Justin Sykes

SEC Taking Heat on...Climate Change?

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, 9:54 AM PERMALINK


Recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has come under fire for it’s handling of climate change disclosures with regard to SEC filings. At first blush one would assume very limited, if any, justification for considering the science of climate change in SEC filings…and this assumption would be logical.

So why is the SEC being pressured to require disclosures on climate science in filings by companies, that for the most, are not nor have been engaged in the field of climate science? The issue arose in 2010, when the SEC proposed “interpretive guidance” on existing disclosure requirements with regard to climate science. To be clear, the SEC did not issue a disclosure rule, simply “guidance” most likely the result of outside influence from extreme idealist and the government.

Given that most companies filing SEC disclosures are not climate scientist, and are not likely engaged in climate science research, the “guidance” went somewhat unheeded. In fact, the SEC has seemed to agree for the most part with reluctance to follow up on the issue.

In the two years following the release of the interpretive guidance, the SEC issued over 40 comment letters to companies addressing climate change disclosure. Yet that number dropped significantly with only three letters issue in 2012 and zero issued in 2013. 

The most logical reason being that the SEC came to realize that such disclosures find little company in basic logic, and the agency’s time is better spent on its core mission, instead of serving the ideological musings of the extreme left. Just the same these outside pressures have reared their misguided head again, recently pushing an agency charged with holding expertise on securities laws to expand to climate science.

The SEC should take comfort in the fact that such a push for climate science based disclosures in securities filings sounds, as far outside the scope of SEC functions to most as it does the agency itself. One can only hope the SEC stands strong, sending a message to other federal agencies, that serving core policy goals, and not outside ideologies is the goal. 

 

Photo credit: John M

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ATR Urges Opposition to King-Reid Net-Metering Amendment

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, February 1st, 2016, 4:38 PM PERMALINK


This week Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plan to offer an amendment to the “Energy Policy and Modernization Act” that would expand federal control over the states and infringe upon the power of state authorities to make decisions regarding energy policy. Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) urges opposition to this amendment to protect state sovereignty and halt further expansion of the federal government’s power. 

The King-Reid amendment would establish stringent federal standards dictating how each state may operate their net metering programs. Net metering policies vary by state, but in general electric utilities are required to purchase excess electricity generated by customers with rooftop solar installations at the full retail rate as opposed to wholesale. As result, solar customers avoid paying for many of the fixed costs of the grid, and thus these fixed costs are shifted onto non-solar customers.  

The new federal standards imposed by the King-Reid amendment, such as requiring extensive evidentiary hearings, would thus act as a new legislative barrier to states seeking to address the cost-shifting dilemma. 

This amendment would effectively take such decision making ability away from the states and give it to the federal government. Furthermore, the King-Reid amendment would only work to further the practice of forcing non-solar customers to subsidize net-metered customers.

States, rural electric cooperatives, and certain localities are undoubtedly in a much better position than the federal government to make decisions about state energy policy. The states are already reeling from a slew of regulations put forth by President Obama, such as the Clean Power Plan, that empower federal regulators at the expense of state sovereignty.

ATR urges lawmakers this week to oppose the King-Reid amendment, and instead vote to protect state sovereignty and to stop the further expansion of the federal government’s power over the states. 

 

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ATR Supports Rep. Scalise's Resolution Opposing a Carbon Tax

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, January 29th, 2016, 4:08 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist sent the following letter to Congress this week, urging support for House Concurrent Resolution 89, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Concurrent Resolution 89 expresses the sense of Congress that a carbon tax would be detrimental to American families and businesses and is not in the best interest of the United States. 

Below is the full text of the letter:

January 28, 2016

Dear Majority Whip Scalise

Americans for Tax Reform strongly supports your leadership in the fight against any form of a carbon tax.          

I urge all members of Congress to support and vote for your House Concurrent Resolution 89, which puts Congress on the record in opposition to a Carbon Tax. 

A carbon tax would kill jobs in the United States, reduce economic growth and set the state for future tax hikes.

A carbon tax is a VAT or Value Added Tax on training wheels.  Any carbon tax would inevitably be spread out over wider and wider parts of the economy until we had a European Value Added Tax.      

A study by the National Association of Manufacturers found a carbon tax would: have a negative effect on consumption, investment and jobs; increase the cost of coal, natural gas and petroleum products thus resulting in higher production costs and less spending on non-energy goods; and lead to lower real wage rates, lower labor productivity, and decrease workers’ incomes. 

Americans for Tax Reform encourages all members of Congress to vote for House Concurrent Resolution 89.

