For the same time period, 19 percent of boomers said they were liberal, dropping to 18 percent.
For the same time period, 19 percent of boomers said they were liberal, dropping to 18 percent.
President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday was strong for consumers in many areas.
Obama's emphasis on immigration reform, family wage jobs, early childhood education, a $9 minimum wage, tax code reform, voter rights, and loophole reduction will help move America forward.
The actions he called for on gun violence, energy independence, clean energy, climate change, infrastructure, higher education, violence against women, equal pay for women, stronger families, poverty eradication, and equal benefits for all are of tremendous importance.
However, Obama fell short in his address on benefits for older Americans and housing.
Benefits for older Americans
He began his talk by saying, “It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few.”
Americans don’t expect Congress to agree on everything, Obama said, adding “They do expect us to forge reasonable compromise where we can.
On balancing the budget, he said:
The biggest driver of our long-term debt is the rising cost of health care for an aging population. And those of us who care deeply about programs like Medicare must embrace the need for modest reforms – otherwise, our retirement programs will crowd out the investments we need for our children, and jeopardize the promise of a secure retirement for future generations…
We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital – they should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.
And I am open to additional reforms from both parties, so long as they don’t violate the guarantee of a secure retirement. Our government shouldn’t make promises we cannot keep – but we must keep the promises we’ve already made.
I’m concerned that Medicare is “on the table” and will be cut in a compromise deal. Medicare and Social Security are minimal programs. Even “modest reforms” will have disastrous effects on seniors.
For more than half of Social Security recipients aged 65 or over, the program provides more than 50 percent of their family income and, because of its lifetime income protection and survivors benefits, Social Security is particularly important for elderly women.
On housing, Obama said the housing market is finally healing from the collapse of 2007. But, even with mortgage rates near a 50-year low, too many families with solid credit who want to buy a home are being rejected, he said, adding:
Right now, there’s a bill in this Congress that would give every responsible homeowner in America the chance to save $3,000 a year by refinancing at today’s rates. Democrats and Republicans have supported it before. What are we waiting for? Take a vote, and send me that bill.
And Obama said:
Right now, overlapping regulations keep responsible young families from buying their first home. What’s holding us back? Let’s streamline the process, and help our economy grow.
What’s needed that the president didn’t address is that banks aren’t willing to refinance homes for consumers who are underwater. And, mortgage reform is still needed and consumers who are in danger of foreclosure must receive help.
Banks continue to prefer to kick homeowners out of their homes if they are behind on their payments. Federal programs that have been set up are only helping a fraction of those who need assistance.
And the comment about overlapping regulations for first time homeowners? It sounds like the president was throwing a bone to the housing and real estate industries.
We just had a Great Recession based at least partially on banks and other financial institutions selling mortgages to anyone, regardless of their qualifications.
Certainly the president didn’t mean those rules are going to be eliminated?
More help is needed for homeowners. This is part of the assistance for Main Street that has never materialized after Wall Street was bailed out.
In last year’s State of the Union address, Obama announced the creation of a working group aimed at exposing and prosecuting financial fraud behind the housing crisis.
While some action has been taken, the group needs to do more to charge and convict those responsible for the housing crisis.
Posted at 02:42 AM in Aging, Banks, Children, Consumer Protection, Consumers, Economy, Education, Elections, Employment, Government, Health, Health Care, Housing, Personalities, Politics, Prescription Drugs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Four years ago after I watched President Obama’s inaugural address, I wondered if the president could do what was needed for American consumers. Special interests were so strong during the George W. Bush presidency and did so much damage, I wondered if Obama would be successful in fighting for consumer interest.
As we now know, the results of Obama’s first four years were mixed for consumers.
What can consumers expect from Obama’s second term?
In his inaugural address Monday, the president gave a clear message about the need for people, especially political parties, to work together to move America forward.
He talked about the need to improve economic conditions, the importance of equality, and the value of a rising middle class:
We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship.
Interestingly in relation to the growing anger of younger generations against aging baby boomers, Obama referred to meeting the needs of both older Americans, which includes boomers, and young people. He said:
But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.
On programs for older adults, he said, “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.”
On helping those in need, Obama said: “Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.”
The president also mentioned:
The president also spoke at length about equality:
We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone... It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.
Obama said our journey isn’t complete until:
The president said to make the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness real for everyone doesn’t require us to define liberty in exactly the same way or compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time. But, he said, “It does require us to act in our time.”
