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Dark Money Groups Pay $1 Million in Fines in California Case

Two groups linked to the Koch brothers admit they did not properly disclose contributions for state ballot measures. One says it did so inadvertently, blaming its unfamiliarity with California’s rules.

Gary Winuk, the chief of enforcement for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, presents his case during a hearing in Sacramento Superior Court. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Two dark money groups linked to conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch have paid a record $1 million in fines to California to settle allegations that the combined $15 million they spent on two ballot proposals in the state was not properly disclosed.

The civil settlement, announced Thursday afternoon in Sacramento, caps a year of investigation into the activities of the two Arizona groups, Americans for Responsible Leadership and the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

The settlement disclosed new details in the case, including how the money was raised and how the Center to Protect Patient Rights disguised its two contributions to two California political committees. As part of the settlement, the Center to Protect Patient Rights conceded it was responsible for funneling $11 million through Americans for Responsible Leadership to a political committee spending money to fight a tax-hike measure and to support a proposition restricting unions’ political power.

The Center to Protect Patient Rights also gave an additional $4 million to another dark money group, the American Future Fund, which gave the money to another political committee spending on the anti-union measure.

“What is the takeaway from this trail of dark money?” asked Ann Ravel, the outgoing head of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which investigated the groups along with the state attorney general’s office. “This is a nationwide issue. These groups exploit loopholes in the law to undermine the clear purpose of the law, to give essential information to the public.”

The state assessed one $500,000 fine to the Center to Protect Patient Rights only, and another $500,000 fine to the two groups jointly. The state is also demanding that the two political committees “disgorge,” or hand over, the $15 million they received in improper donations through the Center to Protect Patient Rights before the end of November. All of the money would go to California’s general fund.

In an interview, Gary Winuk, the chief of enforcement for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, acknowledged that the state may have to go to court to recover that $15 million. One of the political committees has already closed down.

The settlement says California authorities determined that the Center to Protect Patient Rights “inadvertently, or at worst negligently,” did not report itself as a donor to the American Future Fund. A similar decision was made on the group’s lack of disclosure to Americans for Responsible Leadership.

In a statement sent through its lawyer, the Center to Protect Patient Rights said the commission recognized it erred largely because it had never before made contributions in California and that it had no intention to violate campaign reporting rules.

“Also, the California Attorney General conducted a complete and thorough investigation and agreed that the conduct was unintentional and inadvertent,” said the lawyer, Malcolm Segal.

Americans for Responsible Leadership did not return a message seeking comment.

Anonymous money funneled through social welfare nonprofits and trade associations has become a major factor in federal elections since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in early 2010 opened up the door to unlimited corporate and union spending on outside ads, as documented by ProPublica. In the past two election cycles, social welfare nonprofits have spent more than $350 million, mostly from unknown donors, on election ads telling people to vote for or against federal candidates.

Some national groups have also started playing on the state level, particularly with ballot proposals.

The California agreement, reached on Oct. 17, underscored how some states, such as California, Idaho and Montana, have actually done more to identify anonymous donors than the Federal Election Commission. In June, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman imposed regulations attempting to require disclosure for money spent on state elections. A new disclosure bill has been introduced in California. This month, after a push by California’s Ravel, regulators from 10 states announced the launch of a nationwide effort to encourage the disclosure of donors.

But the settlement also highlights the limitations of investigations into who’s behind dark money groups: Instead of unmasking some reclusive billionaire or shy corporation, regulators often uncover yet another nonprofit, like a set of Russian nesting dolls. The original sources of the money spent in California were not publicly identified, nor will they be.

“A number of donors did not want to be identified,” said Winuk, the enforcement chief for California’s campaign finance regulator, who received only a redacted list of donors for the original contributions.

And while the groups have been linked to the Koch brothers, it’s not clear how exactly they’re connected. The Center to Protect Patient Rights, which operates out of a post office box in Arizona and doesn’t even have a website, has been described practically like an ATM machine for various groups affiliated with the Koch brothers. The press release issued by California authorities says the Center and Americans for Responsible Leadership “operated as part of the ‘Koch Brothers Network’ of dark money political nonprofit corporations.”

The Kochs have long been known for spending millions to influence elections behind the scenes, through a complex network of groups that critics have nicknamed “the Kochtopus.” The Kochs themselves have remained determinedly in the background. 

One link between these two groups and the Koch network is Sean Noble, a GOP strategist who runs two political consulting firms and is the sole employee of the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which was launched in 2009. In 2010, he spoke on a panel at a Koch brothers’ secretive retreat, small semiannual affairs that are invitation-only and closed to the media. In 2010 and 2011, the Center to Protect Patient Rights handed out almost $60 million to conservative groups that spent tens of millions on election ads. The Huffington Post recently quoted a GOP operative describing Noble as “the wizard behind the screen” for the Koch network’s election efforts in 2012.

Noble did not return a call for comment.

Another link is Wayne Gable, a former top official at Koch Industries who has also served in leadership roles in several nonprofits formed by the Kochs. In 2011, Gable launched a new trade association that gave almost $115 million to the Center to Protect Patient Rights over the following year. It’s not yet clear how the Center doled out its money, as its tax return for 2012 isn’t yet available.

