Thursday, November 12, 2015

The below info is from the NY Times at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/07/opinion/why-student-debtors-go-unrescued.html?_r=0

Reading it, we have to ask the Do-Nothing Congress and the OTL (Out to Lunch) President:

So WHAT are YOU - Congress, President Obama and all you Candidates for President - Going to DO to FINALLY  RESCUE Student Loan Debtors?

===================================

The Opinion Pages of the NY Times | Editorial

Why Student Debtors Go Unrescued

Photo
Credit Ping Zhu
A vast majority of the more than 10 million Americans who have defaulted on or are behind on repaying their student loans could have benefited from income-driven repayment plans that are intended to ease pressure on distressed borrowers and keep them from defaulting on their federal loans.
These plans can allow borrowers with low income or high debt — or both — to pay less each month, or even nothing, until their finances improve without being penalized or going into default. But many borrowers never even hear about these payment plans, thanks to poor customer service by the companies that are paid more than $600 million a year by the government to manage these accounts, process monthly payments and enroll distressed borrowers in alternative repayment plans.
As a result, borrowers who could easily have been spared slip into default. The government needs to demand more from these companies, which have operated with little oversight and have clearly been failing borrowers for a long time.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has primary authority over the industry, has now issued a disturbing report on this problem. It can’t delay and should get the ball rolling by suing companies that violate the law and writing consumer-friendly rules that loan servicing companies would be legally required to follow.
The bureau’s report — drawn from 30,000 public comments filed with the agency from May to July — suggests that some servicers are actually pushing struggling borrowers toward default by giving them misinformation, by making it difficult for them to refinance at lower rates and by withholding valuable information about affordable payment plans that are in the struggling borrower’s best interest.
Instead of explaining how income-based payment plans protect the borrower’s credit, loan servicers sometimes tell people that their only options are to pay the full amount due or go into forbearance — a process in which the person can stop paying for a specified time, though the interest generally continues to accrue and the loan balance grows.
In some cases, borrowers reported, servicers chose to apply a larger portion of a borrower’s monthly payment to his or her low-interest loan, deliberately leaving the high-interest loan with a larger balance. Companies can make more money if loans take longer to pay off. Moreover, critics charge that the servicer business model relies on limiting the length and complexity of employees’ conversations with customers, leading them to suggest the simplest option even when it is not in the borrower’s interest.
Servicers can also fail to give borrowers lower interest rates than they are entitled to, either because they have met certain conditions — like making timely payments for a specified period — or because they are entitled to an interest break under the law. Often borrowers do not know they are entitled to the lower rate or, if they do request it, do not notice when the servicer fails to make the change.

Last year, for example, the Justice Department sued Sallie Mae and its former subsidiary, Navient, charging that they had violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act for nearly a decade by denying members of the military the 6 percent rate cap to which they are entitled for loans taken out before their military service began.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Treasury Department and the Department of Education agreed last month on a basic set of principles that they believe will prevent borrowers from being eaten alive. The agreement calls for servicing companies to adopt consistent, accurate and transparent servicing standards, violations of which should be promptly punished.
The bureau can get started by vigorously enforcing the law and creating rules under which this wayward industry will be required to do business.

Monday, October 19, 2015

dateline: October 19th, 2015

Hey Congress and Candidates for Prez:   Medicare Gaps are Sending Retirees to the Poorhouse, or Worse: Home without Needed Medical Care!


   So we've all endured decades of debate about The Affordable Care Act and other federal plans to finally create "affordable, universal, quality medical care." So why is it Congress cannot count and then deliver on what most advanced societies have done for their residents?


   See: "Cost of Care: The U.S. health care system is bleeding...", at: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20150131-cost-of-care-u.s.-health-system-is-bleeding-green.ece

-where it is reported that:

..."We are getting a bad deal with American health care. And it’s unsustainable.
We spent $2.919 trillion for health care in 2013, or $9,255 per American. Sure, the spending increase from 2012 to 2013 — 3.6 percent — was the lowest since the government started counting up all this spending in 1960.

