Tax Man Reapeth: Federal Revenue Hits All-Time Record

Sunday, 25 May 2014 03:10 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. No Keystone Pipeline Means More Oil Spills
2. Federal Revenue Set All-Time Record in April
3. Voters Increasingly Prefer Governors for President
4. Israeli Minister Blasts U.S. 'Hypocrisy'
5. Survey: Half of Doctors Won't Take On New Medicaid Patients
6. Report Refutes STEM Worker 'Shortage'
 

1. No Keystone Pipeline Means More Oil Spills

Critics of the Keystone XL pipeline have focused their objections on the environmental threats it supposedly poses, but the danger of oil spills will be greater if the pipeline is NOT built, an expert asserts.

"Clearly, we are going to continue moving crude oil and petroleum products from where they are extracted to where they are needed," observes Terry L. Anderson, president of the Property and Environmental Research Center in Montana and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

"When considering whether to approve the Keystone XL, therefore, the question has to be: Which is safer, pipeline or rail tank cars?"

A February report from the State Department disclosed that pipelines larger than 12 inches in diameter spilled more than 910,000 gallons of crude oil and petroleum products last year, compared with 1.15 million gallons for tank cars.

But pipelines carry nearly 25 times more crude oil and petroleum products than rail cars do, Anderson points out in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal.

The Keystone pipeline would facilitate delivery of up to 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to refineries in the United States.

The State Department report estimated that the pipeline carrying 830,000 barrels a day would likely result in just 0.46 accidents a year, spilling 518 barrels. Rail cars would produce at least 383 spills totaling more than 1,335 barrels a year.

Tank cars will also generate about 49 additional injuries and six additional deaths a year, compared with one additional injury and no deaths for the pipeline.

The State Department, which concluded in 2011 that Keystone poses "no significant impacts" on the environment — and restated that finding earlier this year — also noted in February that Keystone would drill under rivers to avoid "direct disturbance to the river bed, fish, aquatic animals and plants, and river banks."

Anderson recalled that following a derailment in downtown Lynchburg, Va., on April 30, 30,000 gallons of crude oil burned or spilled into the James River. A May 9 derailment near Denver spilled 6,500 gallons of oil that eventually reached the South Platte River. And a 2013 derailment in Quebec spilled 1.3 million gallons, killed 47 people, and incinerated 30 buildings.

"Putting the debate over the Keystone XL in this context shows the absurdity of killing the pipeline project," Anderson concludes.

The Insider Report in April disclosed that 65 percent of Americans support construction of the pipeline and just 30 percent oppose it.

The American Enterprise Institute charges that President Barack Obama is holding off approving construction of the pipeline not for environment concerns but for political reasons — his fear of alienating one of his core constituencies, environmentalists.

Editor's Note:



2. Federal Revenue Set All-Time Record in April

The federal government collected $414.23 billion in revenue in April, the largest total ever for a single month, and also set a record for the most revenue collected in the first seven months of a fiscal year.

In fiscal 2014, which began on Oct. 1, federal revenue so far has totaled $1.735 trillion — yet the government still ran a deficit of $306.4 billion over the seven-month period, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement of Receipts and Outlays of the United States Government.

In April, the government usually sees peak tax revenues for the year due to the mid-month filing deadline for income tax returns. And although the government took in $414.23 billion last month, it spent $307.38 billion — meaning there was a surplus of more than $106.8 billion.

In fiscal 2013, the government also ran a surplus in April, but it returned to the red the following month, running a deficit of $138.7 billion in May.

The White House Office of Management and Budget estimates that the federal government will collect $3 trillion in the full fiscal 2014, spend over $3.6 trillion, and run a deficit of about $650 billion.

The largest single source of revenue for the federal government in the first seven months of this fiscal year was the individual income tax, which brought in $823 billion.

The largest outlay was to the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare and Medicaid — $528 billion over the seven months. Social Security payments totaled $521 billion, the Defense Department received $341 billion, and $223.9 billion was paid out in interest on Treasury debt securities.

By comparison, the Department of Education received $29.8 billion over that period.

Total payments on the national debt for fiscal 2014 are estimated to cost $427 billion.

Editor's Note:



3. Voters Increasingly Prefer Governors for President

Back in 1987, 66 percent of poll respondents said experience as a member of Congress provided better preparation for the presidency while 22 percent said serving as a governor was better preparation.

