Merced Irrigation District Sues California over ‘Water Grab’ for Fish, Downstate Users

The Merced Irrigation District, a regional water authority in the San Joaquin Valley, is suing the State of California over a plan to divert water from the Merced River watershed to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta for fish and downstate use.

As Breitbart News reported in 2018, the state’s Bay-Delta Plan aims to increase the amount of fresh water in the delta, also known simply as the “California Delta,” which has suffered from increasing salinity in recent years.

The Merced Irrigation District (MID) alleges that the plan is simply a “water grab” that will take water from local users and send it to the delta, to satisfy environmental interest groups — many of which have no connection to the state — and Southern California users.

The MID has conducted its own scientific studies to suggest that declining salmon populations in other parts of the state are not due to water diversion, but rather to the arrival of alien predators and other development activities, such as mining. The MID has also negotiated with the state in the past to provide its own salmon habitat restoration — while keeping the water.

But the state has decided to go ahead with its plan, though it has not yet said how much water it plans to divert from the Merced River, which is a tributary of the San Joaquin River that flows from the Sierra Nevada, including Yosemite National Park, through the rich Central Valley farmland before joining the main watercourse northward to the Delta.

MID officials have set up a “Save Merced’s Water” website to gather signatures from residents to stop the diversions from moving forward.

“Our perspective is we didn’t create [California’s] water quality problems,” [MID spokesperson Mike] Jensen said. “It shouldn’t be our responsibility to bear the brunt of fixing them.”

Click here to read the full article at Breitbart Local

Steve Bannon Is Worse Than the #NeverTrump Republicans

Steve BannonDespite having over 91% of all mainstream news stories negative against President Trump, he still has accomplished cutting corporate and individual taxes, repealing the Obamacare individual mandate, appointed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, added a record number of conservative judges to the circuit courts, rid the booming economy and stock market of unnecessary regulations, destroyed ISIS and approved energy exploration and transformative pipeline projects in states like North Dakota; according to Byron York of the Washington Examiner. Additionally, eleven Obama legacy items have been repealed.

Enter Steve Bannon and his “dubiously sourced,” gossip-laden new book that trashes Trump, but now he’s “apologizing” for what he said. Unfortunately he’s doing that awful Republican trait of eating our own. He broke Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any Republican.” And for that Bannon is now worse than the #NeverTrump Republicans while becoming “his own worst enemy.”

Seemingly, liberal icon George Clooney was prescient when he trashed Bannon, and certainly Bannon’s usefulness came to a conclusion when he lost Alabama by endorsing Judge Roy Moore. What he should be doing now is showing penance for his stupidity.

Certainly the California Republican Party (CRP) doesn’t need this type of press or derisive confusion that now emanates from the Bannon brand of Breitbart-Republicanism. The maddening part is Andrew Breitbart would more than likely applaud Trump who actually fights back and doesn’t roll over the way the Bush’s, Romney and McCain Republican-types have for decades.

For all Bannon’s bluster he seems to have forgotten what happens when Democrats have absolute control of a state (California). More about California’s woes in ensuing paragraphs, because there are different choices when it comes to both imperfect parties. The adage, “the enemy of the good is the perfect,” is true. However, Bannon took it to mean let’s blow up the Republican Party without consideration of what that means. The national Republican Party and CRP have their problems, but anyone who thinks Democrats or independents are the solution doesn’t understand what it means to have a viable society.

The days of my father’s Democratic Party that included FDR, Truman, JFK, and Pat Brown is over, replaced by a no-growth, regulation-heavy, environmentally beholden anything goes “cultural leviathan,” that did nothing to deter Iran, Russia, China and North Korea while shunning traditional allies.

The contrast between Trump and the Obama-inspired Democrats couldn’t be more different and this is where Bannon tragically fails. The numerous policy and philosophical differences between Trump and Obama, including the horrible divide between Trump and Democratic California is only growing. Exemplified by California legalizing marijuana, which has been a disaster for Colorado.

View the differences – big and small – Trump is more press accessible than Obama ever was and allows his Cabinet officers to do their job that wasn’t previously the case. His Russian policies are tougher and more effective than the #NeverTrumpers or Bannon ever realized. Trump would never vote for Bernie Sanders – but that’s exactly what took place in the last election when President George H.W. Bush bragged about voting for Hillary Clinton over Trump.

Trump’s economy is booming compared to Obama’s with labor growth and consumer confidence both at seventeen-year highs. African-American unemployment rate is at record lows and something Republicans and the CRP should pounce on in this next election cycle. What does Bannon and the #NeverTrumpers have to say about those figures that affect all Americans? Moreover, Obama governed based on division of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality and curtailing religious freedom, growing the administrative state and stretching the limits of the constitution. Whereas, Trump believes in America exceptionalism and a regime based on the actual constitution – not a living constitution.