The leader of Americans for Responsible Leadership has close ties to Noble. Republican Kirk Adams hired Noble’s firm in 2011 and 2012 to help run his failed campaign to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake in Arizona. Adams lost in the primary in August 2012; the next month, he was named president of Americans for Responsible Leadership.

According to the settlement, some $24.5 million of the money distributed by the Center to Protect Patient Rights was raised by GOP strategist Tony Russo for another organization, Americans for Job Security, a Virginia-based trade association. (Russo didn’t return calls for comment.)

Americans for Job Security gave the money to the Center to Protect Patient Rights. Then the Center gave about $7 million to the Iowa dark money powerhouse American Future Fund on Sept. 11, 2012; of that, the American Future Fund gave about $4 million to a new California committee, the California Future Fund for Free Markets, which supported the anti-union measure. That committee has since closed down.

The Center also gave $18 million to Americans for Responsible Leadership in October 2012, recommending that the group “should use the funds to support common social interests, including support” for the Small Business Action Committee PAC, a committee that Russo was also raising money for, the settlement said. Americans for Responsible Leadership then gave $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC to spend on the two ballot proposals.

That $11 million contribution sparked a complaint, an investigation and a court battle. Just before the election, Americans for Responsible Leadership admitted that it got its money from the Center to Protect Patient Rights, which in turn got the money from Americans for Job Security.

The fine is the largest in California history in a campaign-finance case.

The manner in which the groups paid it speaks volumes about how dark their money really is.

They paid by cashier’s check, sent by a Sacramento lawyer’s office Thursday morning, betraying no clue to the money’s origin. 

This is chump change to these crooks. The cost of a vacation in the Seychelles. More of a token fine than a deterrent.

But cases like this are important because they turn over rocks and we get to glimpse what’s underneath. 

Yucko..!

Riiiight .

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 2:16 p.m.

Just a reminder that Clinton got dark money from the Chinese and his CEO buddy at Loral provided technology for the development of long range missile technology by the Chinese and therefore North Korea.

So let’s get some perspective here ProPublica.  The Koch’s like them or not act out of love for country.  Bill Clinton, Obama don’t believe in the fundamental construct of America; believe America to have been founded unfairly by dead, white, slaveholders.

Would love to see Bill Clinton leave his fortune to the IRS to fritter away in a few minutes.  Same with Al Gore and all these phony baloney liberals that believe in government but won’t chump out by donating their estates to the government.

Another clear example of whats wrong with the political system.  None profit organizations should have no place in politics, just as Churches should have no place either.

If you want to participate in federal and state elections and to have input in the welfare state and taxation, then you should be paying in to these systems like the rest of us.

It proves that money and special interest groups are buying the electoral system in this country.  They have no responsibility for telling the truths in their advertising and spread lies to get their way.  They have no interest in whats best for the country, whats best for the people or whats right.  They are simply in it for the betterment of themselves and their supporters.  These are the people that caused the shutdown in Washington, these are the people who control the leaders that we are voting in.

Until the American public react to the political system and the political leaders being used as puppets to special interests, then the country is doomed and will continue down the path of self destruction.

It should be noted that the billionaire Koch brothers have been laundering campaign finance money for many decades, first and perhaps most notoriously, when they got their favorite stooge, Sam Brownback, elected to the U.S. Senate by using a front group, “Triad,” for last minute illegal contributions.

Former anti-evolution presidential candidate and now-Governor Sam Brownback paid them off in spades last year when he and their legislative drones exempted them from paying state income taxes in their Kansas base where they file as an “S” Corporation.

It should also be noted that the Kochs use still another front group, FREE, the Foundation for “Research” on Economics and the Environment, the equivalent of their legislative front organization, the American Legislative Exchange Council, to propagandize federal judges. 

One of those secret closed meetings funded by the Kochs in Aspen, Colorado, was attended by Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, prior to their ruling on corporate “personhood” in Citizens United.

Bruce,

Your comment made me laugh…..Another example of someone who is too lazy to investigate anything that comes from the political divide that they support.

...The Koch’s love America
...The Clintons/Obama/Gore hate America

Why should people leave their estates to the government?  They pay their taxes, they give to charities….at what point have any of them said that the money we leave behind when we die should go to the government?  Seriously, get a real perspective on things…don’t believe everything you hear just because the right wing media you listen too/Watch / Read says so.  The same goes for the folks on the left.

Time to realize that both sides are being played by people who care nothing about the country, the people or morals….they are in this for nothing other than money and power….they could care less about you.

Chump change fine BUT ....

The stench of corruption, and insulting deception of the “patient’s rights” is just another example of the perversion of the politics and medical industry.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 2:44 p.m.

John,

You made my point.  Thank you.

Now all you have to do is understand why is it we are all supposed to believe in the largess of government, that government does the right thing, and that government is the best solution for the good of the collective at the cost of individual freedom.

I had the opportunity years ago to meet the late Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) and I asked him in an audience setting to give me six things he thought the government did very well for people.  His answer to me was “that was a trick question” and refused to name one.

