Obama Hires PR Firm to Push Obamacare; Newt Wants 'Downton Abbey' Role

Sunday, 21 Apr 2013 02:40 PM

By Special From Newsmax's Most Informed Sources

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Obama Seeks End Run Around UNESCO Funding Ban
2. White House Hires PR Firm to Push Obamacare
3. Gallup: Immigration, Guns Not Major Concerns
4. Before Robinson, Bud Fowler Was First Black Baseball Pro
5. Report: Wealthy Americans Do Pay 'Fair Share' of Taxes
6. We Heard: Newt Gingrich, Jane Fonda
 

1. Obama Seeks End Run Around UNESCO Funding Ban

Back in October 2011, the United States was forced by law to cut off funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after it voted to approve full membership for the Palestinian Authority.

The Obama administration sought to circumvent the funding ban by including $79 million for UNESCO in its fiscal year 2013 budget request, but the request was not approved.

Now the administration is once again trying to fund the agency, including $77.7 million for UNESCO in its newly released fiscal 2014 budget request.

Public Law 101-246, passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 1990, states that "no funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act shall be available for the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states."

Public Law 103-236 Title IV, passed in 1994, prohibits "voluntary or assessed contribution to any affiliated organization of the United Nations which grants full membership as a state to any organization or group that does not have the internationally recognized attributes of statehood."

But as the Insider Report disclosed earlier, the agency went ahead with granting membership to the Palestinian Authority, a move that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said at the time was "anti-Israel and anti-peace."

With U.S. contributions comprising 22 percent of the operating budget, UNESCO head Irina Bokova said the loss of American funds has led to the "worst ever" financial crisis in the agency's history, according to CNS News.

In its budget proposal, the administration attempts to justify renewed funding of UNESCO: "The ability to make such contributions is essential to advancing U.S. interests worldwide and strengthening U.S. global leadership, influence, and credibility."

During the 1980s, the United States and the United Kingdom withdrew from UNESCO, accusing the agency of mismanagement and an anti-Western political agenda. The U.K. returned in 1997 and President George W. Bush restored the U.S. relationship in 2002, citing wide-ranging reforms.

Footnote: Buried in the State Department's budget request is news that if the administration can convince Congress to grant a waiver to the funding freeze, State hopes to give UNESCO the money it did not provide in 2012 and 2013, which could amount to $135 million.

Editor's Note:



2. White House Hires PR Firm to Push Obamacare

The Obama administration has hired public-relations giant Weber Shandwick to help sell Obamacare to the uninsured and persuade them to enroll in a healthcare plan.

Obamacare aims to cover uninsured Americans by expanding Medicaid and by imposing an "individual mandate" requiring everyone to have insurance or pay a tax. There is obvious concern in the White House, however, that many of the nation's 37 million uninsured Americans will pay the tax rather than buy health insurance.

"Weber Shandwick won a $3.1 million contract to assist the Department of Health and Human Services with rolling out a campaign to convince skeptical — or simply confused — Americans that the act is good for them and persuade them to enroll in a health plan," Advertising Age reported.

The PR firm will seek to implement "rollout communication" based on "old-fashioned marketing principles," the magazine disclosed.

The HHS agency in charge of the campaign is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Weber Shandwick is a global public relations firm with offices in 81 countries.

Editor's Note:



3. Gallup: Immigration, Guns Not Major Concerns

Immigration and gun control are two hot topics in Washington these days, but Americans aren't especially concerned about either issue, a new Gallup poll reveals.

In the survey of more than 1,000 adults, respondents were asked: "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?"

Only 4 percent cited "immigration/illegal aliens," and 4 percent said "guns/gun control," down from 6 percent in February.

Healthcare, another hot topic today, was cited by only 6 percent.

The most-cited problem was "economy in general," chosen by 24 percent, followed by "unemployment/jobs" (18 percent), "dissatisfaction with government" (16 percent), and "federal budget deficit/federal debt" (11 percent).

Legislation on gun control and immigration reform are both stirring debate in Washington, but "few Americans mention guns or immigration as the most important problems facing the nation today, despite the current attention lawmakers in Washington are giving to these issues," Gallup observed.

"Instead, Americans focus on economic issues and problems with the government as their top concerns."

Other problems mentioned by poll respondents include "ethical/moral/family decline" (5 percent), "education" (4 percent), "situation with North Korea" (4 percent), "welfare" (2 percent), "taxes" (2 percent), and "poverty/hunger/homelessness" (2 percent).

