Melbourne, FL citizens outraged that red light cameras to be installed

With all of the national attention on government surveillance into the personal lives of citizens one method is drawing fire from citizens – the use of red light cameras. Citizens of Melbourne, FL are now expressing outrage at the City Council of Melbourne’s plan to install red light cameras.

Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) conducted a study on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%. WDW – FL reported on red light cameras here and here.

Scott Ellis, a resident of Melbourne, in an email to WDW – FL states, “There is no safety to this issue at all.  I have been driving the intersection of US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard for 40 years and never seen an accident, as well as hundreds of hours of campaigning at the intersection.  But rather than rely on analogy, I requested the study performed by the City of Melbourne used to justify the Red light cameras.  In the city study there is NOT ONE MENTION of accident statistics for this intersection.  NOTHING.  This is supposedly all about safety yet no accident data is part of the study?” [Emphasis added]

The subject line of Scott’s email is, “Government Camera Looters Coming to Eau Gallie.”

Scott wrote, “This is all about the money.  If it was about safety the accident records would be a factor.  It is all about revenue and traffic count, US 1 and Eau Gallie Boulevard being one of the highest traffic counts in the entire county.  The City Manager’s comments are so ludicrous one must question his sanity in believing the general public is as gullible as the City Council.  However, let’s take him at his word and have the City of Melbourne donate their $75 skim of every ticket to various charities around the city.” The USF study seems to bear Scott’s concerns out.

The Melbourne red light camera ticket fine of $158.  The receiver gets 60 days to pay from date of infraction, not date infraction notification is received.  The new law specifies if the receiver requests a hearing the hearing officer is a City of Melbourne appointed special master. If the ticket is not paid by mail to the city. The City turns the red light ticket into a regular Uniform Traffic Citation (UTC) and fine increases to $267.

A brochure was mailed out by Melbourne residents. It is similar to brochures used in Edgewood, FL, and Moline, Iowa. Residents noted that the brochure is the same as one provided by Gatso USA the camera vendor.

Cities and counties look at red light cameras as revenue generators. However, some are seeing revenues fall.

Robert Napper from the Tampa Bay Times reported, “The number of tickets generated by the [New Port Richey] city’s red light cameras has dropped dramatically, along with the number of crashes at some of those intersections. That’s the good news, city finance director Doug Haag told the City Council last week. The bad news, he said, is that the city faces an $800,000 shortfall this year in red light ticket revenue.

Napper found, “The city had expected the cameras, installed in July 2011, to generate $1.15 million this year. So far, the city has collected $162,189, and officials expect to finish the fiscal year with just $350,000 in ticket revenue — a 70 percent shortfall. ‘That’s the big elephant,’ Haag said.”

Scott included a letter from an unnamed visitor to Florida subject – “Who won’t be back anytime soon”:

To whom it may concern,

My name is X and I received a letter from a collection agency called Municipal Services Bureau (MSB). It is a collection letter on a traffic infraction ticket for $396.20 in Brevard County  I am verifying that this letter isn’t a scam and if not to figure on how/why I got a ticket. It confused me that the offense was supposed to happen in Florida but the letter is coming from Texas. I was in Port Canaveral area in August of 2012 on a business trip with the military during the time frame of a hurricane in the area.

I had a rental car. I never got pulled over or came in contact with any policemen to receive a ticket. If you could please provide me information on this or information who could answers these question.

Stay tuned, more government surveillance coming to a town near you!

Four Words to Watch in the Immigration Debate

This column courtesy of the Heritage Foundation:

The Senate will begin debate on the Gang of Eight’s immigration proposal next week. Here are four words to watch out for as the Senators make their case—and warnings about what they might mean.

1. COST

“Cost” is one word that should come up in the immigration debate, because the Gang of Eight’s amnesty proposal has a cost that is simply too high for Americans to bear. Heritage analysis found that amnesty would cost taxpayers trillions of dollars.

Amnesty means that illegal immigrants become legal—and become eligible for Obamacare benefits, Social Security, welfare, and Medicare. But they won’t pay enough into the system in taxes to cover the cost of all these benefits, meaning the rest of the taxpayers will have to bear the burden. This simply isn’t fair to hard-working Americans.

2. BORDER

Despite claims of security—and talk of amending the bill—the Gang of Eight immigration bill doesn’t secure the border. Instead, it “delivers nothing new—other than the promise of spending a lot more money and running up our debt.” As James Carafano, Heritage’s E. W. Richardson Fellow, explains: “Amnesty immediately creates an incentive for illegal border crossings and overstays. Thus, the bill’s strategy would drive up the cost of securing the border.”

3. AMNESTY

Heritage President Jim DeMint has said that it’s a false choice for people to say that amnesty is necessary to immigration reform. Amnesty encourages more illegal immigration, and that is not what immigration reform is supposed to do.

Former Attorney General Ed Meese, Heritage’s Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow Emeritus, reminds us that America has tried this before, and it didn’t work:

Today they call it a “ road-map to citizenship.” Ronald Reagan called it “amnesty.” And he was right. The 1986 reform did not solve our immigration problem—in fact, the population of illegal immigrants has nearly quadrupled since that “comprehensive” bill.

4. “COMPREHENSIVE”

Beware the word “comprehensive.” As Meese notes above, the amnesty of 1986 was also called a “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. It doesn’t work, and it’s not what we need. We need a separate, step-by-step approach to immigration reform. An approach that works—that the American people can trust—would start with reforming the legal immigration system and enforcing the security measures that are supposed to be in place.

Read the Morning Bell and more en Español every day at Heritage Libertad.

IRS favored HAMAS linked CAIR while targeting Iraq War Veteran who exposed them

In a strange twist of fate, it appears that in 2009 the IRS targeted Iraq War veteran David Gaubatz who was involved in exposing the HAMAS front group Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Based upon Gaubatz’s book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret World that’s Conspiring to Islamize AmericaRep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., and other congressional leaders asked the IRS to investigate CAIR. Gaubatz’s book called attention to CAIR’s missing IRS filings and foreign donations.

World Net Daily reports, “At the same time the Internal Revenue Service delayed or denied requests for tax-exempt status from hundreds of conservative non-profit groups, it was quietly restoring the tax-exempt status of an Islamist front group accused of collaborating with terrorists. Last year, the politicized agency reinstated the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations’ tax-exempt status despite years of delinquent tax filings. CAIR officials had met with officials inside the White House before the decision was made.”

