Our National Debt

The big news yesterday was that our national debt hit a whopping $31 trillion….that is right that is trillion with a “T”…..

The gross US national debt, which topped $30 trillion for the first time earlier this year, has now risen to more than $31 trillion, according to a Treasury Department report released Tuesday. The disclosure comes at what the New York Times calls an “inopportune time”—interest rates are rising, make it more expensive to borrow money and raising the cost of servicing the debt, which has ballooned to its current level from around $23 trillion at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit. “Too many people were complacent about our debt path in part because rates were so low,” says Michael A. Peterson at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which promotes debt reduction.

In May, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that interest payments and other debt costs would cost the federal government around $8.1 trillion over the next decade. The Peterson foundation estimates higher rates will add at least another $1 trillion. The Office of Management and Budget said in August that the federal budget deficit will drop by a record $1.7 trillion this year, though analysts warn that the underlying “addiction” to debt remains, the AP reports. “When you increase government spending and money supply, you will pay the price later,” says Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University. He predicts that high inflation will continue for the foreseeable future.

Our Congress has done what they always do….pass a Continuing Resolution to keep our government in business for the next few months.

This should be a gimme but instead the GOP and the Dems have to have a political theater around this necessity.

They even added money debt to the bill by promising more millions possibility billions to Ukraine for their conflict with Russia.

To the tune of $16 billion.

Now my question is why is there NOT some opposition to this blatant waste of taxpayer cash…..I mean they have plenty of opposition to social programs that would benefit the poor and needy….but have nothing to say about cash flowing into Ukraine on a daily basis.

Why?

Someone just please tell me the bottom line for Ukraine.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Lock The Bastards Up!

A departure from my usual Sunday posts….but this is just too important to wait for later….

This country is choke full of a/holes that steal from people that truly need assistance…..the pandemic was no different.

Greed is just too string for some to resist.

The ‘pandemic crimes unit’ is fully investigating all sorts of theft of pandemic funds to be used to help the people and businesses cope with the lack of income in the trying times……

The federal government has a revised estimate of the amount of money the US unemployment insurance program lost through fraud during the pandemic: $45.6 billion. Criminals collected the money between March 2020 and April 2022 through such tactics as using the Social Security numbers of dead people, CNN reports. The estimate released Thursday by the Labor Department’s inspector general replaces the one issued a year ago of about $16 billion, per the Washington Post. Kevin Chambers, who leads pandemic-related enforcement for the Justice Department, called the findings “unprecedented fraud.”

The government distributed the money to businesses and individuals to try to strengthen the economy during the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump approved $3.1 trillion in funding in 2020 and President Biden another $1.9 trillion in 2021. Unemployment fraud was so widespread that federal investigators have barely made a dent two years into the process, per the New York Times. The government announced Thursday it has now charged 1,000 people with crimes related to jobless benefits committed during the pandemic. Hundreds of people are working on fraud cases in the offices of 21 inspectors general, and other agencies are involved. President Biden last month signed legislation doubling the statute of limitations to 10 years for some pandemic-related fraud, promising thieves that the government will find them.

The hero of Mississippi, Brett Favre, is one of those creeps that in on the theft of pandemic funds…..he too needs to be locked up but will not….he will skate as he always has in the past.

These people, if found guilty, need to made to pay a heavy price for their disregard of the needs of those in trouble during the pandemic.

Enjoy your Sunday….be well and be safe…..

“lego ergo scribo”

The Inflation Reduction Act

Recently the Congress and the White House passed and signed a great bill that is suppose to help struggling Americans keep the prices of drugs down….

The Inflation Reduction Act is set to lower drug prices for millions of people in the U.S. — but experts fear pharmaceutical companies could exploit loopholes in the bill, ultimately keeping prescription costs high for many.

The law takes aim at insulin costs, caps out-of-pocket spending for Medicare beneficiaries, and allows the federal government to negotiate prices on the costliest prescription drugs. It also will require drugmakers to pay a rebate to Medicare if they raise prices too sharply.

These provisions won’t be implemented all at once.  Instead, they’ll go into effect gradually over the next several years, beginning with insulin price caps and rebates in 2023, out-of-pocket caps in 2025, and finally drug negotiations in 2026.

Because of the four-year gap before the law is fully implemented, policy and legal experts fear that pharmaceutical companies may have ample time to go on the offense and — if they don’t try to get the law thrown out in court — figure out ways to sidestep provisions that affect their ability to maintain their high profits.

The tactics may ultimately threaten the law’s ability to lower drug costs for consumers. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey found about 8 in 10 adults say the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable.

“Trying to reform the system is like playing three-dimensional chess,” said Robin Feldman, a pharmaceutical and intellectual property law expert at the University of California, Hastings. “Whatever move the government makes, companies will move on three different levels to try to get around it.”

