Watson is already being used by WellPoint, one of the biggest medical insurers in the US, to improve the accuracy and speed of insurance approval and authorization. It's also being used by Citibank, but Citi has not yet made public the uses it is putting Watson to.
The Indian team, which will be part of the India Software Labs, will work with all of these clients. "It will also start understanding new markets where Watson could be used," Saxena said. Saxena, who grew up in Hyderabad and did a management sciences degree from BITS Pilani, went to the US in 1988 for an MBA. He subsequently founded two companies in the US, the second of which was acquired by IBM in 2006, and he has been with IBM since.
IBM has nearly a third of its employees in India, and its engineers here have done leading edge work in areas like analytics and solar data centres.
Huawei has long denied claims of bad behavior. But its practices have risen to the fore since it emerged from obscurity in the past decade to become a potent force in the telecom-equipment business.
U.S. government concerns culminated this week in a report by the House intelligence committee that labeled the company a security threat and warned U.S. telecom companies against doing business with it.
Huawei has pointed to its relationships with companies like International Business Machines Corp. to explain its expansion. In an interview earlier this year, Huawei's senior vice president for the U.S., Charles Ding, said his company had worked closely with IBM since 1997, and that the U.S. company has played a key role in Huawei's success. Without IBM, Mr. Ding said, "We could not have had the Huawei of today."
In its report, the House panel said Huawei only provided a vague description of the advice it got from IBM and other consultants, rejecting Huawei's claim that its success was due in part to those relationships. IBM declined to discuss its relationship with Huawei in detail, saying only that it provides consulting for thousands of clients across the globe. ...
IBM helped teach Huawei Western management techniques and packaged its technology with the Chinese company's products, helping Huawei evolve from a local player into a global competitor, according to Huawei executives and public documents. Its consultants have worked with Huawei since the late 1990s and continue to assist it with important initiatives.
In 2000, the companies announced a plan to jointly develop networking gear. Last year, IBM advised Huawei on its expansion into selling smartphones and tablets, which in 2011 accounted for about a fifth of the Chinese company's revenue.
Selected reader comments follow:
What high wage countries need to do is to insist that such transnationals invest in their national supply chain in direct proportion to the revenue they derive in that country so that we have balanced trade not the unbalanced kind we have now that favors mercantilist countries like China.
I do understand that I never want to draw the FHA to $0 as that will greatly limit my options if I need to rely on IBM benefits. And as long as there is a balance in the FHA I can either use the FHA funds or pay for benefits out of my pocket.
Right now my wife is working (I am back in school) and we have the option of buying benefits through her employer at about $400 / mo or buying the benefits through IBM which will be about $1000 / mo (these are just ball park numbers but they make the point).
So my thinking is that since the FHA is not guaranteed and IBM can take back the FHA at any time, while it is available to me I may as well use it even though we could buy the benefits at a much cheaper rate through my wife's employer. As long as I never draw the FHA to $0 we can always pay for the benefits out of our pocket. So why not use the majority of what IBM has set aside while it is available? Thoughts?
If you believe that IBM will keep the FHA plan until your wife stops working, then you would be better off using her benefits now and letting the FHA account stay idle. Once you both retire, insurance will cost more than it does for an active employee. So you'd be better off using her lower cost coverage now while you can.
But if you believe IBM will take the FHA away before you both retire, then you would be better off using in now.
I think you've analyzed things correctly. It all comes down to what you want to gamble on.
Beware, beware, beware.
My FHA sits, unused, forever and a day (yes, IBM wins, once again) because of this situation.
IBM is NOT your friend.
If I take Option A I am committing to spending $35K over a ten year period. Since the maximum cost in that 10 year period is $47.5K then if I choose Option B over Option A I am betting $12.5K it doesn't turn into Option C. If I win that bet I save $22.5K. If I rate the bet as a toss up then I have to got with Option B (my potential winnings are almost twice my potential losses). Personally I think the odds are decent that IBM won't confiscate the FHA (its a fixed sunk cost and they are chasing future variable costs) so I am going with Option B.
Your mileage may vary. But look up the cost of the various medical plans involved and do some math. Opinions are just opinions (mine included), but math provides hard information to base decisions on.
