Sunday, January 11, 2015

Obamacare penalties, payouts ahead for many tax filers!

LA Times ^ | By CHAD TERHUNE 

Uncle Sam could take a bigger bite at tax time for consumers who received too much government help last year with their Obamacare premiums.
That may be just one of several surprises for millions of Americans in advance of the first tax deadline involving the Affordable Care Act.
The majority of Americans who get their health insurance at work should see few changes when filing their taxes. Most will just need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had coverage in 2014.
It stands to be more complicated for those individuals who purchased a private health plan in government-run exchanges or went without insurance at some point last year.
~~snip~~
"Experts project that 40% to 50% of families that qualified for financial assistance might have to repay some portion..."
"About 85% of the roughly 7 million Americans who signed up last year through government-run exchanges paid discounted premiums thanks to subsidies..."
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...

It never fails; more Muslims equals first more demands, then more violence, then more murders!

Coach is Right ^ | 1/10/15 | Kevin "Coach" Collins

More than four years ago the dangerous results of a growing Muslim population in a given area were explained by Dr. Peter Hammond in his book Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat.
The essence of Dr. Hammond’s research into the correlation between Muslims appearing in a geographical location and the kind of vicious attacks that happen is as follows:
When Muslims constitute less than 2% of a given location (Dr. Hammond uses countries but as Minneapolis–St Paul is showing us we can more correctly reduce a research area to a city) they behave themselves. We don’t hear much from them because they are basically too timid to start any trouble.
But the Minnesota twin cities today have a population of Muslims that may be as high as 25% of the overall population and this fact is changing it for the worse. Somali Muslims have infiltrated every segment of the city’s life including the City Council.
The Somali Muslims in Minneapolis already demand special treatment because they are Muslim. They demand foot baths at airports for their use. Somali Muslim taxi drivers regularly illegally refuse passengers who they think are carrying alcohol, are homosexual, or are being led by a service dog and on and on.
When this book was written, Germany had just 3.7% Muslims among their people; now they comprise nearly...
(Excerpt) Read more at coachisright.com ...

Gun Watch

Gun Watch ^ | 9 January, 2015 | Dean Weingarten 


People who go about legally armed are taught to avoid conflict and confrontation.   As people grow older, and hopefully, wiser, they become better practiced at avoiding conflict.   Age exacts its toll in exchange.  Nearly everyone gets slower; slower reflexes, balance deteriorates, you cannot run as fast.   Even though I have maintained a disciplined aerobic program, I am nowhere near as fast as I was only a dozen years ago.  Age also makes a person more attractive as a potential victim.   If an assailant is aggressive, and faster than you, for even a short sprint, running is not an option.  That is what seems to have occurred in this incident in Tyler, Texas.  From kltv.com:
Caldwell and his girlfriend then entered the Walgreens where they were also being disruptive, according to police.

Caldwell approached Neal outside of the store in the parking lot. He got into a verbal altercation with Neal as Neal was attempting to use the Red Box. Caldwell became more agitated with Neal as he attempted to keep Caldwell away from him.

Neal then pulled out a handgun and after several attempts to keep Caldwell from assaulting him, he shot him once in the chest.
Neal is 65 years old.   I am 63.   I am one of the fastest 63-year-olds in my local age group because of my exercise program, yet I know that I cannot outrun a young man, especially one who is on drugs.   I suspect that Caldwell was on drugs because of a 911 call that was made just before the shooting:
Tyler police were then called by a driver who stated that a male and female were out in traffic and looked as if they were going to get hit because the male was chasing cars on foot at Highway 64 west and Loop 323. Tyler police were en-route to the area to investigate.
Caldwell and his girlfriend entered the Walgreens after the car chasing incident and before the shooting.   The police were on their way.  65 year old Fredy Neal attempted to break off the situation, even going so far as to defensively display his firearm.   None of it was enough. Caldwell kept up the assault, and was shot once and killed.