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/inflation-reduction-act-aims-lower-drug-costs-s-big-pharma-get-rcna48341

This is typical….the Congress installs loopholes that can be exploited by the donors that pay their representatives to make it easier for them exploit the people of this country.

So bend over my fellow Americans and enjoy the ride….you will get use to it (sarcasm)….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–20Sep22

This an FYI for all my retired seniors that get a Social Security payment monthly….a must read to understand the news of the largest COLA in decades.

Our seniors got some good news recently…..it appears as if there will be a good substantial COLA for next year.

When we last read the tea leaves in May, it was looking like seniors could be looking at an 8.6% adjustment to their monthly Social Security checks in 2023. The cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) happens in October, and with just one month to go, the predicted increase has ticked up. The New York Times reports the Senior Citizens League is now projecting an 8.7% increase for next year. The Social Security Administration will make its announcement on Oct. 13. Our story from May 2022 follows:

Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) doesn’t happen until October, and it’ll be based on the previous three months of inflation numbers. But a forecast from the Senior Citizens League indicates those Social Security checks could see a big hike. CBS News reports the advocacy group for older Americans projected an 8.6% increase for 2023 based on the Consumer Price Index data for April that was released Wednesday. Consumer prices were up 8.3% last month from 12 months earlier, a slight decrease from March’s 8.5% annual increase. The COLA is calculated using a slight variation of that Consumer Price Index (CPI) called the CPI-W. The CPI-W was 8.9% in April.

Some 69 million Americans collect Social Security, and their average check is about $1,658 per month. Should that 8.6% hike come to pass, that would bring it to about $1,800 in 2023. As for the Senior Citizens League’s track record, it ultimately forecast a 6.1% COLA increase for 2022, versus an actual boost of 5.9%—an amount that isn’t keeping up with this year’s rate of inflation. The top three COLA increases since 1975 were 14.3% (1980), 11.2% (1981), and 9.9% (1979). An 8.6% increase would enter the list at No. 4. But it’s possible inflation will ease over the next five months. “I think the action at the Fed is going to slow things down,” Mary Johnson, Social Security and Medicare policy analyst at the Senior Citizens League, tells CNBC.

Not to worry the insurance companies and your c-pays will go up…..meaning that seniors will probably see a lot less of the raise than anticipated.

2023 will bring some major changes to the program…..

https://www.fool.com/investing/2022/09/18/3-changes-to-social-security-retirees-must-know/

Happens every time we get a good COLA….we lose most of it to the health industry….

https://www.fool.com/investing/2022/09/19/kiss-your-101-social-security-raise-goodbye-2023/

One of the worse scams in history….the American healthcare system.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What About This Inflation Thing?

I have heard much ‘good’ news about the economy lately….but unfortunately the real facts say different….

Investors were fully expecting good news from the new monthly inflation report out Tuesday. But instead of declining, prices actually rose in August. Which means the Federal Reserve is all but certain to forge ahead with an aggressive rate hike at its Sept. 20-21 meeting. Details:

  • Monthly rise: Prices rose 0.1% in August from July, according to the Consumer Price Index, reports CNBC. Most analysts had forecast a decline of 0.1%. Investors were hoping for a sign that inflation had peaked.
  • Yearly increase: Compared to a year earlier, prices in August were up 8.3%, which is extremely high by historical standards, though below the annual figures of 8.5% in July and 9.1% in June, per the Wall Street Journal.
  • Market flips: Dow futures were up about 200 points before the report came out, with investors hoping an inflation cool-down would convince the Fed to temper its interest-rate hikes. But as soon as the report came out, Dow futures were down by 300 points, per CNBC.
  • The Fed: The new report is all but certain to keep the Fed “firmly in inflation-fighting mode,” per the New York Times. Most observers expect another hike of three-quarters of a percentage point. “Inflation is far too high, and it is too soon to say whether inflation is moving meaningfully and persistently downward,” Christopher Waller, one of the Fed’s governors, said last week. “This is a fight we cannot, and will not, walk away from.”

So the news is not so good and Wall Street reacting as could be predicted…..

The stock market fell the most since June 2020 following Wall Street’s humbling realization Tuesday that inflation is not slowing as much as hoped. The S&P 500 fell 177.72 points, or 4.3%, to 3,932.69. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,276.37 points, or 3.9%, to 31,104.97. The Nasdaq fell 632.84 points, or 5.2%, to 11,633,57. A hotter-than-expected report on inflation has traders bracing for the Federal Reserve to ultimately raise interest rates even higher than expected, with all the risks for the economy that entails. Bond prices also tumbled, sending yields sharply higher, after the government reported inflation decelerated last month by less than economists forecast.