> Option B: Defer the FHA. So you opt out of your wife's plan when you use the FHA for 5 years? Same question as above - are you confident you can get back in your wife's plan, again assuming no pre-existing conditions?
> Option C: Defer the FHA and IBM confiscates it. Keep in mind, they can cancel it even it is being used, can't they? Why, yes they can, they're IBM and we don't have a contract.
>Personally I think the odds are decent that IBM won't confiscate the FHA. Decent and IBM is an oxymoron. Yes, I know how you used 'decent', but don't trust IBM, they will screw you first chance they get to bribe a politico to write a law in their favor.
So many questions, so many issues because the Second and No Choicer longtime loyal IBM employees were screwed out of the promise lifetime retiree medical. Oh well.
Trust went out the window a couple of decades ago for everyone I know either who has left or is still employed. We all realize we are mercenaries for hire. We work there as long as the pay for our sword is good and they keep us for as long as they feel we have the sharpest sword for the money.
We neither expect anything else as we won't get it, nor do we give anything else because they haven't earned it. This is not the world I was born into, but it is the world in which I now live.
My independent children have elected to go bare and pay al la carte for health services. So far, they've done well and saved a bunch on premiums.
Of course, that's not for everyone but it is an option for some folks.
For folks like Willbefree25, a full refund for psychiatric treatment would be justified given that they had no effect.
Some years back, the daughter of one of my co-workers graduated from college and had a job lined up starting in the fall. Her college medical coverage ended at graduation in June. And her job coverage wouldn't begin until she actually started work. Neither she nor her parents thought it would be a problem not having insurance coverage for a few months.
Over the summer, she became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. She had to forgo taking the job as she was too ill to work and was left uninsurable.
Her parents decided to pay her medical bills out of their own pocket so she could get something more than minimal emergency treatment. It nearly bankrupted them.
Only fools go without insurance by choice if they can otherwise afford it.
I'll be darned, so the FHA was NOT part of the Respect For The Individual code of IBM.
Age 26. $2M plus in medical care; at least that much still to come. My one consolation is that my son is still alive.
Point two, relative to such black swan events being covered by high deductible plans: understand that the BC/BS high deductible plan offered by IBM does not meet the Creditable Insurance standard, that must be met consistently over time to allow one to avoid pre-existing exclusions in buying insurance if job loss, and consequently insurance loss, leaves one uninsured for more than 60 days, and one then attempts to then buy an insurance policy. The great Obama solution to this problem has not kicked in yet.
Currently, GM has around only 10 percent of its IT staff within the company. The remaining 90 percent will be clawed back in the coming years as the trend towards increasing levels of mobile technology transmit from the user's pocket into the vehicle.
That’s the message from a group of female executives on “Women to Watch,” which aired yesterday on Bloomberg Television. The special features Facebook Inc. (FB) Vice President Carolyn Everson, SurveyMonkey.com LLC Senior Vice President Selina Tobaccowala, Stella & Dot founder Jessica Herrin and venture capitalist Theresia Gouw Ranzetta from Accel Partners.
“For the first time, I actually see male co-founders and male co-founding teams who are explicitly looking to bring women into the executive team or the founding team,” said Ranzetta, whose investments include Imperva Inc. (IMPV) and Trulia Inc. She said companies are saying, “‘You know, two-thirds of my users, my most valuable users, are women. We’ve got to get a woman into the boardroom here, right?’”
A selected reader comment follows:
Women soon find out what it really means to work in a tech sweatshop...long hours, falling salaries (thanks to cheap foreign hires), a man's world out there, no vacation, and no work life balance. Ladies, don't fool yourselves. Corporate Confidential has already exposed the real deal in the corporate tech world, too. You don't go to a tech company that requires you to work 100+ hours (a la Marissa Mayer style) and expect to take time off for maternity leave, sick leave, your kid's soccer game. You do it, then career suicide for you. Women are free to choose whatever field they want...so, they might as well choose another field that is more sane and requires less work.
AIER economists estimate the 2013 increase to be between 1.5% and 1.7%, two percentage points below the 3.6 % increase seniors received for 2012.
Prescription Drugs: Seven of the top 10 stand-alone drug plans will have double-digit percentage increases next year, according to Avalere Health, a health-care consulting and research company. More than 80% of Part D beneficiaries are in these plans; Avalere data shows that 5.9 million will pay double-digit increases next year if they don't switch. That's a whopping 29% of all Part D enrollees. ...
