Obama Calls for $263M Federal Spending in Response to Ferguson

Photo Credit: NY Post

Photo Credit: NY Post

Spurred by the Ferguson, Missouri, shooting, President Barack Obama is calling for $75 million in federal spending to get 50,000 more police to wear body cameras that record their interactions with civilians. However, Obama is not seeking to pull back federal programs that provide military-style equipment to local law enforcement.

The president made the announcement Monday from the White House during a series of meetings with his cabinet, civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others. At least for now, Obama is staying away from Ferguson in the wake of a racially charged uproar over a grand jury’s decision last week not to charge the police offer who fatally shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Obama is proposing a three-year, $263 million spending package to increase use of body-worn cameras, expand training for law enforcement and add more resources for police department reform. The package includes $75 million for the small, lapel-mounted cameras to record police on the job.

The White House has said the cameras could help bridge deep mistrust between law enforcement and the public. It also potentially could help resolve the type of disputes between police and witnesses that arose in the Ferguson shooting.

After the shooting and resulting protests in August, Obama ordered a review of federal programs that fund military gear for local police after critics questioned why police in full body armor with armored trucks responded to dispel demonstrators. Obama seemed to sympathize when announcing the review over the summer.

Read more from this story HERE.

Feds Spending $1.5 Million on ‘Bicycle Trains,’ ‘Walking School Buses’ to Get Kids to Lose Weight

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

The federal government is spending more than $1.5 million to research how “bicycle trains” and “walking school buses” can help obese children lose weight.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently funding two studies to a researcher at Seattle Children’s Hospital, both of which aim to get more children to stop riding the school bus.

Dr. Jason Mendoza has received $405,835 for a pilot study on “bicycle trains,” or a group of kids who bike to school with adult chaperons. The project is billed as a “low-cost, practical program to reduce risk of obesity for at-risk children.”

The study, which just got underway in two Seattle elementary schools, is focusing on “low-income and ethnic minority children,” who are at the highest risk for obesity, according to the grant.

The project first received funding in February 2013, and will continue until next January. Mendoza, a pediatrician and associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is following 80 fourth and fifth graders for the “pilot cluster.”

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Uncle Sam’s New Year’s Eve Borrowing Binge: $1,088 Per Household in 1 Day

Photo Credit: KAZVorpal/flickr

Photo Credit: KAZVorpal/flickr

Uncle Sam—AKA the federal government—went on a New Year’s Eve binge, adding a net of $125,202,709,546.99 to its total debt in just the one day of Dec. 31, 2013, according to the U.S. Treasury.

That equals approximately $1,088.60 for each of the 115,013,000 households the Census Bureau currently estimates there are in the United States.

Overall, in the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which ended on Dec. 31, the total debt of the federal government jumped $613,787,258,252.83

That equals $5,336 for each household in the country.

At the close of business on Dec. 30, 2013, the total debt of the federal government was 17,226,768,075,403.16. By the close of business on the next day—New Year’s Eve—the debt had risen to 17,351,970,784,950.15—a one-day jump of $125,202,709,546.99.

Read more about the United States New Year’s Eve borrowing binge HERE.

Feds Spent $29 Million on Prescription Drugs for 4,139 Individuals “Unlawfully Present” In U.S.

Photo Credit: APThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) spent almost $29 million to cover Medicare Part D prescription drugs for 4,139 individuals “unlawfully present” in the U.S. and thus ineligible to receive federal health care benefits, according to an audit by Daniel Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health & Human Services. (See Medicare prescription drugs.pdf)

CMS “inappropriately accepted 279,056 PDE [prescription drug event] records with unallowable gross drug costs totaling $28,990,718” between 2009 and 2011, Levinson reported. Total federal expenditures under Medicare Part D during that same two-year time period came to $227 billion.

Medicare Parts A and B cover hospitalization, skilled nursing care, doctor visits, and other medical services and supplies. The IG previously reported in January that CMS had also paid $91.6 million to health care providers to cover 2,600 ineligible illegal aliens.

The unallowable payments were made by CMS despite the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which prohibits illegal aliens from receiving federal health care benefits, and CMS’ own 2003 memo warning: “Make no payments for Medicare services furnished to an alien beneficiary who is not lawfully present in the United States.”

Medicare Part D is a voluntary program that requires individuals who are entitled to benefits under Part A or enrolled in Part B to opt in by filling out a form to enroll in a federally approved prescription drug plan that has a contract with CMS. Enrollee premiums cover about a quarter of the overall cost, with Medicare picking up the rest.

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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Sets Record for Annual Spending by a Federal Agency

Photo Credit: APThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the federal government’s major health-care programs as well as the Obamacare insurance exchange, spent $1,113,178,000,000 in fiscal 2013, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement for September, which was released last week.

That sets a record for the most money ever spent by a federal agency or department in a single year.

It also means CMS spent more in inflation-adjusted dollars than the entire federal government spent in 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation creating the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

In 1965, the entire federal government spent $118,228,000,000 in 1965 dollars, according to the Office of Management and Budget. That converts to $878,824,380,000 in 2013 dollars, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.