Investments seen as the most expensive or the riskiest are the ones hardest hit by higher rates. Bitcoin tumbled 7.1%. In the stock market, all but four of the stocks in the S&P 500 fell. Technology and other high-growth companies fell more than the rest of the market because they’re seen as most at risk from higher rates, the AP reports. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon all fell more than 4% and were the heaviest weights on the market. The communication services sector, which includes Google’s parent company and other internet and media companies, sank 4.8% for the largest loss out of the 11 sectors that make up the S&P 500 index.

Most of Wall Street came into the day thinking the Fed would hike its key short-term rate by a hefty three-quarters of a percentage point at its meeting next week. But the hope was that inflation was in the midst of quickly falling back to more normal levels after peaking in June at 9.1%. The thinking was that such a slowdown would let the Fed downshift the size of its rate hikes through the end of this year and then potentially hold steady through early 2023. Tuesday’s report dashed some of those hopes. “Right now, it’s not the journey that’s a worry so much as the destination,” says Brian Jacobsen at Allspring Global Investments. “If the Fed wants to hike and hold, the big question is at what level.”

Not to worry they will manipulate the economy to make everything look okay for us mere peasants…..but if you have to earn a living you know it is not ‘healthy’ by any stretch of the imagination.

But go ahead bury your head and plug along barely making it….or do something about it.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Those Russian Sanctions

At the start of the Ukraine/Russia mash-up the US did what we always do….imposed sanctions.

I have not been a fan of sanctions because I do not believe they are all that effect…… as I wrote in the past…..

Sanctions, What Are They Good For?

I post this because of the news from this weekend….

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom is set to rake in 85% higher revenues this year, to around $100 billion, as natural gas prices surged following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the significant cut to Russian pipeline gas exports to Europe, an analyst told the Financial Times on Friday.

By choking supply to Europe, Gazprom has driven natural gas prices three times higher than last year’s price, which more than offsets the lower volumes Russia is sending to Europe, Ron Smith, an oil and gas analyst at BCS Global Markets, told FT.

“You can make a solid case that Gazprom will earn more from supplying less gas,” according to the analyst.

The EU is looking to limit Putin’s revenues from gas, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday the Commission would propose a price cap on Russian gas as “We must cut Russia’s revenues which Putin uses to finance this atrocious war against Ukraine.”

Also on Wednesday, Vladimir Putin threatened the West that Russia would stop supplying all energy products to Europe if the EU and its Western allies impose price caps on Russian oil and natural gas.

Several EU member states are opposed to the Commission’s plan on a price cap on Russian gas amid concerns that Putin would retaliate with a complete halt of all pipeline gas deliveries to Europe. 

(oilprice.com)

Sanctions do not always achieve the desired goal…..

If you are interested in more information then I suggest this post on IST…..

Sanctions And Tariffs

Now you know….

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Shades Of 2008

Here we go again!

Does anyone remember the crash of 2008…..well do not look now but it is happening all over again (as predicted because Congress could not rein in the greed and corruption of the banks.)

A year ago, mortgage rates were below 3%. On Thursday, Freddie Mac data showed the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was up to 5.89%, the highest point since 2008, NBC News reports. Rates briefly dropped this summer as the Federal Reserve raised the key interest rate in an effort to slow inflation. The housing market already was cooling off, per the Wall Street Journal. It’s a sector the Fed can exert great influence over because the market responds to changes in interest rates. “We’re all focused on the housing sector,” Fed Vice Chairwoman Lael Brainard said at a conference Wednesday.

The mortgage industry boomed during the pandemic, as many companies refinanced borrowers seeking loans at lower rates. Companies often were able to expand, but that’s over now that rates are rising again, with some having to lay off employees or shut down, per the Journal. Chairman Jay Powell indicated Thursday that the Fed wants to keep rates higher for a while. The climb in mortgage rates is a reaction to Powell’s comments last week, said Lisa Sturtevant, chief economist for a real estate data firm, “in which he reiterated his unwavering focus on bringing inflation down to its 2% target level.”

If there is yet another crash we can lay the blame at the feet of Congress and the president…..the powers are scrambling to try and head off this inevitability until after the mid-terms.

Watch your mortgage rates closely…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Is Inflation Slowing?

The good news lately has been that the rate of inflation is slowing…..that report made most of the MSM……good news indeed….but is it all show much smoke and mirrors?

While many economists are anxious to have the Fed push forward with an aggressive path of rate hikes, there is good reason to be cautious. If we deliberately raise the unemployment rate, and throw millions of people out of work, it will be the most disadvantaged in the economy and society who will be hardest hit.