Gallup concludes: "All in all, to the degree that Americans would want their elected representatives to focus on the problems they perceive to be the most important of the day, they would prioritize the economy and jobs, efforts to fix problems with the way government functions today, and the deficit."

Editor's Note:



4. Before Robinson, Bud Fowler Was First Black Baseball Pro

The release of the Jackie Robinson biopic "42" has focused new attention on the man who "broke the color barrier" in Major League baseball.

But in fact, the first African-American known to have played for a white professional baseball team was Bud Fowler, who joined an International Association team way back in 1878.

Fowler played 10 seasons as a pitcher, catcher, and second baseman for integrated teams in the high levels of the minor leagues, and finished second in batting average in the International Association in 1887, the New York Times disclosed.

Last weekend, Fowler was honored in Cooperstown, N.Y., the site of baseball's Hall of Fame, when a street in the village was named Bud Fowler Way. A biography of Fowler will be published in June.

Robinson wasn't the first African-American to play baseball for a major league team, either. The first was Moses Fleetwood Walker, who played in 1884 with the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, which was then a major league.

The so-called color barrier wasn't established until 1887, when team owners agreed to bar blacks from playing on white professional teams. The move followed threats by Fowler's teammates on the Binghamton Bingos to go on strike if he was allowed to remain on the team.

The barrier fell on April 15, 1947, when Jackie Robinson — number 42 — took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Editor's Note:



5. Report: Wealthy Americans Do Pay 'Fair Share' of Taxes

With the income tax filing deadline rolling by in mid-April, the Tax Foundation's website offered a report refuting allegations from the left that wealthy Americans need to pay more of a "fair share" of taxes.

"Support is growing in Washington and among the public to raise tax rates on the 'rich' to reduce inequality in America," the Tax Foundation stated.

"But much of the perceived rise in inequality is really the natural result of the business cycle as well as social and demographic forces far beyond the role of tax policy."

Income tax returns showing an adjusted gross income of $250,000 or more account for only about 2 percent of all returns, according to the report, which was published last year and is largely based on figures from 2010.

These filers' share of all income is 23 percent, but they account for 53 percent of all income taxes paid. Those earning less than $30,000 account for 23 percent of all income, but as a group they receive more back from the IRS than they pay in income taxes.

The top-earning 10 percent of taxpayers pay 70 percent of all income taxes, up from 55 percent in 1985, while the bottom 90 percent pay 29 percent, down from 45 percent in 1985. In fact, the top 1 percent pay more, 37 percent, than the bottom 90 percent.

The percentage of filers who pay no income taxes has soared from 16 percent in 1969 to 41 percent — 58 million filers in 2010.

The Tax Foundation report shows how a family of four earning as much as $45,000 could pay no income taxes. After taking into consideration the standard deduction, four personal exemptions, child credits, and the earned income tax credit, the family would not only escape paying income taxes, but they would receive a refundable credit of $637.

As for assertions that those not paying income taxes do at least pay Social Security payroll taxes (FICA), 23 percent of non-payers actually receive more in refundable credits than they pay in FICA.

The Tax Foundation concludes: "Thanks to misdirected tax policy, America is becoming divided between a shrinking group of taxpayers who are bearing the lion's share of the cost of government today, and a growing group of taxpayers who are disconnected from the basic cost of government.

"This is a recipe for both fiscal and social instability."

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard . . .

THAT former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is a huge fan of the period drama "Downton Abbey" — and says he'd love to appear on the acclaimed show.

In an interview with Gingrich, Vanity Fair magazine noted that the Georgia Republican had a "great cameo" on "Parks and Recreation," and asked what would be his dream cameo on "Downton Abbey."

"It would be great to play [David] Lloyd George," he responded, referring to the British prime minister who served from 1916 to 1922.

An odd choice, considering that Lloyd George was a member of the Liberal Party.

Gingrich added: "I am too old to play the younger Churchill in the series, but if they get to 1940, it would be wonderful to try to be Churchillian."

"Downton Abbey" began airing in the United States on PBS in January 2011.

THAT Jane Fonda was the butt of a joke when she attended a recent preview of "I'll Eat You Last," the Bette Midler Broadway show about agent Sue Mengers.

The play includes a scene in which Mengers' client Faye Dunaway is up against Fonda to star in the 1974 movie "Chinatown." Producer Robert Evans says Dunaway has a reputation for being "hard to work with," the New York Post reported.

Midler as Mengers shoots back: "What?! Compared to Hanoi Jane and her legions of protesting vets? Come on!"

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