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Posts tagged ‘Americans’

Darrell Issa Hammers Rep. Cummings Over House Probe of Lois Lerner.


House Oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa ramped up his feud with Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings on Friday, slamming him for hampering the panel’s probe of the IRS’s tea party-targeting scandal — and efforts to get retired official Lois Lerner to testify about it — out of loyalty to the White House and his own party.

In a scathing letter, Issa accused Cummings of acting like a defense lawyer for Lerner, who has twice refused to answer questions before the committee, most recently on March 5, by invoking her Fifth Amendment rights, The Hill reported.

“Your tactics undermine the committee’s investigative prerogatives and harm the institutional interests of the House of Representatives,” the California Republican wrote.

“Even though the White House helped orchestrate your ascension to ranking member, I have encouraged, and continue to encourage, you to subordinate your political loyalties to the institutional interests of the committee and the House, especially in cases like this where obstructing the committee’s work risks permanently disadvantaging Congress in its interactions with the executive branch.”

Cummings has argued the GOP’s pursuit of a contempt charge against Lerner is politically driven and lacks legal standing. On Wednesday, he wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, contending Issa committed a “fatal error” at the end of the contentious March 5 hearing by not making it clear Lerner would face a charge of contempt by refusing to talk.

“You and your lawyers and consultants say, repeatedly, that our committee did not provide ‘certainty for the witness and her counsel that a contempt prosecution was inevitable,'” Issa wrote Cummings, The Hill reported.

“But as a longtime member of the House of Representatives, you know as well as I do that that is a certainty that neither I nor anyone else can provide.”

In a blistering response, Cummings shot back that “seven independent constitutional law experts have now concluded that Chairman Issa botched the contempt proceedings,” The Washington Examiner reported.

“The chairman’s letter today provides no House Counsel memo or opinion, even though he and Speaker Boehner claimed they had one this week, and it cites no experts who support his inaccurate view of the Constitution and the law,” he charged.

“The entire country has now seen firsthand how Chairman Issa runs this Committee in violation of House Rules, and no reasonable person would accept his legal views over those of the United States Supreme Court. Contrary to Chairman Issa’s accusations, we are not defending Lois Lerner or her actions — we are defending the Constitution and the rights it guarantees to all Americans.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Cathy Burke

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Calls Obama to Vent About NSA Spying.


Image: Facebook's Zuckerberg Calls Obama to Vent About NSA Spying

By Jason Devaney

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called President Barack Obama on the phone Wednesday night and vented his frustrations with reports the NSA is spying on Americans.

A report on The Intercept this week explained how the NSA is able to hack into people’s computers to steal data, sometimes disguising itself as a phony Facebook server. It also uses spam emails that contain software to peer into the lives of users, according to the report.

Urgent: Should the NSA Spy on Americans? Vote Here Now 

“The U.S. government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.”

The Intercept report cited documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former government contractor now living in Russia on temporary asylum. He is wanted by the U.S. government for stealing classified material.

“To keep the Internet strong, we need to keep it secure,” Zuckerberg wrote. “That’s why at Facebook we spend a lot of our energy making our services and the whole Internet safer and more secure. We encrypt communications, we use secure protocols for traffic, we encourage people to use multiple factors for authentication and we go out of our way to help fix issues we find in other people’s services.

“The internet works because most people and companies do the same. We work together to create this secure environment and make our shared space even better for the world.”

It seemed to ruffle Zuckerberg’s feathers the most that Facebook, a secure platform on which users can socialize, is reportedly being used in a ruse to gather data from unsuspected Internet users.

The White House confirmed the phone conversation between Zuckerberg and Obama, CNN reported, but would not provide details. The administration denied reports that the NSA uses a Facebook-like server to steal data, referring to an NSA statement.

“Recent media reports that allege NSA has infected millions of computers around the world with malware, and that NSA is impersonating U.S. social media or other websites, are inaccurate,” the statement reads. “NSA uses its technical capabilities only to support lawful and appropriate foreign intelligence operations, all of which must be carried out in strict accordance with its authorities.