But is that good news? Well, the tab is wildly above what the citizens of every other developed nation pay. In tiny, expensive Switzerland, where a McDonald’s combo meal sells for $13.39, average health care spending was $6,080 per person in 2012. In Germany in 2013, it was $4,884.

In part, we spend more because our prices are so much higher — for hospitals, for drugs, for medical devices and for medical salaries.
For more than 30 years, medical spending grew faster than pay for the average American worker. Real wages (controlled for inflation) actually decreased 4 percent, while health care costs are almost six times higher, the White House Council of Economic Advisers said in 2009. That bumped up health insurance premiums and left less money for everything else..."

   Take an average 65-year old retiree in Connecticut whose income is only his Social Security - say $693.00 after $104.00 is automatically deducted from his monthly, directly deposited Soc Sec check for "Medicare Part B." Back in the day, Medicare Parts A and B was more than sufficient to pay for most medical care but since health care providers continue to demand more pay for worse care and since insurance companies insist on ever-increasing, double digit premiums in order to pay their CEOs and stockholders millions of dollars taken out of patients' premium revenues in the new medical world of "the marketplace" - without really "managing" anyone's care or medical costs - which they were supposed to do in order to reduce medical costs and prices, given all this, millions of patients now shoulder unaffordable medical bills and have had to seek protection in federal bankruptcy courts or instead decide NOT TO SEEK care that they cannot afford. A poor choice for too many Americans in 21st Century America.

   Of course, there are many other Americans who are not retired and who still cannot afford health care. This is because Congress and the President and the various states have refused to enable consumer-patients to organize to negotiate more affordable insurance rates or premiums and to eliminate copays, deductibles, co-insurance and facility and other fees and have refused - in this era of an algorithm-inspired "high tech" iPHONE culture - to provide ways to even compare costs of the same procedures from different medical care providers having the same or similar quality ratios, and then have the ability - that is, the insurance - to pay for the one chosen. In short, the introduction of merged medical providers along with merged insurance companies creating a new Medical Industrial Complex where consumer-patient-ratepayers have no say is an absolute farce.

   Of course, there are alternatives some are pursuing. Like seeking affordable care overseas. (Read:'
Jeffrey Singer: The Man Who Was Treated for $17,000 Less,' - "Bypassing his third-party payer, my patient avoided a high hospital 'list price.", at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324139404579017113415486176  ) Or divorcing one's spouse in order to obtain support from Medicaid for Medicare and private medical insurance premiums, co-pays and deductibles and co-insurances and facility and other fees. (Not recommended but let's face it: saavy younger people are foregoing marriage altogether in order to have any access to some health care.) Or legally hiding one's assets to circumvent foreclosure on one's assets. (Talk to your lawyers and estate planners!)

   Think of a word and the Medical Industrial Complex - now sucking about $2-$3 trillions out of our pockets annually - will find a way to use it to make still more money without worrying about the quality or accessibility of health care.

   Getting back to that Medicare beneficiary in Connecticut. His current annual deductible with an "Aetna Medicare Advantage Plan" is over $6,000, which, after this is paid by the patient, Aetna agrees to start paying over that amount. However, the brilliant legislators in Hartford and inside the DC beltway have yet to explain how such a person can really pay 75% of his annual income for just the deductible his medical insurance company, Aetna, charges.

   Given this, we have to ask Congress, the President and all those well-dressed candidates for federal office and not a few state legislators this question: SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT UNAFFORDABLE, INACCESSIBLE, INFERIOR HEALTH CARE IN CONNECTICUT AND HERE IN THE USA?


   


Sunday, September 27, 2015

 

9 Million Acres of US Lands Have Burned in Wildfires in 2015 - (see: https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm   ) So Far. 

You are the President of the USA and your Appointees Are in Charge of the US Forest Service, the US Bureau of Land Management and other Federal Agencies Charged with Protecting the Nation's Assets - including assets owned by entities OTHER THAN the US Government. 

