IRS Scrutinizes World’s Largest Internet Evangelist – Bill Keller Says Supreme Court If Necessary

The story written by Laurie Goodstein broke in The New York Times Politics Blog June 23, 2008 and has garnered blog responses from around the nation. Keller who operates a live daily broadcast from St. Petersburg Florida and delivers a detailed daily devotional to over two million opt in subscribers is under a non-profit status as a Christian religious organization. By law he is prohibited from either endorsing or opposing candidates. This limitation includes anyone running for public office from the local selectman to presidential candidates.

In the early stages of the Republican primary race Keller created a media stir with the phrase “A vote for Romney is a vote for Satan.” It is that statement that seemed to get the attention of the IRS which now says Keller is involved in partisan politics and using his ministry as a vehicle for that purpose. “No” says Keller who states that his warnings about Romney were for religious reasons only. Keller repeatedly stated that the Mormon religion is in no way representative of “biblical Christianity.”

Not everyone is convinced that Keller is out of whack. One blogger on The Caucus blogs of The New York Times June 24, 2008 “Funny; Obama can stand in the pulpit of a church on Sunday morning ….no investigation…he speaks to the national convention of his church…the IRS says that is OK…yet an internet evangelist calls out Romney for being part of a cult and lying to people about being a Christian and he is investigated?”

The IRS will have a hard time deciding if Keller has violated his 501-C standing because the lines are blurred. In his own ministry Keller is bound to inform his adherents of possible dangers from people professing to be Christians when they are not. It is a biblical mandate. That is probably why Professor T. Wayne Bailey of Stetson University was quoted in the Tampa Bay Times for saying “”I think, in the past, when it became a controversial issue, the authorities have gone far afield to presume in the direction of the right of free expression. So unless someone commits a hard and fast violation, I think … administrations have simply relied on caution rather than punishment.”

Bill Keller has recently stated in the national media that Sen. Obama is not a Christian. In his daily devotional for June 26, 2008 Keller informed his 2.4 million subscribers that “The story broke across the nation Tuesday that Liveprayer has been under investigation by the IRS for possibly violating our tax exemption for holding Mitt Romney accountable for his lies and deceit about what the Mormon cult really believes. This has not silenced me or deterred me from doing the same regarding Senator Barack Hussein Obama’s claims that he is a Christian, when his own words and actions clearly show he is not. So many in the Liveprayer family emailed me their love and prayers and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. We cooperated fully and on time with the IRS and our attorneys are confident we did nothing wrong and will be fully exonerated.”

Under Housing’s Weight, Uncle Sam Finally Shrugs

Three years after the housing market’s collapse, the federal government finds itself backing nine out of every 10 new residential mortgages, some of which still require buyers to put less than 10 percent down.

Like Atlas with Earth on his shoulders, Uncle Sam is bearing the weight of nearly the entire housing industry, such as it currently is. If today’s mortgages go bust like their predecessors in recent years, the American taxpayer will have to bear the losses.

With apologies to devotees of Ayn Rand, it seems to me that Uncle Sam has, at last, shrugged.

Last week the Obama administration gave Congress its recommendations – or more accurately, some options – to deal with the financial mess at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that were at the heart of the mortgage crisis that has so far cost $134 billion to mop up. Together with the Federal Housing Administration, the GSEs have squeezed private lenders almost entirely out of the housing market. You may go to a privately owned bank for a loan, but in all probability the loan will either be backed by the FHA or will promptly be bundled with other loans into securities that are guaranteed by the GSEs and sold to investors.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented three options for transitioning to a mortgage market less dependent on the government.(1) They range from getting the government out of the mortgage market almost completely to something much like our current system.

Preserving the current system, however, will eventually take us back to the same place we began. If the government backs everyone’s mortgages, lenders have little incentive to make loans only to those who can pay them back, and investors have less reason to care.

House Republicans seemed relieved, or at least hopeful, in the wake of Geithner’s proposal. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, said he hoped the report would make it easier for Democrats “to embrace some of these principles,” that is to say, principles for reducing government presence in the mortgage market.(2) The fact that all three proposals, even the one closest to the system in place, advocate reducing the role of the government signals an understanding that we need the private sector to return to this business.

Count me in with those who believe the government should not back private, residential mortgages at all – or at least as little as possible. Certain constituencies, like military veterans, seem almost certain to be singled out for special treatment under any alternative.

