AWESOME: Union Front Group Got Taxpayer Funds From Department of Labor to Push Minimum Wage Hikes

Guest post by Eric Boehm

The U.S. Department of Labor handed over $ 275,000 in taxpayer-funded grants in 2009 to an organization that claimed to be a charitable nonprofit with tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

But that organization was not officially certified as a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit until 2010, documents show.

The Restaurant Opportunity Center, or ROC-United, a national organization working to raise the minimum wage and improve working conditions for restaurant workers by combing the labor organizing muscle of powerful unions with Occupy Wall Street protest tactics, got the grant anyway.

The group is organizing several high profile events this week to highlight the $ 2.17 national minimum wage for tipped workers.

In the 2009 grant application, ROC United submitted a letter to the Department of Labor that showed the IRS had granted tax exempt status to ROC New York — an affiliated but legally separate organization — even though the $ 275,000 grant would flow to ROC United.

The department was either fooled by the application or didn’t check it closely enough.

Either way, ROC was awarded the grant through the Susan Harwood Grant Program, which is supposed to be limited to 501(c)3 charitable nonprofits, a status not granted to ROC United until June 2010.

“This is also further reason why ROC should not be receiving taxpayer funds. ROC takes taxpayer money, then turns around and lobbies Congress and pushes labor-backed initiatives across the country,” said Mike Paranzino, communications director for ROC Exposed, a political nonprofit that obtained the 2009 grant application via a Freedom of Information request.

Documents obtained by ROC Exposed show that when ROC United applied for the federal grant in August 2009, the group was in the midst of a back-and-forth battle with the IRS over its tax status.

On the application, ROC United claimed to be a “nonprofit with 501(c)3 status.”

But six months later, in February 2010, lawyers representing ROC United were still haggling with the IRS over the organization’s status, and indicated in a letter that the IRS hadn’t granted ROC United official 501(c)3 status.

By that time, the grant records show, federal cash was already flowing to the organization.

A spokesman for the department didn’t respond to a request from seeking information about the grant application and whether it could be reviewed five years after it was approved. The department also didn’t respond when asked if there could be penalties imposed for grants that were obtained with inaccurate application information.

ROC United didn’t return calls for comment.

When the Labor Department announced the grants in 2009, the award given to ROC United was supposed to “provide training to small restaurant employers” and to develop “local health and safety committees for ongoing workers and employers.” The grant said ROC United would provide training to 50 restaurants and an estimated 2,000 workers in Chicago, New York, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington, D.C.

Since 2009, affiliates of ROC United have sprung up in each of those cities.

But training workers on safety issues is hardly the organization’s primary purpose.

Founded after 9/11 to help restaurant workers displaced from their jobs in lower Manhattan, ROC has morphed into a national organization with branches in most major cities. The organization’s goal is “to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce,” according to its website, which brags about ROC’s role in several states’ recent decisions to raise the minimum wage.

The organization has helped organize protests against several restaurant chains and is helping promote protests on Thursday — February 13, a date meant to draw attention to the $ 2.13 per hour wage for tipped workers — around the country.

The group joined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Wednesday for a conference call urging an increase to the national minimum wage, and ROC United bragged on its Facebook page about being at the White House for an event focusing on the minimum wage.

The group has slowly gained more influence with the Labor Department since that initial 2009 grant, regardless of whether the grant was obtained properly.

In 2011, the department announced an “alliance” with ROC to promote workplace safety.

Its success has caught the eye of major unions, who see service sector employees as a new frontier in labor organization.

All over America, workers are organizing in all kinds of ways, and they call their unity by all kinds of names — workers’ unions, associations, centers, networks,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka in September, praising ROC United’s executive director Saru Jayaraman for her role in organizing restaurant workers.

While ROC United puts pressure on restaurants to increase wages, Congress might soon put pressure on them.

Two years ago, the House Oversight Committee caught wind of the 2009 grant application and the seemingly inaccurate representation of the group’s tax exempt status.

In a letter to the Labor Department, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., asked for information about that questionable 2009 grant and why it was awarded when the organization wasn’t yet recognized by the IRS as a nonprofit.

ROC’s history of intimidation towards opponents and management problems with its own restaurant raises significant questions about why DOL decided to form an alliance with and provide federal funding to the organization,” Issa wrote.

The grant is one of six taxpayer-funded grants ROC has received from the federal government — the other five came from the U.S. Department of Health, federal records show — totaling more than $ 1 million.

Caitlin Carroll, spokeswoman for the House Oversight Committee, said lawmakers and staff are currently reviewing additional materials received from the Labor Department concerning the issues raised in the July 2012 letter.

Boehm is a reporter for and can be reached at Follow @WatchdogOrg and @EricBoehm87 on Twitter for more.

Doug Ross @ Journal

OBAMACARE DISASTER: North Carolina Seniors Will See Health Care Premium Hikes Up to… 530 percent

What else would you call it if you found out your health care premium just got jacked from $ 228 a month to $ 1,208 except a “disaster”?

