Author Archives: Teresa Wendt

About Teresa Wendt

A stay at home mom who runs a household, manages the finances, cares for a young adult autistic son, and cooks from scratch. Traveling from Arizona to Alaska summer of 2013. Visit my blog at http://ramblinroseaz.wordpress.com/ and follow along.

Obama Pushes Banks to Accept Less Qualified for Home Loans

Wait a second! Didn’t we just go through this? Doesn’t this sound like déjà vu all…over again?

Let’s look back. Less than 20 years ago, in order to buy a home one had to meet certain criteria. That is: to have a verifiable job, have saved (yes, scrimped and done without to save) 20% to put down (certain qualified groups like vets could get loans with less down), and to have a history of paying bills in a timely fashion. It was a standard that not everyone could make.

But the government, your congress, in its infinite wisdom said, “Hey, we think everybody should be able to buy a home. After all, it’s the American Dream.” And Presto! They changed the rules. They told banks to accept less than verifiable job information. They told banks that people shouldn’t have to save money to buy a home. And they told banks that paying bills on time was an ideal, not a requirement.

fannie-maeAnd Congress said banks could offer low equity loans, creative financing, including interest only so that everyone could afford  to own a home.

Of course, we’re all for home ownership. But it comes with a price. Our family chose to do with less so that we could save money needed to put down on a home. We knew that there was a limit on what size of home we could afford. Common sense…and the mortgage company…dictated our price range. We bought our home hoping that the value would increase, but realizing that the five year balloon payment meant that we would have to refinance no matter.

But what happened? You know the story. Heck, it isn’t ancient history. The housing bubble burst less than ten years ago. People who couldn’t really afford to be in homes suddenly discovered they couldn’t make the payments when the real loans came due (the interest only and sub-prime loans only lasted so long). The market value of homes dropped and more new homeowners realized they owed way more than their home was worth. Many walked. Leaving banks holding the mortgages until the banks folded leaving, yes, you guessed it, taxpayers footing the bill.

After most banks were bailed out and scolded by the ‘smarter, wiser’ administration they went back to requiring certain criteria before they would loan money. A lesson learned. Or so we thought.

This week President Obama came out with a new proposal wanting banks to accept less than qualified people for home loans. After all, it’s the American Dream. You can read about it in the Washington Post.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

 

HHS Then: Time to Cut Medicare Advantage…Now: Time to Boost Medicare Advantage

Kathleen_Sebelius_Secretary_of_Health_and_Human_Services_nominationIt was just February of this year that the Health and Human Services Department announced it would cut payments to Medicare Advantage, using those funds to help finance the expenses of ObamaCare. Now, in a reversal the Obama Administration said it will increase the payment for health insurers who offer the Medicare Advantage program.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said on Monday it will increase the rate by 3.3 percent in 2014, reversing a 2.3 percent cut announced in February.

This reversal followed an intense lobbying program by seniors and Medicare Advantage Insurance providers who were warned of significant cuts to the popular program. Some insurance providers had hinted they would drop the program due to the cuts.

“The policies announced today further the agency’s goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice,” Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in a statement.

Again, as with the Affordable Care Act itself, it appears there was little actual foresight or planning.

Read more at Kaiser Health News.

$80M Pork Project Sits Useless in AK

It sounds like an April Fool’s news story. But it’s not. Over the weekend a report emerged that should make everyone shake their heads. A brand new, unwanted high speed ferry worth $80 Million was put up for auction receiving only one bid of $750,000.

The 200 foot vessel was christened in 2010. Built in Southeast Alaska it was designed for use in the Southcentral area of the state. Only problem? There is no dock or plans to build any docking facilities for the ferry.

So what happened?

In a nutshell, a boat designer convinced the state of Alaska and the Department of Defense that he could create a new type of boat that could be raised or lowered in the water providing icebreaking ability. This high speed vessel would be used to ferry residents the length of Cook Inlet and would be available for rapid deployment in case a disaster, such as an emergency plane landing in the inlet.

It sounds good on paper right?