Thank you Congressman for your continued strong leadership in protecting Americans from a carbon tax today and forever. 

Sincerely,                                

Grover G. Norquist                                                    

President                                                                    

Americans for Tax Reform

PDF link to letter

Photo credit: Nicolas Raymond

 

 

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Scottar

I don't see how a ponzi scheme can be revenue neutral and a carbon tax on any level is a ponzi scheme. It's like having a tax on food to promote people to fight obesity. There is no sense to this.

What is needed is the government to live within a budget and a Fair Tax would be more appropriate to that ends.

Scottar

It seems to me a carbon tax is just another tax for welfare and sharing of the wealth ponzi scheme. The problem is most everybody will now be paying a middle man cut for the government distribution services, fossils still largely run the economy. Since the inception of the great society concept of the LBJ administration the matrix of welfare organizations has failed to eradicate it. I think it time to get big government out of trying to create a utopian economic society.

http://dailysignal.com/2016/01...

How the Expensive War on Poverty Failed

Robert Beggs

The National Association of Manufacturers study assumes the government keeps all the revenue. Grover's opposition to that makes a lot of sense. However, other studies (Regional Economic Models, Inc. - REMI) show that a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend (i.e. all money returned to American households) would actually be positive for the economy. Even Exxon supports a gradually increasing revenue neutral carbon fee. It would be nice if the resolution differentiated the two different approaches.


President Obama’s Methane Rule Threatens to Stymie U.S. Energy Growth and Innovation

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, January 19th, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


In 2015 President Obama and his EPA cronies unveiled a plethora of new regulations that will surely send energy costs skyrocketing and stymie the ongoing renaissance in U.S. energy development. Regulations such as the Clean Power Plan, Ozone Standard, and the Waters of the U.S. Rule all pose a threat to efficient and affordable energy. On top of these costly new rules, President Obama will use the EPA in 2016 to once again impose his regulatory agenda on the American consumer and energy industry.

For 2016 the EPA is set to push new regulations to cut methane emissions once again targeting the already overregulated energy industry. According to the EPA’s own estimates, this new rule will cost $180 to $200 million in 2020, with costs possibly reaching $500 million in 2025.

To achieve its goal, the EPA is expanding its regulatory powers over a vast array of equipment not previously under its control. Under the EPA’s expanded powers, energy producers will be forced to install highly expensive equipment on new operations, the costs of which will inevitably be passed onto consumers in the form of higher energy rates.

These new rules would especially harm the boom in natural gas production the U.S. has experienced, which has created huge economic growth in the past few years. In 2012 alone the industry boosted the economy by $284 billion and supported over 2 million jobs. The new set of EPA rules threatens to stymie such momentous economic growth.

The EPA’s methane rule is quite simply a regulation for regulations sake. According to the President’s own EPA, the U.S. natural gas industry has successfully cut methane emissions by 11 percent in recent years, even as gas production has increased 44%. During that same period methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells are down 79 percent.  

The industry has accomplished these reductions through investment and innovation in new technology. Because of such innovation, researchers estimate that less than 2% of methane is lost during natural gas production. 

However by seeking to impose new methane rules on the industry, the President and EPA will effectively deter further innovation and improvement by the energy industry. Such government overreach and intervention in the market will interrupt the drive to continue these advances by diverting attention away from innovation back towards regulatory compliance.   

The energy industry is complex and varies greatly across different operations. The industry’s efforts to reduce methane emissions, without directly regulating methane, dwarf the emission reductions EPA has estimated in their rules. The bureaucrats at the EPA simply cannot match the expertise and knowledge of industry experts.

Lawmakers should be aware that the President’s regulatory agenda, in particular the new methane rule, is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at preserving his personal legacy at the expense of the consumers and the American economy. 

 

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Patriot67

A bigger problem than the methane emissions, is the sulfur emissions coming out of Washington D.C. They need to fill in that tunnel from hell that is under the White House.

Kenya_Diggit

Another course would be to tape Obumbles mouth shut. That would cut it down significantly.


FWS Finds Obama’s Carbon Rule Remains a Threat to Manatee Populations

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, January 18th, 2016, 10:00 AM PERMALINK


The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) started off 2016 by removing the manatee from the Endangered Species Act (ESA) designation of “endangered” to the lesser designation of “threatened.” In a notice in the Federal Register published after the announcement, the FWS noted that manatee populations have seen gains such that there is a “very low percentage chance of this animal going extinct in the next 100 years.” However, the FWS noted one of the more pressing threats to the manatee resurgence would come from President Obama’s carbon regulations under the Clean Power Plan.

