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.

Report: Florida ethanol plant a bust – zero gallons of biofuel produced

The Institute for Energy Research (IER) did a review of the Environmental Protection Agencies’ (EPA) biofuel mandate. According to IER, “The Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set mandatory levels of cellulosic biofuel for refiners to blend into transportation fuels.  In order to restrain EPA, the law requires that the mandate be based on an estimate from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) as to how much cellulosic biofuel would be produced in the given year.”

One of the companies formed to meet the need for biofuels is INEOS Bio. INEOS Bio USA, LLC is located at 925 74th Avenue Southwest, Vero Beach, Florida. INEOS Bio’s parent company is the INEOS Group.

INEOS Group was founded by James Arthur “Jim” Ratcliffe, a chemical engineer turned financier and industrialist. According to the 2010 Sunday Times Rich List, Ratcliffe is one of the richest people in the United Kingdom. INEOS Group is the fifth largest chemical company in the world measured by revenues. In April 2010, Ratcliffe relocated the INEOS Group to Lausanne, Switzerland from the UK to cut the tax bill and save the company £100m a year.

The INEOS Bio website states:

The Center is the first large-scale project in the United States to receive registrations from the EPA for a facility using non-food vegetative waste materials (vegetative and yard waste) to produce cellulosic ethanol. Construction on the Center was completed in June 2012, and production of advanced cellulosic bioethanol is scheduled to begin in the 4th Quarter. INEOS Bio has plans to run municipal solid waste at the Center after the initial start-up.

The BioEnergy Center created more than 400 direct jobs in construction, engineering and manufacturing during its development and injected more than $25 million dollars directly into the Florida economy. The Center has 60 full-time employees and provides $4 million annually in payroll to the local community. The project sourced over 90 percent of the equipment from U.S. manufacturers creating or retaining jobs in more than 10 states.

According to IER:

In November 2011, Ethanol Producer Magazine conducted an interview with INEOS Bio CEO Peter Williams.  The article stated:

The project is on schedule and on budget so far, and if things continue to go as planned, the plant will be mechanically complete in April and will be continuously churning out waste-based ethanol by the second half of next year [2012].

The facilities were not completed by April.  INEOS Bio did not issue a news release on the project until July 23rd, stating:

Construction of Ineos’ $130 million biorefinery joint venture project in the US has been completed, with production expected to begin in the second half of 2012, said Peter Williams, CEO of Ineos Bio, the Switzerland-based company’s bioenergy business.

INEOS Bio did not produce any cellulosic ethanol in the second half of 2012.  In a subsequent news release on August 9, 2012, the company stated:

The Center is scheduled to begin production in the 3rd Quarter of this year.

In an October 31, 2012 news release, INEOS Bio stated:

Construction on the Center was completed in June 2012, and production of advanced cellulosic bioethanol is scheduled to begin in the 4th Quarter.

As EPA is aware, INEOS Bio produced 0 gallons of cellulosic biofuel from it[s] Florida plant in 2012.  As of the date of this comment, the company still has not produced any cellulosic biofuel in 2013.

Smart Brief reported, “Ineos Bio has joined Algenol in asking Florida Gov. Rick Scott to reject a bill [HB 4001] that would do away with the state’s ethanol requirement. Signing the bill into law “would send a clear signal to companies like ours and other investors that Florida is unfriendly to advanced biofuels, investing in new technology and jobs it creates or to building a clean energy economy,” Ineos CEO Peter Williams wrote in an e-mail. The bill “is an all-out attack on ethanol,” said Algenol CEO Paul Woods, adding, “I would rather go to a state that welcomes the jobs and the opportunity.”

HB 4001 reads:

An act relating to the Florida Renewable Fuel Standard 2 Act; repealing ss. 526.201-526.207, F.S., the Florida Renewable Fuel Standard Act, to remove the requirement that all gasoline offered for sale in this state include a percentage of ethanol, subject to specified exemptions, waivers, suspensions, extensions, enforcement, and reporting; amending s. 206.43, F.S.; conforming a cross-reference; providing an effective date.

Governor Scott signed HB 4001 on May 31, 2013. HB 4001 takes effect July 1st, 2013.

“Fascism” is the best way to implement Seven50: SE Florida Prosperity Plan

June 19-21, 2013 there will be dueling Seven50 Summits at the Palm Beach Conference Center, West Palm Beach, Florida.

The Seven50 plan is an effort by the Southeast Florida Regional Partnership, funded by a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with the mission to,”[C]reate and implement the Seven50: SE Florida Prosperity Plan, a blueprint  for a vibrant and resilient economy; socially inclusive, sustainable, and affordable communities; and environmental sustainability.” View the SEFRP agenda here.

Mayor Craig Fletcher, City of Vero Beach, FL.

The City of Vero Beach, FL has pulled out of the plan.

Mayor Craig Fletcher attended a briefing given by proponents of Seven50 and reported that: city and county government would be less important, only “mega regions” are important as in the EU, the seven Florida counties that are part of the partnership “would have someone to control them”, they (the EU) are not going to put up with the American education system and “Fascism is the best form of government to implement these changes”.

Video remarks of Craig Fletcher, Mayor of the City of Vero Beach, FL at a City council meeting:

Proponents represented by the SE FL Regional Partnership (SEFRP) and opponents by The Liberty Caucus will be holding their respective summit in adjoining conference rooms at the Palm Beach Conference Center.

Why Seven50 now?

According to the SEFRP website, “The shifting nature of the global economy is changing the way business is done. Regions that can’t recognize and adapt to these changes will cease to be economically competitive. It’s time for Southeast Florida to move to the next level, to develop a regional mindset that focuses more on how to maximize the commonalities than accentuate the differences.” The agenda for the Seven50 Summit may be viewed here.

Opponents see this regionalization as an attack on local control, liberty and freedom.

The Liberty Caucus is a government watchdog organization that tracks local government in Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie and Saint Lucie County to “promote free markets and limit government intervention”.  St. Lucie County is one of the Seven50 partners.

Why stop Seven50?

According to the Liberty Caucus website, “The core of “sustainable development” is the notion of disciplining the consumption of consumers and producers. It consists of a self-appointed elite forcing needs and abilities of people against their will. But, needs and abilities cannot be determined arbitrarily by others; rather, it is derived by each individual according to their own unique, subjective valuation system. A central authority trying to determine the subjective valuation of other individuals consists of misallocation of resources (the same one’s we’re told to conserve) and market distortions (below market interest rates, industry specific stimulus) that inflate price bubbles (housing, commodity, stocks) causing an erosion of wealth.” The agenda for the anti-Seven50 Summit may be viewed here.

The Liberty Caucus notes:

Sustainability advocates tell us that:

  1. Resources are limited
  2. We are too inefficient for our own good
  3. Un-elected governing authority needs to decide what is the best allocation of our land, property and resources for us
  4. And thus lead everyone to prosperity with their ideas of sustainable development

Still unmentioned today, 26 years later, is:

  1. Who decides what is and is not sustainable
  2. On what logical basis sustainability is calculated
  3. Exactly whose ‘good’ is considered for benefit

Seven50 Consultant Andres Duany, from Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, speaks about the “hope for fascism in South Florida” and how Seven50 can take local communities and “tie them into nothing”:

Duany has been a consultant to counties and cities across the state of Florida on “sustainability and sustainable communities”.

Obamacare’s Negative Impact on Florida’s Seniors

Column courtesy of the Heritage Foundation.

The Medicare program that provides health insurance to seniors faces a dire financial future. And Obamacare is making it worse.

Medicare’s Part A trust fund is projected to be insolvent by 2026 and the total program has a long-term unfunded obligation of more than $35 trillion. This means the government has made $35 trillion worth of benefit promises to current and future seniors that are not yet paid for — a staggering amount that is more than double the nation’s total current debt.

Despite the fact that the Medicare trustees have been warning of this financing disaster for many years, President Obama’s massive health care law makes the matter much worse, not better.

VIDEO: Ann Lorenz, who has Parkinson’s disease, worries about Medicare’s future:

Ignore the political rhetoric of keeping Medicare “as we know it.” Obamacare has already made significant changes to Medicare, namely through provider reimbursement reductions and the creation of an unelected board of bureaucrats, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB).

Here are three examples of Obamacare’s impact:

1) Huge payment reductions that reduce access to care. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Obamacare will reduce Medicare reimbursements by $716 billion over 10 years. These cuts will hit Part A providers such as hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and hospices, along with Medicare Advantage plans. The trustees predict that if Congress allows these cuts to go into effect, 15 percent of Medicare providers would go in the red by 2019, 25 percent by 2030, and 40 percent by 2050.

This will absolutely impact seniors’ ability to access medical care. As the trustees explain: “Providers could not sustain continuing negative margins and would have to withdraw from serving Medicare beneficiaries or (if total facility margins remained positive) shift substantial portions of Medicare costs to their non-Medicare, non-Medicaid payers.” (Emphasis added.)

2) Medicare “savings” are spent on other parts of Obamacare. Obamacare’s Medicare “savings” and increased Medicare payroll tax are often touted as increasing the solvency of the Part A trust fund, but that simply is not true. The money is counted as paying for new entitlement spending in Obamacare.

As CBO plainly states, “CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected [hospital insurance] revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.”

3) The ominous and looming power of IPAB. The board will consist of 15 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, charged with meeting a newly created budget target in Medicare. When Medicare spending surpasses the target, IPAB will have to make recommendations to lower Medicare spending. The trustees project the much-hated IPAB will need to step up and make recommendations for the first time in 2016.

Obama’s Medicare agenda falls far short of what is necessary to put the program on a sustainable path, and his law’s negative impact on seniors is yet another reason the law must be repealed in its entirety before its most egregious provisions (Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies) begin in 2014.

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How did we become addicted to big government?

The growing national scandal surrounding the IRS targeting individuals and organizations with a certain political stand is endemic of big government. This large bureaucracy is fulfilling its role as the keeper of the big government keys. But how did America get to this point of a huge and intrusive government?

Social Security is perhaps the best example of  how Americans become addicted to big government, especially tax giveaways and the enshrined systems that sustain them. America’s addiction to government control over its citizens has increased to the point that today many are dependent on federal handouts to maintain their health, happiness and well being.

Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.”

Today, “Big government is the opiate of the people.”

Let’s review a brief historical perspective on how America got here and then open up the much needed national discussion on the need for big government. 

We the people began to embrace big government 104 years ago with the founding of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS) in New York City on September 12, 1905 in Peck’s Restaurant. An organizational meeting was held and Jack London was elected President with Upton Sinclair as First Vice President. The ISS was established to, “throw light [in America] on the world-wide movement of industrial democracy known as socialism.” Their motto was “production for use, not for profit.”

Production for use, not for profit is the prime goal of big government.

So how could socialists begin selling big government and its redistribution of wealth ideology? First they had to gain unfettered control of production. On February 3, 1913 Congress passed and the states ratified the Sixteenth Amendment to our Constitution. Congress grabbed control of production via the federal income tax. America taxed its productivity by tapping every American’s wages. With the millions, then billions, and now trillions of dollars that Congress collected, they could entice or even force the strongest American to take the big government drug.

Then on April 8, 1913 Congress passed and the states ratified the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution which transferred U.S. Senator Selection from each state’s legislature to popular election by the people of each state. These two events made it much easier to collect and distribute big government as now Senators were no longer loyal to their state legislatures or primarily concerned with state sovereignty. Now U.S. Senators, along with U.S. Representatives, saw the value of spreading  the big government drug amongst the people in return for votes.

During the Great Depression Congress created the first “opiate for the masses” and named it Social Security. It was to be a social insurance program run by government, in other words guaranteed government largesse for life. The Social Security Act was signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Roosevelt. He and Congress said this new drug would keep those unemployed, retirees and the poor financially secure. He called it the New Deal. All we needed to do was just pay in and all would be well.

