Indiana A.G. Probing Privacy
Breach of 'Obamaphone' Users
The Indiana attorney general's office confirmed it is investigating a security breach in which Social Security numbers and other personal information were posted online for roughly 44,000 low-income Americans who applied for a federal program that provides discount Internet and phone service. The program was nicknamed the "Obamaphone" during the 2012 election, though it actually started long before Pres. Obama took office. Indiana reportedly has the highest number of applicants, roughly 17,400, who were signed up by TerraCom Inc. and the affiliated YourTel America Inc. Applicants from at least 26 states were exposed to the security breach. In addition to the application forms, 127,000 supporting documents such as scans or photos of food-stamp cards, driver's licenses, tax records, pay stubs and parole letters also were available online.
13,000 Maryland Voters on D.C. Books
The Washington Times
Washington, DC, has failed to remove from its voting rolls as many as 13,000 former residents who years ago moved to Prince George's County and cast ballots there, making fraud by voting in two jurisdictions as easy as going to the polls in their old neighborhoods, a review of records shows. In dozens of cases, names are listed as voting in both jurisdictions in the November presidential election. Provided a subset of the names, DC pulled paper records and said most did not vote, but that other voters accidentally associated their ballots with the former residents' names instead of their own. For others listed as voting in both jurisdictions, they had no such explanation. Democrats who have been deeply active for decades in the community of black, middle-class residents said Prince George's County residents casting double votes is an open secret.
Detroit's Pension Boards Pay
$22K to Send 4 Trustees to Hawaii
Detroit Free Press
Four trustees of Detroit's two public pension funds are heading to a Hawaiian beach resort this weekend with their $22,000 tab paid for by the funds, which are mired in claims of mismanagement and said to be at least $600 million underfunded. Trustees say the conference provides the education they need to manage complex investments for the funds' retirees and beneficiaries. But other major public pension systems, including the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions, avoided sending their officials to Hawaii because of concerns the exotic locale sends the wrong message at a time when pensions nationwide are contemplating or implementing reduced benefits to cope with rising retirement costs and shaky investment returns. Records show the expenses cover airfare, lodging at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort in Honolulu, registration fees, and a per diem.
Lawmakers Eye Regulating
Domestic Surveillance Drones
Amid growing concern over the use of drones by police and government officials for surveillance, a bipartisan group of lawmakers is pushing to limit the use of unmanned surveillance "eyes in the sky" aircraft. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), along with Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), is sponsoring legislation that would codify due process protections for Americans in cases involving drones and make flying armed drones in the U.S. sky illegal. Sensenbrenner believes it is necessary to develop new standards to address the privacy issues associated with use of drones — which can be as small as a bird and as large as a plane. "Every advancement in crime fighting technology, from wiretaps to DNA, has resulted in courts carving out the Constitutional limits within which the police operate," Sensenbrenner said.
Obamacare Socks Union Health Plans with 40% Tax
The Washington Examiner
Deep in the list of taxes that the president's Obamacare plan will hit Americans with is a 40 percent excise tax on health plans typical union members have, especially in Midwest states, according to a new analysis. The Obamacare tax won't take place until 2018, but when it does it will smack high cost, or so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans, according to the group Americans for Tax Reform. "This tax will most directly affect union families and early retirees, who are likely to be covered by such plans," said ATR in a review of upcoming tax cuts in the health reform package set to go into effect in January. It will target plans whose premiums exceed $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for a family. "Middle class union members tend to be covered by such plans in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan," said ATR.
Foreign Nationals Cased One of
Largest US Public Water Supplies
Shortly after midnight Tuesday, seven people were caught trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir. State Police say the five men and two women are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore, and "cited their education and career interests" for being in the area. The men told police they were chemical engineers and recent college graduates. The Quabbin, in Belchertown, is one of the country's largest man-made public water supplies. Boston's drinking water comes, in part, from the Quabbin Reservoir. State Police say there were no warrants or advisories on any of the individuals and "there was no evidence that the seven were committing any crime beyond the trespassing." All seven were allowed to leave and will be summonsed to court for trespassing. The FBI is investigating and routine checks of public water supplies have been increased.
Dirty Tricks Cover-Up in Gregory
Gun Crime Investigation
The Washington Times
Officials in Washington are using dirty tactics to hide the investigation and decision not to prosecute David Gregory of NBC News for illegally possessing a "high-capacity" magazine in the District of Columbia. As I wrote in February, my requests to the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of Attorney General to turn over the documents in Mr. Gregory's case were ignored. I finally had to use a Freedom of Information Act request, but the attorney general and police only turned over public documents. So I wrote separate extensively-detailed FOIA request to the attorney general, MPD and Mayor Vincent Gray. The police and prosecutor responded with a large amount of documents -- 75 percent of them were useless to me (every public email and news story) and seemed to be an effort to bury me in paper. The rest was heavily redacted with big black marks.
Report: Obamacare to Increase
Premiums Nearly 100 Percent
The House Energy & Commerce Committee today released a report citing internal documents from the nation's largest health insurance companies that reveal the healthcare law's policies, mandates, taxes, and fees will cause major premium increases for consumers in the individual, small group and large group markets. The report states, "Affordability. It was a central premise – and promise – of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act when the law was debated in Congress throughout 2009 and signed into law on March 23, 2010. In his remarks that day, President Barack Obama stated: 'This legislation will also lower costs for families and businesses...' The following report chronicles the massive premium increases awaiting Americans when full implementation of the PPACA occurs in eight months, definitively contradicting the promise that the law will lower costs."
Indiana Hits 'Pause Button' on
Common Core Education Push
The Washington Times
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was one of the staunchest defenders of the K-12 academic standards known as Common Core. But Indiana is now ground zero in the fight against those very standards, and it may lead the way for other states to consider pulling out of the system. Over the weekend, Mr. Daniels' successor, fellow Republican Mike Pence, signed legislation to halt implementation of the Common Core reforms pending further study. The measure doesn't withdraw Indiana from Common Core, but it opens the door wide enough for the state to exit. Mr. Pence's approval came amid growing grass-roots opposition to the state standards, characterized by critics as a back-door way for the federal government to take over what is taught in classrooms. By signing the bill, Mr. Pence has lent his voice to the growing chorus of Republicans opposed to the standards.
Cancer Patients to Face Higher
Med Costs Under Obamacare
Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under Pres. Obama's healthcare law, industry analysts warn. Where you live could make a huge difference in what you'll pay. To try to keep premiums low, some states are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases. Such "specialty drugs" can cost thousands of dollars a month, and in California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. For one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month's supply, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Critics fear most states will follow California's lead, and that could defeat the purpose of Obama's overhaul, as some of the sickest patients may be unable to afford their prescriptions.
Taxpayers Must Report Personal
Health Info to IRS Starting 2014
Americans for Tax Reform
When Obamacare’s individual mandate takes effect in 2014, all Americans who file income tax returns must complete an additional IRS tax form. The new form will require disclosure of a taxpayer’s personal identifying health information in order to determine compliance with the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. As confirmed by IRS testimony to the tax-writing House Committee on Ways & Means, “taxpayers will file their tax returns reporting their health insurance coverage, and/or making a payment.” Every January, health insurance companies across America will send out tax documents to each insured individual. This tax document -- a copy of which will be furnished to the IRS -- must contain sufficient information for taxpayers to prove that they purchased qualifying health insurance under Obamacare. This will involve millions of new tax documents.