Trillions of dollars are still being lost every year from our Federal, state, and local government coffers from fraud and corruption. It is simply being redirected from public programs and into the pockets of connected corporations. Obama has been as committed to dismantling all government oversight and accountability and placed Wall Street people in our public agencies to do that redirecting of public funds. It's like having an invading army looting your Treasury.
When a neo-liberal calls for Open Government they do not mean public transparency----they mean selling the public's data to whatever corporation can use it.
Neo-cons don't even try to disguise that they do not recognize our rights as citizens to privacy and equal protection from this fleecing of our government coffers and personal wealth. Maryland has pretty much dismantled all of public justice.
Let's take a few days to see the scope of this looting. It is not only one corporate industry....the financial industry drives it but there is literally a free for all.
Feds Transparency Website Can’t Account for $619 Billion
By: Rachel Blevins Aug 7, 2014
In the midst of the Obama administration’s attempt to implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act, a recent government audit shows that $619 billion is missing from 302 federal programs.
The Transparency Act was passed by Congress last year to “expand the amount of federal spending data available to the public.”
USASpending.gov was originally created as a way to make government spending more transparent. However, a report from the Government Accountability Office revealed that only 2% to 7% of the recorded spending data in 2012 is “fully consistent with agencies’ records.”
The report stated that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should implement more oversight of the spending data from federal agencies, and that until it does, “any effort to use the data will be hampered by uncertainties about accuracy.”
Jamal Brown, a spokesman for the OMB, made a statement insisting that the OMB is “committed to federal spending transparency and working with agencies to improve the completeness and accuracy of data submissions.”
According to USA Today, The Department of Health and Human Services was one of the 302 federal agencies, which failed to report money it had spent. This agency “failed to report nearly $544 billion, mostly in direct assistance programs like Medicare.”
The Department of the Interior neglected to report $5.3 billion it had spent, due to the fact that it claimed its accounting systems “were not compatible with the data formats required by USASpending.gov.”
USA Today also reported that for more than 22% of federal awards, “the spending website literally doesn’t know where the money went.”
The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Senator Tom Carper, acknowledged the problem saying, “We live in a world in which information drives decisions, and given the budget constraints that our government faces, we need reliable information on how and where our money is being spent.“
The health data once protected under HIPPA is now an open market. States are selling public health data they now consider a new revenue source. Johns Hopkins has a huge computer network that does nothing but receive and process data from around the state and from NSA networks. All the money made from this data is pocketed as profit. We see all kinds of efforts at protecting data----at the same time we have credit cards using fingerprints for easy access....liking simply signing is too hard. Hackers access this data and now identity theft will include people's fingerprints.
DIDN'T COMMIT THAT CRIME------WE HAVE YOUR FINGERPRINTS THAT SAY YOU DID! JUST THINK HOW THAT CAN BE USED BY AN AUTOCRATIC LEADERSHIP.
I won't go into the national fingerprinting goal of Republicans for decades to say that is what this will do---I want to look at how people's money is being made more vulnerable and we are being forced at some point to use these technologies.
It was said this year that Wall Street and the NSA stated hackers like Snowden and Anonymous are making it impossible for NSA systems to keep data secure and our businesses systems are tens of thousands time more vulnerable to people around the world wanting to steal our money. They do not secure these systems they build---they simply build and sell them.
There is no thought given to societal implications.
Discover testing fingerprint payments
November 26, 2012|By Becky Yerak | Tribune staff reporter
Discover Financial Services Inc. employees will be able to pay by finger at their Riverwoods headquarters' cafeteria and convenience stores as they become the first to test a new payment system.
Discover, which is working with French biometrics firm Natural Security on the project and which plans to get the pilot underway in the next three months, has previously used hundreds of its employees to test new technologies including various "contactless" payments, in which credit cards are simply tap. It plans to test the fingerprint payment system with 300 to 350 employees.
Discover employees who want to participate will register at an on-site kiosk, which will read an index fingerprint and assign a number to it. Each employee will also receive a key fob with a chip that includes information about their individual credit-card account as well as their fingerprint.
To complete a purchase, the user will place his or her finger on a fingerprint reader near checkout, with the key fob kept nearby, such as in a pocket or purse, for the transaction to go through. One security benefit to the process is that it guarantees that the fob or credit card and its owner are at the same place at the same time. It could also be faster and more convenient as people won't have to fumble around with their credit cards.