He urged others who take oaths and serve in the capital to faithfully execute their pledge.
Let us, each of us, now embrace with solemn duty and awesome joy what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.
We’ll see how the president’s second term turns out.
Politics has been called the art of compromise. Let’s hope that lawmakers will be willing to make decisions that will move the country forward, and that most of their actions will be in the interests of consumers, not corporations.
Posted at 02:04 PM in Boomers, Children, Consumer Protection, Consumers, Economy, Education, Elections, Emergencies, Employment, Environment, Government, Health, History, Insurance, Personalities, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This week, I’m the host for Blogging Boomer Carnival #289.
The carnival is a collection of like-minded blogs cooperating to share their best stories of interest to the Baby Boomer Generation.
Tom Sightings, on Sightings at 60 has a new feature, The Friday Front , in which he reports on an item from the past week that caught his attention – and might catch yours. This week Tom notes that one result of the election is that a record number of women will be heading to Washington as members of the U. S. Congress. He offers a brief survey of a few of the new women senators, from Massachusetts to Hawaii.
On my blog this week, I wrote about how the Affordable Care Act has saved consumers $1.5 billion last year due to its requirement that health insurers spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on health care or quality improvement activities. However, stronger rules may be needed to ensure more savings are passed on to consumers, the authors of a Commonwealth Fund report said.
John Agno on SoBabyBoomer is giving away the new ebook “Ask the Coach” as a holiday gift on Dec. 10 and 11 only at Amazon.com. It can be downloaded on a smartphone (with a Kindle app), an eReader, a tablet, or a computer. John says that “Ask the Coach” is a reference book; like a dictionary or any other resource book that isn’t meant to be read cover to cover. Readers can look up a question of interest in the Table of Contents and then read that self-coaching answer in the book.
Katie Foster of the Arabian Tales and Other Amazing Adventures is traveling, so we’ll catch up with her later.
It’s a good thing for American consumers that Pres. Barack Obama was reelected Tuesday.
Although the Obama administration doesn’t always do what it could or should for consumers, such as in the regulation of toxic chemicals and prescription drugs, what it is willing to do beats the Republican agenda substantially. For example, repealing the Affordable Health Care Act, slashing financial consumer protections, and voucherizing Medicare aren’t in the best interest of the nation’s families.
Other positive election results
The election of Elizabeth Warren to the U.S. Senate. I’ll never forget when Warren was passed over to head the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau because Republicans said they wouldn’t confirm her appointment. A friend said Republicans might have made a mistake because she could run for Congress in Massachusetts and win. He was right.
Warren envisioned the bureau and was its acting director. As a consumer champion, she will fight against the big banks and Wall Street and work to strengthen Dodd-Frank and other financial reform legislation.
Retaining a Democratically controlled Senate. The League of Conservation Voters is among the organizations that worked on this effort.
California tax increase to ease state budget woes. California voters approved Proposition 30, which raises more than $6 billion in annual tax increases for education, parks, and disability and other programs.
Genetically engineered food labeling. In California, Proposition 37, which would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food, was voted down. Opponents of the measure spent about $45 million to defeat it.
Renewable energy. Proposition 3, a measure that would have increased Michigan’s renewable electricity target to require that 25 percent of power come from clean sources by 2025, was defeated.
While there are many challenges facing the country, here are some important ones for consumers:
Reform of the Federal Toxic Substances Control Act. Although a Senate committee passed a bill earlier this year, action on reforming the regulation of toxic chemicals has stalled. See a statement by the Environmental Working Group for information on this legislation.
Increasing the effectiveness of programs to help prevent mortgage foreclosure. While a number of programs are in place, more needs to be done to help millions of consumers facing foreclosure. See the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s Homeowner Crisis Resource Center webpage for resources on avoiding foreclosure.
Jobs and the economy. While Wall Street and the auto industry got their bailout, I think more needs to be done to help Main Street. Also, President Obama needs to address poverty and create and strengthen programs to help lift people out of poverty.
Climate change and environmental issues. Hurricane Sandy shows communities need to be protected from extreme weather disasters, droughts, heat waves, and other dangerous consequences of global warming. See a statement by the Environmental Defense Fund on this issue.
