ban the box ordinance in 2010.

EDITORS NOTE: WDW – FL contacted the City of Jacksonville and is awaiting a reply on how many city employees and contract employees have been hired since 2008 who have a criminal background. When that information is made available this column will be updated.

Are welfare recipients becoming Florida’s “new middle class”?

In 1995, the CATO Institute published a groundbreaking study, The Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off, which estimated the value of the full package of welfare benefits available to a typical recipient in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

It found that not only did the value of such benefits greatly exceed the poverty level but, because welfare benefits are tax-free, their dollar value was greater than the amount of take-home income a worker would receive from an entry-level job.

Since then, many welfare programs have undergone significant change, including the 1996 welfare reform legislation that ended the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program and replaced it with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The CATO Institute examined the current welfare system in the same manner as the 1995 paper in their The Work vs. Welfare Trade-Off: 2013 report.

According to CATO, “Welfare benefits continue to outpace the income that most recipients can expect to earn from an entry-level job, and the balance between welfare and work may actually have grown worse in recent years.”

“The current [2013] welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincentive for work,” states the CATO report.

CATO Institute Senior Fellow Michael D. Tanner discusses his latest report on welfare:

Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and rewarding work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemptions, and narrowing the definition of work.

The top ten states where welfare payments have increased are: 1. Hawaii, 2. District of Columbia, 3. Massachusetts, 4. Connecticut, 5. New Jersey, 6. Rhode Island, 7. New York, 8. Vermont, 9. New Hampshire and 10. Maryland. For those wondering, California is ranked number eleven. Florida ranks 46th. Mississippi is ranked last.

CATO recommends, “[S]tates should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements.”

In 1995 Florida ranked 30th in the nation with a pre-tax welfare wage equivalent of $18,200 or an hourly wage of $8.75. In 2013 Florida ranks 46th in the nation with a pre-tax welfare wage equivalent of $12,600 or an hourly wage of $6.06.

However, Florida ranks 9th in providing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards, with a monthly benefit of $526 or $6,312 annually. Florida is ranked 16th in providing housing benefits, with a urban monthly benefit of $1,095 and a non-urban benefit of $814. Florida housing benefits average monthly $955 or $11,455 annually.

In Medicaid benefits Florida ranks 48th with an annual expenditure of $6,196, which is the equivalent of an insurance premium of $6,408. Percent of TANF Households Receiving Housing Assistance in Florida in 1995 was 17.4%, today it is 7.7%. TANF adult recipients participating in work activities in Florida is 54.2%.

In terms of welfare benefits packages with housing included for all states Florida ranks 26th overall. In Florida for 2013 the benefits add up to $29,576 or an increase over the original 1995 package adjusted for inflation of $3,484. Florida is 45th in utilities assistance at $19 a month or $225 a year. For the Women, Infants, and Children Program Florida ranks 20th with a monthly payment of $90, annual payment of $1,077.

The bottom line:

Florida pays out in welfare benefits: TANF – $3,636, SNAP – $ 6,312, Housing – $11,455 (avg.), Medicaid – $6,196, WIC – $1,077, LIHEAP – $600, TEFAP – $300 for a total of $29,576. 

The median salary in Florida is $30,695.

Welfare is now a big government business paying more than entry level jobs in 70% of the states. Since Congress enacted welfare reform in 1994, America has become more of the welfare nation.

Milton Friedman wrote, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Is Florida is on the path with the result that it will become a “welfare state”?

RELATED:

Video: Surprise: Welfare Cheats Get Rich!

Gallup: 18% Rate U.S. Economy As Good or Excellent

Video: The great food stamp binge

Five Florida cities that may be future Detroits

For a larger view click on the map.

WDW- FL reported that one-third of Florida’s cities are in “perilous financial positions“. The reasons: the increasing burden of  growing retirement and medical costs for government retirees coupled with shrinking revenues.

Luke Rosiak from the Washington Examiner did an analysis to determine which US cities have a larger proportion of government workers to population than Detroit. Rosiak used the Census Bureau’s 2011 Annual Survey of Public Employment and Payroll to rank every U.S. city with a population of 200,000 or more.