While the headline in the article from Tyler, Texas says that 'Stand Your Ground law' may be used in this case, I doubt it.   Those few remaining states that require a person to retreat before using deadly force, that I know of, all have a caveat or case laws that the person must be able to retreat in safety, or the law does not apply.   Here is an example from Maryland law cited on wikipedia
... outside of one's home, a person, before using deadly force in self-defense, has the duty "'to retreat or avoid danger if such means were within his power and consistent with his safety.'" DeVaughn v. State, 232 Md. 447, 453, 194 A.2d 109, 112 (1963), cert. denied, 376 U.S. 527 (1964), quoting Bruce v. State, 218 Md. 87, 97, 145 A.2d 428, 433 (1958). See also Burch v. State, 346 Md. 253, 283, 696 A.2d 443, 458 (1997).

I do not see how Fredy Neal would have been able to retreat in safety in this case.  Turning your back on someone who is intent on assaulting you seems suicidal.  Caldwell had just been observed chasing cars; sometimes, running is not an option.

Michael Caldwell

There is a clear disparity of force in this incident, that of age.  Witnesses have corroborated Fredy Neal's account of what happened.

Comments at the site show the common wisdom of this self defense doctrine in the law.  Nearly all are sympathetic to Fredy Neal.  Here is an example:
 Isn't it time that Mr. Neal is referred to as "the victim" in this story? He was assaulted and apparently acted well within the law when he used a firearm to defend himself. Using terms like "The Gunman" and "the shooter" have a negative connotation and make it sound like Mr. Neal did something wrong. I expect the mainstream media to put ANY firearm related incident in a negative light, but not KLTV. KLTV stop painting the victim, Mr. Neal, as the bad guy in this story.
The military has a saying, that you have to be able to move, shoot, and communicate.   Fredy's ability to move was compromised; communication did not work, the police were on their way, but too far; shooting was the only option left, short of surrender and a potential beating and death.

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

How much each state relies on the federal government for revenue

   

Nearly $1 in $3 in state revenue comes from the federal government, according to a new analysis.
While taxes are responsible for most state general revenues, the federal government is responsible for about 31.5 percent of the total, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.
Mississippi is most reliant on the federal government, with 45.3 percent of general revenue in the most recently available fiscal year coming from the feds. Oil-rich Alaska‚ whose revenue is highly volatile, is least reliant on the federal government.
The Tax Foundation’s analysis is based on a simple calculation of Census state revenue data published last month. The Census data offer a detailed breakdown of revenue sources for each state, so the Tax Foundation simply divided the “intergovernmental revenue” each state received from the federal government by the state’s “general revenue” total.
Of course, looking at revenue reveals only one aspect of the federal-state relationship. As a Pew Charitable Trusts project recently found, when all federal spending on states is combined, it accounts for nearly a fifth of state economic activity. As the Pew map below shows, a third of economic activity in Mississippi is attributable to the federal government, a larger share than in any other state. Wyoming’s economy was least reliant on federal spending, with just 12 percent of activity stemming from federal sources.
Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.

