Saturday
Oct132018

Is the Star-Ledger’s Jon Salant a handjob? He re-wrote a hit piece for Menendez using old news.  

There is a lot of real news floating around out there.  Certainly enough to prevent a writer from needing to plagiarize an early hit piece by the Menendez campaign for reuse as “fresh” news three weeks out from an election.  If the headline reads like the title of an attack piece put out by Menendez – that’s because it is: 

“Hugin says he's a different kind of Republican, but his campaign donations show otherwise.”

Breaking news… Republican Bob Hugin donates to the campaigns of (wait for it)… Republicans!!!  No shit. 

And this differs from (name ANY partisan candidate for office – Democrat or Republican) how?   

As evidence for his screwy contention, Jonathan Salant actually attacks Republican Bob Hugin and HIS WIFE for failing to support a Democrat Senator from Washington State.  Salant claims the Senator is bi-partisan… the record shows that she is the 5th most liberal member of the U.S. Senate.  Maybe we should just change Jonathan’s name from “Salant” to “Slant”.  What a pissbrain!

(Speaking of wives, as they have now been made fair game by Jonathan Slant, old Mrs. Slant is a kind of lobbyist/crony capitalist out on the hunt for taxpayer dollars for “deserving” corporations.  Yep, you can’t make this shit up.)

Salant’s hit on Hugin was all addressed earlier this year in a series of campaign attacks against Hugin by the Menendez campaign.  It is now being repackaged by the Star-Ledger and Salant in order to give it an “objective” slant – three weeks out from Election Day.  Salant’s goal is simple:  He wants to influence those women who have been turned off by Menendez’s trafficking of Eastern European women for his pal’s sexual purposes or the Obama Justice Department’s allegations about sex with underaged girls in the Caribbean.  Salant wants them to put that aside and pull the Big “D” lever (as they used to say).

Jonathan Salant wants reform Democrats to forget what kind of corrupt POS Bob Menendez really is.  Salant wants them to forget the bank scams and the Medicare fraud and stare straight ahead while they yank that Big “D”.  And the best he can come up with is that Bob Hugin is… a Republican. 

And that’s a big deal to a religionist like Jonathan Salant, who sincerely believes that being a Republican is a kind of original sin.  Salant, as his writing shows, will not be comfortable until the last of these venomous creatures is driven from the public square.

Every candidate gets stuck in the ass by the media.  It happens.  But there’s a difference between getting stuck by what was once a generally “uninvolved” or “non-partisan” press and getting stuck by a partisan writer like Jonathan Salant.  Salant is the kind of guy who will stick a candidate in the ass and not have the common courtesy to give him a reach around.  It’s an act of violence with him… and he’s going to make sure there’s nothing in it for the object of his attentions.

That is our critique on the writing of Jonathan Salant.  We acknowledge that he is a “writer” of some standing and craft.  We dispute the title “journalist” being applied to him, because he has ventured so far from it.  Others may disagree… particularly the more “clubbable” members of the Establishment.  Nevertheless, these are our opinions.  If Jonathan Salant would like to dispute them on these pages, we will gladly publish what he writes, UNEDITED, which is a courtesy the corporate arse-lickers who run the Star-Ledger would NEVER extend to anyone with whom they disagreed.
CORY BOOKER HEARING JONATHAN SALANT’S CONFESSION.
Wednesday
Oct102018

Ogdensburg Debate: Mikie Sherrill fails to apologize for trashing Vietnam Vet 

Is Mikie Sherrill full of shit or what?  At last night’s debate in Ogdensburg she refused to address the elephant in the room… her behavior and that of her Antifa allies in violently forcing Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen from the race. 

Sherrill knew that Congressman Frelinghuysen was getting up there in age and that his health was in decline.  She also knew that he was one of the most bi-partisan members of Congress… known for his mild, gentlemanly demeanor, respected by both parties, willing to work with all sides to find solutions. 

This was the man Mikie Sherrill set her Antifa hoodlums on.

They screamed and shouted down old Congressman Frelinghuysen – spat insults at him, called him vicious names, trashed his name and all the good works that he stood for.  Just as Rodney Frelinghuysen was about to secure mass transit service for Sussex County… Mikie Sherrill’s loudmouths tortured the old fellow, drove up his blood pressure, rattled his nerves, to the point that he quietly exited the stage.

