United States News Digest
Obama: 'Lean and Mean' on Social Security, Medicare
Oct. 28 (EIRNS)President Obama promised to slash Social Security and Medicare in order to "save the economy." In an interview with MSNBC yesterday, Obama made no effort to hide his intentions: "The question is what do we do going forward," he said. "Our problem is a long-term structural problem that has to do with the fact that we've got an aging population. We've got a bunch of entitlements that are very expensive and are very popular. You know, people like Social Security. They like Medicare ... but we've got to make sure that we make some adjustments so that those programs are in place."
Obama said that he would work with Republicans to make permanent his freeze on all non-defense discretionary spending. "If we followed that program, it would mean that non-defense discretionary spending ... would actually be lower as a percentage of our GDP than any time in 50 years. So we each year have identified billions of dollars in cuts and wasteful spending.... We've got to have a government that is lean and mean."
Obama Loses It in Connecticut
Oct. 31 (EIRNS)President Barack Obama lost it again, this time at a campaign rally in Bridgeport, Conn., when he yelled back at protesters who chanted for more global funding for AIDS relief, during his speech. Despite the crowd of supporters, the President lost his temper, fell silent for 20 seconds, then yelled back at the AIDS protesters, who were chanting "Keep the Promise."
Obama had pledged to increase global AIDS relief to $50 billion by 2013, but instead, his last funding request was no more than was provided under Bush-Cheney, meaning a net decline in funds earmarked for AIDS drugs.
The cost of anti-retroviral cocktails, which can extend the life of AIDS victims, can be as little as $350 per year, but in the poorer countries where AIDS is most prevalent, governments cannot afford it. They depend upon the Global Fund and a U.S. program known as Pepfar. But the amounts are not sufficient. For every two people treated under the U.S. program in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, five more become infected each year.
Worldwide, the number of those infected reaches at least 34 million, and 2.5 million new cases are identified every year.
Ohio AG on Foreclosures: No 'Do Over' When Banks Commit Perjury
Oct. 30 (EIRNS)Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray has blasted the big banks, which are trying to restart evictions in Ohio after claiming they'd fixed the problems in their foreclosure processes. Cordray ridiculed Wells Fargo's efforts to replace affidavits in 55,000 foreclosure cases that, it admitted, did not "adhere" to the law. "The suggestion by Wells Fargo and its colleagues at several other national firms that they can cure fraudulent testimony by simply refiling new affidavits and continuing to proceed toward foreclosures shows they do not recognize the seriousness of the problem they have created," Cordray said in a statement issued yesterday. "There is no simple 'do-over' for false testimony that will be likely to avoid sanctions and penalties imposed by the courts. Their brazen efforts to minimize their financial exposure by sweeping these problems under the rug are an insult to the justice system in this country. These disclosures by Wells Fargo will now become the focus for a new prong of our ongoing investigation."
Earlier in the week, Cordray wrote to 133 administrative judges in Ohio asking them to send to him any foreclosure paperwork by a certain Wells Fargo employee who has been identified as a "robo-signer" of foreclosure notices. In a separate letter, he called on the bank to vacate any foreclosures in Ohio involving false affidavits. His office also filed a friend of the court brief in a foreclosure case involving GMAC in Parma, asking the court to consider evidence that fraud committed by GMAC tainted the entire judicial process. "Judges rely upon the accuracy of affidavits to grant judgments and ensure that the integrity of the judicial system can be trusted," said Cordray. "False affidavits throw the entire system into question. Foreclosures should not move forward when the basis of evidence is perjured statements."
The Wall Street Journal today complained that Cordray's actions "threw a wrench into the banking industry's push to quickly restart foreclosures by fixing faulty paperwork."
TARP Report Hits Administration on Poverty, Unemployment
Oct. 26 (EIRNS)Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) administrator Neil Barofsky's Quarterly Special Report to Congress, released today, is a slap in the face to President Obama, Treasury Secretary Treasury Timothy Geithner, and the Democratic Party Congressional leadership that has cheered on and covered up for Obama's crimes. The report warns that it is "too early to write TARP's obituary," because there is still a stash of about $100 billion of previously committed funds that can be poured into buying Wall Street's toxic waste. People have the mis-impression that the days of bailouts are over, Barofsky warns.
The 338-page report rips into the false recovery claims, and reports that TARP has not met its mission goals on "Main Street"in fact, things have gotten worse:
"TARP has failed to 'increase lending,' with small businesses in particular unable to secure badly needed credit ... despite the billions of TARP dollars provided to banks with the express purpose to increase lending....
"As to the goal of 'promot[ing] jobs and economic growth' ... unemployment continues to hold at 9.6%, 3% higher than at the start of the program.
"While large bonuses are returning to Wall Street, the nation's poverty rate has increased from 13.2% in 2008 to 14.3% in 2009....
"Finally, the most specific of TARP's Main Street goals, 'preserving home ownership' has so far fallen woefully short," with only 207,000 mortgages in "'permanent modification' ... a number that stands in stark contrast to the 5.5 million homes receiving foreclosure filings and more than 1.7 million homes lost to foreclosure since January 2009."
America's News Online, an Internet publication, says the report shows that the TARP "program has failed miserably," adding that foreclosures are now being investigated for fraud and abuse at the national level.
Barofsky also charges that Treasury appears to be "manipulating information for a public-relations gain," in the case of the insurance giant AIG. By using new methods of accounting, and switching the type of AIG stock the U.S. government owns, the Treasury Department is claiming that it will only lose $5 billion, not $42 billion as previously reported, because of the increase in AIG stock price.
Companies, States, Citizens Flee Obamacare
Oct. 25 (EIRNS)Obamacare is not only allowing the insurance companies to gouge the people they insure, but which has already triggered cancellation of employee benefits plans, as the HMOs continue to enrich themselves. Some updates:
* 21 states have filed suits challenging the Obama health-care law on Constitutional grounds;
* 3 other states have potential ballot referenda related to rejecting aspects of Obamacare;
* State health insurance pools are bombing. In the Missouri Health Insurance Pool, there are only about 140 enrollees, since this Summer, when it opened. Obamacare state insurance pools are intended to entice the uninsured to sign up with an HMO plan, subsidized (through tax credits) by the Federal government, but premiums are still out of reach for masses of people: The premium in Missouri is as high as $972 per month;
* Boeing Corp. informed 90,000 of its workers this month, that their expenses for insurance deductibles in 2011, will go up 50%. Boeing said this is partly in preparation to be in compliance with Obamacare rules going into effect over 2014-18, that are to penalize "overinsuring" workers in "Cadillac" plans offering too much care. Dozens of other companies are considering the same action.
* Thousands more companies are readying plans to discontinue employee-offered insurance altogether, and tell their workers to go to a state pool to get their own policy. The employer will be fined $2,000 per worker for doing that, no big deal.
* Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) said that for private and state and other government plans, the "financials" involved in dropping employee health coverage, are "about to become very attractive to many employers, both public and private."
* The Obama Administration has already granted waivers from its health reform rules, for a raft of companies employing some 1.5 million workerssuch as McDonald's, Home Depot, and Disneyworldallowing them to continue spending far less than 80% of health insurance premiums on actual care, with the rest going to profiteering and overhead.