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IRS whistleblower office obstacles, explanation sought PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:22

Grassley Seeks Detailed Accounting of IRS Whistleblower Office Obstacles

 

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has asked the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department to answer a detailed series of questions aimed at understanding why the IRS whistleblower office has been so slow in processing cases and making rewards.  Grassley expressed his “extreme disappointment in the management of the program” in a letter to the agency.

 

“The IRS does not have a problem attracting whistleblowers,” Grassley said.  “The IRS has a problem processing whistleblower information and compensating whistleblowers in a timely manner.  I’m hearing frustration from whistleblowers, and my worst fears are coming true.  The lack of progress is demoralizing whistleblowers, and they might stop coming forward.  That would be a bad outcome for the taxpayers.”

 

Grassley’s latest inquiry was prompted in part by revelations that the director of the IRS whistleblower program was a panelist at the Offshore Alert Conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Miami Beach.  “It seems the whistleblower office director’s time might be better spent reviewing hundreds of existing cases instead of attending a conference that isn’t directed at potential whistleblowers,” Grassley said.

 

Grassley wrote to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to seek a status update on several benchmarks that would indicate progress in the whistleblower program.  The letter is the latest step in Grassley’s oversight of the whistleblower office.

 

Grassley wrote the 2006 law improving the IRS whistleblower office.  He modeled the improvements after the successful 1986 whistleblower amendments to the federal False Claims Act, which have brought back more than $30 billion to the federal treasury and deterred even more fraudulent activity.

 

The text of Grassley’s latest letter is available here.

 

The text of Grassley’s September 2011 letter to the IRS is available here.  The IRS’ November 2011 response is available here.

 

The text of Grassley’s letter to the Treasury secretary in June 2010 is available here.

 

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Fast and Furious Developments PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:17

Senator Chuck Grassley, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement after information from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee indicated a possible vote about holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.  Holder has refused to provide subpoenaed documents related to the congressional investigation of Operation Fast and Furious.

 

Grassley first began investigating alleged gunwalking in January 2011 after whistleblowers came forward to alert Congress about gunwalking in Arizona.  The Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder initially denied gunwalking occurred, but have since withdrawn the denials and admitted that ATF whistlebowers were right to complain about the reckless tactic.  Despite the constitutional responsibility of Congress to conduct oversight of the executive branch, the Justice Department has stonewalled every step of the investigation.  In fact, the Justice Department has provided 80,000 pages of documents to the Inspector General in connection with its investigation of Operation Fast and Furious, but has provided only 6,000 pages of documents to Congress.  The department has provided no legal justification for withholding each of those 74,000 pages.

 

“The subpoena authority of the House Oversight Committee, and the Chairman’s willingness to use it, helped shed light on Operation Fast and Furious and the Justice Department’s desire to allow guns to walk into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.  Congressman Issa deserves credit for moving forward on contempt.  The Attorney General and the Justice Department are thumbing their nose at the constitutional authority provided to the legislative branch to conduct oversight.

 

“The Attorney General is facing a real test of leadership here.  He has a choice to make.  He can force the department to come clean, or he can force a high-stakes political conflict between the legislative and executive branches.  It’s past time to hold accountable those public officials responsible for our own government’s role in walking guns into the hands of criminals.  The family of Agent Terry deserves more than what they’re getting from this administration.”

 
Governor Quinn to Illinois Business Leaders: Get Involved to Stabilize Medicaid & Pension Systems PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Nafia Khan   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:26

SPRINGFIELD – May 2, 2012. In his keynote address at the Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s annual business day, Governor Pat Quinn called on Illinois business leaders to push for solutions that rescue Illinois’ Medicaid and public pension systems this legislative session. The two fast-growing areas of state spending are on unsustainable paths, jeopardizing their existence, those who depend on them, and the state’s ability to fund core services like education and public safety. Uncertainty caused by inaction on these two critical issues makes it more difficult for businesses and the state to plan for long-term needs and growth.

