Monday, December 7, 2009

An Open Letter To Obama From A Mother, Re Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings

An Open Letter To Obama From A Mother, Re Safe School Czar Kevin Jennings
December, 6, 2009 — nicedeb

I demand that Kevin Jennings be removed from his position today.

This letter by Jennifer Hartline comes via Catholic Online, and I’m re-posting it in its entirety. Read it, she speaks for millions of us.:

An open letter to Mr. Obama

I will not address you as Mr. President. I question whether you are fit to lead anyone. What I have learned today is the very last straw. I cannot even give you the benefit of the doubt any longer. Frankly, I feel foolish for ever being inclined to do so.

We have endured a great deal from you in one short year, and it is simply too much to bear any longer. You are clearly bent on taking our country down a road of unabashed immorality and debauchery no matter what the people think or say to the contrary. It is time for our elected leaders to take a bold initiative and curtail your abilities to do any further damage.

You have filled your administration with people who hold the most outrageous, insane, and frightening views on everything from our climate to our animals and worst of all, the sexuality of our children. You plainly gravitate toward these radical sorts who have a view of America and the world that I and many other will simply never tolerate. Your intentions have been revealed, and they are divisive and destructive.

Do not attempt to distance yourself from the views of Van Jones, Cass Sunstein, and John Holdren. You don’t get a pass anymore. The buck stops with you. If you appointed them, then you believe what they believe. If you think they’re off-base and you disagree with them, then you shouldn’t hire them to do your laundry, let alone fill a cabinet-level position. If they’re on your team, then you’re okay with everything they’ve said and published – period. You’re the one who wanted the job, so stop crying about being unfairly aligned with crazy radical views.

Quite possibly the worst of all is Kevin Jennings, your so-called Safe Schools Czar. That you have given this man the task of making our public schools “safe” for students to learn is stunning. Jennings has a view of “health” and “safety” for our kids that is shockingly corrupt and devoid of morality and you gave him the job.

I am unutterably sick to death of the hyper-sexualization of our children in this culture, and I will not silently allow you and Jennings to further this twisted agenda in our school system under the banner of tolerance and equality. How dare you use the power of your office to pollute my children’s futures with rampant, forced, immoral sexual indoctrination!

I read through as much as I could stand of Jennings’ list of “safe reading” for our school children beginning in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade. I saw some of the illustrations in these recommended books and I was glad I had an empty stomach. What I read and saw was revolting and pornographic. This filth is what your czar wants our children to read in order to foster understanding, tolerance, and create a safe environment for learning? This putrid smut has one purpose only and that is to break down a child’s moral center and make them slaves to selfish, destructive, immoral, and even deadly sexual behavior.

Your intentions have been revealed, Mr. Obama. You are no friend of parents in this country. If you want to denounce this disgusting “safe reading” list then fire Jennings immediately. Otherwise, you are complicit in endorsing this repugnant garbage and the end result it seeks to achieve. Stop destroying the innocence of our children through exposing them to what appears to be this mans obsession with unrestrained, immoral sexual activity.

As a parent and voter I demand that Kevin Jennings be removed from his position today, and I demand that my Congressman and Senators take action to require his removal. You have proven your motives to be far worse than even I imagined a year ago. I thought, I hoped, that you would prove to be reasonable and show a modicum of moral leadership. That has not been the case in this critical area, the education of our children, and you must not be allowed to drag this nation into an abyss of sexual depravity masquerading as tolerance.

Your sworn allegiance to Planned Parenthood and the abortion “rights” lobby is just the tip of the iceberg. It appears to me you are determined to usher in a modern era of Sodom and Gomorrah. You think I’m wildly exaggerating things here? Then prove it by publicly condemning the trash your czar wants all our children to read.

If you won’t, then I dare you to publicly defend the books that write explicitly about a group of young boys getting together to perform fellatio on each other. Defend the books that feature pictures of a man having anal sex with a boy under the caption stating how this transforms the boy into a man. Defend the books that are filled with kids asking each other if they want to f*** (yes, using that word). This isn’t being marketed to adults; it’s being peddled by coercion to our children.

