Tag Archives: Pete the Banker

Pete the Banker: Greenspan Confirms Economy is ‘Not Strong’ ‘Like Later Stages of Depression’

‘It’s a smaller economy now…entitlements are crowding out savings and capital investment.’

greenspan

Former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan was on CNBC’s Closing Bell program today echoing some of the sentiments shared in my post here earlier today.

The way I measure it, it’s probably tantamount to what we saw in the later stages of the Great Depression,

 

The former Fed Chair declared the economy is in ‘not strong’ (read: horrible) shape. Demand for U.S. Treasuries is weakening. And the 4th quarter growth numbers are likely going to be downgraded when they’re released on Friday:

Everyone expects that the growth rate for the fourth quarter is going to be about 2 percent, which is a downward revision from the earlier version. And it may even be less than that.

He also looked at the productivity numbers — the main driver of a growing economy — and declared it weak.

Capital investment is key to productivity growth. That has slowed down quite dramatically and productivity has followed right along.

And then he said what many have known since the first time President Obama uttered the word stimulus:

‘It’s a smaller economy now…entitlements are crowding out savings and capital investment.’

Pete the Banker: Where’s Our Economic Recovery?

I guess I am just tired of hearing how good it is when most Americans and Oregonians have yet to experience an economic recovery.

Image Credit: Wall Street Journal
Image Credit: Wall Street Journal
 We are constantly besieged by news that the economy is in recovery, that economic growth is accelerating, that housing is finally emerging from a long slumber.  Politicians and the Rah- Rah -Rah trade association crowd continually proclaim that better times and utopia are just ahead.  Just be patient and trust us.  Jobs will pick up and everything will be fine.  Six years and still waiting!

Yet the economy has been plagued by slow growth the so called new normal.  Demand has been tepid and intermittent.  Jobs clip along at a rate of increase of 200,000 to 250,000 per month, when in recovery economists suggested just a few years ago that we needed at least 300,000 to 350,000 per month during recovery to get us to true full employment. 

The slow recovery has been blamed on a number of factors (Bush of course) with weather and jobs being the main culprits.  Like weather hasn’t been around since man emerged from the hunter-gatherer stage. And with jobs we are just fine with waiters and hotel clerks replacing higher paying executive and engineering jobs.  And the middle class, we just sort of rediscovered them after they finally decided the new normal was a good excuse for a new Senate.

Most troubling from my perspective is the housing industry.  The headlines continuously proclaim housing is in recovery.  Their main focus has been on housing prices which have been increased given the incessant Federal Reserves QE “infinity” programs and Federal initiatives like HAMP, HARP which have spent $billions to modify mortgages and prevent foreclosure.  But continuous rumors of recidivism hampering foreclosure prevention programs undermine Administration claims of success.

Yet the fundamentals of the industry are far from solid.  Sales of homes remain at 2009 -2010 levels.  Existing sales announced this last week were at 8 month lows.  Financing is nebulous. Applications have declined massively and purchase applications are dismal. Lack of financing is a primary concern with dependence on government sources dominant.  Underwriting standards are unrealistic and dictated by the CFPB, requiring credit ratings in the 700 – 750 range as a minimum.

More recently given the flailing real estate sales market, Fannie, Freddie, and the FHA have reverted to “sub-prime” financing in an effort to revive the failing residential capital markets. Sub-prime financing, this time exclusively at the hands of government controlled lending sources has returned.  Mortgage Financing provided is 95% of value and higher, with little regard for the risk of default. Worse, the Federal Government is on the verge of re-instituting European Accounting and Banking Standards (Basel Accords) which at best amplified the financial crisis in 2008.  These International Standards seem more an attempt to liquefy the international monetary system than provide security to the domestic real estate industry and mortgage financing system.

This has been to little avail.  Applications continue to fall and private lenders have little appetite for the risk involved in low interest rate, long term mortgages.  The Feds are no longer subsidizing mortgage market through quantitative easing and price increases are beginning to slow.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continue to sell portfolio loans.
 
This Administration, has not let the market correct.  Is frightened by the lack of demand in housing and the by lack of response of housing market/housing financing markets to government intervention.  As a result the Administration has thrown caution to the wind and through HUD and the FHFA returned to reliance on the very lending factors that caused the 2008 financial collapse, subprime lending.  Nor despite repeated assertions does the Administration have any intent of reforming the residential capital markets, inclusive of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
 
The Administration  talks a good game, but its actions are at best ineffectual.  Consumer demand and housing demand continue to suffer, the result of uncertainty created between the continual promises an emergent vibrant economy and actual muted results.

Pete the Banker is a Banker who wishes to remain anonymous after what happened to Joe the Plumber by the President and his shock troops in the 2008 election. He is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce.

Where Did Victoria Taft Go?

I’ve been writing day after day after day at Independent Journal Review which leaves less time for my own site, but I’ll cross post with IJR and continue to write longer length pieces and  continue to include posts by Bruce McCain, Rees Lloyd, Bernie Giusto, Scott  St. Clair and Pete the Banker over here and continue my site specific items.

 

Pete the Banker: Outrage Builds Over Gruber’s ObamaCare Lies

 ObamaCare Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Recently disclosed statements by the Administrations point man on the Affordable Care Act, Jonathan Gruber, are reminiscent of the Jack Nicholson phrase in the movie a “A Few Good Men”, “You can’t handle the truth”!
Image: Pundit From Another Planet
Image: Pundit From Another Planet
 
Jonathan Gruber was the architect of Romney Care in Mass, the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act, as well as a paid contractor who served as an implementer and spokesman for the ACA under a $400K contract.  And now, according to the Washington Times, we discover Gruber made MILLIONS lying to the American public:
 
Those “stupid” people have been extremely generous to Mr. Gruber. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2010 investigated the $297,600 that the Department of Health and Human Services paid Mr. Gruber to sing the praises of the health care scheme.

