Archives for FUBAR

Why did a model Marine war vet takes his own life?

Handsome and friendly, Clay Hunt so epitomized a vibrant Iraq veteran that he was chosen for a public service announcement reminding veterans that they aren’t alone. The 28-year-old former Marine corporal earned a Purple Heart after taking a sniper’s bullet in his left wrist. He returned to combat in Afghanistan. Upon his return home, he lobbied for veterans on Capitol Hill, road-biked with wounded veterans and performed humanitarian work in Haiti and Chile. Then, on March 31, Hunt bolted himself in his Houston apartment and shot himself. Friends and family say he was wracked with survivor’s guilt, depression and other
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Obama signs bill rolling back part of health care law

President Barack Obama has signed the first rollback of last year’s health care law, a bipartisan repeal of a burdensome tax-reporting requirement that’s widely unpopular with businesses. The bill Obama signed Thursday repeals a provision that would have forced millions of businesses to file tax forms for every vendor selling them more than $600 in goods each year, starting in 2012. The filing requirement is unrelated to health care. However, it would have been used to pay for part of the new health law by ensuring that vendors pay taxes. Republicans hope it is the first of many such bills,
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Palin headed to Wisconsin for Tea Party rally

Sarah Palin, easily the most polarizing figure in a tea party dominated by extremists, is headed for Wisconsin for a rally at the state capitol in Madison where Republican Governor Scott Walker rammed through controversial legislation that would strip union rights for most public workers. The Alaska governor who quit before her term ended and failed 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate will speak at the tea party’s annual tax day rally, which begins at noon. The Wisconsin Democratic Party, still stinging over Gov. Scott Walker’s divisive collective bargaining law, said in a statement that Palin and Walker “complement each perfectly
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Recount clock ticking in disputed Wisconsin court race

Officials in Wisconsin’s largest county said on Thursday they would meet the deadline for finishing their review of the local vote in last week’s state Supreme Court race, an election widely seen as a referendum on Republican efforts to curb public sector unions. The end of the county reviews would set the stage for either candidate in the closely watched contest to demand a recount. Although Milwaukee’s County’s review remains incomplete, its unofficial count, when combined with the final counts from other counties, show the incumbent, former Republican state assemblyman David Prosser, with a lead of about 7,300 votes over
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Feds crack down on lenders for foreclosure abuse

The federal government on Wednesday ordered 16 of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders and servicers to reimburse homeowners who were improperly foreclosed upon. Government regulators also directed the financial firms to hire auditors to determine how many homeowners could have avoided foreclosure in 2009 and 2010. Citibank, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, the nation’s four largest banks, were among the financial firms cited in the joint report by the Federal Reserve, Office of Thrift Supervision and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The Fed said it believed financial penalties were “appropriate” and that it planned to
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Obama tiptoes around tax hikes

With his striking choice of words, President Barack Obama clearly outlined the greatest perils for Republicans — and for Democrats — in the nation’s high-stakes debate over spending and social programs. Obama used vivid, populist language in a forceful speech Wednesday to denounce the GOP plan for cutting spending and revamping Medicare and Medicaid. The Republicans, he said, have concluded that “even though we can’t afford to care for seniors and poor children, we can somehow afford more than $1 trillion in new tax breaks for the wealthy.” But the president’s language was tortured and opaque when it came to
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Budget pact does little to reduce current year deficit

A new budget estimate released Wednesday shows that the spending bill negotiated between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner would produce less than 1 percent of the $38 billion in promised savings by the end of this budget year. The Congressional Budget Office estimate shows that compared with current spending rates the spending bill due for a House vote Thursday would cut federal outlays from non-war accounts by just $352 million through Sept. 30. About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending. When war funding
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Treasury Dept. paid law firms without checking bills

The Treasury Department paid out more than $27 million to law firms overseeing the financial bailouts without requiring detailed bills or questioning the incomplete records that the lawyers provided, a government watchdog says. Treasury’s “current contracts and fee bill review practices create an unacceptable risk that Treasury, and therefore the American taxpayer, is overpaying for legal services,” the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said in a report issued Thursday. Treasury could not have adequately gauged whether the fees were reasonable because the records are so sparse, the report says. The report criticizes so-called “block billing,” in
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Poll: Most think their taxes are fair

For all the complaining this time of year, most Americans actually think the taxes they pay are fair. Not that they’re cheering. Fewer people expect refunds this year than in previous years, a new Associated Press-GfK poll shows. But as Monday’s filing deadline approaches, the poll shows that 54 percent believe their tax bills are either somewhat fair or very fair, compared with 46 percent who say they are unfair. Should taxes be raised to eat into huge federal deficits? Among the public, 62 percent say they favor cutting government services to sop up the red ink. Just 29 percent
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Obama eyes Medicare changes, tax increases

President Barack Obama, two years into a presidency marked by increased spending on a weak economy, is turning his attention to the nation’s crushing debt and trying to counter a Republican anti-deficit plan with one of his own. The president on Wednesday was to deliver a speech outlining his proposal to reduce spending in the biggest government benefits programs, raise taxes on the wealthy and cut defense costs. In a pre-emptive response Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called any proposed tax increase “a nonstarter.” This new clash, just a week after the president announced he would seek re-election, ensures
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