No elegantly-delivered speech will save you this time. If you do not unequivocally condemn this outrageous trash and fire Jennings, then you are exactly the person I describe here and you’ll get no help from me in keeping your dirty little secret. We both know your political survival depends on parents not finding out what Jennings wants to force into our public school system.

The responsibility is yours. If you will not protect America’s kids from this kind of corruption, then you are unfit to lead this great nation, a nation founded on the truth of the authority and power of God. We do not derive our freedom from our own laws; we do not acquire our worth from our own definitions of human life, but from the God who created us out of love and for love.

You are sliding down a dark tunnel where God is denied, purity is destroyed and love no longer has meaning. You are free to take that terrible trip if you so choose, but don’t you dare take this country with you. I will not quietly oblige you in your efforts to erode the moral fabric of America and her children under some insane pretext of rights and equality.

If you need bedtime reading tonight, I recommend Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

And Romans 1:28 “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity… they invent ways of doing evil…they are senseless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

And Jeremiah 7:28: “This is the nation that has not obeyed the Lord its God or responded to correction. Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips.”

There is no excuse, no justification for what you and Jennings are doing. Stop it immediately. I hold you responsible. Every American should hold you responsible. If I’m wrong, prove it.

As for everyone else, brace yourselves and go to:
Obama’s “Safe Schools Czar” Is Promoting Child Porn in the Classroom.

See for yourself what Kevin Jennings wants your children to read. Are you okay with this? Obama appointed him, so the buck stops with Obama. Will you remain silent?


Jennifer Hartline is a Catholic Army wife and stay-at-home mother of three precious kids who writes frequently on topics of Catholic faith and daily living. She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.

Let’s hope Fox News (forget the rest of the them) picks up this story this week, and pummels Obama with it. This controversy has been brewing for months, going nowhere. When a majority of parents across this nation finally hear about this, I’d like to think the uproar that ensues will drown out the mewlings of the Purple Mafia. This Czar must go, and Obama must be held accountable for appointing him.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Prepare for massive HEALTHCARE TAXES

Prepare for massive HEALTHCARE TAXES


The Obama healthcare initiative will be the biggest unfunded federal mandate on the states in history. It will force dozens of states, particularly in the South, to abandon their low-tax ways and to move toward dramatically higher rates of taxation. It may even force Florida and Texas to impose an income tax!

In the Senate version of the bill, states must expand their Medicaid eligibility to cover everyone with an income that is 133 percent of the poverty level.

The House bill brings it up to 150 percent. But a host of states have kept their state taxes low precisely by so limiting eligibility for Medicaid that it essentially is only for seniors needing long-term care and not for poor younger people who require acute care.

For example, Texas covers only those who make 27 percent of the poverty level or less. Florida covers only 55 percent. Pennsylvania covers only 36 percent. Arkansas covers only 17 percent. North Dakota covers only 62 percent. Nebraska covers only 58 percent. Louisiana covers only 26 percent. Indiana covers only 26 percent.

The revenue required to bring these states up to the 133 percent level in the Senate bill or the 150 percent level in the House would be enormous. Even California only covers up to 106 percent of the poverty level.

All states except for Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin (plus the District of Columbia) will have to raise their eligibility for Medicaid under the Senate healthcare bill. And they will have to pay for part of the cost. Under the House bill, with a higher Medicaid eligibility standard, Massachusetts and Vermont would also have to pay more.

The Medicaid expansion provisions of the Senate bill are complex. In the first year of the program (2013), states must enroll anyone who earns less than 133 percent of the poverty level in their programs. For a family of four, the national average poverty level in 2009 is $22,000 a year. So any family that size that makes less than $29,000 would be eligible for Medicaid.

For the first three years of the program (2013-2015) the federal government would pay for all of the costs of the Medicaid expansion. But starting in the fourth year of operation -- 2016 -- states would be obliged to pay 10 percent of the extra cost.

While Obama has often spoken about how he won't raise taxes on the middle class, his healthcare legislation will require the governors to do so.

Particularly in those states with Democratic governors, it is easy to see how the backlash against these new taxes could fundamentally alter state politics.

The following table is a rough calculation of the cost each state will have to bear once it has to pick up 10 percent of the cost. These calculations are based on guidelines laid down for me by the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee. There has been no official data yet generated on how much the Senate or House provisions will cost the taxpayers in each state.