But today, the percentage of voters who think experience as a governor is better preparation has doubled to 44 percent, matching the percentage of those who believe Congress is better preparation, a new poll by the Pew Research Center reveals.

A slight majority of Republicans, 51 percent, say serving as a governor is better preparation, compared to 40 percent for Congress. Among Democrats, 55 percent prefer Congress and 35 percent prefer a governorship. Independents are about evenly split.

The reason for the switch could be found in the response to another Pew poll question indicating the growing dissatisfaction with Congress. Thirty percent of respondents say they would be less likely to support a candidate with "many years" of experience as an elected official in Washington, while just 19 percent would be more likely.

Early in the 2008 presidential campaign, 35 percent were more likely to back a candidate with lengthy experience in Washington, while just 15 percent were less likely.

The most valuable asset for a presidential candidate is military service, Pew found. Overall, 43 percent say military experience would make them more likely to support a candidate, 4 percent would be less likely, and it wouldn't matter to 54 percent.

A solid 63 percent of Republicans would be more likely to back a candidate who served in the military, compared with just 29 percent of Democrats.

The most negatively viewed trait is atheism — 53 percent of respondents would be less likely to vote for a candidate who doesn't believe in God, 5 percent would be more likely, and 41 percent say it wouldn't matter.

More than half of respondents, 52 percent, would be less likely to support a candidate who has never held office.

Thirty-five percent would be less likely to support a candidate who had an extramarital affair, but it wouldn't matter to 61 percent.

The Pew survey also finds that 66 percent now say it wouldn't matter to them if a candidate was gay or lesbian, up sharply from 51 percent in 2007. Just 27 percent would be less likely to support such a candidate, down from 46 percent in 2007.

Also, 71 percent of voters say it would not matter to them if a White House candidate is a woman. Just 5 percent of Democrats would be less likely to vote for a woman, as would 15 percent of Republicans.

And 70 percent of those polled say it wouldn't matter to them if a presidential candidate used marijuana in the past.

Six percent would be more likely to vote for someone who had used marijuana.

Editor's Note:



4. Israeli Minister Blasts U.S. 'Hypocrisy'

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman lashed out at the "hypocrisy" he sees in the American and European request for a thorough probe into the shooting deaths of two Palestinian teens — allegedly by the Israeli military.

The shootings occurred on May 15 during a demonstration in the West Bank town of Beitunia commemorating what Palestinians call "the catastrophe," or "nakba," of Israel's creation in 1948.

"We don't need an American request to inquire [into] the subject," Liberman said on Wednesday during a visit to the West Bank.

"I reject any request and the hypocrisy we see worldwide."

Questioned about the shooting incident, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States expected Israel to conduct a prompt investigation, the Jerusalem Post reported.

And the European Union's missions in the West Bank and Jerusalem also called for a thorough probe and stated: "We reiterate the need for security forces, whether Israeli or Palestinian, to refrain from the use of lethal force, except in cases where there is a real and imminent threat to life."

Liberman said in response that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is "the most moral military in the world.”

"I only wish that this sort of requirement will appear in other cases. In Syria around 170,000 people were killed and I didn't see any request from the international community to inquire into these killings.

"Hamas has executed two men in the Gaza Strip after accusing them of spying for Israel, without a lawyer or a fair trial. I didn't see any request to investigate that."

The Palestinians claim that the IDF killed the two 17-year-olds by shooting them with live ammunition during the demonstration. The IDF insists it used only rubber bullets during the riot.

The shootings returned to the headlines in Israel on Tuesday after a Palestinian group published video footage showing the teens as they were shot.

According to the Jerusalem Post, the IDF has "attacked the authenticity of the video footage published."

Editor's Note:



5. Survey: Half of Doctors Won't Take On New Medicaid Patients

With the Medicaid program poised to expand due to the Affordable Care Act, a new survey involving 1,399 medical offices in 15 large metropolitan markets shows that more than half of doctors won't accept new Medicaid patients.

Merritt-Hawkins, a Texas-based national healthcare consulting firm, surveyed doctors in five specialties — cardiology, dermatology, orthopedic surgery, obstetrics-gynecology, and family practice — and found that just 45.7 percent will accept new Medicaid patients.