If you believe in government then you better be able to name six things you believe government does well for its people.  If you can’t then you better reassess your own view of what government is and has become which to my way of thinking is an inside baseball game where political and media elites kiss each others’ touchies and think they are god’s gift to everything.

And when these elites fly between San Francisco an New York or DC they never look down to see the greatness of America in the great in-between of America… they just see the two coasts and their liberal elites as the be all and end all.

America’s poor do not make America work.  America’s poor take from makers.  We are no longer carrying on a debate about the small minority of poor that are truly poor and incapable of taking care of themselves.  We now have a class of poor that are nothing more than con artists taking and taking.  $11 B/year of ETIC credits that the IRS cannot figure out how to get at…... bull!  IRS doesn’t have the stones to uncover just how many phony poor there are out there milking the system because the more middle class that see this nonsense the more they will reject government being as big a part of their lives as it has become now.

Jerry Lee Mayeux

Oct. 25, 2013, 2:57 p.m.

Consider the Connection to: Environmental Conservation CTC2
[PEOPLE]
“We the People” NOT “We the Koch brothers”. & connected________!
http://www.twitter .com/CTC123GREEN
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Jerry Lee Mayeux on Facebook

@bruce- You prove John’s point with each post.

Just take your assertion that government is always bad and private corporations are always good. You must have a very short memory. It was just 5 years ago that we learned Lehmann Brothers and Bear Stearns had leveraged themselves to disastrous levels and failed. This almost brought down the World’s economy. It had almost nothing to do with government unless you want to discuss why our regulation of financial services has virtually disappeared in recent years.

How about the fact we have privatized our prisons. 2 for-profit corporations have taken over the majority of these operations. Now we pay $1.85 for every dollar we spent when these were publicly managed by the government. Also, since they’re for-profit. They benefit from increasing the number of prisoners which they have done though their lobbying effort. That is not the sort of incentive we need for good public policy.

I could go on. The list of corrupt and dishonest private enterprise is very long. We’re witnessing a phase of “too big to successfully sue” in our banking system right now. One party takes more in campaign donations than the other. Both are corrupt, but not equally so. Guess which one refuses to regulate the excesses of Wall Street?

Don’t fall for the false equivalence you observe in our media.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 3:41 p.m.

And if we had let it all come down we would have had a short 1920/21 depression.  Now, we can look forward to years of subpar growth because we let every one of these big banks survive and pretend to prosper.

Government and media always remind us of the Great Depression whose length and depth were exacerbated by government interventionism.  No one recounts how savage and painful but quick and leading to a decade of (then) record economic growth the 1920/21 depression was….. reason..? 

Government did not get involved and the markets got rid of all the bad players never to play again and the economy recovered because people left to their own wits will survive.  Now, people’s wits are motivated by looking to scam government and become takers and soon the makers will grow tired and weary of the takers and all they take….. we no longer help just the truly needy…. we help scammers who steal from all of us every day and government has zero motivation to stop them for fear that faith in government will be lost if too many low information voters gain enough intelligence to recognize the scam that is our national government.

Bruce,

Your not making many good points are you.  You pick on the poor and point out that some are abusing the system.  No doubt about it, that is 100% true.

Its interesting that you do not comment on the hundreds of thousands of US citizens who abuse loopholes in the tax system to take money out of the federal government and in lots of cases, funnel it outside of the country instead.  I bet you that this accounts for far more than the poor folks who are abusing the system.

You wanted some things that the government has done well…hmmm…let me think:

1.  Our Military
2.  Consumer Product Safety Commission
3.  Social Security and Medicare
4.  Interstate Highways
5.  Public Health Programs, such as CDC
6.  Food and Drug Safety
7.  Student Financial Aid
8.  National Weather Service
9.  Workplace Safety
10.  Clean Water and Air Laws

I am going to stop there.

Now, there is not doubts that each of the above have their faults, each have made lots of mistakes along the way, each have abused some powers at some times and we can all find negatives in them too.  But how much worse off would we be without these.

Its oh so very easy to focus on the negatives, instead of looking at something and focusing on what we can all do to make it better.

Its oh so easy to point the finger of blame at others, instead of realizing we all play out part in the failures and successes of our nation.

Its oh so easy to cherry pick the things that make a point instead of looking at the overal picture.

Take the ACA:
Does it have many things wrong with it…oh heck yes. 
Can many improvements be made to it…oh heck yes.
Was something badly needed….oh heck yes.
Does it have special interest benefits in it (put in to get it through Congress)....Another yes.

Instead of focusing on these faults and trying to get rid of it, we should be focused what improvements can be made to it.  We should be working to make it right and not on getting rid of it just because the other side passed it.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 4:28 p.m.

Taking your bullet list.

Social security and medicare are legal Ponzi games NO ONE would want IF they had to pay the absolute true amount of payroll taxes necessary to maintain actuarial soundness.  Its easy to say that a program has universal popularity but that exists because people are getting 3-6x what they paid into the system.  Now if the system, in the real world, could generate those returns affording these systems actuarial soundness I have no problem.  But people are being diluded into believing they paid for something they paid maybe 1/3 of or 1/6 of depending on each individual’s outcome.

