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Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal Unsettling for Student Loan Borrowers

April 07, 2014 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, 2016 Election, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Education, Student loan crisis

From Heather Jarvis:

On the one hand, the administration proposes to extend PAYE to all student borrowers starting in 2015, regardless of when they borrowed. That would be nice.

But the administration proposes sharply reducing the loan forgiveness available to high-debt student loan borrowers (except they refer to these cuts as “reform[ing] the PAYE terms to ensure that program benefits are targeted to the neediest borrowers.” The proposed “reforms” are a response to criticism arguing that existing forgiveness provisions permit already expensive schools to continue raising tuition with impunity.

Proposed changes include:

  • Eliminating the standard payment cap under PAYE;
  • Calculating payments for married borrowers filing separately on the combined household Adjusted Gross Income;
  • Capping Public Sector Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) at the aggregate loan limit for independent undergraduate students (currently $57,500);
  • Establishing a 25-year forgiveness period for borrowers with balances above the aggregate loan limit for independent undergraduate students;
  • Preventing payments made under non-income driven repayment plans from being applied toward PSLF;
  • and

  • Capping the amount of interest that can accrue when a borrower’s monthly payment is insufficient to cover the interest.


Find out more here.

Will proposed cuts to PSLF affect current borrowers?

NY Courts Respond to Rising Foreclosures and Conferences

November 12, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Housing, Poverty

From NYLJ:

After the number of foreclosure cases filed in state court plummeted during the past two years, the courts are now seeing a “markedly higher” rate of filings and coping with a rise in settlement conferences, according to an Office of Court Administration report.

Despite the sharp jump in filings, the Nov. 1 report also emphasized that an increasing amount of homeowners are getting legal representation during settlement conferences.

As of early October, there were almost 34,000 residential foreclosures filed in the court system this year. By the end of the year, filings could top 44,000 according to the report’s projections.

If the numbers bear out, that would mean more filings this year than the past two years combined, when there were 25,411 foreclosure actions filed in 2012 and 16,655 actions in 2011.

See foreclosure filing trends by county.

The rise in filings suggests lenders’ improved ability to vouch for the accuracy of their court papers in affirmations after two years of difficulties, said the report, drawing on data from October 2012 to October 2013.

The affirmation requirement was imposed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in October 2010. Effective Aug. 30 a “certificate of merit” replaced the affirmation requirement for new cases. The new requirement is supposed to move cases more quickly.

“This report marks a period that has seen a tremendous spike in new foreclosure filings. As a result, the number of mandated settlement conferences has soared. …Despite these staggering statistics and challenges, the percentage of represented defendants still increased. Much progress has been made in addressing the burgeoning foreclosure docket that continues to rise,” said the report, noting foreclosures account for about one-third of the court system’s civil caseload.

ObamaCare: “Not Just a Website”

October 22, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, 2014 Mid-term Elections, Consumer Rights, Economic Development

Heritage Action CEO: “Everybody Understands” We Can’t Repeal Obamacare Until 2017

October 17, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, 2016 Election, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Tax Policy

From Mother Jones:

When conservative activists began laying the groundwork months ago for their plan to shut down the federal government, their stated goal was delaying or defunding the Affordable Care Act, the equivalent of landing a haymaker on President Obama’s signature policy achievement. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tromped around Texas railing against the health care law, a banner proclaiming “DEFUND OBAMACARE” hanging behind him.

Yet the ultimate goal of conservative interest groups such as Heritage Action and FreedomWorks has always been the wholesale repeal of Obamacare. Some conservative lawmakers reportedly even insisted on repealing Obamacare as part of a deal to end the government shutdown that began on October 1.

But on Fox News Wednesday morning, Michael Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action, brought some reality to the discussion over repealing Obamacare:

Fox News: With a Democrat in the White House and Harry Reid with the majority in the Senate, what can you do [to stop Obamacare]?

Needham: Well, everybody understands that we’re not going to be able to repeal this law until 2017. And that we have to win the Senate and win the White House.

But right now, it is clear that this bill is not ready for primetime. It is clear that this bill is unfair. The president’s given a waiver to employers; why can’t we give that waiver to the individual people all across America?”

So there you have it.

Boomerang! Poll Reveals GOP’s Government Shutdown Bolstered Obamacare’s Popularity By 20%

After years of false narratives, misstated data and a remarkably successful campaign to poison the Affordable Care Act in the hearts and minds of the American public, Republicans have finally run into the one force that could improve the perception of healthcare reform in the eyes of the people….

Themselves.

According to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week, the GOP-Tea Party efforts to defund or delay Obamacare—the demand which directly led to the government shutdown—has brought about a seven point increase in popularity of the law.

Immediately prior to the shutdown, only 31 percent of Americans believed Obamacare was a good idea. Today, that number is 38 percent, just one percentage point lower than the peak approval number of forty percent that was achieved in July 2012.

Business Groups Urge Congress to Reopen and Raise Debt Ceiling as Shutdown Drags On

October 10, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2014 Mid-term Elections, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Corrupt Legislature, Economic Terrorism

From NYT:

House Republicans, facing the ninth day of a government shutdown, appeared increasingly isolated on Wednesday from even their strongest backers, with business groups demanding the immediate reopening of the government and benefactors such as Koch Industries publicly distancing themselves from the shutdown fight.

