April 17, 2012
By George Ure and Gaye Levy
Time to take on one of the ugliest questions an American worker can ask: “Do I have to work until death?”
Sadly, for an increasing number of Americans, the idea of retirement at age 62 to a life rich with adventures and the once-held American dream of “Golden Years” has turned into cardboard, or worse.
We’ve identified a large number of factors which are in play and a discussion of each helps to put “Working to Death” into perspective.
Mass consumption Home Improvement Loans and HELOCs.
The soaring divorce rates of recent years.
Inter-government “investment” of Social Security.
Long-term inflation by the Federal Reserve.
Soaring healthcare costs.
Serial market declines.
Pension fund bankruptcies and shortages.
Let’s address these in turn, starting with home improvement loans and HELOCs – the once darlings of the financial “services” industry standing for Home Equity Lines of Credit.
At their peak, during the go-go years of the 1990s and into beginning of the end of the housing bubble in 2007, the number of people “borrowing home equity” for current expenses, such as education, a new SUV, or to meet unexpected cash flow demands, skyrocketed.
A Huge Problem with the Payback
The problem was that most people never really paid the money back, so when the housing collapse began in earnest in 2008 (and arguably by the Case Shiller/S&P Housing Index report, it continues even now with housing prices stuck at 2003 levels) hundreds of thousands faced bankruptcy.
If you thought the housing collapse was done, wake up and think again. The US Attorney Legal Services web site reports an estimated 4-million delinquent mortgages are heading into foreclosure this year.
Another factor not often addressed is the impact of a raging national divorce rate in the period. Depending on which source you want to consider, the divorce rate in the US jumped by between 25 and 50% between the 1950s and 1970s through 1980s levels.
Thanks to court-sanctioned divorce settlements, many times a woman (especially in the 1980s) would have to refinance a family home in order to “cash out” the soon-to-be ex’s equity position.
This means some increased pressure in home lending at the time, but in the follow-on period which we’re in now, plenty of single women from their late 50s to low 70s find that because of financial emergencies, low wages, and the pressures of parenting, they just haven’t been able to get the home paid off.
With Social Security not keeping up with real inflation, this means thousands of aging women will have to stay in the workforce, or face the specter of losing their homes and having to move into either a very small condo, or worse: lose a lifetime of working for a paid-off home entirely by going into the rental market.
Kevin talks about the state of mainstream journalism and their censorship agenda. What role does the federal government have in it? Plus, KT brings you some eye-opening clips.
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April 13, 2012
By Kurt Nimmo
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke again warned that out of control borrowing and spending will eventually destroy the country.
Said Ben to the the Budget Committee:
Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on U.S. output, incomes, and standards of living. Moreover, diminishing investor confidence that deficits will be brought under control would ultimately lead to sharply rising interest rates on government debt and, potentially, to broader financial turmoil. In a vicious circle, high and rising interest rates would cause debt-service payments on the federal debt to grow even faster, resulting in further increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio and making fiscal adjustment all the more difficult.
But here is something Bernanke didn’t mention – a large chunk of that debt is owed to the Federal Reserve. In February, the corporate media fessed up to this undeniable fact. From CNBC:
That’s right, the biggest single holder of U.S. government debt is inside the United States and includes the Federal Reserve system and other intragovernmental holdings. Of this number, The Fed’s system of banks owns approximately $1.65 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities (as of January 2012), while other U.S. intragovernmental holdings – which include large funds such as the Medicare Trust Fund and the Social Security Trust Fund – hold the rest.
The bankers that own the Federal Reserve love debt and that’s why they continually expand the money supply.
April 11, 2012
The Washington Post
By Lori Montgomery
President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative, long touted as a means to control costs, will actually add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing.
The study is set to be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. His analysis challenges the conventional wisdom that the health-care law, which calls for an expensive expansion of coverage for the uninsured beginning in 2014, will nonetheless reduce deficits by raising taxes and cutting payments to Medicare providers.
Your freedom of speech isn’t as free as you think. When Kevin tells you the truth about your rights, you might be surprised! Plus, KT reveals even more shocking facts about the chemicals the big corporations are forcing upon us.