You want people like me behind social security and medicare.  Make it actuarially sound and that means significant higher taxes on the middle class.  Medicare were raised to all wages and that has done NOTHING to dent the long term actuarial imbalance in medicare.  If you do the same to social security; tax all wages… that will do NOTHING to secure long term actuarial balance.

Let’s see how popular these programs would be when you hit that psychological limit of a combined 10% tax on employees and a 10% tax on employers.  Support would erode so fast.

Student financial aid bankrupts students and allows colleges to raise tuition faster than inflation.  Evidently, when the healthcare system was raising insurance rates faster than inflation it was an outrage; it is the same for college tuition.  Student financial aid has allowed too many students to go to college and incur enormous debts that cannot be repaid because they got a degree in an area where simple cost benefit analysis would suggest you do not pursue with lots of debt you can never repay based upon what you can earn in that pursuit or profession.

As long as liberals continue to lump the poor in one basket you are tearing at the fabric of this country.  Its time to differentiate between the truly poor and the opportunistic poor that are taking advantage of every program they can….

Food Stamps have doubled under Obama and try to cut 5% of the budget each year for 10 years and we are going to have starvation in the streets?  I give people more credit than that…. if it isn’t subsidized people will learn to do more for themselves and in time maybe we can get back to a time when only the truly needy get what they are entitled to instead of an entire class of con artists pretending to be poor.

ACA….. fix it?  No, I prefer the British outcome which is crappy healthcare for the masses who choose government-run exchanges where it will become clear in a few years you signed up for a tax subsidy in return for a glorified version of Medicaid.  Just leave me and those of us who truly value healthcare to pursue PURE private sector insurance that yes we pay up for because we value it.  The British government run healthcare system isn’t that terrible for the masses but it is inconvenient and it requires you to be willing to travel to all parts of London for care because the doctors in the system are fewer and far between and many of the best doctors choose the private system.

If you don’t socialize it completely I am more than content to let the masses settle for the mediocrity our healthcare system is about to become.

Stephanie Palmer

Oct. 25, 2013, 4:32 p.m.

Civil fines just aren’t good enough. In order to stop this misinformation, people have got to go to prison…...they have no right to misinform the public and that’s that.  They’re turning the people in this country into uncivilized and extremely bigoted people all based on their lies. Fox does it all the time, but at least Fox is licensed.

Now who is making whos arguments for them..

Pick holes…pick holes…blame the other side for the faults.

BTW…Clearly you know little of the British Healthcare system to base your comments.  Again, it has faults but so does everything in life…but crappy, not the case.  I lived there for 7 years and my family and I had no problems with it.  When my wife was diagnosed with Cancer, she was treated immediately.  Even put up in a hotel and had her expenses paid when the closest site to provide her with the outpatient treatment she needed was 100 miles from our house.

as I said…your post is just another example of pick the faults and blame the other side for all the faults.  Well Done!

The Kochs love money and they love themselves.

They could give a damn about the fate of this country and the world.

They are motivated by money, pure and simple. They don’t feel they should be obligated to pay their fair share of taxes, or any taxes at all, in fact.

In further fact, they have supported an endless stream of racists, theocrats, flat earthers and homophobes to seize public office.

They don’t have to be racists, religious, anti-scientific or homophobic to do this. They know that they can control those stooges on the issues that are most important to them, though they’re trying to distance themselves from the shutdown, though it was all their guys who forced it upon us all.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 4:53 p.m.

I have family and friends in Britain.  I never asked exactly why they ALL, to a person, opted for concierge doctors in the private side.  They have said the public side is adequate but they would never entrust the public side with any major medical issue so they go to the concierge doctor for a diagnosis and either go back to the public side for the outcome if their doc thinks that will work or stay on the private side if the issue is more involved and they are unwilling to put their lives in the hands of the public side.

That is all I need to know.  The masses always settle for what they are given and that is what the state exchanges will become in a few years and people will be angry that what is going to happen is the formation of a clear two-tier healthcare system.  I am already looking into having my own concierge doctor to be a buffer between a private system that will surely be overrun and whose primary care doctors will be overworked.

As long as we have a choice and maintain a strong private system for those of us who value their health and do not want to entrust anything to the incompetence of government I am fine letting the masses settle for what they choose to settle for…...  people who work hard, pay enormous sums of taxes…... just leave us alone.  Socialize what you want to socialize and let the private side of healthcare flourish because over time people may finally look and understand that taking the government sponsored insurance and subsidy is a Faustian bargain.

Interesting Bruce, since the majority of the Doctors in private practice are also Doctors in the NHS but supplement their income by offering private health to the wealthy.  Your post, again, highlights a lack of knowledge of the true healthcare environment in the UK.

as for the rest of your post….sums up exactly my points on the faults of the blinkered and biased who will never ever listen to reason and who never ever question anyone who has the same political opinion.  Everything is the fault of the liberals and the masses….I think that sums up your argument.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 5:20 p.m.

I cannot speak to the doctors you refer to in Britain…. I only know the ones my family member and several friends have chosen are 100% private and outside the government system.  They don’t use the term concierge over there; this is a term I use for here.

No, my argument is the masses are willing to settle for what liberals give to the masses.  The masses have become content to believe the rich can pay all the bills for their share of middle class welfare.  Social security and medicare are middle class welfare because you get many times your contribution into the system if you are of retirement age today.  It is unsustainable in the long term.  Make no mistake if the middle class had to pay the real tab for social security and medicare… you would see the love for these middle class welfare programs subside significantly.  The masses do not know the joy of saving for your own retirement and healthcare instead choosing to settle for what the government gives you.

The masses never fully realize their own potential because they settle for what democrats offer as long as you remain loyal to democratic plantation politics.

“And while the groups have been linked to the Koch brothers, it’s not clear how exactly they’re connected.”

This is reporting?

@bruce- The Great Depression occurred in 1929. I have no idea what you are talking about a “short 1920/21 depression”. FDR’s stimulus came in 1932 AFTER Hoover tried austerity first. That period, between 1929 and 1932 was characterized by brutal recession and when FDR used federal stimulus, the economy began recovering. He made the mistake of tightening in 1937 and we began the long, slow recovery that austerity ALWAYS yields which lasted until 1952.

Your solution is about as foolish as the Tea Party’s recent suggestion that we could just prioritize our spending and, thus, failing to fund the debt was no big deal. Hopefully, we will never have to see the result of the US CHOOSING TO DEFAULT on its debt. As most rationale economists on both sides of the political spectrum have suggested, that would be catastrophic.

The real job creators are consumers, not businesses. Any fool can tool up and make hula hoops when the demand skyrockets. Anyone. When demand crashes as has happened since the last Bush recession, the one we call the Great Recession for a reason, and the public sector won’t fund the recovery, we sink into an abyss. This is precisely what being the World’s reserve currency if best for.

By the way, Republicans know they’re starving the recovery. After preening in front of TV cameras in 2011, telling everyone that the stimulus didn’t work and it didn’t create jobs. Many of them went back home to their congressional districts and begged the government for stimulus money to…...wait for it…...“create jobs.” I can find you a video on youtube showing Paul Ryan among others doing exactly that. So, save your anti-Keynesian rhetoric for someone who is not paying attention to the fact that the conservative-led nations in Europe like Greece, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, et. al. are sinking back into unnecessary recessions because they’re still trying to make “expansionary austerity” work while the socialist nations like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany thrive with low unemployment, high taxes for great benefits, free education almost through graduate school in many cases, and moderate GDP growth.

You can have your Austrian economic solutions. They sound good at first. They just don’t work in the real World which is why there are no examples of truly successful libertarian governments anywhere.

@bruce- You lack of knowledge about the ACA, and Britain’s HC system shows that you are unwilling to do independent research.

You said, “If you don’t socialize it completely I am more than content to let the masses settle for the mediocrity our healthcare system is about to become.” Wow ! According to the WHO, we pay more than double the next most expensive country for our HC and our healthcare efficiency rank 46th just behind Iran and Turkey. Not very good, in other words.

Our HC system is mediocre and needs to be fixed. As with all of the other critics, you offer nothing for a solution except the status quo which is unaffordable. Medical costs are rising far too fast for us to continue in the same trajectory. Do you know why? Our HC insurance lobby and HC delivery lobbies are very powerful. They would rather buy off politicians of both parties than change the system, so that it will work. Neither party is really talking about doing the right thing. The ACA was modeled after a Republican idea, a market-based program in answer to Hillary’s single-payer system in the early 90’s. I’ll bet you didn’t know that? The Heritage Foundation developed it and Romney implemented it in MA, of course. The only excuse that I hear repeatedly from the right is that it was OK there because it was a state program. How does advocating for 50 separate state programs make for equal treatment under the law as guaranteed by the constitution? It doesn’t.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 6 p.m.

The fact that history of that short sharp depression isn’t taught has always been a function of government and media never having to explain why the Great Depression dragged on and on.  And this 2008 to today and beyond Great Compression today…. going on and on and on because of government interventionism that has not worked.

Dood, maybe your health insurance and providers are not working for you but I am quite happy with what I have going on in my life but I have had to piecemeal my care together and go into my own pocket when the time calls for it.  If you choose to function within the existing system today and the socialized medicine system tomorrow then you will get the short end.  Let’s just say there is a cross-section of our population that knows where and how to get the best.

I am fully aware of the history of ACA, Romneycare….. etc. and that makes it right?  All of the sudden you liberals are willing to give conservatives credit when it serves your purpose?  You know darn well Heritage has distanced itself from Romneycare and Obamacare because it was not within the guidelines of their original initiative and is missing the market-based solutions Heritage stood behind.

Dood, I don’t care what I have to pay for the best healthcare and as I said there is a cross-section of people who understand what it truly takes to get the very best.  To the masses, they always settle for the rest.

@bruce- The was no short sharp depression in 1920/21 time period. Send me your link, please.

What the hades is a “Great Compression?” Are you smoking something aromatic?

