Paul Ryan’s tax plan ends up giving 100% of Its benefits to the top 1%

File this one under “too good to check.” Max Ehrenfreund passes along the latest analysis of Paul Ryan’s tax proposal from the Tax Policy Center and notes that by 2025 it gets a wee bit lopsided:


This is like a parody of Republican tax proposals. In its first year, the top 1 percent start off getting a mere 76 percent of the benefit….Within ten years they get nearly 100 percent of the benefit. Ryan and the congressional Republicans manage this by giving the poor and middle class nothing and actually taking money away from the upper middle class. The only people who benefit are the rich and the really rich.

As for the really, really rich, the top 0.1 percent get an average tax break of $1.4 million, while the rest of us get about $3 trillion in extra federal debt and no long-term change in economic growth. What a deal.

More craptastic politics from the least productive hacks in Washington, DC. I honestly think Ryan trots his spreadsheet out with a new set of lies every couple of years just so Congressional Republlicans can say, “look, we have a proposal!” – even though it’s about as useful as a new crutch to someone who just had his legs amputated.

Missouri coppers on top of law’n order — Naked couple arrested on stolen mower

Jasper County sheriff’s Det. Tim Williams said a 55-year-old Larry Webster and 40-year-old Tanya Hopper admitted that they rode the lawn mower home naked after their clothing was stolen while they skinny dipped in a creek northwest of Joplin.

Authorities arrested the pair Tuesday morning on suspicion of stealing after finding them at a house with the riding mower parked in the front yard.

Williams says an investigation determined that the lawn mower didn’t belong to either of them.

I suppose they should have returned the mower right after they got home and dressed. Or something like that.

Just in case you were worried taxpayers weren’t providing Israel with enough weapons…?

The White House on Friday told members of Congress that it had offered to substantially sweeten a decade-long military aid package for Israel

Under the proposed terms, the United States would insist that the Israelis use the tens of billions of dollars they receive under the deal to buy United States-made goods and services, rather than spend a sizable portion in their own country as they are permitted to do now.

The administration laid out details of the package in a lengthy letter to senators who had written to the White House in April urging the completion of a new aid deal…

In the letter…Susan Rice…national security adviser, and Shaun Donovan…director of the OMB, said that the administration was prepared to increase the existing military aid package for Israel, worth nearly $30 billion, and sign a new one “that would constitute the largest pledge of military assistance to any country in U.S. history.”…

Such an aid agreement “would build on the unparalleled support that the United States has provided to Israel under President Obama,” Ms. Rice and Mr. Donovan said. “Through word and deed, this administration has blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…

…Political dynamics have complicated the talks.

Some analysts in the United States and Israel say that Mr. Netanyahu is calculating that he may reach a more advantageous deal with a future president, a charge that the Israelis strenuously deny. Others have suggested that Mr. Obama is pressing to finish the agreement in part to insulate himself against accusations that he has been too tough on Israel, especially if he decides later this year to pressure the country to accept a peace deal with the Palestinians that embraces a two-state solution.

What that means in plain English is that the Trumpkin is ready to promise Netanyahu absolutely anything to move not only conservative Jewish voters to support him; but, maybe more. He will give away the Pentagon farm and offer nary a peep if Israel decides to roll up the rest of Palestinian land that they haven’t yet stolen. Scares the crap out of some Democrats.

The negotiations have unfolded in secret, with neither side willing to detail its position on an agreement that people close to the talks have said could top $40 billion. For months, United States and Israeli officials have haggled over the price tag, as Israel has insisted on a higher figure than the United States was willing to support…

Under the existing agreement, Israel is permitted to spend about a quarter of the military aid it receives outside the United States, and 13 percent of it on fuel — allowances that no other recipient of United States funding receives…

The provision originated in the 1980s as a way to spur the development of Israel’s defense industry, which is now booming. Israel has become one of the top 10 arms exporters in the world, competing with the United States.

Uh-huh. We’re all buddies in the Imperial Club. Death and destruction is still one of the most profitable businesses in our world.

Medicare scammers steal $60 billion a year — Meet a bounty hunter

John MininnoPhoto/João Canziani

John Mininno slaps two pieces of paper onto an overhead projector. “Look at this,” he says. “You see how one form is a photocopy of the other—with just the date changed? It’s exactly the same paper!” The printouts are mere insurance forms, but Mininno is genuinely pissed off about them. “They’re allowed to bill for that procedure again six months after they first provide it. That date is six months to the day!”

Not everyone can get this worked up about insurance forms. But to Mininno, these are a combination of smoking gun and a slap in the face. Together they clearly show that someone is ripping off Medicare. But perhaps what’s worse is that someone is being really lazy about it.

If Willie Sutton had to choose a criminal career today, he’d be ripping off Medicare too. As the bank robber supposedly said: That’s where the money is. The program spends more than $600 billion a year on health care for 54 million people, most of them seniors. It is a massive pool of underguarded funds ripe for skimming. By the government’s own accounting, fraudsters scammed $60 billion from Medicare in 2014, and the losses are growing. Since 2007 more than 2,300 health care providers have been charged with fleecing Medicare, and more than 1,800 defendants have been convicted of felony offenses, ranging from claiming phantom services to performing unnecessary surgeries.

Scams are run so often, by so many people, that dedicated government investigators can’t keep up: In 2014 prosecutions initiated by the government led to a mere 31 settlements yielding $88 million in fines. Luckily, there is another defense against Medicare fraud: whistle-blower lawsuits. Under the federal government’s false claims statute, any insider can sue a company that’s providing fraudulent services, on the government’s behalf. If the whistle-blower lawyers are successful, the plaintiffs collect 15 to 30 percent of the settlement as a bounty. In 2014 there were 469 of these health care fraud settlements—many involving huge pharmaceutical corporations and hospital networks—resulting in $2.2 billion in fines.

The problem is that even with this financial incentive, whistle-blowers can be skittish about coming forward and often are ill-prepared to present solid evidence…Professional whistle-blower lawyers are much better at arguing a convincing case. But lawyers aren’t always the best investigators. Sometimes finding an insider requires a nose for mischief, a gift for persuasion, and the technical chops to identify nonobvious patterns in impenetrable thickets of diagnostic codes and billing data. Sometimes it takes a bounty hunter. Someone like John Mininno

RTFA. Some of it is hilarious. Some is about how interesting and useful skilled data mining can be. All of it is about crime. The most meaningful thing about that crime is that the people who pat themselves on the back for providing healthcare to Americans are host to one of the largest class of criminals in America. These are doctors and nurses, hospital administrators, insurance companies and local medical clinics. They provide healthcare for every illness from diabetes to bipolar disorder. They steal from taxpayers.

On a personal note, just one more example of why I’d be working at extending my grounding in computational analysis – if I were starting out working for a living as a geek, today. From scientific research to forensic data mining, the craft is fascinating.

Oil and gas companies are leaders in stealing from their own employees

Click to enlargeKen James/Bloomberg
Halliburton’s idea of a healthy prairie

In a finding from last summer, the US Department of Labor said oilfield services company Halliburton underpaid about a thousand workers a total of $18 million…

Oilfield bankruptcies of companies large and small have been surging as prices remain at their lowest levels in a decade or more. But it’s not the only way a worker can be left underpaid. An Inside Energy analysis shows a growing number of oil workers are turning to the courts, saying they weren’t paid fairly even when times were good…

With the exception of a couple weeks in November, 28-year-old oil driller Kody Armajo has been out of work for a year. He has returned home to live with his parents in Riverton, Wyo…

Then one day last winter Armajo received a letter about a class action lawsuit, saying that his former employer, Precision Drilling, didn’t pay him enough overtime when he worked for them. He was eventually awarded $6,000…

As oil prices started dropping a year and a half ago, lawsuits like Armajo’s jumped in numbers. In Colorado, where he worked,there were nine times as many wage suits against oil and gas companies in 2015 as there were in 2010.

In Texas, the biggest oil state, there were nearly 10 times as many lawsuits…

Federal records show oil and gas companies are among the top violators of wage laws – particularly in not paying overtime. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division was seeing sufficient problems with apparent violations by 2012 to specifically investigate the oil and gas industry in some parts of the country.

Since then, the office has recovered about $40 million dollars in unpaid wages…

The biggest case…settled, by far, was against oilfield services giant Halliburton this past summer. In this case, the investigation found that Halliburton owed about a thousand workers a total of $18 million dollars.

