Thursday, April 23, 2009

Retired Auto Workers Face Big Hit -

If the GM pension plans are terminated, they would be at least $20 billion underfunded, according to the government's Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. The federal agency would insure about $4 billion of that gap, leaving the GM pension plans with $100 billion in obligations and only $84 billion in assets.

if the Chrysler pension plans are terminated, they would be at least $9 billion underfunded, according to the agency, which would insure about $2 billion of that. This would leave the Chrysler pension plans with $28 billion in obligations and only $20 billion of assets, according to the pension agency.

When Daimler sold Chrysler to the private equity firm Cerberus in 2007, it agreed to contribute $1 billion to the PBGC if the agency ever had to take over Chrysler's pensions. Daimler might now have to live up to that agreement.

Read the whole story, click on the followingRetired Auto Workers Face Big Hit -

U.S. Tells Chrysler to Prepare for Bankruptcy Filing -


The Treasury Department is directing Chrysler to prepare a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing as soon as next week, people with direct knowledge of the talks said Thursday.

Treasury now has an agreement in principle with the U.A.W., whose members’ pensions and retiree health care benefits would be protected in the event of a bankruptcy filing

A bankruptcy filing for Chrysler would most likely wipe out existing equity stakeholders, notably Cerberus Capital Management

The four major banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — hold about 70 percent of the roughly $7 billion of Chrysler debt, and they favor striking a deal with the government. Many of the hedge funds, however, are calling for a tougher stance.

In bankruptcy,  Chrysler could sell or jettison any assets it did not want to keep and cancel franchise agreements with car dealers it considered superfluous.

Read the rest of the story—click on the following:  U.S. Tells Chrysler to Prepare for Bankruptcy Filing -

New GI Bill Benefits Dependents


Military veterans can transfer education benefits to wife or children

Benefits must be transferred before separating from the military.

Many other new features.

Click on the following to read the story:  New GI Bill Benefits Dependents

Nationwide Marches to Push Obama on Immigration | (U.S.)


On May 1st, 2009, The Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), a national network of over 300 organizations, is leading a Nationwide Immigration and Labor Rights March in hundreds of cities across the nation

Read more by clicking on the following:  Nationwide Marches to Push Obama on Immigration | (U.S.)

Boone County Taxpayers Association: Meeting Change

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BCTA Meeting - Thursday, May 14, 2009

Due to a scheduling conflict at the library we must cancel our April meeting. Our next monthly meeting will be Thursday, May 14, 2009 at Belvidere Township Hall,8200 Fairgrounds Road, Belvidere, Il. Doors open at 6:30, meeting 7:00PM. 

Our invited guest is Boone County Chairman, Robert Walberg, and County Administrator, Ken Terrinoni. Discussion will center on county finances, current year budget adjustments and projections for 2010 fiscal year. The current economy has caused many shortfalls in sales tax and state revenues; what can the county do to adjust to these numbers. How will it affect our services? Will our real estate taxes be increased? Come with your questions.

As BCTA members and active members of our community, please join us for an informative evening, frank discussion, sincere give and take, and a sharing of problem solving ideas.

Hope to see you May 14.


Diann Helnore,
Director, Boone County Taxpayer Association

“Back off credit card reform” (TARP Banks).

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Reich picture

The Great Credit Card Battle To Come—Banks ask President to back off credit card reform.

The next front in the banking wars will be over credit cards. Some of the nation's biggest bankers -- including representatives of Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and other recipients of billions of taxpayer dollars -- are meeting today with the President to ask him back off his move to reform credit-card lending practices.

What's happening to credit card lending is a smaller replay of what happened to mortgage lending. For years, banks used every gimmick possible to get the public to use their cards -- regardless of the credit worthiness of the customer. They lured borrowers with low "teaser" rates. They told borrowers they could get by paying minimum balances.

And now that tens of millions of Americans are poorer than they used to be, the credit-card bubble is bursting. Credit card delinquencies are soaring. At the Bank of America, the largest U.S. lender by assets, 7.8 percent of credit-card accounts were delinquent in February by more than 30 days, up from 5.9 percent last August. Yesterday, Bank of America reported a $1.8 billion first-quarter loss in its credit-card services unit.

As delinquencies mount and profits shrink, card lenders are raising fees and interest rates, including rates on existing balances. They're also charging higher fees when customers exceed their credit limits, and shortening the duration of the teaser rates. When a customer makes a payment in excess of what's owed, card companies now routinely apply the excess to balances with the lowest rates rather than those carrying the highest rates. And banks disclose very little of relevance: For example, most customers have no idea how long it will take them to pay off their balances if they make minimum repayments, or what interest they're actually paying on their balances.

As more and more Americans find themselves in the credit-card squeeze, they're complaining loudly. But the bankers have their own loud lobbyists on Capitol Hill, whose voices haven't been muzzled despite the giant bank bailout. Last month, the Senate Banking Committee reported a bill that bans rate increases for existing balances, among other things. But the vote was close -- 12 in favor, 11 opposed -- and its future in the Senate is uncertain. A House bill advanced yesterday, sponsored by Representative Carolyn Maloney, Democrat from New York, has only a fifty-fifty chance of succeeding. Meanwhile, the Fed is working on a set of watered-down reforms scheduled to go into effect a year from July, but that's way too far off to avoid the pending battle.

Enter Obama. The Treasury holds lots of cards given how dependent the big banks are on its solicitude. Meanwhile, the public has grown weary and suspicious of the bank bailouts. Knowing how unpopular the bailouts have become, the Administration is considering how to get additional capital to the banks without going back to Congress for the money. One big idea is to convert taxpayer-provided bank loans into bank equity -- even though the swap puts taxpayers at greater risk (after all, loans have to be repaid, but equity can continue to fall).

That's why getting tough on the banks' credit card lending practices has such appeal for the Administration, politically. It puts the White House on the side of the people rather than Wall Street, on an issue that the public is becoming more and more upset about. And the Administration's push could be enough to get reform legislation through Congress.

The bankers will tell Obama today that any new constraints on credit card lending will cause the banks to reduce the amount of credit card lending they do, which will hurt the economy. But it's a weak argument because it presupposes that any lending is good for the economy -- even lending to people who don't know what they're getting into and can't repay the loans. It's the same argument banks used two years ago, when prescient observers warned that constraints had to be placed on mortgage lending practices. What may hurt the economy in the short term, we now know, may save it from even larger pitfalls to come.

Robert Reich

Fiat Weighs Buying G.M.’s Opel Unit, Officials Say -

FIAT has more than one card to play. 

Click on the following to read all of the story:  Fiat Weighs Buying G.M.’s Opel Unit, Officials Say -

Lack of national search raises questions.

We all know that it is best not to advertize a job vacancy?  Word of mouth and telling your friends is the only way for a government agency to tell of a job opening?  Might this be racial or ethnic discrimination, if there is no public notification of the opening?  No matter. But remember, the “people across the county” don’t really care—as long as get someone “qualified” do what you want?

Health Dept