I’d posit that Obama governed all facets of America the way James Burnham in Suicide of the West wrote about modern liberalism:

“Liberalism permits Western Civilization to be reconciled to dissolution. The Principle function of modern liberalism is to facilitate the suicide of Western Civilization.”

When Bannon ran Breitbart he understood this truth about Democrats and Obama, but Bannon along with the #NeverTrumpers, have lost the existential battle Republicans and decent Californians are engaged in against the Democratic Party. It’s a struggle where the very lives of our babies depend on us beating the hegemonic totalitarianism that are today’s viciously vapid Democrats.

The biggest difference that affects the entire world is the differences in foreign policy. Syria is a disaster for a generation, China is on the march in the South China Sea, North Korea is a nuclear menace, Russia annexed Crimea, the Arab Spring has left the Middle East in shambles; and now Iran is a bigger threat than all the above problems combined based on their capabilities and the awful, Hezbollah-enabled, falsified, Iran nuclear deal. Protests – though well intentioned – aren’t changing the totalitarian, theocratic Iranian regime. Only an armed-to-the-teeth American military will deter the Ayatollah, IRGC, and Quds Force.

All of this happened under Obama and embraced by California Democrats. What does Bannon have to say about this? Nothing, because it’s easier to criticize Trump and make a bigger name for yourself than assist the President in dealing with problems that we haven’t seen since World War II.

Does Bannon realize that either Trump or his deregulatory experts (Scott Gottlieb, Scott Pruitt, Ajit Pai, Ryan Zinke, Betsey DeVos, Elain Chao, Neomi Rao) succeed over the #NeverTrump chattering class of (Max Boot, Michael Gerson, Jennifer Rubin, Bret Stephens, The Weekly Standard and National Review, etc.) because if Trump fails then the United States and California will fail. The rosy delusion printed recently by the Los Angeles Times doesn’t exist and won’t exist in the future unless men like Bannon and the #NeverTrumpers support Trump’s policy views.

If Bannon wants a place to fight then choose California and assist the CRP restore the home of Reagan. Just one of our pensions (CalPERS) has a $153 billion unfunded liability while our economy has slowed because of state worker pensions. According to the Social Science Research Council, California suffers the worst income inequality in the nation, the third worst economic environment for middle class families and over one-third of California’s population is at or near poverty. Tech-driven growth is nearing completion since the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revealed California’s GDP was 35th in the U.S. And The San Jose Mercury News reported the Bay Area lost 4,700 jobs – and 1,000 from the tech sector – because of a lack of affordable housing.

Our schools are in disarray, the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t addressing the issues killing black men and women, infrastructure needs over $800 billion in improvements and we still haven’t built any dams, reservoirs or canals to capture rainwater from the previous drought. Joel Kotkin calls it, “the what, me worry?” state of California. The CRP, Republican candidates and citizens being crushed by the California Democratic environmental-jihadists and tech oligarchy could use Steve Bannon’s help. But that is real work and change of this sort is a slow-motion effort to undo the “social opprobrium” that Trump and Republicans have with California voters.

Bannon has given fresh ammunition to the ilk trying to remove the duly elected president since the night he won. Proclaiming virtue is for CNN; Bannon should be learning how to bring manufacturing, single-family homes and blue-collar jobs back to California. Faulting Trump and putting the CRP on the defensive is inexcusable and time for Bannon to leave the political stage into the dustbin of history.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

CA Newspaper Once Backed Obamacare; Now Warns of Failure

MedizinA prominent California newspaper that backed Obamacare is now sounding the alarm about doctor shortages.

The Contra Costa Times, which backed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, saying it “prefer[red] the current legislation over nothing,” warned in a Christmas Day editorial: “The Affordable Care Act is seen as a huge success in California because it has cut the state’s uninsured rate in half. But it will become a farce if physicians continue refusing to accept the abysmally low rates the state pays to treat the quarter of Medi-Cal patients who are not in managed care plans.”

The editorial is a response to a recently-filed civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that alleges the Medi-Cal, the California version of Medicaid, is discriminating against Latinos. “Medi-Cal’s inadequate, extremely low reimbursement rates—in both the fee for service and managed care settings—and its failure to adequately monitor access to medical care, effectively deny the full benefits of the Medi-Cal program to the more than seven million Latino enrollees who rely on Medi-Cal for their healthcare,” the complaint alleges.

The doctor shortage was one of the consequences critics of Obamacare had predicted.

In May 2009, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by former Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) official Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned: “Expect longer waits for appointments as physicians get pinched on reimbursements.”

A CMS study released in November 2009 warned: “The additional demand for health services could be difficult to meet initially with existing health provider resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage. ”

After the law’s passage, experts continued to warn of a worsening doctor shortage as reimbursement rates fell to keep costs down–and as fewer doctors entered primary care specialties, or stopped taking Medi-Cal patients.

