Tag Archives: Jason Chaffetz

COOK: Trump and Sanders Vow to Kill ObamaTrade, But for the Wrong Reasons

While the mainstream media focused on “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli’s smirk last week, trade ministers signed the final agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also known as ObamaTrade.

During a congressional hearing, hedge fund manager-turned-pharmaceutical company CEO Martin Shkreli was asked by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) if he “did anything wrong” by increasing a life saving drug by 5,000 percent. Shkreli’s behavior sparked a national debate on capitalism and whether “greed is good” in America.

Ironically, while congressmen Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Chaffetz criticized Shkreli’s business decision to increase the price for one drug, they both voted to give President Obama ‘fast-track’ authority to approve ObamaTrade, which will likely increase drug costs for all Americans.

[RELATED: Obama Signs “Fast Track” Bill, TPP Inches Closer to Completion]

Supportive ObamaTrade groups are now admitting that thousands of Americans could lose their jobs from this agreement. ObamaTrade would also allow Big Pharma to increase drug prices and limit access for consumers— a gift for crony capitalists like Shkreli.

This month, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are speaking out against the controversial trade deal.

Trump recently told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he and Sanders have common ground on trade.

“The one thing we very much agree on is trade. We both agree that we are getting ripped off by China, by Japan, by Mexico, everyone we do business with,” said Trump.

“At a time when prescription drug prices are skyrocketing, the TPP would make a bad situation even worse by granting new monopoly rights to big pharmaceutical companies to deny access to lower cost generic drugs to millions of people,” Sanders said in a press conference on February 3.

Both presidential candidates oppose ObamaTrade, but for different reasons— the wrong reasons. They both advocate a protectionist trade policy.

“We need fair trade. Not free trade,” Donald Trump told Breitbart in September 2015. “We need fair trade. It’s got to be fair.”

It’s important to note that ObamaTrade is not “free trade.” America does not have “free trade;” it’s managed trade.

Economist Dr. Tom DiLorenzo told Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook that the reason Americans fought the British was because of this type of crony capitalism (mercantilism). This is not free market enterprise; this is just giving favors to the politically connected at the expense of tax payers and the middle class, the working people, the American people.

While Trump and Sanders should be praised for speaking out against ObamaTrade, they both miss the opportunity to show people how to “make America great again” by implementing economic principles of real free trade.

Report: Secret Service Violated Privacy Law To Shame Lawmaker

The Secret Service issued an apology to Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on Wednesday after a report revealed that an assistant director suggested the agency release sensitive personal information about Chaffetz, a prominent critic.

The report from the Office of the Inspector General confirmed that Assistant Director Edward Lowery wrote an email to another director on March 31, saying that “some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out.”

A story was then published on April 2 which revealed that Chaffetz had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and been rejected. That information was part of a personnel file “stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to be kept private,” according to the Washington Post.

Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who is responsible for overseeing the Secret Service, has a history of pursuing allegations of Secret Service misconduct. In March, he criticized the agency for deleting video surveillance that could have contained answers about a car crash near the White House involving two Secret Service agents.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson released a statement saying that he first asked the department’s Inspector General to “investigate reports of improper access and distribution of information by U.S. Secret Service employees” pertaining to Chaffetz in April.

“The Inspector General has recently completed his investigation, and has found a number of instances of inappropriate conduct by Secret Service personnel,” Johnson said. “At the time, I stated that if the allegations were true, those responsible should be held accountable, and I reiterate that today.”

Johnson concluded the statement saying that he reiterates the apology he issued to Chaffetz in April. “Activities like those described in the report must not, and will not, be tolerated,” he said.

In response, Chaffetz said that he believes the release of information was “a tactic designed to intimidate and embarrass me.”

“If they would do this to me, I just, I shuddered to think what they might be doing to other people,” Chaffetz told NBC News. “I’d like to tell you how tough I am, but it’s scary, and it’s intimidating, and I will continue to investigate the Secret Service and others, but this should have never ever happened.”