I am retired and with Medicare, I don’t have the same exposure to being bankrupted as you do. The only reason you “like” your current HC insurance plan is that you haven’t contracted a terminal illness nor had a life threatening accident. Bankruptcy in the US for individuals is normally a direct result of an unexpected illness or accident.

If you had more friends, you would know someone like most of us who was denied insurance claims when they contracted a major illness or lost their insurance through no fault of their own due to job loss or changing jobs, for example. Others found they could not afford insurance when changing jobs due pre-existing conditions. No, our present HC insurance monopoly is heartless. We need a more compassionate plan.

You say the Heritage plan was different than Obamacare. Please give me the details. I know now you’re full of it. They even invented the individual mandate and were for it before the Democrats included it in the ACA.

We agree on one point, there is a better system. It’s called a single payer plan. It would allow the government to take advantage of its buying power from having the largest pool of subscribers.

If you want the very best HC, we should model our system after those countries that have the best outcomes. Ours is 46th. What part of that is confusing you? A high number is bad, not good.

Cons and scams are certainly not restricted to “the masses” who you seem to think deserve to suffer the economic misery inflicted by the oligarchical masters, who pay little or no taxes, and scoff when “the masses” just want a living wage.  I’ll tell you what: let’s make a deal: we eliminate middle class welfare and corporate welfare at the same time.  You speak from an elite position of privilege and have no concept of “we the people.”  Instead you speak of “the masses,” faceless, lazy and corrupted by a system that actually values the life and liberty, of the powerful and wealthy….Sounds to me like you are bereft of moral responsibility ( There’s plenty of blame to go around, mostly because of the greed and avarice of our corporate “citizens.”.)  What,... Walmart can’t afford to pay its slaves a living wage?  Get real.  Get some human compassion while you’re at it.  Q: do you offer your time and effort to help the less fortunate, or do you just write checks?  What is YOUR investment in a just society?

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 6:34 p.m.

You are nothing more than a walking and talking generality.

No, I didn’t get the terminal illness, my late wife did and her care was incredible.  Stanford, USF, UCLA all in the mix and all efforts were made to save her but nothing could….

No one threatened to cancel policies.  When you function in the right places and you own the right insurance products and you look out for yourself and you pay your own way and you NEVER look to some government but-munch for anything in life.  You get desired outcomes because you know where to go and what to buy in order to get those desired outcomes.

You live in a world where you think you know so much.  There is a world of achievers that do not have to settle for what some government lackey comes up with….... a world where those who are self-sufficient and know where to go and what to do are able to avoid the problems of the masses that almost always settle for less because their desire to pay less gets them the outcome that paying less for something gets you… the short end.

You cannot even imagine people who at all levels have the ability to take care of their own needs.  I pay my taxes and all I want to do is maintain my right to choose my outcomes and I have no doubt there will be a sharp contrasting two-tier healthcare system in the US as it already exists in Britain.  You talk about Britain in the context you understand…. you have NO idea what Britain’s elites have access to the masses will never have access to….

Bruce, I am sorry about the loss of your wife.  I can not imagine the pain such a loss would be like.

With regards to “when you function in the right places”, “when you own the right products”, “you look out for yourself” “you pay your own way”, “you know where to go and what to buy”.....all come with a big caveat.  You have to have the money to pay for it.

The point is with the UK, people who can not afford the elite health care you talk of, do have access to a very good healthcare system at no additional cost than their National Insurance Contributions.  The people who want the Elite healthcare you talk about are able to pay for it, but must still pay their national insurance contributions just like everyone else.  The point is, they still have (and will always have) the ability to keep the health care they had before it was introduced.  So, as your requested, the private side of healthcare is still able to flourish.

Did you know that if your ill in the UK and unable to go to the Dr’s Office or to a hospital, the Dr’s make house calls and will treat you in your home….By the way…that is on the National Health and does not cost extra,

These national insurance contributions pay for: The National Health Service, State Pension, Sickness and Disability Allowance and Unemployment Benefit.

the Center to Protect Patient Rights said [...] it erred largely because it had never before made contributions in California and that it had no intention to violate campaign reporting rules

Ironic, given the dark money funding sources also fund efforts to create ever more byzantine voting requirements and ever more byzantine uses of gerrymandering.

I guess complexity is in the eye of the corrupter.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 25, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Re: Depression of 1920/21.  You can find cursory information about this very short and sharp depression on Wikipedia.  For those who want a starting point to learn something about history that has been avoided for fear that the reality of how Roosevelt behaved then and how Obama is behaving now is lengthening and deepening their respective versions of the Great Depression and what I call the Great Compression for the Obama period.

This depression was short/sharp/painful but the one thing that happened is there was no such thing as too big to fail.  Everything including banks and brokerage houses collapsed into the abyss.  No depositor insurance and rich people lost most of their money when they invested or left their savings with irresponsible lenders and brokers.

Democrats don’t want to face the reality that the Great Depression and this present nightmare we live in would have ended sooner and the growth spurt out of it would have been so much greater… closer to the roaring 20s rather than years of stumbling because that destroys the liberals narrative.

