MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2012
OPINION: Pink Slime Economics (Paul Krugman)
The big bad event of last week was, of course, the Supreme Court hearing on health reform. In the course of that hearing it became clear that several of the justices, and possibly a majority, are political creatures pure and simple, willing to embrace any argument, no matter how absurd, that serves the interests of Team Republican.
But we should not allow events in the court to completely overshadow another, almost equally disturbing spectacle. For on Thursday Republicans in the House of Representatives passed what was surely the most fraudulent budget in American history.
As Foreclosure Problems Persist, Fed Seeks More Fines
Federal regulators are poised to crack down on eight financial firms that are not part of the recent government settlement over home foreclosure practices involving sloppy, inaccurate or forged documents.
Last week, a senior Federal Reserve official recommended fines for these additional firms, raising questions about how deep foreclosure problems run through the banking industry.
House Republicans struggle to find allies across the aisle for Medicare overhaul
House Republicans are struggling to make the case that their proposed Medicare overhaul has broad support.
The GOP has been ramping up its argument that Democrats have, in the past, supported “premium support” reforms despite the party’s united attacks against the proposal ahead of the November elections. They are trying to persuade voters that Republicans have a bipartisan plan to save the program from bankruptcy, while painting Democrats as hypocrites out to scare seniors.
The health reform ruling: Four likely scenarios
One day in June, the Supreme Court will declare whether President Barack Obama’s health care reform law is constitutional.
The next day, both parties will have to pick up the pieces.
A victory in the Supreme Court — less than five months before the presidential election — doesn’t guarantee that either party can win over public opinion. And it certainly doesn’t signal the end of the debate over health care reform.
Here are the four most likely scenarios.
Facing voter anger at home, lawmakers play gas prices blame game
At pancake breakfasts and town hall meetings across the country during the two-week congressional recess, lawmakers will come face-to-face with constituents who are fuming about soaring gas prices.
But Democrats and Republicans have their own separate plans to divert blame for high prices at the pump.
Feds turn to collection firms for student-loan debts
With $67 billion of student loans in default, the Education Department is turning to an army of private debt-collection companies to put the squeeze on borrowers. Working on commissions that totaled about $1billion last year, these government contractors face growing complaints that they are violating federal laws by insisting on stiff payments, even when borrowers’ incomes make them eligible for leniency.
Education Department contracts — featuring commissions of as much as 20 percent of recoveries — encourage collectors to insist on high payments. Former debt collectors said they worked in a “boiler-room” environment, where they could earn bonuses of thousands of dollars a month, restaurant gift cards and even trips to foreign resorts if they collected enough from borrowers.
U.S. Joins Effort to Equip and Pay Rebels in Syria
The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.
The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence that is heading into its second year in Syria and that more forceful action was needed.