The Unsustainability of Federal Spending

Townhall.com ^ | January 10, 2015 | Ed Feulner 

With so many high-profile, headline-grabbing issues facing the incoming Congress, lawmakers might be tempted to ignore one of the most persistent problems in Washington: overspending.
How bad is it? In 2014, federal spending reached $3.5 trillion, and the one-year deficit was $486 billion. And these huge numbers represent “a small and temporary improvement in the nation’s fiscal situation,” a recent report by The Heritage Foundation notes.
But as the authors point out, that doesn’t mean we’re on the right track. Far from it. A serious effort to cut spending -- not just trim a bit here and there -- is needed.
“Without further spending reforms, rising debt threatens to impede growth, harm Americans’ economic opportunities, and even threaten the nation’s security,” the authors warn.
If that sounds a bit hyperbolic, consider these facts from the report:
  • Washington spent nearly $3.5 trillion in 2014 (that’s $3,500,000,000,000) while collecting nearly $3 trillion in revenues, resulting in a deficit of slightly less than half a trillion. In other words, 14 cents of every dollar that Washington spent in 2014 was borrowed.
  • Over the past 20 years, federal spending grew 63 percent faster than inflation.
  • Mandatory spending, including Social Security and means-tested entitlements, doubled after adjusting for inflation.
  • Discretionary spending grew by 47 percent in real terms.
  • Despite publicly held debt surging to three-fourths the size of the economy (as measured by GDP), net interest costs have fallen as interest rates have dropped to historic lows.
  • Three major budget categories -- major health care programs, Social Security, and interest on the debt -- will account for 85 percent of nominal spending growth over the next decade. Entitlement reform is a must to curb the growth in spending.
Even though mandatory spending on entitlement programs is by far the largest slice of the budgetary pie, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other cuts that can be made. Wasteful spending abounds -- unless you think the National Institutes of Health spending $387,000 of your money to study the effects of Swedish massage on rabbits is essential.
Sure, $387,000 isn’t much by Washington standards. But the budget is filled with such examples, and every little bit helps. It’s easy to shrug off one or two, but getting rid of enough of them can make a real difference.
There’s also far too much redundancy in the budget. According to a report from the Government Accountability Office, duplication of federal programs and services could cost taxpayers $45 billion annually. Elimination of wasteful and duplicative spending is definitely a worthwhile task for the new Congress.
Another huge driver of future overspending? Obamacare. New spending for the absurdly misnamed Affordable Care Act will cost more than $1.8 trillion over the next decade, and why? Because of its massive expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for those who buy health insurance in the new exchanges.
Some may suggest cutting defense spending, but as a percentage of the budget, it’s already been falling for quite some time. In 1965, defense spending was 7.2 percent of GDP. In 2014, it was 3.5 percent of GDP -- less than half of what it was in 1965.
Meanwhile, entitlement spending has been booming. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid make up 77 percent, or more than three-fourths, of mandatory program spending in 2014 -- and have no budget limits.
To put the problem of overspending in perspective, consider what is perhaps the most striking chart in the Heritage report. It’s titled “What if a typical family spent money like the federal government?”
It notes that the median family income is $52,000: “If they spent money like the federal government, they’d spend $60,400 a year, which would mean they’d put $8,400 on the credit card each year, despite already being $308,800 in debt.
This is unsustainable. Does the new Congress realize this? More importantly, do they care?

The Missing are Found

Townhall.com ^ | January 10, 2015 | Bill Tatro 


By now everyone knows that the decline in the unemployment rate is simply a function of the record (92.9 million) Americans not counted in the labor force. THEY ARE MISSING!

Those who are fortunate to have a job, not held by some geezer over 55, watched their hourly earnings plunge the most in the last 8 years. There is obviously concern that, now that the Holiday Season is over, all of the newly hired bartenders and waitresses will be back in the unemployment line. Probably, not to be counted, when they apply for first time unemployment as they will more than likely not be counted as part of the participation pool. 5.4% unemployment rate is dead ahead.

This is not a mystery to anyone except mainstream media and the gang of 68 economists (those were the guys who predicted a 10 year 4% interest rate at the close of 2014 Oops!) All of the above is known.

What I am about to report is the answer to the question weighing on every person’s mind [except Janet Yellen who believes all of the missing are retired and drinking Pina Coladas on a beach someplace]

Where are the missing 92.9 million Americans not in the labor force?

I am ecstatic to have discovered, without the aid of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe or any of a dozen real or imaginary Shamus’, the whereabouts of 92.9 million missing workers.

None are looking for a job. All are eagerly still home waiting for the next great adventure. Nota job but:

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!!

The BLS knew that once the President announced his 2 year free program at Junior College the floodgates would open and the 92.9 would magically reappear with calculators, paper and pencil in hand and school book ready. Therefore, knowing this why count them as absentee workers who in reality are all just new eager freshman college students.

I can just see the classes being offered now depending upon the age category

*Introduction to the cloud
*The best way to say welcome at Walmart
*Understanding Obamacare
*College is a lifestyle
*Redecorating the folk’s basement


Of course, mandatory for all ages will be

*Keynesianism 101

As the Head of the Fed and the President of the United States have said “Education is the solution for the 21st century”.

Who am I to disagree? In the spirit of the moment I would suggest the following curriculum study be added to the courses that will be offered*

*How to buy a Congressman?
*Making War profitable and fun
*How to take on debt and make your neighbor pay for it?

Of course

*Keynesianism 102

All rest easy.

THE MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED.

The President himself disclosed the answer.

FREE COLLEGE!
WHO WOULD HAVE THUNK?

P.S. Just a thought for the detectives: Does this mean anyone who already has two years at Junior College will get a refund?

