HUD Subsidies Allow Nebraska Millionaire to Pay $300 Rent

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Posted by Kendyll Ferrall on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015, 1:30 PM PERMALINK


An individual worth $1.6 million living in Oxford, Neb. pays $300 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, but not because of the Nebraska housing market.

This tenet is among the more than 25,000 well-off families and individuals that have a taxpayer-subsidized roof over their heads thanks to ‘egregious’ abuse of the public-housing system.

According to an Inspector General (IG) audit of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released in July, thousands of ‘over income’ families have received housing assistance despite exceeding the program’s income eligibility limits.

In some cases, the tenets’ income far exceeded the amount to qualify for government assistance, like the case from Nebraska:

Also, this tenant had total assets valued at nearly $1.6 million, which included stock valued at $623,685, real estate valued at $470,600, a checking account with a balance of $334,637, and an individual retirement account with a balance of $123,445. As of April 2014, the tenant paid a flat rent of $300 monthly for the public housing unit.

Taxpayers aren’t just footing the bill for millionaires.

The report found a family of four in New York making nearly $500,000 a year, but paying only $1,574 a month for a three-bedroom apartment and a Los Angeles family of five making over $200,000 but only paying $1,091 a month for a four-bedroom apartment. The low-income threshold in New York was $67,100 and $70,450 in Los Angeles.

Of the 25,226 over income families receiving taxpayer-funded housing, 17, 761 families, or 68 percent, had been earning more than the qualified for over a year. Over half of those families, 13,388, earned more than $10,000 over the 2014 income limits. Seventy-percent of the over income families had resided in government housing for over a year.

The report estimated that taxpayers will pay over $104.4 million this year to keep these families in subsidized housing.

Despite the IG’s report, HUD has no plans to evict any of these families. The department doesn’t require HUD officials to remove over income families –it urges them to stay.

HUD claims that by implementing a policy to evict families that no longer qualify for public housing would ‘negatively affect their employment and destabilize properties.’

Under current regulations, tenets may remain in government-provided housing as long as they want, regardless of income. HUD only considers income when an individual or family applies for housing, it does not perform financial reassessments. 

HUD officials attempted to shrug off the report’s findings, arguing that because families that were found to be abusing the system account for 2.6 percent of the 1.1 million families receiving assistance, it wasn’t necessary to implement any changes.

The 25,226 families in government housing receive it at the expense of over 300,000 families stuck on waiting lists that actually qualify for assistance. According to the report, 65-percent of over income families remain in public housing for up to 8 years and 5-percent stay for over 9 years.

 

Photo Credit: 
Tim Evanson https://www.flickr.com/photos/23165290@N00/

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If You’re Running for President, Do You Really Want This Endorsement?

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Posted by Caroline Anderegg on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015, 9:47 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday morning, presidential hopeful John Kasich joined Alabama Governor Robert Bentley at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, where Gov. Bentley announced his endorsement of the Ohio governor’s presidential bid. In his statement following the announcement, Gov. Kasich touted the endorsement as an honor given Bentley’s “incredible record.”

“What’s also significant to me is that Gov. Bentley reached out to our campaign, unsolicited, to offer his support,” he went on to say.

This makes Gov. Bentley the third Republican governor to offer an endorsement to a presidential candidate—both Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Maine Gov. Paul LePage are throwing their support behind Chris Christie, who served as the chairman for the Republican Governors Association during their 2014 gubernatorial elections.

An endorsement of this nature, particularly so early in a primary campaign with such a wide field, is unusual. Kasich’s camp highlighted the handful of topics on which he and Bentley disagree in an effort to prove that this endorsement represents the governor’s leadership as a consensus builder.

However, the similarity that they conveniently glossed over is the governors’ weak fiscal records. Both Kasich and Bentley have been at odds with their Republican legislatures during budget negotiations over the last several months. Fortunately for Ohio taxpayers, the Republican House leadership was able to pass real tax relief that saved Ohioans over $3 billion more than would have been enacted by Kasich’s proposal. This contradiction has not stopped the governor from flaunting his fiscal record on the campaign trail as he attempts to win over the Republican base.

With this goal in mind, it begs the question why would Kasich want Gov. Bentley’s endorsement? Despite being a Taxpayer Protection Pledge signer, and subsequent pledge-breaker, Bentley’s fiscal record is abysmal. He reneged on his promise of “No New Taxes” and has called for a second special session in another attempt to strong arm the legislature into adding $300 million in new taxes. In a primary race where moderate candidates are vying for support from the conservative base, Gov. Kasich is hitching his horse to the wrong wagon.

