The NRA is a Huge Swamp Creature

NRA TV

New Orleans   The National Rifle Association or NRA is rarely confused with anything that would seem soft and fuzzy given its hard edge, take-no-prisoners, win-at-all-costs attitude about anything that might even vaguely resemble gun control.  When President Trump speaks of cleaning up the Washington DC swamp of lobbying and influence peddling, he pretty much has his hands behind his back and his fingers crossed, but if he were serious, the NRA is proving that it is a huge swamp creature.

They are now being investigated on a number of fronts, most seriously by Leticia James, New York State’s attorney general and the former Public Advocate in New York City.  James believes that their incessant lobbying and political work might disqualify them from enjoying a tax exemption.  A former head of the IRS Tax Exemption Section was quoted in the New York Times saying that “The N.R.A. is willing to play fast and loose with tax regulations,” indicating that there is likely fire underneath all of this smoke.

So, what’s up?  Well, it’s not the usual pro-gun, anti-gun thing.  It’s something way more stinky, according to current reporting.

On one hand its internal conflict at the board level of the NRA, and they are giving information directly to the New York Times.  Yes, I know this sounds like fake news, but none of this is anonymous.

Partly it has to do with the NRA’s top brass going way overboard and linking hands with the screaming banshee part of the rightwing.  A weird television enterprise called, not surprisingly, NRATV, which has been involved in flat out hate-mongering via their wild-eyed spokeswoman, Dana Loesch.   She ran a children’s show with KKK hoods, and quoting the Times, she referred to

gun-control advocates as “tragedy-dry-humping whores” and vowing to combat the left with what she called the “clenched fist of truth” — a body part that the comedian John Oliver said was located “a little past the bent elbow of nonsense.” In one video, she warned The Times, “We’re coming for you”; in another, she threatened to burn a copy of the newspaper.

Guns or no guns, let’s agree, that’s some wild over the top stuff!  Even Wayne LaPierre, the NRA EVP and master of their aggressive strategy was supposedly “livid” and “embarrassed” by this stuff on their channel, and he is never embarrassed, even by mass shootings of children!

On the other hand, there seems to be a pile of self-dealing and personal enrichment within the NRA as well.  The Ackerman McQueen ad and PR firm that has been flacking for the NRA for decades and receiving millions and millions by the boatload has also given work to relatives and LaPierre’s wife through subcontractors.  Board members are unsettled by all of this as well, and

…have also expressed concern about the size of payments to the ad firm that produces NRATV, Ackerman McQueen. The firm and its affiliates pocketed $40 million from the N.R.A. in 2017; billings directly to Ackerman have increased nearly 50 percent since 2015.

There’s an old saying about bullies that if you slap back, that run screaming.  The bullies of the NRA may be about to take exactly that kind of whipping.

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Finally, the IRS is Enforcing Affordable Care Act!

New Orleans     How many times do we get to talk about good news and the IRS in the same sentence?  Darned few, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  But, having the IRS finally get off the dime and start enforcing the Affordable Care Act is fantastic news.  The bottom line is that they are making larger businesses step up and comply with the employer mandate to cover their workforce.  There are some other areas where they need to also toe the line, but we’ll get to that after we look at the business scofflaws.

The IRS piddled around with the employer mandate.  The Obama administration gave everyone a break for a year in 2015 because businesses were claiming they were just getting their arms around the law.  Then the IRS had to get their act together to figure out who was doing right and who was doing wrong, so the clock kept ticking longer until they mastered the equation in late 2017.   Now with one-third of 2018 ticking off the clock the IRS has sent out notices to more than 30,000 businesses with penalty letters for the 2015, and they are ginning up to get the penalty notices out for 2016 and 2017 tax years PDQ.

Remember the employer mandate meant that companies with more than 50 full-time workers had to be provided with health care or face fines of more than $2000 per worker.  Keep in mind that we’re talking about 1,500,000 workers at a minimum that should have been offered health care but weren’t.   Odds are that many of these companies thought they were getting away with it and are likely to face penalties for the subsequent years as well.  Now that they are being caught, these bum outfits are screaming like stuck pigs.

Should we feel even one iota of sympathy for any of them.  Heck no!  Especially since the Act did not put caps on the deductibles, so that many companies complied by offering these so-called “skinny” plans that met the minimum standards on paper, but whose $4000 to $6000 deductibles made the plans worthless and unaffordable to the individuals given the small amount they were making on their jobs.  The companies then qualified and escaped the penalties, the workers were barred from the shared costs in the marketplace, and there was often zero participation by workers costing the companies nothing at all.  With loopholes that large any company so heedless of either the law or its workers should absolutely pay the full weight of the penalty.   Let’s make sure they do.

Now if the IRS would also jump on the huge, tax exempt nonprofit hospitals that are cheap skating their charity care and enforce the requirements that they step up or lose their tax-exempt status as required by the Act, we would see some health care going to low income families that desperately need it.  Many of these families work for these same selfish companies, so it is time to square that circle.

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