Minnesota, for example, used federal Obamacare grants to pay Mr. Gruber to attend one meeting, participate in a biweekly email list and print a copy of the report, all for $329,000. Wisconsin paid Mr. Gruber $400,000 for the same material, requested by the office of then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat. When the report was presented, Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, didn’t want Mr. Gruber at the news conference. Vermont is paying him another $400,000. Such a deal!

West Virginia, Maine, Colorado and Oregon have partaken of Mr. Gruber’s services, too, guaranteeing him a tidy sum. The money bought lies and deception. That’s Mr. Gruber’s characterization, not ours. “If you had a law which made it explicit that healthy people are going to pay in and sick people get money,” said Mr. Gruber, “it would not have passed.”

Additionally, Gruber filed a Friend-of-the-Court-Brief defending the ACA in defense of the Administration’s position before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This case is now pending appeal before the Supreme Court.
 
His comments reflect the ultimate deception of the ACA,
Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass…
Remember the Nancy Pelosi statement during the ACA debate, “We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It”

But rest assured, Nancy says she has never heard of Gruber; just ask her.

Deception, lack of transparency are truly the foundation of the ACA.
 

Oops, except she has:

Gruber’s subsequent “apology” was,
 
The comments on that video were made at an academic conference.I was speaking off the cuff and I basically spoke inappropriately and I regret having made those comments.

Note that his selection of words in his alleged “apology” suggest he apologizes for the comments, but not about the central ideas he espouses. Nuanced indeed.  When further pressed to elaborate on his response, he then launched into a tangential argument spinning blame on the Bush and prior Administrations for their lack of transparency.  An obvious deflection again intended to mask his true beliefs.

Since the release of this first tape, two more videos (and now another) have emerged verifying that the first tape was not a single incident, nor a one time slip of tongue, but a strongly held conviction.  Gruber again,

And again,

One more time(?),


But then, he is sorry for the comments?!?

And at a subsequent interview, Gruber has had the audacity to claim Republicans were confusing people??  He stated,

I think that this comes to the master strategy of the Republican party, which is to confuse people enough about the law so that they don’t understand that the subsidies they’re getting is because of the law.

Rather amusing that Gruber who admits “lack of transparency” and blames Americans for stupidity, then has the audacity to blame the bill’s opponents for confusing people?!  Perhaps this latest assertion will become the introductory statement in his next speaking engagement.

The promise of transparency has been the hallmark promise of Obama’s Administration from day one, comparable to Ulysses version of sea nymph sirens whose beguiling and enticing songs rendered his crew defenseless. The incessant chant of “transparency” parroted by both Obama himself and his Administration have mesmerized hard working Americans to believe that all their problems and in this case all their medical issues will be forever resolved. Among other instances, these melodic chants were introduced with the 2009 call to transparency:

reinforced by a 2010 promise, 

and who can forget the more recent Google Fireside Hangout Obama assertion in 2012 that, 
This is the most transparent administration in history.
And Obama’s White House Website itself repeats this pledge,
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Interesting that   while the Administration gave lip service to the concept of transparency, it eagerly embraced deception to pass ObamaCare.
 
Americans who accepted the Administration’s and the Democrat’s  promises assuring them that the ACA would reduce medical costs, prevent accelerating insurance costs, improving the quality of health care, all while allowing them to keep their existing insurance, doctor, and hospital access were beguiled.  Those melodic promises of the ACA’s architects were nothing more than a cruel illusion perpetrated on hard working, decent Americans, guilty of only trusting elected representatives and not stupidity.

Pete the Banker: Pentagon brass obscure KIAs in Bergdahl search

How many soldiers died looking for apparent deserter Bowe Bergdahl? The Pentagon does more to obscure than clarify.

The headline read:

2 soldiers died while Bergdahl search underway, but not while on patrol, Pentagon finds

Something about this article didn’t sit well with me initially. Perhaps it is my cynicism, perhaps my instinct which questions the Pentagon’s cursory response. More likely based upon my own military experience, I implicitly trust facts from the troops on the ground and those closest to the situation more than that from those occupying desks at the higher echelons, far from the battlefield. Facts that haven’t seemed to change in the face of the constant ebb and flow of political fancy or the latest editorial whim.

bowe-bergdahl
Photos from New York Daily News

The Pentagon release, “Pentagon officials probing claims that eight soldiers died while looking for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have confirmed two troops from his unit died while the search was underway, but not while they while they were on patrol, a senior defense official told Fox News Friday.”

I obviously am criticizing from afar and my military service is far behind me now, but the Pentagon I suspect is being disingenuous at best. First, any search likely wouldn’t have been limited to Bergdahl’s immediate unit. Second they are stating it obliquely, not including key details/assumptions of their probe including the time frame over which the original search was conducted, the territory (provinces) involved in the search, or detailing the number of military units involved. And finally the actual casualty numbers just don’t support the Pentagon’s (and Administration’s) rather self serving assertion.

Much of what we know continues to come from those closest to the action in Bergdahl’s unit. Much of what remains unknown rests with the Pentagon and the Administration itself. The persistence of the unknown from official sources likely provides them future flexibility in creating story lines or the latest spin. So much for independent research.

A rather quick and cursory bit of research (limited to only the Paktika Province in which Bergdahl’s unit was located) shows 11 combat casualties in the 10 weeks following his disappearance on June 30, 2009. That compares with a total number of fatal casualties for the year of 16 in Paktiki Province. So now tell me why all these casualties were concentrated in this Province over such a short period following his disappearance? One suspects the summer season in a mountainous area accounts for some of the concentration, but one’s intuition dismisses the assertion that 68% of the annual casualties can be explained by weather only. (Casualties list, Afghanistan; See pages 42-43-44-45 for dates 6-14-2009 to 9/14/2009;)

For example, specific details provided by former platoon members asserted, “Lt. Darryn Andrews, 34, and Pfc. Michael Martinek, 20, were among at least six soldiers killed during such missions. For saving the lives of three of his troops during an ambush on Sep. 4, 2009, Lt. Andrews was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.”  Their deaths are memorialized in the above casualty list, attesting to accuracy of those on location and belying the Pentagon probe.

The Pentagon’s issuance of rather tepid and useless statement seems intent on obfuscating, rather than clarifying the events surrounding Bergdahl’s disappearance. Bergdahl’s peers have alone been open about the extent of losses surrounding the recovery effort. Given the concentration of fatal combat casualties in the Paktaki Province in the two and a half months after the Bergdahl disappearance seems to overwhelming support their assertions. A thorough and independent research of the recovery operation and losses sustained from it are absolutely necessary to provide accuracy and transparency, apparently missing commodities in Wash DC these days.

Addendum:

Search parameters/results: July 2009 – three casualties; August and first half of September – 8 casualties; Start date July 1 and end date 9-11 with Martinek’s death, all in Paktika Province. (So why is the Pentagon dismissing based upon only 2 cases?)

FYI in 2008, over roughly the same period, Paktika Province recorded 2 deaths of an annual total of 20 deaths. Four additional combat deaths occurred on 9-17-2008 in Paktika. But even including those the deaths of those individuals that accounts for only a 30% annual casualty rate in a roughly comparable period.

Pete the Banker is a Veteran, banker and good citizen. He is a member of the VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce.

 

Government minders in newsrooms: The BlogForce responds to FCC

FCC news minders free republicThe Federal Communication Commission now claims it will not subject editors and reporters in America’s newsrooms to invasive questions about editorial content and choice. There is not one sentient being who believes the far left members of the FCC will give up trying to censor news.

This latest attempt to intrude on media was divulged by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai on the Op Ed page of the Wall Street Journal on February 10th.  

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide monitoring-news-ouletswhich stories to run. 

This pernicious attempt to get in the grills (and heads) of news directors and managing editors is a dangerous intrusion of government into the newsroom. Indeed, as Pai predicted,

“An enterprising regulator could run wild with a lot of these topics. The implicit message to the newsroom is they need to start covering these eight categories in a certain way or otherwise the FCC will go after them.”

 [T]he FCC also proposes to regulate newspapers, which it has no authority to do. (Its mission statement says the FCC “regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…Byron York, The Washington Examiner

In short, the FCC wants to force news organizations to hew to the government’s standards. Since most of the mainstream media already do that, what does that leave? Ah, yes, Fox News and conservative radio. The FCC says this assessment is ‘voluntary.’ That’s nonsense. A station’s license hangs in the balance.

But it’s not just broadcasters who need worry. According to Byron York of the Washington Examiner,

[T]he FCC also proposes to regulate newspapers, which it has no authority to do. (Its mission statement says the FCC “regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable…”)

Even though the FCC claims it will cease asking these intimidating questions, as Byron York of the Washington Examiner points out,  Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is unlikely to give up. Indeed, Clyburn and her cronies will find another way to get what they want, just as the Obama IRS has found another path to politically silence conservative 501-c4 organizations.

The VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce and others have been asked to contribute pieces in a ‘super blog post’ of the sort we published after the Obama Administration announced it would decide who is and is not a ‘journalist.’  That post featured novelist John D. Trudel, scientist Dr. Tim Ball, defense attorney Bruce McCain, former police chief and sheriff Bernie Giusto, civil rights attorney Rees Lloyd, writer Victor Sharpe, citizen journalist Dan Sandini and me. Please read it. 

Today’s post includes reactions from radio news and program director Cliff Albert; talk host, opinion maker and former program manager Mark Larson; novelist John D. Trudel, citizen journalist Dan Sandini, Pete-the-Banker, and civil rights attorney Rees Lloyd.

An overt attempt to get rid of Fox News

By Mark Larson

Mark LarsonThis administration is masterful when it comes to jamming it all in when the public is distracted by shiny objects. Tyranny  increases when smart people do nothing. In this case it starts with, “Oh, we just want to study why there aren’t more minorities in broadcasting.” Then it morphs into plans for “monitors” that lead to clamping down of media freedom. This is tremendously dangerous.

This study will help them decide how minorities are blocked out of ownership. I have no idea how choosing stories informs that, but we all know what made the tea party successful sent the IRS scrambling for ways to stop it with new rules.

Mark Larson’s Southern California program airs on 1170AM KCBQ, San Diego, weekdays 6 to 9AM. He serves as a political analyst on KUSI Television (Channel 9) in San Diego. He often guest-hosts the Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt SRN Radio Network talk shows and has been seen on NBC, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and CNN’s “Larry King Live”. Mark has been President of the San Diego Radio Broadcasters Association for a record eight consecutive terms. Radio & Records twice named him to its “All-Star Players” list, citing him as one of only twelve “local legends” in American talk radio. Find his work at www.MarkLarson.com This is his first post for VictoriaTaft.com

 

Obama’s FCC media minders: Stalinism masked by ‘intentions’

By Blogforce Member, Rees Lloyd

ReesWhat is the difference between Stalin’s political commissars sitting in editorial rooms in the Soviet Socialist Workers Paradise to ensure the correct Communist Party political line was being followed, and Barack Hussein Obama’s FCC government agents sitting in U.S. editorial rooms to ensure the correct progressive liberal Democrat Party line is being followed?