A new study suggests enrollees are leaving money on the table. A team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health found that Medicare beneficiaries overpay by hundreds of dollars annually because of difficulties selecting the ideal prescription drug plan for their medical needs. Only 5.2% of beneficiaries chose the least-expensive Part D plan that met their medical needs in 2009, overspending on premiums and prescription drugs by an average of $368 a year. ...
Resources for Shopping: The Medicare Plan Finder on the Medicare website is the authoritative online resource for plan shopping. Plug in your Medicare number and drugs (you'll need each drug's name and dosage). The tool then displays a list of possible plans; their estimated costs, premiums, and deductibles; which drugs are covered; and customer-satisfaction ratings. The finder also will give you advice about drug utilization and restrictions.
An association that represents about 5,000 Kodak retirees said it was surprised and disappointed by the proposal, which would affect about 56,000 retirees, dependents and survivors.
For Kodak’s roughly 38,000 U.S. retirees dependent on the company for health care benefits, as well as an additional 18,000 disabled former workers and survivors, the benefit cuts will mean anything from a minor inconvenience to a major financial crisis.
Retirees under the age of 65, and thus not eligible for Medicare, could end up spending as much as $1,000 a month out of pocket for coverage comparable to what they get now through Kodak, said Ron Brandwein, a health insurance information specialist at the local Lifespan office.
That’s because being under 65 and buying an individual policy often means facing rates 40 percent to 60 percent higher than group rates, said Stephen Smola of Rochester health benefit firm Smola Consulting.
From 2004, courtesy of Ellen Schultz: How Cuts in Retiree Benefits Fatten Companies' Bottom Lines - Trimming a Health-Care Plan Creates Accounting Gains, Under Some Arcane Rules.
"What we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation, state by state," he said. "And I said that at that time. The federal government taking over health care for the entire nation and whisking aside the 10th Amendment, which gives states the rights for these kinds of things, is not the course for America to have a stronger, more vibrant economy."
But considering that the Massachusetts law was the model for Obamacare, what, other than replicating what Massachusetts did, are the states to do?
High on the list of recommendations in Romney's health care platform is an idea frequently touted as a silver bullet by conservatives: allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines. Doing so, they say, will increase competition and, consequently, bring down the cost of coverage.
The problem is that no one had done a study to determine definitively whether the across-state-lines idea would work -- until now. And the conclusion of that study, conducted by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, is that allowing coverage to be purchased across state lines is much more of a blank than a bullet. ...
Georgia, Maine and Wyoming have enacted legislation in recent years to allow out-of-state insurers to sell policies within their borders. Lawmakers in Kentucky, Rhode Island and Washington passed bills requiring their insurance departments to research the idea and determine interest from out-of-state insurers.
The lawmakers who championed the legislation expected their states would be inundated with applications from insurers far and wide eager to sell their policies. But it hasn't happened. In fact, not a single insurance company has expressed the slightest interest in doing business in any of those six states. ...
So the next time you hear a candidate tell you how great it will be when insurers can sell their products across state lines, be aware that they already can. They just don't have the slightest interest in doing so.
Only mid-size businesses, which the study defines as having 101 to 1,000 employees, would see a 4.6 percent increase in costs-per-insured-person.
Since most large businesses (more than 1,000 employees) currently provide health insurance for their workers, the law would increase their costs by 4.3 percent, due mostly to somewhat higher employee enrollment rates because of an increase in the number of workers and dependents who will get coverage.
Still, the first employers to take the plunge face numerous uncertainties, among them whether their workers can shop wisely, says Andrew Webber, CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health, a not-for-profit organization in Washington. "Going to a defined contribution in health care is a radical departure," he says. "It gives all of the responsibility over to the employee. What if the employee makes poor decisions as they have with 401(k)s, perhaps?" ...
Along with Aon Hewitt, other large human resources consultancies are jockeying to fill what they perceive as an emerging business opportunity. Officials at New York-based Mercer and Extend Health Inc. in San Mateo, California, which was recently purchased by Towers Watson & Co., also report exchanges in the works.
