If you think there is no other way to pay down the government debt than with cuts and revenue as these Third Way corporate pols are telling us you do not understand the depths of corporate fraud and the attack on existing pension funds that were reduced by half in this last financial collapse. We need to recover those lost funds and protect SS and entitlements . YOUR THIRD WAY CORPORATE DEMOCRAT ARE WORKING TO ELIMINATE ALL OF LABOR'S GAINS AS REGARDS WAGES AND PENSIONS AND SENDING ALL OF WAR ON POVERTY PROGRAM FUNDS BACK TO CORPORATE COFFERS!!!
If you are of the belief that all those programs and benefits were for the birds.....or maybe you are a shareholder......5% of the country, you can be assured that people at the top will not stop with our assets. They will be coming for yours as well. The 99% had better gather together to reverse this trend!!
Get smart and create Democracy Now clubs in your community and spread the word....we can and will reverse this.
THIS IS THE GOAL PEOPLE.....THEY WILL HAVE MOST PEOPLE OUT OF PRIVATE INSURANCE AND INTO WHAT IS BECOMING A PUBLIC HEALTH LEVEL OF CARE!!!!!
Rate of employer-based health insurance keeps dropping
April 11, 2013 by Healthcare-NOW!
Filed under Single-Payer News
From USA Today –
The availability of employer-sponsored insurance has fallen by about 10% over the past decade, which has spurred an increase in the overall number of Americans without health insurance, according to a report released today.
“This documents that in virtually every state across the country, there has been a steady decline in employers that provide coverage over the past 10 years,” said Andrew Hyman, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s health care coverage team. “It would be a real stretch to say this was caused by anticipation of the Affordable Care Act,” President Obama’s 2010 health care law.
The universal coverage requirement and the state health insurance exchanges needed to make it work will start Jan. 1. Some employers have said they may drop health insurance because it would be cheaper to pay a $2,000 fine and have employees buy insurance through the exchanges instead of paying an average of $15,000 to buy that employee health insurance.
Other employers have said they will drop employees’ hours below 30 a week to avoid the requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee.
If so, employers would be following a trend that started before the health care law passed in 2010. The new study found that employer-sponsored coverage dropped from 69% to 60% between 1999 and 2010. The amount each employee paid annually for insurance more than doubled in that period from $435 to $1,056 for an individual and from $1,526 to $3,842 for a family.
The Johnson foundation’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center conducted the research.
Coverage also varied from state to state, based on state law, regional employment rates and average employer size.
Hyman said the steady decline in coverage has come in spite of changes in the economy and employment rates throughout the decade.
“So now we’re all wondering how it will change with the implementation of the ACA,” he said. The “silver lining,” he said, is that with the new law, even those who don’t receive coverage through their employer will be able to get a plan through the health exchange system.
Predictions vary on the law’s effects. The Congressional Budget Office says between 3 million and 5 million fewer people will have employer-subsidized insurance. A Towers Watson survey of more than 500 companies with more than 1,000 employees found none of the companies plan to drop insurance because of the law. A House Ways and Means Committee study found that 71 Fortune 100 companies said they could save $28.6 billion by dropping health insurance and paying the $2,000-per-employee fine.
However, health insurance brokers say their business clients are “staying the course” on their current health plans, said John Torinus, co-founder of Successful Entrepreneur Investors and who has served on several health care reform task forces. As a former CEO, he said he considered health coverage a benefit not just to the employee, but also to the employer.
In a presentation to the World Health Care Congress Wednesday, Torinus said corporations have the power to turn the tide of rising health care costs. Consumer-driven plans, as well as employers who help employees make good decisions about spending and lifestyle, are a better answer than dropping employees’ insurance. Healthy employees are more productive, take less time off and are happier.
He said more employers are offering health care at the workplace so they can ensure employees receive preventive checks to keep them healthy, the employer isn’t saddled with unnecessary referrals and procedures and the employee goes to a less-expensive, better-quality specialist when there are several options from which to choose.
Kent Bradley, senior vice president and chief medical officer of grocery store giant Safeway, proposed that employers could address the rising costs of Medicare by pushing back the time in a person’s life that he or she starts being unhealthy.
Employers are better able to provide incentives — employees at Safeway pay premiums based on their behaviors, and they can save up to $760 per person — as well as a supportive workplace to help people make healthy lifestyle choices. So rather than having a population of seniors dealing with chronic disease from obesity, such programs could stave off illness until a population turns 75 or older, he said.
Hyman said he expects employers to continue to offer insurance.
“I think, frequently, employers are thinking and projecting based on one or two factors,” he said. “But it will be interesting to see what they do with a range of considerations.”