Alaska $39M

Ariz. $217M

Ark. $402M

Calif. $1,428M

Colo. $163M

Del. $35M

Fla. $909M

Ga. $495M

Hawaii $41M

Idaho $97M

Iowa $77M

Ind. $586M

Kan. $186M

Ky. $199M

La. $432M

Md. $194M

Mich. $570M

Miss. $136M

Mo. $836M

Mont. $29M

Neb. $81M

Nev. $54M

N.H. $59M

N.M. $102M

N.C. $599M

N.D. $14M

Ohio $399M

Okla. $190M

Ore. $231M

Pa. $1,490M

S.C. $122M

S.D. $33M

Texas $2,749M

Utah $58M

Va. $601M

Wash. $311M

W.Va. $132M

Wyo. $25M

These estimates were obtained by calculating the increase in Medicaid spending in each state to bring it up to the 133 percent level specified in the Senate bill. Then I applied the percentage of Medicaid spending in each state on acute care (mainly for the poor) as opposed to long-term care (mainly for the elderly). Finally, I took 10 percent of the increased state share of spending and listed it in the table above.

Please Note: The Senate may vote on the healthcare bill this month. It's absolutely critical you support the League's efforts to stop Obamacare. We have made tremendous progress, but we must do more. Please help the League today.

The League of American Voters:

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pandemic bill allows health authorities to enter homes, detain without warrant.txt

WND Exclusive

Cops jump on swine-flu power: Shots heard 'round the world
Pandemic bill allows health authorities to enter homes, detain without warrant

Posted: September 01, 2009
9:11 pm Eastern

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2009 WorldNetDaily

A "pandemic response bill" currently making its way through the Massachusetts state legislature would allow authorities to forcefully quarantine citizens in the event of a health emergency, compel health providers to vaccinate citizens, authorize forceful entry into private dwellings and destruction of citizen property and impose fines on citizens for noncompliance.
If citizens refuse to comply with isolation or quarantine orders in the event of a health emergency, they may be imprisoned for up to 30 days and fined $1,000 per day that the violation continues.
Massachusetts' pandemic response bill
"Pandemic Response Bill" 2028 was passed by the Massachusetts state Senate on April 28 and is now awaiting approval in the House.
As stated in the bill, upon declaration by the governor that an emergency exists that is considered detrimental to public health or upon declaration of a state of emergency, a local public health authority, with approval of the commissioner, may exercise the following authorities (emphasis added):
  • to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises;
  • to close, direct, and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated any building or facility, and to allow the reopening of the building or facility when the danger has ended;
  • to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material;
  • to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons;
  • to require a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility, or to transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the department or to a local public health authority;
  • to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area;
  • to adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste and human remains, provided that religious, cultural, family, and individual beliefs of the deceased person shall be followed to the extent possible when disposing of human remains, whenever that may be done without endangering the public health;
  • to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any anti-toxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency;
  • to require in-state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth;
  • to waive the commonwealth's licensing requirements for health care professionals with a valid license from another state in the United States or whose professional training would otherwise qualify them for an appropriate professional license in the commonwealth;
  • to allow for the dispensing of controlled substance by appropriate personnel consistent with federal statutes as necessary for the prevention or treatment of illness;
  • to authorize the chief medical examiner to appoint and prescribe the duties of such emergency assistant medical examiners as may be required for the proper performance of the duties of office;
  • to collect specimens and perform tests on any animal, living or deceased;
  • to exercise authority under sections 95 and 96 of chapter 111;
  • to care for any emerging mental health or crisis counseling needs that individuals may exhibit, with the consent of the individuals
State and local agencies responding to the public health emergency would be required to exercise their powers over transportation routes, communication devices, carriers, public utilities, fuels, food, clothing and shelter, according to the legislation.

