Daily Catch: IRS Waste, Iran, Hillary and more…


TMW Daily CatchWasted: The Internal Revenue Service is spending $10 billion per year on illegitimate payments under the Earned Income Tax Credit program, according to a report released Tuesday by a federal watch dog. From the Washington Times: “Despite a 2010 law requiring agencies to crack down on improper payments, the IRS is still deeply in arrears, the Treasury’s Inspector General for Tax Administration said. In 2013, the agency paid out between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion in bad payments, accounting for up to 26 percent of all EITC payments. The EITC is one of the government’s chief poverty-fighting programs. It is a refundable tax credit paid to the working poor, as an incentive to keep them in the workforce. But it’s also rife with illegitimate claims — indeed, it’s the IRS’s only program deemed “high-risk” by the Office of Management and Budget.”

Robots: A venture capital firm based in Hong Kong has become the first to appoint a computer program to its board. Deep Knowledge Ventures says the computer algorithm is not quite what you would call artificial intelligence. Nonetheless, the program, called VITAL, has already helped DKV make two major investment decisions, according to Business Insider. VITAL apparently works by analyzing troves of data related to prospective investments and render its recommendations to the board. Robot overlords, here we come!

Iran: The Islamic Republic of Iran is claiming to have crafted a working replica of an American drone the nation captured in 2011. The theocratic state unveiled the unmanned aerial vehicle this week, telling the state-run Fars News Agency that the drone as bombing and surveillance capabilities similar to the American original. The headline from that story, according to Christian Science Monitor, read: “America’s nightmare has become reality.” The event comes as the western nations struggle to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which are broadly seen as a threat to stability in the region.

Brain Damage: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may be downplaying the significance of a head injury she sustained in 2012, according to Republican strategist Karl Rove. That injury – reportedly a blood clot in her brain – prevented Clinton from testifying to Congress about the terror attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The clear implication of Rove’s remark is that the 66-year-old Clinton, a clear front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, may not be healthy enough to serve as Commander in Chief. Democrats have levied similar accusations against Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, albeit for a different condition.

Government Waste: Taxpayer-funded workers are being paid to do nothing, according to a St. Louis, MO.-based news network. According to the report, whistle blowers have come forward to say that workers at a Wentzville facility who are supposed to be processing applications under the Affordable Care Act are instead doing nothing. Hundreds of workers at the facility are paid under a reported $1 billion federal appropriation. Good news: The company, Serco, is still hiring. Click here to watch the report.

Michaud’s Obamacare Problem: The Maine Wire Editor Steve Robinson analyzes the impact Obamacare will have on U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud’s gubernatorial ambitions in his latest column for the Portland Press Herald. Excerpt: “Remarkably, Michaud claims to have read the bill. In a statement explaining his vote March 23, 2010, Michaud said he was voting after “thoroughly reading and reviewing” the entire bill.If you believe Michaud read thousands of pages of bureaucratic gobbledygook before casting his vote, there’s some oceanfront property in Penobscot County I’d like to sell you.”

Foreign Policy: Eliot Cohen, a former counselor for the State Department, levies a devastating critique of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy in this Wall Street Journal op-ed.  Excerpt: “Often, members of the Obama administration speak and, worse, think and act, like a bunch of teenagers. When officials roll their eyes at Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea with the line that this is “19th-century behavior,” the tone is not that different from a disdainful remark about a hairstyle being “so 1980s.” When administration members find themselves judged not on utopian aspirations or the purity of their motives—from offering “hope and change” to stopping global warming—but on their actual accomplishments, they turn sulky. As teenagers will, they throw a few taunts (the president last month said the GOP was offering economic policies that amount to a “stinkburger” or a “meanwich”) and stomp off, refusing to exchange a civil word with those of opposing views….Teenagers expect to be judged by intentions and promise instead of by accomplishment, and their style can be encouraged by irresponsible adults (see: the Nobel Prize committee) who give awards for perkiness and promise rather than achievement.”

Geithner: Former Obama Treasury Secretary is out with a new book. The biggest revelation seems to be that the White House pressured the tax delinquent to lie about Social Security’s impact of the U.S. national debt. “I remember during one Roosevelt Room prep session before I appeared on the Sunday shows, I objected when Dan Pfeiffer wanted me to say Social Security didn’t contribute to the deficit. It wasn’t a main driver of our future deficits, but it did contribute,” Geithner reportedly says in his book. The Obama administration pressuring officials to distort the truth on Sunday shows? No, never.

Huh?: Here’s a lede for you: “A massive underground marijuana growing operation and a cockfighting ring were discovered in west Miami-Dade Monday night.” The entrance to the illicit cavern was reportedly a dog house.

Voter ID: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a top GOP presidential hopeful, appears to be backing away from his party’s focus on implementing voter identification laws. According to the left-wing Slate magazine, Paul recently told a group of pastors in Memphis, Tenn., “Everybody’s gone completely crazy on this voter ID thing.” Paul also said he supports allowing felons to vote. The change in rhetoric breaks sharply with themes emphasized by the GOP pundit class and could alienate the Republican base. Alternatively, the move inoculates him against common criticism from left-of-center voters and organizations.

Gross: U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) can be seen in the following C-SPAN clip picking wax out of his ear and eating it.


About Steve Robinson

Steve Robinson is the former editor of The Maine Wire and currently the executive producer of the Kirk Minihane Show. Follow him on Twitter @BigSteve207.