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November 4, 2010

Beware of Career Politicians!

Washington seems to be irrevocably broken. We no longer have politicians who leave their communities from Alabama to Wisconsin and go to work in Washington on issues that will benefit their constituents. Once elected by their home town and state, politicians go to Washington armed with personal agendas and to do lists. That’s why D.C. is currently filled with Republicrats and the Class of 2010 will introduce Teapublicrats into Washington’s political structure. If a politician goes to Washington and dares to try to change the corrupt, crooked, fraudulent practices s/he will be labeled as ‘Public Enemy Number One’ and everything they try to work on — no matter how good for America — will be blocked. Saying that our government is a social order of elite cliques is an understatement.

Washington is FILLED with career politicians who are only interested in getting rich and re-elected. I am not being scornful nor am I mocking people who are civic minded. It is just difficult to explain why anyone would spend $150 MILLION dollars on a campaign to get a job that pays $180,000 a year. What could cause such a reckless financial decision? Could it be the personal benefits: the kickbacks, salary for life, unbelievable insurance and the ability to vote for a raise for yourself?

Washington is damaged and only American voters can change it. We have to put a stop to this madness that works against us. The only people who seem to benefit from the Washington political system are the corrupt Washington fat cats. We need term limits: two 2 year terms. Politicians should campaign the way they intend to govern and govern like they campaigned. Politicians should go to Washington, focus on what they campaigned to do to benefit their community and then leave D.C. when they’ve done their job. We need to stop politicians’ ‘special benefits’. Politicians should receive Social Security and Medicare just like everyone else. There should be a five dollar limit on campaign contributions and only from individual American citizens. We need our elected officials to be civic minded public servants instead of special interest directed career politicians.

We also need to be independent thinkers. That’s the only way Americans are going to benefit from our political system. Do not let either political party control your mind. Do not hate a candidate only because he is a Democrat. Do not hate a candidate only because she is a Republican. Do not trust a candidate just because she is a Democrat. Do not trust a candidate just because he is a Republican. If you do, you will forever be their puppet without benefits.

Yesterday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he will not work with President Obama on Programs that will benefit Democrats and Republicans alike. He said that his goal is to get a Republican in as President in 2012. Excuse me, but how does this help Americans get jobs, and loans, and homes and cars? He doesn’t care about how his decision will create consequences for you and me. Plotting the next election only benefits his personal agenda. McConnell is the Senate minority leader with an obligation to govern for Americans in a manner that transcends his own partisan goals.

It seems that given the choice of supporting something that was good for the country, but would also benefit Barack Obama politically, McConnell would screw over Americans. He is willing to do what’s beneficial for his personal political agenda; and not necessarily good for us Americans.

Our Teapublicrats MUST work together in the next two years so that America can get out of the ditch she’s in. If these politicians do not work together we will all suffer tremendously.

If the economy does not improve soon, more businesses will lay off more employees. Those of us with jobs could lose our jobs. If we lose our jobs we can’t buy anything or support our local businesses. If we don’t support our local businesses they will go out of business. If they go out of business there will be less taxes coming into our communities. If there are less taxes flowing into our community our Mayors will have to cut services in our communities and the downward spiral will continue until we are ALL affected. This can turn into a living nightmare for all of us. We have to work together as Americans and make it clear to individual politicians we elected that they must work for us, that getting America back on its financial feet is goal number one.

Our politicians are living THEIR American dream. We have to convince them to work for us: for you and me so that we can live our American dream.

We have to let them know that we will not tolerate 2 years of dysfunction that leads to more suffering for us while they sit on their behinds and get paid. We have to remind them that we the voters have the power to stop their dreams. We have to demand that they work together to create jobs and do what’s best for ALL of us.

Empower yourself. Force politicians to do the work you sent them to do in Washington. Contact your elected officials: tweet, email, call or write your Senator, U.S. Representative, Governor and Legislators and insist that they work together and do what’s right for America.