Local public health authorities will be required to keep records of reports containing the name and location of all people who have been reported, their disease, injury, or health condition and the name of the person reporting the case. In addition, citizens may be subject to "involuntary transportation."
Line 341 of the bill states, "Law enforcement authorities, upon order of the commissioner or his agent or at the request of a local public health authority pursuant to such order, shall assist emergency medical technicians or other appropriate medical personnel in the involuntary transportation of such person to the tuberculosis treatment center. No law enforcement authority or medical personnel shall be held criminally or civilly liable as a result of an act or omission carried out in good faith in reliance on said order."
Vaccinate or isolate
Whenever the commissioner or a public-health authority decides it is necessary to prevent a serious danger to the public health, they are authorized:
(1) to vaccinate or provide precautionary prophylaxis (preventative procedure) to individuals as protection against communicable disease and to prevent the spread of communicable or possible communicable disease, provided that any vaccine to be administered must not be such as is reasonably likely to lead to serious harm to the affected individual; and (2) to treat individuals exposed to or infected with disease, provided that treatment must not be such as is reasonably likely to lead to serious harm to the affected individual. An individual who is unable or unwilling to submit to vaccination or treatment shall not be required to submit to such procedures but may be isolated or quarantined … if his or her refusal poses a serious danger to public health or results in uncertainty whether he or she has been exposed to or is infected with a disease or condition that poses a serious danger to public health, as determined by the commissioner, or a local public health authority operating within its jurisdiction. (emphasis added)
Under such circumstances, authorities are also allowed to decontaminate individuals and perform physical examinations, tests and specimen collection to determine whether "an individual presents a risk to public health." If a citizen refuses, he or she may be isolated, quarantined and/or detained "for as long as may be reasonably necessary," the bill states.
Law enforcement authorities are authorized to "arrest without warrant any person whom the officer has probable cause to believe has violated an order for isolation or quarantine and shall use reasonable diligence to enforce such order. Any person who knowingly violates an order for isolation or quarantine shall be punished by imprisonment of not more than 30 days and may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $1,000 per day that the violation continues." (emphasis added)

Other state quarantine orders

Iowa's Facility Quarantine Order
As WND reported, a blank document from the Iowa Department of Public Health has been discovered online, designed to be filled in with the name of an H1N1 virus victim who is required to relocate from his or her home to a quarantine facility.
The form, which began appearing Aug 31 in e-mails and on the Internet, has concerned a confused public already swimming in conflicting reports about the severity of the swine flu and intrusive government measures that many fear may be taken if the disease becomes a pandemic.
The Iowa document, which WND confirmed with state officials is authentic, has done little to calm the public's fears.
"The Iowa Department of Public Health has determined that you have had contact with a person with Novel Influenza A H1N1," the form reads. "The Department has determined that it is necessary to quarantine your movement to a specific facility to prevent further spread of this disease.
"The Department has determined that quarantine in your home and other less restrictive alternatives are not acceptable," the document continues, before listing mandatory provisions of compliance with relocation to a quarantine facility.
According to the CDC, the following states have implemented legal actions in response to the H1N1 virus:
Florida – the Florida surgeon general suspended distribution permit requirements Florida statutes to allow wholesale distribution of Tamiflu and Relenza. The state has also distributed a series of blank quarantine order forms, including a voluntary home quarantine agreement, a quarantine to residence order, a quarantine to residence order (non-compliance), a quarantine to facility order, quarantine detention order, quarantine of facility order, building quarantine closure order and area quarantine closure order.
Iowa – In addition to the facility quarantine order listed above, Iowa has also made available forms for voluntary home confinement, home quarantine and home isolation.
Massachusetts – Massachusetts lists its own procedures for isolation and quarantine.
North Carolina – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a draft isolation order that would provide for imprisonment for up to two years and pretrial detention without bail for any citizen who fails to comply with an isolation order.
Washington – Washington grants authority to local health officers to issue emergency detention orders causing citizens to be immediately and involuntarily isolated or quarantined for up to 10 days.
In addition, governors and health commissioners in the following states have declared a state of emergency since April following concerns about the H1N1 virus: California, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Next step: Mandatory swine flu vaccines?

