Using the Health Care bill signed by the Senate on Dec. 24 as a jumping-off point, President Obama unleashed his version of the plan this morning on the White House website. [More]
The White House could be planning to start charging banks new fees as a way to trim the deficit, get paid back for the bailout, and teach bankers a lesson they hasn’t sunk in yet. What?! A fee on banks? You’re crazy. Only banks are allowed to make up fees. [More]
The Weatherproof clothing company got permission from a photographer to use a photo of the President wearing one of their coats at the Great Wall of China — but they didn’t ask the White House. If they had, they’d have been told where to stick their Times Square billboard. [More]
We went back to the White House this week, for our second interview with Obama Administration economic advisor Austan Goolsbee. In a wide-ranging talk, Goolsbee discussed the Administration’s plans to help small businesses get credit, said that the battle against bank lobbyists is on, and expressed amazement that people in DC use the weather as an excuse to miss meetings. “I’m from Chicago,” he said, explaining that even blizzards don’t stop normal activities there. “We aren’t wimps in Chicago.”
Inside: Video and full transcript.
In a speech this morning, President Obama is expected to address the economy, and “outline some key priorities for encouraging businesses to invest and create jobs,” according to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. Will it work? Watch the speech here at 11:15 a.m. EST, and let us know what you think. [More]
We stray into politics often at our peril but I had to share this clip of Sen. Franken kneecapping a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute conservative think tank. In what was supposed to be a hearing on the Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act, Diana Furchtgott-Roth instead used her testimony to pillory against health care reform proposals not even being discussed. After Sen. Whitehouse asks her if she even read the bill at hand, Sen. Franken goes: “You said the way we’re going will increase bankruptcies…How many bankruptcies because of medical crises were there last year in Switzerland?”
Yesterday, Consumer Reports noted that an anti-health reform politician is trying to convince senior citizens that they’ll be required to take lessons in euthanasia if any reform is passed. Regardless of what side you come down on with health care reform, this is flat out wrong. We care about this lie, which is still bouncing around the media, because it might interfere with the very real and useful tasks of setting up living wills and determining health care proxies—things that matter to both the elderly and the terminally ill.
If you need the straight story on issues of credit card, debit, and banking fraud and security, something more than “we’re taking it seriously,” Avivah Litan, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner research is your go-to-gal. I recently interviewed her over the phone about consumers can protect themselves in an era where just keeping your mother’s maiden name a secret doesn’t cut the mustard. I learned that you can buy a credit card number for a few cents, losing your Social Security Number is NOT the most dangerous fraud that is likely to happen to you, and how Obama’s helicopter plans got stolen thanks to P2P music-sharing software…
Remember Harry and Louise? I don’t, but apparently they were a fictional couple in an early-90s TV commercial, produced by the insurance industry to help sway opinion against the Clinton health plan. Now banks and other financial companies may be pooling resources to create a new “Harry and Louise” style ad to convince Americans that Obama’s proposed agency to monitor abusive financial practices will limit choice and ruin lives.
Tomorrow, President Obama is expected to call for the creation of a new watchdog agency that would help protect consumers from abusive credit card, mortgage, banking practices. The banking industry is not happy about the idea, reports CNN. But hey, they’re just looking out for us: “It’s bad for consumers,” a banking industry lobbyist told the network. Oh, well, never mind then, and pass me some more delicious subprime!
While details of such an approach are still sketchy, it would likely involve employees paying tax on a percentage of their employer-provided health benefits. So if Congress decided that all such premiums in excess of $11,000 for family plans would be taxable income, and your company paid premiums worth $16,000 for your coverage, you’d have to pay taxes on $5,000.
President Obama wants car makers to start making 35.5 MPG cars by 2016. Instead of improving fuel efficiency, automakers could very well just take the cheaper road of making the A/C less wasteful, thanks to what Jalopnik calls “a hummer-sized loophole” in the federal regulations. [Jalopnik] (Photo: Simone Ramella)