Contact your elected officials: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

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December 3, 2009

Economy: Why NOW May Be A Good Time To Refinance A Mortgage

Why Now May Be a Good Time to Consider Refinancing a Mortgage

By JENNIFER SARANOW SCHULTZ

 

With mortgage rates hitting record lows, it may be time to think about refinancing.

The rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage with no points hit 5.01 this week, slightly up from 5 percent last week but down from 5.97 percent this time last year, and the 15-year fixed mortgage rate hit 4.46 percent, compared with 4.47 percent last week, according to the latest data released Wednesday from Bankrate.com. These rates are at, or close to, the lowest levels since the company’s tracking began in 1985.

At the same time, the Mortgage Bankers Association said interest rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgages it tracks fell for a sixth straight week, remaining below the 5 percent level, “widely viewed as a psychological tipping point” according to this article.

The record lows are thanks to a combination of the Federal Reserve showing no inclination to raise short-term interest rates and investors and foreign central banks maintaining a healthy appetite for debt issued or guaranteed by the United States government, said Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s senior financial analyst. And they come as many homeowners are finding themselves owing more than their house is worth and are having trouble making mortgage payments.

There is also a limited-time government program that helps people to refinance if they are slightly underwater. The “Home Affordable Refinance Program” is not as widely discussed as the related loan modification program. And it has been criticized by some housing experts for helping financial players profit. Still, it aims to help homeowners who have a mortgage balance equal to or greater than the value of their home refinance and obtain more affordable monthly mortgage payments.

The program is available until June of next year to homeowners who meet certain qualifications, including having loans owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and having a first mortgage that does not exceed 125 percent of the current market value of the home. (See if you qualify and find out how to apply if you do here).

With the risk that rates may not stay this low for long and that the government program will end, “there is a window of opportunity” for refinancing that will not be available for long, Mr. McBride said. He recommended that those who think they may not qualify for the program to double check what their home is worth to confirm this. Then, even if you don’t ultimately qualify, he suggested considering trying to refinance anyway if you are paying a higher rate on a fixed-rate mortgage or have an adjustable-rate mortgage.

“Today’s record low mortgage rates represent an opportunity for homeowners to refinance at lower fixed rates or to trade out of an adjustable rate mortgage before an inevitable increase in rates and lock in permanent payment affordability,” he said.

Are you considering refinancing in this environment? Why or why not? If so, what kinds of problems and hurdles, if any, have you run into trying to refinance? (Find more information about mortgages here and more information about loan modifications here).

Original link: http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/why-now-may-be-a-good-time-to-consider-refinancing-a-mortgage/

November 29, 2009

Economy: Obama Wants Mortgage Firms to Reduce More Loan Payments

The Obama administration in a proactive move plans to announce a campaign on Monday, November 30 to pressure mortgage companies to reduce payments for many more troubled homeowners since the $75 billion taxpayer-financed effort aimed at slowing down foreclosures is stalling.

In an interview the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Michael Barr said: “The banks are not doing a good enough job. Some of the firms ought to be embarrassed, and they will be.”

In recent months even as lenders have accelerated the pace at which they are reducing mortgage payments for borrowers a vast majority of loans modified through the program remain in a trial stage lasting up to only five months but only a tiny fraction of loans have been made permanent.

Mr. Barr said the government would try to use shame as a corrective, publicly naming those institutions that move too slowly to permanently lower mortgage payments. The Treasury Department also will wait until reductions are permanent before paying cash incentives that it promised to mortgage companies that lower loan payments. “They’re not getting a penny from the federal government until they move forward,” Mr. Barr said.

Lawyers who defend homeowners against foreclosure insist that mortgage companies amass ridiculously profitable fees from long-term delinquencies and that is more beneficial to them than lowering mortgage payments to affordable levels. In October an oversight panel created by Congress reported that less than 2,000 of the 500,000 loan modifications being processed had become permanent under the Making Home Affordable program. When the Treasury releases new numbers next month, it is expected to report a disappointingly small number of permanent loan modifications, with estimates in the tens of thousands out of the more than 650,000 borrowers now in the program.