Imagine with me a whole bunch of guys spending other peoples’ money talking about this idea. You might call them ‘Yes-Men’. Imagine the adjectives being tossed around: novel, new technology, rapid response, ground breaking. . . Sure, they all said, “Let’s build it!”

But what about the cost?

The population of the entire borough this ferry would serve was only 80,000 residents. In fact, Alaska’s most populated city of Anchorage hovers at 300,000. A pricey endeavor for a small population. Luckily, the Navy was interested and because they were, much of the money was paid from the DoD budget. Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was said to be instrumental in getting the earmarks for this pork project added. (Yes, he was a Republican.)

MV_Susitna_-_Catamaran_Ice_Breaking_Ferry_for_AlaskaUnfortunately, without additional foresight, the prototype was built.

After its completion, a state study discovered the boat can hold 134 passengers but only 20 vehicles, and burns 375 gallons of fuel an hour. A state ferry with a similar capacity, the Lituya, burns 55 gallons an hour. The borough and the state decided they really couldn’t use it. It was too expensive and docks currently within the state ferry system would have to be reconfigured.

Here we are three years later. It costs the state $75,000 each month to maintain and now we know nobody else even wants to bid on this white elephant…or should we say orca?

One has to wonder, in light of the severe military cuts via the sequestration, how many veterans college tuition costs would have been covered if the federal government had just thought this project through?

Read more at the Mat-Su Borough website, the Anchorage Daily News or even the MV Susitna’s own website.

Single Democrats? Here’s Your New Health Insurance.

Do you know any young single Obama voters? Maybe the guys and gals who were excited about their “free” contraceptives offered through Obamacare? Those who excitedly said, “Yes. Yes. We all need health care.”

Share this with those guys.

The first new price rates came out today in Vermont. An enthusiastically democratic state, Vermont politicians have been pushing for a single payer program within their state. The state is implementing its own health care program allowing it to receive a waiver from Obamacare. Which all sounds good…

At least until people find out the “free” programs actually cost money.

In the released rates, a family of four making $34,000 government subsidies will reduce their health care cost to less than $50 a month. Of course, that same family (as any VT family of four making under $57,000) per year qualifies today for the state run Medicaid program.

But what if you, still living in Vermont, and are single making $40,000. Next year, your  health insurance cost will be about $300 per month. Oops.

Visit the Vermont health insurance website to see for yourself. The idea of single payer insurance with added perks and benefits seems great…until you realize, somebody has to pay for it.

HiViz Shooting Systems Leaving CO Following AntiGun Laws

First it was Magpul, now it’s HiViz announcing plans to leave the state of Colorado following new anti-gun legislation:

HiViz Shooting Systems Announces Relocation Plans

HiVizPRESS RELEASE: April 1, 2013, Fort Collins, CO—HiViz Shooting Systems (a division of North Pass Ltd.), announces plans to relocate operations out of the state of Colorado due to recent changes in Colorado state gun control legislation.  HiViz President and CEO Phillip Howe, states that talks are currently under way with officials of a neighboring state regarding the move.

Mr. Howe comments, “I make this announcement with mixed emotions. Colorado is a beautiful state with great people, but we cannot in clear conscience support with our taxes a state that has proven through recent legislation a willingness to infringe upon the constitutional rights of our customer base.” Mr. Howe notes that prior to the changes in law in Colorado, he made several attempts to persuade state officials via emails and telephone calls to proceed slowly with gun control legislation that would impact individual shooters and the shooting industry as a whole.

Although the relocation will be expensive and time consuming, he adds, “It is in the best interest of our company and our customers.” Starting with corporate headquarters, the operations will be moved over an extended period of time ensuring no interruption of services to its customer base, and HiViz states that the majority of its employees will make the move with the corporate operations. More details regarding the location and timing of the relocation will be announced as details are finalized.

HiViz Shooting Systems manufactures light-gathering sights, recoil pads and accessories for the shooting industry.