Is it the “good intentions” that progressive liberals so often raise as a shield as they trammel freedom in the name of “social justice” and protecting all those they deem to be “victims” of evil capitalism in order to be their saviors? Is that what  distinguishes Obama’s media minding progressive liberal minions from Stalin’s media minding communist minions?

Is “intention” the distinction twixt Stalin’s control of public thought and expression through meanly intentioned “bad” Politburo-assigned certified communist   political commissars minding the media, and Obama’s benevolently intentioned “good” FCC-assigned certified politically correct progressive liberal commissars to mind American media?

If so, it is a distinction without a difference: It is Obama’s progressive liberal totalitarianism  with “good intentions,” which, if unchecked, will be as devastating to freedom of the press, of expression, and of thought as was Stalin’s soviet socialism, no matter how much Obama and his progressive liberal lemmings proclaim their “good intentions.” Obama’s government agents should be summarily tossed out, not invited out, of all newsrooms, no matter how large, no matter how small.

Rees Lloyd, once upon a time an “award winning investigative reporter” and thereafter a longtime California civil rights attorney, is a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. His work has been featured in some of the finest court rooms of California and at World Net Daily.

 

The FCC won’t give up

By John D. Trudel

john trudelThe Obama FCC’s plan to put “minders” into newsrooms is on temporary hold due to public outrage (and opposition from the head of the FCC himself), but we can be sure that it will be back.

How can citizens know this with certainty? Easy.

It is but one small part of Obama’s Saul Alinsky communist (small “c”) agenda to silence free speech of all types. Obama signaled his intent clearly in his infamous State of the Union address when he used his “bully pulpit” to bully and abuse the Supreme Court Justices who had ruled against him. They were forced to sit silently and take it.

Since then, we’ve suffered a constant string of Obama assaults to bypass Congress, attacks which are increasing in number and scope. The article and my blog post below are recommended reading. The Obama media is complacent. It is an integral part of Team Obama’s propaganda machine. Goebbels would be proud.

We should be afraid, very afraid. This is Tyranny, pure, simple, and evil.

John D. Trudel is a thriller novelist and retired adjunct professor. Find his work at www.johntrudel.com

 

Getting into the heads of editorial decision makers 

By Cliff Albert

Cliff AlbertThis is outrageous.

I am glad to see the FCC chairman and decided to remove questions on news selection and judgment now. [But] the ones who support this idea must be followers of [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin.

When the federal government thinks it has the right to start looking into how the free press does its job and to try to get into the minds of decision makers to determine motive, it is scary stuff.

Cliff Albert is an award winning journalist, news director and programmer with Clear Channel Communications and the KFMB stations in San Diego. He’s been an officer with both the San Diego Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. His news teams have won every major radio news award. This is his first post to VictoriaTaft.com.

 

Surveillance of the news room

By Blogforce Member, Pete the Banker
Pete the BankerThe purpose of a meat inspector from the FDA is to inspect meat which if it doesn’t comply with government standards (not all health related by the way), is not permitted to be sold.  Deficient meat standards results in fines payable to the government, little to the victims. 

The purpose of the SEC is surveillance to require all those who raise funds in the capital market to comply with federal standards. Not all those standards are related to safety of investment or full disclosure. Violation results in fines, usually with compensation going to the government, not the victims. One really doesn’t have to go into much detail on this statement given what happened in 2007/2008. Yet again, the real punishment seems directed at the government collecting more fines.
 
The purpose of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was to secure the financial system of the US by mitigating the risk associated with “Too Big To Fail” Institutions, but ultimately seems to have spawned bigger financial institutions with little change to the risk factors responsible for the 2008 financial failure. The result, government creates an annuity of fines from those newly created colossal financial institutions, including the Government sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

 

The purpose of surveillance of the Consumer Finance Protection Board is to assure consumers safe access to credit, especially long term credit like mortgages. Given the current lack of mortgage capital to support transactions, home purchase and sale activity (far more contribution to economic activity and jobs than refinances), one wonders about the efficacy and honesty expressed by the need for government surveillance in housing finance.

 

So now what is the express purpose of surveillance in the news room?  Will this ultimately benefit the consumer of news or will it simply expand the bureaucratic power? Will it simply result in fines, another annuity for the “diminishing” government coffers, or will it ultimately result in expansion of government’s dictate of control of the end product of news cycle, enforcing and controlling “message content” assuring it is acceptable to government rather than honest and transparent information for the consumer?

 

Pete the Banker is a long time banker who wishes to remain anonymous for the sake of his business. He’s a long time VictoriaTaft.com Blogforce member 

 

Newspeak for a new generation

By Dan Sandini

Dan SandiniThis is Orwellian to me because in a city like Portland, I can see the effect the news minders would have on the few outlets of alternative news.  I can imagine a world of 1984 “Newspeak.”  As Wikipedia explains:  “Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, peace, etc. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as ‘thoughtcrime.’  That’s precisely what is going on here.  Small examples can be seen around us every day, and these new regulations would only accelerate and institutionalize the process.

Already it has become censored language to call an “illegal alien” an “illegal alien,” for example.  Instead they are:  “undocumented citizens.”  Michael Savage is banned in Great Britain because of his version of what the state considers “Hate Speech.”  In this way, the Leftist regime of the President and his cronies strengthen their power, deleting all alternative forms of thought outside their totalitarian rule. We are witnessing Government control on a scale never seen before, in all areas of our lives:  food, housing, energy, health care, and now information. When I read about regulations like this I wonder “how the Left can live with itself?”  In the interest of staying in power will they be willing to destroy the last bastion of freedom on the planet?  Sad, but apparently so.  The blood is on their hands.

Dan Sandini is a Citizen Journalist whose day job is software engineer. His work was seen in Andrew Breitbart’s movie, “Occupy Unmasked.” Find his work at  http://www.youtube.com/user/daylightdisinfectant

Pete the Banker: Aetna’s CEO on possibly quitting ObamaCare, Will we “get beat up?” by Obama?

Are we going to get beat up?

Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini says there could be a scenario in which he might have to quit ObamaCare before it does too much harm to his company. 
aetna ceo
Mark Bertolini told CNBC’s Squawk Box ObamaCare ‘has failed to attract the uninsured.’ He said he’s preparing projected rates for 2015 and is afraid they could increase by double digits. He was asked if there were circumstances that would make his company get out of ObamaCare,

“Are they going to be double-digit [increases] or are we going to get beat up because they’re double-digit or are we just going to have to pull out of the program?” Bertolini asked in a “Squawk Box” interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Those questions can’t be answered until we see the population we have today. And we really don’t have a good view on that.”
Bertolini says they’ve just rearranged the insurance deck chairs at this point, or, as CNBC put it,
He said that so far, Obamacare has just shifted people who were insured in the individual market to the public exchanges where they could get a better deal on a subsidy for coverage. “We see only 11 percent of the population is actually people that were firmly uninsured that are now insured. So [it] didn’t really eat into the uninsured population.”
I’m not a big fan of insurance companies, but I do wonder if Bertolini will “get beat up” by the Obama Administration if he doesn’t bend to its wishes. Obama’s thugocracy scares another citizen.

Part 1: ObamaCare’s new, improved website COMPLAINTS

Thanks to Pete the Banker, I now have seen the latest comments about the ObamaCare website by everyday Americans. The comments follow the online announcement of improvements by Julie Bataille, Director of Communications for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid which she claimed “greatly enhanced the ability of consumers to use” the website.  

We are on track to meet our goal of having the site work for the vast majority of users by the end of the month. To be clear, Nov. 30 does not represent a “re-launch” of the site. It is not a magical date.  There will be times after Nov. 30 when the site, like any web site, does not perform optimally. And work will continue after Nov. 30 to make further improvements.

But users of the website beg to differ. The comments follow several general themes beginning with issues of security, general rants, questions about where to pay, and, well, you get the picture.

 

Privacy

Submitted by JEC on 
How do you protect our privacy. A lot of the information is Privacy Act data, and must be protected as such. Anyone who obtains, reads, scans, or sees my information has to have my permission, and even with permission, there has to be a full and tracable audit trail. In other words, a person can find out every time someone looked at, or used or accessed their data! How does Heathcare.gov do that? And what protections are there should the data become hacked and used for crimes? Is the company running the site responsible? I hope so..looking forward to your reply..
Submitted by Edward on 

I was just told that there is some serious security issues and that not all pages and code have been tested. I read that people are just missing their data off the site for their passwords. I can speak for myself I will in no way put my private information in jeopardy. It’s one thing about a credit card number and SS number but when this gets to the insurance exchange people and they have not secured off the Health care site for transfer of data then were looking at an opportune time for someone coming in and scooping up personal data that knows how to hack poor code and security. Please confirm there is security issues that need to be corrected.

 

Submitted by SMJ on 
This entire weekend, the user name and password screen reverts back to blank user and password forms when I try to log in. And I am somebody who created an account and enrolled in both health and dental plans. As of Friday morning, I was able to log in and see my plans and what I signed up for. But all of sudden, yesterday and today, the login page does not work!! What is going on? Have passwords or user names been altered for existing account holders or is this a site volume issue? No error message, no email notice, no nothing. PLEASE COMMINICATE ERRORS!!!!!
This is an absolute disgrace. And I am a Liberal Democrat. Stop with the propaganda and start communicating what is going on. Based on what I am reading in this blog over the past 48 hours, it is clear that the site is not working properly and perhaps some unintended consequences took place with the so-called Friday night lengthy blackout and fix. Will somebody please come on this blog and let people know what to do with these various concerns????????

 

 

Alerts from Duh.comduh-award

Submitted by david on 
If the marketplace can provide a better website at a lower cost, what makes you think it can’t provide better healthcare at a lower cost?

 

Submitted by Lisa on 
Still stuck at set premium tax credit please wait all day. Phone rep answer the same as always some are getting through, now there is a back end issue it’s a glitch or the site is busy keep trying. Don’t they understand if you keep trying it keeps the website bogged down, please wait doesn’t help either. It would have been better to take the site down until the whole thing was fixed. Who has time to keep trying. Time is running out another day down with few sign up how is the website going to handle the 7 million they say that are going to want insurance in the next 22 days.

 

 

It Doesn’t Work

Submitted by LD on 

 

I applied 2 weeks ago ( after many failed attempts since Oct. 1) & at that time was able to print an itemized listing of plans available based upon my info. Now I cannot find the plans no matter what, on the healthcare website. I have 2 options whenever trying to get there: I can either check the results of my application or continue on to enroll. Each time I click “continue on to enroll” I get one of 2 options – leave the page or stay on the page. And , of course, both lead nowhere except in a circle. It is so frustrating. And now they give us until Dec. 23 to sign up for Jan. 1 coverage? They extended the deadline a whole week? Wow, that’s impressive when it is now 2 months since this defunct website started & it is still not working properly. Typical of the US government. They all need to be fired.