Even as our economy tries to find its footing the Treasury department is under pressure to help every day Americans who should have been helped by the banks and financial institutions who benefited from the bailouts on Wall Street.  These financial institutions seem not to feel that they have any moral responsibility to help the hundreds of thousands of households falling into delinquency daily because of the economy and high unemployment numbers. These financial institutions are reporting massive profits but are not helping everyday Americans – they are lining only their own pockets.

The administration’s Making Home Affordable program was put into operation as a means of helping three to four million households from foreclosure but because of the greed of some financial institutions it seems that only 50% of those households will receive the help they should have received. The Obama administration is trying to outwit the financial institutions they helped by publicly putting pressure on these institutions to do what they promised to do.  A White House aide said that they will continue to refine the program as needed and will not be satisfied until more program participants are transitioned from trial to permanent mortgage modifications.

March 24, 2009

Buying Your First Home In 2009? Claim $8K In Tax Credit!!!

house-on-money  Now is the time to purchase your first home!

Last month, President Obama signed into legislation a $789 billion economic stimulus package that included something very important: an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers!

This credit is a far cry from the one passed last summer.

Last summer Congress passed a $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers that sounded good at first glance. However, a closer look at the details revealed that buyers actually had to pay the tax credit back. It really was just a zero interest loan. Just 111 people in the whole country applied for the program.

But this new program is making it a real deal to purchase a first home. The tax credit does not have to be repaid and is for 10 percent (up to $8,000) of the price of the home.

A “first-time home buyer” is anyone who has not owned a principal residence for the last three years. Even if you’ve owned a vacation home, but not a principal residence, within the last three years you can still qualify for the credit. So if the last date you owned a home was three years ago from today, you could buy a home and qualify.

An important part of the program that everyone needs to understand is that to qualify, you have to buy the home before Dec 1, 2009. It’s retroactive to Jan. 1, so if you bought your first home any time after the first of the year you can still qualify.

There are income limits, though. Single people who buy their first home cannot make more than $75,000 to qualify for a full credit. And if you are married, you cannot have a household adjusted gross income of more than $150,000. If you make more than that, you may still be eligible for reduced credits.

There is a requirement that buyers must live in the new home for at least three years. If it is sold within three years the credit must be returned to the government. Exceptions will be made in certain cases such as death or divorce.

So, how does someone take advantage of the $8,000 tax credit? If you buy a new home between January 1 and December 1, 2009, you claim the credit when you file your 2008 taxes (before April 15 this year so you can get your money back now!) or when you file your 2009 taxes early next year.

Now is the time to purchase a home.  An $8,000 tax credit coupled with the lowest interest rates in 30 years, joined by an unusually large inventory of homes from which to choose, offered by sellers who have lowered their prices well below what they were worth just two years ago.

This perfect storm won’t last long; the buyer’s market window will be closing before the end of 2009. It’s time to buy.

For more information, including guidance for people who bought their first homes in 2008, visit IRS.gov.

To learn more about the overall implementation of the Recovery Act, visit Recovery.gov.

Real Estate: Home Sales UP 5.1% Nationwide

happy-house Nationally existing home sales were up 5.1 percent according to the National Association of Realtors which equals to 4.72 million homes sold.  This is the largest monthly sales increase since July 2003.

This was an unexpected but pleasant surprise since economists were anticipating another drop in sales to 4.45 million units from the 4.49 million annual rate in January.

More than 40 percent of sales nationally were of foreclosed properties or properties in default that were being sold for less than the mortgage balance and most sales were for homes at the bottom of the price ladder. The more expensive homes aren’t selling as well, and median prices continue to drop. Half of all homes sold last month went to first-time buyers.  Single family sales are selling better than condos because of differing mortgage availability.

Region

February 2009 Existing Homes Sales Increased By:

Northeast

15.6%

South

6.1%

Midwest

1%

West

2.6%*

 

* Sales in the West are up a sharp 30.4% over the year due to strong sales in foreclosure heavy regions of  Southern California and Las Vegas.