And of course Congress is not blameless but we still do not see them calling for hearings on the 2015 wildfires and the 10-year drought in California and in our Western and Southern states, nor learning from past fires and past lessons and taking action to avert this nonsense.

Too late to DO anything about it now, Mr. President. And members of Congress. And too late to help those who died fighting these 48,731 fires. To date. Or the homes and businesses lost in them. Or the resources lost.  What do we want you to do? A rain dance?

No. We just want you to do your job: what we elected you to do: protect life, property, the "environment", practically speaking. To appropriate, manage and provide the resources needed to do this. 

Like FDR did with his Civilian Conservation Corps. Like Eisenhower did when building the Interstate Highway System. Like using the predictive capabilities already in possession of federal agencies to know where and when wildfires can and will occur - and DOING something about it BEFORE they do.

Like taking fewer campaign contributions from people and PACs who have an interest in fighting fires, not preventing them.

Like learning how others manage their property better, reducing loss of life and property, and implementing those lessons for public lands.

Like firing people you've appointed and hiring others to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Now.

Most of us do not occupy the White House nor are we members of Congress but we can and must ask: So What Are YOU Going to DO about this?  And demand Congressional hearings and a Presidential investigation into the obvious failures - lack of resources, lack of planning, failure to learn from past lessons, Summer vacations....whatever. 

Listen, learn, report back to the voters. After all, 2016 is an election year. Again. And another year when wildfires will hit our nation again. 
Do something about them, Mr. President, Members of Congress.

Monday, June 15, 2015

African Americans Need to Borrow More to get a College Education and have Less Wealth to Do So!

Almost 50 years after the first huge riots by black Americans in our nation's cities, the widespread disinvestment in their communities by private and government investors in jobs and fostering economic growth and opportunities continues. It's time to ask the hedge fund Kings and Queens, the Fortune 500 CEOs and President Obama and Congress: So What Are You Going to DO About NOT investing in generations of Black Americans for decades and decades? Wait another 50 years or more? NOT acceptable!

(Old) news is African Americans owe more in student loans than most White Americans. And the following is not that much of a revelation - even in 2015 - either:

"But since the focus on racial disparities has been largely focused on income rather than wealth, few people are aware of just how massive the wealth gap is between Black and white citizens. While the median net worth for white households in 2013 soared beyond the $140,000 mark, the median net worth of Black households remained at a shockingly low $11,000, according to the Pew Research Center. That gap, combined with the racial disparities in obtaining an education, is exactly why Bergeron says true equality in America hasn’t been seen.
“We have used expected higher education as a social equalizer in the United States,” he added. “If there are gaps by race or ethnicity … then it can’t fulfill that mission.”  

Read the entire story, 'New Study Shows Disparities in Student Loan Debt Are About More Than Just Income, It’s About a Lack of Black Wealth,', June 14, 2015 | Posted by , at: http://atlantablackstar.com/2015/06/14/new-study-shows-disparities-student-loan-debt-just-income-lack-black-wealth/
-and order and read Economist William K Tabb's important book, THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF THE BLACK GHETTO, to learn more:

Political Econ Black Ghetto by Tabb K William (Oct 17, 1970)

Formats Price New Used Collectible
Paperback Get it by Tuesday, Jun 16
FREE Shipping on orders over $35
$17.95 $16.16
===================================================

Tuesday, May 5, 2015






- So What Are You Going to DO About It? -

Re: news today that "U.S. trade deficit largest since 2008 as imports surge..."


May 5th, 2015

Dear Cong. Larson and Esty and Senators Murphy and Blumenthal of the US House and Senate delegations from Connecticut,
-given the news today that "U.S. trade deficit largest since 2008 as imports surge", at http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/05/us-usa-economy-idUSKBN0NQ17O20150505  and in other news media, and given the continuing adverse economic consequences of huge trade imbalances, this is to ask: 

              So what are YOU (and the rest of Congress and President Obama) going DO about it?