Chaffetz also said that the Oversight and Government Reform Committee will continue, and that he remains “undeterred in conducting proper and rigorous oversight.”

Permanent Ban On Internet Access Taxation Approved By Congress

On Tuesday, the House passed the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act (PITFA), bipartisan legislation that would permanently prevent states from taxing internet access. The legislation was passed by a voice vote.

The first Internet Tax Freedom Act was a moratorium as part of Public Law 105-277, first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1998. Extensions to the moratorium have been passed five times, but the law was set to expire on October 1 if no further actions were to be taken.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), a sponsor of PITFA, said in a statement that making a ban on internet access taxation permanent promotes innovation. “If the moratorium is not renewed or made permanent, the potential tax burden on Americans would be substantial. It is estimated that Internet access tax rates could be more than twice the average rate of all other goods and services – and the last thing that Americans need is another tax bill on their doorsteps,” he said.

Some regions of states had already enacted taxes on internet access before the first moratorium was signed, including Hawaii, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin. Those regions have been allowed to continue taxing internet access under a grandfather clause, but they would no longer be allowed to do so if PITFA becomes law. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the loss of internet access tax revenue could total “several hundred million dollars annually.”

While a ban on taxing internet has received support, the debate over expanding power to tax purchases made online continues. When a similar permanent internet tax ban was passed by the House last year, an attempt was made by senators to pair it with an expansion of online sales taxes to create the Marketplace Fairness Act. That bill never made it out of Senate.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman, is expected to introduce a bill next Monday that would allow states to collect taxes from out-of-state online purchases.

National Journal reports that Goodlatte is a proponent of a limited online sales tax law, but has yet to support legislation that would compel online vendors to abide by sales tax codes that vary by state and municipality.

Testimony From IRS Commissioner Claimed Lerner’s Emails Were Archived

While the White House has defended the IRS in its explanation of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) offered a reminder that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified in March 2014 that IRS employee emails had been stored on servers.

In the video, Koskinen testified that his own emails were not all on his computer, but “stored somewhere”.

“I mean, that’s one of the brilliance of the email system, is you go in, you check the set box, the inbox, and you suddenly have all the emails, correct?” Chaffetz asked Koskinen.

“Right, they get taken off and stored in servers,” Koskinen replied. He then declared that Lerner’s emails could be found, although he said he had no idea how much time the search would take when pressed by Chaffetz.

Email exchanges from 2011 show that Lerner’s computer hard drive did crash followed by unsuccessful attempts to recover it and Lerner summarizing, “sometimes stuff just happens.”

Since the IRS revealed the loss of Lerner’s emails, many Republicans, including Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Dave Camp (R-MI), have expressed doubt that Lerner’s emails could be easily destroyed. The IRS explained that there was a limit to how many emails IRS employees could store on servers.

In 2011, the limit was about 1,800 emails and “each employee got to choose which emails to keep and which to archive in the hard drive on their computer,” according to The Hill. Hard copies were supposed to be made of “official documents,” but it is unclear who was responsible for making that determination.

On Monday, incoming White House spokesman Josh Earnest disregarded the increased skepticism from Republicans and the American public over the lost emails. “You’ve never heard of a computer crashing before?” Earnest asked reporters“I think it’s entirely reasonable, because it’s the truth and it’s a fact, and speculation otherwise I think is indicative of the kinds of conspiracies that are propagated around this story.  And they’re propagated in a way that has left people with a very mistaken impression about what exactly occurred,” Earnest said.

Koskinen was subpoenaed to appear before the Oversight Committee on June 23rd.  “Congress passed the Federal Records Act (FRA) to preserve key documents—such as those that were stored on Lerner’s hard drive—for production to congressional investigators and other stakeholders, including historians and FOIA requesters.  The FRA requires agencies to make and preserve records of agency decisions, policies, and essential transactions, and to take steps to safeguard against the loss of agency records,” wrote Issa, who serves as the chairman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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