Region

February 2009 Median Price

February 2008 Median Price

Percentage

 

Northeast

$251,200

$263,258

4.8%

South

$146,700

$158,143

7.8%

Midwest

$131,000

$141,218

7.8%

West

$204,600

$265,980

30%

 

Economists and real estate agents are watching carefully to see if low mortgage rates — which went below 5 percent last week — will boost sales.  An $8,000 federal tax credit aimed at first-time buyers already has brought new shoppers into the market.

New listings in the northeast region fell by nearly 10 percent in February.  This is an indicator that the flood of available homes might be drying up.  If there in fact is less inventory, then that will help rebuild the real estate market.  If there is less supply and more demand for homes then the value of real estate will start to increase again.

March 23, 2009

President Obama: Our Trillion Dollar Man

Obama  President Obama and his administration doesn’t want to nationalize our banks so they have unveiled a plan to remove toxic assets from banks’ books in hopes that the plan will breathe life into our financial system so that the government doesn’t have to take them over.

The plan is to finance up to $1 trillion in purchases of illiquid real-estate assets, using $75 billion to $100 billion of the Treasury’s remaining bank-rescue funds. The Public-Private Investment Program will also rely on Federal Reserve financing and FDIC debt guarantees. Doing this will allow banks to clean up their balance sheets and free up the money they were loaned under the TARP so that money can start flowing again and help resurrect our economy.

The government is taking a risk but we cannot solve a financial crisis of this magnitude without the government assuming some risk. It may take months for us to see if this is a successful approach since the government, private sector and banks have to collaborate to make this plan work.  Private asset managers have to be selected (in May), private investors have to participate and banks have to commit to sell their downgraded investments. The point of the program is to save the taxpayers’ money by attracting private capital. The private sector will invest alongside the American taxpayer on an equal basis, so both parties share the downside risk and upside potential. There is a great risk/reward potential here.

The second thing needed for this plan to work is strict oversight by Secretary Geithner. The Secretary has to keenly oversee what the banks are doing to ensure that bank executives continuously do the right things to get our economy back on track.  We have already seen that bank executives are confused, oblivious and disconnected from the reality of what they have done to our economy.  Geithner needs to keep them focused.

Fifty percent of the Treasury’s funds will go to a “Legacy Loans Program” that will be overseen by the FDIC. The Treasury will provide half of the capital going to purchase a pool of loans from banks, with private fund managers putting up the rest. The FDIC will then guarantee financing for the investors — up to a maximum of six times the capital or equity provided.

The FDIC — which has extensive experience disposing of devalued loans from taking over failed banks — will hold auctions for the pools of loans, which will be controlled and managed by the private investors with oversight by the FDIC.

Geithner is expecting a wide range of investors to participate in the Legacy Loans Program, including insurance companies, pension funds and even individual investors.

The other fifty percent of the Treasury’s contribution will go to the “Legacy Securities Program.” The objective of this initiative is to generate prices for securities backed by mortgages that are no longer traded because investors have little confidence in the principal value of the home loans.

Under this program, the Fed will expand an existing feature that provides financing for investor purchases of asset-backed securities. The Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Program will be broadened to take on assets such as residential mortgage-backed securities that were originally rated AAA and sold by private banks.

The Treasury will also approve as many as five asset managers “with a demonstrated track record of purchasing legacy assets” that will buy the securities.

The managers will be given time to raise private capital and receive matching funds from the Treasury.  Geithner is hoping that the private sector will compete to be partners with the government.

There is some fear by investors that if they do well by participating in this program the government will tax them at 90 percent or busloads of people might turn up at their doors. 

I don’t think that will happen, if this works and the market is on an upswing and everyone is making money  populist views will change and these private investors will be hailed as heroes.

A few weeks ago we were all in fear that banks would fail en masse.  If banks had failed en masse, then massive business failures would have followed and massive unemployment would have been the result and that would have led to more foreclosures, and more bank failures and more business failures and more foreclosures and this vicious cycle would not have ended until there was a complete collapse of our economic system.