H1N1 (photo: CDC)
According to the White House, "Since the novel 2009-H1N1 flu virus emerged in the United States during the third week of April, the president has received regular briefings and asked his Cabinet to spare no effort in addressing this national security challenge."
The White House also lists as a priority, "Preparing for a voluntary, but strongly recommended, H1N1 flu shot program to be available to all Americans that wish to participate over a period of time."
Barbara Loe Fischer, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, referenced the controversial Massachusetts bill in her commentary, "Swine flu vaccine: Will we have a choice?"
Fischer said, "Public health doctors have persuaded legislators to pass pandemic influenza legislation that will allow state officials to enter homes and businesses without the consent of occupants, to investigate and quarantine individuals without their consent, to require licensed health-care providers to give citizens vaccines and to ban the free assembly of citizens in the state."
She said World Health Organization doctors "immediately went into high gear" within days of identifying the new swine flu virus emerging out of Mexico and declared a public-health emergency. Now, Fischer says, the CDC is taking the opportunity to exercise unprecedented power.
"Whenever the CDC now declares a public-health emergency, that declaration allows the Food and Drug Administration to permit emergency-use authorization for drug companies to fast-track creation of experimental drugs and vaccines that do not have to be tested as thoroughly as vaccines that go through the normal FDA-licensing process.
"In this case, Congress responded to the public health emergency declaration by giving a group of drug companies $1 billion to fast-track experimental swine flu vaccines that may include whole, live or killed, or genetically engineered human and animal viruses, chemicals and potentially reactive oil-based adjuvants that manipulate the immune system to boost the vaccine's potency. People who already have sensitive immune systems, such as those with allergy and autoimmune disorders, may be at special risk."
Furthermore, Fischer said 80 percent of all flu-like illness in a normal flu season is not caused by type A and B strains of influenza contained in annual flu shots.
While Fischer argues that citizens should be given the opportunity to voluntarily submit to flu vaccinations, she said, "Vaccine-acquired immunity is temporary while immunity gained after recovering from influenza is longer lasting."
She said people born before 1957 may be naturally protected and at lower risk of being infected because they have long-lasting antibodies working against the virus and helping them resist infection.
"Will health officials allow our children and grandchildren to get the same kind of natural, longer-lasting protective antibodies to type A and B influenza, including the new swine flu?" she asked. "It looks like few choices will be allowed."
Cure more deadly than disease?
Although White House science advisers have warned that up to 90,000 Americans might die from H1N1 during the coming flu season, the head of the CDC responded by telling the public to ignore such a high mortality estimate, saying the current H1N1 couldn't kill that many people without mutating.
Use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the United States in 1976 resulted in 25 people suffering from severe paralysis and dying from respiratory failure after being injected with the vaccine – more than the number of lives claimed from the virus itself.
Additionally, the vaccine is said to contain thimerosal, a preservative ingredient composed of mercury.
The FDA states, "Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine."
Thimerosal has been linked to Guillain-Barre syndrome, or GBS – a serious disorder that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the nervous system and may result in death.
In 1976, health officials found nearly 500 cases of GBS, and the vaccine was withdrawn 10 weeks after the link with GBS was suspected. Following the 1976 vaccination against swine flu in the U.S., a retrospective study found a likely eight-fold increase in the incidence of GBS.
Now that the nation is preparing for another round of H1N1 flu shots, the Oregonian reported that the federal government is urging neurologists to keep a close watch for new cases of GBS.
In a study conducted at the University of Hong Kong, the British Medical Journal reported that less than half of 8,500 doctors and nurses in public hospitals will accept vaccination against the swine flu – even following increases in the World Health Organization's pandemic alert level.
The study revealed, "The major barriers identified were fear of side effects and doubts about efficacy."
According to the following report by Russia Today, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen revealed that even scientists who helped develop a vaccine for small pox are saying they will not take the vaccine and urging friends and family to refrain from taking the injection as well:

