Business & Economy
Another trillion dollars closer to the fiscal cliff PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Rick Manning   
Friday, 10 August 2012 07:49
By Rick Manning

The Congressional Budget Office provided a glimpse at the 10-month mark of the federal fiscal year 2012, and the results are grim.

Outlays are virtually the same through 10 months of 2012 as they were in 2011 at $3 trillion and revenues collected during this same period are slightly higher at approximately $2 trillion.  This means that our nation is guaranteed to run another trillion dollar-plus budget deficit this year.

The nitty gritty numbers show that in the federal fiscal spending year ending Sept. 30, 2011, the government ended up spending more than $3.6 trillion with revenues of $2.3 trillion leaving a $1.3 trillion deficit — that's $1,300,000,000,000.00.  If laid end to end, 1.3 trillion dollar bills would go around the circumference of the earth 5,040 times.

If the spending and revenue of the first 10 months of FY12 continue at the same rate through the end of the year, FY12 will be slightly less disastrous with outlays projected to hold steady at $3.6 trillion while revenues increase to $2.4 trillion leaving a $1.2 trillion deficit give or take $50 billion.

That makes four consecutive years that Obama has presided over a budget deficit in excess of $1.2 trillion and more than $5 trillion added to the deficit on his watch.

The chart below from the Office of Management and Budget demonstrate the reality of the budget wars in D.C. and provides some small hope to those who have been frustrated by House Republicans' seeming inability to win the spending battle.  If there is solace to be found, the fact that actual outlays are a full $200 billion short of Administration estimates is some small win.  It is this flattening of the outlays that is largely responsible for the meager reduction of our exploding deficit that was accomplished.

Before our nation's budget cutters go howling in the streets declaring victory is near, if this Congress had just held spending to the same levels as they were the year they were elected, the budget deficit would have dropped by around $150 billion more.

While Obama flies courtesy of the taxpayer around the country declaring a need for higher taxes, the point that he hopes no one notices is that during the Clinton Administration tax revenues only exceeded $2 trillion one time in his last year FY 2000, but in that year, outlays were under $1.8 trillion. Today, revenues are projected to have grown by 20 percent since 2000, while outlays have doubled in those 12 years.

Get full story here.

 
AARP Iowa Comment on New National AARP Survey of Voters 50+ PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ann Black   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:40

AARP SURVEY: NEW “ANXIETY INDEX” REVEALS ECONOMIC ISSUES FACING, DRIVING VOTERS 50+ IN 2012 ELECTIONS

Across party lines, voters want more information candidates’ plans to strengthen Social Security and Medicare.

WASHINGTON – In the coming November elections, a key group of voters – non-retired baby boomers ages 50-64 – are driven by economic anxieties that extend well beyond the single issue of jobs, according to the results of a new series of surveys by AARP.  All voters age 50+ want the candidates to better explain their plans for Social Security and Medicare, which will help them determine their votes.

50+ Voters’ Financial Outlook: Dissatisfied and Anxious

The particular pressures facing boomer voters – across party lines – are reflected in a new "Anxiety Index," which measures their worries on issues including prices rising faster than incomes (75% worry somewhat or very often about this), health expenses (62%), not having financial security in retirement (73%) and paying too much in taxes (71%).  By comparison, 32% of these boomer voters regularly worry about being able to find a full-time job with benefits or keep up with their mortgage or rent (30%), issues that are more widely discussed as leading economic issues for voters in the coming election.

“We know the issue of jobs is very important to voters age 50-plus, but any meaningful discussion of the economy and this year’s election has to include the future of Social Security and Medicare,” said Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President.  “For these voters, ‘retirement security’ and ‘economic security’ are largely the same thing.”

Non-retired boomer voters are pessimistic about retirement.  Almost three-in-four (72%) believe they will have to delay retirement, and almost two-in-three (65%) worry they won't have enough to retire.  Half of these voters (50%) don't think they'll ever be able to retire. They overwhelmingly (59%) believe the recent economic downturn will force them to rely more on Social Security and Medicare.