The whole idea is to save money, and reduce the employer’s health spending burden. It might, however, comes with a hidden cost: A new working paper from Truven Healthcare’s Teresa Gibson, Harvard’s Michael Chernew and the University of Michigan’s A. Mark Fendrick find that as co-payments go up, productivity drops — most likely as a result of employees skipping out on care altogether.
Have I been everlastingly grateful to flee the purported queues in the land of my birth and avail myself of the high-tech healthcare available in the U.S.?
Not so much.
The system that I knew from childhood through early adulthood was easily navigated and delivered excellent care. Even my first experience in handling my own insurance plan was seamless. As a 20-year-old university student, I transferred from the provincial university in the city where I’d grown up to the flagship university in another province. I developed a nasty case of bronchitis in my first month at school and needed care. But I was concerned: each province administers its own plan and I didn’t have coverage in my new home province. But the receptionist in the office of the doctor I’d chosen reassured me. All I had to do was fill out one form to apply for coverage – available at the doctor’s office – and my visit would be covered retroactively.
And it was. End of story.
Contrast this experience to my first medical appointment in the U.S. My husband’s employer-provided plan gave us three options, and each offered a small pool of providers compared to the unlimited access with which I’d grown up. I presented myself at the HMO office and was told who my physician would be. I would soon find that appointments were difficult to get for spur of the moment matters, and it would almost assuredly not be “my” doctor who would see me for unexpected needs. All visits had one thing in common, though: paper. It came in many forms – Explanation of Benefits forms (EOB), accident forms to complete if one of my family should be seen for an injury – and it was endless. Premiums were appallingly high compared to the minimal fees I’d paid in Canada, and every visit was subject to co-pays, deductibles, and any number of other complexities.
Americans assumed that I must be delighted to find myself in this land of medical plenty. “I’d hate to live in Canada,” they’d say to me. “You can’t choose your own doctor there.” I was also told about the long waits for care and other horrors of “socialized medicine.”
Why, I wondered, were Americans so set against universal medical coverage? One thing I’ve heard repeatedly is that it would be an assault on freedom. I’m not sure what freedom that would be – the freedom to bear the burden of financial ruin in the event of a catastrophic illness? The freedom to die if one can’t afford medical care? What makes people here demean something that many Canadians prize?
The Romney-Ryan proposal, which builds on plans passed by House Republicans, would scrap the current Medicare system, which guarantees all seniors access to the government program with a defined set of benefits. Instead, their proposal says that Medicare beneficiaries entering the program after 2022 should get a fixed amount of federal money to buy either a private insurance plan or the traditional Medicare plan.
Although the Romney-Ryan plan preserves Medicare as an option, the voucher will not necessarily be adequate to pay for it.
Under the GOP plan, the value of the voucher will be tied to available plans in different areas in the country, assuring that it is sufficient for the two lowest-cost options. If a senior wants a more costly health plan, he or she would have to pay the difference.
That means that if Medicare is not one of the two low-cost options, the voucher would not be adequate to guarantee Medicare coverage.
“We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack,’ ” he said as he offered more hints as to what he would put in place of “Obamacare,” which he has pledged to repeal.
“No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital. We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.”
He pointed out that federal law requires hospitals to treat those without health insurance — although hospital officials frequently say that drives up health-care costs.
U.S. Census data show that 50 million Americans lack coverage, and experts say those in such straits forego medical care, doctor visits and preventive tests including cancer and blood pressure screenings.
"The uninsured get healthcare about half as often as insured Americans, on average," said Dr. Arthur Kellermann, director of the think tank RAND Health and co-chairman of the committee that produced the 2002 IOM study.
"There is an overwhelming body of evidence that they get less preventive care, less chronic disease care and poorer quality hospital in-patient care," he said.
Indeed, the official line seems to be that you’re a liar if you call a plan under which people receive a fixed sum to spend on insurance, as opposed to simply getting insurance, a voucher scheme.
Among the lying liars, then, is the guy who, back in 2009, described the Ryan plan as “converting Medicare into defined contribution sort of voucher system”. Oh, wait: that was Paul Ryan.
Yet for all his innate prudence, Scott now, at age 52, is suffering from Stage 4 prostate cancer, in part because he didn’t have health insurance. President Obama’s health care reform came just a bit too late to help Scott, but it will protect others like him — unless Mitt Romney repeals it.