Some early responders warned that Bentley’s endorsement is a blow to other governors, particularly fellow southerners such as Bobby Jindal or Jeb Bush, because Alabama is one of a handful of southern states holding an early primary—becoming known as the “SEC primary.” But Bentley’s endorsement will likely make no difference for Kasich in the early primaries. Not all endorsements are created equal, and when it comes to Gov. Bentley’s flagging reputation the unsolicited endorsement is irrelevant at best, and at worst an association Kasich’s team should be hesitant to embrace.

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Scott Walker's Obamacare "Repeal and Replace" Plan Good for Taxpayers

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Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, August 18th, 2015, 8:51 AM PERMALINK


Wisconsin governor and 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker is out today with his version of an Obamacare "repeal and replace" plan. No doubt all the serious candidates will have their own before primary season is over.

The most important part of the Walker plan is the first section, which completely repeals every jot and tittle of Obamacare. For taxpayers, that means repealing the 20 new or higher taxes in Obamacare. Right away, this plan is a large net tax cut as a result.

The plan also creates refundable tax credits for people on the individual health insurance market, uncapped by income but variable by age. The older you are, the bigger a tax credit you get. This reflects what health care actually costs for people as they age. The individual tax credit would be paid for by a very high cap on the tax-excluded value of employer-provided health insurance.

Walker's plan also creates a $1000 tax credit "bonus" for new people opening health savings accounts (HSAs), raises HSA contribution limits, and allows for greater HSA portability.

It makes sense that the insurance plan options these tax credits will apply toward will be cheaper than today, as Obamacare's costly restrictions and mandates are lifted.

Finally, the Walker plan begins to break down the barriers for people buying health insurance across state lines, allows consumers to pool together to purchase health insurance, gives states incentives to enact medical malpractice reform, and gives Medicaid a new mission by splitting it into several smaller goals for states to manage.

The Walker plan is a net tax cut, a net spending cut, and is intended to be budget neutral. It joins several other good Obamacare replacement plans out there, including the House Republican Study Committee plan, the plan advanced by Congressman Tom Price (R-Ga.), and the Burr-Hatch-Upton plan. No doubt more will join in the fun.

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The F-35 is a 'Big government' disaster in its worst form

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Posted by Danil Zelenkov on Monday, August 17th, 2015, 3:18 PM PERMALINK


Fiscal hawks are fighting to reform costly government spending programs and trim a bloated bureaucracy and the F-35 program is becoming an exorbitant Pentagon failure.  The most expensive military program in history is getting a free pass from otherwise fiscally responsible lawmakers.

The F-35 fighter jet program looks increasingly like a failure, and many politicians in Washington D.C. don’t want to admit it. The extravagant military program is hitting one obstacle after another in its development; from failing to meet testing benchmarks to ballooning costs. A report by Stars and Stripes reveals that although it is supposed to replace the F-15, F-16, and F-18, and the A-10 Warthog, the F-35 does not appear up to the task.

In its latest testing, the supposed zenith of military aviation was outmaneuvered by the very F-16 it is supposed to replace. The simulated dogfight resulted in numerous disappointing encounters with the older jet--the Lightning’s lack of energy maneuverability – a qualitative engineering method used to calculate an aircraft’s capabilities - being the most important shortcoming. The report goes on to state that “Even with the limited F-16 target configuration, the F-35A remained at a distinct energy disadvantage for every engagement.”

Not only does it prove inferior to older U.S. air crafts, but the F-35 is also under-performing in face-offs against foreign style jets, Russian or Chinese. It is noted in a report by military.com that “the 5th generation jet [F-35], will be outmaneuvered in dogfights with current Russian and Chinese jets as well as the U.S. aircraft it is slated to replace.” Such disappointing results point to a compromised national defense.

Construction costs stand at $400 billion at the moment, almost twice the initial estimate. In a time of budgetary restraints and cutting back, the federal government insists on sinking $1.45 trillion over the next 50 years on a plane that is proving itself to be a lemon. Considering the estimate was only at $1 trillion in 2011, the $450 billion increase in required funds indicates that the $1.45 trillion will likely increase further.

The U.S. atomic bomb Manhattan Project cost $26 billion in its entirety measured in today’s dollars. To put it in perspective, the F-35 program costs grew by “approximately one Manhattan Project every three weeks between 2011 and 2012.”

A Stars & Stripes report indicates that if the F-35 program continues this course, it “may needlessly gamble away a sizable margin of American air power at great expense and unnecessary risk to American lives.”

If conservative fiscal hawks and defense hawks want to regain their credibility of handling the nation’s finance, while securing for the national defense, they need to address government waste on all fronts, including Pentagon and the military.