Anxiety about retirement security is a main driver for all voters 50+.  Nearly seven-in-ten (69%) of retired voters 50+ worry about prices rising faster than their incomes, and almost half (48%) worry about having unaffordable health expenses, despite the relative security provided by Medicare.  Only four-in-ten (42%) African-American voters 50+ are confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement.  Hispanic voters 50+ overwhelmingly say that the recent economic downturn negatively impacted their personal circumstances (84%) and will force them to rely more on Social Security and Medicare (69%).

50+ Voters and the 2012 Elections

Economic anxieties among voters 50+ are leading to a general dissatisfaction with political leaders.  Voters 50+ are as likely to say that their personal economic circumstances were negatively affected by political gridlock in Washington (78%) as by the economic downturn (77%).  Almost half (49%) of these voters disapprove of President Obama’s job performance, and more than eight-in-ten (81%) disapprove of Congress.  As of now, voters 50+ evenly are split in their presidential vote preference (45% for President Obama, 45% for Governor Romney, and 10% not sure).

The concerns of 50+ voters highlight the importance of Social Security and Medicare as election issues.  They think the next president and Congress need to strengthen Social Security (91%) and Medicare (88%).  They also overwhelmingly (91%) think that these issues are too big for either party to fix alone and require Republicans and Democrats to come together.

Voters 50+ are looking to the candidates for more information on these key issues.  These voters overwhelmingly think the candidates have not done a good job of explaining their plans on Social Security (67%) and Medicare (63%).  Moving forward, these voters – across party lines – say that getting more information on the candidates’ plans on Social Security (72%) and Medicare (70%) will help them determine their vote on election day.

“The message from voters 50+ is clear,” added LeaMond.  “In a razor-tight election, candidates have a major opportunity to reach key voters by speaking about their plans on Social Security and Medicare – and they are making a huge gamble if they ignore them.”

Earlier this year, AARP launched You’ve Earned a Say, a national conversation to ensure that Americans have a say in the future of Social Security and Medicare.  Through You’ve Earned a Say, AARP is taking the discussion about the future of Medicare and Social Security out from behind closed doors in Washington.  To date, more than 2.1 million Americans have engaged with You’ve Earned a Say to share their thoughts about how best to protect and strengthen health and retirement security for today’s seniors and future generations.

For more information, please visit www.earnedasay.org.  For complete results of AARP voter surveys, please visit www.aarp.org/voters50plus.

Methodology

AARP commissioned Hart Research Associates and GS Strategy Group to conduct a series of surveys of registered voters ages 18+, which were conducted by telephone July 10-16, 2012.  For the national survey, blinded telephone interviews were conducted with 1,852 registered voters (core sample of 1,001, plus oversamples of voters 50+, African American voters 50+ and Hispanic voters 50+).  The margin of error for the primary national sample of 1,001 is ±3.1%, for the sample of 536 non-retired baby boomers it is ±4.2%, and for the sample of 1,331 voters age 50 and over the margin of error is ±2.7%.  Additional oversample surveys were conducted in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for Americans 50+ and the world's largest-circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for the 50+ audience; AARP VIVA, a bilingual lifestyle multimedia platform addressing the interests and needs of Hispanic Americans; and national television and radio programming including My Generation and Inside E Street. The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org.

 
Costly taxpayer mortgage bailout rejected by Federal Housing official PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Americans for Limited Government   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 08:55
DeMarco resists costly taxpayer bailout on mortgages

By Robert Romano

On July 31, Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) acting director Edward DeMarco once again rejected an Obama Administration plan to bail out borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, citing cost concerns.

The FHFA, which administers the government's conservatorship of Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, undertook an analysis of the program, showing reductions of mortgage principal owed for certain borrowers would cost taxpayers more and even potentially result in more defaults.

Even under the program's best case scenario, the Agency estimated just 248,000 borrowers would be eligible for principal forgiveness under the Home Affordable Modification Program Principal Reduction Alternative — or just 2.2 percent of the 11.1 million borrowers nationwide who are underwater.

That means that even if DeMarco had implemented the program, approximately 97.8 percent of underwater borrowers would not have even been eligible. Therefore, more than $700 billion of the $717 billion of negative equity in homes nationwide would have remained unaddressed.

