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Archive for February 18th, 2012|Daily archive page

today’s news … Saturday, February 18

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2012 at 5:15 am

today’s news and information gleanings from here and there! 

Quote for today… “”It would leave college football in the hands of the Jackie Sherrills and Barry Switzers.” – Joe Paterno

  • Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Fasnacht Day. Those are three names for the one day a year when you’re actually supposed to eat fatty foods — the day before Lent. So go ahead and eat up all that rich goodness on Tuesday. It’s easy to feel like you’re in The Big Easy at Prudhomme’s Lost Cajun Kitchen, located in a haunted 1800s-era hotel. – Central Penn Business Journal

  • There should be an addition to the “three great lies.” Here it is: making promises to communities, their elected “public servants” and public sector agencies and then reneging after existing rules have been relaxed, abandoned or violated. Columbia news, views & reviews published this on December 8: “Hope springs eternal; or as Cole Umber said, “hope lives on because it has no choice.” – “Lancaster City Planning Commission members Wednesday granted final approval for a $20 million project which may never be built. The plan for a 76,578-square-foot office building on the redeveloped Lancaster Stockyards received unanimous commission approval. But real estate developer Tim Harrison said he still does not have an agreement from the national company for which it was designed. – Lancaster Intelligencer Journal/New Era AND HERE’S THE ARTICLE IN YESTERDAY’S NEWSPAPER

“Obama Housing Plans vs. Reality” – ProPublica

In Government on February 18, 2012 at 5:05 am

[NOTE: As you read this article, you may wonder as we do, “Doesn’t this look like a scheme in which those who have money will be abetted by government intervention and will make more money? Take a serious read of this, especially the part at the end in which “investors” will be able to buy properties and convert them into rental pr0perties. Huh?]

by Cora Currier, ProPublica

“The Obama administration recently unveiled a string of proposals to help struggling homeowners and get the housing market back on its feet — part of the administration’s “We Can’t Wait” election year to-do list. Of course, the White House has made big promises before about helping homeowners, only to see them disappoint time and again.

President Obama announces a plan to help homeowners with federally guaranteed mortgages refinance their homes during an October 2011 speech in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Here are the latest proposals, whether they are anything new and whether they stand a chance of going anywhere.

Refinancing

“President Obama wants to allow homeowners whose mortgages are backed by private-sector companies to refinance at lower rates through the Federal Housing Administration. (The FHA insures many mortgages, and it is not the same as the FHFA, the regulatory agency in charge of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.) The president stressed that the proposal would help only ‘responsible’ homeowners who were current on their payments — to counter Republican complaints that his housing policies reward foolhardy borrowers.

Déjà vu: This is only the latest in a long series of attempts by Obama to help homeowners refinance. There have been a few, minor attempts to push refinancing through the FHA. Via a separate program launched in 2009 that used Freddie and Fannie, more than 900,000 homeowners have refinanced, substantially fewer than the goal of 4 million homeowners.

“Will it happen? Unlikely. This plan needs to get through a Congress that is staunchly opposed. ‘How many times have we done this?’ said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“Republicans have a number of objections. First, Obama wants the plan to be paid for with a fee on the banks in repayment for the bailout, a tactic that’s raised Wall Street hackles in previous budgets. Secondly, some Republicans balk at passing more risk on to Read the rest of this entry »

“Unspent war funds eyed to avoid years of Medicare doctor pay cuts”

In Government, Opportunities on February 18, 2012 at 4:41 am

“7,900 physicians and other health professionals have opted out of Medicare since 1998.”

By Charles Fiegl, amednews staff.

Washington — Lawmakers are considering the possibility of paying for a long-term Medicare physician payment solution by reallocating war funding that is no longer needed — an idea that has gained the support of the American Medical Association and more than 100 state and specialty medical societies.

“The drawdown of U.S. troops after a decade of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq could free up large savings in the federal budget and present an opportunity for the federal government to get more of its finances in order. Congress temporarily has delayed or patched Medicare cuts mandated by the sustainable growth rate formula for years. Lawmakers who want to break that cycle want to eliminate the (Sustainable Growth Rate) SGR, which is set to cut physician pay by about 27% on March 1, and fully account for future program spending by doctors.

“The AMA released a Jan. 23 letter signed by the organized medicine groups calling on a congressional conference committee to stabilize Medicare pay using the overseas contingency operations funds. The special committee is negotiating a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension package that also will address the upcoming SGRcut.

There is bipartisan agreement to stop the scheduled Medicare cuts permanently, said AMA President Peter W. Carmel, MD. The payment formula affects physician rates not only under Medicare but also under the Tricare program for military families.

“‘Using funds that will not be needed as the wars wind down to protect health care for men and women in uniform and our nation’s seniors is the fiscally responsible thing to do,’ Dr. Carmel said. ‘By eliminating this failed formula once and for all, Congress can stop growing the size of the problem for patients, physicians and taxpayers.’

A fifth of Connecticut doctors have stopped accepting new Medicare and Tricare patients

“Conferees from both parties have signaled some willingness to use the unspent war funding to boost physician pay. Sen. Jon Kyl (R, Ariz.) said in December 2011 that he would be open to the strategy, and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D, Pa.) cited the opportunity during the first conference committee meeting on Jan. 24.

“’Using part of the savings achieved through the reduction of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan offers a unique and limited-time opportunity to resolve a budgetary problem that grows more costly with each passing month,’ Schwartz said.

A Jan. 31 Congressional Budget Office report Read the rest of this entry »

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