You lost New Jersey one of its most powerful advocates in Congress – no, not with press releases, but in his quiet way, he knew how to get things done in Congress. He secured the post of Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in 2017.  In this powerful position, Rodney Frelinghuysen would have been able to accomplish so much for our state.  Now that’s all gone.  You killed the guy who was in the best position to serve our state and don’t think for one moment that some wet-behind-the-ears freshman is going to make a patch on Rodney’s arse.

Last night, Sherrill trotted out her well-worn bullshit about being “bi-partisan”. Well nobody believes that now and nobody believed it a couple months ago, when Sherrill posed in front of a helicopter that wasn’t in Vietnam and talked about how she wants to be a “bi-partisan” force for good.  That’s bullshit.  You killed off the most effective “bi-partisan” force for good in the state when you and your dirtbag allies targeted, stalked, and drove out Rodney Frelinghuysen.

Terms like “bi-partisan” are just words to Mikie Sherrill.  In her campaign advertisements, Mikie Sherrill spouts off some more bromides like this… “For decades the people of New Jersey have been footing the bill and paying the price of Congress’ inability to work in a bipartisan manner with input from both parties… That’s why I’m running for Congress.  We need new leadership in Congress and leaders who will put partisan politics aside to get the job done for families and the communities they serve – especially here in New Jersey.”  

Wow, Mikie Sherrill has certainly strung a lot of meaningless platitudes together for that one.  

How can anyone who plays at being a member of the French Resistance while pretending that 2018 America is 1942 France under Nazi occupation even bring up the word “bi-partisan” and keep a straight face?  Mikie Sherrill and her ilk are living in an historical action video game come to life… and they are acting it out.

Some are worse than others. We all saw the outcry over the Kavanaugh hearings, the violent attacks on Senator Cruz and his wife, Senator Paul and his wife, and Senator Collins and her husband.  A mixed-race couple having breakfast at a café were set upon in Philadelphia because they happened to hold free-market ideas on economics and somebody recognized them.  Racial epithets were shouted at them by enlightened members of the “Resistance”. 

The Antifa “resistance” smashed up a United States Marine Corps recruiting office and attacked police because… heck, who needs a reason these days?  Because it is there?  

Same reason they went after Vietnam Vet Rodney Frelinghuysen… because he was there, in the way, somebody wanted the cool title or somebody wanted to do the job it took him twenty years to be in a position to do… but that’s all over now.  Freshmen congresspersons don’t get to chair the Appropriations Committee.  That’s all over now, for New Jersey, our loss… because Mikie wanted a cool title. 

 

Wednesday
Oct102018

Why is the Grease machine picking who’s who in the media?

There’s an old saying among machine politicians in Philadelphia.  It goes like this, “If you say you’re the boss, and nobody says you aint the boss, then you’re the boss.”

John F.X. Graham probably heard it back in the day, when he was prowling around amongst the ward healers in that sainted city of brotherly love.  Back when “ethnic” meant second or third generation Irish or Polish or Italian and individual neighborhoods developed their own dialects (yes, people really did talk like Rocky back then).

John F. X. moved to New Jersey where he followed the yellow brick road of selling insurance to government entities.  Unlike South Jersey’s George Norcross, John F. X. wasn’t really interested in building a political machine.  He was content with a money machine – the old-fashioned kind, the grease machine that uses campaign contributions to lube the representatives of the taxpayers, so that their money pumps out in a nice, steady stream.

Last December, the Observer wrote about John F.X. and his operation – the Fairview Insurance Agency – in a “special report” about “How Insurance Brokers Reap Public Funds Without Disclosure.”  It makes for interesting reading:

Insurance brokerages that make political donations are declining to disclose large amounts of money received indirectly from public entities.

One of the biggest goldmines for contractors in New Jersey is selling insurance plans to public entities, which employ hundreds of thousands of workers across the state.

But an Observer review of dozens of public documents shows that in some cases, it’s difficult or impossible to get a complete accounting of the money going back and forth between insurance brokerages — some of which are deep-pocketed campaign donors — and the public entities that award lucrative insurance contracts. 

