In moving to combat in-state welfare fraud, Michigan is requiring food stamp recipients to provide information on their assets to determine whether they should continue to qualify for benefits. Under the new rules launched earlier this month, current recipients are obligated to report the values on their homes, vehicles, stocks, bonds, and even lottery winnings. Residents with $5,000 in liquid assets or driving a vehicle worth over $15,000 may no longer qualify for benefits. So far, the state has identified about 15,000 people who could lose their food stamp benefits.
President Obama is venturing to charm American voters this week during an East Coast bus tour that will intersect parts of North Carolina and Virginia. Beginning Monday, the three-day junket will traverse through suburbs, rural towns, and several cities, as the trip spans two key electoral states that could prove essential for Obama’s 2012 campaign pursuits. In considering the tour’s seemingly strategic route and voter-targeted audiences, observers contend that the East Coast excursion is clearly an attempt to resurrect the President’s waning support support in two southern states that Republicans controlled before the 2008 election.
Tom Cross (left) the House Republican leader in the Illinois legislature, filed a bill Wednesday to probe a "charitable interpretation" of state law that granted at least eight Chicago labor officials eligibility for both city pensions and union pensions covering the same work periods. A Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV investigation discovered that some of these union officials await millions of dollars more in retirement due to double and even triple dipping on pensions.
A Maryland commission will be offering a recommendation to increase the state's gas taxes, raise vehicle registration fees, and employ a catalog of new tax hikes to augment roughly $870 million a year in new transportation revenue. Members of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding settled on a 15-cents-a-gallon tax hike over three consecutive years, which if approved, would inflate the current 23.5-cents-a-gallon tax to 38.5 cents. Maryland officials plead that the state needs $12 billion to fulfill its transportation needs, and they are predicting a $1 billion shortfall in fiscal 2013.
Developments relating to the Solyndra debacle continue to surface as newly-surfaced internal government emails reveal that an Obama administration appointee at the Department of Energy (DOE) — and major Obama fundraiser — pushed to expedite a $535-million loan guarantee to the now-defunct solar firm. The emails expose "a disturbingly close relationship" among the White House, top campaign donors, and prominent Solyndra investors, according to a senior congressional Republican.
President Obama is traveling to Pittsburgh today to discuss with prominent American business leaders the lingering economic barrier of high unemployment. The gathering will consist of members of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (Jobs Council), which was established in January to "provide non-partisan advice to the President on continuing to strengthen the Nation’s economy and ensure competitiveness of the United States and on ways to create jobs, opportunity, and prosperity for the American people."
Added to the expanding catalog of federal embarrassments, such as gunrunning scandals and bankrupt green energy companies, are taxpayer-funded trips taken by a Justice Department official to "facilitate a physical relationship with a woman in Florida." Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa, left), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on September 28, asking why a federal official, Darryl Foster, was not required to reimburse the government for money he spent visiting an unidentified woman in Miami, including expenses for hotels and rental vehicles.
Federal authorities furnished Michigan transportation officials Wednesday with a $196.5-million grant for track and signal upgrades on an Amtrak passenger rail running between Chicago and Detroit. The line, running on Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services, will reportedly yield speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on a route serving nearly 30 million people. Granted to its own beloved enterprise (all of Amtrak’s preferred stock is owned by the federal government), the government’s lavish gift to the train line comes at the expense of American taxpayers.
First Lady Michelle Obama's June 2011 African safari is now being considered a half-million-dollar taxpayer-funded boondoggle, due to newly-released accounting information gathered by Judicial Watch, a nonpartisan government watchdog. Judicial Watch acquired passenger manifests and expense records from the U.S. Air Force pursuant to an August 19 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Although touted as a working tour intended to spread goodwill in Africa, the trip's travel amenities and recreational "distractions" have brought political turbulence to the White House.
GOP lawmakers in Michigan, the birthplace of the American labor movement, are pursuing historic legislation that would make theirs the 23rd state to finalize a "right-to-work" law. But could the state that harbors both the United Auto Workers and the Michigan Education Association really pass a law prohibiting unions from regulating dues and compelling membership in closed-shop work environments? With the GOP now in control of the state legislature and a Republican Governor at the helm, observers are predicting that the measure is indeed entirely possible.