In other words, even if DeMarco had relented, this bailout would have done almost nothing to solve the problem of underwater borrowers. Yet, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, in a letter to DeMarco responding to his decision not to implement the bailout, maintained the fiction that the program would somehow "help repair the nation's housing market".

New York Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman goes further, calling for DeMarco to be fired for not implementing a bailout almost nobody would qualify for, writing, "even if there's a small net cost to taxpayers, debt relief is still worth doing if it yields large economic benefits."

But even if debt relief did yield economic benefits in certain cases, this is not one of them.

According to the FHFA, some 80 percent of underwater borrowers who have GSE mortgages are current on their payments. But that could change if a bailout is implemented.

As DeMarco noted in his letter to Congress, selective application of the program could create a perverse incentive for borrowers to miss payments and potentially default in a misguided attempt to qualify for the bailout.

Under the program's best case scenario — where all 248,000 underwater borrowers qualify — if just 19,000 of the 10.8 million remaining borrowers who did not were to strategically default, it would more than offset any potential benefit derived.

As a result, "HAMP PRA would result in a net loss to taxpayers, even using the model-based assumptions most favorable to the program," wrote DeMarco.

Of course, it's all political. Don't let anyone tell you different.

"Obama's goal is to build a constituency of borrowers underwater on their mortgages with the hope that they might — emphasis on might — be able to get some relief," said Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson, calling it "nothing more than a cynical election year ploy."

Get full story here.


ObamaCare Going Into Effect, Maine Fights Back

Video by Frank McCaffrey

Get permalink here.



K Street Republicans' war on Palin

By Rick Manning

As originally published at TheHill.com.

I'm getting sick of the rewriting of 2008 presidential campaign history as K Street Republicans continue to assault Sarah Palin in the fear that a similarly conservative Republican will rise to the top of the VP sweepstakes.

It has been so fashionable in D.C. Republican circles to bash the Palin nomination as a mistake, ill-conceived or even disastrous, that even Dick Cheney has gotten into the act.

These self-serving attempts to change history are nothing more than a smear campaign designed to influence the Romney VP pick by obscuring the truth that the choice of Sarah Palin to be the vice presidential nominee was truly inspired.

The McCain campaign was in the doldrums. Unable to match the youth and enthusiasm of the inexperienced but expert campaigner from Illinois, McCain needed to shake up the race, and Palin accomplished just that.

Her incredible acceptance speech, delivered in spite of a faulty teleprompter (try that, Mr. President), gave the nation a new face and voice for conservative principles just when it was desperately needed.

That same energy from the convention rolled over into the 2010 election, embodied in the Tea Party movement and leading Republicans to a historic victory.

History shows that it was the McCain campaign that blew any chance at election when it suspended its efforts fully three weeks after the nomination to come back to D.C. and rubber-stamp the TARP bailout.

Having agreed upon the legislative actions that socialized losses by too-big-to-fail banks, McCain lost all ability to differentiate between himself and the big-government policies advocated by Obama.

Pollster Scott Rasmussen reported on Sept. 20, 17 days after the Palin pick, that his daily Presidential Tracking Poll "shows Barack Obama with 48 percent of the vote and John McCain with 47 percent. While Obama's lead is statistically insignificant, it is the first time he has held even a single-point advantage in a week and a half. One week ago today, McCain was up by three points."

For the mathematically challenged, this means that less than two months from the election, McCain and Palin were leading in the polls.

Rasmussen goes on to say, "Obama's gains over the past week came as the focus shifted from the momentum generated at the Republican National Convention to the economic rollercoaster ride that played out on Wall Street. Few agreed with McCain's initial statement about the economy being fundamentally sound and neither candidate has yet convinced voters that he will bring the needed changes to the financial markets."

Get full story here.


 

ALG Editor's Note: In the following featured editorial from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the board lays waste to Harry Reid's claims that Mitt Romney paid no taxes:

 

The Reid smear: Vermin droppings

Harry Reid beats his wife.

The Senate majority leader also leaves restaurants without paying his bill.