The goal is to put public pensions into investments that will sink with the next financial collapse....that's why pols are tying municipalities to credit bonds so there will be no way to 'save' these pensions in the crash. Even private pensions are finding their way to sovereign debt and these municipal credit bonds. People must hold their pension handlers accountable because there is as much fraud on that side as there is from the financial industry...complicity....
I would also like people to understand the negative intent of Michelle Rhee and Students First as regards these pensions and reform. Arne Duncan and Obama are attached to all this...it is Third Way corporate democratic policy!!!!
Simultaneously Solicits, Betrays Pension Funds POSTED: April 11, 2:45 PM ET
Dan Loeb Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
There's confidence. There's chutzpah. And then there's Dan Loeb, hedge fund king extraordinaire and head of Third Point Capital, who's getting set to claim the World Heavyweight Championship of Balls.
On April 18, Loeb will speak before the Council of Institutional Investors, a nonprofit association of pension funds, endowments, employee benefit funds, and foundations with collective assets of over $3 trillion. The CII is an umbrella group that represents the institutions who manage the retirement and benefit funds of public and corporate employees all over America – from bricklayers to Teamsters to teachers to employees of Colgate, the Gap and Johnson and Johnson.
Loeb is going to be, in essence, pitching his services to these institutional investors. He already manages the money for several public funds, including the Ohio Public Employees' Retirement System, the New Jersey State Investment Council, the Sacramento County Employees' Retirement System, and the City of Danbury Retirement System. To give you an idea of the scale, New Jersey alone has $100 million invested with one of Loeb's funds.
When he comes to speak at CII, Lobe will almost certainly be seeking new clients. There will be some serious whales in these waters: For instance, CalSTRS, the California State Teachers' Retirement System, will definitely be represented (Anne Sheehan, the director of corporate governance for CalSTRS, will be moderating Loeb's panel).
But here's the catch. Dan Loeb, who isn't known as the biggest hedge-fund asshole still working on Wall Street (only because Stevie Cohen hasn't been arrested yet), is on the board and co-founder of a group called Students First New York. And Students First has been one of the leading advocates pushing for states to abandon defined benefit plans – packages which guarantee certain retirement benefits for public workers like teachers – in favor of defined contribution plans, where the benefits are not guaranteed.
In other words, Loeb has been soliciting the retirement money of public workers, then turning right around and lobbying for those same workers to lose their benefits. He's essentially asking workers to pay for their own disenfranchisement (with Loeb getting his two-and-twenty cut, or whatever obscene percentage of their retirement monies he will charge as a fee). If that isn't the very definition of balls, I don't know what is.
It's one thing for a group like Students First to have an opinion about defined benefit plans in general, to say, as they have, that "today's district pensions and other benefits are not sustainable and contribute to a looming fiscal crisis." But it's another thing for a Vice President of Students First like Rebecca Sibilia to tweet the following just a few weeks before one of its board members asks for money from a fund like CalSTRS:
Outdated & underfunded #pension systems like CALSTERS break promises to #teachers#edreform #thinkED http://huff.to/15vdALJ via @HuffPostEdu
That's a hell of a sales pitch for Loeb to be making: "I belong to an organization that thinks you're all dinosaurs. Now give me a hundred million dollars."
Not long ago, the American Federation of Teachers got wind of Loeb's association with Students First and their lobbying efforts, and confronted him about it, leading to a somewhat incredible correspondence, the details of which I'll get to in a moment. But first, a little background on Loeb.
Dan Loeb became famous in the early 2000s not just for being a jerk, but for being a very particular kind of jerk. His favorite activity was to invest heavily in a company and then write blisteringly insulting public letters to management, berating them for not making him enough money. When he spotted the CEO of one company courtside at the U.S. Open, he publicly attacked him for "hobnobbing and snacking on shrimp cocktail" when, presumably, he should have been out making Loeb money. Loeb loves the word "hobnob."
Loeb's schtick is a kind of living tribute to the legendary scene in Wall Street when Gordon Gekko undresses the executives from "Teldar Paper" at a shareholder meeting, urging investors to defy the fat-cat "bureaucrats with their steak lunches, their hunting and fishing trips" who paid themselves big salaries but lacked the stones to buy stock in their own firms. Like Gekko, Loeb pitches himself as the guy who does have the stones, who puts his money where his mouth is. Known as the "Angry Investor," he has made a career as a kind of investor's ombudsman – a man who wouldn't tolerate anyone taking his money and doing anything with it that he didn't absolutely approve of.
So if a CEO using Loeb's money to buy himself tickets to the U.S. Open is bad, just imagine how much Loeb would disapprove of someone taking, say, $100 million of his money, and then using that cash to lobby to end the carried-interest tax break that allows billionaires like himself to pay a maximum tax rate of 15 percent. One can only imagine the letters Dan Loeb would write in that circumstance. "Angry Investor" would be hugely understating the characterization, I would guess.