Americans for Tax Reform supports a strong national defense and a strong military, but that should not allow careless waste of U.S. tax payer money.

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Samuel King Jr https://www.flickr.com/photos/49840571@N02/

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Failed Obamacare State Exchanges May Cost Taxpayers Millions More

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Monday, August 17th, 2015, 2:00 PM PERMALINK


In the coming months and years, several states are expected to abandon their Obamacare exchanges and move to the federal system. Oregon and Nevada have already done so and Hawaii is in the process of doing so. These states have wasted millions of dollars constructing failed exchanges and transitioning back to the federal system could end with millions more down the drain. Given this possibility, it is clear that stronger oversight is needed over the use of taxpayer dollars. State and federal bureaucrats must be held accountable.

When Obamacare was implemented, about 15 states decided to develop the infrastructure for their own healthcare marketplace. State exchanges were financed almost entirely through federal grant money from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In all, CMS distributed $5.4 billion in grant money. Unfortunately, most state exchanges have failed, or are on the brink of failure.

Hawaii, the latest failed Obamacare exchange, is currently transitioning enrollees to the federal system. The state received $205 million in federal grants but was unable to become financially viable and the system was abandoned by state officials who balked at the cost of upkeep--which ran in the tens of millions a year.

Now that the transition period is well underway, Hawaii is expected to receive new federal funds in order to move to Healthcare.gov. Reports on the cost vary, with estimates as low as $2 million and as high as $20 million. It is expected that the state will receive new federal funds, with CMS picking up as much as 90 percent of the cost to transfer.

From the perspective of federal taxpayers, this transition represent an opportunity to end the abysmal oversight over federal funds even amid the possibility that millions more will be wasted. Given taxpayers will now shell out millions more to bail out states that mismanaged the construction of their exchanges, what conditions and guidelines is CMS setting for a state to return? Will any funds be paid back from the hundreds of millions that was wasted on defunct state exchanges?

There is already precedent for the waste of taxpayer dollars amidst an environment of zero accountability. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Oregon received $41 million in mostly federal funds to transition to Healthcare.gov. This money was in addition to the $305 million that Oregon received to construct its abandoned exchange.

As Hawaii continues its transition to the federal system, the same story of bureaucratic incompetence and millions in wasted dollars that has permeated the implementation of Obamacare cannot be allowed to repeat itself. If the federal government finances state exchanges, it must also hold states accountable when funds are wasted or lost.

 

Photo Credit: 
Bahari Adoyo, https://www.flickr.com/photos/dreammaker182/

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Richard Parisse

Nauseating. Government officials are incompetent and arrogant


Obamacare Insurance Agent Pockets $9000 a Month From Fraudulent Applications

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Posted by Nate D'Amico on Monday, August 17th, 2015, 12:58 PM PERMALINK


In yet another Obamacare scandal, a North Carolina insurance agent is being investigated by state officials for illegally signing up over 600 individuals in North and South Carolina for insurance through the Healthcare.gov marketplace. This likely fraud allowed the agent to pocket almost $9,000 a month on commissions.

In order to qualify for federal health insurance subsidies, which covers most or all of premiums for low-income people, one must have at least $11,700 in expected income over a year. According to a report by CNBC, the agent was reportedly instructing low-income individuals to apply for the subsidies with projected income generated from panhandling, selling drugs, and even prostitution.

This unusual activity was brought to the attention of North Carolina officials after an insurance software company in California noticed a high volume of applications with addresses at homeless shelters and expected income listed at the threshold of $11,700. Once brought to light, healthcare company Aetna immediately ceased their relationship with the agent and will investigate the matter fully, as does the administrator of Obamacare and the Healthcare.gov exchange, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The agent justified his actions as legal and claims he was simply trying to educate low-income people about eligibility under the new Affordable Care Act laws. However, had the enrollments not been called into question and subject to an investigation, he would have made about $9,000 per month in commissions, or almost $110,000 over the year from these 600 enrollments alone. This curious case calls into question other enrollments facilitated by this agent, but also whether this practice is occurring throughout the rest of the country.

This new case of Obamacare fraud should not be surprising. Last week, the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG) warned that the federal system was failing to verify key information of applicants including Social Security numbers, citizenship, and household income before granting tax credits.

Just last month, the Government Accountability Office put out a report detailing how 11 of 12 fake applications submitted to Healthcare.gov in 2014 were enrolled and received federal subsidies. Of the dozen, three were submitted with no documentation but even this didn’t stop the federal government from paying $30,000 in insurance credits to the 11 successful fakes, which were automatically re-enrolled for 2015.