“NSA does not use its technical capabilities to impersonate U.S. company websites. Nor does NSA target any user of global Internet services without appropriate legal authority. Reports of indiscriminate computer exploitation operations are simply false.”

Zuckerberg said he is “confused and frustrated” with the allegations leveled on the nation’s domestic spy agency.

“When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government,” he wrote.

Urgent: Should the NSA Spy on Americans? Vote Here Now 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Rubio: My Economic Plan Will Create ‘Another American Century’.


Image: Rubio: My Economic Plan Will Create 'Another American Century'

By Joe Battaglia

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida outlined his plan to improve the economy Monday, continuing an attempt to shift focus from his failed immigration overhaul to his policy ideas.

Speaking during an afternoon forum hosted by Google and the Jack Kemp Foundation, Rubio advocated changes he said would create high-paying, middle-class jobs while ushering in “another American century,” with reforms such as an overhaul of the tax system, an increase in trade and research opportunities, and advances in the technology sector.

“While we are facing the full brunt of the disruptions created by the economic revolution [of the 20th century], its opportunities are not reaching quite enough Americans,” Rubio said. “The enormous challenge, the fundamental challenge before us, is to help people overcome these challenges and to access the promise of our time. Achieving this is going to require us to replace the antiquated policies and institutions of the last century with ones built for this new era.”

Rubio said that for the United States to position itself to win in a new global economy, wide-ranging transformation is needed in Washington, and he outlined three main avenues for reform.

The first is to enact policies aimed at fostering innovation.

Rubio argued that while the American people produce 35 percent of the value of the world’s goods despite composing just 4 percent of the global population, we would be doing even more except that “Washington has put up a blockade of restrictions and regulations and taxes that prevent innovators from accessing the full range of opportunities afforded by the American free enterprise system.”

His plans for collapsing those barriers call for preserving Internet freedom, expanding access to the wireless spectrum by selling it to private companies through federal auctions, and promoting technology development at the Department of Energy.

“We want to build projects and companies that not only change our lives and the numbers in our bank account but that change the world and change it for the better,” Rubio said.

After spurring innovation, Rubio said Washington’s second avenue of reform must be the expansion of markets for U.S. products and services by actively engaging in the global economy.

He pushed for the White House to be given “trade promotion authority” to expedite international trade deals; called for increased cooperation between federal research agencies and the private sector; and urged creation of a “national regulatory budget” that would be established by an independent board and would require the government to measure and offset the costs of any new regulation.

“We need trade policies that make it easier for our products to make it to a global network of consumers,” Rubio said.

Rubio said the United States must not lose sight of the fact that it is in constant competition with other global energy producers, and called for a repeal of the ban on crude-oil exports and for streamlining the regulatory review process for natural gas pipeline development.

“The interstate highway system of the last century helped foster an explosion of economic opportunity,” Rubio said.

“What we need now is an interstate energy pipeline system because it can have a similar impact on our economy. Unlike the interstate highway of the 1950s, the private sector, not taxpayers, can and will pay for this new system.

“What they need from government is a reduction or elimination of the regulations that are preventing the private sector from doing this now.”

Rubio said the country’s third avenue for reform should be on how to make it the best country in the world in which to invest. Hindering that from happening is what he said is the highest combined corporate tax rate of any advanced economy on the planet.

“If you combine federal and state taxes, our corporate rate is nearly 40 percent,” he said. “The global average is under 25 percent. Just on taxes alone it is more expensive to invest in creating jobs in America than in most other developed countries. If we stick with the status quo, what we risk is losing the next great American company before it even has the chance to begin.”

Rubio’s proposals call for sweeping reforms of the tax code, including a decrease in the highest corporate tax rate, immediately allowing companies to deduct all their expenses and expenditures from their taxable income, and allowing companies to avoid U.S. taxes on earnings made and taxed abroad.