In 2013, seven out of ten doctors refused…

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IRS May Force Tom Brady to Pay $24K for SB MVP Truck

Tom Brady wants to give the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado truck he won as the MVP of Super Bowl 49 to game-winning hero Malcolm Butler, but the Internal Revenue Service is going to make him pay for that act of gratitude.

Brady told WEEI Radio’s Dennis and Callahan Show on Tuesday he’s “going to figure out how to make that [giving the truck to Butler] work.”

As the more than 100 million Americans who watched the New England Patriots defeat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Super Bowl 49 saw with their own eyes, reserve defensive back Butler’s interception of a Russell Wilson pass at the Patriots one yard line with less than a minute to go in the game sealed the victory.

But Brady’s gracious gesture is going to cost him when he files his 2015 taxes, and the Internal Revenue Service is eager to collect.

As first reported by Americans for Tax Reform, Brady will already have to pay taxes on the fair market value of the truck, which sells for at least $34,000. Under Section 74 of the IRS code, that amount is considered a “taxable prize.” It is therefore taxable at Brady’s marginal tax rate.

With an estimated net worth of $120 million and more than $9 million in 2015 earnings from his football contract alone (endorsements certainly will add to that number), Brady’s marginal income tax rate for 2015 is likely to be the highest rate of 39.6%, making his tax liability on the truck–before he gives it to Butler as a gift–about $15,600.

What many Americans probably did not know until Americans for Tax Reform reported on it this week, is that gifts (other than those for school tuition and a few other items) are taxable, not to the recipient, but to the giver.

“Brady definitely has a gift tax issue here as the fact of his intention as a gift is clear,” non-profit and gift tax attorney James V. Lacy, author of the 2014 book Taxifornia, told Breitbart News.

“If Butler takes possession Brady will be liable for federal tax for the value above the exclusion,” Lacy said.

In 2014, the amount excluded and not subject to the gift tax was $14,000. In theory, then, Brady would have to pay an additional tax (beyond the $15,600 paid on the “income” of the truck) equal to his marginal tax rate (39.6%) multiplied by the fair market value of the truck above the exclusion, or $20,000 ($34,000 -$14,000). That tax totals about $8,000.

Brady’s total tax liability related to the truck, then, would increase from about $15,600 if he keeps it for himself, to about $23,600 if he gives it to Malcolm Butler.

But hold on. Tax attorneys familiar with the law may be able to cut Brady’s tax bill a bit.

“Working in Brady’s favor is that fact that a Chevy truck like all new cars depreciates greatly in value as soon as it is bought or in this case is received by Brady. His tax lawyer would likely be OK recommending representing to the IRS on Brady’s tax filing a depreciated value arrived at with reference to an independent widely accepted authority such as the Kelly Blue Book for a used Chevy Truck, same make and model, regardless of use or milage,” Lacy said.

In other words, though the fair market value of the new truck is estimated to be $34,000, the fact that Brady accepted the truck on Sunday means that it is already not new, and therefore has depreciated.

The accepted accounting rule-of-thumb that every new car loses 20% of its value the minute you drive it off the lot could help diminish Brady’s gift tax liability here. The truck, valued at $34,000 on Sunday, could be legitimately valued as low as $27,200 today.

Under that scenario, Brady’s gift tax liability would be reduced to $5,280 (39.6% multiplied by $27,200 minus $14,000).

Even with that lower gift tax, Brady would still be hurt financially for giving the truck to Butler rather than keeping it. Instead of paying $15,600 for the truck, his new tax bill would be $20,880

Tax attorneys might offer Brady an option that could reduce his tax burden even further.

“Of course if he took possession in his own name, didn’t announce he was giving it to Butler, and just loaned the truck to Butler for awhile there would be no tax event,” Lacy said.

That approach might not work out so well for Brady, however, if Butler were to have an accident in the truck and some or all of the liability for that accident reverted to Brady as the owner of the truck.

It’s hard to see the public benefit that arises from penalizing Tom Brady for giving his truck to Malcolm Butler, but the IRS and some current and former members of Congress think it’s a sound policy.

Lacy disagrees.

“The law arises from the same type of thinking that generational transfers of wealth such as the death tax are good things for society. Personally, I completely disagree with the logic because in both cases someone has already paid taxes on the income,” Lacy told Breitbart News.

“There is an old adage,” Lacy added, “that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. But people should not be taxed to death. Gift taxes, like estate taxes, are really penalty taxes on transfers of wealth that have already been taxed.”

“Double taxation.” Lacy concluded,”is simply not a fair way to raise government revenue, it causes hardship particularly regarding family businesses, and the practice needs to be reformed and ideally eliminated.”

That’s a sentiment with which both Tom Brady and Malcom Butler might well agree.