In an email to WDW Gaubatz states, “Once my book (Muslim Mafia) came out in 2009, I got a letter from the IRS for an audit. They wanted a copy of my book, info about the Center for Security Policy, World Net Daily, etc… and then slammed me with a $146,000 tax bill. I had always completed my taxes on time and paid what I owed. I had two accountants go through my tax info, and in actuality the IRS owed me, but I am too small to fight the govt. Now they take it out of my disability pension (from war in Iraq).”

Gaubatz notes, “Anna Prillaman (IRS Tax Compliance Officer from Richmond, VA office) was reviewing my book Muslim Mafia, and wanted to know exactly which mosques I visited in 2007 and 2008…The IRS insisted I list the individual mosques.” Prillaman gave Gaubatz 15 days to respond to the tax bill.

World Net Daily notes, “Though Democrat-connected CAIR did not officially endorse Obama, many of its staffers helped turn out the Muslim vote for his re-election. CAIR boasted that its own polling showed more than 85 percent of Muslim-Americans voted for Obama. In 2011, the IRS stripped the group’s national office of its nonprofit status for failure to file annual tax reports as required by federal law.”

“During the years CAIR failed to disclose its donors to the government, it solicited funds from Libya, Sudan and other terror-sponsoring foreign governments, according to ‘Muslim Mafia‘. CAIR is not registered as a foreign agent. CAIR repeatedly failed to file its annual disclosure report, IRS Form 990. CAIR blames a clerical error for the delinquency and claims to have completed the forms. However, several news organizations, including Politico.com and Gannett Co., have asked CAIR for the 2007-2010 documents, and CAIR has not been able to produce them,” states World Net Daily.

CAIR’s is an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation terror-financing case, this failure to comply with federal disclosure laws is all the more troubling,” U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, the co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, wrote the IRS in a separate request for investigation in 2011.

World Net Daily found:

CAIR’s terrorist ties run deep. The Justice Department lists it among U.S. front groups for Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization. And several CAIR officials have been convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges.

The FBI says that until suspicious ties between the leadership of CAIR and that of Hamas are resolved, it will no longer work with CAIR as a partner in counter-terrorism efforts.

Despite these red flags, the IRS in June 2012 sent CAIR-Foundation Inc. a letter stating the controversial nonprofit had regained its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)3. At the same time, the IRS demanded tea party and other patriot groups turn over donor rolls, membership lists and contacts with political figures, among other things, before the agency would consider granting tax-exempt status to them.

CAIR Foundation, which is listed at the same 453 New Jersey Ave. address as CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington, told the Washington Post that “all the paperwork issues have been resolved” concerning the organization.

However, WND has obtained CAIR-Foundation Inc.’s latest filing, and even this tax document is incomplete. It is a partial return for the calendar year 2011, covering only the period from Aug. 9, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2011. The final page of the return, in fact, requests an extension from the IRS.

“Additional time is required to obtain information necessary in filing a complete and accurate return,” states CAIR’s accountant Joey Musmar.

The filing says the organization solicited $3,964,990 in gifts, grants and other contributions that “were not tax deductible.” An annual fundraiser raised a net $106,879.

At the beginning of 2011, CAIR’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $940,279.

It also owed “CAIR Inc.” $722,261 for “charity consulting.” This amount is listed as a “loan.” CAIR Inc. is listed as a “C Corp.”

CAIR insists its tax returns for 2007-2010 exist. Yet it still won’t produce them, despite repeated requests. According to the IRS, nonprofits must make their tax returns available to the public upon request.

CAIR lists Todd Gallinger, director of chapter development, as its contact for such matters, at (202) 488-8787 and tgallinger@cair.com.

It’s not clear what, if anything, the IRS investigated concerning CAIR’s filings. The agency did not respond to requests for comment.

What Is The Debt Ceiling and why should I worry?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zVFFO64OAQ4[/youtube]

The following is from the Heritage Foundation:

new video by Bankrupting America uses humor to call attention to an issue that is anything but funny, and why it matters for every American household.

Recent Heritage research reveals how the rising national debt hurts American families, including:

  • Higher interest rates on mortgages, car loans, and other loans make it more costly for families and businesses to borrow money.
  • Higher debt and higher interest rates mean more tax dollars must be used to pay the government’s interest expense, leaving less money available for other priorities like national security and making it harder to keep future taxes from rising.
  • Less economic growth means fewer jobs, lower wages and salaries, and fewer opportunities for career advancement.

Over the next few weeks, Members of Congress will be deciding what their priorities for spending reduction will be in connection with any vote to increase the debt ceiling sometime this fall. The debt ceiling vote likely presents an opportunity for real spending restraint this year.

Anyone following the shocking IRS scandal has fresh and frightening evidence of the dangers of a massive, over-reaching, highly intrusive federal government. This is yet another reason to cut spending: Washington has a problem respecting fiscal sense and citizens’ freedoms.

The first step to solving it? Shrink the monster down to size with real spending cuts.

It’s a goal many claim to work toward, yet few seem committed to achieving. Choices presented by the debt limit debate can force both parties to trim down the federal budget—if they don’t get sidetracked.

HOLDING THE LINE: There are refreshing examples of principled leadership among members of Congress committed to getting spending under control. Currently, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Mike Lee (R-UT) are working hard to prevent any backdoor effort to increase the debt limit without spending cuts.

Cruz_screenshotWhen it comes to holding the line on new spending, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and five other Senators recently announced their intention to object to consideration of legislation that spends new money unless it also trims the federal budget in other areas. Their goal is to “no longer spend money we do not have to pay for programs we do not need.”

The secret to controlling spending: To get spending under control, you have to know where the dollars are spent.

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security make up 45 percent of our national budget, as this recent chart shows. Millions of at-risk citizens depend on these programs, and Congress has yet to take the steps needed to reform and preserve them so they benefit those most in need and are affordable for current and future taxpayers.

To fix entitlements and get spending under control, only certain policy changes will make a difference. Key examples of transformative reforms are outlined generally in the landmark Saving the American Dream plan, and more specifically in “Six Bipartisan Entitlement Reforms to Solve the Real Fiscal Crisis.”