For instance, Fairview Insurance Agency Associates is one of the largest political donors in New Jersey, giving more than $120,000 to various candidates and committees in 2016, the ninth-highest among businesses in the state, according to the state’s campaign finance watchdog agency.

The Verona-based brokerage is also a big contractor, raking in at least $1.1 million through public contracts or agreements across New Jersey in 2016.

Under state law, the firm is required to report annually all of its political donations and public contracts to the Election Law Enforcement Commission, provided it gets at least $50,000 in public contracts and makes at least one political donation of any amount. Curiously, however, some of the money Fairview gets indirectly from public entities is then reported to ELEC as $0.

The effect is that, to the average observer reading ELEC reports, Fairview would appear to have made much less from public entities and institutions than it actually got — directly and indirectly — in a given year.

Observer reviewed ELEC disclosures for five companies, only three of which were required to itemize their contracts and donations.

A review of six ELEC disclosure forms, 29 invoices, four contracts and eight resolutions by school boards and local councils revealed a loophole in state law that allows brokerages such as Fairview to not report to ELEC tens of thousands of dollars, or more, that they receive as a result of working for governments or public entities. 

In 93 cases, three brokerages reported receiving $0 from public agreements in 2016 on their disclosure forms filed with ELEC...  In one case, Observer found that Fairview was paid $54,000 indirectly from Jersey City’s school board but later disclosed $0 to ELEC.

It works like this. Brokerages — which sell insurance plans to local governments — are often paid commissions or fees by third-party companies. In this scenario, the actual contract does not go to the brokerage, but to the third-party company, while the brokerage still gets a cut of the business. 

In some cases, the dollar amount of these fees or commissions can be traced back by filing public records requests with local governments. Some public entities that answered such requests from Observer provided copies of the original public contracts, which in turn detailed the actual fees or commissions paid to insurance brokerages that were reported to ELEC as $0.

In other cases, there is no mechanism to piece together what a third-party company paid to a brokerage in commissions. Some public entities did not disclose or could not say how much their brokers were paid indirectly by their contractors.

In March 2015, the Jersey City Board of Education passed a resolution to award Fairview a $54,000 contract to be the school district’s prescription insurance broker for fiscal year 2016.

Fairview did not end up receiving an actual contract. The school board struck a deal two months later with Express Scripts to manage its prescription benefits plan, and in that contract, it directed Express Scripts to pay Fairview $4,500 per month on its behalf, according to a copy of the contract provided by the Jersey City school board. The school district essentially paid someone else to pay Fairview.

In the end, Fairview reported that it received $0 in 2015 and 2016 from its work for the Jersey City Board of Education, according to its annual reports filed with ELEC. The firm noted that the amounts it disclosed “do not include commissions received from the insurance carriers.” (Observer, December 6, 2017) 

Campaign contributions flowing one-way, huge contracts flowing the other… minimal to no transparency. That’s New Jersey.

The problem is… the Fairview Insurance Agency owns the news agency (InsiderNJ) that just handed out the designations as to who is who in New Jersey media. 

Yep, there’s John F. X. Graham who owns both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ (he holds titles of founder and publisher, respectively).  Michael J. Graham is Chief Operating Officer of both the Fairview Insurance Agency and InsiderNJ.  Ryan Graham is the Director of Business Development for the Fairview Insurance Agency and the Associate Publisher of InsiderNJ. 

That’s it folks… John F.X.’s grease machine has its own media mouthpiece with which to skew perceptions.  And that’s a handy thing to have in an age of hollowed out local coverage and a dearth of what was once called “investigative journalism.”  The press is now routinely used to punish the whistleblower, the taxpayer advocate, citizen activist, the underdog.  It’s easy to see why.

Now don’t get us wrong, just because John F.X. is all about the money… and the money… and the money… and the money… That doesn’t mean he’s not above playing the part of the noble, the enlightened, crony capitalist.  Hey, didn’t some notorious mob boss put a roof on a church?  Doesn’t Johnson & Johnson make up for failing to warn women that their product could cause uterine cancer by being oh so woke on LGBTQ?  It pays to have fashionable connections and to assist those connections in the higher causes of fashion.