In 1937 the United States Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Butler validated the Social Security Act and stated that, “Congress could, in its future discretion, spend that money [collected from the income tax] for whatever Congress then judged to be the general welfare of the country. The Court held that Congress has no constitutional power to earmark or segregate certain kinds of tax proceeds for certain purposes, whether the purposes be farm-price supports, foreign aid or social security payments.” All taxes went into the general fund.

Testifying before the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives in 1952, the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration said—“The present trust fund is not quite large enough to pay off the benefits of existing beneficiaries”—those already on the receiving end, in other words. In 1955 chief actuary believed that it would take $35 billion just to pay the people “now receiving benefits”.

In 1935 under the Social Security program the Congress included the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Act (AFDC). During the late 1950s many states realized that this act, while created to help widows with children, was being used to subsidize women having children with men they were not married to. Louisiana alone took 23,000 women off the AFDC act rolls based upon their immoral behavior.

Arthur S. Flemming, Department of Health and Human Services under President Dwight David Eisenhower

In 1960 Arthur S. Flemming, then head of the Department of Health and Human Services under President Dwight David Eisenhower and a key architect of Social Security, issued an administrative ruling that states could not deny eligibility for income assistance through the AFDC act on the grounds that a home was “unsuitable” because the woman’s children were illegitimate. In 1968, the United States Supreme Court’s “Man-in-the-House” rule struck down the practice of states declaring a home unsuitable (i.e., an immoral environment) if there was a man in the house not married to the mother. Thus, out-of-wedlock births and cohabitation were legitimized. In very short order, the number of women on welfare tripled and child poverty climbed dramatically. The assault on the family was on and Congress and the Supreme Court were co-pushers of this new government largesse drug called AFDC.

In effect big federal government became the pimp, the homes of single mothers became the brothels and the fathers became the Johns. The children begotten by these women became the next generation of big government addicts. Just as a baby born to a mother doing crack is addicted to cocaine, so too are these children born with a lifetime addiction to the onerous and destructive drug – big government.

Then Congress added a new ingredient to the powerful Social Security drug called Medicare on July 30, 1965.

Congress created Medicare as a single-payer health care system. Medicare was for those over 65 years old and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. President Johnson called it part of his Great Society program. Congress immediately got more addicts to begin taking this drug. At the same time Congress added a second even more powerful ingredient to this drug called Medicaid. This new ingredient brought into being an entirely new distribution system – all of the states of the union. Even though this new program violates state sovereignty it was passed anyway, in no small part because Senators were no longer accountable to the State Legislatures but rather committed to pushing government largesse.

The states were now helping pay for and distribute this powerful and expensive big government designer drug. The drug was offered to low-income parents, children, seniors, and people with disabilities. Congress now had more people on the Social Security drug than ever before. Congress had turned a corner – addiction to government largesse was now imbedded in our society. But Congress was not finished for it kept looking for more clients until we now know that the estimated unfunded liabilities for these four drugs are:

• Social Security – $10.7 trillion

• Medicare Parts A and B – $68 trillion

• Medicare Part D – $17.2 trillion (created in just 3 years)

America’s addiction to big government will cost our children and grandchildren an estimated $95.9 trillion dollars. The gross domestic product of the entire world in 2007 was $61 trillion. Big government is the true opiate of the people. The following is a quote from a May 26, 1955 Herald-Tribune News Service article:

“Seven Amish bishops appealed to Congress today to exempt members of their church from receiving any benefits of the Social Security program. They are willing to continue paying Social Security taxes, however . . . . The bishops made it clear that no elder of the church would think, today, of applying for Social Security or any other government benefits. They want the law changed, they said, to ‘remove temptation’ from their children and grandchildren.”

The IRS scandal may be the straw that breaks the back of big government. It may even bring down the Sixteenth Amendment?

