Access to reliable, high-speed Internet is almost given in today’s America. But should it be subsidized? The Federal Communications Commission thinks it should, now more than ever. On May 28, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to expand the agency’s Lifeline program to include broadband Internet. Costing about $2 billion annually in recent years, Lifeline defrays the cost of landline or mobile phone service for low-income subscribers. Carriers and consumers share in the cost; Internet service providers soon may join them. Funding has risen so much under Obama that the program often is called 'Obamaphone.' Given the rampant fraud, the main issue would seem less the proper funding level than the program's very existence.
As Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced last week a renewed push to provide $16 billion in taxpayer-backed loans for “clean” technology vehicles, more bad news emerged from another stimulus-funded electric vehicle company over the weekend.
Smith Electric Vehicles, the truck company that was supposed to “make it” because electrification made so much sense for short, urban delivery routes, halted production at the end of 2013. A quarterly report at Recovery.gov attributed the stoppage to “the company’s tight cash flow situation.”
Smith’s selling point for its step vans was that, unlike electric automobiles, delivery routes in urban areas did not require a long range between refueling (or, recharging). Frequent stops and short distances alleviated the “range anxiety” that accompanies cars like the Nissan Leaf. Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola and Staples were cited as early adopters of the truck demonstration project, which was launched with the help of $32 million in taxpayer funds.
An analysis of public records by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has found more than $20 million in federal stimulus funds benefitting real estate projects financially tied to Joseph Shepard, husband of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
Earlier this month, the Associated Press published an analysis, stating, "businesses affiliated with the husband of Senator Claire McCaskill have received almost $40 million in federal subsidies for low-income housing developments during her first five years in office..."
The NLPC analysis released today showed more than $20 million in financial benefits from the federal stimulus law to real estate projects associated with McCaskill's husband, with all of the $20 million benefitting projects different than those identified by the Associated Press story.
The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as this publication has noted several times, is a classic case of deceptive packaging. The proposal, now pending before Congress, would effectively eliminate the secret ballot as a means of allowing workers to decide whether to join a union. Specifically, it would force an employer to recognize as binding the result of a union "card check" campaign that generates signatures from at 50 percent of affected workers who indicate a desire to join. Labor leaders from the start have admitted they seek to boost their ranks and retool themselves as a formidable economic and political force. What they won't admit is the possibility that EFCA, once enacted, would be counterproductive to the interests of workers as a whole. A new study concludes, however, that such a possibility is very real.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has done a lot of heavy lifting over the past few decades for the Democratic Party Left.Launched in 1970 and still run by Service Employees International Union Local 100 chief organizer Wade Rathke, the massive nationwide nonprofit network of anti-poverty activists has been focusing much of its firepower lately on voter registration.They play hardball and are proud of it, regardless of whether their tactics are legal.Results are what matters.And last year in Missouri, the group delivered results.By a less than 50,000-vote margin, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, was elected as the state’s newest U.S. Senator over GOP incumbent Jim Talent.In the process, ACORN unwittingly set the stage, especially in Kansas City, for indictments and guilty pleas against several of their former workers.
The new 110th Congress convened at the start of this month with something it hadn’t had in a dozen years:a Democratic-controlled House and Senate.But amid the party’s hoopla over Nancy Pelosi’s ascent to House Speaker is the reality that its Senate majority is a thin 51-49, allowing for the fact that the two "Independent" senators, Joe Lieberman (Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (Vt.), are Democrats all but in name.That edge could be the result of a close 2006 race in Missouri, where Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill defeated incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent. Her margin of victory of slightly less than 50,000 votes very likely in part was the result of voter registration fraud.And the culprit is an operator familiar to the radical political landscape:the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.Investigative reporting by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Wall Street Journal and other news sources recently revealed that the nationwide network of nonprofit groups played fast and loose with the voter registration process in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, not to mention outside Missouri.