If you favor gutting “Obamacare,” please listen to Scott’s story. He is willing to recount his embarrassing tale in part so that readers can learn from it. I’ll let Scott take over the narrative:
It all started in December 2003 when I quit my job as a pension consultant in a fit of midlife crisis. For the next year I did little besides read books I’d always wanted to read and play poker in the local card rooms.
I didn’t buy health insurance because I knew it would be really expensive in the individual policy market, because many of the people in this market are high risk. I would have bought insurance if there had been any kind of fair-risk pooling. In 2005 I started working seasonally for H&R Block doing tax returns.
As seasonal work it of course doesn’t provide health benefits, but then lots of full-time jobs don’t either. I knew I was taking a big risk without insurance, but I was foolish.
In 2011 I began having greater difficulty peeing. I didn’t go see the doctor because that would have been several hundred dollars out of pocket — just enough disincentive to get me to make a bad decision.
Early this year, I began seeing blood in my urine, and then I got scared. I Googled “blood in urine” and turned up several possible explanations. I remember sitting at my computer and thinking, “Well, I can afford the cost of an infection, but cancer would probably bust my bank and take everything in my I.R.A. So I’m just going to bet on this being an infection.”
I was extremely busy at work since it was peak tax season, so I figured I’d go after April 15. Then I developed a 102-degree fever and went to one of those urgent care clinics in a strip mall. (I didn’t have a regular physician and hadn’t been getting annual physicals.)
The doctor there gave me a diagnosis of prostate infection and prescribed antibiotics. That seemed to help, but by April 15 it seemed to be getting worse again. On May 3 I saw a urologist, and he drew blood for tests, but the results weren’t back yet that weekend when my health degenerated rapidly.
A friend took me to the Swedish Medical Center Emergency Room near my home. Doctors ran blood labs immediately. A normal P.S.A. test for prostate cancer is below 4, and mine was 1,100. They also did a CT scan, which turned up possible signs of cancerous bone lesions. Prostate cancer likes to spread to bones.
I also had a blood disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation, which is sometimes brought on by prostate cancer. It basically causes you to destroy your own blood cells, and it’s abbreviated as D.I.C. Medical students joke that it stands for “death is close.”
Let’s just stipulate up front that Scott blew it. Other people are sometimes too poor to buy health insurance or unschooled about the risks. Scott had no excuse. He could have afforded insurance, and while working in the pension industry he became expert on actuarial statistics; he knew precisely what risks he was taking. He’s the first to admit that he screwed up catastrophically and may die as a result.
Yet remember also that while Scott was foolish, mostly he was unlucky. He is a bachelor, so he didn’t have a spouse whose insurance he could fall back on in his midlife crisis. In any case, we all take risks, and usually we get away with them. Scott is a usually prudent guy who took a chance, and then everything went wrong.
The Mitt Romney philosophy, as I understand it, is that this is a tragic but necessary byproduct of requiring Americans to take personal responsibility for their lives. They need to understand that mistakes have consequences. That’s why Romney would repeal Obamacare and leave people like Scott to pay the price for their irresponsibility.
To me, that seems ineffably harsh. We all make mistakes, and a humane government tries to compensate for our misjudgments. That’s why highways have guardrails, why drivers must wear seat belts, why police officers pull over speeders, why we have fire codes. In other modern countries, Scott would have been insured, and his cancer would have been much more likely to be detected in time for effective treatment.
"But dependency on government has never been bad for the rich. The pretense of the laissez-faire people is that only the poor are dependent on government, while the rich take care of themselves. This argument manages to ignore all of modern history, which shows a consistent record of laissez-faire for the poor, but enormous government intervention for the rich." From Economic Justice: The American Class System, from the book Declarations of Independence by Howard Zinn.
A top Republican aide in the Senate said that an overhaul of the US tax code was ultimately the most important tax-related goal of the party and that the intense focus on whether or not to increase taxes on the top earners was ultimately irrelevant.
Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.”
In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it.
“All of us here are very familiar with ALEC and the influence that ALEC has with many of the [legislative] members,” says Arizona State Senator Steve Farley. “Corporations have the right to present their arguments, but they don’t have the right to do it secretly.”