Listen Up Obama, Students Don’t Want Your Free Education(What Free Education?)

Townhall.com ^ | January 10, 2015 | Ashley Pratte 


In case you haven’t heard, President Obama plans to make his latest and greatest idea public today—to grant a “free” community college education to every student who graduates from high school.

Well, the idea sounds nice, especially now, when college is unaffordable for many young people and requires taking out significant loans by those who do attend. But, is a “free” government program actually free or void of costs?

Of course not.

Remember when President Obama promised free healthcare to young people when he was touring college campuses at a whirlwind rate? Has that promise held water? The answer is no.

President Obama then switched his tune from promising free healthcare to promising lower premiums. Today, the facts are quite the opposite. A recent study shows that health insurance premiums have drastically skyrocketed among 23-year-olds, especially males, who have seen a 78% price increase. Women have seen close to a 45% increase. Many Americans—especially our nation’s young people—are suffering as a result of this atrocious law.

This administration has a serious spending problem and promises the world to our nation’s young people, with the goal of creating a permanent dependent class out of millennials. But, guess what? Sixty percent of millennials believe that the federal government is too big and spends too much. Policies that are meant to “help” young people actually hurt them in the long run.

Who is responsible for paying off the national debt? Millennials. Currently, each person’s share of the national debt is $58,437—and it will only increase as programs like “free” college continue to come to fruition.

The President knows that he has lost momentum with young people. Offering “free” community college tuition to everyone, however, only appears to be a desperate attempt to win back young people for the future benefit of his leftist causes and colleagues. But young people don’t want government handouts. What young people want and need is the freedom to work hard and succeed. They need independence from the federal government—not reliance upon it. Free market approaches can and should be taken to make college more affordable, but is a “free” community college education—on the shoulders of taxpayers—the answer?

So, today when President Obama makes his glorious announcement that young people should be able to now attend community college for “free”—let’s remember the wise words of Milton Friedman, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

5.6 Million Obamacare Enrollees Could Be in Big Trouble

Bloomberg, The Motley Fool ^ | 10 Jan 15 | Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg; Sean Williams



More than half of the 2014-2015 enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, best known as Obamacare, is in the books, and the enrollment figures on the surface look very encouraging.
To be clear, Obamacare is about more than just enrollment figures. For one thing, in order for the health reform law to be successful, it'll need people that enroll to actually continue paying their premium. This is the only way that medical care costs get spread out over a greater swath of the public, which is needed to control medical care cost inflation. However, between April and mid-October, for instance, around 1 million people stopped paying for their health insurance. The program will need to minimize this attrition in 2015 and beyond in order to be successful.
Surface enrollment data is strong In the meantime, Obamacare enrollments from week six (Dec. 20 to Dec. 26) continue to point toward the law bringing in more than the 9.1 million people that the Department of Health and Human Services had predicted.
Based on data for just the 37 states operating under the federally run Healthcare.gov, nearly 6.5 million people have selected plans. During week six just 96,446 people selected a plan, but this drop-off was expected considering both the holiday week and the fact that we're past the deadline whereby people could enroll and still be covered by Jan. 1, 2015. This deadline was a huge impetus to the enrollment surge witnessed in weeks four and five.
In spite of the subdued enrollment in week six, nearly 317,000 people window-shopped healthcare plans on Healthcare.gov and close to 1.4 million users were active on the site. The implication is that interest in obtaining health insurance is still high for many uninsured Americans.
Things are going well numbers-wise at the state level, too. Through mid-December some 1.1 million plan selections had been made, bringing the total number of selected plans through all 50 states to at least 7.6 million.