Nonetheless, federal authorities are preparing to launch a nationwide campaign to convince Americans to get the swine flu vaccine, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Government officials have expressed concern that public demand for immunization will not be high enough.
"Many parents (in focus groups) expressed a lot of concerns about 2009 H1N1 vaccine. Those concerns were centered around the fact that it was new and it was being developed quickly," said Kris Sheedy, a communications director with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "There were comments such as 'this is new and I don't want my child to be a guinea pig.'"
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the government will spend "about $16 million on outreach to convince people of the need to get the swine flu vaccine."
As WND reported, alarmist language over possible outbreaks of swine flu as well as a series of moves by the federal government are fueling fears federal agents will soon be forcing citizens to be vaccinated – prompting the Constitution Party to launch a pre-emptive defense against any such effort.
Fischer warned that Americans must become educated about vaccination, influenza, vaccine risks and public health laws in their states.
"Every pharmaceutical drug, including vaccines, carries a risk. And those risks are greater for some than others," she said. "In this time of fear, we can't let that fear take away our freedom to make voluntary health decisions. The human right to informed consent to medical risk taking gives citizens the power to make sure that the cure is not more dangerous than the disease."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Only 6% of Eligible Homeowners Helped from Obama's Housing Program

By Jessica Yellin
CNN National Political Correspondent

(CNN) -- When President Obama unveiled the Making Home Affordable Program in March, he said it would help "responsible folks who have been making their payments" reduce their monthly mortgage bills and avoid losing their homes to foreclosure.

The Making Home Affordable Program aims to help homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosures.
But six months into the program, only 6 percent of the 4 million eligible homeowners have gotten help. A lot more say they've been frustrated with the runaround they've been getting from lenders.
Are the new program's growing pains responsible for the slow start, as bankers say, or is pain to their bottom lines really preventing the program from working, as critics say?
The Making Home Affordable Program is supposed to work this way:
In return for billions of dollars in taxpayer bailout money, banks would offer loans that would reduce troubled borrowers' monthly mortgage payments to 31 percent of their income. To qualify, a homeowner must have an income and must live in the house, and that house can't be worth more than $730,000.
The bank is also allowed to calculate the value of the mortgage against the profit it would make from a foreclosure.
Banks are prohibited from selling a house in foreclosure while the homeowner is being considered for an adjustment. The Treasury Department oversees the program, and the banks signed contracts with Treasury binding them to cooperate. Watch more about how the program has worked so far Video