It’s no secret the President’s carbon regulations will force the premature retirement of coal-fired power plants across the U.S. In fact the President seems wholly indifferent to the thousands of jobs and livelihoods he’s destroying. However what the President and EPA did not count on is that some of the power plants that will be shuttered are integral to the survival of hundreds of Florida manatees.   

The issue stems from the fact that the warm-water discharge from some Florida coal-fired power plants, such as Florida’s Big Bend Power Station, has become home to hundreds of West Indian manatees. The manatees are drawn to the warm-water discharge for a nearly six-month period in the winter.

The FWS’s notice on the manatee’s new ESA designation stated, “Within the Southeastern United States, the potential loss of warm water at power plants…used by wintering manatees is identified as a significant threat.” The FWS went on to point out that “addressing the pending loss of warm water habitat from power plant discharges remains a priority activity needed to achieve recovery.”

The FWS’s concerns are echoed in a 2013 study on manatee habitat loss, which found “Experience with past shut-downs of power plant and industrial outfalls suggest that a potentially large portion of manatees accustomed to using them will remain near those sites rather than move long distances to find a comparable site.” The study went on to state that “unless another suitable refuge is nearby…many are likely to sustain high rates of cold-stress death when plants close” and thus “plant retirements are recognized as a significant long-term threat to Florida manatees.”       

In drafting the Clean Power Plan, the neither President nor EPA took these impacts into consideration as would otherwise be required under the Endangered Species Act. “This is troubling for the manatee, but even more disturbing is the possibility that the Obama administration would strategically disregard the law when it serves their interests or the President’s legacy,” said Julia Bell, press secretary for the House Natural Resources Committee.

The EPA has deflected charges the Agency failed to take into account the impact on certain endangered species like the Florida manatee, instead arguing the choice to close such power plants will be left to the states. However this argument holds little water given the Clean Power Plan’s compliance standards leave states with almost no “choice” but to shutter the plants.

While the outcome of this dilemma is still unclear, what is overwhelmingly clear is that nothing, not the destruction of thousands of people’s livelihoods or even the Endangered Species Act, will prevent the President from doing what he has to do to preserve his legacy.    

 

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Obama Denies Keystone yet Pledges U.S. Support for Similar Pipeline in Kenya

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Friday, January 15th, 2016, 10:30 AM PERMALINK


Throughout President Obama’s presidency it has been charged that more often than not his policies are derived from pressure by special interests and an unwavering need to preserve his “legacy”, while ignoring the actual outcome and realities on the ground. For instance the President’s carbon rule, which will increase energy rates and destroy thousands of jobs, but will have little to no actual environmental benefits according to his own EPA. 

As hypocritical as some of President Obama’s past policies have been, his most recent actions with regard to energy development evidence a new level of hypocrisy that calls into question the motivation behind one his biggest energy blunders…denying the Keystone XL pipeline.      

In denying the Keystone plan, President Obama cited environmental concerns stating that in order to preserve the environmental integrity of the Earth, “we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them.” However it seems the President’s hypocrisy on energy knows no bounds, as just last week his administration pledged that the U.S. would help Kenya raise US$18 billion to finance a 900 km pipeline that is eerily similar to the Keystone XL pipeline he denied a few months before.   

According to recent reports, U.S. ambassador, Robert Godec, met last week with Kenyan energy secretary Alfred Keter to discuss building the Kenyan pipeline. Godec stated that “Kenya needs $18 billion worth of financing” for the pipeline, and “one of the questions we are discussing is how we can work together with the private sector and governments…to make certain that this financing becomes available.” 

In agreeing to work with the Kenyan government to help finance the project it appears the Obama Administration has actually proven that the so-called “environmental concerns” it cited in denying the Keystone XL were nothing more than a political farce to appease green interests groups. The fact is the proposed pipeline in Kenya would run through the Great Rift Valley, an area much more sensitive than the proposed Keystone path as it is home to a number of endangered species.

By denying Keystone President Obama also snubbed his nose at the potential for job creation and economic development the KXL would provide to the U.S. As Kelly McParland of the National Post reported in a recent column, “while Obama insisted that pipeline [KXL] construction creates no significant number of jobs, the Kenya project is held up as an important job-creation initiative.”

One does not have to be a political scholar to note just how politically unsavory and hypocritical President Obama’s attitude toward these two similar projects has been. It is all to clear the President is willing to deny economic development at home based on truly unjustified and politically charged reasons, while at the same time pledging U.S. support for similar development abroad, all in the name of saving face with American special interests. 