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February 17th, 2012
New York Times
By: John H. Cushman Jr. and Robert Pear
With members of both parties expressing distaste at some of the particulars, Congress on Friday voted to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits and sent the legislation to President Obama, ending a contentious political and policy fight.
The vote in the House was 293 to 132 with Democrats, who are in the minority, carrying the proposal over the top with the acquiescence of almost as many Republicans. The Senate followed within minutes and approved the measure on a vote of 60 to 36.
“One hundred sixty million Americans,” said Senator Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who, as chairman of the Finance Committee, led negotiations over the measure with the House. “That’s the number of Americans who are helped by this bill.”
President Obama has said he will sign the bill as soon as Congress passed it, with lawmakers seeking to wrap up the legislation before leaving on the Washington’s Birthday break.
A compromise allowing the extension of the tax holiday for the rest of the year came together quickly this week, as Republicans decided it was not politically viable to resist in an election year. It avoided an abrupt increase in payroll taxes that would have taken effect March 1, returning them to the level of 2010. The taxes are withheld from the paychecks of most wage earners and finance the Social Security system.
The legislation also temporarily avoids cuts in payments to doctors under federal health insurance programs.
In the negotiations, which took place during a two-month temporary extension of a popular tax break that had been in place throughout 2011, Republicans gave up on their demands that the tax cuts be paid for. But they won provisions that would pay for the other spending increases in the bill by making cuts in other federal programs involving health care and government pensions.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the package will increase the budget deficit by $119.5 billion over the next five years, but by a bit less over the longer haul as some of the spending reductions and new revenues are fully realized.
Republicans who said they supported the deal said they had won several important concessions during the talks, like imposing new conditions and limits on unemployment compensation and making a significant cut in the preventive-health spending called for in the health care overhaul that Democrats pushed through Congress in 2010.
Representative Renee Ellmers, Republican of North Carolina, called that cut “the most dramatic blow to Obamacare yet.”
But she said the overall deal was “a very important breakthrough and shows that we can come together and compromise.”
Democrats, some of whom sharply condemned the deal, saw things differently. Even those who voted for the bill, which the White House supported and Democrats considered a major act of economic stimulus to propel the recovery forward, said many of its provisions were misguided.
Two Democratic leaders, Representatives Steny H. Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen, both of whose Maryland districts contain thousands of federal employees, denounced cuts in future pension benefits for government employees, which were used to pay for the extension of unemployment benefits. They would have preferred tax increases on the wealthy, or on corporations, or closing loopholes like the one that lets fund managers treat their income as lightly-taxed “carried interest.”
“Nobody else in this bill, not a millionaire, not a billionaire, not a carried-interest beneficiary, not an oil company, nobody in this bill other than federal employees is asked to pay,” fumed Mr. Hoyer, the Democratic whip, confident that his denunciation of the bill would not endanger its passage.
“It’s time to stop scapegoating federal employees,” Mr. Van Hollen said.
Under the bill, the government would save $15 billion over 10 years by reducing its contribution to federal employee pensions and requiring new workers to contribute more.
But ultimately, the Democrats pronounced themselves satisfied.
“On balance, I come down in favor of supporting what the president asked us to do,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader.
In the Senate, there is considerable support for the bill in both parties, but just enough opposition to stop its passage from being a sure thing until the last moment.
The Congressional Budget Office said the provisions of the bill, taken together, would increase the federal budget deficit by $101 billion this year and by a total of $89 billion from 2012 to 2022. One provision, continuing the payroll tax cut for the next 10 months, will cost $93 billion, the budget office said.
Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said the bill “prevents a tax increase for working Americans and makes the most significant reforms to federal unemployment programs since they were created in the 1930s.”
In addition, Mr. Camp said, the bill “ensures that seniors continue to have access to their doctors.”
Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the committee, said the bill “will provide a boost to the economy” and create jobs.
“Unemployment insurance — people spend it,” Mr. Levin said. “That’s good for their subsistence. It’s good for the economy.”
For The Full Report Go To New York Times
February 14, 2012
By Chuck Saletta
In last year’s Trustees Report, the Social Security Administration warned that the program’s trust fund was likely run out of money in 2036, leading to deep cuts in benefits. If that weren’t bad enough for anyone expecting to be alive then, a more recent projection from the Congressional Budget Office paints a much worse picture.