And the Democrat of Nevada lets his dog poop in his neighbor's yard and never cleans it up.

We don't know any of this to be true, mind you. But we have heard these allegations. From whom? Sorry, we're not in the habit of revealing our sources.

Of course, it's up to Mr. Reid to prove otherwise.

Reid doubled-down last week on his allegation that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney did not pay any federal taxes for a 10-year period. An unnamed investor with Bain Capital, Mr. Romney's former company, told him so, Reid said.

And, he added, it's now up to Mr. Romney to disprove the anonymous and undocumented charge.

"So the word is out that (Romney) hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years," Reid said from the Senate floor, rhetorically elevating a smear to a faux fact like so many vermin droppings. "Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't."

Romney denies the charge. "It's time for Harry to put up or shut up" and produce proof of his allegation, he said.

Expect that to happen on the same day that Harry Reid actually is arrested for beating his wife, for not paying his restaurant tab and letting Fido do the big No. 2 in the neighbor's yard.

Get full story here.

 
Has Your Teenager Given Up Finding a Job? PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:28
Money Expert Offers Productive Alternatives

As we mature through our teenage years, one of our first major steps into adulthood is working that first job.

“A first-time job may be awkward and an all-around rude awakening for many, but the accompanying lessons of responsibility and perseverance are absolutely vital,” says financial expert Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens (www.7habitsandtraits.com). “Also, we get our first taste of earned money – how to spend it, and the value of budgeting it for larger purchases.”

But this summer continues a trend in recent years: there simply are not enough jobs to go around during this rough economy. The 2011 summer employment average – peak season for those aged 16 to 24 – was only 48.8 percent for young people, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the lowest percentage since the Bureau began collecting such data, in 1948.

This year, so far, the rate is virtually the same, and many young people have simply given up their job search.

“This is a potentially devastating trend with long-lasting consequences,” says Hansen, whose adult life has been largely defined by his response to the obstacles he overcame after being hit by a car as a child.

“We know the negative effects experienced by adults who go without a job for long periods, but unemployment can be worse for teens. Think about idleness, an increased risk of juvenile delinquency, undeveloped or atrophied technical and social skills and, of course, a lack of money.”

Just because there are fewer jobs, however, doesn’t mean young people are powerless to improve their situation. Hansen offers alternatives for self-motivated teens:

Untapped markets are everywhere: It may be true that the once low-hanging fruit, such as fast-food positions, are being taken by adults, but a teen’s job search needn’t end there. Today’s young people have a distinct advantage over older folks – they were raised on computers, which may include knowledge of graphics software, sound and video programs and much more. These skills may be parlayed to help market events for neighbors, family members or a small business.

Good, old-fashioned manual labor: Computers and related skills have changed the world, but a smartphone is not going to cut a neighbor’s grass, clean his garage or move his furniture. Consider offering a competitive price for these tasks; neighbors are often sympathetic to young people looking to make an honest dollar.

Volunteer your time: Nowadays, high school students receive credit for dedicated volunteer hours, which are routinely applied to scholarship efforts. Beyond the expectation of a corollary reward, youth are more than ever attuned to the innate sense of satisfaction gained from helping others. Several studies have shown that people are rewarded with a sense of purpose and well-being while helping others, according to the American Psychological Association.

Beefed-up allowance for added chores: Parents are busier than ever these days, which often mean chores around the house suffer. While most may not be able to afford the kind of wage a teen could earn at McDonalds, an increase in allowance can nevertheless motivate a teen who needs spending money.

About Mark Hansen

A successful businessman, a former Palm Beach County, Fla., elected school board member and motivational speaker, Mark has dedicated his life to helping young people overcome obstacles and deal with the challenges of daily living. Struck by a car and nearly killed as a child, Mark fought back through positive actions and reactions to all that he had to overcome. As a result, he relates to teens in a very special way.  Through books such as, “Success 101 for Teens: Dollars and Sense for a Winning Financial Life,” and seminars, Mark Hansen is driven to make an impact on teens and young adults and to empower them to rise above and triumph over life’s obstacles.

