By Leslee Kulba- “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” It is a saying made popular by Karl Marx that has been repeatedly invoked to beg governments to flex their muscles and redistribute wealth. The mindset assumes people, left to their own devices, won’t have the compassion to make sure the poor among us have food, clothing and shelter. It has long been assumed government redistributions soaked the greedy to share the wealth. Now we find that, in the United States at least, the middle class is being soaked to empower the Democrats.
This week, the Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act came back into the news cycle. The legislation was introduced to stop the Department of Justice’s practice of forcing alleged offenders to donate to left-leaning organizations as terms of settlement. In the classic example, banks, against fiscal wisdom, were forced by government regulators to create and sell mortgage-backed securities. The resulting disaster was so inevitable, the relevant pages in history are now referred to as Foreclosuregate. Regardless, the federal government held the banks responsible. The DoJ put Citigroup on the hook for $7 billion; Bank of America, $16.65 billion; and JP Morgan, $13 billion.
But in designing terms of settlement, the DoJ, instead of imposing fines to help the victims, reduced penalties substantially if the banks agreed to donate to progressive organizations. The terms are not straightforward, but Citi was allowed to get double credit for donating up to $150 million to housing nonprofits, BoA was asked to give part of $490 million to NeighborWorks America, and JP Morgan got to contribute $7.5 million toward financial education programs. In another dispute settled recently, Goldman Sachs was asked to allocate $240 million of its $5 billion settlement toward affordable housing. In a report released last month, House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) estimated the DoJ had used settlements to filter $880 million to groups like La Raza, deemed even by Wikipedia to “advocate in favor of Progressive public policy.”
As if it weren’t bad enough to make people donate to causes with agendas they believe defy the laws of economics – or to humiliate organizations by suggesting their causes are too weak to raise their own funds – the act is strictly un-Constitutional. As if that matters anymore, the Supreme Law of the Land states, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” If settlements did not go to victims directly, they should have gone to the Treasury, and, properly, only Congress holds the proverbial purse strings of Treasury. Further thickening the plot, the DoJ was using settlements to funnel money to programs whose budgets Congress expressly cut in 2011.
But the practice is not isolated to the DoJ. Solyndra was only the poster child of Porkulus, the green energy company having gone belly-up after receiving a $535 million federal loan guarantee. 80 percent of green energy loans under Porkulus went to Obama donors, and 20 percent of recipients were failing or filing for bankruptcy by 2012. Porkulus went to lots of economically-unsustainable Progressive activities. $1 billion went to Amtrak, $2 billion paid for childcare programs, $3 billion subsidized carbon reduction with another $400 million going to global warming research, $50 million went to the National Endowment for the Arts, and $335 million supported Nancy Pelosi’s STD program.
The businesses of rich and famous characters like Warren Buffett, Al Gore, and Elon Musk received Porkulus, as did, in the words of the OneCitizenSpeaking.com blog, “left-wing radical groups such as ACORN, who were at the heart of the financial crisis with their ‘affordable housing initiatives’ and who attempted to subvert the election process in favor of the Democrats; [and] educational activism groups that further push the liberal victimhood agenda of political correctness, multiculturalism, and diversity.” A report from Fox News says, “Much of this money went to relatively well-to-do, public-sector unions and wealthy Democrats worth hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars.”
Rush Limbaugh pointed out that 80 percent of Porkulus went to public unions in roundabout ways. Porkulus was shoved off on state and local governments by encouraging them to create new positions in exchange for first-year funding. Most of the new public-sector employees were then forced to join their respective unions, which automatically deducted dues from their wages. The unions thus had lots more money to plow into support for Democrat candidates in hopes the cycle, or something like it, would repeat. In 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported, “a Senate bill shoveling another $26.1 billion out to state education and Medicaid programs” would generate approximately $100 million in new union dues, “much of which will flow immediately to endangered Democratic candidates in competitive House and Senate races this year.”
But national leaders, while capturing the public imagination with meaningless words like “awareness” and “identity,” have shown recently their willingness to pretend “conscience” is but a made-up political euphemism. After all, it is not the poor recipients of state-funded abortion who foot the bill. It is the tax dollars forced from the conscientiously-objecting dutiful taxpayers that keep the baby parts mills running.
As a parting shot, we learned this week that taxpayers likely paid for that wonder of wonders, Hillary Clinton’s bathroom server. Politico published findings from a Freedom of Information Act request showing Bill and Hillary essentially commingled resources in activities supporting Bill’s affairs acting as a former president, his consulting business, Hillary’s duties as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation, and Hillary’s ambitions to run for president.
A fund was set up in 1958 to preserve the dignity of former presidents after Harry S. Truman left office unable to afford obligations for continued service. The General Services Administration now pays for things like travel, support staff, and correspondence of former presidents. But whereas President Bush only retained four aides with the funding; the Clintons retain ten. What’s more, some of them earn six-digit salaries from other Clinton activities but receive a token $10,000 in GSA funds to justify their enrollment in federal healthcare and retirement programs.
Then there was some back-and-forth over a request that the GSA pay for a $7700 Dell server and other IT support for a special Lockheed Martin database. According to Politico, “Clinton Foundation officials explained to the GSA that they wanted the Dell server housed at foundation headquarters rather than at Clinton’s personal office. They explained in an email that the foundation office had better air conditioning, allowing it to support ‘about 10-15 more servers,’ and also it was where IT staff were based, so ‘troubleshooting with the servers can be done ASAP.’”
Politico researchers found nothing in the stack of emails they received indicating the GSA ever approved the request. They were, however, informed later by an unnamed Clinton aide that they had not received the entirety of emails in their request, and the server had, indeed, been gifted.