 

Submitted by Mike on 
My application shows me twice as 2 separate member of a family with the same SSN. Since October 9th, I’ve made about 7 calls to the support. They could never resolve the problem. They queued up the Advanced Resolution Center (ARC) to call me back during 3 of the calls. The ARC never called back, but I was able to force my way into getting transferred to speak to them. On the first call to ARC on 10/13/2013, the specialist resubmitted my application and made sure it was corrected and said to wait a month before the correction showed and I should receive something in the mail. To date I have received nothing in the mail and I am still listed as 2 people with the same name and SSN on my application. However, I can now, at least, see the plans to enroll in one. The website interface is awful. It does not allow for sorting the available plans by coinsurance, max out of pocket, deductible. It’s like web developers used web techniques from the 1970’s to build this site.

General rantsrant

 

Submitted by willy Mann on 
Given the incompetency of everyone connected with the infamous web site, it would appropriate and gracious for you all to RESIGN so that a more competent PRIVATE company might do the j ob.

 

Submitted by JAY CAMPBELL on 
lIKE EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH THIS DISASTER IN THE WHITE HOUSE, THIS WEB SITE IS A DISASTER AS IS OBAMACARE

 

Submitted by Anonymous on 
You need to get President Obama out of office. He is causing alot of trouble in his term of office. He has ruined alot of peoples lifes in what he has done. Some people had very good health plans and now we have to look for other plans that are more expensive in premiums, I thought this was suppose to be Affordable Care Act, does the president know what the word affordable means ? Annomys.

 

 

Where is the paymaster?ghostbusters_1b

Submitted by Dianne Anderson on 
Simple question but I don’t see many FAQ’s. Im enrolled in a plan but can’t find how to move forward to pay for it……..

 

 

Ah, Great Success!

 

borat
Submitted by Rob on 
Well good news for me (I hope). This morning I got on and could not enroll. I pushed find my account (application) and it said success . From there it led me through till finally it said application complete! The payment method button wasn’t working so I called and they said I will be getting something from the insurance co. as far as billing. I’m going to call the insurance co. in a couple days to make sure they have my info.The final cost was aprox. $90 more than all the previous estimates. But that is still $587 less than my Cobra. Hopefully in a few days I’ll know if all is well.

 

Submitted by JohnT on 
Well – it appears to fix makes it so the login button no longer works on Safari. Good job! By the way, I notice that my identify verification is still pending two months later – maybe that should’ve been one of your prioritized fixes – it would have resolved issues for a large number of people.

 

 

With Friends Like Thesebackstabber

Submitted by Delfin on 
I am a big supporter of the ACA. But, this has been the most frustrating experience I have ever had. December 1 AND still no end in site. Nothing seems to work for me. I see absolutely no “fixes” from my perspective. Still no closer to signing up than I was on Oct 1. No one can help either. No help desk, no call backs, no assistance in resolving issues.

 

 

Submitted by Bruce on 
At last a reset option! I was in an unbreakable series of loops all leading back to a “locked” button. Near as I could tell you thought I should apply for Medicaid from Florida. Where you got that idea, given my stated income and asset levels, I don’t know. Florida turned me down promptly, twice, once when I went to their web site on my own and again when I got there via a HC.gov link. Obviously you weren’t told, or didn’t hear, about that.
Now I can see, by starting over, if you now can screen out the misguided and/or fakers like me. I don’t need health insurance, being, as I told you, 83 and on Medicare just like everybody else over 65, and therefore ineligible, I understand, to shop even for Medi-gap insurance through the exchange.
As a retired federal employee from DOD (not Congress, thank God) I am happy with my long ago decision to make the federal government my career. But as a career IT professional involved with hardware/software procurement and applications implementation for 25 years I just had to see for myself what all the fuss was about.
I waited until Nov 1 to sign up when I read that the web site was 80% faster and that the wee hours were usually free of traffic — if was was up at all. From news reports and my own experience I conclude that the HHS made all the classic mistakes that we were guilty of from 1958 to 1985: too many contracts to too many lowest bidders; no end to end tests; no beta test with one friendly state before taking on the biggest and most hostile part of the country. Etc.
Then of course fire bells rung by the workers were unheard at the top by pointy haired managers and politicos who acted as if they had only to order the computers to work and they would. Good luck with the long hours and no praise ahead. Others have been there before you. I once did two years with every fourth Sunday off, whether I need it or not.

 

 

Submitted by Marie on 
I have been trying to just get on the site on and off for over 12 hours now and I cannot get verification of my logon credentials. I have set up 2 user ID’s and am going for a third as I type this. No wonder people are frustrated. I lost my insurance and now cant even sign up for new plan. RIDICULOUS!. I tried every trick I could think of and by the way I am in the technology industry so I can imagine how every one else feels.

 

 

Glynis the Good Witchglinda-the-good-witch-of-the-north-1

Some of the answers were provided by a woman named Glynis who presumably is from the government and here to help.

 

 

Submitted by Glynis on 
When you are entering information, be very careful with the format of your answers and follow the examples they give exactly as they look. If they use a dollar sign in one place, then enter a dollar sign. If they don’t use it in another, then don’t enter one. Same thing with entering cents. Also, don’t add any decimals to any place they don’t, like to hours worked, round up or down. And your name should be exactly as it appears on your Social Security card. 