Posted at 01:05 AM in Consumer Protection, Consumers, Elections, Environment, Finances, Food, Government, Health Care, Housing, Organizations, Personalities, Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Technorati Tags: 2012 Election, Affordable Health Care Ac, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Federal Toxic Substances Control Act, Genetically Engineered Food, National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Have you voted yet?
It’s terrible to see photos of long lines of voters and reports of people having to wait six or seven hours to vote. I’m sure some people just get tired of waiting and leave.
I took my ballot to the Courthouse last night. In Washington state, as well as Oregon, everyone votes by a paper ballot.
I was late in turning my ballot in because I had difficulty making up my mind about a local judge race. Judges and candidates for judges aren’t allowed to discuss issues, so it’s hard to tell which ones will do the best job for consumers.
So much is at stake in this election at the national, state, and local level. We may get elected officials that will help consumers or ones that will harm them. Be sure to cast your ballot.
This week, I’m the host for Blogging Boomer Carnival #282.
Tom Sightings of Sightings at 60 is developing a new feature on his blog called The Friday Fix, where he highlights an item of the week that caught his attention, and might catch yours. Try it out at The Friday Fix, where Tom discusses whether presidential debates are important.
Arabian Tales Katie Foster takes you on a walking tour of Dubai, “The Ultimate Downtown Dubai,” where you can see the largest building in the world, the world's largest collection of sea sharks, a four story indoor waterfall, the largest "dancing" water fountain, and the world's largest shopping and entertainment mall. Dubai is known for striving for the "ultimate" designation in everything it pursues. It holds a number of awards in the Guinness Book of Records.
Laura Lee over at the Midlife Crisis Queen thinks that we can often confuse selfishness with the simple need to take some down time from care giving. So she wrote “Selfishness versus Self-Responsibility” as food for thought on this sticky subject. She's also been pondering the subject of gaining genuine care and support from others.
John Agno at SoBabyBoomer reports that boomers aren’t simply delaying retirement, they’re retiring retirement altogether by starting new careers. The 55-year-old-and-up crowd is the only age group that is growing as a share of the workforce.
The big news on my blog is what are the most popular Halloween costumer for 2012. The top three for adults are witch, vampire, and pirate, while it’s princess, batman, and Spiderman for kids. For pets, it’s pumpkin, devil, and hot dog. See “Top Halloween Costumer for Adults, Kids, and Pets for 2012” for additional costumes in each category.
So check out these websites for some good boomer reading. And, remember to tune in next week for more topics of interest to the Boomer Nation.
By Rita R. Robison
Scammers are already gearing up for this year’s presidential election, from robocalls offering a “free cruise” for taking a political survey, to promises that President Obama will pay your utility bill.
“Scammers use incentives based on what they think voters want to hear,” Jane Driggs, president of the Utah Better Business Bureau, said in a statement. “Hot topics like health care, economic recovery, and unemployment are sure to be the alluring topics this election season, but it can be anything in the news that makes the pitch sound more realistic.”
These are a few of the election-related scams BBB is hearing about. Don’t fall for them.
There won’t be a “free cruise” at the end of the voting survey.
This public opinion poll scam typically involves a recorded announcement offering a “free cruise” in exchange for participating in a telephone survey.
At the end of the call, consumers are asked for a debit or credit card number to cover “port fees” and taxes. Consumers who hesitate or ask if they can call back in order to verify the caller’s identity are subject to high-pressure tactics, such as being told that the offer “is only good right now,” and that if they hang up they will be disqualified.
President Obama isn’t going to pay your utility bill.
Consumers have been contacted through fliers, social media, text messages, and door-to-door with claims that President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Scammers claim they need the consumers' Social Security and bank routing numbers to arrange the payments. In return, customers are given a phony bank routing number that will supposedly pay their utility bills.
In reality, no money is provided, and customers believe they have paid their bills when in fact they haven’t. Even worse, they’ve given away everything needed for identity fraud.
Fundraising calls for political donations may not be real.
Consumers have reported calls from organizations that sound legitimate, but may not really be related to either the Obama or Romney campaigns. If you aren’t sure, don’t donate over the phone. If you’d like to contribute to a political campaign or party, locate contact information yourself rather than giving out financial information to a caller. Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you will be connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee.
Call or visit candidates’ websites to obtain contact information to make donation. No one will check your eligibility to vote. Your voter registration record is with a governmental agency and no one is going to call or email you to verify your eligibility. What do these callers claim they need to check? Just your credit card or Social Security number.
Don’t fall for these scams. Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor ask for a credit card number.
Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number, or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking. Don’t give in to high-pressure tactics, whether over the phone or in person.
To find out information about a company, see the BBB’s website www.bbb.org.
By Rita R. Robison
Which consumer happenings cheered you this week and which ones made you want to scream or weep?
Here are my best and worst consumer experiences this week:
Although I’ve seriously cleaned out my garage two or three times, work still needs to be done.
However, when my daughter came to visit this summer, she sorted her boxes in my garage and helped me sort some of my boxes, too.
One positive result is that I now have space to put the paper towels and toilet paper I buy in cases on the shelves. That works better than leaving them in boxes on the floor.
My worst: Safeway telling me how to vote in a sign on its front door
In Washington state, citizens will vote Tuesday on Initiative 1183, a measure that would privatize liquor sales thus allowing supermarkets to sell it.
When I went to my local Safeway on Halloween, a sign on the front door said “Yes on 1183, Benefits Taxpayers & Vital Public Services.”
When I asked the assistant manager about it, he said his store received the poster from Safeway’s corporate headquarters. The instructions that came with it said to post it on the front door.
The assistant manager didn’t seem concerned when I told him that I, a 30-year customer, would be taking my business elsewhere.
On Tuesday, I wrote a post about it on my blog, the Boomer Consumer, a reader blog on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website. Wednesday, I called Safeway’s corporate headquarters to request a comment from its CEO Steven A. Burd on Safeway’s policy for putting political advertisements in its stores.
It’s Sunday, and I’ve received no reply, although I called about it on Friday and send an e-mail to the Safeway Press Office.
I’m outraged that Safeway has the audacity to tell citizens how to vote.
We all know corporations rule the world, but when my neighborhood grocery store tells me in a sign on its front door how to vote, it’s too much.
I oppose I-1183 because it would make more places where under-aged teens could buy liquor and I don’t trust corporations not to jack up the price when they get control.
After Costco, Safeway is one of the biggest contributors to the Vote Yes on I-1183 campaign, with a $50,000 contribution. Costco’s contributions are so enormous, a record-breaking $22 million, they’re currently being featured in the advertisements against I-1183.
“Who rules America? AARP.”
When I saw that headline of Robert J. Samuelson’s Washington Post column, I laughed.
Samuelson contends that AARP runs government budgetary policy, not presidents or congressional leaders.
“AARP sets overall priorities,” he said. “Its power derives from the fear it inspires in senators, representatives, presidents, and political candidates. They worry that they'll be assaulted and rejected by hordes of angry seniors infuriated by any possible loss of benefits and mobilized by AARP.”
With the billions that corporate lobbyists spend on manipulating Congress and the financial mess the country is in due to Wall Street and corporate greed, it’s ironic that Samuelson says AARP is in charge.
In a response that also appeared in The Post, AARP President W. Lee Hammond said Samuelson attributes almost mythic powers to AARP in his column.
“While that headline may be laughable, what is of concern is his notion that older Americans don’t care about our nation's fiscal problems. Our polls and countless conversations show they care deeply. But they and all Americans also deserve a public debate on how to improve the health and financial security of ordinary Americans, and one not just focused on budget bottom lines.
“Mr. Samuelson needs to remember this is about real people, not just budget numbers. Social Security and Medicare keep millions out of poverty, enable them to see their doctors, pay for prescriptions, and afford heating bills in the winter – in short, achieve a measure of security in retirement after contributing to these programs over their working lives.
“The benefits that Social Security and Medicare provide are not ‘middle class welfare’ as the writer stated – they are earned ‘middle class lifelines.’…
“One out of three retiree households, aged 65 or older, who rely on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income. Or the average senior, with $18,000 in annual income, just trying to make ends meet.”
Hammon adds that Samuelson “fails to mention, for example, that a key culprit driving future government deficits is the relentless rise of costs throughout our overall health care system – not the number of seniors or the nature of their benefits.
“If AARP truly ruled America, we would make sure this important debate focused on the health and economic security of average Americans, despite the demagoguery of those whose futures seem most secure,” he said.
“AARP will continue to work with political leaders on both sides of the aisle to focus a national dialogue on the health and retirement security needs of current and future generations,” Hammond concluded.
While Samuelson’s column provided a chuckle, it’s disappointing that that older Americans are being blamed in such an important forum for our budgetary crisis while Wall Street and corporations do business as usual.