And, the impact is not just on the people who actually lose their jobs, but on millions more who will be fearful of losing their jobs. In addition, tens of millions may feel stuck at dead end jobs with poor working conditions and abusive bosses. We should always be cautious about a policy that deliberately throws people out of work and try to avoid going this route unless it is absolutely necessary. (We should also come up with better routes for dealing with inflation, but I’ll skip that one for now.)

The recent government data on inflation, along with a wide variety of private measures, give us good reason to believe that we are seeing at least a temporary pause where the monthly inflation data will be moderate. As noted, there is clear evidence of substantial labor market weakening, which could slow the pace of wage growth to a rate consistent with moderate inflation. The Fed should take advantage of this pause to slow its path of rate hikes and get a better sense of where the labor market now stands.

Inflation: Where Are We Now?

The things that I buy shows no slowing….food is still up….gas is down….

Economists see things that we mere mortals do not……but I can only say how it is affecting me and my family…..so far inflation is still biting hard.

How about you?

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Those MediCare Advantage Plans

You have seen the ads…..everybody sells these plans, even AARP, that say they can put money back into your Social Security check….but what of these plans?

First of all the whole US health care system is a scam.

But what of these ‘advantage’ plans?

At least one Senator is not convinced these are anything but a deception….

Sen. Ron Wyden on Tuesday launched an inquiry into “potentially deceptive” marketing tactics being used by private insurers and other companies that offer Medicare benefits through Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans, citing “alarming reports” about contractors “engaging in aggressive sales practices that take advantage of vulnerable seniors and people with disabilities.”

In his capacity as chair of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over federal healthcare programs under the Social Security Act, including privately run Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D drug plans, Wyden (D-Ore.) sent letters requesting more information from 15 state insurance commissioners and state health insurance assistance programs.

The letter—sent to officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas—comes amid a surge in complaints about MA and Part D marketing materials that purport to inform seniors of their coverage options.

In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which has the authority to regulate materials used to market MA and Part D plans, reported that complaints from seniors more than doubled from 2020 to 2021.

Among other things, Wyden wants officials to provide data on the number of complaints about MA and/or Part D marketing materials they have received in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022, including possible patterns of discrimination, as well as “examples of potentially false or misleading marketing materials and advertisements in MA or Part D, including mailers, robo-calls, websites, television commercials, and online advertisements.”

Of Medicare’s 60 million beneficiaries, nearly half are enrolled in MA plans and 50 million are enrolled in Part D plans. Corporations that manage MA plans have come under fire for upcoding, or exaggerating patients’ illnesses in order to reap larger payments from the federal government—something they do while refusing to provide necessary care for tens of thousands each year.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2022/08/23/wyden-launches-probe-deceptive-marketing-medicare-advantage-plans

So the question remains….is Medicare Advantage a necessary expense?  Is it a scam?

My thoughts are this is an unnecessary expense with promises that may not be realized or needed.

Watch This Blog!

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

Closing Thought–23Aug22

We all have been bitten hard by the growing inflation….food, gas, rent, etc. ….there is another area that is not getting attention in these days of high inflation….the cost of raising a child.

Inflation’s damage is being felt not just one loaf of bread or gallon of gas at a time, but in big-picture expenses—such as the cost of raising a child. A new Brookings Institution estimate puts the total for raising a child through age 17 at $310,605. The estimate is based on government data, with the effects of inflation added on, for a married, middle-income couple with two children, the Wall Street Journal reports. That’s 9% higher than the estimate two years ago, before prices took off, though it leaves out college. “A lot of people are going to think twice before they have either a first child or a subsequent child because everything is costing more,” said Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at Brookings.

Or parents might decide they have to work more, Sawhill said. Reducing expenses sounds like it would help, but many families already have hit that wall. “Switching cellphone plans, cutting back on eating out, helping your neighbor, buying from your local grocery store, your local farmers market,” a woman in Pittsburgh with one son said. “When you’ve done all those things naturally just to survive, you’ve run out and you’ve exhausted all of that.” The estimate, based on a child born in 2015, considers costs such as housing, food, clothing, health care, child care, diapers, haircuts, sports equipment, and dance lessons, per the Journal.

The study did not factor in race, but research has found Black families are hurt more by volatility in prices. Sawhill said lower-income families are affected by inflation more than wealthier people, per the Hill. Overall, she said, skyrocketing prices have made it “a greater burden than it used to be to have children.” One woman who just canceled her cable TV service said she and her husband had to call off an annual week long gathering at her home of the boys in her family: her three sons and their cousins. “It costs a lot to feed almost 10 boys,” she said.

Just a little something to think about….those figures do not include any college aspirations the child may have…those figures will make one start drinking.

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”