In more than twenty years in Washington, I'd never followed a major bill through Congress as closely as I did the Dodd-Frank Act. In that time, I'd never fully grasped the almost absolute power to steer the bill wielded by committee chairs, especially when the leadership delegates all responsibility to them, as Harry Reid did to Chris Dodd. Almost nothing could happen on the Senate floor or get in the bill without Dodd's approval. That was particularly true in this case because Dodd and the Treasury Department wanted a squishy bill, and the Republicans were willing to work with Dodd to weaken it. (In the Senate, it takes unanimous consent for an amendment to come to the floor for a vote. So Dodd and Shelby had a vice grip on what amendments would be considered. They only accepted amendments they both liked.) On this bill, Shelby had never negotiated in good faith with Dodd. Indeed, Shelby had publicly and repeatedly said that he preferred no bill at all. Yet Shelby and the Republicans would cooperate by granting unanimous consent to Dodd's floor strategy, because they trusted that Dodd wanted to pass the weakest possible bill. And then the Republicans would still try to filibuster it.
This question arises, of course, because during the presidential debate that’s what Mitt Romney said he’d do if elected president. Asked what things he’d cut from the federal budget to help curb deficits, Mr. Romney mentioned the tax money that flows into the Public Broadcasting System. Then he got specific with moderator Jim Lehrer, a PBS star.
“I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too,” he said to Mr. Lehrer. “But I’m not going to ... borrow money from China to pay for it.”
OK, then. We’ll focus first on Big Bird, then on public TV and radio in general, and their relationship to deficit spending. ...
Let’s figure that 8 percent of Sesame Workshop’s total budget comes from the government. That’s the figure the company has quoted in recent media reports. Given a $130 million overall budget, that comes in at about $10.4 million.
Given that this year’s federal deficit is $1.1 trillion, Big Bird is nothing but speck of dust on a mote on a dandelion that Horton the Elephant is trying to save from being boiled in oil.
At the Denver debate, Romney said he would eliminate Obamacare (doing so would actually increase the budget deficit, because of related tax hikes) and the public-broadcasting subsidy, which is $445 million a year — or little more than one one-hundredth of 1 percent of federal spending. But Romney proposes to cut federal spending by trillions of dollars — more than $5 trillion over the next decade, assuming he follows the sort of blueprint laid out by his running mate, Paul Ryan. That threatens much more than Muppets and monsters. Human lives are at stake. ...
If Romney follows through on the tax cuts he has endorsed, increases defense spending by $2.1 trillion over a decade as promised and maintains Social Security and Medicare as they are for those 55 and older, he’d need to cut everything else government does by nearly a third — or more than $200 billion — in 2016. By 2022, the liberal Center for American Progress calculates, such government functions, including the State Department, would be cut by 53 percent. The $445 million Romney saves by axing PBS will get him less than half of 1 percent of the way toward the budget cuts he would need to make by 2016.
This is very bad news to the tens of millions of people who depend on Social Security now or expect to in the near future. It's also bad news to the hundreds of millions of people who have been counting on the Social Security system to provide a degree of financial security to their retired or disabled family members.
After all, Governor Romney clearly does not seem to have warm feelings toward the program. His vice-presidential pick, Paul Ryan, has been the most ardent proponent of privatization in the House. If Romney is committed to Social Security, picking Representative Ryan as his running mate would be a strange way of showing it.
When President Obama links arms with Romney on Social Security, it is not good news for supporters of the program. Nor was the situation made better by the desire to "tweak" the system. In Washington, tweak is a code word used by people who want to cut Social Security but lack the courage to say it explicitly.
For example, their favorite "tweak" is changing the cost of living adjustment formula in a way that reduces retirees' benefits by 0.3 percentage points annually. This would add up to a 3 percent cut in benefits after 10 years, a 6 percent cut after 20 years and a 9 percent cut after 30 years.
In other words, this tweak is real money, especially for the oldest beneficiaries who also tend to be the poorest. In fact, this tweak of Social Security is likely to have more impact on the income of most retirees than taking back President Bush's tax cut on the wealthy would have on their income. The other items that are usually part of the tweak package are phasing in a further increase in the age for getting full benefits (beyond the increase to age 67, which is already in current law) and a reduced benefit formula for workers who earned more than $40,000 a year in their working lifetime. ...
