Former Senator Questions Need for So Many Armed Federal Agents
Former Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla) wrote an op ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he raised the question of why so many federal agents are authorized to carry weapons. In the op ed, Coburn wondered why the IRS needs assault rifles, why the Department of Veterans Affairs is arming 3,700 employees, and why the number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000).
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen responded that "it should be readily apparent why my agency needs to be armed. Taxes are very unpopular. Taxpayers who aren't sufficiently intimidated by liens and confiscations of their property are especially dangerous elements. We can't afford to let ourselves be out-gunned by them."
Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs Robert McDonald said "it should be obvious that considering our client base is comprised of former military—people trained in lethal skills—that we must be prepared to use deadly force if circumstances arise warranting it."
Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest labeled the former Senator's concerns "paranoid and short-sighted. He tries to make too much of the fact that armed federal agents now out-number armed Marines. Well, armed Marines don't face as large a threat. There are over 300 million Americans who could potentially pose a threat to the government. There are over 100 million firearms in the hands of this population. As the President sees it, we are substantially out-gunned by domestic enemies. Clearly, we need more armed agents."
In related news, a recent Department of Homeland Security report calls for "refocusing anti-terror efforts away from possible jihadis and toward millennials." Secretary Jeh Johnson pointed out that "there are an estimated 75 million millennials. This number dwarfs the one million persons on the terror watch list. It's only logical that we should devote more of our energy toward confronting this bigger threat."
ISIS Group Praises Orlando Massacre
Despite President Obama's uncertainty concerning the motives of the man who murdered 49 patrons of the Pulse night club in Orlando Florida, both the assailant and ISIS had no doubts. Shooter Omar Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS both before and during his killing spree. Similarly, the Al-Battar Media Foundation, reportedly an operation of the elite ISIS Libyan unit Kalibat al-Battar al-Libi, hailed the "slaughter of infidels" and urged "all true Muslims to emulate this lion of the Caliphate."
Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest emphasized that "the President's focus on America's gun culture has the numbers behind him. There are 100 million guns in private hands in this country. In contrast, there are only a handful of proven fanatics that have been involved in recent shootings. Many more people have been killed by guns wielded by non-Muslim attackers than by attackers sharing the Muslim faith."
"In Chicago alone, more than a thousand people have been shot to death this year," Earnest pointed out. "This is 30 times the death toll of the Orlando massacre. Rather than get swept up in the anti-Muslim hysteria propagated by Donald Trump and the NRA, the President is keeping his eye on the main threat—widespread firearms ownership in this country. If only government officials and agents were armed all shootings by non-government individuals would be illegal and could be more easily suppressed. That is the key lesson to be learned from this tragedy."
In related news, the Obama Administration announced the appointment of Laila Alawa to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2014 Alawa insisted that "9/11 changed the world for good." While many might think that such an endorsement of the murder of 3,000 innocents ought to disqualify the speaker from a job supposedly oriented toward protecting against terror attacks, Earnest maintained that "keeping a diverse roster of persons with differing viewpoints within the halls of government is the best way of combating the kind of disaffection that could lead to hostile attitudes towards America."
Administration Expands Student Loan Default Options
The Department of Education expanded the grounds under which students may be freed from their obligation to repay college loans. Under the new rules, students may be absolved from the obligation to repay loans if the education they received was inadequate.
Secretary John King, Jr. explained that "much of what passes as education in our major universities is just crap. Universities know that majoring in 'women's studies,' 'gender studies,' philosophy, and the like, won't prepare graduates for high-paying jobs. Why should naive and ignorant young people have to bear the consequences that could have been avoided if they had received better advisement from the university they attended?"
The cost of the loan defaults is estimated to amount to $43 billion over the next decade. This cost will be borne by taxpayers—a shift of liability that King insists is "the fairest way to distribute the burden. Making the universities eat these losses would endanger their financial survival. By spreading the cost over the broader base of taxpayers the incremental burden on each person would be tolerably smaller. As someone once said, 'it takes a village to raise a child.' This is a case where the 'village' needs to step up and shoulder its responsibility."
