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Archive for December 18th, 2009

Today, it was reported, HERE, AND HERE, that the House of Representatives passed a bill extending ARRA. I am still awaiting that information from the Daily Record.

The actual title appears to be: H.R.4260 “Transitional Federal Medical Assistance Percentage Act”.

Title: To provide adjusted Federal medical assistance percentage rates during a transitional assistance period.

Sponsor: Rep Green, Gene [TX-29] (introduced 12/10/2009)      Cosponsors (7)

Related Bills: S.2833

Latest Major Action: 12/10/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.

If it is this bill, it is designed to last in some fashion four years, ending December 31, 2113. It includes adjustments; some are negative. It includes provisions for COBRA and unemployment compensation. It has provisions to States regarding how the bill, as an act, will articulate with their funds. There may be others that were packaged with it.

A similar and related bill has been introduced to the Senate as noted below:

S.2833

Title: A bill to provide adjusted Federal medical assistance percentage rates during a transitional assistance period.

Sponsor: Sen Reed, Jack [RI] (introduced 12/3/2009)      Cosponsors (9)

Related Bills: H.R.4260

Latest Major Action: 12/3/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance.

Taxpayers for Common Sense has a fairly snarky comment about it’s passage In the House’s effort to get this done by the Holiday recess.

[..”But they weren’t done yet – next up, the jobs bill – basically another round of stimulus. This bill would direct $27.5 billion toward more infrastructure spending, increase aid to states and extend several benefit packages. Unlike the two earlier bills, this one is unlikely to survive the Senate intact, if at all, since the Senate is momentarily more leery of swelling this year’s predicted $1.5 trillion budget deficit. “..]

http://www.taxpayer.net/search_by_category.php?action=view&proj_id=3065&category=Wastebasket&type=Project

Based on TCS’s view, we all better call our Senators this week. I suppose it’s possible they still haven’t heard how much we are hurting out here. Or, maybe they really think that a .2% bureaucratic paper shuffle really constitutes an improvement in the unemployment rate.

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Revised 4:33 PM, PST

“Mitigation.  Transparency.  Financing.”

Politico says agreement of a sort has been reached at Cop15. Read their article. It sounds like everyone is going to go home to lick her/his wounds and figure out what to do next. Phrases like “a visibly angry Obama”, “no binding agreement”, “leaving before the last vote (Obama)” and “funds to poor countries remain on the table only as long as the Chinese submit to monitoring”, all lend credence to the idea that none of this is a done deal and a lot of posturing all around was needed. I suppose after eight years of Bushco, the refined US position was a pretty big change to take in for China and India.

POLITICO Breaking News:

—————————————————–

The U.S. China, India and South Africa have reached a “meaningful” climate change deal that sets a cap on worldwide temperature increases, according to administration officials.

For more information…http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30794.html

Ban Ki-moon’s entreaty for nations to get it together and commit, have common sense and move forward, I think, reflects in all of us.

The bottom line was introduced by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It has found “that to stave off the worst effects of climate change, industrialized countries must slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020, and that global emissions must be halved by 2050”.

Both China and India have been deeply and increasingly involved with trade negotiations in Africa for some time. If you think how our trade with Mexico has worked, you will understand the similarity; cheaper goods, fewer laws in place to protect environment and people, and cheaper labor. In particular, raw goods are wanted. As an example, China only has a little over 14% arable land, having lost one fifth to desertification, and a population of around 1.39 billion, as opposed to the United States with 18% arable land, and a population of a little under 308 million. At first glance, India seems in better shape with arable land of around 50%, however they live with yearly losses due to monsoons. Also, they have a population of just under 1.67 billion. One thing all three have in common is very large coal reserves, increasing the temptation to assign value to it’s use.

An interesting comparison of international environmental treaties signed and ratified by these three or any other countries can be found in the CIA World Fact Book. This is the list as of December 18th, 2009. The Fact Book is updated regularly and these may change as countries work toward further agreement.

USA
Environment – international agreements:
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Hazardous Wastes
China
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
India
Environment – international agreements:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

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This is good news. So it’s voluntary; for now, this will help. If you have ever looked at the fine print on the arbitration clauses of your credit card, or tried to win a dispute, you’ll realize you signed your right to complain over to the arbiter that the bank chooses. Thank you, Representative Kucinch, and the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee! I don’t know how many of us can get a new credit card right now, or if any of these banks are really issuing new ones, but the change in the arbitration clause is worth planning around if you are in the market. Don’t give up your rights!

Kucinich Announces Credit Cards That Don’t Cost You Your Legal Rights

Kucinich 111th1

Washington, Dec 17 –

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) released the following statement:

“This holiday shopping season, consumers have the choice of using credit cards that don’t take away their legal rights.  Until now, all major banks have required their customers – through provisions hidden in the fine print of credit card agreements — to give up their constitutional right to their day in court. Those agreements have required customers to settle their disputes through a process called arbitration.  In July, the House Domestic Policy Subcommittee, of which I am the Chairman, held a hearing in which we showed that mandatory arbitration is arbitrary, and that results depend more on the arbitrator to whom the case is assigned than on the facts or the law that applies.

“Since that hearing, my staff has been communicating with all the major banks, and today I can announce that six of those banks will not have arbitration clauses in their new credit card agreements.   Those banks are JPMorganChase, CapitalOne, PNC Bank, TD Bank, Bank of America and Regions Bank.  I want to congratulate those banks for their decisions.

“I particularly want to congratulate JPMorganChase and CapitalOne.  Those two banks will be issuing new credit card agreements that also allow their customers the right to a jury trial and the right to participate in a class action.  I strongly encourage the other banks to follow their lead.

“For the first time in years, you can choose what credit card to use by considering all its terms—interest rate, minimum payment, fees, rewards, and whether it requires you to give up your right to use the courts that our state and federal Constitutions have created for you.”

http://kucinich.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=163669

Contact: Nathan White (202)225-5871

Now, if we can just get rid of the usurious rates. Debt load is a magical thing. If it’s lower, we can breath a little life into the economy, and the banks get a write off on an artificial loan they should have never had.

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