John F.X. is a friend of Hillary.  Yes, that old wind bag.  You could forgive him being a friend of Bill because, heck, who wouldn’t want a night out on the town with Bill Clinton?  He’d make a Saturday night seem like a month of weekends.  But Hillary?  You know that’s just fashion. 

Nevertheless, John F.X. has been called “a top Democrat fundraiser” by newspapers like the Bergen Record and the Newark Star-Ledger.  In addition to Hillary Clinton, John F.X. raised money for John Kerry in his 2004 presidential race, and he’s been a big giver to United States Senator Bob Menendez.  In fact, it was John F.X. who pushed the idea of Menendez on a national ticket as vice president:

In January 2008, the Jersey Journal along with other media outlets reported that “John F.X. Graham, one of Hillary Clinton’s National Finance Co-Chairs, thinks that New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez would make a great choice if Clinton wins the Democratic Primary… Graham fired off an email this morning to Clinton Campaign Manager Terry McAuliffe listing politicians who would make good vice presidential material, including the choices most often brought up:  Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, John Edwards and Joe Biden.  But Menendez, a Clinton campaign national co-chair, would be the “most intriguing” choice, Graham wrote.”

“The name Richardson does not sound exactly Latino,” wrote Graham.  “The Latino voting block is becoming the most influential in this election, especially with the immigration and other economic issues confronting our prosperity.  For lack of a better term, he is the Latino Barack Obama with the experience.” 

Why would John F.X. think that encouraging people to vote along racial or ethnic lines is good public policy?  Has he not heard of the former Yugoslavia? 

Finally, John F.X. made his pronouncements while Senator Menendez was the subject of an FBI investigation.  Not that something like that matters when you are making a fashion statement.

Yes, so it seems that InsiderNJ can also be considered an outpost of the far-flung Clinton Empire.  Ahhhh, corruption at its most tasty. 

And it looks as though John F.X. is quite a big deal.  Even Wikileaks picked up loads of correspondence between John F.X. and his fellow Clintonistas.  Here is an example:

As far as the money goes, national contacts and a national reach does have its advantages.  We found dozens of John F.X.’s insurance agency’s outposts around the country.  All making him money – but northern New Jersey and Essex County in particular is his base.  It was reported in Politico (November 24, 2014) that Essex County Democrat Party boss Joe DiVincenzo’s son worked for John F.X.’s insurance agency.  He also held a full-time public job as well. 

So it was no surprise that the most corrupt political machine in the state – the Essex County Democrats – inducted John F.X. into their “Hall of Fame” in March of 2015.  InsiderNJ editor, Max Pizarro wrote the panegyric, which we suppose was less messy than the alternative. 

Now can we ask this again?  What are these people doing handing out the rankings on New Jersey journalists?  Shouldn’t some organization, like the Society of Professional Journalists, be doing it?  Or the Columbia School of Journalism?  Or anything but the god-damned grease machine itself!

Ten years ago, the authors of The Soprano State – two old-school investigative journalists – joined with journalists like Josh Margolin to decry the corruption tax that added to the cost paid by New Jersey taxpayers on everything to do with government.  Could they have guessed that, ten years later, not only would the tax be more imbedded and less transparent, but that the very news agencies responsible for exposing and reporting on it would now be wholly-owned subsidiaries of the same grease machine responsible for the corruption?

New Jersey… you can’t make this stuff up.

Tuesday
Oct092018

Grassroots groups hit anti-religious bigotry in Democrat Murphy administration. 

Two grassroots organizations have stepped up today and spoke out in defense of religious liberty.   The New Jersey Conservative GOP has joined the New Jersey Coalition of Pastors and Ministers in calling for the firing of Governor Phil Murphy Staffer Noemi Velazquez, for her anti-Christian, anti-Evangelical remarks. Noemi Velazquez referred to Republican policymakers in Washington as “Evangelical assholes!” 

In a press release today, Paul Danielczyk – President of the NJ Conservative GOP – noted:  

“Such a vile bigoted anti-Christian remark by a state employee has no place in New Jersey government! Velazquez was given a 10-day suspension and will be required to undergo a sensitivity re-training!  A ten-day suspension is not feasible or acceptable for such disgusting remarks and she should be removed immediately!” 