States are faring little better under Obamacare. Back in 2011, federal officials decided that the Massachusetts “Romneycare” exchange needed to be updated to meet Obamacare exchange standards. What followed can only be described as an abject failure as the “upgraded” exchange managed to meet just 5% of its enrollment target at the cost of a meager $224 million in federal funds.

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EpicSlowMo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ep_h8vxgEU

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Uncle Sam

Tar and Feathers are greatly needed today.


Hillary’s “Free College” Plan Will Raise Income Taxes on 23,000 New Hampshire Families

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, August 14th, 2015, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


This week, Hillary Clinton unveiled her “New College Compact” promising Americans “free” community college and lower student debt. Buried deep in the plan was how she would pay for this new spending program – a $350 billion income tax hike on American families. In New Hampshire alone, this plan will increase income taxes on over 23,000 households.

“If this is a ‘free’ plan then why is Hillary raising income taxes on 23,000 New Hampshire families to pay for it?” asked Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

The Clinton plan reduces the full income tax deductibility of countless deductions including charitable donations, mortgage interest, high medical bills, and state and local taxes for New Hampshire families in the 33-percent, 35-percent, or 39.6 -percent brackets, limiting their value to 28 percent. Nationwide, this tax increase raises an additional $350 billion in income tax payments to the IRS.

Hillary’s latest tax grab echoes her 2004 promise: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” This remark was made during a speech to her financial backers and was overheard and reported by the Associated Press. Unaware there was a reporter present, then-Senator Clinton felt free to spell out her true tax worldview.

According to IRS Statistics of Income Data for 2012 (the most recent year available), the new Hillary tax hike will hit about 23,000 New Hampshire households, based on the number of families who earned over $200,000 and itemized their deductions.

Earlier this year, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon warned of upcoming “revenue enhancements” – which are also known as “taxes” in the real world. Hillary’s latest tax increase follows her July proposal for the most complicated capital gains tax scheme in U.S. history.

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Karen Murphy, https://www.flickr.com/photos/14372925@N02/

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JD

Im not saying her plan is good but Grover's a tool for advocating for the rich again and again and again...must suck to get paid that way, i feel for you Grover...And the capital gains tax should be really high...these people do ZERO to earn it

Huma

What Difference, At This Point, Does It Make?


The Grover Norquist Show: Hillary’s Proposals to Increase Taxes

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Posted by Hal Smith on Thursday, August 13th, 2015, 4:06 PM PERMALINK


In the latest edition of the Grover Norquist show, ATR president Grover Norquist discusses Hillary’s proposed $350 Billion student loan debt tax hike and her plan to create the most complicated capital gains tax in US history.

In the podcast, Norquist illuminates how the $350 billion tax hike is simply another Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for millions of American families. Norquist also discusses Hillary’s plan to create a more complex capital gains tax, her questionable history with the death tax, and her opposition to any tax cuts. Throughout the discussion, it is clear that Hillary has no problem raising taxes for all Americans, except for herself. See the podcast here.

 

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Neill

So Hillary is proposing capping itemized deductions at 28%. Obama already put back in place the Pease limitation that reduces itemized deductions by up to 80% for incomes over ~$250k/300k (single/married). That would suggest there isn't much money there since it's been taken except for those below the Pease start. Maybe she is going after all deductions like 401k contributions etc as well? That would a nightmare of complexity with pre-tax 401k contributions creating basis in the 401k because they were partially taxed.


TBT: Reagan Changes the Course of Federal Taxation


Posted by Caroline Anderegg on Thursday, August 13th, 2015, 1:17 PM PERMALINK


On August 13, President Ronald Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 (ERTA).  This multifaceted tax reform package is regarded as a watershed moment in the history federal taxation.

During his presidential campaign Reagan argued that providing incentives for individuals and businesses was the best way to revitalize and grow the economy. Signing the ERTA in his first year in office made good on that promise. 

The focal point of the original legislation proposed by the Administration was a 30 percent reduction in individual taxes over three years. The final piece of legislation, however, resulted in an across-the-board rate reduction and much more. The top tax rate was reduced to 50 percent on all income, and all income tax rates were reduced by approximately 25 percent over a three-year period. The ERTA also introduced the idea of indexing individual tax brackets to end the “bracket creep”; created a new cost recovery system for depreciating business assets; reduced the estate and gift taxes; and allowed a credit for incremental research and development expenses.  

According to a contemporary Tax Foundation memo, the annual cut was estimated to jump from $38 billion in fiscal year 1982, to $268 billion in fiscal year 1986.  The cumulative reduction was estimated to save taxpayers $749 billion in nominal terms.