Rosiak notes, “Remarkably, the Census Bureau excluded from these figures all teachers and education professionals, which make up the largest group of local government employees.”

Rosiak reports, “Detroit declared bankruptcy due in no small part to $3 billion in unfunded public employee pensions owed a sprawling city workforce that kept growing even as the city’s population shriveled, but a Washington Examiner analysis found that 19 major American cities have even bigger ratios of such workers to residents.”

“What’s more, seven of the 19 cities with larger relative workforces than Detroit paid workers more than twice as much as the Motor City did its employees,” states Rosiak.

To view the map with all of the city data click here.

Below are those Florida cities listed by Rosiak (Note: some city government agencies and public school teachers/education professionals are not counted):

TAMPA

Residents per employee   79
Population: 335,709
Employees: 4,244
Annual payroll: $540,168,672
Average compensation: $127,278
 

ST PETERSBURG

Residents per employee   83
Population: 244,769
Employees: 2,943
Annual payroll: $170,042,328
Average compensation: $57,778
 
 

ORLANDO

Residents per employee   85
Population: 238,300
Employees: 2,799
Annual payroll: $338,968,872
Average compensation: $121,103
 
 

JACKSONVILLE

Residents per employee   87
Population: 821,784
Employees: 9,368
Annual payroll: $1,037,019,744
Average compensation: $110,698
 

MIAMI

Residents per employee   101
Population: 399,457
Employees: 3,923
Annual payroll: $479,194,080
Average compensation: $122,149
 
 

RELATED COLUMNS:

New Poll: Detroit Bankruptcy Popular in Michigan

A whole bunch of really depressing facts about Detroit

How do Americans with jobs get to work?

I have reported on the growing costs of running publicly funded transportation systems (buses, light rail, AMTRAK). Public bus systems rarely pay for themselves. Rather they are heavily subsidized by federal, state and local governments. For example, in Sarasota County, FL government runs two bus services and both are monopolies. SCAT is run by the County and the other run by Sarasota County School Board. Both are paid for by county property taxpayers.

NPR’s Shiva Koohi portrays in two simple charts how Americans who have jobs get to work.

Since 1960 American workers get to work primarily, and in ever increasing numbers, via private transportation. Use of public transportation has declined by over half since 1960, while use of private transportation has increased by 20% (see below charts). The use of bikes, taxis and walking by workers have all declined since 1960 and 1980. The number of those working at home has doubled since 1980 but remains a small number of total workers. Telecommuting has not yet caught on.

Click on the chart for a larger view.

Koohi reports, “More than ever, Americans are getting to work by driving alone. As the graph above shows, the share of Americans driving to work rose sharply in the second half of the 20th century, as the nation became more suburban. The rate has been flat for the past few decades — but during that time the percentage of people who carpool fell (even as carpool lanes proliferated).”

Koohi notes:

Today, only 5 percent of workers take public transportation, down from 11 percent in 1960; only 4 percent walk to work, down from 7 percent in 1960.

One surprising detail in the numbers: The share of workers who work at home is actually lower today than it was 50 years ago (4 percent today versus 7 percent in 1960). A 1998 Census report pointed to “the steep decline in the number of family farmers and the growing tendency of professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, to leave their home and join group practices resulted in a loss each decade of the number of at-home workers.” The share of people working at home has been rising for the past few decades, as telecommuting has become more popular, but the rise hasn’t been nearly enough to make up for the earlier decline.

In October, 2009 Catherine Rampell posted the below map on Economix. It shows the percentages of workers who drove to work alone by state and is based on U.S. Census data.

 

Richard Florida noted patterns in Rampell’s map. Florida reported:

Income and Economic Output: The richer the state, the less likely people were to drive alone. Driving alone was negatively correlated with state income levels (-.46) and output per capita (-.41).

Class and Human Capital
: States with higher percentages of college graduates (-.47) and the creative class (-.43) were less likely to have people driving alone. Driving alone was much more likely in states with large working class concentrations (.62).