The government has also badly failed workers in pushing them to rely on 401(k)s for retirement instead of traditional pensions. The managers of these tax subsidized accounts can easily siphon off more than one third of annual returns as administrative expenses. While this allows the financial industry to pocket tens of billions annually from these accounts, few workers are able to accumulate substantial savings by the time they reach retirement. ...
Given all the harm that economic policy has done to the current generation of retirees and near retirees, it is incredible that President Obama would tell us that we have no choice; we have to vote for someone who wants to kick them in the face yet again. ...
If our politics were not dominated by Wall Street we would be talking about raising Social Security, not lowering it. A renewed commitment to protecting Social Security from the tweakers would at least be a big step to limit further damage.
As for that "Simpson Bowles" so-called "deficit reduction" plan: It's a hoax, another ploy to give the ultra-rich yet another huge tax cut - unless you believe that the lobbying fairy will magically grant a wish that's never been granted before: an end to billionaires' loopholes.
If you buy that - which I don't - then the plan's just grossly unfair.
The real moment of truth Washington won't face is this one: It's time to admit that we can't rebuild our economy - or balance the Federal budget - without raising taxes on the very wealthy. That's what Simpson, Bowles, and all their highly-funded friends won't tell you: We need to raise their taxes a lot. ...
Let's be clear: I'm not talking about imposing sharp increases on incomes over $250,000 or even $500,000, at least not until the economy's healthier. At those levels an expiration of the Bush tax cuts would probably be enough. But once you hit income of a million dollars a year and over, we should go back to the higher tax rates that were in place for millionaires during the Nixon years.
That's right: When it comes to taxes, Nixon's the One. And Eisenhower was much stronger on these issues than Nixon.
The public's being bludgeoned by deficit reduction rhetoric from people who clearly couldn't care less about deficits. They certainly don't intend to do anything about them. Ike and Nixon would throw them out of the cabinet room if they walked in with proposals like these.
Once we get back to their brand of Republicanism, we can revitalize the genuine left and start having a real economic debate in this country.
When we speak of the Bush tax cuts it’s helpful to remember that George Bush inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor, Bill Clinton. Bush believe that the government shouldn't hold on to this money and use it to invest in our dangerously outdated national infrastructure, our badly crumbling schools, our critically overloaded power grids or to even pay back money the government has borrowed over the years from the Social Security Insurance Fund. He believed that the money should be given back to the public in the form of a tax cut. In January 2001, at the start of the Bush administration, the Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan body, projected a fiscal surplus of $5.6 trillion spanning fiscal 2002-11 had the Bush tax cuts not in mandated. Today, with those fiscal years almost completed, the budget is on track to have a deficit of around $6.5 trillion. This drastic reversal is due to a combination of factors including higher government spending and changes in economic conditions, as well as the Bush tax cuts. The CBO estimates indicate that about one-third of the fiscal reversal is directly due to the tax cuts.
Even though the tax legislation was passed with a highly bi-partisan vote and the cuts were to end, as already noted, in 2013, Republicans, who swore an oath to lobbyist Grover Norquist, pledging they wouldn’t raise taxes, are now claiming that ending the Bush tax cuts would really be a tax increase, because Grover (Norquist, not the one on Sesame Street) told them it would be and so they can’t do it because they promised Grover they wouldn’t and, after all, a man is only as good as his word.
Who would benefit the most and who would be hurt most varies according to the source of the claim but my experience has been that changes in the tax code seem to always benefit the wealthy more when taxes are cut and hurt the middle income (and below) wage earner when they are increased. That seems to a pretty predicable outcome since the rich have a lot more money to be taxed at a lower rate after a tax cut and after a tax increase the middle and down wage earners are paying a higher rate on a whole lot less money. We also need to keep in mind that the rich do not depend on wages for their income the way the rest of us do. Over the years they have been able to have their personal congressmen (the ones they keep in office through their campaigns contributions and not infrequent bribes) write laws that tax them at lower rates, or exempt them altogether, the often esoteric ways the rich compensate themselves. Mitt Romney provides a great example. Romney received $21.7 million in compensation in 2010 and he pays a relatively low tax rate, just over thirteen percent because most of his earnings in 2010 were derived from investments. Most of Romney's money, known as unearned income versus the earned income most of us get from wages, is taxed as capital gains. And the top marginal capital gains tax rate (for now) on long-term investments is just 15 percent (before deductions).
