No one’s talking about the economy anymore and blaming Obama for screwing it up since it has become obvious it’s improving?
It’s hard to believe it has only been a year since we posted this item about the then-current primary elections – and it turned-out to be nothing more than an exercise in democracy and comedy.
The Greek Parliament voted to implement austerity spending cuts in an attempt to stem the country’s spiral into economic disaster. As the government voted on the measure thousands of unhappy Greeks rioted in the streets of Athens, mainly just to have something to do since unemployment there is running at around 99%.
America’s leading economic indicator, housing foreclosures, are down in 62% of U.S. cities. The lack of foreclosures is expected to cause widespread unemployment in the mortgage industry and negatively impact banking profits. “Good numbers are bad numbers in the foreclosure markets” said one mortgage insider. “This could trigger a trend in good numbers such as rising employment and production rates, signaling a much healthier economy and horrible decline in homelessness. U.S. banks have been counting on continued rampant foreclosures to support their bottom line – we are invested in a high-foreclosure future!”
A combination of refining and transportation problems in the Midwest and on the West Coast have driven gas prices up just in time for the November elections, the same way they always do when an incumbent Democrat is running for re-election to the Presidency.
The historic drought that has caused the federal government to declare approximately 1,000 U.S. counties disaster areas has destroyed almost the entire 2012 corn crop. Not only will this drive up the cost of Doritos, but also of eggs, milk, cheese, beef, pork, chicken, and fuel. Because these days we aren’t just feeding our farm animals corn, we’re feeding it to our vehicles, too.
So when you spend $60 for a supreme with two kinds of cheese and mushrooms, thank the people who have stood in the way of doing something about global climate change for the past thirty years. That would be most world leaders, almost all corporations, and every Republican on the planet. Of course they won’t be bitching – they’re mostly rich, except for the Republican rank and file: they’re just dumb.
Spanish miners clashed with riot police Wednesday in protests against the government’s austerity measures aimed at controlling the country’s debt crisis.
Towns, cities, even entire counties are going bankrupt across the U.S. after being fleeced in the latest Wall Street financial scam. Municipalities are going to court alleging fraud and collusion between banks and investment firms such as JP Morgan Chase, UBS, and Barclays to inflate fees and rig bids to handle public finances.
The municipalities (and some hospitals and colleges as well) were sold variable-rate bond packages tied to the LIBOR rate and to the Sifma municipal bond index. Through a financial device called a “LIBOR Swap” the financial institutions claimed the bonds were guaranteed not to cost the municipalities more interest if the variable rates increased. However, the historically linked LIBOR/Sifma indices diverged, mainly due to financial institutions colluding to fix the LIBOR rate at a low value even as Sifma increased.
The lower the LIBOR rate the more the banks and Wall Street financiers profited – and they fixed the numbers to make sure they profited far more than the market would have allowed. So the municipalities’ interest payment savings were more than wiped-out through management fees.
Good thing we bailed these companies out back when their own greed ruined them, just so they could come back and help themselves to more sucking off of the taxpayer tit.
Once the jubilation over the Supreme Court decision to uphold “Obamacare” dies down it will be time to fully enact the Affordable Care Act – including the provisions to pay for it.
Part of the money will come from cuts to the current health care costs incurred by the government, but the bulk of the $1 trillion that will be spent over the next ten years will come from taxes. Americans will pay an additional 9/10 of one percent on income over $200k to help finance the system. Those with investment income may be subject to a new 3.8% tax on some of their capital gains and dividends.
Businesses that offer what are considered “excellent” or “Cadillac” health care plans will also pay more: plans that cost over $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage will be subject to new excise taxes. Many business analysts claim businesses will try to avoid this tax by reducing their plan offerings or even cutting health care plans altogether. The theory is this will translate to higher wages or higher profits, and thus higher tax revenues – so either way the government is covered.
There is also a new tax deductible cap on “flexible spending plans”, and new regulations that limit what such plans can pay for, plus a 20% penalty for non-qualified expenses.
The limit for deductions for medical expenses will rise from 7.5% of income to 10% – although that provision will not kick-in until 2016 for those over 65 years-of-age.
Those who enjoy indoor tanning salons have been paying a 10% excise tax since 2010, supposedly because of the health care costs associated with irradiating your skin with UV light.
And finally there is the controversial “individual mandate”, that requires those who can afford health insurance but who choose not to get it to pay a penalty. This will be phased-in in a graduated plan between the years 2014 to 2016, starting at $285 per family or 1% of income (whichever is greater), and growing to $2,085 per family or 2.5% of income (whichever is greater). Initially Obama resisted this provision but bowed to pressure from insurers who claim without it people will take advantage of the law’s lack of “preexisting condition” exclusions by waiting to buy insurance after they get sick. The insurers thus need the mandate to turn a profit and stay in business. Under the original proposed law these people would have been served via a “public option” offered directly through the government, but this was gutted from the law by Republicans who considered it to be “socialism” (unlike taking money from the insurance lobby, which is “capitalism”).
So…I’m black? HOORAY! I’M BLACK! Maybe I’ll start dressing better!