President Obama calls on Congress to pass the Buffett Rule, a principle that ensures that millionaires and billionaires do not pay less in taxes as a share of their income than middle class families pay — as a matter of fairness. Watch the President’s weekly address:
@UberFacts: According to 2007 Congressional hearings, $10 billion USD had been mismanaged and wasted in Iraq.
Here’s a rundown of today’s action. House Republicans Approve Budget That Ends Medicare, Slashes Taxes on the Wealthy.Just like they did last year, Republicans almost unanimously voted for a radical budget proposal that ends the Medicare guarantee in order to partially* offset deep tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. How radical is the plan the House passed today? It would pull the rug out from under the elderly (and more or less everyone else in one way or another) while giving millionaires a $265,000 tax cut on top of what they’d each get from the expiring Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The parade of horribles for the elderly, students, low-income Americans, the middle class, the housing market, our public lands, and virtually every facet of society is too long to list here, but check out our complete coverage of this disastrous budget for all of the details.
10 Republicans, some of whom thought the proposal did not go far enough, voted against it, while ZERO Democrats voted in favor of the extreme plan.Even slashing Medicare and nearly every other program or service that Americans benefit from each day isn’t enough to pay for the Republican plan’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy. These tax cuts are so big that the Republican plan actually makes the deficit and debt worse. Though 51 Senators voted in favor of the bill (Maine’s Republican Senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, joined with 49 Democrats), it was defeated due to the Senate’s now-standard 60-vote requirement. Unfortunately, four Democratic Senators — Ben Nelson (NE), Mary Landrieu (LA), Jim Webb (VA), and Mark Begich (AK) — joined 43 Republicans in siding with Big Oil to vote down the proposal.
Big Oil is well-known for making it rain in the halls of Congress, but a closer look at its largesse in the context of today’s vote is particularly shocking. The 47 Senators voting to protect $24 BILLION in giveaways to Big Oil have received a whopping $23,582,500 from Big Oil. The 51 Senators who stood with the 99 Percent received less than a quarter of that sum.
In New Orleans, the average listed lease rate is $13.98/sf but actual lease rate was $12.18/sf. That’s a discount of 13% from the list price. Sale prices were discounted 24% however, with the average list price of $85.60/sf but actual sale price of $56.60/sf. (Reprinted from LinkedIn, Robert Hand)
If you already have student loan debt, Consumer Reports recommends taking control of the situation. Figure out how much debt you have, to whom you owe it and what repayment options you have. If you can’t afford your payments, you may be able to get a deferment or even take a job or do a volunteer program that would qualify you for loan forgiveness. If you’ve exhausted all those options, let the lender know right away that you can’t make your payments. Avoiding the problem will definitely not make it go away. Hint: there are a long lint of public service jobs that will forgive the debt in return for set number a year committed to work for the agency. Do your research on the internet and call your school’s recruiting department.
Student Debt – Consumer Reports. Student debt grows to alarming levels: The hundreds of billions owed have potentially crippling ramifications for the U.S. economy
Your neighborhood watch program isn’t guaranteed to cut crime in your community, but if it does, that can lower insurance costs and raise property values. Some studies report a reduction in crime after a watch starts, while others found an increase, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Justice.
If your program does reduce crime, you’ll win in two ways: 1.) Your insurance rates could go down. Property insurance is all about risk. The higher the risk, the more you pay for insurance. Crime isn’t the only factor affecting your rates, but it plays a role. The more claims insurance companies have to pay crime victims in your neighborhood, the more they charge you for insurance premiums. 2.) Your property values could rise. Who doesn’t want to live in a safe neighborhood? Like insurance rates, home values are affected by more than just crime. But having a neighborhood watch certainly won’t hurt your values.A strong-knit community means people care, and that improves a neighborhood’s atmosphere, which can increase property values. (Houselogic 11/10/10).
In June, Title IX, the federal law that mandates gender equality in school sports, will celebrate its 40th anniversary. There’s no denying its impact: Since 1972, the number of female athletes in college has climbed by more than 450 percent.
In a discussion with ESPN’s Andy Katz, President Obama talks about why that’s so important: Studies show that girls who are involved in athletics often do better in school; they are more confident in terms of dealing with boys. And, so, for those of us who grew up just as Title IX was taking off, to see the development of women’s role models in sports, and for girls to know they excelled in something, there would be a spot for them in college where they weren’t second-class, I think has helped to make our society more equal in general.
Congress was so busy bickering at the end of 2011 that it allowed two important tax breaks for home owners to expire. Beginning with the 2012 tax year: 1.) You can no longer deduct the cost of private mortgage insurance premiums. 2.) You aren’t getting a tax credit for some of your home energy improvements. You can take advantage of these provisions when you file your 2011 tax return — but beyond that, who knows. Up until the end of last year, you could deduct your private mortgage insurance premium (PMI) when calculating your income taxes. It was a benefit targeted to lower- and middle-income home owners. Once you made $100,000 or more, it started disappearing and anyone who had more than $110,000 of adjusted gross income couldn’t use it.
The tax credit for energy efficiency upgrades wasn’t enormous — it was capped at $500 or 10% of the cost for some projects; less for others. But it was a nice incentive to add insulation, new windows, or to upgrade your HVAC system with a more efficient unit — exactly the kind of actions that help decrease our dependence on fossil fuels, leading to a cleaner environment and less outflow of U.S. income to foreign countries. Not to mention, hopefully, smaller utility bills. In 2012, home ownership and energy independence advocates will fight to get those expired tax rules back on the books and to have them apply retroactively. It’s a familiar fight — they had to do the same thing at the end of 2010. (Houselogic, 2/3/12).