Yeah we blew up again in the late 20s and we needed more regulation but what we didn’t need was a Roosevelt who tried to take over the entire economy via the NRA (National Recovery Act) and then when the Supreme Court slapped him down tried to pack the court to get his way.  My grandfather, who was a democrat and thought he was a liberal until he personally watched Roosevelt’s shenanigans became a republican in the depth of the depression.  He told all of us about how Roosevelt froze the economy with uncertainty during the period he wanted to take control of all the nation’s resources (the thrust of the NRA).  Businessmen were frozen for years; too afraid to start new business initiatives….. sound familiar?

So its the liberals around the planet that caused and are prolonging this GLOBAL problem.

Thanka for that wisdom.

Byard Pidgeon

Oct. 25, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

One million dollars in fines on fifteen million dollars in illegal expenditures is simply a bit less than a seven percent surcharge, roughly equivalent to paying sales tax on a yacht…in other words, meaningless to these sleazebags.

The reality is the narrative of the right - their verbalization of their desire to have absolute control not only of all of the wealth in America but also of the quality and length of life of the American people - would yield

we needed more regulation but what we didn’t need was a [______] who tried to take over the entire economy

The name - Roosevelt, or whomever - is moot.

The reality is “the right” then and now condemns any American who dares to defend the American people and these United States of America against the sadistic predation of the 0.01% who are “the right”.

Observe, for instance, a long comment that makes cursory note of what actually happened when “the right” had control and then offers as fact a hypothesis that preventing “the right” from subsequently and consequently losing control would have “fixed” the the problem

A hypothetical solution to problems that are the direct result of the well-documented pattern of behavior of “the right”...a solution, coincidentally, that would require little or no change in that pattern of behavior.

Based upon that hypothesis…based upon the desire of “the right” to return to the rapacious and wanton ways of the the Robber Barons…you - the American people - are supposed to surrender the futures of your children.  The America of the 1930s - in direct consequence of the repetitive behavior of “the right” - was a dying, stinking remnant of the vision of America’s Founding Fathers.

And “the right” wants that again.

“The right”, you see, wants a teeny, tiny change to “All men are created equal.”...just a minor revision/division…

“All of the ‘haves’ are created equal, and all of the ‘have-nots’ are created equal.”

And if you are born to one set or the other, you remain in that set forevermore.

“The right”, for all of their pontificating on “the free market” and “competition”, wants to eliminate competition for opportunity in America once and for all.

@Bruce J. Fernandes If “...the Koch Brothers, like them or not, act out of their love for their country…”  Anyone who believes that also believe that I have been a registered Republican all my life. The Kochs out out of pure greed, what’s in it for ‘me?’
Response lines are merely opinion threads, but opinions are, at least partly based on truth.

By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.
Adolf Hitler

@tontis:

I don’t think many took that seriously…at least, those capable of doing a web search for “koch environmental record” and then synchronizing those results chronologically against a web search of “history of the tea party” wouldn’t…

Nor would those who did a web search for “a people’s history of koch industries”...

Blood is thicker than tea, even.

Mr. SHAHISLAM

Oct. 29, 2013, 3:20 a.m.

As a part of new generation politics we’ll be able to further successfully deal with the old fashioned, ugly, thuggish influences of super wealthy groups Via some surprisingly new means that shall include the power of electronic transparency.
Glimpse of hopes is in the present global trends of unprecedented US successes against terrorism funded by “digitally almost identified royal-religious type groups (SWT 200s)” in the current International public sense of awareness.
Forget about old privacy laws and suppression of the Truth And information by “Too greedy businessmen of law, religion, oil” or royal-type Super wealthy etc..
...and of course, honest & good guys have nothing to hide nor lose!

(Not the above John, the usual John that goes on endlessly about stuff, though I happen to largely agree with the other one…)

Look at it this way, guys:  We subsidize non-profits with taxpayer money, in that they don’t pay taxes on their earnings while we do.  To turn around and use that tax-free money to try to sway elections should be abhorrent no matter where you are on the political spectrum.

Also, those complaining (rightly) about the Clintons taking money from the Chinese, consider that, since these organizations can hide their donors, they may be taking money from the Chinese, as well.

Consider, for a moment, that many sitting Representatives associated with the Tea Party (who are supported by a lot of this money) have expressed a hatred for and open hostility towards the United States government.  Are you sure their funding comes from pro-American sources?  Historically, calling for the destruction of a government is not a show of support for the country.

@bruce- There was no depression in 1920-21, except in your imagination. In the years leading up to the actual event in 1929, there were 3 consecutive Republican administrations doling out the same tired laissez-faire, free market nonsense that took us down again in 2007.

The Republicans controlled the Presidency and Congress 80% and 100% of the decade prior to 1929.  For comparison, in the decade prior to the current crisis Republican control has been 60% and 100%.  Indeed, there has been a long period of Republican dominance in the legislative and executive branches, with control over Congress from 1995-2007 and the Presidency since 2001, not unlike the long period of Republican dominance leading up to the 1929 Depression.  We are under very similar party governance conditions as the 1929 Great Depression.