President Obama stopped the economic free-fall and we have to recognize that and give him credit for it. 

There is more than one way to skin a cat so all of us will not agree 100 percent on this plan, but we have a plan and we must now give this trillion dollar plan the chance to work. 

As Warren Buffet said, we’re in an economic war and we have to start acting like it.  Democrats and Republicans alike have to put aside ideological differences and realize that our economy is under attack by our competitors and we have to band together since we are all in this together

If you are an American and you don’t want to see President Obama succeed then it’s time for you to give up your citizenship and move to another country — seriously.

We’re all Americans.

United we stand, divided we fall. 

Let’s pray for success!

March 20, 2009

Video: President Obama On Jay Leno

President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show on Thursday.

In his opening monologue, Leno said that lots of people were surprised that Obama would come on NBC — figuring that he would be tired of big companies on the brink of disaster with a bunch of overpaid executives.

President Obama told Jay Leno that he was stunned when he learned of the bonuses that bailed-out insurance company AIG was paying its employees. He said that the payments raise moral and ethical problems — and vowed again to try to recoup the cash for taxpayers.  He continued, “We’re going to do everything we can to get these bonuses back.”

Leno asked Obama what he thought when his staff first advised him of the payments, many made to traders in the very division that brought American International Group to ruin.

“‘Stunned’ is the word,” Obama replied. He said he found it hard to fathom how anyone would accept lavish payments in those circumstances. “People just had this sense of entitlement. We must be the best and the brightest.”

But Obama defended Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has increasingly come under fire for failing to block the bonuses.

“I think Geithner is doing an outstanding job,” Obama said. “He is a smart guy. He is a calm and steady guy. I don’t think people fully appreciate the plate that was handed him.”

Leno got more personal toward the end of the 35-minute interview.

Leno asked the president whether the White House bowling alley had been “burned and closed down” in light of Obama’s gutter ball embarrassment on the campaign trail last year.

Obama replied, “No, no. I have been practicing . . . I bowled a 129.”  (During the campaign Obama bowled a 37 out of a possible 300).

The audience roared with laughter, and the late-night talk show host assured Obama “that’s very good, Mr. President.” To which Obama interjected, “It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

The audience laughed. But the White House didn’t let the comment linger without clarification.

“The President made an offhand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” White House spokesman Bill Burton told reporters flying aboard Air Force One after the taping of the show, according to a transcript released by the White House. “He thinks that the Special Olympics are a wonderful program that gives an opportunity to shine to people with disabilities from around the world.” 

President Obama called Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shirver before the show aired and personally apologized for the remark.  Obama made a bad attempt at a joke that was meant to criticize himself and he did not intend in anyway to humiliate the disabled.  President Obama also extended an invitation to Special Olympic athletes to come bowl or play basketball at the White House.

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America Friday Morning, Tim Shriver said Obama was “very sincere” in his apology.   “He expressed openness and an interest in being more engaging in the movement and said he was a fan of the movement,” Shriver said. “And I think importantly said he was ready to have some of our athletes over the White House to bowl or play basketball or help him improve his score.” 🙂

Also on the “Tonight Show,” Leno asked the president when he would finally be making good on his famous campaign promise to reward his daughters with a puppy, which so far hasn’t surfaced.

“Listen, this is Washington. That was a campaign promise,” the president deadpanned to much laughter.

The president said he was “teasing,” and explained that as soon as he returns from the NATO Summit early next month, the “dog will be in place.”

Leno asked if the dog would be a “Portuguese Water Head,” referencing first lady Michelle Obama’s hint that the first family was leaning toward a Portuguese Water Dog. The president laughed and said, “It’s not a ‘water head.’ That sounds like a scary dog. Sort of dripping around the house.”

But the first dad gave absolutely no hints about what kind of dog – or puppy – it will be. “We’re going to get a dog that is — that I think the girls will have a great time — I think I’m going to have a lot of fun with it. You know, they say if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

It seems that Malia and Sasha will have their new furry friend by Easter!

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