If Congress does pursue the option that would make the mortgage market almost entirely private, rates would certainly go up. For borrowers with good credit, I believe we can expect an increase of 1 percentage point or so. This would put the rates in line with current rates for those for “jumbo loans” that are too large for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to guarantee. Borrowers with weaker credit can expect to pay more.

The people who make their livings building and selling homes want the federal taxpayer to keep subsidizing the flow of customer money, of course. They predict a disaster in the housing market if it does not. While I don’t believe the gradual wind-down of federal involvement would severely harm the market, it certainly would have a lot of side effects – nearly all of them good.

First, Americans would stop buying more house, or houses, than they need. People are most concerned with their monthly mortgage payment, not directly with interest rates, so they will be inclined to take out smaller loans at the new, higher interest rates. While this will help restrain house prices (not a bad thing for buyers in itself), I think the bigger effect will be to steer people, at the margins, toward buying smaller residences, or forgoing a vacation home.

Many Americans are overhoused, especially as the population ages and family sizes get smaller. A more realistic cost of credit will help correct this.

Taking the principle further, fewer people will want mortgages at all. This will lead to a more realistic balance between buying and renting. People will be more apt to buy houses for shelter, rather than as investments.

While it will remain true that renting doesn’t build equity, the upsides of renting will become more apparent when buying is a bit harder. Chief among these is flexibility: If the factory that employs you shuts down, but there’s another job available across the country, it’s much easier to relocate if you do not first need to sell your house.

Despite warnings from mortgage bankers, it is unlikely that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage will disappear entirely, even in a nearly all-private system. Long term, fixed-rate loans will become rarer and harder to come by – as they should, since they pose the greatest risk to the issuers – but buyers who want them badly enough to brave the higher interest rates will still find them available.

The last consequence will be less direct, but no less important. Banks and thrift institutions will get back into the business of making and holding mortgages if they don’t have to compete with GSEs that can borrow at the Treasury’s unbeatable rates. To make these mortgages, financial institutions will need to attract deposits by paying savers a reasonable rate for the use of their funds. This is healthy for a nation that presently saves too little and borrows and spends too much.

Getting private lenders back into the mortgage business, and getting the government out, is an important step to get this country to use its capital more rationally and productively. Besides, with the Treasury’s own debt rising by more than $1 trillion each year, Uncle Sam had better save some debt-carrying capacity for himself. Those shoulders are big and strong, but even Atlas had his limits.

Sources:

(1) Bloomberg

(2) The Wall Street Journal

Getting Started With Online Conservative News Magazines

There was a time when newspapers were the only source of information, because we had no other choice. Much later, the television and similar communication modes made way in the lives of people, helping them get information faster than ever. If you are interested in US conservative news and politics, you can now get a good share of information on the web. While many of us know the benefits of instant news on the web, there are others who are yet to start with online conservative news magazines. Take a look at reasons why these services are better than other forms of news you mostly get!

1) Easier to access anytime: The internet is easy to access, given the fact that most of us do have a laptop or desktop. When you want news fast anytime and anywhere you want, all you have to do is use your laptop and know the latest breaking news and other important information. Not to forget, there is the Smartphone brigade, which makes it even easier to access news on the web. Most of the conservative news websites are optimized for the mobiles, so no matter what may be the form of web access, you have news anytime you want.

2) Get regular information: Most of the television news comes for a certain time or on a particular theme, where as a conservative blog is more elaborative. Apart from knowing from the basic national news, you have the access to the best of conservative commentary and other features, including recent political cartoons, videos and more. If you are someone who craves to know what’s happening around you, there is no better way to stay updated than to use the web.

3) Participate more: Unfortunately, magazines, newspapers and other modes of communication of news is just one way. You are just the listener with no participation at all. This is where the conservative news sources on the web are way better. Apart from commenting on the post and commentary, some of the website even allows you to write posts for them. If you have the information or anything that you want to be published, you can participate at a level you want.

4) Just 30 minutes a day: Rather than waiting for news or newspaper to come at a particular time, online commentary and conservative news comes when you want. If you have just 30 minutes to spare, you will know everything about the state and world of politics. This is something that is much more convenient. Just like television, most of the news on the web is updated on per minute basis, so there is no chance that you would miss out on something by any means.

With online sources of conservative politics being so better than the others, there is no reason for you to miss on the action happening everywhere. Be more responsible as a citizen and find more about your own land in a more detailed way with much depth in each of the news. Get started with a trusted website to know the feel the difference!