The credit-card company's test comes a few years after U.S. grocer Jewel abandoned its program with Pay by Touch, which got about $300 million in debt and equity financing from investors.
In 2006, Pay by Touch said about 10,000 Chicagoans had signed up for its fingerprint-payment program. A year later, some creditors tried forcing the owner of Pay by Touch into involuntary bankruptcy as its finances went into disarray. By 2008, the Pay by Touch machines were removed from Jewel stores.
Troy Bernard, Discover's global head of emerging payments, said his company is working on several payment technologies that could come to fruition both in the short- and long-term.
"Biometrics falls into long-term solutions," Bernard said, acknowledging potential concerns about both biometrics as well as the barrier to entry of making someone register for something.
You see below Wall Street is selling this as a means to cut down on identity theft but as this article states----it will be just as vulnerable with much more of your identity to steal. So, you have a credit card stolen----you close the account. You have a biometric credit card stolen and they have you for life.
Monkeetech announces iris-based credit card fraud prevention ...www.biometricupdate.com/201306/...based-credit-card-fraud... Cached
Monkeetech has announced the development of a new (patent-pending) iris scan biometric credit card fraud prevention system, called EyeWatch.
Your Biometric Identity Proof Positive
By Jake Stroup Identity Theft Expert
One way that shows a lot of promise in trying to combat identity theft is implementing biometric identification. You can see this on television crime shows like CSI, NCIS, etc. Biometrics include fingerprints, facial recognition, voice patterns, retinal scans, DNA, the list goes on.
Although it has been a scapegoat for many identity thefts, in many ways technology has provided some of the most solid defenses against the rising tide of identity theft. RFID tags, data encryption and innovations along those lines have gone a long way to helping us secure our personal information. The Federal government is even considering using biometric ID cards to combat illegal immigration. In fact, it's easy to make the argument that the problem isn't in the technology but in our lack of interest in protecting personal information.
Victims of identity theft report that it can take three to five years, or even longer to fix an identity theft problem. Keep in mind, you can get a new credit card in two weeks, once you have all the information to the bank or credit issuing authority. But who's going to the issue you a new set of fingerprints if they get stolen?
The idea of somebody stealing your biometric information isn't as farfetched as you might hope. It has already been shown how simple it would be to plant false DNA evidence. This article even goes so far as to say, "Any biology undergraduate can perform this."
In the end we will probably see the same problems arise, and some think the problem may get even worse. This is because the way biometrics work isn't really any different from credit cards.
What's The Difference? It's easy to think of credit in terms of the plastic cards in our pocket, since we can touch them, and that makes it more real. But this isn't the case. Today, credit is really nothing more than a long string of numbers stored in a computer somewhere. When you swipe your card at the local Wal-Mart, the information stored on your card is converted into a number as well and sent to your bank. If the numbers match up you get to walk home with a bag full of goodies.
Biometric identification works in a similar manner, but you're using your fingerprint instead of a card. It will still be turned into a string of numbers and run through a computer network. In the end does it really matter where the string of numbers comes from when an identity thief gets hold of it?
Despite the predictions of some experts, a database is still just a database. A hacker can still steal data from a computer or network, it doesn't matter if that data is a credit card number, or a digital voice print.
As far as security is concerned, many experts agree that maintaining "token" forms of identification are probably superior. Token identification is a card, password, PIN etc. – something that can be canceled, or changed if it is lost, misplaced or stolen. On the other hand biometric identification can't be lost, misplaced, or loaned to a friend, but it can't be replaced if it's compromised, either. This, combined with certain privacy issues (tracking, profiling, consumer-related privacy issues etc.) are making experts give serious consideration to whether or not biometrics are a viable option on a large scale.
It's easy to understand why this brings a sense of security, since no two fingerprints are the same. On the surface it seems like a secure form of identification. But security doesn't come from knowing that you are you, security only comes from knowing the information associated with your name is accurate, no matter what database that information might be in. In other words, if an identity thief managed to convince a fingerprint scanner that they were you, they will probably not come back to court if they manage to get released on bail/bond. In that situation, proving who you are won't help.