While members of Congress may be tempted to fold on the challenge of getting spending under control, now is the time that they as the leaders they were elected to be and deal with balancing the national budget in 10 years.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

True The Vote files suit against the IRS

True the Vote (TTV), the nation’s leading voters’ rights organization, filed suit in federal court in Washington today against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), asking the Court to grant its long-awaited tax exempt status and seeking damages for the unlawful actions by the IRS in the processing of its application for exempt status. ActRight Legal Foundation, a 501(c)3 fundamental rights and public interest law firm represents True the Vote in the lawsuit.

“We’ve been waiting for three years to receive a decision from the IRS about our tax exempt status,” True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said. “After answering hundreds of questions and producing thousands of documents, we’re done waiting. The IRS does not have the power to pocket veto our application. Federal law empowers groups like True the Vote to force a decision in court – which is precisely what we aim to do.”

True the Vote is dedicated solely to promoting election integrity in our Republic,” Engelbrecht said.  “Our mission is to educate Americans on all of the rights they enjoy as voters. We do not pick winners and losers, but instead fortify the voting process so that it is fair and free. If this goal is deserving of such scrutiny, then we have serious questions that we, as a nation, must face,” she added.

Cleta Mitchell, counsel to True the Vote and of counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation, stated, “We are not going to allow the IRS to claim, as it has been doing in the past week, that the targeting of conservative groups is over and ‘everything has been fixed.’   It is not yet fixed and this litigation is a vital step both to resolve True the Vote’s status and to learn exactly what happened inside the IRS.”

True the Vote‘s lawsuit consists of three counts:

Count One:  Seeks recognition of True the Vote as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization pursuant to  26 USC § 7428.

Count Two:  Seeks damages and injunctive relief from the IRS and IRS employees and agents, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), for violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by virtue of the actions of the government in unlawfully targeting and delaying recognition of True the Vote’s exempt status.

Count Three:   Seeks damages and injunctive relief against the IRS and IRS employees, pursuant to 26 USC § 7431, for their unlawful intrusions into True the Vote’s activities by requiring the filing of voluminous materials with the IRS, then unlawfully inspecting and potentially disseminating the information.

“This is just the first of several cases ActRight Legal Foundation plans to file against the IRS and those within the agency who have violated the constitutional rights of these citizens’ organizations,” said Dr. John Eastman, Chairman of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and of Counsel to ActRight Legal Foundation.
To read the complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, click here.

True The Vote 

(TTV) a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots organization focused on preserving election integrity is operated by citizens for citizens, to inspire and equip volunteers for involvement at every stage of our electoral process. TTV empowers organizations and individuals across the nation to actively protect the rights of legitimate voters, regardless of their political party affiliation. For more information, please visit www.truethevote.org.

Voto Honesto 

(TTV) es una organización sin fines de lucro, no partidaria, enfocada en preservar la integridad en las elecciones y operada por ciudadanos para ciudadanos, ara inspirar y equipar a voluntarios para envolverse en cada una de las etapas del proceso electoral. TTT capacita a organizaciones e individuos a través de la nación para activamente proteger los derechos de los votantes legítimos, sin importar a que partido político perteneces. Para más información, por favor visite  www.votohonesto.org.

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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Jon Stewart: Why does the President gets his information by watching TV?

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart has a series of video clips of President Obama saying he did not know what was going on in his administration. The President states repeatedly that he learned about it from watching the news. From Fast and Furious to the IRS targeting Christian, Jewish and Conservative groups, the President had no clue.

This theme was repeated by David Axelrod. Jonathan Easley from The Hill reports, “Former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Wednesday defended the president, saying it was ‘impossible’ he could have known about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups because the government is too big.”

“White House spokesman Jay Carney has said that nobody in the White House knew about or influenced the IRS’s policy, and that the president found out about the transgression through the news media at the same time as the public. The Justice Department on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the matter,” notes Easley.

Watch Jon Stewart’s monologue:

Center for Immigration Studies calls Rubio’s amnesty ad “deceptive” (Video)

Jon Feere, the Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, reviews an ad released by the “Gang of Eight” featuring Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The ad is playing nationwide, including in Florida.

Feere states, “The minute-long advertisement calls the proposal ‘conservative immigration reform’ and attempts to make amnesty appealing to Republican voters. Partisan politics aside, the amnesty ad is misleading on a number of counts…”

The ad was produced by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who created FWD.us, an advocacy group aimed at promoting amnesty. One of the group’s offshoots is “Americans for a Conservative Direction“, which is cited at the end of the ad.

Americans for a Conservative Direction’s board members include: Haley Barbour: former Governor Haley Barbour served as the 62nd governor of Mississippi from 2004 to 2012 and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the mid ’90s; Sally Bradshaw: former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff from 1999-2001, and served as a Co-Chair of the Republican National Committee’s Growth and Opportunity Project; Joel Kaplan: currently Vice President of US Public Policy at Facebook, Joel also served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former President George W. Bush; Dan Senor: former chief advisor to Representative Paul Ryan on the Romney-Ryan 2012 campaign; Rob Jesmer: former Executive Director at the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2008 – 2012.

Below is the ad:

Here is Feere’s analysis of the ad phrase by phrase:

RUBIO: “Anyone who thinks what we have now in immigration is not a problem is fooling themselves. What we have in place today is de facto amnesty.”

Very few Americans believe that we don’t have a serious problem with illegal immigration. It is true that this country is experiencing a de facto amnesty for illegal aliens, and it is largely the result of the Obama administration refusing to enforce immigration laws on the books. The problem is that Rubio wants to turn this “de facto” amnesty into a formal amnesty, and grant millions of law-breakers work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, travel documents, and an unknown number of additional state-level benefits. Rubio is trying to help President Obama fulfill his campaign goal of keeping all illegal aliens in the country and giving them benefits reserved for legal residents. If Rubio was actually troubled by the de facto amnesty being advanced by the Obama administration, Rubio would side with the ICE officials who are suing the Obama administration over the president’s effort to prevent them from doing their jobs. Top-ranking ICE official Chris Crane explained the lawsuit to Fox News, here. Mr. Crane’s recent congressional testimony, available here, raises many troubling issues. ICE’s additional concern is that the amnesty bill would make permanent their inability to enforce the law by giving DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano “virtually unlimited discretion” to waive all enforcement of immigration law. If an amnesty is passed, the Obama administration will likely continue to undermine any immigration enforcement provisions in the bill.

ANNOUNCER: “Conservative leaders have a plan, the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.”

The so-called “Gang of Eight” senators who wrote the bill aren’t all “conservative leaders”, unless you consider Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) to fit that description. True, the gang also includes Republican senators, but it is up for debate whether one considers Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to be conservative on immigration. Their immigration report card grades, from the pro-enforcement group NumbersUSA, are troubling: Graham has a “C”, McCain a “D”, and a Flake “C”. This is in contrast to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has an “A+” from NumbersUSA.

The voiceover in the ad also cites a newspaper article for the “toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States” language. This commercial carefully avoided some of the language in the article’s full sentence, particularly the part noting that this bill would allow previously deported illegal aliens to return to the country. The article’s full sentence reads:

The controversial proposal would grant most of the 11 million people here illegally a path to citizenship and give thousands of deported individuals a chance to return, but would also adopt some of the toughest immigration enforcement measures in the history of the United States.

No immigration bill in the history of the United States has ever permitted previously deported illegal aliens to return to the United States to receive citizenship, so it is difficult to see how this news organization concluded that the bill is the “toughest” our country has ever seen. Of course, the article is really claiming that the bill would “adopt some” tough enforcement measures, not that the bill itself is tough.

On closer inspection, many of these measures (noted below) are not as tough as they seem to be.

RUBIO: “They have to pass the background check, they have to be able to pay a registration fee, they have to pay a fine.”

Within six months of the bill’s passage, illegal immigrants would become immediately eligible for legal status, and many of the hoops that illegal immigrants would have to jump through to get such status do not amount to much. It is likely that any illegal immigrants who simply claim to be eligible will be able to avoid deportation, even if they’re already in detention. This is exactly what is already happening under President Obama’s deferred action program. ICE agents are being instructed to release any illegal aliens who claim to be eligible, even if they haven’t filled out an application form. The same situation will unfold under the large-scale amnesty bill. ICE will be virtually handcuffed and will not be able to carry out most enforcement.

To acquire the primary legal status offered under this bill, illegal immigrants would have to undergo a simple background check. But the bill would still grant legal status to illegal immigrants with a significant amount of criminality on their rap sheet. For example, crimes like ID theft and vandalism are not considered serious enough to deny a person status, despite the fact that such crimes create real victims. Specifically, two misdemeanors will not result in legal status being denied and under the bill multiple misdemeanors could be counted as “one” misdemeanor, provided they occur on the same day. Additionally, any problematic history an illegal immigrant has in his home country is unlikely to be uncovered; in a sense, our public safety would depend on the bookkeeping of police departments in the alien’s homeland, and there are many things that Americans consider criminal that are not criminal overseas.

Finally, the government’s capacity to conduct background checks on millions of illegal immigrants is questionable. ICE Union head Chris Crane explained in a video interview with the Daily Caller that there is “no such thing as a background check on a foreign national.” The 1986 amnesty also had background checks, but hundreds of thousands of fraudulent applicants were rubber-stamped. The amnesty granted legal status to someone who used his new status to freely travel to the Middle East to pick up terrorist training and helped lead the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Had we enforced our immigration laws, he would have been removed from the country and the attack might never have occurred.

The recent Boston Marathon bombing should also illustrate the government’s inability to carefully vet backgrounds. The FBI interviewed at least one of the terrorists, his family members, and his neighbors, in addition to analyzing his Internet usage. They apparently found nothing that would have raised a red flag. Despite the fact that DHS estimates there are many problematic foreign-born people living in the United States, the millions of illegal aliens applying for the amnesty will not have nearly as vigorous of a background check as the Boston bombers had, suggesting that some bad people will receive legal status through the bill. As written, the bill would allow known gang members to become U.S. citizens if they simply “renounce” their gang affiliation.

Rubio also claims that illegal aliens applying for the amnesty would have to pay a fee, but there are waivers and no specificity. The bill simply notes that illegal aliens aged 16 and older who want legal status will have to pay a fee “in an amount determined by [DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano]”. While it is unclear how much the fee would be, the bill says it should be enough to cover processing the applications. (See here for David North’s estimate of the size of the fee needed to process applicants properly.) But in the next section, the bill gives Napolitano the power to limit the fee and to exempt “classes of individuals” altogether. With such broad authority granted by Congress, it is unclear whether this fee would apply to most amnesty applicants.

It should also be noted that USCIS already offers waivers for those who cannot afford certain fees — in fact, the Obama administration created a form for such waivers in 2010 — and similar waivers may apply to any future amnesty. To obtain a fee waiver for some existing immigration benefits, an applicant simply must show that they are currently using a welfare program. Currently, 71 percent of illegal alien households with children make use of at least one form of welfare.

Rubio also claims that amnesty applicants would have to pay a fine. A fine is different from a fee and, by definition, a fine is meant to be a punishment for breaking a law. The bill puts the fine at $500 for the initial legal status — not much of a punishment considering the laws that have been broken. This initial status turns the illegal aliens into legal residents and grants them work permits, driver’s licenses, Social Security accounts, and many other benefits. Applicants would have to pay another $500 over the next six years. If a person wants to upgrade from this provisional status to full green card status (and eventual U.S. citizenship), they would have to pay another $1,000 many years down the road. But there are many exceptions. For example, people of any age who claim to have entered before age 16 and have a high school degree or GED would not have to pay either of the $500 fines, nor would they have to pay the $1,000 fine for green card status. Also, all people under 21 years of age, regardless of when they entered and whether they have a high school degree, would be exempted from both of the $500 fines.

Furthermore, it is likely that some pro-amnesty groups will assist applicants in paying the fines — some of which will be using taxpayer-provided funds to do so. The bill would actually grant groups like La Raza $150 million of taxpayer dollars to help illegal aliens apply for the amnesty, and the bill grants them a lot of discretion to decide how to spend the money. In reality, the fine may not be much of a punishment at all — particularly if American taxpayers are the ones footing the bill.

Absent from Rubio’s list is the requirement that illegal aliens pay back taxes. The reason he is no longer citing it is because that provision never made it into the bill. For months Rubio and other amnesty advocates sold the bill on the notion of requiring illegal aliens to pay back taxes for the years they have worked off the books. But it was simply part of an attempt to mislead the public into thinking this bill is tougher than it really is. Only “assessed” taxes have to be paid, and if the IRS doesn’t audit illegal immigrants working off the books — which is won’t — then there will be no “assessed” taxes to pay.

ANNOUNCER: “Border security on steroids. Tough border triggers have no giveaways for law breakers.”

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano Napolitano simply has to submit a plan for border security and a fencing plan within six months of the passage of this bill. As soon as she submits the plans, illegal aliens become eligible for work permits, Social Security accounts, driver’s licenses, travel documents, and countless state-level benefits. Past amnesties show that these benefits are mostly what illegal aliens are looking for; green card status and U.S. citizenship are not priorities for most illegal immigrants. No border security has to be in place for these benefits to be handed out. A proposed amendment to the bill that would have made border security come before these benefits are handed out was rejected by the Senate. Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Lindsey Graham, two of the alleged “conservative leaders” who helped authored this bill, voted against the amendment along with all of the Democrats.

The “triggers” — border security, an entirely new electronic verification system (to replace E-Verify), and an operational exit-tracking system — are required to be in effect before illegal immigrants can upgrade to a green card. But even this isn’t exactly true.

The bill does provide a significant amount of funding for border security, but it remains unclear how that money would be spent and whether the border would ever actually be secured. The bill requires an “effectiveness rate” of 90 percent and defines such a rate as “the percentage calculated by dividing the number of apprehensions and turn-backs in the sector during a fiscal year by the total number of illegal entries in the sector during such fiscal year.” This equation requires some estimate of the number of missed illegal entries, but the metrics of border security have been up for debate for many years and it’s unclear how such an estimate would be reached. Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council asks, “How are they going to measure effectiveness?” He fears the bills language “will put pressure on Border Patrol management to fudge the number in order to fit political purposes.”

Rubio has said that if effective control of these sections of the border is not met within five years, “it goes to a border commission made up of people that live and have to deal with the border and they will take care of that problem.” But in the bill, the “Southern Border Security Commission” would be made up of six Washington-appointed members (two by the president and four by congressional leaders), plus one from each southern border state (appointed by the governor), and it could do nothing but issue recommendations. But it gets worse. The bill also says that if “litigation or a force majeure” prevents the border from being secured then Secretary Napolitano has the authority to go ahead and issue illegal aliens U.S. citizenship anyhow.

One member of the Gang of Eight has asserted that citizenship for illegal immigrants will not be conditioned on actually having a secure border. Sen. Charles Schumer (R-N.Y.) explained, “We are not using border security as a block to a path to citizenship. This [the trigger] will not be a barrier to giving citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country.”

In other words, there really aren’t any border security triggers at all.

RUBIO: “No federal benefits, no food stamps, no welfare, no Obamacare, they have to prove that they’re gainfully employed.”

Rubio is simply wrong with these assertions. Illegal immigrants are already receiving federal benefits and this bill would do nothing to stop that. This bill would actually extend greater amounts of benefits to illegal immigrants by giving them legal status.

We estimate that 71 percent of illegal immigrant-headed households with children use at least one welfare program. Illegal immigrants generally receive benefits on behalf of their U.S.-born children, but they, not the children, are collecting the benefits, which support the entire family. Illegal immigrant households with children primarily use food assistance and Medicaid, making almost no use of cash or housing assistance. In contrast, legal immigrant households tend to have relatively high use rates for every type of welfare program. It is undeniable that if the amnesty bill becomes law, the legalized illegal immigrants will have greater access to the welfare state.

As for Obamacare, illegal immigrants who get green card status will have access to Obamacare, causing the aggregate annual deficit to soar to around $106 billion, finds the Heritage Foundation. Heritage also concludes that the amnesty applicants who receive green card status would also receive full eligibility for more than 80 means-tested welfare programs.

As to the “gainfully employed” requirement, Rubio is not being completely honest. The most important exemption comes toward the end of the bill, but it’s worth noting at the outset: All education and job requirements in the bill are waived if the immigrant is unable to work or go to school “due to circumstances outside the control of the alien”. The bill provides no explanation of what this might include, and one must ask whether high unemployment rates would count as something outside the control of the amnesty applicants.

Acquiring provisional status does not require evidence of employment. Renewing the status after six years does trigger an employment section of the bill. The section requires that the legalized immigrant fulfill one of two options. In the first option, the alien must prove that he “was regularly employed throughout the period of admission as a registered provisional immigrant, allowing for brief periods lasting not more than 60 days” and “not likely to become a public charge”. But this means that the immigrant could be unemployed for a two-month period and still meet this requirement. Plus, the wording is such that it leaves some interpretation to the courts. What if the immigrant has two “brief periods” of unemployment “lasting not more than 60 days”? By some interpretations, the immigrant would still be able to meet this requirement. Can an immigrant have five such brief periods? Ten? If the bill were written to limit unemployment to 60 days, then it would read “allowing for brief periods of unemployment totaling not more than 60 days”. It is a simple wording change, but it leads to a significantly different outcome.

As an alternative, the alien can “demonstrate average income or resources that are not less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level” for the period he lived here as an alien legalized under the bill. If the alien is the only person in his household, this requirement means that he would have to be making at least $11,490 a year.

But standards are low here. Amnesty applicants can submit a number of different documents to prove they worked. This includes any paperwork from a day laborer hiring center or even sworn affidavits from an alien’s family member who is willing to claim that the alien was working.

On top of all this, the work requirements do not have to be met if an amnesty applicant is going to school. The bill defines the education requirement quite broadly.

Furthermore, the employment and educational requirements do not apply to anyone under age 21 at the time of applying for the amnesty’s provisional legal status, nor do they apply to people over age 60. Also exempted is anyone who is a “primary caretaker of a child or another person who requires supervision or is unable to care for himself or herself.”

ANNOUNCER: “Bold, very conservative, a tough line on immigration.”

Considering all the exemptions and waivers already laid out above, it is difficult to conclude that this bill is bold with a “tough line” on immigration. The phrasing in this portion of the Rubio commercial is taken from quotes from pro-amnesty columnists in the media. The word “bold” was used by a Washington Post blogger who supports amnesty. The phrase “very conservative” is from the same writer; the full sentence is more illuminating:

In essence, if you accept that you have to start somewhere and we have no capability to uproot 11 million people, this is a very conservative-friendly plan.

So the writer called the bill “very conservative-friendly” and the ad shortened it to “very conservative.” One could certainly argue that these have different meanings. But the premise of the full quote is also worthy of debate. Does the United States have no capability to send 11 million people back home? Amnesty advocates constantly argue that the only alternative to mass amnesty is mass deportations. But in reality, both are unworkable. The only solution to the illegal immigration problem is the “attrition through enforcement” policy where we consistently enforce our immigration laws for a period of years and encourage illegal immigrants to go home in greater numbers than they already are. The Post blogger does not entertain this option and presents only a choice between amnesty and mass deportations, one embraced by Rubio.

The phrase “tough line on immigration” was taken from a pro-amnesty columnist from CNN. The same columnistcalled Arizona a “rogue state at war” for passing laws attempting to curb illegal immigration. That the pro-amnesty columnist opposed Jan Brewer’s efforts but embraces Rubio should raise flags about Rubio’s commitment to immigration enforcement.

RUBIO: “It puts in place the toughest enforcement measures in the history of the United States, potentially in the world and it once and for all deals with the issue of those that are here illegally but does so in a way that’s fair and compassionate but does not encourage people to come illegally in the future and isn’t unfair to the people that have done it the right way.”

Rubio claims that this comprehensive amnesty will fix the illegal immigration problem “once and for all”. But the American people have been told this before. The 1986 comprehensive amnesty, the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was sold to the public as a one-time plan that would not have to be repeated because the bill contained sanctions against employers for hiring illegal immigrants, and other enforcement provisions. But after IRCA legalized about three million illegal aliens, the enforcement provisions never materialized. Today, about 7.5 million illegal aliens are holding jobs and their employers are not being held accountable. Why would anyone believe that the enforcement provisions in yet another amnesty would ever be enforced? In fact, only a few years after IRCA passed, the National Council of La Raza issued a report calling for the end to workplace enforcement. Interestingly, the author of that report was Cecilia Munoz, who today is President Obama’s chief immigration advisor. Odds are high that she will be working to undermine the enforcement in Rubio’s bill the moment it becomes law. Just last week President Obama told a roomful of amnesty advocate groups that if the bill becomes law, he will “revisit” the enforcement provisions. In other words, Obama has pledged to administratively narrow the scope of enforcement as soon as 11 million illegal immigrants and their family members acquire legal status through the bill. This is why enforcement must come before any type of legal status. Rubio’s bill is backwards, and it’s clear he hasn’t learned from the mistakes of IRCA.

Rubio also claims that the bill “does not encourage people to come illegally” but he apparently hasn’t been listening to border officials in the field who have come to Washington to testify before Congress. Rubio didn’t see thisWashington Times article:

“We have seen an increase in attempted entries,” Border Patrol Chief Michael J. Fisher told a Senate committee.

He said part of the reason for an increase is that Congress is talking about legalizing illegal immigrants, which is luring more foreigners to try to be in the U.S. when amnesty takes effect.

This should not come as a surprise. Amnesties always encourage illegal immigration because they send the message that illegal entry is a feasible path to legal U.S. residence.

Rubio also claims that amnesty is not unfair to those who are attempting to come to the United States the legal way. The reality is that illegal aliens get to stay in the country the moment they apply for amnesty. If they pass the simple background check, they receive legal status and nearly all the benefits of citizenship, including a work permit, a Social Security account, travel documents, a driver’s license, and many additional state-level benefits. While green card status may be delayed for a period of years, it is undeniable that amnesty applicants are in a much better position compared to those overseas who have applied to come to the United States legally. The amnesty applicant is only in the “back of the line” in the sense that the green card — and eventual U.S. citizenship — would allegedly be delayed until after all existing green card applications are processed. But the fact is, the genuine back of the line is in the illegal alien’s home country.

ANNOUNCER: “Stand with Marco Rubio to end de facto amnesty, support Conservative Immigration Reform.”

Again, Rubio wants to turn the de facto amnesty we’re currently experiencing as a result of non-enforcement of immigration laws into a de jure amnesty for millions of people who do not belong here. Rubio asks you to “stand” with him, but Rubio himself is standing with Obama, Napolitano, La Raza, the ACLU, and many other amnesty supporters who cannot be described as “conservative” in any sense of the word.

Fraud Alert: More red light tickets coming if you live in Florida

WDW did a column on red light cameras that are popping up all over the state of Florida. We reported on a study conducted by Barbara Langland-Orban, PhD, John T. Large, PhD, Etienne E. Pracht, PhD from the University of South Florida (USF) on red light cameras in 2008. They updated their study in 2011. Langland-Orban, et. al. found that red light cameras (RLC) increase the number of accidents at intersections by 28%.

The 2008 study found:

“Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude. The effective remedy to red-light running uses engineering solutions to improve intersection safety, which is particularly important to Florida’s elderly drivers, the researchers recommend.

Instead, they increase crashes and injuries as drivers attempt to abruptly stop at camera intersections. If used in Florida, cameras could potentially create even worse outcomes due to the state’s high percent of elderly who are more likely to be injured or killed when a crash occurs.”

Tampa Bay News Channel 10 did a report on red light cameras. According to 10 News:

“A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) quietly changed the state’s policy on yellow intervals in 2011, reducing the minimum below federal recommendations. The rule change was followed by engineers, both from FDOT and local municipalities, collaborating to shorten the length of yellow lights at key intersections, specifically those with red light cameras (RLCs).”

10 News reports,While yellow light times were reduced by mere fractions of a second, research indicates a half-second reduction in the interval can double the number of RLC citations — and the revenue they create.”

The 10 News investigation stemmed from a December discovery of a dangerously short yellow light in Hernando County. After the story aired, the county promised to re-time all of its intersections, and the 10 News Investigators promised to dig into yellow light timing all across Tampa Bay.”

“Red light cameras generated more than $100 million in revenue last year in approximately 70 Florida communities, with 52.5 percent of the revenue going to the state. The rest is divided by cities, counties, and the camera companies. In 2013, the cameras are on pace to generate $120 million,” notes 10 News.

Cities and counties install red light cameras as a “hidden tax” on motorists. RLCs are a new revenue stream for government and those companies that produce RLCs according to the USF study:

Comprehensive studies from North Carolina, Virginia, and Ontario have all reported cameras are significantly associated with increases in crashes, as well as crashes involving injuries. The study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council also found that cameras were linked to increased crash costs.

Some studies that conclude cameras reduced crashes or injuries contained major “research design flaws,” such as incomplete data or inadequate analyses, and were conducted by researchers with links to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, funded by automobile insurance companies, is the leading advocate for red-light cameras.