 

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ATR Supports Sen. Paul's "Audit the Fed" Legislation

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016, 10:23 AM PERMALINK


Today, Congress is scheduled to vote on the Federal Reserve Transparency Act, commonly referred to as the “Audit the Fed” legislation (H.R. 24/S. 264), introduced by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

In a December 2015 press release announcing today’s vote on the Audit the Fed legislation, Sen. Paul expressed his concern that the Federal Reserve is “operating under a cloak of secrecy” and “the American people have a right to know exactly how Washington is spending their money.”  Sen. Paul hopes the legislation would end the Fed’s unchecked authority and control over U.S. financial markets and the economy.

The bill introduced by Sen. Paul would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to commence and complete an audit of the Fed’s Board of Governor’s and of the Federal Reserve Banks within 12 months of enactment. The bill provides that the findings of the audit are to be reported to Congress within 90 days of completion, and also provides for a repeal of existing limitations on such an audit.

Sen. Paul’s bill currently has 34 co-sponsors in the Senate and 185 in the House. Today’s vote will be a positive first step in ensuring government accountability in one of the country’s most important sectors.

Americans for Tax Reform urges lawmakers in the House and Senate to support Sen. Paul’s “Audit the Fed” legislation in order to preserve the government’s financial accountability to the American people, and ensure the integrity and transparency of the Federal Reserve.  

 

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USPS's Latest Billion Dollar Boondoggle

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, January 6th, 2016, 10:33 AM PERMALINK


The United States Postal Service (USPS) is set to start off the New Year with a financially ill-advised bang, by announcing plans to purchase a fleet of new vehicles with a price tag of up to $6.3 billion.  At first glance one might assume this fleet to be a to be a beneficial new asset to the USPS, however the multi-billion dollar purchase comes at a time when the financially beleaguered Postal Service is struggling to keep its head above water.

There are two issues with the Postal Service’s purchase of the new fleet that raise concerns. First, the purchase comes on the heels of the USPS’s posting of $5.1 billion dollars in losses for fiscal year 2015. Additionally, studies show that there are alternative options the Postal Service could use instead of purchasing an entire new fleet of vehicles that would be fiscally advantageous and save billions.

As mentioned, the Postal Service’s decision to spend $6.3 billion dollars on the new fleet comes at a time when the USPS should be looking to cut costs instead of creating new financial challenges. The fact is last November the USPS reported a $5.1 billion loss for fiscal year 2015, marking its 9th consecutive year of multi-billion dollar losses. Since 2007, the USPS has accumulated $56.8 billion in losses. The Postal Service has also experienced a five-year decline in first-class mail, leading to a hit in annual revenue that is cause for concern given the magnitude of this planned purchase.

A recently released study by the advocacy group Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE) examined the USPS’s decision to throw billions away on a new fleet, finding that the problem could be addressed through cheaper, alternative means. The study also highlights issues with USPS’s inability to incorporate new technologies once the purchase is made.

 USPS plans to use the new fleet of 180,000 “Next Generation Delivery Vehicles” (NGDVs) over the next 20-25 years. Yet one issue pointed out in the SAFE study is that committing to such a massive one-time purchase locks USPS into a vehicle fleet that will have “no ability to incorporate new technologies over time” and these 180,000 vehicles will have little resale value given they are custom made for USPS.   

Conversely, the study suggested that instead USPS could look too a cheaper more efficient approach that would allow the vehicles to evolve with technology and stave off such a massive investment. For instance the study found “an alternative approach using a mix of lightly modified off-the-shelf vehicles could generate nearly $2 billion in savings for USPS.”

While it is clear the Postal Service has consistently struggled financially, posting annual losses for almost a decade, now is not the time for USPS to be making large scale, billion dollar purchases. What isn’t clear though is why USPS would decide to throw billions on another billion-dollar boondoggle when clear, cheaper alternatives exist.   

 

Photo credit: Sanden

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billsweb

Gordon, you sound like a smart guy. Yes, the Postal service was created to tie our country together, but you know what? We have email, smartphones, regular phones, social media, and nobody sends letters anymore. The only thing I ever send in the mail is a payment, unless I've enrolled in autopay, like millions have. We don't even need them for packages since we have UPS. Do I trust them more than most agencies? Yes. Do we need a huge Postal service? No.

david smith

Obama will keep us safe, not

thepunditnet

A ups store has nothing to do with ups they are franchised retail locations. Should we compare what ups store locations pay their employees compared to the usps? Give me a break it would be like comparing pizza hut to a government ran pizza joint, the government locations would be buried in debt and politics.


ATR Statement on Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015, 5:19 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform today expressed support for efforts undertaken by lawmakers to lift the decades old ban on crude oil exports.

The ban on the export of crude oil is a relic of 1970’s policy, put in place over concerns of domestic energy scarcity. Nearly four decades later domestic production is at an all time high and the U.S. is now one of the world’s leading producers of oil and natural gas. In fact, production in a number of individual states is outpacing some of the world’s top energy-producing nations.  

Experts agree allowing the export of U.S. crude would lead to growth in the energy sector, the benefits of which would ripple throughout the economy. Studies show lifting the ban would add hundreds of thousands of jobs annually and billions to GDP while also reducing domestic gas prices. 

Lawmakers this week realized the benefits lifting the ban would offer to the U.S. economy and American consumers by acting to lift the out-dated ban on the export of crude oil through a provision in the end of year spending bill. 

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ATR Letter Urges Lawmakers to Support Sugar Reform

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Monday, December 7th, 2015, 10:30 AM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) today sent a letter to members of Congress that was signed by eight other organizations, urging lawmakers to include efforts to reform the U.S. Sugar Program in the end of year spending bill. The current U.S. Sugar Program was introduced in 1934 with the goal of lowering sugar production and raising sugar prices. Unfortunately for American consumers, businesses, and taxpayers, the sugar program has achieved its intended goal all too well. 

The result has been a system of protectionist policies that solely benefit the sugar industry at the expense of American consumers and taxpayers. Since 1934, the U.S. Sugar Program has evolved into a thicket of government imposed price supports, import quotas, and tariffs that keep domestic sugar prices artificially high. These sweetheart deals for “Big Sugar” are costing taxpayers and consumers billions, while impacting the economy and fostering a climate of crony capitalism that rivals that of the Ex-Im Bank. The time has come for lawmakers to reexamine what is actually being accomplished by this corporate welfare scheme. Below is the full text of the letter:

Mr. Speaker:

We, the undersigned organizations, respectively urge you to take steps to begin reforming federal sugar policy this year.  The House missed an opportunity to address this programmatic dinosaur in the Agricultural Act of 2014 when a number of other farm programs were significantly reformed.  The consumers, businesses, and taxpayers of this nation deserve prompt action to begin bringing the sugar program toward a more market-oriented structure.

The current sugar program relies upon total control of the domestic market and administration of that market by federal officials to force consumer prices to rise to an artificial level unrelated to world market prices.  A recent study by economists from Iowa State University estimated that the sugar program costs U.S. consumers up to $3.5 billion per year more for sugar than the market justifies.

Good paying manufacturing jobs are being lost in the industries that use sugar as a major ingredient in their products.  Our nation has lost more than 120,000 such jobs from 1997 to 2011 while at the same time employment in the other parts of the food industry have increased.  This is not due to a decrease in consumption of sugar-containing foods.  It is simply a case of moving the manufacturing offshore.

In addition to controlling the supply of sugar, federal law provides unlimited nonrecourse loans to the processors of sugar to guarantee a minimum price for sugar. This handful of processors can take out loans on all the sugar they process, which can run into hundreds of millions of dollars for a single entity.  The ink was hardly dry on the last Farm Bill when a series of massive loan forfeitures cost taxpayers $259 million.

Mr. Speaker, the sugar program is a long-neglected corner of federal policy that demands Congressional attention.  The U.S. sugar industry operates in a market virtually off limits to foreign competition.  As a result, prices for refined sugar averaged nearly 80 percent higher than world prices for the most recent ten years.  The federal sugar loan program is the only crop commodity program that makes unlimited nonrecourse loans to processors.  In all other crop commodity programs, benefits are limited by the size of the entity or the amount of the benefit, but not for sugar.

We believe that it is long past time to begin the process of removing this significant burden from consumers’ wallets and ending the special privileged status of the handful of domestic sugar processors.  We urge you to include provisions in this year’s federal funding legislation to begin curbing the excesses of the sugar program.

Sincerely,

 

Americans for Tax Reform

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Consumer Federation of America

National Consumers League

Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Taxpayers for Common Sense

Center for Individual Freedom

 

 

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rhetorical1

This isn't a Dem or GOP issue it is an American issue and needs to be addressed. It is beyond time for our elected officials to start doing the jobs they have been hired to do - look after the interest of ALL AMERICANS.


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