Biometrics have a few quirks of their own, though. For example, some states have started implementing a "no–smiles" policy for driver's licenses. This is because those states are now using facial recognition software to stem the flow of driver's license fraud. But the software might get confused if the subject smiles.
Furthermore, advocates like to say it's impossible to duplicate (for example) a fingerprint, but that's already been proven wrong. In fact, it's easy to do with a simple laser printer, and a little bit of spit.
But the biggest consideration is that a biometric identity system is only going to be as good as the information that's put into it in the first place. In other words, your fingerprint won't tell anyone who you are, all it can really do is keep you from using somebody else's identity once you are in that system. In fact, identity theft expert John Sileo said, "If we implement biometrics without doing our due diligence on protecting the identity, we are doomed to repeat history — and our thumbprint will become just another Social Security Number."
And that would be a grim future indeed.
The American people need to look at the Bush/Obama years as the USSR Perestroika where all the common public wealth was divided between a few connected families. That is what is happening now. We had our Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler who worked hard to see Maryland citizens got as little money from massive subprime mortgage fraud as possible making the small payments made into charitable contributions and tax write-offs just as the article below says. That has happened to all settlement money. Most of the money goes back to the government which then hands it to corporate subsidy.
I think Gansler was actually surprised when he received 5% of Democratic votes for Maryland governor as if people don't know. He did almost beat Anthony Brown with 12% of the Democratic vote. For some reason people just don't like this systemic fraud and corruption.
REMEMBER, WHEN A GOVERNMENT SUSPENDS RULE OF LAW AND DUE PROCESS---IT SUSPENDS STATUTE OF LIMITATION.
'We have seen this pattern - creating the appearance of punishing wrongdoing while actually leaving the bank basically unscathed and unchanged in its practices - over and over again from the Obama administration in the last few years'.
Friday, 22 August 2014 05:29
Bank of America's $16.6 Billion Mortgage Fraud Agreement Is Another Public Relations Stunt
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash at Truthout has written many commentaries on how the Obama administration has been - and continues to be - quite lenient with Wall Street when it comes to financial malfeasance. In particular, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have assiduously avoided, for the most part, any serious institutional or personal criminal responsibility for massive fraud committed by banks too big to fail and other mega-financial institutions.
The settlement this week between the DOJ and Bank of America for its role in the financial fraud that busted the economy in 2008 (including its acquisition of the scam company it acquired, Countrywide Financial) is yet another example of a large fine that looks like punishment, but amounts to much, much less than meets the eye. Indeed, that is the assessment of an August 21 article in the "Dealmaker" section of The New York Times (NYT):
"The real financial cost to the bank could be considerably lower," said Laurie Goodman, a specialist in housing at the Urban Institute. "This is helping consumers, but it may not be costing the bank."
The actual pain to the bank could also be significantly reduced by tax deductions. Tax analysts, for instance, estimate that Bank of America could derive $1.6 billion of tax savings on the $4.63 billion of payments to the states and some federal agencies under the settlement. Shares of Bank of America jumped 4 percent on Thursday, suggesting investors believe that the bank could take the settlement in stride.
"The American public is expecting the Justice Department to hold the banks accountable for its misdeeds in the mortgage meltdown," said Phineas Baxandall, an analyst with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer advocacy organization. "But these tax write-offs shift the burden back onto taxpayers and send the wrong message by treating parts of the settlement as an ordinary business expense."
Given that we are talking about a dominant Wall Street bank and financial behemoth, the takeaway sentence from The New York Times is: "Shares of Bank of America jumped 4 percent on Thursday, suggesting investors believe that the bank could take the settlement in stride." When a bank's stock goes up after what initially appears to be a huge fine, you know that it is nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
We have seen this pattern - creating the appearance of punishing wrongdoing while actually leaving the bank basically unscathed and unchanged in its practices - over and over again from the Obama administration in the last few years.
It is true that at least one part of the Bank of America settlement could benefit mortgage holders desperately in need of readjusting the terms of their home loans. That is good:
The consumer relief is expected to help tens of thousands of homeowners across the country. Most notably, the deal could result in Bank of America forgiving billions of dollars in mortgage principal. Unlike the other settlements, a person briefed on the matter said, the Bank of America plan could involve cutting the principal on loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, a move that will primarily help low- and moderate-income borrowers.