Across North Carolina, thousands of people have been shocked in recent weeks to find out their health insurance plans will be canceled at the end of the year – and premiums for comparable coverage could increase sharply.

One of them is George Schwab of Charlotte, who pays $ 228 a month for his family’s $ 10,000 deductible plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina… In a Sept. 23 letter, Blue Cross notified him that his current plan doesn’t meet benefit requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act and suggested a comparable plan for $ 1,208 a month – $ 980 more than he now pays.

…“The President told the American people numerous times that… ‘If you like your coverage, you can keep it,’” Schwab said. “How can we keep it if it has been eliminated? How can we keep it if the premium has been increased 430 percent in one year?”

…[Chris] Blount[, a Blue Cross agent,] agreed with Schwab that the president shouldn’t have made promises he couldn’t keep… “That’s one thing that really bothers me about all of this,” Blount said. “He didn’t just say it once. He said it a lot.”

…Blue Cross spokesman Lew Borman said Friday that large premium increases will affect about one-third of the approximately 400,000 North Carolina customers who buy Blue Cross insurance in the individual market. Some of their policies were canceled because they didn’t meet the new federal standards, he said.

…Michael Hood, 46, who lives near Winston-Salem, is another of the Blue Cross customers who is suffering sticker shock after receiving a recent renewal letter… He and his wife, who is expecting their third child, now pay $ 324 per month for a plan with a $ 10,000 family deductible. The comparable plan suggested by Blue Cross for next year would cost $ 895.27 per month with an $ 11,000 family deductible. Their annual payment would rise from $ 14,000 to $ 24,000.

…“The president told us Obamacare would make health insurance affordable and reduce costs. It is now impossible for our family to afford private health insurance.”

Charles C. W. Cooke summarizes the litany of lies the President and his sycophants told Americans to jam Obamacare through Congress.

• “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Lies. All lies.

• “For people with insurance, the only impact of the health-care law is that their insurance is stronger, better, and more secure than it was before. Full stop. That’s it. They don’t have to worry about anything else.”

Lies. All lies.

• “If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less.”

Lies. All lies.

• “I want to be very clear: I will not sign on to any health plan that adds to our deficits over the next decade.”

Lies. All lies.

• “Health care reform will cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $ 2,500 a year.”

Lies. All lies.

As Scott Johnson astutely observes, “If only we had a free press, Obamacare would be a bloody, unrelenting scandal, like Abu Ghraib, or Watergate. As it is, it is only business as usual for liberals and liberalism..”

Doug Ross @ Journal

With the combination of minimum wage hikes and Obamacare, destroying jobs is this president’s job one

At some point in the not very distant future the complete failure of Barack Obama’s economic policies will become evident to even the most obtuse liberal. But I repeat myself.

Case in point: the destructive combination of Obamacare and hikes in the minimum wage.

Here’s the saddest thing about President Obama’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $ 9 an hour — because “no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.”

A fine sentiment, but many full-time, low-wage workers he aims to help are sure to become part-time as employers dodge ObamaCare’s hefty fines. Undoubtedly, even after a minimum wage hike, many who now earn less than $ 9 an hour would have paychecks that are no bigger — or even smaller than today.

In his State of the Union, Obama didn’t mention ObamaCare could add $ 2.40 an hour to an employer’s cost for a full-time, very-low wage worker. Add it up and Obama is really proposing a full-time minimum wage of as much as $ 11.40.
The economic cost of raising the minimum wage is fiercely debated and likely overstated. But there’s little doubt about how employers will react if they can simply sidestep ObamaCare’s equivalent of a steep minimum wage hike for full-time workers: By making them part-time.

ObamaCare’s potential $ 2.40/hour cost to employers would result from a $ 3,000 fine for offering coverage deemed either too pricey or too skimpy. Tack on an additional $ 1.75/hour wage hike and the pressure would be extreme on employers to cut hours to avoid ObamaCare fines.

…For profit-making firms facing a combined 40% state and federal tax rate, ObamaCare’s nondeductible $ 3,000-per-worker penalty is the equivalent of $ 5,000 in deductible wages. Divided by 52 weeks and 40 hours a week, that fine would equal $ 2.40 an hour.

But because employers would owe no fine for a 29-hour-per-week worker, the $ 5,000 cost could amount to $ 96 an hour for the 30th hour of work. That’s why the 30-hour workweek may disappear.

Let me repeat: thanks to a tsunami of unintended consequences unleashed by Obamacare — a massive bill that not a single Democrat lawmaker bothered to read — paying a worker for a 30th hour of labor in a week might cost a company around $ 100.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, for six decades we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment and affordable health care through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.

But there’s a simple recipe for success. It’s called the Constitution and a federal government limited to the enumerated powers specified therein.