In any case, when the American Federation of Teachers got wind of Loeb's political activities, its president, Randi Weingarten, wrote him what was, in retrospect, quite a polite letter. She began by noting the apparent oddity of Loeb simultaneously campaigning against defined benefit plans while pitching his services to public funds:
Given your strong support for StudentsFirst, an organization which is leading the attack on defined benefit (DB) pension funds around the country, I was surprised to learn of your interest in working with public pension plan investors.
After reminding Loeb that AFT's members participate in benefit plans worth a combined $800 billion, and that those members are "examining" their decision to invest in hedge funds, Wenigarten then politely asked Loeb if he would be willing to meet with her and some of AFT's trustees during the CII conference.
Since these two interests of yours seem to us perhaps inconsistent, a meeting with you, me and some of our AFT trustees during the CII spring conference could be clarifying. We hope this discussion will allow us to find common ways we can work together to strengthen the retirement security of educators.
Loeb replied that he was "not aware" of Students First having taken a strong stance on the defined benefit/defined contribution issue, and that he was "not an expert" on the issue and was "uninformed." He said he was happy to meet, and that he would "do some research on my end" before the gathering. "I tend to be evidence based and don't bring any ideological baggage with me," he added, "as I simply like to understand how systems work (as a hedge fund manager)."
Then, having said that, he wrote this:
Third Point has compounded at an annual rate of 21pct per annum for 18 years. Although the funds are closed for now to outside investors, I'd be honored if down the road we could help AFT members realize their financial goals and reduce the tax burdens for states and our citizens. Needless to say, I completely respect the political considerations you may have and understand if other factors dictate how funds are allocated.
Translation: I'll make you a lot of money, but if my politics are going to get in the way of that, that's your problem.
Weingarten quickly wrote back to shore up the meeting, letting Loeb know that there would be some other voices at the table. "A small group of pension fund trustees are interested in joining us," she wrote, "including two funds that are current clients of yours."
It seemed that representatives from New Jersey and Ohio, along with several groups from states like New York, Pennsylvania and California who had not yet invested with Loeb, wanted to meet with him personally to clarify his views on public pensions before making a decision about whether to invest (or, perhaps, disinvest).
After receiving this letter, Loeb suddenly changed his mind about wanting to meet. "Unfortunately, I am not free following my presentation as I have made a prior commitment and am then leaving for New York." He added:
I have learned that SFNY advocated a choice between the two types of plans, a recommendation favored by a majority of younger teachers. Beyond that, I'd be pretty useless in a discussion on such an esoteric copy, so I suggest that Ms. Weingarten discuss her concerns with either Michelle Rhee, the national director of Students First and a member of our board, Joel Klein, our Chairman, or Micah Lasher, our executive director.
This one doesn't need much of a translation. Yeah, I know you represent $800 billion, and that some of your members have already given me tons of cash, but I'm busy, so blow me.
Loeb, incidentally, isn't the only hedge fund manager with a God complex who works with Students First while simultaneously taking money from public plans. Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Funds is another – he's on the SFNY board with Loeb and manages $15.7 million from the School Employees' Retirement System of Ohio.
Anyway, one hopes that pension funds and unions don't end up inadvertently funding their own political demise by investing with the Loebs and Tudors of the world. For AFT president Weingarten, the whole episode has been unsettling.
"It is the height of hypocrisy to solicit the hard-earned retirement savings of teachers and turn around and use that money to advocate for the dismantlement of those very same plans," she says. "Teachers continue to face a barrage of attacks, and the last thing they expect is that their pensions will be used to fund attacks on their profession, their unions, and their retirement savings."
One thing that people need to realize about Wall Street and the financial system in general: many of the self-congratulating millionaires and billionaires you read about in the news aren't "self-made" in any real sense, but actually live either directly or indirectly off of your money. The quickest way to extreme wealth in this world is to attach oneself to giant piles of institutional money like public pension funds. The subprime mortgage crisis was fueled in large part by sociopathic hotshots from banks and hedge funds who convinced institutional investors – your corporate retirement fund, your public pension, your union – to buy crappy mortgage-backed securities.
Guys like Dan Loeb, they don't actually do anything, other than shave cuts off of other peoples' money. The psychological justification for taking such high fees is that they earn for their clients, but even that's debatable in some cases (AFT points out that some of Loeb's funds haven't even outperformed the S&P).