“Under the current tax system, the safe thing for companies to do is leave [their money] in the bank,” Rubio said. “We see evidence of this in the fact that American businesses are sitting on an estimated $4 trillion to $5 trillion in uninvested cash. That is more than the size of the entire German economy. That is over twice the size of the Russian economy. Instead of this money being invested to grow and hire, it’s just sitting there.

“Under the changes we are working on, the more a business invests, the less the government takes away from them. That serves as a powerful incentive to invest, to grow, to hire, and to give their workers raises.

“We no longer have the luxury of wasting time on the failed promises of big government or the divisive rhetoric of class warfare,” Rubio said. “The world around us is changing quickly, and we have waited far too long to change with it.”

Rubio, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016, wants to rebuild his image after he angered conservatives last year by leading a push for a major overhaul of immigration laws that many on the right viewed as an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

The son of Cuban immigrants, he was dubbed the “savior of the Republican Party” by Time magazine last year but is having a hard time ingratiating himself with GOP conservatives, The Wall Street Journal reports. Most of his proposals on Monday are likely to garner support from other conservatives.

Rubio finished seventh in a straw poll of possible presidential contenders at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Last year, he came in second to Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who also won this year’s poll.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

RNC Building Database of Obamacare Cancellation Victims.


Republican National Committee data scientists are building a list of the millions of Americans who lost their insurance policies through Obamacare in hopes of aiming campaigns at those people this year and in the 2016 presidential election, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said.

“Getting that information and having good data as to who votes, who doesn’t vote, voter registration, party affiliation, consumer characteristics, cross-referenced with that kind of information, I think, is important for us to have,” Priebus told the Washington Examiner  after participating in a Conservative Political Action Conference panel talk on Saturday.

Priebus said the RNC has not had difficulty finding tech staffers, and has brought in some top engineers from sites like LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Facebook to work on the data projects.
The cancellations stand to play a key role in this year’s midterm elections, with many Democratic Party leaders urging candidates to talk openly about Obamacare issues while offering their own solutions to fix them.

The new approach, Democrats say, is based on polls such as a CBS News survey in January, which showed people agree the healthcare law has some good aspects, but changes are needed to make the law better.

In Colorado, where Fox News reported late last year that 250,000 people received cancellation notices, Obamacare is expected to make a huge impact on elections.

Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in November, and Udall has been arguing about whether the figures are valid, The Denver Post reports.  But Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for the state insurance division, insisted the figures are right, saying many people have renewed policies, but “regardless, they received cancellation notices.”

The Obama administration also eased some election pressure on Democrats about a week ago when it announced a directive allowing insurers to keep offering health plans that did not meet minimum Obamacare coverage requirements, reports The Hill.

Without the delays, another wave of health insurance cancellations would likely have hit this fall, just before voters headed to the ballots in November.

“I don’t see how they could have a bunch of these announcements going out in September,” one consultant in the health insurance industry said. “Not when they’re trying to defend the Senate and keep their losses at a minimum in the House. This is not something to have out there right before the election.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Santorum: GOP Should Follow Pope’s Example to Gain Followers.


It’s possible to believe in your principles and still gain public support, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum says.

Santorum told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace that both Pope Francis and conservative Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott have won over followers without changing their position on social issues, and Republicans can do the same.

“We’ve done a very bad job of connecting with working Americans, and we’re out there in a very stressful time in American history,” Santorum said during a round table during the news program. “People are full of fear and anxiety about their future, and we’re out there talking about cutting things.”

Story continues below video.

And while Santorum favors reducing the size of government and taxes, he said the issue is not simply about what’s going to be cut.

“When your whole answer is, ‘I’m going to cut your benefits, I’m going to cut taxes for rich people,’ you’re not cutting it with average people. And that to me is the real missing link here.”

But if Republicans would talk more like Pope Francis, maybe they would be more successful in attracting the followers they need to win races, argued Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic.