“This would send a clear-cut message that New Jersey government has no tolerance for anti-Christian bigotry. I’m stunned by the lack of attention given to this ugly bias from the legislature’s leadership of both parties!” 

“Our organization calls on party leaders Sweeney, Coughlin, Kean and Bramnick to call on the governor for the removal of Noemi Velazquez. No religious affiliation should be treated to such revolting prejudice and that INCLUDES Christianity. ” Danielczyk concluded.

For further information, please contact Paul Danielczyk at njcgop@aol.com

Monday
Oct082018

Is Social Security Going Broke?

By Theresa Yarosh,

CGSF Board Member

This is part 2 of a 3 part series

The Social Security Board of Trustees is reporting through its Annual Report that the trust funds for both the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and Disability Insurance (DI) was little changed from the previous report in 2017, but that “annual balances are slightly worse in the short term and slightly better in the long term.”

The conclusion is that in 2032 the DI Trust Fund will be completely depleted, which is “four years later than projected in last year's report, and ten years later than projected at the passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015”.

The OASI Trust Fund, on the other hand, will be able to pay full benefits “until 2034”, which is one year earlier than in the 2017 Annual Report, but there are still problems in the future.

The reason for the problems is that the amount that Social Security must pay out annually is larger than what it receives each year.

Social Security receives roughly $800 billion a year in taxes, in 2015 $795 billion (85 percent) of total OASI and DI income came from payroll taxes, while it also generates about another $100 billion from interest earnings on the trust fund to pay current Social Security beneficiaries.

The payout is, unfortunately, much higher as the benefits that the 63 million enrolled beneficiaries received in 2017 totaled close to $965 billion.

At this time, the Social Security Board of Trustees estimates that Social Security has a $13.2 trillion-dollar unfunded liability over the next 75 years. These are the benefits they expect to pay minus the revenue they expect to receive.

Even with this shortfall, there is still a possibility that Social Security will be able to continue as provisions have been created to help minimize what Social Security will have to pay out in the future.

With federal regulations pertaining to retirement, for a person to receive their Social Security benefit they must also accept Medicare when eligible.

Meaning, that when a person is no longer covered by credible health insurance through an employer health plan or a spouse’s employer health plan and they are 65-years old or older, they must accept Medicare or forfeit all of their Social Security benefits.

The other added regulation: the bulk of their Medicare premiums, by regulations, are automatically deducted from Social Security benefits.

You may begin to see what has happened and will, unfortunately, happen in the future; Medicare premiums will inflate at a higher rate than what your Social Security benefit will increase at through Social Security’s cost of living adjustment (COLA)

To further complicate matters, in 2003 Congress, through the Medicare Modernization Act, granted the power to the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to implement a surcharge on top of the standard Medicare premiums for those retirees who are earning too much income.

Below are the current 2018 Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amounts (IRMAA) for Part B and Part D of Medicare (Table 1.)

 

Thus, those who happen to have not planned accordingly for health coverage costs through Medicare will be subject to not only higher premiums, but they will also realize a much lower Social Security benefit throughout retirement. 

Because of these provisions, Social Security is afforded the luxury of not having to pay out the total amount that is due to retirees as their Medicare premiums will work to reduce that benefit.

For those who are not subject to Medicare’s IRMAA, their income is lower throughout retirement; thankfully, there is the Hold Harmless Act.

The Hold Harmless Act of 1984 stipulates that no retiree who is enrolled in Medicare and Social Security can see their Social Security benefits decrease due to Medicare increases.

The result is that those who experience a higher Medicare premium while also seeing their Social Security benefit not increase will be afforded the luxury of having their Medicare premium remain constant while their Social Security benefit will remain the same in that given year as well.

Again, with federal regulations working with both Social Security and Medicare the total amount that is paid out from Social Security will never be as high as previously projected.

Regulations even further the possible viability of Social Security since the Hold Harmless Act was ratified by Congress in 2009 to disqualify those who reach any Medicare IRMAA bracket.

Essentially, only the Standard Premium of $134 per person is going toward the Medicare Trust Fund because the Hold Harmless Act was a subsidy for those at the Standard Premium of Medicare and as such that subsidy is being paid back to the general account via the Medicare IRMAA Surcharges.

Dan McGrath, Co-Founder of Jester Financial Technologies and author of the bestselling retirement planning book “What You Don’t Know About Retirement Will Hurt You” believes “that the main solution to this problem is obvious, and it’s not pretty.”

Mr. McGrath believes that there is not just one solution, but a multiple number of steps that CMS and Social Security can take to ensure that both these programs will remain viable in the future.

For Medicare, Mr. McGrath believes that the first step is to “lower the expenditures paid to healthcare professionals in order to have Medicare being able to control its budget.”

For Social Security, he is under the impression that the federal government will increase the tax on payrolls for those who are still working to generate even more revenue to cover benefits.

The last action Mr. McGrath believes may happen is that the government will take the Medicare IRMAA brackets and adjust them lower so even more retirees will be impacted by it in the future.

Ultimately, with a higher and higher percentage of an individual and couple’s Social Security checks being allocated toward Medicare-related expenditures the ability for Social Security to remain solvent in the future can be achieved.

The issue though is that for many people who will rely on their Social Security benefit to help pay for their expenses in retirement may find themselves having to work longer or changing their lifestyles even more.

As for those in the higher income tiers they may see a day when they are writing checks to the US Treasury to pay for their Medicare.

As their Medicare premiums increase with surcharges from IRMAA and the possibility of their Social Security never increasing and quite possibly decreasing, the bulk of their Social Security benefit will be consumed in its entirety.

The added insult to injury, they will also be taxed on the very same Social Security benefits that they never received.

Is this possible, is Mr. McGrath correct in his assumptions?

Well, according to the Medicare Board of Trustees, in 2026, it may just happen as the proposed Income Related Adjusted Amounts (IRMAA) surcharges are expected to be adjusted due to federal regulations.

With the passing of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and 2018 not only will the IRMAA brackets change, but they will not be adjusted for inflation until 2028.

At that time the brackets will be adjusted to the CPI-U (Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers) on an annual basis to keep Medicare solvent. (Table 2).

Table 2. Proposed 2026 Income-Related Monthly Adjusted Amounts (IRMAA)

These changes are being proposed in conjunction with the expected depletion of the Social Security and Medicare Trust funds as well as containing the future unfunded liabilities.

 

Dr. Murray Sabrin, Professor of Finance at Ramapo College, states the following situation with regards to the data above “as what I call trickle-down economics, namely well-intentioned but structurally flawed federal programs cannot meet the needs of retirees in a cost-effective manner. Thus, we need to have a national conversation— and action--on how to address the financial tsunami that seniors will be facing for the next couple of decades. In addition, with that said there needs to be a focus on solutions that will properly address these costs not only on the individual level but on the level of National and State pensions.”

Regardless of the unfunded liabilities as it pertains to both Social Security and Medicare, it is important that individuals and couples start planning now for higher healthcare costs in retirement. It is essential to seek out an advisor who is trained in healthcare regulations, the associated inflation rates as it pertains to Medicare and the planning strategies that need to be utilized to restore the purchasing power of retirement assets and Social Security throughout retirement.

Theresa J. Yarosh, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC® is the Founder and President of Macro Wealth Management, LLC. She has been in the financial services industry for over 20 years. She has worked closely with Dan McGrath over the last three years as it pertains to understanding the Impact of Healthcare Costs in Retirement. She is considered to be on the leading edge of financial planning as it pertains to the impact of healthcare costs in retirement. This specialization has given her the focus to identify what financial products in a retirement plan result in higher healthcare costs versus what financial products do not. This allows for a plan that seeks to contain and reduce ongoing healthcare costs to restore the purchasing power of retirement assets.

She is also the Founder and President of Main Street Medigap, LLC. Main Street Medigap, LLC provides Medicare Supplement Insurance policies to seniors ages 65 and over. Also, Main Street Medigap, LLC also consults Attorneys. Banks, CPAs and other Financial Advisors on Medicare and its related cost structure. She can be reached at tyarosh@macrowealthmanagement.com.

Representatives are registered through, and Securities are sold through Nationwide Planning Associates, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC, located at 115 West Century Road, Suite 360, Paramus, NJ 07652. Investment Advisory Services are offered through NPA Asset Management, LLC. Nationwide Planning Associates, Inc. and Macro Wealth Management, LLC are non-affiliated entities.