Call for help

Have a complaint about your bank and Making Home Affordable?
When will an agent pass on the complaint to higher-ups?
If you have been told to skip payments to qualify
If you have been told to pay a fee to qualify
If your lender is "improperly applying the program's guidelines"
If a member of Congress or their office makes a complaint on your behalf
Source: U.S. Department of Treasury
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been so unhappy with the program's pace that he called in lenders for a meeting and demanded they do better.
In a July 9 letter to one servicer, JP Morgan, Geithner and Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, wrote "there is a general need for servicers to devote substantially more resources to this program for it to fully succeed and achieve the objectives we share."
They called on the banks to hire more staff, expand their call centers and allow homeowners "an escalation path for borrowers dissatisfied with the service they have received."
The mortgage industry's top lobbyist says any problems to date are the growing pains associated with getting such a massive program up and running.
"It is working, and it needs to be given some time," says John Courson, head of the Mortgage Bankers Association. He says banks are still staffing up and getting the program off the ground. "It took 90 days to get out the rules and the procedures and the forms, and so that's a fairly new program," he said.
Courson says that lenders are still "training more and more staff as they are getting more and more people who are familiar with this program."
He insists that the banks want to cooperate.
"It's in the banks' best interest to work with those borrowers to keep those loans on the books and avoid foreclosure," Courson said.
But critics say that the program works against the banks' best interests, as the homeowners who most need the program are the riskiest bets.
"If the borrower is really in trouble, [the lenders] probably don't want to do the modification, because they think there's a good chance the borrower will redefault, and they will do a lot of work and they won't collect money," said Paul Willen, an economist with the Boston Federal Reserve who has studied bank foreclosures and modifications.
"The problem with this is in some deep sense, you can't penalize the banks for acting in self-interest. It's a for-profit business."
Others are critical of the voluntary nature of the program and the Obama administration's hands-off relationship with lenders.
The Treasury Department official charged with overseeing the program insists it's "off to a strong start, with hundreds of thousands of trial modifications already underway."
Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr acknowledges that "servicer performance has been uneven, but servicers have committed to ramping up efforts to improve the process for borrowers," and he insists that "the administration will hold these institutions accountable for their progress."
He says Treasury is on track to help 3 million to 4 million homeowners in three years.
Diane Thompson of the National Consumer Law Center has a theory on why the Obama administration isn't getting tougher with the banks: "This is a voluntary program. I think Treasury has been very concerned to make sure that servicers [the banks] are willing to participate."
She's convinced that banks will improve their track record only if they're forced to make loans.
"Until it's made a mandatory program, I think we will not see a significant drop in foreclosures," Thompson said.
Another problem with the program is that banks don't always have the final say.
Many of these mortgages are held by private investors, and the bank simply acts as a middleman. If investors think they can make more money by foreclosing than modifying the loan, experts say the bank is powerless to override that decision.
Susan Wachter, professor of real estate and finance at the Wharton School, explains, "These are contracts. The government does not have the right to rescind contracts. The government can legislate all they want, but there can be lawsuits."
Willen adds: "What's upsetting about this is that with Making Home Affordable, what you ended up with may be worse [than doing nothing]. We're giving more money to banks, and not preventing many foreclosures."
The Treasury Department has begun stepping up pressure on banks. This month, it began publicly reporting the number of the program's loans the banks had offered, as a way to shame banks into better participation rates.
While JP Morgan-Chase has enrolled 20 percent of its eligible customers and Citibank 15 percent, two banks that got the biggest bailouts have some of the lowest enrollment rates, according to Treasury: Wells Fargo has enrolled 6 percent of eligible customers, and Bank of America 4 percent.
Both banks say that those numbers are misleading -- that they have many more offers in the pipeline and have increased staffing.
Bank of America also says it is bigger than other banks, so it has more applicants to process. Wells Fargo also says that it has refinanced many hundreds of thousands of loans outside of the government program.
Courson said many other banks are also offering their own mortgage modification programs, and if you count those, "a million and a half borrowers were assisted in the first six months in this year."
Multiple administration officials insist to CNN that there is adequate oversight of the program and that the Treasury Department has enlisted Freddie Mac to monitor the banks.
A Freddie Mac official, who would speak only on the condition of anonymity because it is acting "at the direction of Treasury," told CNN that its investigators visit banks, but only after giving the banks' management notice that they're coming.
The agency reviews loan documents, but only those that lenders provide. There are no surprise visits, no tape recordings of bank calls to assure quality assurance, and no way to respond to individual homeowner complaints.
Recently, Freddie Mac began random reviews of cases in which homeowners were denied Making Home Affordable loans. So far, Freddie Mac has not found a single instance of noncompliance worth referring to the Treasury Department for a penalty.
The Treasury Department was unable to show CNN any instance of a lender being penalized for breaking the program's rules.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Study: Health Care Reform Mandate Will Punish Employers, Kill Jobs

A provision in President Obama's health care reform plan that requires businesses to offer health insurance to their workers or face a federal tax would cost employers at least $49 billion dollars a year, putting 5.2 million employees at risk of unemployment or underemployment, according to a new study.

"Health care reform is not going to be free," said economist Mark Wilson, who authored the study, which was commissioned by the conservative Heritage Foundation.

Under the provision, known as the play-or-pay mandate, another 10.2 million employees will face stunted wages and the loss of their benefits as employers try to find ways to fund the mandates.

"Those will be a difficult decision for them to make and they're also going to have to decide to the extent they can raise prices and pass the cost onto consumers," Wilson said.

But supporters of Obama's health reform plan say under the current system, thousands already are losing their health coverage or jobs because of the enormous costs employers are bearing.

"What we need to think about in health reform is how to make the system more efficient, how to make sure the system is protecting jobs, and that's exactly what health reform will do," said Peter Harbage, a health policy analyst with the liberal Center for American Progress.

White House spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday that without health reform the entire U.S. economy faces ruin.

"If we don't do something, not only is health care going to be in crisis, but the deficit will -- we just will not be on a fiscally sustainable path as it relates to the deficit," he said.

And as the financial realities of health reform are coming together there are questions about why tort reform isn't part of the package.

At a town hall hosted by Democratic Rep. Jim Moran this week, one person demanded to know why the threat of medical lawsuits couldn't be reduced.

"There's $200 million dollars in savings over 10 years if we had tort reform and nobody loses but the lawyers," the person said before shouting, "Why have we not even considered that?"