In 2010, CMS became the first federal agency to spend more than a trillion dollars, when it spent $1,035,783,000,000. In 2011, CMS spent $1,095,406,000,000; in 2012, it spent $1,052,799,000,000; and, in 2013, it spent a record $1,113,178,000,000.

Read more from this story HERE.

Hidden Spending Measures Playing Chicken with Shutdown

Photo Credit: Robert F. Bukaty, APTemporary spending bills approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate include measures that would require the Obama administration to rescind strict new rules on the poultry industry.

Advocates for independent chicken farmers want lawmakers to drop the language, which had been sought by poultry processors and their trade groups. The rules give farmers more clout in their business dealings with the processors.

“It’s a totally outrageous for a handful of multinational corporations to waltz in while we are trying to keep the government open and insert these” provisions, said Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, one of the groups siding with roughly 32,000 farmers who produce the broiler chickens that end up on supermarket shelves.

The most recent showdown between the two adversaries illustrates the way interest groups, large and small, are racing to shape whatever stopgap spending bill Congress passes to end the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Medical-device manufacturers, for instance, are lobbying aggressively to repeal a 2.3% excise tax imposed on their industry as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Some of the medical-device makers’ supporters on Capitol Hill want to insert the language in either a temporary spending bill restarting government operations or in another measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has warned the government will run out of borrowed money Oct. 17, requiring action by Congress.

Read more from this story HERE.

Sequester Madness: Feds Fund $880,000 To Study Benefits Of Snail Sex

Photo Credit: AP

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant for $876,752 to the University of Iowa to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails and whether that explains why any organism has sex.

The study, first funded in 2011 and continuing until 2015, will study the New Zealand snails to see if it is better that they reproduce sexually or asexually – the snail can do both – hoping to gain insight on why so many organisms practice sexual reproduction.

“Sexual reproduction is more costly than asexual reproduction, yet nearly all organisms reproduce sexually at least some of the time. Why is sexual reproduction so common despite its costs,” the study’s abstract asks.

“This project will use a different organism, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a New Zealand snail, which has both sexual and independently-derived asexual lineages that make it ideally suited to address fundamental evolutionary questions of how genes and genomes evolve in the absence of sexual reproduction.”

In other words, the study seeks to see if there are genetic advantages to sexual reproduction that justify its evolutionary costs, advantages such as avoiding genetic mutations or gene loss.

Read more from this story HERE.

Texas Preps For Going It Alone

photo credit: paul.orearTexas was its own nation before joining the United States, and many jokes have been made about some Texans still not recognizing that “other government” with which it now is affiliated.

But lawmakers there are drawing attention by considering a law that would have Texas review how it would respond should the U.S. government no longer be there to send federal tax revenue back to the state.

The proposal would set up a committee to study what the state gets from Washington, “the effects on the state budget if federal fiscal policy necessitates a significant reduction in or elimination of federal funding” and “a plan to address the loss of federal money.”

The plan, HB 568, has been introduced by Rep. James White, who said in a statement Texas Self-Sufficiency Act “creates a select committee to evaluate the effects of a possible reduction in or elimination of federal funding on the state budget due to federal fiscal policy.”

“Due to the fiscal dysfunction of Washington, D.C., and the fact that more than a third of our state’s budget revenue comes from the federal government, Texas needs to study what it would mean if the federal government couldn’t meet its obligations,” he said.

Read more from this story HERE.

Democrats, Republicans Appear No Closer To Averting Massive Federal Cuts Next Month (+video)

Photo Credit: DonkeyHoteyCongressional Democrats and Republicans appeared far apart Sunday on a deal to avert $85 billion in federal spending reductions next month, with a top House Republican saying the cuts appear “inevitable.”

The automatic cuts, known as sequester, kick in March 1 because the parties have failed to agree on a less-drastic plan to cut the federal budget and deficit.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told “Fox News Sunday” that Democrats remain steadfast about tax increases being part of the deal but remain open to spending cuts. “What we do need is more revenue and new cuts,” the California congresswoman said.

Pelosi said Democrats were “not talking about raising taxes,” but want to close tax loopholes, including those for U.S. oil companies.

She also argued Democrats have made $1.6 trillion in cuts over the past two years and suggested the bigger solution to the country’s economic problems is job growth.

Read more from this story HERE.

The Civil War Has Begun

Photo Credit: BreitbartWhen a person amasses too much power, they often believe they are indestructible.

What Karl Rove and company did last week in the New York Times, claiming that their new “Conservative Victory Project” would cure the ills of a disappointing campaign cycle, is laughable. The so-called “Conservative Victory Project” is nothing more than an attempt by establishment Republicans to cull the conservative movement. Why does Rove think he has a monopoly on wanting to win?

At least Karl Rove and company are finally out front with their disdain for the conservative movement, and I am thankful for it. The battle lines are finally drawn, and conservatives should look at the New York Times article as our Lexington and Concord. This battle will be a long, hard slog against the establishment.

Just this week, a Rove henchman attacked conservative leader Brent Bozell. But we will prevail, because we actually believe in core principles and a cause greater than our egos and money.

Karl Rove and his cabal would sell out on any issue if it means more power in the short-term, for they don’t stand for anything. Let’s just look at Rove’s record of accomplishments for Big Government causes.

Read more from this story HERE.