As a tactic for generating federal subsidies, "bait and switch" works. Case in point: The now-defunct Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. The blogosphere has been alive during the past week over the release this past March by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) of a grant of nearly $80,000 to Affordable Housing Centers of America, which until 18 months ago operated as ACORN Housing Corporation. Though the grant was a carryover from fiscal year 2010, the revelation notwithstanding raises the possibility that the Obama administration is ignoring a 2009 congressional ban on federal support to ACORN and its affiliates, a ban overturned by a lower court but restored by a federal appeals court.
Last August, things looked sunny for former Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. He and his lawyers had just obtained a hung jury on 23 of 24 corruption charges. But Justice Department prosecutors, confident they had their man, continued to pursue the case - and this time with different results. Last Monday, June 27, a Chicago federal jury, after nine days of deliberation, found the man known as "Blago" guilty on 17 of 20 charges, nearly a dozen of them related to his attempts during the fall of 2008 to fill the pending Senate vacancy left by President-Elect Barack Obama in return for campaign cash.
The consultants who advise employers on how to avert union organizing or collective bargaining demands soon may have to reveal a good deal more about themselves and their operations. This past Tuesday, June 21, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to the delight of labor officials, published a proposal in the Federal Register to expand the circumstances forcing companies to disclose information about their advisers. Because the rule change would not apply to union consultants, it appears to be motivated heavily by politics.
When President Obama in March 2010 signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), the nation's most expensive social legislation in decades, he announced, "The bill I'm signing will set in motion reforms that generations of Americans have fought for and marched for and hungered to see." Yet what the law seems to have set in motion is a rush to obtain exemptions from group coverage requirements.
As the Department of Labor's top cop, Paul Tiao would have been uncomfortably close to the unions he would investigate. That's why he didn't get the job. Last Monday on May 9 President Obama withdrew Tiao's name from consideration as DOL Inspector General (IG) rather than subject him to a Senate Judiciary Committee grilling or install him via one-year recess appointment.
Elizabeth Warren (see photo) is an anomaly: a Harvard law professor and an outspoken populist. But as a ranking member of the Obama administration, she and her office are fast becoming unpopular - at least among many congressional Republicans. Since last September, Warren has served as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a powerful watchdog agency created by last year's financial reform overhaul.
NLPC is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate the Barack H. Obama Foundation, which is soliciting tax-deductible contributions from the public although it is not tax exempt. The Foundation is named for Obama's father and is apparently based in Kenya. Its founder and chairman is Abon'go Malik Obama (in photo), whose father is also the father of President Obama.
The Foundation has addresses in Kenya and in Arlington, Virginia to which it asks that donations be sent. Two members of the NLPC staff went to the Arlington address on May 6. It is a commercial mail drop facility where the clerk touted the fact that the address "looked like a real office address" and the facility could arrange to forward mail to any location in the world.
I am tempted to say that President Obama rushing up to New York City to embrace Al Sharpton during the opening days of his campaign is evidence of a weakness in his re-election prospects. But it is much worse than that.
Barack Obama is failing to demonstrate leadership on racial issues, and leadership in general, by paying such homage to Sharpton. I thought the whole point of electing a black president was to allow the nation to rise above everything that Sharpton represents.
The mortgage foreclosure crisis in this country may have been superseded by events in Japan, Libya and elsewhere for now, but in its own way it's taking a heavy toll. And it's likely to get worse, given the context of evidence that an Obama-initiated homeowner subsidy program to stem the tide isn't working and of a new federal agency poised to extract $20 billion from lenders on behalf of heavily delinquent borrowers.