Rep. Tom Rooney (FL-17) co-sponsors HR-25, the Fair Tax Act

Representative Tom Rooney (R – FL District 17)

Representative Tom Rooney (R – FL District 17) has now become the eleventh member of the Florida delegation to co-sponsor the Fair Tax Act (HR-25/S-13). Rep. Rooney represents South Central Florida including most of Hardee, Desoto, Highlands, Okeechobee and St. Lucie Counties. He sits is on the House Appropriations committee. A full list of House sponsors may be viewed by clicking here. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) is the sponsor of S-13 in the US Senate. Senate sponsors may be viewed here.

The IRS scandal has renewed interest in HR-25.

The Fair Tax Act is introduced, “To promote freedom, fairness, and economic opportunity by repealing the income tax and other taxes, abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, and enacting a national sales tax to be administered primarily by the States.” The Fair Tax Act states:

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS.

2 (a) FINDINGS RELATING TO FEDERAL INCOME

3 TAX.—Congress finds the Federal income tax—

(1) retards economic growth and has reduced the standard of living of the American public;
(2) impedes the international competitiveness of 7 United States industry;
(3) reduces savings and investment in the United States by taxing income multiple times;
(4) slows the capital formation necessary for real wages to steadily increase;
(5) lowers productivity;
(6) imposes unacceptable and unnecessary administrative and compliance costs on individual and business taxpayers;
(7) is unfair and inequitable;
(8) unnecessarily intrudes upon the privacy and civil rights of United States citizens;
(9) hides the true cost of government by embedding taxes in the costs of everything Americans buy;
(10) is not being complied with at satisfactory levels and therefore raises the tax burden on law abiding citizens; and
(11) impedes upward social mobility.

Members of both major political parties have stated that the IRS is a threat to freedom, fairness and economic opportunity. However, none have suggested the elimination of the 90,000 employee strong IRS. Many have voiced concerned that the IRS will expand its powers by being a key part of the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which is a national tax according to a recent US Supreme Court decision.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL-District 13) addresses the Congressional investigation:

Rep. Buchanan sits on the House Ways and Means Committee. He has not signed on as a co-sponsor of HR-25.

Disclaimer: The author sits on the Board of Directors of Fair Tax – Florida.

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Surprise! Obamacare Creating Some Jobs

Sean Hackbarth from FreeEnterprise.com states, “I don’t think this was what the public had in mind when the President and supporters sold them Obamacare as a job-creator.”

The federal health law derided as a “job-killer” by critics will create an estimated 9,000 jobs in 14 states this summer to handle consumer inquiries about new online insurance marketplaces.

The jobs are through Vangent, a General Dynamics subsidiary, which was awarded a $530 million one-year contract by the federal government to set up call centers to answer inquiries (sic) related to the insurance marketplaces in 34 states where they will be run in whole or part by the federal government. Other states will run their own marketplaces with their own call centers.

“And these few thousand government-created, taxpayer-funded jobs don’t make up for the workers at the Circle K Southeast convenience store chain who will be pushed into part-time work because of the health care law. [via Free Beacon] Nor does it make up for those workers in local governmenthigher educationrestaurants, a movie theater chain, and in other firms who will also see their hours pared back,” notes Hackbarth.

Read the full column here.

 

Rubio: Internet Sales Tax is a money grab by tax-hungry states

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding this evening’s vote on the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, which would force businesses that sell products and services online to collect sales taxes from consumers in other states where these businesses have no physical representation:

“The Internet sales tax is a terrible idea that will crush small businesses with the new burden of having to collect taxes from their out-of-state consumers. The Internet sales tax is nothing more than a money grab by tax-hungry state and local governments that are desperate for more revenue because they refuse to cut spending.

“As far as job-killing taxes go, the Internet sales tax is the worst kind because, rather than only take the hard-earned money of small businesses, it imposes more complications and burdens for businesses to comply with.

“To illustrate how bad an idea this Internet sales tax is, if it ever becomes law, it will force businesses in Florida to collect sales taxes imposed by over 9,000 jurisdictions throughout the U.S. That means companies will be forced to spend more time and money figuring all of this out and making sure they send the right amount to each state and municipality where their consumers reside. The more companies are burdened with new mandates like this, the less time and money they have to grow their businesses and create new jobs.”