 

 

Submitted by Glynis on 
If you started an application in Oct then you should delete that one and start over with a new one. Make sure you delete your cookies, temporary internet files, and history first then logout and restart your browser.

 

 

Pete the Banker: The housing market: bubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Price alone doesn’t tell the story about the country’s housing industry.

The housing industry is looking at another bubble thanks to institutional investors buying up properties and inflating the properties for themselves. But the media haven’t caught on. The latest MSM story line about the ‘improvement’ in the housing industry considers only one part of the story.housing bubble All of the coverage is price based. The stories don’t cover sales activity and specifically sales to owner occupants. Those numbers have not recovered despite billions thrown at the market since President Obama took office in 2009.  One day, investors are going to tire of buying and renting houses. Markets where prices have gone up dramatically, like Las Vegas and Phoenix, are likely to crash again.  

One day, investors are going to tire of buying and renting houses. Markets where prices have gone up dramatically, like Las Vegas and Phoenix, are likely to crash again.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reports  confirms the suspicions about another bubble.

Fitch Ratings, New York said such growth [in price] is “unsustainable.” Fitch Director Stefan Hilts said the company’s Sustainable Home Price model suggests national prices are 17 percent overvalued, including many markets in California.

“Home prices in San Francisco have gone up over 20 percent year-over-year, the highest rate of increase than at any point in the last 10 years,” Hilts said. “In fact, San Francisco and San Jose will set new home price records in the next six months.”

The SHP model currently identifies much of coastal California to be more than 20 percent overvalued. Other California cities nearing bubble-year peaks include Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles

Ironically, had we not had massive government intrusion, I suspect the correction would have been more severe initially, but would have been of far shorter duration and an ancient memory by now.

On the Fannie and Freddie front, the market reformers seem to be backing off real reform. Nine Congressmen, eight Democrats and one Republican, have sent a letter to the Federal Finance Housing Agency (FHFA) urging more government support for multifamily housing. It’s an institutional giveaway. Believe me, there is no dearth of private capital to serve the apartment market.

Here we go again.

Pete the Banker: ObamaCare Promise: ‘You won’t have to do a thing’

‘YOU WON’T HAVE TO DO A THING’

You’ve heard the promises which have turned to lies,

obama health plan meme malkin “Here’s a guarantee that I’ve made,” Obama says. “If you have insurance that you like, then you will be able to keep that insurance.”  July

 “Nobody is trying to change what works in the system,” Obama says. “We are trying to change what doesn’t work in the system.” July 28, 2009

 “If you like your plan, and you like your doctor, you won’t have to do a thing,” Obama said. “You keep your plan. You keep your doctor. If your employer is providing you with good insurance, terrific! We’re not going to mess with it.” June 23, 2009

But the next shoe is set to drop on ObamaCare–two, in fact,  and unless you’re ready for it, you’re in for a shock. 

 1.            Small and Large Group Employers compliance with ACA will cause the same result we are now seeing in the individual market, only it will potentially have an impact upon 5 – 6 times more people, over 100MM. They will lose their coverage whether they like it or not.  Their respective employers may replace with a policy complying or may simply kick them out into the open exchange market.

2.            The White House assertions that the quality of coverage improves to dispel complaints about Obamas promises is absolutely bogus.   As originally covered by US News and World Report in 2009/2010 ( I can dig up hard copy since I have somewhere at home) and more recently by Forbes, those insured under employer plans  will see their cost reimbursement under their policies falling from 80%+ of total medical costs incurred under the current employer  coverage system to 60% +/- under the government mandated system.  The same can be said about the individual health insurance market by the way.  

This is a reality the press has not spent much time  commenting upon. While large employers got a White House waiver, smaller group insurers were a little more creative  and simply renewed existing coverage early.  Small group insurers renewed early this year in November/December (Generally renewal dates are in January ) to push the problem of ACA compliance forward to the end of 2014.  Forbes has done a recent series on the pending late 2014 problem which got little media play.  Today, I noticed CBS put out a blurb which will likely be a one off and soon to disappear from their coverage.  See the headline nearby. 

obamacare headline

The real problem isn’t the absolute failure of the website.  Its failure has simply directed attention toward the individual health insurance catastrophe unfolding. But ultimately the real story awaits and is that Obamacare is a sham especially for those who were covered under employer based and individual plans in existence prior to the ACA and who will lose that coverage by 2015. 

This is that same old liberal story line, the government says it can miraculously provide you something better for nothing!!   Unfortunately, as is always the case, government is not providing something for nothing and  those who were responsible enough to have had pre-existing health coverage will be paying for everyone else, while saddled with poorer quality, higher cost health insurance plans.

Pete the Banker: Debt Ceiling: We Won’t Run Out of Money on Thursday. Really.

Pete the Banker sends this to remind us that the sky is not falling: We won’t run out of money on Thursday.

No panic.
No panic.

In fact, for once the head cases on Wall Street have decided not to go into panic mode over the political posturing in the debt ceiling debate. In fact, as CNBC’s Jeff Cox says investors are “yawning” over what’s happening.

And here’s more information from CNBC:


Instead, Thursday is actually the day the Treasury Department will run out of accounting maneuvers that will allow it to continue to borrow money. The Treasury already technically has exceeded the nearly $16.7 trillion debt ceiling—with total debt outstanding at $16.75 trillion—but has been able to keep going through the creativity of its numbers-crunchers.

And when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claims we’re in for a bond downgrade, which he has amid the invective spewing at “anarchist, terrorist” Republicans, there’s no evidence for that, either. In fact, Moody’s has issued a memo saying so (it’s here behind pay wall), but here’s what The Hill reports

A major credit rater expects the Treasury Department would avoid default if the $16.7 trillion debt limit were not raised.

