Bloomberg: Obama Cabinet Flunks Disclosure Test With 19 in 20 Ignoring Law
by Bloomberg News
September 29, 2012
On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama ordered federal officials to "usher in a new era of open government" and "act promptly" to make information public.
Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the disclosure of public information: The cost of travel by top officials. In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act.
“When it comes to implementation of Obama’s wonderful transparency policy goals, especially FOIA policy in particular, there has been far more ‘talk the talk’ rather than ‘walk the walk,’” said Daniel Metcalfe, director of the Department of Justice’s office monitoring the government’s compliance with FOIA requests from 1981 to 2007.
The Bloomberg survey was designed in part to gauge the timeliness of responses, which Attorney General Eric Holder called “an essential component of transparency” in a March 2009 memo. About half of the 57 agencies eventually disclosed the out-of-town travel expenses generated by their top official by Sept. 14, most of them well past the legal deadline.
Bloomberg reporters in June filed FOIA requests for fiscal year 2011 taxpayer-supported travel for Cabinet secretaries and top officials of major departments. Justice Department official Melanie Ann Pustay said in an interview that disclosure of those records is in the public interest.
Even agency heads who publicly announce their events — including Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — didn’t provide the costs of their out-of-town trips more than three months after the initial request.
“It’s ironic that the demands in the presidential campaign for Mitt Romney’s tax returns are unrelenting, but when it comes time to release the schedules for senior appointees there’s the same denial of access,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who studies the federal bureaucracy.
“Over the past four years, federal agencies have gone to great efforts to make government more transparent and more accessible than ever, to provide people with information that they can use in their daily lives,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz, who noted that Obama received an award for his commitment to open government. The March 2011 presentation of that award was closed to the press.
Read more: http://goo.gl/ReOue
Investors eye the 'cliff' as Obama gains in polls
by The Associated Press
September 30, 2012
NEW YORK (AP) — As President Barack Obama widened his lead over Mitt Romney in polls this month, traders at hedge funds and investment firms began shooting emails to clients with a similar theme: It's time to start preparing for an Obama victory.
What many in the market worry about isn't that high earners may pay more in taxes if Obama wins. They worry that federal spending cuts and tax hikes scheduled for 2013 will kick in on Jan. 1 and start pulling the country into another recession. The higher taxes and lower spending would total $600 billion. They take effect automatically unless Congress and the White House reach a deal before then.
If he's re-elected, Obama will still face a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans the rest of the year. And the new Congress that takes office in January may have a Republican House, too. Investors says that's likely to set up a budget battle similar to August of last year, which ended with the country losing its top credit rating and panicked investors fleeing the stock market.
"If you have any kind of gridlock, you run the risk of inaction," says Tom Simons, a market economist at the investment bank Jefferies. "This is a situation where inaction is the worst outcome."
Obama and others like former President Bill Clinton have expressed the belief that House Republicans could be more cooperative once the election is over.
"They'll be faced with determining whether we get a recession or not," says Jeff Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.
Most on Wall Street think Congress and Obama would eventually manage to at least postpone some of impending tax and spending changes before this year is out.
The Congressional Budget Office recently laid out the grim consequences of such an event — often compared to dropping off a "fiscal cliff." Starting Jan. 1, tax cuts signed by President George W. Bush expire as do Obama's cuts to payroll taxes. Federal spending on defense and other domestic programs will drop, while emergency unemployment benefits run out.
The combined effect off all these changes would shrink the economy nearly 3 percent at an annual rate in the first half of next year, the CBO estimates, and push unemployment up to 9.1 percent by the fall. The unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in August. Recent surveys of businesses suggest the threat is already weighing on the minds of executives when they're making hiring and spending plans.
For the world's biggest money managers, the fiscal cliff now ranks as the greatest hazard to the global economy, according to Bank of America's most recent fund manager survey. It topped the European debt crisis, a collapse in Chinese real estate and even a war between Israel and Iran.
Read more: http://goo.gl/PJU0S
THE DAILY CALLERAs college student, Eric Holder participated in ‘armed’ takeover of former Columbia University ROTC office
by Charles C. Johnson and Ryan Girdusky
October 1, 2012
As a freshman at Columbia University in 1970, future Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquarters with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as “armed,” The Daily Caller has learned.
Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.
Holder was then among the leaders of the Student Afro-American Society (SAAS), which demanded that the former ROTC office be renamed the “Malcolm X Lounge.” The change, the group insisted, was to be made “in honor of a man who recognized the importance of territory as a basis for nationhood.”
Black radicals from the same group also occupied the office of Dean of Freshman Henry Coleman until their demands were met. Holder has publicly acknowledged being a part of that action.
The details of the student-led occupation, including the claim that the raiders were “armed,” come from a deleted Web page of the Black Students’ Organization (BSO) at Columbia, a successor group to the SAAS. Contemporary newspaper accounts in The Columbia Daily Spectator, a student newspaper, did not mention weapons.
Holder, now the United States’ highest-ranking law enforcement official, has given conflicting accounts of this episode during college commencement addresses at Columbia, but both the BSO’s website and the Daily Spectator have published facts that conflict with his version of events.
Holder has bragged about his involvement in the “rise of black consciousness” protests at Columbia.
“I was among a large group of students who felt strongly about the way we thought the world should be, and we weren’t afraid to make our opinions heard,” he said during Columbia’s 2009 commencement exercises. “I did not take a final exam until my junior year at Columbia — we were on strike every time finals seemed to roll around — but we ran out of issues by that third year.”
Though then-Dean Carl Hovde declared the occupation of the Naval ROTC office illegal and said it violated university policy, the college declined to prosecute any of the students involved. This decision may have been made to avoid a repeat of violent Columbia campus confrontations between police and members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1968.
The ROTC headquarters was ultimately renamed the Malcolm X lounge as the SAAS organization demanded. It later became a hang-out spot for another future U.S. leader, Barack Obama, according to David Maraniss’ best-selling ”Barack Obama: The Story.”
Read more: http://goo.gl/eDH5x