Our blueprint embraces all races, all religions, all creeds and all colors. Our formula is the biggest tent of all, because it is not achieved by pandering to smaller and smaller slices of the population, but by embracing and celebrating individual liberty, private property rights, free markets and — most of all — limited government.

These aren’t complicated concepts. They aren’t difficult to embrace. But the powers that be — the corrupt, the immoral and those tempted by the trappings of Washington — must be dislodged post haste if we are to save this Republic, this shining city on a hill.

Doug Ross @ Journal

JUST BOUNCE: Stunned pundits react to Obama’s “balanced deal” of no cuts, tax hikes, and increased spending

Charles Krauthammer:

It’s not just a bad deal, this is really an insulting deal… Robert E. Lee was offered easier terms at Appomattox and he lost the Civil War. The Democrats won by 3% of the vote and they did not hold the House. Republicans won the House. So this is not exactly unconditional surrender, but that’s what the administration is asking of Republicans.

There not only are no cuts in this, there’s an increase in new spending with a stimulus – this is almost unheard of. I mean, what do they expect? They obviously expect the Republicans will cave on everything. I think Republican ought to simply walk away. The president is the president, he’s the leader.

They are demanding that Republicans explain all the cuts that they want to make. We had that movie a year and a half ago where Paul Ryan presented a budget, a serious real budget with real cuts. Obama was supposed to give a speech in which he would respond with a counter offer and what did he do? He gave a speech where he had Ryan sitting in the front row, he called the Ryan proposal un-American and insulted him, offered nothing and ran on Mediscare in the next 18 months. And they expect Republicans are going to do this again?

The Republicans are going to walk on this and I think they have leverage. Yes, for congressional Democrats it will help them in the future if Republicans absorb the blame because we’re going to have a recession. But Obama’s not running again unlike the congressional Democrats. He’s going to have a recession, 9% unemployment, 2 million more unemployed, and a second term that’s going to be a ruin. That is not a good proposition if you’re Barack Obama.

Newt Gingrich:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that House Republicans should stop negotiating with President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on the fiscal cliff, saying that by doing so, they give Obama all of the leverage in the talks.

“One of the things I would say to House Republicans is to get a grip,” Gingrich said in a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

“They are the majority. They’re not the minority,” he said, enunciating the words as if explaining the concept to someone who did not understand it. “They don’t need to cave in to Obama; they don’t need to form a ‘Surrender Caucus.’”

…He also addressed the recent focus on Grover Norquist and his no-raising taxes pledge, which some Republicans have abandoned in recent weeks, calling it a “distraction.”

“I give Obama great credit for this. I have never seen anybody better at finding trivial distractions in order to avoid responsibility,” Gingrich said.

Rush Limbaugh:

Part of Obama’s transformation of America is wiping out the Republican Party. And anyone who fails to understand that that is also part of Obama’s agenda at this moment, anybody who fails to understand that is really not paying attention and is too caught up in traditional conventional wisdom about, “Well, it was just another election. Well, yes, Obama won. Yes, we marshaled our forces, but we need to stand for pro-growth policies and all that rotgut.” Yes, we do. There’s no way we’re ever gonna be tied to pro-growth policies if our fingerprints are on this coming disaster…

… The best thing to do is back out of this and let Obama and the Democrats have it and do what they gotta do. ‘Cause that’s gonna happen anyway. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my fingerprints on this.

Obama has yet to make any serious offer — a “balanced” offer, using his terminology — and Republicans need to just walk away. Obama created the fiscal cliff; he created sequestration; he made his bed. Let him lie in it.

Doug Ross @ Journal

DELUSIONAL: California Predicts Budget Surplus in 2014 Thanks to Tax Hikes, Anti-Business Regulations

Crackpot Preppers

There’s crazy — and then there’s West Coast Crazy:

When is a prediction of a $ 1.9 billion shortfall actually considered good news?

In deficit-battered, recession-weary California, that’s the case.

It sounds strange, until you consider that it sounds a whole lot better than the staggering $ 41 billion deficit projected at the end of 2008 — and much better than the $ 25 billion hole that the state’s Legislative Analyst was forecasting in 2010. And much more rosy than the $ 16 billion shortfall Gov. Jerry Brown was projecting just last spring.

On Wednesday, the Analyst’s office — respected for its nonpartisanship — said its $ 1.9 billion deficit estimate covers the next year-and-a-half. The report cast the state’s recovering finances in a favorable light, thanks to earlier budget cuts and the voter approval of Proposition 30.

“The additional, temporary taxes provided by Proposition 30 have combined to bring California a promising moment: the possible end of a decade of acute state budget challenges,” the LAO report said.

In fact, the report floated the possibility of the state actually running a surplus of up to a billion dollars by 2014.

Let me be the first to predict that California will not have a budget surplus in 2014. Nor will it run “only” a $ 2 billion deficit.

By my estimation, California’s budget deficit will run at least an order of magnitude higher — at $ 20 billion plus. You can stuck a fork in the Golden State.

Doug Ross @ Journal