WC Varones

Don't lend your hand to raise no flag atop no ship of fools

RIP Lemmy

Obamanation: old people suffering under student debt

Bloomberg:
The total outstanding education loans held by people 65 and older, including debt that financed their own schooling and their children’s, grew to $18.2 billion in 2013, the most recent year available from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), from $2.8 billion in 2005. That’s twice as fast as the overall growth in student debt. The number of borrowers age 60 and up has increased to 2.2 million, from 700,000 in 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Twenty-seven percent of education loans held by people age 65-74 were in default in 2013, meaning they hadn’t made a payment in 270 days or more. More than half of education loans held by people 75 and older were in default. And the government can garnish wages or suspend tax refunds for anyone who fails to pay their student loans, but it has an extra tool when it comes to senior citizens: taking money out of their Social Security payments. In 2013, 155,000 seniors lost part of their retirement benefit to repay education debt, up from 31,000 in 2002, according to the GAO.
In related news, academic researchers just discovered the obvious: that government loans created the tuition bubble.

CBO: Omnibus to blow out 2016 deficit by additional $158 billion

So if fiscal responsibility is out the window, what do Republicans still stand for?  The one "win" they claim in the wretched Omnibus is an end to the oil export ban, which is certainly good for Big Oil but doesn't help middle class taxpayers or justify a huge increase to the deficit.

Read the numbers in the CBO analysis here.  The numbers beyond 2016 are a complete fiction because they assume Congress won't keep extending the tax breaks and giveaways that they always extend.

That's a 38% increase in the deficit over the CBO's August estimate of $414 billion.

I can't pin this all on Paul Ryan.  Congressional Republicans as a group are more concerned about serving big business special interests than fixing the spending problem or listening to voters.  A majority of Congressional Republicans voted for this bill, and should be voted out of office.

Morons at New York Times don't know the difference between debt and deficit

New York Times:
Congressional negotiators introduced a sweeping year-end spending and tax-break package Wednesday that bursts through previously agreed budget limits with $66 billion in new spending for 2016. It also makes permanent an array of tax benefits at a cost of adding more than a half-trillion dollars to the deficit.



Before the bill, the CBO forecast a 2016 deficit of $414 billion. So we should expect a deficit of more than $900 billion next year then. Mmmmkay...

To be fair, Tashfeen Malik was only a widow after the fact, and only for a moment

Obama: Republicans 'scared of widows and orphans'

Study: American Millenials are among the most ignorant and useless in the world

Educational Testing Service:
In literacy, U.S. millennials scored lower than 15 of the 22 participating countries. Only millennials in Spain and Italy had lower scores.

In numeracy, U.S. millennials ranked last, along with Italy and Spain.

In PS-TRE ["problem solving in technology-rich environments"], U.S. millennials also ranked last, along with the Slovak Republic, Ireland, and Poland.

The youngest segment of the U.S. millennial cohort (16- to 24-year-olds), who could be in the labor force for the next 50 years, ranked last in numeracy along with Italy and among the bottom countries in PS-TRE. In literacy, they scored higher than their peers in Italy and Spain.
I blame colleges' focus on Grievance Studies.

Mark Zuckerberg creates the Death Star of Super-PACs

Bloomberg News:
The decision by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, to gradually give away 99 percent of their Facebook fortune is big news not just for the huge sum involved—about $46 billion—but for how the couple chose to achieve their philanthropic goal. Rather than set up a private foundation or charitable trust as Bill and Melinda Gates did, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will be structured as a limited liability company.
It's a highly unusual step for a massive philanthropy. "I've never seen someone set up an LLC exclusively for a philanthropic purpose before," says Jane Wales, vice president of philanthropy and society at the Aspen Institute. "Normally they set up a foundation for the tax advantages of doing so." Here are some significant ways that LLC status will shape what Zuckerberg and Chan do with their wealth.



1. There won't be limits on lobbying



It seems clear the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will put money to work in politics. Facebook, in its official description of its founder's new LLC, noted that "making private investments and participating in policy debates" will be part of the mission. In a public letter Zuckerberg wrote to his newborn daughter, Max, he likewise emphasized an appetite for pushing a policy agenda: "We must participate in policy and advocacy to shape debates." If the charitable venture had been set up as a traditional tax-exempt foundation—what is called a 501(c)(3)— it wouldn't have freedom to lobby lawmakers or engage in other political activities. The Internal Revenue Service prohibits tax-exempt groups from "directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office."
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