Republican and Democratic leaders met at noon to try to find a way forward, both on reopening the government and on raising the federal debt limit before the Treasury exhausts its ability to borrow on Oct. 17. Leading Republicans in the House appeared to be trying to move the stalemate away from efforts to defund President Obama’s health care law to a broader discussion of fiscal policy.

In an opinion piece in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed negotiating a continuing resolution to reopen the government with a focus on changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and a reshaping of the federal tax code. He did not mention the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans had said must be defunded, delayed or damaged before the full government is to be reopened.

It was not clear whether conservative rank-and-file Republicans would go along with that redirection. But other voices usually allied with Republicans stepped up pleas for an end to the standoff. On Wednesday, the National Retail Federation joined other business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers in asking House Republicans to relent.

“We strongly support passage of both a continuing resolution to provide for funding of the federal government into the next fiscal year and a measure to raise the nation’s debt ceiling,” the group’s president, Matthew Shay said in a letter to Congress that highlighted economic indicators showing that the shutdown has already hurt consumer spending and depressed consumer confidence.

President Obama has planned a series of meetings with lawmakers. He is scheduled to meet this evening with House Democrats at the White House, and to meet separately later this week with House Republicans, Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats.

Meantime, Koch Industries accused Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, on Wednesday of spreading “false information” about the Koch brothers by suggesting they were behind the move to end financing for President Obama’s health care law and the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Americans love Obamacare but if Obamacare were Romneycare, would we have a government shutdown?

October 02, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism

Compare_and_contrast

From Christian Science Monitor:

Enrollment in the new health care exchanges [began yesterday] and the government is partially shut down in protest—never mind that Obamacare funding is largely immune to the shutdown.

The Republicans in the House appear to be getting most of the blame for the shutdown because they insist that continued government funding be tied to at least a temporary delay in the implementation of the President’s healthcare law, a nonstarter in the Democratic controlled Senate and the White House.

I wondered how the debate might be different if 2008 had produced a President Romney rather than Obama. Candidate Romney would have campaigned on the success of the Massachusetts health reform, arguably his greatest accomplishment as governor. The system of subsidies, mandates, and a regulated health insurance marketplace were the model for the Affordable Care Act.

If we had Romneycare, the White House and Republicans would be trumpeting the remarkable success of the free (but regulated) market in providing a wide range of choices of insurance plans in most markets and pushing prices down. That is what choice and competition do! (And, exactly what seems to be happeningnow under Obamacare.)

Democrats might complain that many of the affordable health insurance plans have high deductibles that could create significant hardships for middle-income families if they get sick. The Republicans would remind us that high deductibles help constrain medical spending by making health insurance consumers cost conscious. (In the alternative reality that is Obamacare, Republicans bemoan the high deductibles and the Democrats mostly remain silent.)

Democrats, chafing under Romneycare would hate the individual mandate and the burden it puts on middle-class workers unlucky enough to work for an employer that doesn’t provide health insurance. Republicans would call it individual responsibility; people should be discouraged from eschewing insurance only to put the burden of paying for their care on others when they get sick. Conservative think tanks would point out that the mandate is the lynchpin of any free market solution.

The bottom line is that the main problem many Republicans have with the Affordable Care Act is that it is Obamacare rather than Romneycare. (Well, actually, it is Romneycare.)

The truth is, Americans love Obamacare:

Among the many delusions guiding the Republican campaign against the Affordable Care Act, surely the most consistent is the idea that the public detests the law and is clamoring for repeal.

Here’s the truth: The American public loves Obamacare, with as many as 88% in favor, according to one survey.

How can that be, when polls regularly show a plurality of respondents with an “unfavorable” view of Obamacare? (In a September Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, the difference was 43% unfavorable to 39% favorable.)

The answer, of course, is that most Americans have no idea what’s in the law. In the Kaiser survey, 57% said they didn’t have enough information to know how it would affect them. When they’re asked how they feel about specific provisions, however, they’re almost always thunderously in favor.

Here are figures from Kaiser’s March 2013 poll:

  • Tax credits for small businesses to buy insurance: 88% in favor.
  • Closing the Medicare drug benefit doughnut hole: 81% in favor.
  • Extension of dependent coverage to offspring up to age 26: 76% in favor.
  • Expanding Medicaid: 71% in favor.
  • Ban on exclusions for preexisting conditions: 66% in favor.
  • Employer mandate: 57% in favor.

If you agree with those provisions, congratulations: You love Obamacare. Yet when respondents are asked how they feel about “Obamacare,” they’re against it.

Getting Ready for Obamacare: How to Get Coverage and Calculate Your Costs

September 28, 2013 By: seeta Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Development

CFPB Launches New Toolkit to Educate Borrowers on Public Service Loan Forgiveness Options

September 09, 2013 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Education, Intersectionality, Poverty

From Student Loan Expert Heather Jarvis:

The CFPB launched a new toolkit last week to empower school districts and other public service organizations to help their employees pay off student loan debt.

According to a report released last week, the CFPB estimates that more than 25 percent of the U.S. labor force is in public service.

  • To learn more about the CFPB’s new toolkit for employers, click here.
  • To review Heather’s Employer’s Guide to PSLF, click here.