American Tower Corp., which operates cellphone towers, will save more than $400 million a year by 2017, analysts estimate, thanks to its new tax status as a real-estate investment company. Equinix Inc, whose warehouses are full of computer servers, is expected to avoid taxes of around $150 million a year. Iron Mountain Inc., which helps clients shred documents and store data, may save nearly as much.
The key: getting approval from the Internal Revenue Service to convert from a corporation into a real-estate investment trust, a type of company that generally doesn't pay taxes. ...
Investors typically cheer when companies turn themselves into REITs. But some real-estate executives and analysts worry that the new wave of applicants—including a pair of companies that run private prisons—could spark a political backlash at a time when deficits and taxes are high on Washington's agenda.
"The real-estate companies correctly are nervous about this phenomenon," says Kenneth T. Rosen, a real-estate economics consultant and former manager of a hedge fund that invested in REITs. "The more it looks like a tax loophole, the more likely it is to affect them negatively."
API scheduled the press event in the wake of two of Washington’s most prominent Republicans—GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich.—explicitly saying that at least some oil and gas tax breaks would likely be eliminated as part of overall corporate tax reform that Congress hopes to tackle next year. ...
Defining what exactly is an oil and natural-gas tax break (or subsidy or tax credit) is a moving target and seems to change depending on one’s political motivations. According to an Energy Information Administration report from 2011 — the one Romney cited in the Denver debate — the oil and gas industry gets about $2.8 billion in tax deductions a year. President Obama and environmental groups put that number closer to $4 billion, in large part because they include a manufacturing tax credit that goes to a wide range of industries, including the oil and gas sector. ...
The oil-industry trade group has spent about $3.44 million lobbying Congress this year (compared to $8.6 million last year), according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The top issue API is lobbying on? Taxes.
But Romney’s proposal as he described it — eliminating tax on interest, dividends, and capital gains — would largely help those living on investment income, which does not include many people in the middle class. The tax break would likely help senior citizens, however, many of whom do live on investment income.
At a rally here, Romney told the crowd that Obama would raise taxes on middle-income families by $4,000, a claim that has been debunked by several fact-checking websites. Romney promised to reduce the burden of those making $200,000 a year or less. ...
According to Romney spokesman Rick Gorka, Romney believes that eliminating taxes on interest, dividends, and capital gains will “encourage investment in savings,” and that more Americans will start to utilize these tax tools to save money.
Ryan championed plans in 2004 and 2010 that would shift Social Security funds into the private market. Participants would be permitted to invest one-third of their Social Security taxes in stocks and bonds. Although the plans contained mechanisms to protect payouts to beneficiaries against market fluctuations, nonpartisan studies found that it could destabilize the program’s solvency in the long-term. Bush tried and failed to enact a altered version of the plan at the beginning of his second term.
While Romney previously supported privatization, his official Social Security platform calls for incrementally raising the eligibility age and lowering benefits for high-income recipients. It does not mention the privatization proposal, but Ryan’s remarks are a reminder of that both members of the ticket previously embraced the idea.
Ambitious, sure, but Duolingo recently attracted $15 million of venture capital. The investors are betting on Mr. von Ahn, his idea and his growing team of 18 engineers, language experts and Web designers.
Mr. von Ahn, 33, personifies some of the essential ingredients of America’s innovation culture, when it works well. An immigrant from Guatemala, he has intelligence and entrepreneurial energy to spare. And he has received a helping hand from the federal government. Duolingo began as a university research project financed by the National Science Foundation.
That pattern has been repeated countless times over the years. Government support plays a vital role in incubating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, sometimes many years later, creating companies and jobs. A report published this year by the National Research Council, a government advisory group, looked at eight computing technologies, including digital communications, databases, computer architectures and artificial intelligence, tracing government-financed research to commercialization. It calculated the portion of revenue at 30 well-known corporations that could be traced back to the seed research backed by government agencies. The total was nearly $500 billion a year.
“If you take any major information technology company today, from Google to Intel to Qualcomm to Apple to Microsoft and beyond, you can trace the core technologies to the rich synergy between federally funded universities and industry research and development,” says Peter Lee, a corporate vice president of Microsoft Research. Dr. Lee headed the National Research Council committee that produced the report, titled “Continuing Innovation in Information Technology.”
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