 The Florida legislature, during the 2013 session, considered HB 4011 which would repeal the use of red light cameras in the state. However, HB 4011 died in the House Appropriations Committee.

RUBIO: Federal government used to target political opponents

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Excerpts from Interview with FOX News’ Bill O’Reilly

Senator Marco Rubio

May 14, 2013

Senator Marco Rubio: “I don’t know if the President did though. We don’t have evidence of that. I can tell you that what has become clearly apparent is a culture throughout the federal government, not just the IRS, but the Department of Justice, the State Department, etc. We have seen that now in three different incidents that basically use the government as an instrument of political activity to target your political opponents, to make life difficult for the people that are saying things that you don’t like, to make life difficult for whistle blowers that are saying things about the State Department that you don’t like, and I believe that all that comes from the top of any organization. So, I think that is where the questions are increasingly leading, and it is embarrassing for the country. These are things you typically see in the third world, from un-established republics and other places. You don’t see that here, and I think that is what is really troubling about the recent string of events.”

Rubio: “Right, so we have to be careful about that, but let me just say this. I don’t think that kind of environment can flourish unless there is created a space or an environment where it is encouraged. So, this is what we do know. We do know that donors to Mitt Romney and the Republican causes last year where targeted by Obama’s campaign apparatus, and the gentleman in Idaho that was targeted in his operation. We know others that complained about it. So, it is a general culture of the willingness to use the instruments of government to put what you consider to be your political opponents in a bad position, and you’ve seen that now on issue after issue. You have a whistle blower last week saying that in Benghazi that they felt threatened for their job. You have the AP now being targeted in a widespread effort to find out information about them, and you have this incident with the IRS.”

Rubio: “If this was just targeted at the leaks, that is a valid law enforcement endeavor. The problem is this is so widespread. If you look at what the request was and how widespread it was, what it basically feels like, and you’re seeing people in the press saying that. By the way, the curiosity in all this is how the press wanted to ignore Benghazi. They wanted to ignore all this other stuff. But when it touches them, now this thing is ‘the next Watergate.’ But back to the point about the AP, the request was so widespread; it wasn’t targeted. It was so widespread, it was like a fishing expedition.”

Rubio: “But the message is clear, and that is: ‘If we don’t like what you are saying or what you are doing, then we are going to use the apparatus of government to intimidate you and make you very uncomfortable.’ That is the story of the IRS, that is the story of the Justice Department via the AP issue, and that is the story with Benghazi.”

Rubio: “We did a hearing and Secretary Clinton came before us and answered questions and obviously as more information comes out, what she said at that hearing will have to be compared to what the facts are that are being uncovered, and I hope that they match up. And if they don’t, then obviously, there will be consequences for that. But look here is the bottom line: there are two separate issues to look at in Benghazi. One is were the talking points manipulated for political purposes? And number two, should we even have been there to begin with, in Benghazi, after a steady stream of intelligence reporting that told the State Department that it is a very dangerous environment to have been there? They should have closed it down, and if they were going to keep Benghazi open, they should have had an adequate security and an adequate plan to rescue those people, and they did not.”

Full Interview: http://youtu.be/aJ_CT7YmmE4

Florida Rep. Buchanan: “Heads Need to Roll” at the IRS

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, and the only member of the Florida delegation on the House Ways and Means Committee, today called on acting-IRS commissioner Steven Miller to immediately fire Lois Lerner, the senior IRS official who oversaw the intentional targeting of individuals because of their politics and criticism of the government.

“Heads need to roll today,” said Buchanan, Florida’s only member of the Ways & Means Committee which oversees the IRS. “Ms. Lois Lerner knew about this gross abuse of power as early as 2011 but continues to plead ignorance to this day. We don’t want apologies we want answers and accountability — and we can start by firing the person responsible for this gross abuse of power.”

On Friday, Lerner told reporters that she first learned of the IRS targeting of political groups from media reports. However, a draft report by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration confirms that Ms. Lerner was made aware that such political targeting had occurred on June 29, 2011. Ms. Lerner also tried to pin the blame on low-level workers. The Inspector General’s report confirms that senior IRS officials in Washington were made aware of the misconduct as early as August 2011.

“Our founding fathers would be rolling in their graves if they knew their government was targeting individuals based on their political beliefs and criticism of the government,” said Buchanan. “The American people need to know they can be critical of their government without fear of retribution.”

Buchanan issued a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Monday demanding a full accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for the IRS’s gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust. The Ways & Means Committee will hold its first hearing on Friday to further investigate the matter.

Congressman Buchanan sent the letter below to Treasury Secretary Lew:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jacob Lew
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew,

I share the outrage of millions of Americans at confirmed reports that the Internal Revenue Service has gone out of its way to intentionally target individuals and organizations whose politics are at odds with the Administration. The American people demand and deserve a full-accounting from top to bottom of those responsible for this gross abuse of power and what action is being taken to restore the public trust.

On March 22, 2012, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee which oversees the IRS, we heard then-Commissioner Douglas Shulman clearly state that the IRS did not engage in the practices of which it is now accused saying “there is absolutely no targeting.” Yet, less than a year earlier, Commissioner Shulman’s own deputy, Lois Lerner, was made aware that such malpractice had indeed occurred. It became evident that groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names were extremely vulnerable to auditing harassment. Even nonprofit organizations that sought to educate Americans about the U.S. Constitution were unfairly singled out for scrutiny.

The nation’s trust in government was betrayed by this unconscionable behavior.

On behalf of my constituents, your immediate response is not only warranted but essential to clearing up a matter that would have our founding fathers rolling in their graves.

Sincerely,

Vern Buchanan
Member of Congress

Rubio introduces legislation to limit powers of IRS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today filed an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act to prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from abusing its powers to violate first amendment rights. Rubio will introduce identical legislation, the Taxpayer Nondiscrimination & Protection Act of 2013, in the Senate tomorrow. The legislation, introduced today in the House by Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), provides for mandatory termination and criminal liability for Internal Revenue Service employees who willfully violate the constitutional rights of a taxpayer. The need for the legislation is demonstrated by current reports of the IRS deliberately targeting conservative organizations, and it expressly states that political speech and political expression are protected rights.