 
Governor Quinn Signs Pro-Jobs Law to Extend Illinois Enterprise Zone Program PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Business & Economy
Written by Erin Wilson   
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 11:18

Law Provides Businesses with Greater Certainty, Will Boost Economic Development Across Illinois

CHICAGO – August 7, 2012. As part of his agenda to grow jobs and increase economic development across Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law to extend the Illinois Enterprise Zone program, a state and local partnership to encourage economic growth across the state. Senate Bill 3616 will create greater long-term stability for businesses, attract more investment in Illinois and protect the interests of taxpayers. The new law provides for a 25-year extension of the program, which creates a process for existing communities with zones and new communities to apply for the designation

“We want our businesses to invest, grow and put more Illinois residents to work,” Governor Quinn said. “This new law provides employers with the long-term certainty they need to grow, and strengthens oversight standards to ensure accountability from businesses that participate in the program.”

The new law makes three major changes to the state’s Enterprise Zone program:

  • Extends the sunset of the Illinois Enterprise Zone program 

The law extends the Enterprise Zone Program for 25 years, and creates a process for existing communities with zones and new communities to apply for the designation. Under the new procedure, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will accept and review all applications to determine if they meet three of 10 criteria to be certified as a zone, which includes unemployment rate, infrastructure, plant closure/job loss, education, poverty rates, and high commercial and industrial vacancy.

  • Creates an Enterprise Zone Board
    The Enterprise Zone Board will approve or deny enterprise zone applications certified and scored by DCEO. The board will consist of five members: the director of DCEO, or his or her designee, who shall serve as chairperson; the director of the Department of Revenue, or his or her designee; and three members appointed by the Governor.
  • Increases reporting requirements of companies receiving tax benefits from the Enterprise Zone and High Impact Business programs

The law increases accountability by requiring that any business receiving tax incentives due to its location within an enterprise zone or its designation as a High Impact Business must annually report the total Enterprise Zone or High Impact Business tax benefits received. The report must be broken down by incentive category and enterprise zone, to the Department of Revenue. Failure to report data shall result in ineligibility to receive incentives.

SB3616, sponsored by Sen. Michael Frerichs (D-Champaign) and Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), passed the General Assembly unanimously and was supported by many in the business community, including the Illinois Municipal League, Caterpillar, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Manufacturers Association. The new law renews the Illinois Enterprise Zone program, which is one of the state’s most vital economic tools. During its history, 42,543 businesses have invested in enterprise zones. Businesses located in enterprise zones have created 354,762 jobs and retained 536,562 jobs. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 43 states, including Illinois, have enterprise zone programs under a variety of different program names.

“By helping our communities become enterprise zones, we are giving them a leg up on the competition in drawing companies to their areas, “ said Rep. Bradley. “I would like to thank Governor Quinn for signing this law to help bring businesses to every corner of Illinois.”

“The Illinois enterprise zone program is a vital tool for growing jobs and attracting investment in Illinois. We applaud Governor Quinn and the General Assembly for taking action and sending a positive message to the business community,” said Greg Baise, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, a statewide business group representing nearly 4,000 companies. “Enacting a long-term extension of this successful program is another step in making Illinois a good place to do business and providing stability for employers.” 

“As economic developers, we compete every day for jobs and investment with locations throughout the country and around the world and the Illinois Enterprise Zone program has kept us in the game for nearly 30 years,” said Craig Coil, president of the Illinois Enterprise Zone Association and the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur & Macon County. “By passing and signing this bill, Governor Quinn and the General Assembly have helped all of us who are involved in economic development in Illinois and the communities we represent remain competitive for the foreseeable future.”

“We are listening to what companies say they need to thrive,” said David Vaught, acting director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “They tell us that the Illinois Enterprise Zone program is one of the most effective economic development tools in the state’s tool box. By extending the program for 25 years, companies have a predictable environment in which they can create jobs and fuel economic growth.”

SB 3616 is effective immediately. The Governor will make stops today in Chicago, Rockford, Quad Cities, Peoria, Decatur and Mount Vernon to highlight the new law that will boost economic growth in communities across Illinois.

For more information on why Illinois is the right place for business, visit http://illinoisbiz.biz.

 

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