In a document dated Oct. 7, Moody’s Investors Service said it believes that if the borrowing cap were not increased, the government would prioritize making interest and principal payments on its outstanding debt above other government bills, even though the Treasury Department has repeatedly called prioritization plans unworkable.

“We believe the government would continue to pay interest and principal on its debt, even in the event that the debt limit is not raised, leaving its creditworthiness intact,” the rater said.

So the short hand take away? Don’t panic and run away from anyone who suggests you do. 

Pete the Banker: The President ‘Doing Everything He Can’ On Government Shutdown

President Obama Doing ‘Everything He Can’ obama upset

Obama is insisting he has “bent over backwards”, doing everything he can to work with Republicans.

Fresh from a meeting established to bully John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, the President suggests he is eager to deal with the Republicans to avert government shutdown, default.

Kind of contrary to prior media proclamations by him??

“Obama tells congressional leaders he won’t negotiate on shutdown, debt”

“The president made clear to the leaders that he is not going to negotiate over the need for Congress to act to reopen the government or to raise the debt limit to pay the bills Congress has already incurred,” the White House said.

“Obama’s No-Negotiation Stance Setting New Tone”

This time, President Barack Obama says, he’s not budging. This is the confrontational Obama, the “Make my day” president, betting Republicans blink to avoid a government shutdown or a first-ever default of the nation’s debts.

So sleep well, your President is doing everything he can???!

Pete the Banker is an anonymous Oregon banker. He’s anonymous because of what happens to more conservative businessmen on the left coast. He’s also a member of the Victoria Taft Blogforce. 

 

Did Obama Tell Wall Street He Wants Market Crash?

I was on HLN's Jane Velez Mitchell's show talking about the shut down and predicted the debt ceiling clash would soon be confronted and solved. After reading these stories, I'm not so sure.
I was on HLN’s Jane Velez Mitchell’s show talking about the shut down and predicted the debt ceiling clash would soon be confronted and solved. After reading these stories, I’m not so sure.

After I blithely predicted on HLN’s Jane Velez Mitchell’s program that the debt ceiling battle would be settled and there would be nothing to see here, I noticed these two headlines Pete the Banker sent me.

And here’s what Wall Street heard the President say,

The President speaks with CNBC's John Harwood about the shutdown and debt ceiling. "It's different this time," the President tells Harwood.
The President speaks with CNBC’s John Harwood about the shutdown and debt ceiling. “It’s different this time,” the President tells Harwood.

President Barack Obama’s best friend could be Wall Street’s worst nightmare.

A little market crisis—not enough to crash the economy into recession but enough to stir public fear that would push Republicans to the negotiating table—could be just what settles the impasse in Washington and reopens the government, according to investing pros and market observers.

In an exclusive interview with CNBC, the president warned Wall Street that this shutdown could be different. Previous halts in nonessential government activities have caused little market reaction, with major averages actually rising most of the time in the month after the shutdowns are settled.

Right after the President made the comments which sparked those headlines,  the twittersphere responded:


Today was another item in my inbox. This comment from Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter, 

Does Obama Secretly Want a Default? Or Does He Think He’ll ‘Win’ One?

Ben Domenech, also known as That Guy Who Writes That Other Newsletter,offered one of the more chilling thoughts in recent memory, closing this section of this essay:

There are three big questions now: First, will Republicans feel any real pressure over the government shutdown, or will the Chicken Little talk turn out to matter very little, in the same way it did with sequestration? Second, will conservatives define their terms for victory, settling on what a policy win looks like short of defunding Obamacare — accepting that they won the tactical argument, will they settle on something that represents an acceptable policy shift short of their bigger asks, coming away from all this with something they can point to as a policy win? And third — and this is the most troublesome one: will Obama call the debt ceiling bluff — would he actually be willing to default and throw the markets into chaos, knowing the media will blame Republicans anyway, in defense of his signature on his namesake law?

Increasingly, I suspect the answers are: no, no, and yes.

Like most others, I figured that the debt-ceiling negotiation would repeat the familiar pattern: a lot of bluster and posing, followed by fears that there would be no deal by the deadline, then a lot of serious eleventh-hour horse-trading, and it all gets resolved in a deal right before the deadline. This pattern reaches the familiar conclusion because that the pain of a mediocre deal was and usually is less than the pain of failing to reach a deal.

But Obama has already gassed up his blamethrower:

“When you have a situation in which a faction is willing to potentially default on U.S. government obligations, then we are in trouble,” he said. “And if they’re willing to do it now, they’ll be willing to do it later.”

The President forgets himself, I believe, when he gives signals that he’s willing to tank the economy to make a political point. Community activists, not Presidents, act this way. This situation reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in the best baseball film ever made, Bull bull durham bullDurham. In one scene, Crash, the Durham Bulls catcher, goes to the mound to talk to Nuke, the new hotshot pitcher he’s supposed to be mentoring. He tells Nuke to hit the mascot, a cartoonish looking bull, with a fastball. When the mascot goes down, Crash tells the next batter he has no idea where the next pitch is going so the batter had better not dig in and crowd the plate. 

wall street bull
Did the President say he’d hit THIS bull?


After I read the alarming articles,  I was in the yard when my neighbor, an investor and capitalist, walked by with his dog. I asked him about this. He shook his head and told me he’d gone to a 35% cash position because he can’t trust any of these people. He said, “those people just don’t know what they’re doing to the economy.” I didn’t ask if he meant the President or Congress. I think he meant both.