However, as The New York Times points out, this relief is coming much too late for the large number of people who lost their homes to foreclosure in the six years since 2008. It would have assisted tens of thousands more individuals and families if the DOJ had forced Bank of America years ago to be more flexible with underwater mortgage holders.
The Times notes that the restructuring of loans will have little impact on the finances of Bank of America:
At issue is how much of the cost of the $7 billion in "soft dollars," or help for borrowers, the bank will bear under the settlement. Some of the relief the bank will provide involves cutting the principal of a loan to make it easier for the borrower to pay. The dollar amount of that reduction gets credited toward what it needs to fulfill the settlement. But Bank of America wrote down many of its troubled mortgages years ago. And investment firms, not Bank of America, may now own some of the loans that get written down, potentially shielding the bank from a financial hit.
Taking a closer look at the Bank of America fine, The New York Times finds that at least half of the $16.8 billion dollars is in the form of soft money or tax breaks. There are also additional financial offsets.
In what has become a traditional part of any DOJ settlement with a bank too big to fail, unnamed DOJ sources are promising to pursue charges against individual executives. Of course, the indictments never appear, but the statements make for good politics with a citizenry that wants to see some personal accountability for fraudulent bank practices.
It is clear now, with a little over two years left in the Obama presidency, that one of his key legacies will be casting little more than a wink and a nod at Wall Street's violations of the law, including a failure to prosecute any high-ranking officials for the illegal and deceptive practices that led to the near-collapse of the United States economy.
As we watch Wall Street go from billions to trillions of dollars in wealth much from fraud-----the American people are being soaked with fees, fines, and taxes to make up for the government revenue stolen. Students are deliberately left unemployed//underemployed and mid-life adults are left with no retirement because of the crash and stagnation. Obama has placed the Department of Education in the hands of Wall Street to treat citizens most in need as if a predator. Old student loans for a few thousands of dollars grows with thousands of fees and fines in just a few years????
Retirees' Social Security checks garnished for student loans Many had forgotten of old loans
Author: By Patrick M. Sheridan Published On: Aug 24 2014 11:33:31 AM CDT Updated On: Aug 24 2014 06:30:52 PM CDT
It's a growing national trend. Last year, 156,000 Americans had their Social Security checks garnished because of student loans they had defaulted on. It's tripled in number from 47,500 in 2006, before the Great Recession. That's according to analysis done by the U.S. Treasury for CNNMoney.
Like Cohen, other groups have noticed the increase too. A leading nonprofit group that works with students on repaying loans, American Student Assistance, has worked this past year with over 1,000 Americans who have had their social security payments garnished to repay outstanding student loans. That's a sharp increase from 200 people in the previous year.
For retirees, any cuts to their Social Security benefits really hurts.
"Social Security means survival. It means food, shelter, medication," said Cohen, a Connecticut attorney, who works with people on debt collection harassment and student loan repayments.
What's worse is that even if the unpaid student loan was small, the amount they owe now is usually a lot larger because of compounding interest rates.
Retired Americans can start collecting Social Security benefits at 62. However, the folks that Cohen has worked with are in their 70's and 80's.
The amount taken from these checks isn't small. The average Social Security monthly check is $1200, the typical amount taken is $180.
Very few student loans can be refinanced and many people have outstanding loans with interest rates locked at over 7%, even though rates have fallen in recent years to below 3%.
Repayment terms on student loans are extremely rigid. They are rarely forgiven even in bankruptcy and people can have their wages garnished if they default.
The issue caught the attention of Senator Elizabeth Warren, who introduced a bill earlier this year to allow millions of people like Anderson to refinance their student loans. However, the bill was blocked in June.
Social workers are also seeing an increase in the number of people with mental and health issues having their Social Security disability checks garnished.
"I had a Korean War veteran in his 80's who had taken out a student loan for his son and then began having health problems. The government took money from his Social Security disability checks - money that he needed to buy medications," said Deanne Loonin, a director at the National Consumer Law Center, which works to provide economic security to low income and disadvantaged people, including the elderly.
According to the government data, the total amount garnished from social security checks last year came to $150 million.
- Copyright 2014 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
While seniors have their SS seized, the IRS has been allowed to be dismantled and defunded so it is now being fleeced just as Medicare and Medicaid Trusts are. They make it sound like average people are the avoiders but most of this is corporate tax fraud.
Neo-liberals and neo-cons are simply allowing all public wealth to be gutted and stolen. We see it to a large extent in Baltimore with Baltimore Development Corporation and Johns Hopkins leading the culture of corruption in the city.
This creates a culture of non-compliance. Nations like Greece and Italy have never been able to develop structurally because of the massive tax evasion gutting government revenue. That is what is happening here.....strangling all sources of revenue to justify AUSTERITY. For people that want less IRS you need to know---the working and middle class will take more and more of the burden of revenue no matter the talk of reduced taxes.
ALL OF MARYLAND'S POLS ARE NEO-LIBERALS
IRS Funding Cut Days Before Report Shows $330 Billion In Uncollected Taxes Posted: 04/11/2011 6:03 pm EDT Updated: 06/11/2011 5:12 am EDT Huffington Post
Then on Monday, the Government Accountability Office publicly released a study showing that, as of the end of fiscal year 2010, roughly $330 billion in federal taxes had never been paid -- an amount that, if collected, would represent nearly nine times the amount of savings as the budget itself.
The dual developments aren’t shocking. Despite evidence that a single dollar spent on enforcing the tax code could result in up to ten dollars in revenue, politicians, naturally, are reluctant to align themselves with tax collectors. And yet, the sacrificing of funds for IRS agents in the continuing resolution deal underscores a particular problem that seems bound to confront fiscally conscious lawmakers.
“Cutting back on IRS enforcement could easily cost the treasury much more in revenue than it saves,” said Chuck Marr, Director of Federal Tax Policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The GAO report, which looks specifically at the issue of passport holders who have failed to pay their full share of taxes, underscores Marr’s point. Titled “Federal Tax Collection: Potential for Using Passport Issuance to Increase Collection of Unpaid Taxes,” the study labels poor enforcement of tax laws and the tax code as a “high-risk” hole in government policy. In fiscal year 2008, passports were issued to about 16 million individuals. Of those, more than 224,000 owed more than $5.8 billion in unpaid federal taxes.
A good chunk of the evasion, the GAO concluded, was committed by individuals with “substantial personal assets” including multi-million-dollar homes and “luxury cars.” One passport recipient bought a house for $2 million and another property for $1.5 million despite owing $1 million in federal taxes.
“If you look, you can find records of most capital gains income,” said Rob Shapiro, former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce. “People deposit it in their bank accounts or the institutions may issue reports if it is capital gains on stock transactions. So it is not hard to pick it up if you have the manpower to look for it. And again, given that the salary of an IRS agent is at least as high as the average salary in America, the fact that there is a ten-to-one ratio for the returns on auditing tells you that [tax evasion] is coming from the high-income brackets.”
Regardless of who the worst evaders are, the GAO concludes that “IRS enforcement of federal tax laws is vital,” not just to pinpoint the offenders but to promote “broader compliance.” And what do the study’s authors cite as a compelling reason to beef up IRS functions? A “federal deficit” that “continue[s] to mount.”
Indeed, several close observers of the budget debate have wondered exactly how lawmakers can shudder at going after tax evasion while simultaneously preaching fiscal responsibility on the stump. Marr, for one, noted that Congress has already disbanded a tax reporting provision in the president’s health care reform law that would have resulted in stronger compliance. That was scuttled for politically obvious reasons: the paperwork it placed on small businesses was deemed well beyond burdensome. But the decision to deny funding for more IRS agents doesn’t have such an easy-to-distill an explanation.
“Hiring more IRS agents would have allowed the Obama administration to enforce its agenda, insofar as its agenda is to make sure that people don't cheat on their taxes,” wrote Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.
Obama has made buffing up the IRS a relative hush-hush plank of his tax reform agenda. Upon entering office he advocated for more funds for the agency, and as part of his 2012 budget, he proposed a 9.4 percent increase so that it could hire roughly 5100 new employees. The proposal, which pivoted off of previous studies that reached similar conclusions as the GAO's, was met with somewhat frenzied pushback from conservative circles -- the specter of black-suited tax collectors roaming the streets undoubtedly on the mind. And almost immediately, the suggested increase in IRS funds became a target of cut-happy legislators.