That is down from 55.4 percent in 2009, before Obamacare was signed into law.

According to the survey's authors, "The rate at which physicians accept Medicaid can vary for a number of reasons. In some cases, reimbursement rates provided by Medicaid to particular specialists may be below their cost of providing services. If not actually below costs, Medicaid reimbursement often is relatively low compared to that offered by other payers, and therefore busy physicians may have no economic incentive to see Medicaid patients.

"In other cases, the process of billing for and receiving Medicaid payment can be problematic and some physicians choose to avoid it."

The Medicaid program is one of the major ways Obamacare expands coverage, and 7 million additional people are expected to be added to the program this year, although they won't necessarily be able to access healthcare, according to a report on the survey from the Heritage Foundation.

"By further expanding this broken program, Obamacare will only exacerbate the situation, continuing to harm many low-income Americans who have no option other than Medicaid," according to Heritage Foundation policy analyst Kevin Dayaratna.

The survey found that last year Boston had the highest rate of Medicaid acceptance by physicians in the 15 markets, 73 percent, followed by Portland, Ore., with 63.5 percent.

Dallas had the lowest rate, 23 percent, and Minneapolis was next with 23.6 percent.

But rates among some specialties were far lower than the overall rates in some metro areas. Just 7 percent of cardiologists in Minneapolis accept new Medicaid patients, no dermatologists in Dallas will take them on, and only 20 percent of doctors in family practice in Denver accept new Medicaid patients.

In contrast, the average rate of Medicare acceptance in the five specialties in the 15 markets was 76 percent, including 98 percent in Boston and 95.8 percent in Detroit.

The Merritt-Hawkins report concludes: "As millions of the previously uninsured obtain healthcare coverage through the ACA, ways will need to be found to ensure access to physicians."

Editor's Note:



6. Report Refutes STEM Worker 'Shortage'

A top Federal Reserve official recently said U.S. employers are having trouble finding workers with the needed skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

And President Obama and others have claimed that attracting the "best and brightest" immigrants is crucial to the economy.

But there is one problem with assertions that we need more of these foreigners to fill American jobs: The United States already has a glut of STEM workers, according to a new report.

"While employers argue that there are not enough workers with technical skills, most prior research has found little evidence that such workers are in short supply," the report from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) states.

The CIS analysis shows that "the country has more than twice as many workers with STEM degrees as there are STEM jobs."

Total STEM employment in 2012 was 5.3 million workers, including both native-born and immigrant. But there are 12.1 million STEM degree holders.

Just one-third of native-born STEM degree holders with a job actually work in a STEM occupation. Five million natives work in non-STEM occupations, including 2.6 million with science degrees, 1.5 million with engineering degrees, half a million with technology degrees, and 400,000 with math degrees. These obviously have the educational background to fill a STEM job.

Another 1.2 million natives with STEM degrees were unemployed or out of the labor force in 2012.

According to Census Bureau data cited by the CIS, about 700,000 new immigrants with STEM degrees were allowed to settle in the United States between 2007 and 2012, despite the economic downturn, but total STEM employment grew by only 500,000 during that period.

Of these new immigrants, only a little more than a third actually took a STEM job.

The CIS points out that the supply of STEM workers is not limited to those with STEM degrees — nearly one-third of STEM workers do not have an undergraduate STEM degree.

Also, if it were true that STEM workers are in short supply, wages should be increasingly rapidly, the CIS notes. But real hourly wages for STEM workers, adjusted for inflation, grew an average of just 0.7 percent a year from 2000 to 2012.

"In the House of Representatives, a number of bills have been introduced designed to increase the number of both temporary and permanent STEM workers allowed into the country," the report observes. "The incongruity between what the employment and wage data show and what employers and Congress want is difficult to reconcile."

But one thing is not in dispute: The law of supply and demand dictates that the glut of STEM workers will hold down wages for natives with STEM degrees.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said while he wants "the best and brightest foreign workers" to come to the United States, he worries that the administration is insufficiently concerned about the plight of unemployed Americans, and "those who have been forced out of their jobs because companies prefer to hire lower-paid workers from abroad."

The CIS agrees: "By allowing in many more immigrants than the labor market has been able to absorb, Congress is almost certainly holding down wage growth. It is difficult to argue this is in the interest of American people as a whole."

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Editor's Note:



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