From its inception, Reagan’s tax-cutting legacy was revolutionary and transformative. In just two years after the ERTA was passed it was referred to by tax analysts as the “most important piece of tax legislation of last quarter century,” and today is still recognized for its lasting impact on the Internal Revenue Code. The ERTA set the tone for his overall economic policy and created momentum that lead to economic growth carrying through his entire presidency. 

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JD

To bad 90% went to the top 1% Grover, just stop lieing, tell people the truth or rename your site to Grover say's anything to help the rich.com


USPS Post Half a Billion in Losses Despite Billions in Subsidies

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Posted by Justin Sykes on Thursday, August 13th, 2015, 10:28 AM PERMALINK


While government bureaucrats are notoriously inefficient at their core missions, such as the EPA polluting the Animus River, the one thing they are consistently efficient at is losing taxpayer dollars. In addition to the EPA’s recent bungles, the U.S. Postal Service this week continued its long tradition of hemorrhaging money.

This week the Postal Service reported a net loss of $586 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2015. The USPS’s ability to lose over half a billion dollars in just three months would almost be impressive if it wasn’t a detriment to American taxpayers. The fact is the USPS receives roughly $18 billion in taxpayer-backed subsidies annually yet is still failing.   

Despite this massive multi-billion dollar subsidies crutch, the Postal Service continues to prove incapable of financial accountability. The third quarter losses this week are not only a massive bureaucratic failure but also mean the Postal Service has now posted revenue losses 25 out of the last 27 quarters.

Given the $1.5 billion dollar losses posted in the previous quarter, 2015 could be the 9th consecutive year USPS has suffered multi-billion dollar losses. The Postal Service is now averaging about $5.5 billion in annual losses and within the last decade the Post Office endured over $47 billion in losses, a number that is only slated to grow.

As troubling as such massive losses are, the more troubling fact is the USPS machine is able to push on despite the overwhelming lack of fiscal accountability. Alternatively, if the Post Office were a private company it would have been bankrupt decades ago and a more efficient service would have taken its place.

Sadly, there is little motivation for efficiency or accountability when government bureaucrats know they have an $18 billion dollar taxpayer-sewn safety net to catch them. The truth is as long as billions keep flowing from the government losses will continue, and American taxpayers will be expected to keep footing the bill for these bureaucratic boondoggles.     

 

Photo Credit: MoneyBlogNewz

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Sally Davidow

ATR’s latest salvo against the public Postal Service is based on a myth propagated by Postal Service’s chief rival, United Parcel Service (UPS). The suggestion that the Postal Service receives taxpayer subsidies is preposterous. The Postal Service funds its operations solely on the revenue it receives from the sale of postage and services.

The primary cause of the Postal Service’s “losses” that ATR cites is the congressional mandate, implemented in 2006, that requires the Postal Service to pre-fund healthcare benefits for future retirees – 75 years
in advance – at a cost of approximately $5.5 billion per year. This is a burden no other government agency or private company bears.

If not for that requirement, the Postal Service would have done quite well financially over the past few years: Based on its operations, the Postal Service has earned a surplus of $1.2 billion so far this fiscal year; it had a surplus of $1.4 billion in fiscal year 2014, and $600 million in fiscal year 2013.

ATR advocates eliminating the Postal Service – which is mandated by the U.S. Constitution – in favor of a private mail system, although it offers no support for its assertion that a “more efficient service” would replace it. Would FedEx and UPS serve rural areas and low-volume neighborhoods?
Probably not. They would serve only those areas where they could make a profit.

By contrast, the Postal Service isn’t in business to make a profit. Its purpose is to serve the American people – a goal ATR and every
American should support.

JB

No, it doesn't. Operating costs all come from mailing revenues. In instances where a USPS branch is in a federal building the space is leased from GSA.

Janet Jamison

The Postal Service receives NO government subsidies and makes all its money from postage, shipping and postal products sold. This article is written by those who wish to tap into (and ultimately privatize) the rich motherlode known as USPS. The Postal Service is also hamstrung by the requirements of The Postal Reform Act of 2006 which requires the set aside of 5.5 billion dollars per year for 10 years so as "to prefund benefits for employees" who have not yet been born...and there's little doubt that those dollars are held in the same safe place where Social Security funds are kept...The major threat faced by the USPS is toxic stories like this one which perverts the truth and attempts to poison the public perception as to the worthiness of the Postal Service. If you talk trash and lies long enough about anything, you can justify destruction of anything. It's obvious to me that ATR will write or say anything to achieve their objectives.


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