Here's a figure to worry about Yet fresh data from the HHS tells us that 5.6 million Obamacare enrollees and also investors have something to seriously worry about.
In a press release dated Dec. 30 the HHS announced that a whopping 87% of people enrolled through Healthcare.gov (5.6 million people) between Nov. 15, 2014, and Dec. 15, 2014, were getting financial assistance, also known as a subsidy. This is up from the 80% of enrollees who received a subsidy in the Nov. 15, 2013, to Dec. 15, 2013, period.
There are some positive takeaways from this figure. First, I'd suggest that fully functional software is making it easier for those who are eligible to receive a subsidy to enroll in the 2014-2015 period than in the prior enrollment period which was filled with glitches. Also, these subsidies act as a dangling carrot, encouraging people to enroll.
However, this seven percentage point rise in enrollees qualifying for subsidies could be a potential death knell for Obamacare based on a Supreme Court case expected to be ruled on sometime in June. Plaintiffs in the case argue that the language of the ACA is structured in such a way that only states running their own exchanges can divvy out subsidies to eligible individuals. Thus, if the Supreme Court finds in favor of the plaintiffs, it would mean that the 5.6 million people currently receiving subsidies via Healthcare.gov, the federally run exchange, would no longer receive those payments. I believe very, very few of those enrollees currently receiving a subsidy could afford healthcare without federal assistance.
The obvious solution is that states would need to build their own exchanges, however this is a task that would take one to two years to complete. I'm not certain that Obamacare could survive such a shock.
Very uncertain times To say the least, these are very uncertain times for health-benefits providers. Just as Obamacare has relied on subsidies to lower the rate of uninsured individuals, some insurers have geared their enrollment game plan around attracting these government-sponsored members. Redacting these subsidies now could be unpleasant for insurers' bottom-lines.
Let's discuss three different ways an investor could approach this critical decision in June. One way is, of course, to avoid the situation altogether. But, if you do, you could run the risk of missing out on big gains in the insurance sector in the meantime and following the Supreme Court's decision.
Your second option is to can focus on national insurers that have minimal exposure to Obamacare. In this instance, "minimal" exposure could simply mean insurers that have a balanced portfolio of products and which receive only a small amount of premium payments from Obamacare. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH ) , the nation's largest insurer, for instance, receives a quarter of its revenue from Medicare Advantage plans and nets a good chunk as well from its health management service company Optum. This isn't to say an unfavorable ruling wouldn't affect UnitedHealth, but comparably speaking it would be in better shape than many of its smaller peers.
Lastly, you can choose to angle your investment strategy on insurers that operate in states that have their own exchange. While it's unlikely you're going to find any that operate solely in those states, some net a higher percentage of their Obamacare enrollees from states with their own exchanges than others. Molina Healthcare (NYSE: MOH ) , for example, generates a good number of enrollees from California, which operates its own exchange. Not to mention, Molina only recently dipped its toes into the water when it comes to operating in the individual insurance market. Losing a few thousand members wouldn't dramatically impact its bottom line.
One thing is for certain: it's going to be pins and needles for Obamacare, insurers, investors, and 5.6 million people receiving subsidies via Healthcare.gov until June.

IS OBAMA AGAINST THE KEYSTONE PIPELINE BECAUSE HE LOVES THE ENVIRONMENT?

Fw: Fwd: Fw: BNSF RAILROAD Four Winds Blog ^ | December 12, 2014 | Email from DN 

Give your head a slap if you think that's his purpose....
OF COURSE IT'S NOT. IT NEVER IS. EVEN THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT IS BASED ON CREATING A NEW MONEY STREAM FOR CORPORATOCRACY, DONCHA KNOW! That's what Al Gore was all about... and he got a Nobel Prize for his big fat lie, as did Obama for his, that war is peace and peace is war!
Interesting to me, what is below.... because my own father worked as District Passenger Agent for Great Northern Railway, which became Burlington Northern .... and now BNSF.... out of Winnipeg. My dad didn't have anything to do with freight trains, but he was proud of what the company did, way back when. He explained to me that Winnipeg was a rail hub of immense proportions (still is) and that while the passenger movement north and south was not that huge (they ran one line from Winnipeg to Minneapolis-St.Paul MN, that was it) the rail movement was humungous.... and still is.
In fact.... the line is extending NORTHWARD NOW.... the northern end of the TTC (Trans-Texas Corridor) which incorporates fuel, rail, and road transportation, leads to Winnipeg as well as to the eastern link, Toronto, via Fort Erie. Since they are now opening the Northwest Passage (Thanks to HAARP melting the ice floes) they are dredging out Churchill harbor for much heavier ships, creating a deep sea port.
NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS. THERE IS A REASON FOR EVERYTHING. Here, it's Warren Bleeping Buffett...