Democrat Wants Taxpayers to Pass Drug Test to Qualify for Deductions
Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis) has introduced legislation that would require taxpayers to pass a drug test before being allowed to itemize deductions on their 1040 tax forms. The bill is in retaliation for state laws that require welfare recipients to pass drug tests in order to receive benefits.
"I am sick and tired of Republicans forcing poor people to jump through hoops to receive the money they are entitled to under the law," Moore complained. "We enacted these programs to help the unfortunate. Few members of society are as unfortunate as drug addicts. They are slaves to chemicals that their bodies crave. Compelling them to choose between a welfare check and their substance abuse is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment."
"If the GOP is going to cut the money going to this deprived set of society's victims then we should also cut the money going to taxpayers via the deductions allowed on their income taxes," the Congresswoman asserted. "As the President has pointed out on numerous occasions, people with incomes, businesses, and jobs didn't earn it. Somebody else made that happen. Letting them keep this money is a privilege that the government can revoke. Let's see how they like it when government cuts the money they get to keep because they can't pass a drug test."
Wisconsin is one of 15 states that require welfare recipients to submit to drug testing in order to receive benefits. Gov. Scott Walker defended the requirement calling it "an additional incentive designed to help people escape a cycle of dependency. Consuming illegal drugs is an incapacitating behavior. Not only does it sap an individual's motivation for becoming self-reliant it also undermines competency. Either of these effects will deter an employer from hiring the substance abuser."
"Rep. Moore's notion that income earned by working is the equivalent of income received from the government for not working is as wrong as it can be," Walker added. "Getting oneself off the sofa and into the workforce makes a positive contribution to society. It is contributions like this that make it possible to provide benefits for those truly unable to support themselves. If we make it a practice to reward those who disable themselves from the possibility of working to continue to be supported by the government the resources to aid those who really need it will be needlessly depleted."
President's Economic Adviser Says Income Comparison Misleading
Data showing that the average man with a full time job makes less today than he did in 1973 was discounted as "an fair and misleading statistic" by the Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman this week.
"First of all, the premise that a full time job is desirable is debatable," Furman maintained. "In 1973 many were forced to work because of the inadequacy of the social safety net. Today, many in a similar situation have been liberated from this tiresome fate by a more generous package of government benefits that enables them to work part time or to completely drop out of the workforce."
"Second, the statistic doesn't account for the fact that many goods and services that had to be purchased with private money in 1973 are now provided free of charge by the government," Furman added. "One example would be telephone service. Then, an individual would have to pay for a land line. Now, an individual can get a free mobile phone from the government. I call this an upgrade that comes at no cost to the beneficiary."
"I think we need to get away from these longitudinal measures," Furman said. "They are inapt attempts to compare fundamentally incomparable eras. Times have changed. The transformation President Obama promised the American people is underway. It would be fallacious to try to judge it using such a discredited yardstick."
Congressman Says "Ruling Class" Not Paid Enough
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla) complains that his $174,000 annual salary plus perks is "not enough to keep a man honest. We deal with an annual budget of over $3 trillion dollars. Our piece of that action is a paltry .005%. High-ranking heads of Departments don't fare much better. Is it surprising that some are tempted to augment in ways that many find distasteful?"
"Take former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her husband Bill," the Congressman said. "After decades of public service they left the White House nearly broke in 2001. What choice did they have but to try to reimburse themselves through soliciting donations from foreign governments? I've heard that Saudi Arabia has had to foot 20% of Hillary's presidential campaign expenses. We shouldn't be forcing our country's leaders to have to stoop to such extreme measures to collect their due."
Hastings suggested that "a one percent set-aside to compensate those of us who have taken on the huge responsibilities of governing strikes me as appropriate." Under his proposal a 1% set-aside would amount to about $37 billion. This would be equally split between the three branches, making each member of congress' share $23 million per year, each Supreme Court Justice's share $1.3 billion per year, and each cabinet member's share $725 million per year.
"Truthfully, there is probably no amount of monetary compensation that would adequately reimburse us for the sacrifices we all have to make when we serve," Hastings contended. "But I think we owe it to the people who serve to make a better effort at evening things up."