Pope Francis: Showing How to Love

popefrancis

Did you see this picture? Following his first Easter Mass Pope Francis greeted worshipers and was handed up this young special needs boy to receive a kiss and hug.  I thought it might be the top story for news outlets but it was hard to find any mention.

Why? The heartwarming photo, but even more so the video clip below shows that this disabled boy clearly knows and loves the warm embrace by the pope.

I suppose in this day where 80 to 90 percent of “disabled” fetuses are aborted the public does not want to see or hear this story. After all, women and families are told that their disabled child will not have a normal life and will not be able to participate fully in today’s society. “Get rid of it,” they are told, as though their unborn and maybe imperfect child has no value. But perhaps the disabled, the weakest among us, can serve in testament that every human person has value.

All have a purpose. Sometimes it is not obvious. Sometimes it is to teach others. Like the young boy in this clip.

Maybe his role in society is to teach others how to love and the new pope helps him. In the video below, fast forward to 10:30 and watch. Don’t you agree?

In full disclosure, I am not Catholic. I am however, mother to a young adult son who is nonverbal and has special needs. Every day he teaches me life lessons.

Obamacare Will Cost More. Surprised?

obamacare costsThis week the Society of Actuaries released a study that demonstrates costs for health care will rise for many under Obamacare. In a study of individual policies it was found that states offering low cost insurance the prices could rise significantly with increases as high as 80% in Ohio and Wisconsin, and 60% in California, Idaho, Maryland and Indiana. It is expected that much of the increases would then be passed on to customers through higher premiums.

Criticized by the Obama administration as being biased the SoA states they were commissioned to do the evaluation by UnitedHealth Group but denies they skewed the information. Read the report here.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated: “These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market. “But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population, that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.”

It is worth noting that individual insurance policies currently make up only 6% of health coverage. The study did not evaluate employer insurance costs. It is also worth noting that Secretary Sebelius and Team Obama continue to promote taxpayer sponsored subsidies to reduce expenses to many recipients.

This sudden admission of increased cost as now being reported by many Obamacare proponents may be a signal of realization that the promised reduction in health care will not be as promised.

 

If the video does not work you can watch it on YouTube: CNN Reports.

Pivot TV: A New Channel for Millennials

A new television channel geared to young adults in the 15-34 demographic will be unveiled this summer.

Touted as a new network desigpivotned to disrupt conventional wisdom, pivot will be available both through cable and on via internet subscription.  It will be the first channel to offer a stand-alone app for access. Pivot will offer a variety of programming, including shows geared to social issues and news, as well as, entertainment including some original series.

The brain child of Participant Media, pivot expects to reach 40 million homes when it debuts on August 1. Participant Media has been successful with many of its past endeavors including films like: “The Help,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Lincoln.”

From their press release: With 40+ million subscribers at launch, pivot’s programming slate is anchored by more than 300 hours of original programming in its first year.  The network’s first six greenlit series are: “TakePart Live,” a live talk show, five nights a week; “HitRECord on TV!,” a re-imagination of the variety show from director/creator/star Joseph Gordon-Levitt and executive producer Brian Graden; “Raising McCain,” a genre-bending docu-talk series starring and executive produced by the complex and accomplished Meghan McCain with Go Go Luckey Entertainment;“WILL,” a modern period drama from Craig Pearce, writer of “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby”; “Jersey Strong,” a real reality series from Peabody Award-winners Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin.

The network will co-produce with Univision News and Latin World Entertainment ten, one-hour documentaries that will air on pivot in English and Univision in Spanish.

For more information and a preview of the programming visit the Participant Media website or watch their ad:

To Boldly Go . . .and Waste Taxpayer Money

Your tax dollars at work.

Made in 2010 but just coming into the public eye is a Star Trek spoof video made by the IRS for a training and leadership session. At $60,000 this sad parody was supposed to share helpful information with IRS employees. Instead it’s just an embarrassment. The IRS last week apologized for the misuse of funds.
Even Captain Kirk is appalled at the waste of taxpayer money.


IRS Spends Thousands On Star Trek Video; Shatner ‘Appalled’ | NewsBreaker | OraTv

You can watch the whole video here. But be warned, most high school kids could have done better with less…

Sen Ron Johnson: Too Much Govt Hurts People

At a time when thfighting governmentere is much finger pointing in the GOP some are looking for better ways to reach the people. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is one such person. This week he announced a “Victims of Government” project where he introduces Americans to the effects of too much government and federal regulations. The Victims of Government series is meant to portray the impact of over-regulation through real life stories.

Watch the first installment as Senator Johnson explains the cost and expense of one man who tried a common sense approach to stop flooding in his neighborhood only to be thwarted by agency upon agency. Now more than 20 years later the man has spent all his money, is still waiting on permits. . . and there is still flooding.

Share this with your friends who don’t understand the problems of mismanagement within the giant self serving government bureaucracy.

Read the press release below:

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Johnson (WI), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting and Oversight today announced the release of the first installment of his Victims of Government project. The series will perform oversight of the cost and impact of unnecessary, ineffective, and excessive federal regulations. Johnson also invited anyone who has been dealing with excess regulation to submit their stories on his Senate website.

“The root cause of our economic and fiscal problems is the size, the scope, and the cost of government – all the rules, all the regulations, and all the government intrusion into our lives,” Johnson said. “The Victims of Government series is designed to demonstrate that – in a very personal and powerful way. Over-regulation consumes massive amounts of the people’s money, too often lacks common sense, has no heart, costs jobs and economic growth.”

Today Johnson released a video explaining the case of Steven Lathrop, a resident of Granite City, Illinois who has spent more than 20 years attempting to comply with federal wetlands regulations. That video can be viewed on Senator Johnson’s website here.

Johnson also announced that he and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) have sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, seeking to clarify the regulations with which Mr. Lathrop has been attempting to comply.

Johnson said, “I am pleased that Senator McCaskill has joined me in writing to the Corps of Engineers to request their assistance in addressing Steve Lathrop’s situation. Hopefully shining a little light on this awful mess will lead to a resolution that allows Steve to get on with his life, and recover some of the investment that federal involvement has cost him.”

More information regarding the Lathrop case will be available at the Victims of Government blog on Senator Johnson’s website. Senator Johnson encourages people dealing with burdensome and intrusive regulation to share their stories, and anyone interested in the cost of regulation to check the website in the future.

Posting Pics of Passed out Pals, the New Craze?

With the advent of social media came the opportunity to share embarrassing pictures with friends on a large scale. These snapshots might be seen as funny at age 15 or even 21 but what about at 25 or even 35? Especially when looking for a job, these ‘tagged’ internet images, might well cause an employer to choose a less controversial job applicant.

Is it just a fun craze or will it cause problems down the road? Further encouraging these awkward and possibly humiliating smart phone shots of drunken friends is a new Twitter account inviting students from the University of New Hampshire to tweet pictures of their passed out pals.

The “UNH Blackout” Twitter page shares graphic pictures of unconscious young adults who imbibe in too much alcohol. As seen in the video, many of the UNH students find the photos amusing and think these compromising shots are just in good fun.

The students may be surprised when they apply for actual jobs to discover that employers now regularly check the internet and social media for applicant information. They may be further surprised to learn that, once posted, nothing is ever really gone from the internet.

 

 

FAA to Close 149 Airport Towers

glendale airportBlame it on the sequestration.

The FAA announced today that 149 smaller airport towers would close beginning in April. Originally another 40 towers had been slated for closure but will remain open, either because them shutting them would not be in the national interest or because money was found in a federal cost-sharing program to keep them open.

According to the FAA, airports will remain open. Many of these control towers already operated on limited hours due to the airport size. Pilots will have to coordinate takeoffs and landings themselves via radio and visual contact, as they have do now at night when the tower isn’t open.

The FAA has to cut $600 million under the automatic budget cuts that took effect March 1. Other savings will come from furloughing FAA employees and other actions.

Four airports in Arizona are included in the closure list including two within the suburban Phoenix area.

For more information watch the CNN report below: