Are you considering refinancing your mortgage or buying a home or car this year? Shopping for a sweet deal on a credit card with a low interest rate? Taking out a loan to remodel your home? If so, you may need move fast before interest rates are expected to go up next week and rise again later this year.
Joanne Butler | All Articles
A common argument for hiving off part of one’s Social Security taxes into a private account is the federal employee Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – a 401(k) type savings plan. Now that the TSP is 30 years old, the savings data is troubling, and, frankly, makes a poor argument for private accounts.
Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has it right: Speaker Paul Ryan’s ‘Border Tax Adjustment’ is a bad idea. One clue: Ryan’s put a fancy name on a simple idea. His ‘Border Tax Adjustment’ in simple language means ‘import taxes on everything.’ It will result in price increases on almost everything, while workers’ pay remains flat. This is gross indifference to middle and working class Americans – Trump voters.
Recently, liberals on news shows were talking about how ‘infrastructure improvements’ must include school reform. School reform? President Reagan commissioned a comprehensive schools report in 1983. After 34 years, have we learned nothing? In fact, we have. And we’re fortunate to have an Education Secretary in Betsy DeVos who has the right ideas about fixing our education system.
Feelings are running low in farm country – those states where Trump won in the election. In truth, feelings generally run low there – farmers never seem to have a ‘good’ year. Either the harvest is damaged and small, or booming and driving down prices. It’s latter right now. Further, farmers were looking forward to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as the gateway to exporting more agricultural products and commodities. But TPP is dead. What will President Trump do?
Although President-Elect Trump wants to lower drug prices, he may not know about a tool he can use to not only push prices down, but also lower medical costs. The answer: change the FDA’s regulations to make more commonly prescribed drugs ‘Over the Counter’ (OTC).
Sixty-four years ago this Sunday, Harry S. Truman delivered his farewell address to the nation. It was windy, and in my opinion rather dull. However, the undelivered version in Truman’s autobiography has nuggets of truth for President Obama, President-Elect Trump, and all Americans. Most importantly, Truman tells us the President is not a king or potentate but a human being who occupies the Office for four or eight years, and then returns to being a private citizen.
President-elect Trump did a good thing when he got angry and talked to the CEO of Boeing over the high cost of building a new fleet of Air Force One planes. While this was a good start, it was just the tiny tip of the federal fiscal iceberg. If Trump really wants to roll up his sleeves and conquer federal waste, he should invite two men to Trump Tower: former Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) and Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).
Ancient maps had a warning about unknown territory: Here Be Dragons. That’s how I feel about how some conservatives are calling for a constitutional convention. Article Five of the U.S. Constitution is silent on how a convention would work. That silence troubles me as it indicates a high degree of risk. Here Be Dragons indeed.
There are two paths to healthcare reform for President-Elect Trump: the huge legislation way (e.g., the method that brought us Obamacare), or what I call the Ted Kennedy way – incremental but constant changes. Teddy’s way was stealthy – inserting a clause into one piece of legislation, deleting a clause in another. For Trump, I think Teddy’s way has a better chance of success than a blockbuster bill stuffed with goodies to get enough votes for passage. If Trump decides on an incremental approach, catastrophic health insurance would be a good first step.
The anxious and sometimes vicious chatter about the Trump transition reminds me of the doomsday guy who always parked his car in front of a popular Wilmington coffee shop. His car was plastered with messages on how the world was coming to an end on a certain day. As we know, he was wrong. And so are those who see nasty times coming replete with theories about … everything. Currently Trump faces a steep learning curve – one studded with landmines – but I think he will do fine in the end.
In a mere few hours it seems DC insiders are trying to unravel the policies that got Donald Trump elected. Exhibit A: Rolf Lundberg as director of ‘trade reform’. What’s wrong with Lundberg? He’s been a longtime legislative lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce: the organization that supports increased immigration, all free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, Chinese imports, etc.
Living in the Philadelphia media market, watching television means enduring the battle of the political ads. I’ve found Hillary’s latest ad very interesting. In it, she says how America’s success is measured by the success of its children, and all the wonderful things she will do for them when she is president. For the ancient Romans, Hillary would be the ‘Bona Dea’ – the goddess providing good things to children and families. Today, however, I think Hillary may aspire to be the next Eva Perón, who, although she died in 1952, retains the title of ‘The Spiritual Leader of the Nation of Argentina.’
America’s politics-free zones continue to shrink. I thought we had reached the limit when obituaries started to have political messages. The other day, I read one that said the deceased was proud to cast her vote for the nation’s first female president. Now I see that politics has intruded into a drugstore’s cosmetics aisle.
Finally, a Federal Reserve official has spoken out on the so-called recovery in the American economy. He’s Eric S. Rosengren, the president of the Boston Federal Reserve Bank. [The Fed has its headquarters in D.C. and regional banks that provide input to the Fed’s monetary policy.] Rosengren is known as a maverick by Fed-watchers, and his remarks delivered today in Boston confirm this.
Last night was a 2016-style Greek Tragedy for Hillary Clinton. The women who claim Bill Clinton abused them and Hillary mocked them were watching, their eyes on Herself. Yes, they were a silent chorus, but their message was clear: your husband physically hurt us and YOU did worse than nothing – you and your toadies smeared us as being less than human. For the first time in her life, Hillary had to look at the people her husband had harmed – and see them as human beings, not ‘bimbos,’ ‘trailer park trash,’ etc. Even if Hillary wins in November, I think she lost the respect of many Americans last night.
Last June, I wrote about how Obama’s EPA was driving stained glass makers out of business. The EPA’s diktat forced firms to install expensive equipment to limit cadmium emissions – without bothering to inspect each firm’s emissions situation. Apparently the EPA found it easier to declare all firms guilty and not bother with inspections. But I did get something wrong in June when I predicted production would move to China. Mexico, not China is the winner for now.
The buzz over Hillary Clinton’s medical condition reminded me of how John F. Kennedy’s campaign successfully covered up his serious adrenal problems – and continued to do so even after his assassination in 1963. JFK’s situation was serious, as according to the National Institutes of Health, adrenal hormones “regulat[e] blood pressure; metabolism, the way the body uses digested food for energy; and the body’s response to stress.” Severe ‘adrenal insufficiency’ can be fatal.
Donald Trump has announced that one of his priorities will be a military buildup – spending more money on the defense sector. Does he realize how that buildup will further subsidize our trading partners, who benefit from needing to spend less on their defense when Uncle Sam picks up the tab? Plus there’s the senior issue: people wonder if Social Security will go broke, yet billions of dollars are available for the military and defense contractors. I wonder when seniors, who have worked a lifetime for their benefits, will ask why they’re being shoved at the back of the line when it comes to national priorities?