“Pope Francis hasn’t changed one doctrine of the Catholic Church, but he’s getting four times the crowds,” he said. “Why? Because of the way he’s communicating to the average person out there. We need to learn some lessons of who is out there actually trying to reach average folks . . . because average working Americans feel disconnected to this president.”

Santorum, who placed fifth in a straw poll of potential presidential candidates at this weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference, went on to tell Wallace that he’s refusing to comment on whether he’s planning to run for president again. He said he’s holding off on answering that question until after this year’s midterm elections.

However, he admitted, “I will be in Iowa and New Hampshire this month.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Portman: Senate GOP Jobs Plan Will Restore Economy.


A seven-point plan proposed by Senate Republicans will spark economic recovery in the United States, reduce unemployment rates, and help tighten the gap between wealthy and poor people, Sen. Rob Portman says in this week’s GOP address.

The Jobs for America Plan, the Ohio Republican said Saturday, “starts by getting government out of the way where we need to, whether it’s healthcare, regulations, or taxation.”

Experts said five years ago the recession had ended, but for millions of people, the nation’s economic downturn has continued.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Story continues below video.

“We’re living through the weakest economic recovery since World War II, and a lot of folks are struggling to make ends meet,” said Portman. “Unemployment remains stubbornly high; the number of long-term unemployed is actually at record levels.”

“The wealthy are doing just fine in the Obama economy,” said Portman. But declining paychecks and with rising costs of healthcare, college education and even a tank of gas, “this middle class squeeze is strangling the American Dream.”

He pointed out out that 11 million Americans have given up looking for work altogether, and the average family is “now bringing home $4,000 less than they did just five years ago.

The Obama administration’s policies aren’t working, said Portman, because “Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress believed we could spend our way to prosperity, and I guess they still do.”

But despite some saying that “fewer people working, smaller middle-class paychecks, bigger government, never-ending deficits and record debt piled on our kids and grandkids” is the “new normal,” Portman said it’s time to trust the American people again.

“That’s what’s at the heart of Jobs for America, a seven-point plan put forward by Senate Republicans to bring back opportunity, spark an economic recovery and restore to every American a shot at the American Dream,” said Portman. “It starts by getting government out of the way where we need to, whether it’s healthcare, regulations, or taxation.

For example, said Portman, it’s clear to “just about everybody, maybe except the president” that Obamacare isn’t working.

“Let’s replace Obamacare with reforms that put you back in charge of your own healthcare,” said Portman. “Decisions about your health should be between you and your doctor, not a bureaucrat and an insurance company. Let’s expand choice, rather than limiting it. Let’s create jobs, instead of destroying them. And let’s bring down the costs instead of driving them up.”

Bureaucracy and red tape are also hindering businesses and making it harder for them to create jobs, and Portman said Republicans have “proposed changes that will ensure that the benefits of regulations are worth the cost – that regulations do their job, without costing you yours.”

The nation’s tax code is also a problem, said Portman. It’s not just that it’s a “complex and expensive mess” that needs to be simplified, but also that “our out-of-date and inefficient corporate tax code is driving opportunity and investment overseas, creating jobs in other places that should be right here in America. Let’s fix the code so that every company pays its fair share while bringing those dollars back to our shores to expand plant, equipment, and jobs.”

Taxes should also be spent wisely, said Portman, and lawmakers need to “pass a balanced budget amendment to rein in the runaway, big government spending that drives our deficits.”

The United States also needs to expand overseas markets, said Portman. There are some trade agreements on hold for now, but the nation needs to be sure it is competing on a level playing field. This calls for giving the president the authority to open more markets for farmers and workers.

“We want to see people around the world buying products that are stamped, ‘Made in America,’ so we can create more jobs right here at home,” said Portman.

Jobs can also be created by making the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy that is often discussed come through.

“We should wage a war on inefficiency, but not a war on coal,” said Portman. “We should expand all forms of American energy, including through offshore drilling and developing our shale natural gas. And let’s finally approve the Keystone Pipeline to create jobs and speed the day when North America will truly be energy independent.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

Portman also said Americans should be able to acquire the skills they need to get jobs that are available.

“The federal government now runs 47 different, often overlapping, workforce-training programs, but they aren’t closing the skills gap,” said Portman, because they have too much bureaucracy.

“America’s best days can be ahead of us, just beyond the next horizon,” said Portman. “We just have to reapply some of the principles that have made America that beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world.”


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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Sarah Palin: No ‘Victory Lap’ Over Ukraine Prediction.


Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Friday that she is not doing a “victory lap” after triumphing over news reports that attacked her during the 2008 presidential campaign for predicting that Russian President Vladimir Putin would invade Ukraine if Barack Obama won the White House.

“There was a lot of pooh-poohing on a lot of things I said — and that wasn’t the only thing I was right about,” she told Greta Van Susteren on her Fox News program. “No victory lap, because I’d be interrupting them.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“You don’t interrupt somebody when they’re in the process of destroying their own credibility,” she added. “That’s the media.”

Story continues below video.

Palin last week noted the press pounding she took for her Ukraine prediction on her Facebook page.

“Yes, I could see this one from Alaska,” Palin said on Facebook, noting that she said “told-ya-so” in the case of her “accurate prediction being derided as ‘an extremely far-fetched scenario’ by the ‘high-brow’ Foreign Policy magazine.

Palin, the GOP vice presidential candidate that year, will keynote the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington on Saturday.

She told Van Susteren that she planned to tell attendees that Republicans had “every reason to be optimistic” about this fall’s congressional elections because “there’s been a great awakening in America.

“People are finding out that Obamacare is very bad for our economy — for our businesses and for our families. The problems of Obamacare are being manifested at their own dinner tables, in their pocketbooks — and people are saying: ‘No. Enough is enough of this.'”

But Palin cautioned: “We’d better not let the establishment — those that go along to get along, with Obama in this case — we can’t let them dictate what the issues are and what the message is, even who the candidates are.”

The former governor reiterated her longstanding call for the repeal of President Obama’s signature domestic legislative achievement and praised Sen. Ted Cruz and others who continued to push for ending the healthcare law.

“It needs to be killed now,” she said. “Most of these politicians in office today had promised that they would do that.

“Yet, when they had the opportunity to defund Obamacare, using the tools that the Constitution provides them with and the power of the purse, they balked,” Palin added. “It was Ted Cruz and just a few of them who stood strong on what they had at their fingertips to defund it.”

Cruz, the first-term Texas senator who is backed by the tea party, spoke against Obamacare for 21 hours and 19 minutes on the Senate floor in September.

While noting that Cruz and Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul — who also has tea party support — are at the “top of my list” as 2016 candidates for the presidency, Palin said that she was not endorsing anyone at this point.

“I appreciate those who have fought for America,” she said in naming the senators. “It doesn’t have to be someone who has a title today, in office today.

“In fact, some would say that we need to stay clear of those who have followed a conventional political path. Maybe they’re part of the problem.

“There are businessmen and women out there,” Palin added. “There are strong family men and women who understand what it is that makes America exceptional and they want to protect that. They want to get back to that.

“Maybe someone like that will rise and be the candidate for 2016. Maybe that’s what we need.”

She declined to say whether she might join the 2016 fray, too.

“It sounds cliché, but you never say ‘never.’ At this point in time, I don’t have any of kind organization going. I’ll never say ‘never.’

“It depends on what Americans really, really want in a candidate,” Palin added. “If they want a fighter, if they want someone who can respect our exceptionalism — everything that makes America great, the promise of America — if they don’t find that, I would run.

“But I do think that there are so many Americans who feel like I feel — and they are capable. They’re willing and able to serve,” she said.

“They’re public servants. They’re willing and able to serve and to lead this country, so it doesn’t have to be me.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Todd Beamon

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