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Entries in Taxes (2)

Friday
Oct142011

'We Are the 53 Percent': Standing Up for Those Who Don't 'Whine'

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Seeking to answer a website whose users post testimonials railing against the excesses of Wall Street, a group of conservatives has formed a site of its own to serve as a platform for “[t]hose of us who pay for those of you who whine.”

Drawn up in the style of the “We Are the 99 Percent” blog on Tumblr, the “We Are the 53 Percent” blog also features the handwritten stories of Americans who’ve fallen on hard times.  But rather than calling out the wrongdoing of those in the board room, the conservative posters focus on the proper choices they’ve made in life.

“The key differentiator between the ’99 Percent’ and the ’53 Percent’ really is this notion of individual responsibility,” one of the website’s creators, Josh Treviño, told ABC News.  “It’s this idea that every American, albeit subject to outside forces, is nonetheless accountable for his or her own decisions and own choices.”

Like the “99 percent” site, the “53 percent” blog features photographs of users holding signs they’ve written.  But the testimonials promote hard work and spending within one’s means without incurring debt.

“We have made it by ourselves,” wrote one poster, whose husband saw his business close.  “No one owes us anything!”

“What they’re saying is that they’re not victims,” Treviño said.

The rallying cry “We Are The 99 Percent!” has been heard in New York, Washington and other cities where protesters claim to be representing all but the nation’s top 1 percent of wage earners.

The “53 Percenters” say the liberal-leaning protesters don’t speak for them.  The title of their blog is meant to signify the 53 percent of American households that pay federal income tax, as opposed to the 47 percent who have no federal income tax liability at all.

Liberal critics of the 53 percent blog point out that many Americans who don’t pay federal income tax do pay local and state income, property and sales taxes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

NASA Misuses $1.4 Million in Tax Dollars for Employee Education

PRNewsWire/NASA(WASHINGTON) -- The Office of the Inspector General has found that NASA misused $1.4 million in tax money by reimbursing dozens of its employees who pursued degrees outside NASA's established programs, sometimes at questionable for-profit colleges, such as the University of Phoenix (the subject of an ABC News 2010 investigation) and Strayer University.

In an audit released Wednesday, the OIG said that many NASA employees routinely circumvented the agency's established programs, for which employees could receive reimbursement, and instead were paid for degrees earned outside NASA's formal programs.

The OIG identified 57 employees at headquarters and at four NASA Centers -- Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Flight Center, and Langley Research Center -- who were either pursuing or who have obtained academic degrees outside NASA's programs at a cost of $1.4 million. For 18 of those 57 employees, NASA paid more than $30,000 per employee for academic courses, with one employee receiving more than $60,000, according to the audit.

The OIG said it was not clear what benefit NASA received for its $1.4 million investment in academic courses for these employees.

Examples of the types of degrees specific employees undertook independently of NASA's formal programs included:

  • A secretary at headquarters pursued a bachelor's degree in business administration at Strayer University at a cost to NASA of $37,025.
  • A secretary at Johnson Space Center pursued a bachelor's degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix at a cost to NASA of $13,770.
  • A program analyst at Kennedy obtained a master's degree in human resources management at Webster University at a cost to NASA of $15,705.

Although NASA did not respond directly to ABC News' request for comment on the OIG audit, NASA's Office of Human Capital Management responded within the report itself: "NASA should only fund academic training that is in alignment with the mission of the agency...and will coordinate with the Center Training Offices to establish a more comprehensive policy that will incorporate all academic training requests into the agency's academic training approval process."

The full report can be found on the OIG's website under "Reading Room."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio