President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.Here We Go Again
In response, administration officials say they are working to get banks to lend to a wider range of borrowers by taking advantage of taxpayer-backed programs — including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration — that insure home loans against default.
Housing officials are urging the Justice Department to provide assurances to banks, which have become increasingly cautious, that they will not face legal or financial recriminations if they make loans to riskier borrowers who meet government standards but later default.
Officials are also encouraging lenders to use more subjective judgment in determining whether to offer a loan and are seeking to make it easier for people who owe more than their properties are worth to refinance at today’s low interest rates, among other steps.
“If you were going to tell people in low-income and moderate-income communities and communities of color there was a housing recovery, they would look at you as if you had two heads,” said John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, a nonprofit housing organization. “It is very difficult for people of low and moderate incomes to refinance or buy homes.”Proven Results
The FHA, in coordination with the White House, is working to develop new policies to make clear to banks that they will not lose their guarantees or face other legal action if loans that conform to the program’s standards later default. Officials hope the FHA’s actions will then spur Fannie and Freddie to do the same.
The effort requires sign-on by the Justice Department and the inspector general of Department of Housing and Urban Development, agencies that investigate wrongdoing in mortgage lending.
Hey Mish,Discussion on Radio Station KMJ
I have been discussing disability for quite some time with others. I know a few people on disability who should not be qualified. I also have one good friend who is on disability for back problems. He had several surgeries and is genuinely disabled. The interesting part is my friend paid for his own insurance for 25+ years and the minute that he was declared unable to work, a lawyer saw to it that he would go on SS benefits. The insurance company collected premiums for 25+ years and now the government (taxpayers) pay.
Hello MishTime to Wave the White Flag
I just heard you on KMJ and agree with what you have said. I am a disabled person working in the social services system, I will soon be retiring due to stress related problems. I would like to keep working at another position with less stress but many of my friends think I am stupid for wanting to work instead of taking social security.
Hello MishThanks all. Yes, it is time to raise the white flag. Many of these programs are structured to keep people on disability rather than get them off disability.
Thanks for a good post on a complex issue. SSI/SSDI comes from social security funds, making that program even less sustainable over time.
I also see those who are truly disabled and unable to be competitively employed...they are being sustained in poverty by this program because of the sheer numbers in the program.
Multiple disincentives are built into the system to getting a job for fear of losing your stable disability check and Medicare coverage, so that it is very hard for the state Vocational Rehab system (where I work) to get disability recipients back to work.
There are few entry level jobs that pay enough or have benefits adequate for the recipients to take the risk of leaving the safe harbor of Disability.
Let's just raise a white flag and admit that the "war on poverty" has been lost and look critically at how our programs sustain people in poverty rather than lift them out of it.
If you meet Baxter, the latest humanoid robot from Rethink Robotics – you should get comfortable with him, because you'll likely be seeing more of him soon.Jobs of Last Resort
Rethink Robotics released Baxter last fall and received an overwhelming response from the manufacturing industry, selling out of their production capacity through April. He's cheap to buy ($22,000), easy to train, and can safely work side-by-side with humans. He's just what factories need to make their assembly lines more efficient – and yes, to replace costly human workers.
But manufacturing is only the beginning.
This April, Rethink will launch a software platform that will allow Baxter to do a more complex sequencing of tasks – for example, picking up a part, holding it in front of an inspection station and receiving a signal to place it in a "good" or "not good" pile. The company is also releasing a software development kit soon that will allow third parties – like university robotics researchers – to create applications for Baxter.
These third parties "are going to do all sorts of stuff we haven't envisioned," says Scott Eckert, CEO of Rethink Robotics. He envisions something similar to Apple's app store happening for Baxter. A spiffed-up version of the robot could soon be seen flipping burgers at McDonalds, folding t-shirts at Gap, or pouring coffee at Starbucks.
What's worrisome to Martin Ford [robotics expert and author of The Lights In the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future] is that these jobs have been offering a huge safety net to the middle class.
They're jobs he calls "the jobs of last resort." When someone can't find a salaried job, they look for lower-paying service jobs to get by – and because the jobs typically have a high turnover rate, they're more likely to be available. Think of all the college graduates who take jobs as cashiers or baristas before they find salaried work. If those jobs were to vanish, those workers would be forced to file for unemployment instead."
People who leave the workforce and go on disability qualify for Medicare, the government health care program that also covers the elderly. They also get disability payments from the government of about $13,000 a year. This isn't great. But if your alternative is a minimum wage job that will pay you at most $15,000 a year, and probably does not include health insurance, disability may be a better option.Parents Force Kids to Underachieve
Going on disability means you will not work, you will not get a raise, you will not get whatever meaning people get from work. Going on disability means, assuming you rely only on those disability payments, you will be poor for the rest of your life. That's the deal. And it's a deal 14 million Americans have signed up for.
Disability has become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills.
When you are an adult applying for disability you have to prove you cannot function in a "work-like setting." When you are a kid, a disability can be anything that prevents you from progressing in school.Clinton Ends Welfare As We Know It
Jahleel's mom wants him to do well in school. But her livelihood depends on Jahleel struggling in school. This tension only increases as kids get older. One mother told me her teenage son wanted to work, but she didn't want him to get a job because if he did, the family would lose its disability check.
Kids should be encouraged to go to school. Kids should want to do well in school. Parents should want their kids to do well in school. Kids should be confident their parents can provide for them regardless of how they do in school. Kids should become more and more independent as they grow older and hopefully be able to support themselves at around age 18.
The disability program stands in opposition to every one of these aims.
A person on welfare costs a state money. That same resident on disability doesn't cost the state a cent, because the federal government covers the entire bill for people on disability. So states can save money by shifting people from welfare to disability. And the Public Consulting Group is glad to help.Disability Fraud
PCG is a private company that states pay to comb their welfare rolls and move as many people as possible onto disability. "What we're offering is to work to identify those folks who have the highest likelihood of meeting disability criteria," Pat Coakley, who runs PCG's Social Security Advocacy Management team, told me.
The company has an office in eastern Washington state that's basically a call center, full of headsetted women in cubicles who make calls all day long to potentially disabled Americans, trying to help them discover and document their disabilities:
"The high blood pressure, how long have you been taking medications for that?" one PCG employee asked over the phone the day I visited the company. "Can you think of anything else that's been bothering you and disabling you and preventing you from working?"
The PCG agents help the potentially disabled fill out the Social Security disability application over the phone. And by help, I mean the agents actually do the filling out.
There's a reason PCG goes to all this trouble. The company gets paid by the state every time it moves someone off of welfare and onto disability. In recent contract negotiations with Missouri, PCG asked for $2,300 per person. For Missouri, that's a deal -- every time someone goes on disability, it means Missouri no longer has to send them cash payments every month. For the nation as a whole, it means one more person added to the disability rolls.
No, France is not bankrupt ... The claim is untrue economically and financially. France is not and will not bankrupt because it would then be in a state of insolvency.Economic Illiteracy
A state cannot be bankrupt, in its own currency to foreigners and residents since the latter would be invited to meet its debt by an immediate increase in taxation.
In abstract, the state is its citizens, and the citizens are the guarantors of obligations of the State.
In the final analysis, "the state is us." To be in a state of suspension of payments, a state would have to be indebted in a foreign currency, unable to deal with foreign currency liabilities in that currency.
Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster will inevitably fail at its immediate objective: derailing John Brennan’s nomination to run the CIA. But as it stretches into its sixth hour, it’s already accomplished something far more significant: raising political alarm over the extraordinary breadth of the legal claims that undergird the boundless, 11-plus-year “war on terrorism.”Brennan will be nominated anyway, but Paul's firm stance in the face of his chicken-hawk and constitutional-hypocrite colleagues is very much appreciated.
The Kentucky Republican’s delaying tactic started over one rather narrow slice of that war: the Obama administration’s equivocation on whether it believes it has the legal authority to order a drone strike on an American citizen, in the United States.
Paul recognized outright that he would ultimately lose his fight to block Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief and architect of much of the administration’s targeted-killing efforts.
But as his time on the Senate floor went on, Paul went much further. He called into question aspects of the war on terrorism that a typically bellicose Congress rarely questions, and most often defends, often demagogically so. More astonishingly, Paul’s filibuster became such a spectacle that he got hawkish senators to join him.
as the filibuster picked up more and more media attention — and especially social-media attention — hawkish senators began joining in. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) praised Paul’s efforts at compelling transparency from the White House. What Paul is arguing is “no less important than our Constitutional government itself,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), no dove.
It would be foolish to presume that Paul’s moment in the spotlight heralds a new Senate willingness to roll back the expanses of the post-9/11 security apparatus. Rubio, for instance, stopped short of endorsing any of Paul’s substantive criticisms of the war. But Paul did manage to shift what political scientists call the Overton Window — the acceptable center of gravity of discussion.
Paul’s filibuster posed a challenge to the Senate more than it does Brennan or President Obama. “Is perpetual war OK with everybody?” he asked.
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.Time to Scrap Davis-Bacon, End Public Union Collective Bargaining
The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.
Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.
A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.
Open Letter to Obama and Congress From Internet Giants Calls For Reining In Government Surveillance | Nick Sorrentino
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