The point is, many of these guys owe their outrageous lifestyles to people who actually work for a living, who've been putting nickels and dimes away week after week for years, just so guys like Loeb can swoop in, make a pitch after a fancy lunch or two, and then take big chunks of that cash to buy private jets and Picassos. For them to suddenly become self-righteous and political, to tell the world that it can't afford real pensions and retirement funds for regular people anymore, is a rich irony.
Hey, Dan, you know what might make pensions more affordable? Excising the fees that hedge-fund managers get to tend to that money. Let's try that first – what do you think?
Regarding sequestration and austerity:
Do we never tire of hearing Third Way think tanks and Simpson Bowles tell us that entitlements and SS need to be 'fixed'? After raiding the trusts for decades they are telling us there just isn't enough money for our retirement and health benefits. We all know that the entire national debt, statehouse debt, and Baltimore City budget debt could be paid by simply recovering tens of trillions of dollars in corporate fraud across all business sectors....that is where the money went.......through dynasty accounts and offshore shell businesses created by Third Way states like Biden's Delaware and Harry Reid's Nevada. They are using wheel barrows to cart the money offshore just as the Afghans emptied the Bank of Kabul to Saudia Arabia. What Third Way corporate democrats are doing now....and all of Maryland's democrats are Third Way.....is filling the hole of the missing trillions from the economy with our public assets and services/programs. It is all illegal.....it is all behind closed doors....and it is all done with no mainstream media. That was why NPR and APM was handed to corporate interests!!! These are the White Guerrilla Family....rich white men.
We want to be clear...we can and will reverse this!!! We simply need to reinstate Rule of Law. When the government suspends Rule of Law as they have now, they suspend Statutes of Limitations so all of this can and will be prosecuted and real penalties accessed to bring it back. It will be like the Holocaust looting in that it will take decades....but your children will live a first world quality of life. RUNNING AND VOTING FOR A RULE OF LAW STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL IS IMPORTANT. WE KNOW THAT ISN'T FROSH AND CARDIN.....
WE KNOW MICHAEL GREENBERGER OF U OF M LAW SCHOOL SHOUTS LOUDLY AND STRONGLY.
Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever
The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix
Illustration by Victor Juhasz By Matt Taibbi April 25, 2013 1:00 PM ET Rolling Stone Politics
Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything.
You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."
That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.
Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.
It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.
The Scam Wall Street Learned From the Mafia
Why? Because Libor already affects the prices of interest-rate swaps, making this a manipulation-on-manipulation situation. If the allegations prove to be right, that will mean that swap customers have been paying for two different layers of price-fixing corruption. If you can imagine paying 20 bucks for a crappy PB&J because some evil cabal of agribusiness companies colluded to fix the prices of both peanuts and peanut butter, you come close to grasping the lunacy of financial markets where both interest rates and interest-rate swaps are being manipulated at the same time, often by the same banks.
"It's a double conspiracy," says an amazed Michael Greenberger, a former director of the trading and markets division at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and now a professor at the University of Maryland. "It's the height of criminality."
The bad news didn't stop with swaps and interest rates. In March, it also came out that two regulators – the CFTC here in the U.S. and the Madrid-based International Organization of Securities Commissions – were spurred by the Libor revelations to investigate the possibility of collusive manipulation of gold and silver prices. "Given the clubby manipulation efforts we saw in Libor benchmarks, I assume other benchmarks – many other benchmarks – are legit areas of inquiry," CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton said.
But the biggest shock came out of a federal courtroom at the end of March – though if you follow these matters closely, it may not have been so shocking at all – when a landmark class-action civil lawsuit against the banks for Libor-related offenses was dismissed. In that case, a federal judge accepted the banker-defendants' incredible argument: If cities and towns and other investors lost money because of Libor manipulation, that was their own fault for ever thinking the banks were competing in the first place.
"A farce," was one antitrust lawyer's response to the eyebrow-raising dismissal.
"Incredible," says Sylvia Sokol, an attorney for Constantine Cannon, a firm that specializes in antitrust cases.
All of these stories collectively pointed to the same thing: These banks, which already possess enormous power just by virtue of their financial holdings – in the United States, the top six banks, many of them the same names you see on the Libor and ISDAfix panels, own assets equivalent to 60 percent of the nation's GDP – are beginning to realize the awesome possibilities for increased profit and political might that would come with colluding instead of competing. Moreover, it's increasingly clear that both the criminal justice system and the civil courts may be impotent to stop them, even when they do get caught working together to game the system.
If true, that would leave us living in an era of undisguised, real-world conspiracy, in which the prices of currencies, commodities like gold and silver, even interest rates and the value of money itself, can be and may already have been dictated from above. And those who are doing it can get away with it. Forget the Illuminati – this is the real thing, and it's no secret. You can stare right at it, anytime you want.