Obamacare promised a healthcare utopia with low cost insurance and better care for everyone. It will fail at both. Costs will rise and the number of people without insurance will not change significantly. Let hope the Supreme Court recognizes the unconstitutional components of the bill and sides with personal liberty over big government.
Debbie Stabenow and the Democrat-led U.S. Senate have failed to pass a budget for three years
You know a politician is looking for applause when he speaks in front of a crowd of college students and says he’s there to help them pay back their student loans. After all, who doesn’t like the prospect of free money? But as the saying (sort of) goes, beware of politicians bearing gifts. That’s especially true this week as President Barack Obama travels the country warning students that their student loan interest rates are set to double and that he has the answer to all their problems.
Guess what? He doesn’t. But if there’s one thing the president has managed to accomplish, it’s in turning this issue into a political football. And now the House of Representatives is joining the game.
This all began back in 2007 when Democrats pushed for a five-year student loan interest rate reduction to 3.4 percent as a temporary subsidy in order to help make the loans more affordable. Now that “temporary” subsidy is set to expire, meaning that rates will return to their original 6.8 percent levels. In the midst of all this, the House is expected to vote today on a measure that would keep interest rates where they are — costing taxpayers $5.9 billion for a one-year extension. And under the proposal, the extension would be paid for by taking funds from Obamacare’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. Obamacare, instead, should be repealed outright — not used as a “slush fund” to pay for other programs.
But besides the measure being a flawed and costly way to pay for the lower interest rates, there’s an even bigger problem. The supposed benefits of keeping the interest rates at 3.4 percent are largely illusory, and the president is selling students a bag of magic beans. Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains on National Review‘s “The Corner”:
[The interest rate increase] sounds serious. After all, there are 39 million Americans with student loans owing over a trillion dollars of debt, and interest rates doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent would be a huge hit at a time when households are already struggling.
Serious, except that the president’s plan would apply only to those 23 million loans being borrowed directly from the federal government. Except that not all of those would benefit; it would apply only to the 9.5 million loans being borrowed through the so-called subsidized Stafford loans. Except the lower rate would apply only to new borrowers who apply this year. Except that no payments are made until after graduation, so it would not help anyone for several years. Except that it would lower monthly payments by an average of only $7.
In other words, for an incredibly high cost, students are realizing very little benefit. And don’t forget, these are loans that they’re voluntarily taking on as part of an investment to benefit themselves.
None of this is to say that the federal government should spend even more to subsidize student loans in an effort to make college more affordable. It absolutely should not. Federally subsidized student loans are handed out to millions of college students regardless of risk — let alone whether they can handle college-level work. Thanks to taxpayer backing, the loans are offered at rates far below what private lenders would offer. When the students can’t afford to pay, the American people are stuck with the bill.
On top of all this, government intervention in the higher education marketplace hasn’t even succeeded in bringing down college costs. In fact, the price of a degree has risen right along with government spending. Pell grants have increased 475 percent since 1980, and yet the cost of attending college has increased 439 percent since 1982. It’s a vicious cycle that will only get worse with more government subsidies.
There’s a better way to drive down college costs. Heritage’s Stuart Butler writes that the higher education industry is on the verge of a “transformative re-alignment,” and notes:
…most college leaders live in a bubble in which the costs of ever more elaborate facilities, expanding administrative bureaucracies, and high-profile professors with light teaching loads can simply be passed on to customers in the form of higher tuition.
But those days are about to end. Underneath the surface, upstart institutions are perfecting radically new education technologies and business plans at the same time that young people and their parents are becoming more frustrated with the traditional higher-ed model, and more open-minded about alternatives. There is every reason to suspect that, quite soon, these new institutions will do to higher education what Sony did to radios and Apple did to computing. Afterward, our colleges and universities will never be the same. Few Americans, one suspects, will look back in regret.
Sure, it might strike all the right populist tones to tell college students that you’re going to give them a hand out, but the caustic effects of the policy will only make higher education more costly over time. Instead of a short-term spending splurge that has little benefit, Washington should pursue a long-term strategy that gives students the help they really need.
Summary: Canonical’s latest Linux distribution, Ubuntu 12.04, is now available for your home and office and it’s a winner.
The wait is over. The final version of Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.04, Precise Pangolin is out. To download your copy of this popular Linux distribution head to the Ubuntu download page. If you’re already using the last version, Ubuntu 11.10 you can now upgrade automatically upgrade to 12.04 with Update Manager. If you need more help with your upgrade see the Upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 LTS page.
LTS, you ask? That stands for long term support. This is the Ubuntu version that will be supported for five years, through April 2017. If you have a business, and you’ve been thinking about using Ubuntu on your desktops or servers, this is the version you want.
However, before leaping to the Ubuntu site to download the freshest bytes and bits, you may want to wait for a bit. Canonical tells me that the site is currently getting overwhelmed and some people are not being able to get into it. For me, the site and download links worked, but at speeds of about 100Kbps, they certainly aren’t fast.
If you really can’t stand to wait for a minute, take Jorge Castro, a Canonical staffer’s suggestion, and use one of “mirrors hosted on Amazon’s S3 service, which has a bunch of capacity and should be fast for users where an Amazon region is close:” More
A new type of nano-structured glass can bounce water and dirt off its surface, cleaning itself and preventing fogging, according to MIT researchers. It eliminates glare, too, allowing light to penetrate with pure clarity. It could be used for anything from solar panels to future car windshields to new gadget screens.
The superhydrophobic glass shares some properties with the super-waterproof fabric coating we learned about this week, and it, too, is a feat of nano-engineering. But instead of a waterproof coating, it earns its special properties through a special etching process. Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul Choi and colleagues drew inspiration from nature, including zebra plants, which contain conical structures that repel water. They developed a method to embed an array of steeply angled cones on the surface of glass. More
Say your overall cash-flow situation is good, but you need to cover a short-term deficit over the next few months. In today’s still-strict credit environment, taking out a loan may not be much fun. It may not even be possible — unless you have access to an untapped home equity line of credit or a helpful relative. If that’s the case, great. If not, you may be able to turn to a surprising source for some help: the taxman.
If you’re self-employed, an investor or someone who lives off Social Security benefits, pension payments, retirement account withdrawals, and the like, you can apply for loan from the Internal Revenue Service. Better yet: To borrow from the IRS, you don’t have to fill out any annoying applications, prove your income or fence with a balky loan officer. While this may sound too good to be true, it is true. Read on for the details.
Increase Cash Flow by Temporarily Postponing Estimated Tax Payments
What you do is simply postpone some federal income tax payments that you would otherwise make to the IRS via estimated tax installments. You don’t need the government’s permission. You just do it and then make up the difference later. Of course, the IRS will charge interest on the difference between what you should have paid in for each installment and what you actually paid. However, the current interest rate on estimated tax underpayments is only 3%. While the rate can potentially change each quarter, it will probably remain at a reasonable level for a while.
The IRS calls the interest on estimated tax underpayments a “penalty.” But since the current interest rate is only 3%, it’s not really a penalty. In fact it’s actually a pretty good deal for someone with a short-term cash crisis. I’ve been there myself a few times, and I’ve done the borrow-from-the-IRS drill. (Please don’t tell my Mother!) More
When Google finally announced its shiny new cloud-based Drive service, many people will have been glad to see an extra bit of storage tacked onto their daily gadget lives. Some, however, spin out a generally more nebular existence, and that’d be the Chrome OS faithful. More