Anyone surprised that some of the least responsible corporate citizens in the world are also the sleaziest employers? Someone, someday, will probably discover these creeps have been stealing from charities dedicated to widows and orphans.

Darwin Award candidate

Roadside condom vending machine destroyed by the thieves

A man died on Christmas Day in Germany after he was hit in the head by a flying piece of metal from a condom machine that he and two accomplices blew up in an apparent robbery attempt

The 29-year-old man was taken to hospital in the western town of Schöppingen, near the Dutch border, by the two other men who fled the scene of the explosion in a car, leaving behind condoms and money scattered around the gutted vending machine.

The two men told hospital officials that their friend had fallen down the stairs, injuring his head. Suspicious of their story, the officials called the police.

During questioning, police said, one of them admitted that the three had blown up the condom machine, and that their fellow conspirator was hit in the head by metal as he tried to take cover.

Sometimes, you get what you deserve, eh?

Secret Service agent bound for prison for stealing what he was investigating

Carlos Amarillo/Shutterstock

A former U.S. Secret Service agent pleaded guilty to money laundering in connection with the theft of $820,000 in bitcoins in the Silk Road website probe.

Shaun Bridges, 32, a forensic analyst involved in the federal investigation which shut down the drug marketplace website, was the second agent caught stealing digital cash. He pleaded guilty to money laundering and obstruction of justice charges during a San Francisco federal court hearing Monday.

During the probe, Bridges used his access authority to move 20,000 bitcoins to an account he controlled. The majority of transactions on the Silk Road website were made using bitcoins, a payment method not involving any government-backed currency.

The website was shut down in 2013. Its operator, Ross Ulbrecht, received life imprisonment in May for operating the site, and former U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent Carl Force pleaded guilty in July to three charges in connection with the theft of more than $700,000 in bitcoins…

Bridges is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

I would sentence the dude, tomorrow. He’s already pleaded guilty as charged. Are we supposed to let someone from law enforcement disappear into the judicial fog and maybe be allowed a kinder, gentler sentence?

Protect and Serve at the highest level — emphasis on High!

Bags of heroin recovered from Lowry’s car

An FBI agent in the District fired for stealing heroin, collected as evidence, for his personal use has been charged with 64 criminal offenses and, through his attorney, said he would plead guilty and focus on avoiding a drug relapse.

The 33-year-old former agent, Matthew Lowry, had been part of a team targeting violent drug traffickers who cross between Maryland and the District. His misconduct compromised cases and forced the dismissal of charges against 28 defendants. It also exposed weaknesses in the handling of drug evidence in the FBI’s Washington field office…

The case represents a stunning turn for the Maryland resident, who graduated near the top of his class at the University of Maryland, earned a graduate degree while working full time for the FBI and tried to follow his father’s distinguished career in law enforcement. He was found six months ago, seemingly incoherent, on a lot near Southeast Washington’s Navy Yard with open bags of heroin in his agency car…

Friends had noticed Lowry’s erratic behavior, but knew that he had a new baby at home and was having trouble in his marriage. They took Lowry to a fellow agent’s apartment that night.

But the next day, agents were cleaning out the trash in the car when they found the drugs. Inside were evidence bags, full of heroin, that had been cut open…

The Washington Post obtained more than 600 pages of internal documents, memos and transcripts of interviews with Lowry’s fellow agents that detail how he managed to obtain the drugs and the personal events leading to his downfall.

In those documents, Lowry described how he took advantage of procedures that allowed a single agent to sign out drugs for lab analysis and did not track whether the packages reached their purported destination. As a result, Lowry was able to store drug evidence in his car, sometimes for as long as a year, with no questions asked. Lowry described how he forged signatures of agents on forms and evidence seals, repackaged drugs in bags and used store-bought laxatives to replaced heroin he had taken to avoid discrepancies in package weight…

Many of the 28 defendants whose cases were dismissed had already pleaded guilty and had been sent to prison, some for up to 10 years or more. Within two months, all of them had been freed and sent home with the convictions erased. Those charges had been filed based solely or substantially on drug evidence that Lowry stole from.

A scary example of unintended consequences – even from a drug addict.