This year’s CBO report forecasts that by the end of this decade, the combined Social Security Old Age and Disability Trust Funds will be about $800 billion smaller than last year’s SSA projections. That’s a very substantial drop — and a sign that this year’s Trustees Report will likely bring another downward revision to the year it expects those Trust Funds to dry up and benefits to be cut.
January 24, 2012
By Paul Craig Roberts
If Ron Paul’s libertarian handlers and support base could escape their ideology, Ron Paul could be much better positioned to win the Republican nomination.
Here are some suggestions.
Ron Paul should be making the point that Social Security and Medicare are threatened by multi-trillion dollar wars that are funded by debt, by bailouts of a deregulated banking system, and by money creation to keep the banks afloat. Libertarians support deregulation, but their position has always been that deregulated industries must not be bailed out with public subsidies, much less subsidies that are so extensive that they threaten government solvency and the value of the currency.
Instead of hitting hard on the serious threat to Social Security and Medicare posed by Obama and Republican candidates for the nomination, all of whom serve Wall Street, the military/security complex, and the Israel Lobby, Ron Paul has been positioned both by his supporters and his opponents as the danger to Social Security and Medicare. This is an amazing strategic mistake by the Ron Paul campaign.
The mistake is somewhat understandable. Ron Paul’s supporters are mainly among the young. The importance to them of Social Security and Medicare will not register for many years, but for the vast majority of the population Social Security and Medicare are essential for survival. A candidate who is positioned as the destroyer of what scant economic protection the American elderly have is not positioned to win an election for president.
Many libertarians regard Social Security and Medicare as welfare handouts and as Ponzi schemes, when in fact these programs are a form of private property. People pay for these programs all their working lives, just as they pay premiums for private medical policies and make their deposits into private pension plans. Libertarians are great defenders of private property, so why don’t they defend the elderly’s private property rights in Social Security and Medicare benefits? Social Security and Medicare are contracts that government made with citizens. These contracts are as valid and enforceable as any other contracts. If Social Security and Medicare are in dire trouble, why is the government wasting trillions of dollars in behalf of private armaments industries, a neocon ideology, and Israel’s territorial ambitions? Why isn’t this question the most important issue in the campaign?
Instead, in a decade that has seen two massive stock market crashes and an amazing amount of financial fraud, libertarians prattle on about privatizing Social Security and about how much larger the retirement pensions would be. They speak about delaying the Social Security retirement age to 70 without any thought to what a person does who is retired by his employer at 65. People who suggest making Social Security and Medicare off limits until people reach 70 need to have a look at the cost of private medical plans for older people. A group plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield Florida for a 64-year-old woman has a $18,000 premium, large deductibles per medical issue, and a 20% co-pay. Even a person with private insurance faces potentially ruinous health care expenses.
December 19, 2011
By Adam Serwer
“Wouldn’t it be great if the government spent $800,000 on you every year?” –KTRN
The Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg, returning to Gitmo for the arraignment of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, reports how much the island prison is costing American taxpayers these days.
“The Pentagon detention center that started out in January 2002 as a collection of crude open-air cells guarded by Marines in a muddy tent city is today arguably the most expensive prison on earth, costing taxpayers $800,000 annually for each of the 171 captives by Obama administration reckoning.
That’s more than 30 times the cost of keeping a captive on U.S. soil.”
Just to put that in perspective, while each Gitmo detainee costs close to a million dollars per person annually, inmates in federal prisons cost about $25,000 per person. Even in our supposed age of austerity, with Republicans demanding cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, and turning Medicare into a voucher plan, there’s always money to waste on an elaborate island prison for thirty times the cost it would take to lock people up here.
November 8, 2011
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
Just as millions of Social Security recipients are about to get their first benefit increase in three years, Congress is looking at reducing future raises by adopting a new measure of inflation that would also increase taxes for most families.
If the new measure is used across the government, a wide range of retirement and veterans’ benefits would increase by smaller amounts each year. Over time fewer people would qualify for Medicaid, Head Start, food stamps, school lunch programs and home heating assistance.
Despite fierce opposition from seniors groups, the proposal is gaining momentum in part because it would let policymakers gradually cut benefits and increase taxes in a way that might not be readily apparent to most Americans.