“The best thing we can do for businesses right now in Illinois is restore fiscal stability to our state,” Governor Quinn said. “I urge you to advocate for solutions on pensions and Medicaid like never before and make sure your voice is heard these next few weeks by the members of the General Assembly.”

Governor Quinn recently proposed a plan to fundamentally restructure the Medicaid system and save it from collapse by creating $2.7 billion in savings. The governor’s Medicaid plan cuts waste, fraud and abuse, and raises the price of cigarettes to bring back dollar for dollar federal matching funds and help make people healthier. The governor also recently proposed a bold plan to stabilize the pension system, which is expected to save taxpayers $65 to $85 billion, eliminate the unfunded liability and allow public employees who have faithfully contributed to the system to continue to receive pension benefits.

Governor Quinn told business leaders in attendance that unless state lawmakers address these issues this spring, the consequences of inaction will be devastating to the state’s economic recovery and ability to provide basic services.

Together, Medicaid and pensions now account for 39% of state general revenue spending, putting a tremendous squeeze on the rest of the budget. Illinois is expected to end this fiscal year with almost $2 billion in unpaid Medicaid bills, caused in part by rising medical costs, increased enrollment during the Great Recession and a deferral of $1.9 billion in last year’s bills to this fiscal year. Without immediate and fundamental restructuring of the Medicaid system, the non-partisan Civic Federation projects that Illinois’ unpaid bills will rise to $21 billion by 2017. According to the PEW Center for the States, Illinois’ unfunded pension liability is the worst in the nation.

Ratings agencies have repeatedly cited continued inaction on Medicaid and pension reform as potential reasons to downgrade Illinois’ bond rating, which could effectively halt critical capital improvements and road safety projects. Stabilizing these systems is also necessary to ensure the continuation of the Illinois Jobs Now! capital construction plan, which has benefited businesses across the state through modern infrastructure that increases efficiency and keeps them competitive.

For more information about Governor Quinn’s reform proposals that will save Illinois’ Medicaid and pension systems to make them sustainable, while restoring stability to the state budget, please visit his announcements for Medicaid and pension reform.

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Braley Statement on US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 12:20

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) today released the following statement in response to the United States-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement announced by President Obama in Kabul last night:

“I have serious concerns that the President’s agreement with Afghanistan announced last night will lead to permanent American involvement there.

 

“For years, our nation’s leaders have spoken about their intention to end the American presence in Afghanistan.  All that time, the end date has been pushed further and further down the road.

 

“We have accomplished the main objectives of our mission in Afghanistan.  Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaida has been marginalized, and the Afghan government has been stabilized.

 

“At some point, the Afghanis need to take control of their country’s own future.  I believe that point is now – not two, ten, or twenty years from now.  We’ve already been in Afghanistan for more than a decade.  It’s time to focus on strengthening America here at home.”

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Loebsack Statement on the President’s Speech on Afghanistan PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Joe Hand   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:57

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement regarding President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan.  Loebsack is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and has traveled to Afghanistan six times to meet with the troops and receive briefings from the commanders on the ground.

“With far too many Iowa families struggling here at home, I strongly believe that our nation’s focus must be on rebuilding an economy that works for all Iowans. As I have long said, I also believe that we have done more than enough nation building in Afghanistan.  The situation we face there has changed.  It is past time to focus on rebuilding our economy here at home.

"As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I know the serious threats facing our nation.  We must continue to protect our country from the terrorist threats we face. As our military leaders have also testified, the strength and security of our nation is based on the strength of our economy.  Our current presence in Afghanistan does not address those threats.”

“Our servicemembers and military families have made great sacrifices over the last decade and we owe them our unyielding gratitude, respect, and support.  As a nation, we have a responsibility to serve them with the same dedication and honor with which they have served us.  We must ensure that our wounded warriors, including those whose wounds are not visible, receive nothing but the best medical care and support, and that those looking for civilian jobs are able to find them..

“Our men and women in uniform, including our Iowa National Guard, have served courageously and performed their duty; it is now time to responsibly bring them home.”

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