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, a proponent of health reform, responded that tort reform would create more enemies for lawmakers as they try to pass a reform bill.

"Plain and simple truth," he said.

The president of the American Medical Association says without more protections for doctors in the courtroom they will continue to order tests that may be unnecessary and drive up health care costs simply to protect themselves.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Behind Closed Doors Giving Prez Control of Internet

Canned Response from Cleaver II on Health Care Reform

Dear Susan:

Thank you for contacting me regarding health care reform. I appreciate hearing your concerns on this important and complex issue.

I assure you I have taken your concerns into consideration when forming my position in this debate. I regret that the debate on health care reform thus far has not produced a result to your liking. Unfortunately, this issue has been polarized and politicized so much that it is hardly recognizable. Misinformation abounds, and these misleading facts have been used to spread outright fabrications and scare people. I appreciate you taking the time to read this letter and giving me the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

1. This plan does not impose socialized medicine on the United States. Nowhere in the legislation does it call for a single-payer system. Some have argued that while the bill does not explicitly call for a single-payer system, that every single private insurance company will go out of business when forced to compete with a public option. This is false for several reasons. First, most businesses are going to keep the insurance plans they are already offering to their employees, and those plans are all provided by private insurance. Second, not everyone who must acquire their insurance individually is going to want to enroll in the public plan. While the public plan will have in common with other plans a certain set of benefits, the private options may offer more benefits or consumers may be attracted to their established reputations. Third, insurance companies routinely price their premiums much higher than necessary just because there is no competition in that area to keep them within reasonable boundaries. Thus, while the public plan may reduce their profit margins from their current rates, driving down these costs will not drive them out of business, but will simply keep them competitive. Introducing a public plan into the health insurance market is not socialism, in fact, it is the essence of capitalism. It is introducing consumer choice and competition to drive the market.

2. The proposed bill will not cover illegal immigrants. It explicitly states this at several points in the bill. One example occurs on page 143 of the proposed bill, in Section 246, entitled "No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens", the bill specifically states that "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." Thus, individuals who are in this country illegally are not covered by this proposed bill. Furthermore, those who do not file taxes in the United States are not eligible to enroll in the proposed public health insurance option.

3. A public health insurance option will increase, not decrease choice for all Americans. As I stated above, a public option will serve to bring down health care costs, and give everyone in every community more choices of health insurance providers and more information for making that choice.

4. Medicare benefits will not be cut. It is true that Congress is trying to find savings in the Medicare system, and a big avenue for paying for this reform will be through Medicare savings, but these savings are not from benefits. The bill simply lays out many ways in which we can increase oversight to decrease fraud and waste. It would implement higher penalties for noncompliance and ensure that seniors are not being put through more procedures than necessary, just so that physicians can collect the reimbursements. Certainly, not all physicians engage in wasteful practices, but some do, and there are a lot of savings that can be found simply by eliminating these practices.

5. The proposed bill does not include any support for death panels or euthanizing senior citizens. If you look at the provision in question, you will see that it is amending a previous bill: the Social Security Act. Specifically, it is amending section 1861, which is a list of definitions for terms and phrases in the bill. Thus, it is simply broadening the definition of what qualifies as "medical and other health services". This way, advance care planning can be covered under Medicare. The government is not making any choices for you, it is simply ensuring that you have all the information you need to make the right decisions for you.

6. We do not have the best health care in the world. We spend twice as much money as other developed nations, but see far worse outcomes in most areas than they do. Furthermore, millions of US citizens do not have health insurance. This is unacceptable, and that is why my colleagues in Congress and I are working so hard to reform our system now.

7. The proposed bill does not fund any abortion services that are not already able to be federally funded (e.g. for pregnancies that result from rape or incest).

The proposed bill certainly needs some polishing. There are details to be ironed out, and provisions that need clarification, but in general the proposed bill would institute many positive changes for our health care system and for our nation as a whole. This is one of the most important pieces of legislation in decades, and I assure you I will keep all of your comments in mind as I consider this bill.

Again, thank you for sharing your views with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I may be of further assistance. Also, I encourage you to visit my website at, where you can sign up for my electronic newsletter and receive updates on my latest activities as your Representative.


Emanuel Cleaver, II

Member of Congress