The legislation reads in part, “Whoever being an employee of the Internal Revenue Service, engages, during the performance of that employee’s official duties, in an act or omission described in section 1203(b) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 shall be fined under this 8 title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.’’

“A government organization like the IRS discriminating against political organizations is an outrageous abuse of power, and the American people have every right to demand answers and accountability,” said Rubio. “Those responsible individuals should face all appropriate punishment available under current law, and all organizations and individuals who engage in political speech and expression should be protected against this kind of discriminatory behavior in the future. I commend Congressman Turner for championing this legislation in the House and hope our colleagues will join us in providing protections to deter this kind of governmental abuse from happening again.”

Earlier, Rubio sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to demand the resignation of the current IRS Commissioner. “The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

To view the legislation, click here.

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013

The Honorable Jack Lew 
Secretary 
U.S. Department of the Treasury 
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

Rubio: IRS head must resign

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (pictured above) to demand the resignation of the current Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner, in light of reports about the agency’s deliberate targeting of conservative organizations.

“[I]t is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership,” said Rubio in a letter to Lew. “I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.”

Rubio also called on Lew to ensure the Treasury Department’s full cooperation with all investigations regarding this scandal now known as “IRSgate”.

“The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration,” Rubio wrote. “If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

May 13, 2013
The Honorable Jack Lew
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Lew:

Recent revelations about the Internal Revenue Service’s selective and deliberate targeting of conservative organizations are outrageous and seriously concerning. This years-long abuse of government power is an assault on the free speech rights of all Americans. This direct assault on our Constitution further justifies the American people’s distrust in government and its ability to properly implement our laws.

The American people deserve answers about how such seemingly unconstitutional and potentially criminal behavior could occur, and who else was aware of it throughout the Administration. It is imperative that you, your predecessor, and other past and present high-ranking officials at the Department of Treasury and IRS immediately testify before Congress.

The public expects your complete cooperation with both congressional investigations and potential criminal inquiries. If investigations reveal that bureaucrats or political appointees engaged in unconstitutional or criminal targeting of conservative taxpayers, they must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. At a bare minimum, those involved with this deeply offensive use of government power have committed a violation of the public trust that has already had a profoundly chilling effect on free speech. Such behavior cannot be excused with a simple apology.

Furthermore, it is clear the IRS cannot operate with even a shred of the American people’s confidence under the current leadership. Therefore, I strongly urge that you and President Obama demand the IRS Commissioner’s resignation, effectively immediately. No government agency that has behaved in such a manner can possibly instill any faith and respect from the American public.

Sincerely,

Marco Rubio

The Ugly Facts About the Internet Sales Tax

The Internet sales tax passed the Senate, but a growing chorus is pointing out that it would hurt many to help the tax man.

The Senate passed the misleadingly named Marketplace Fairness Act last week by a vote of 69-27. But House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said that he is unlikely to support it—and other House Members said they want to take a thorough look at it through the normal committee process.

“Moving this bill where you’ve got 50 different sales tax codes, it’s a mess out there,” Boehner said. “You’re going to make it much more difficult for online retailers to be able to comply.”

For a larger view click on the image

Not only would it charge a new sales tax to many consumers shopping online, but it fails to do what its proponents say—achieve “fairness” for stores.

As Heritage’s Curtis Dubay says:

The MFA is anything but fair, because instead of leveling the playing field, it would tilt it decidedly against online retailers, particularly small ones. Brick-and-mortar stores would still have to collect sales taxes only where they are physically present. Online retailers would have to collect sales taxes from the nearly 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions around the country where their customers live. That is not an equal burden.

For someone running—or thinking about starting—a small online business, trying to deal with tax codes for all of the states that charge sales tax is a huge deterrent.

Yet the Senate rushed this bill through. Americans for Tax Reform’s Grover Norquist said the rush itself was one of the reasons the Internet sales tax made it this far.

“It’s only passing the Senate because they took it out of regular order,” he said. “Why did they want to rush it through without amendments? Why did they do that? Because if people looked at it too long, it wouldn’t pass easily.”

The House is going to consider the bill through the normal committee channels, giving Members more time to review it and ask questions.

This also allows time for more facts to enter the debate and misconceptions to be exposed. Share this with your friends and family to spread the word.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Rubio: IRS targeting of Conservative groups is reprehensible, must be investigated

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding today’s admission by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that it has deliberately targeted conservative groups:

“The IRS’s political targeting of select groups based on their political leanings is reprehensible, and it should trouble every American to know that a federal government agency could abuse its power so outrageously.  We need immediate congressional hearings to investigate these actions and determine who needs to be held accountable.  This is deplorable behavior by the IRS that threatens the very essence of our democracy and the First Amendment rights under our Constitution.”

One of 300 letters sent from the IRS was to the Waco Tea Party.

The IRS letter states, “We need more information before we can complete our consideration of your application for. exemption.  Please provide the information requested on the enclosed Information Request by the response due date shown above. Your response must be signed by an authorized person or an officer whose name is listed on your application.  Also, the information you submit should be accompanied by the following declaration: Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this information, including accompanying documents, and, to the best of my knowledge and belief, tile information contains all the relevant facts relating to the request for the information, and such facts are true, correct, and complete.” The Information Request demands in part the following:

1. Please provide copies of your current web pages, including your blog posts. Please provide copies of all of your newsletters, bulletins, flyers, newsletters or any other media or literature you have disseminated to your members or others. Please provide copies of stories and articles that have been published about you.

2. Provide copies of the pages of your social networking sites.

10. List the community events, including rallies, you organized or took part in in the past, or plan to organize or participate in during the current election cycle. What are the dates on which they took place or will take place?

a. Describe the purpose of the event, and the issues that it addressed.

b. Provide copies of any materials disseminated to participants in the event.

c. If you permitted a candidate qua candidate to address the participants in any event, explain in detail.

20. Apart from your responses to the preceding,estimate the percentage of your time and what percentage of your resources you will devote to activities in the 2012 election cycle,in which you will explicitly or implicitly support or oppose a candidate, candidates or slates of candidates,for public office.

The IRS letter concludes with:

If we don’t hear from you by the response due date shown above,we will assume you no longer want us to consider your application for exemption and will close your case. As a result,the Internal Revenue Service will treat you as a taxable entity. If we receive the information after the response due date, we may ask you to send us a new application.

From the letter it appears that the IRS was seeking information beyond its role and responsibility.