Face it, Republicans promoted legislation that favors the few that are already wealthy. As David Stockman, Reagan’s Director of OMB, confessed years ago, Reagan’s trickle down economic plan was a Trojan Horse to give big tax breaks to his rich donors. It never worked and cannot help the middle class.

Bruce J Fernandes

Oct. 29, 2013, 2:29 p.m.

Seattle,

Are you a child?  There was what has always been described as a short and sharp deflationary depression from 1/20 to 7/21.

Because you didn’t even bother to click on Wikipedia as a key word and would easily find it I will no longer engage with a liberal that is intellectually as dishonest and shallow as you have now shown yourself to be….

Those of us who have undergrad degrees in economics are aware of this depression and it is notable because it did precisely what should happen which is wipe out banks and brokerage firms and everyone who overreached and it all happened short and sharp without any government intervention thus short and sharp.

The 30s depression and today’s compression (my word) are entirely a function of government actions.

The rest of your post is the same old Obama tag lines… I assume you are one of those posters that goes around trying to discredit people.  In this case you have exposed yourself by simply refusing to do simple homework and confirm historic accuracy.

Makes sense because the last thing liberals want is historical accuracy.

Let’s try again.  Since you don’t have real books and you wanted a link key word “Depression 1920/21” and you will get a Wikipedia entry and if you wanted to learn more you can find any number of books on this short sharp depression.

As far as similar governance… yeah Obama has created so much uncertainty businesses are unwilling to risk their capital and will wait until your black, radical, socialist president is out of office.

Bruce,

I just wanted to check…is this the “depression” that occurred when the Republicans had the majority in both the Senate and House?

Is this the same “depression” that Murray Rothbard, himself, stated that the 1920-21 Depression was indeed a purely monetary episode, in contrast to the Great Depression in which real factors played a major role.

Some other interesting information about the two depressions:

1920 preceded by large deficits, 1929 preceded by surpluses.
1920 preceded by inflation, 1929 preceded by no inflation.
1920 preceded by war, 1929 preceded by peace.
1920 depression possibly softened by export strength, 1929 ???
1920 evidently not near the 0-interest rate bound, 1929 probably approaching it.
1920 gold standard not in force, 1929, gold standard in force.
1920 deflation a local U.S. phenomenon, 1929, deflation wide spread around the world.
The U.S. debt overhang in 1929 was far greater, as well.

Not taking any sides on this issue, just wanted to share some facts.

@bruce- Most economists called the 1920-21 economic downturn a recession, not a depression. They save the term depression for a “long term” downturn like 1929 and the period we’re in now. We have not even called the December, 2007 event a depression although it has had a far more damaging effect on our economy than 1920’s recession did. Go back to the wikipedia article and read it for a change.

The uncertainty you speak about comes from the brinksmanship the Tea Party is using to extract political gains from the continuing resolution to pay for our debts. Obama was FOR keeping the government open. His opposition wanted to overturn settled law for their vote to continue funding government.

The same Republicans who now want to starve government, voted to increase spending on the 2 wars and extend the failed Bush tax cuts that we cannot afford in the Summer of 2011, remember? The refused even modest revenues so they could falsely state that the current administration is spending too much. Anyone paying attention can see the Norquist plan to starve-the-beast is alive and well. Republicans continue their attempt to dismantle the New Deal despite the fact, these are the most popular programs in our government.

I certainly hope Ryan and his ilk will run on that in 2016. Americans overwhelmingly support SS and Medicare, not endless wars, tax subsidies for big businesses and tax cuts for the rich. I wish we could put these issues on the ballot and you would see how out of touch with average Americans, Republicans are.

To All,

IGNORE BRUCE…let him spout, but don’t respond. He’s hopeless, and does nothing except suck you all into his rightward, accelerating spin, which destroys any discussion of any worth.

That’s the entire objective of trolls…to highjack discussions.

Ah, but you forget the “Email me when someone responds to this article” selection, Byard.

Everybody who has ever selected that gets an email of Bruce’s propaganda…and he’s pretty good at it; it comes across looking like the truth (at least in terms of grammar, spelling, and vocabulary) even if it it just more unsubstantiated right-wing hogwash.  I believe such propaganda merits a reply that includes ways for people to find the facts and decide for themselves…

If you don’t point out propaganda for what it is, then the right’s second favorite tactic (after “Divide, and conquer.”) of lie and then repeat, repeat, repeat the lie until people begin to assume that it is true will work.

would really love to similar in-depth reporting on the various groups linked to the Democratic party as well as the role that the unions play in elections.

Not hard to find out what the unions, give, Peter.

They tell the government exactly how much they spend.  Most of it is in contributions or PACs that are quite transparent.

It’s peanuts compared to the anti-tax billionaire Koch brothers spend. Pocket change for those two.

Their members vote on delegates, as PAC members, who decide where and on whom the money will be spent.  It doesn’t come out of union dues, no matter what feverish wankers would have you imagine.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Buying Your Vote

Buying Your Vote: Dark Money and Big Data

ProPublica is following the money and exploring campaign issues in the 2012 election you won't read about elsewhere.

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