Professional and Creative Jobs:
 Driving alone was less likely in states with high concentrations of virtually every type of professional, knowledge-based and creative jobs. But it was least likely in states with large concentrations of artists, designers, and entertainers (-.63), architects and engineers (-.61), scientists (-.56 ), and lawyers (-.55).

Are US banks enabling manipulation on a vast scale?

Geo Intelligence states, “Top economists, financial experts and bankers say that the big banks are too large … and their very size is threatening the [US] economy.”

On June 27, 2013 Representatives Alan Grayson (D-FL), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), John Conyers (D-MI) and Keith Ellison (D-MN) sent a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The letter states, “We write in regards to the expansion of large banks into what had traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically, we are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining. [Isn’t that a national security issue?]”

Grayson, et. al. note, “Here are a few examples. Morgan Stanley imported 4 million barrels of oil and petroleum products into the United States in June, 2012. Goldman Sachs stores aluminum in vast warehouses in Detroit as well as serving as a commodities derivatives dealer. This ‘bank’ is also expanding into the ownership and operation of airports, toll roads, and ports. JP Morgan markets electricity in California.”

Grayson, et. al write, “According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a ‘quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.’ These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the ‘foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce’. This shift has many consequences for our economy, and for bank regulators. We wonder how the Federal Reserve is responding to this shift.” Read more.

ProPublica is tracking where taxpayer money has gone in the ongoing bailout of the financial system. The ProPublica database accounts for both the broader $700 billion stimulus bill and the separate bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. According to their data: 927 banks received  $606B of which $366B has been returned. The banks revenues are $116B showing a total net to date of a minus $124B.

Following is the ProPublica list of Florida banks/mortgage servicers that were bailed out (those in RED failed to repay the government and resulted in a loss):

1st United Bancorp  
Alarion Financial Services  
Allstate Mortgage Loans & Investments, Inc.  
Bank United  
Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC  
Biscayne Bancshares, Inc.  
Capital International Financial, Inc.  
CenterState Banks of Florida, Inc.  
Central Florida Educators Federal Credit Union  
Coastal Banking Company  
Community Bancshares Of Mississippi, Inc. (Community Holding Company Of Florida, Inc.)  
Community Credit Union of Florida  
First Community Bank Corp of America  
First Federal Bank of Florida  
First Southern Bancorp  
Florida Bank Group, Inc.  
Florida Business BancGroup  
Florida Housing Finance Corporation  
FPB Bancorp  
GulfSouth Private Bank  
Gulfstream Bancshares  
Highlands Independent Bancshares  
Iberiabank  
IBM Southeast Employees’ Federal Credit Union  
Marine Bank & Trust Company  
Naples Bancorp  
Ocwen Financial Corporation, Inc.  
Pinnacle Bank Holding Company  
Premier Bank Holding Company  
Q Lending, Inc.  
Quantum Servicing Corporation  
Regent Bancorp  
Seacoast Banking Corp  
Seaside National Bank & Trust  
TIB Financial Corp  
U.S. Century Bank

 

For the full list of banking institution in the United States that received taxpayer bailouts click here.

Report: Florida gets 36.9% of its revenue from federal government

The Tax Foundation has released a map showing the dependency of each state on federal aid. Florida  relies heavily on federal assistance with 36.9% of its revenue derived from the federal government. Florida ranks 23rd of all states taking federal money.

Has Florida become a “welfare state”?

Mississippi takes in more than any other state, with 49% of its total general revenue coming from federal aid. Close behind are Louisiana at 46.5% and Arizona at 45.7%. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska relies on federal aid for only 24% of its general revenue, followed closely by Delaware at 25.9% and North Dakota at 26%.

No state receives less than 24% of federal aid.

Question: Are the states truly sovereign when they receive so much aid from Washington, D.C.?

Federal-aid-as-a-percentage-of-state-general-revenue-(large)_0

Click on the image for a larger view.

Map courtesy of the Tax Foundation.