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Thoughts, editorials and opinions on events from a conservative working-class, midwestern family in central Iowa. Different perspectives from the family's husband and father, wife and mother, and yes, even their kids. Musings, rants and raves mixed with hyperbole and satire of how they think, feel, and view issues, all the while trying to adjust to living in today's world. Terms and Policies
Fitch Ratings has downgraded and placed on Rating Watch Negative the ratings of Principal Financial Group Inc. (PFG) and its subsidiaries. The downgrades and watch assignments include the insurer financial strength (IFS) ratings of PFG's primary life insurance company subsidiaries to 'AA-' from 'AA' and its holding company senior debt rating to 'A-' from 'A'. A full list of rating actions follows at the end of this release.
The downgrade reflects Fitch's ongoing review of PFG's exposure to the current credit market turmoil and expectation of continued deterioration in 2009.
The Negative Rating Watch reflects Fitch's concern over PFG's ability to successfully refinance a $455 million holding company debt maturity due later this year without drawing upon its insurance subsidiary capital. Fitch believes the adequacy of insurance company capital at the current 'AA-' insurer financial strength level will be tested in 2009 due to expected investment losses, without the added pressure of making significant dividend payments to the holding company. Therefore, Fitch will closely monitor the refinancing prospects for PFG. Inability to successfully refinance could result in a one-notch downgrade. Successful refinancing could result in an affirmation of current ratings with a Negative Outlook reflecting Fitch's industry view. Read Article...
U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to sign the $787 billion economic stimulus plan into law at a ceremony in the western city of Denver, Colorado on Tuesday. Mr. Obama calls it a "major milestone on the road to recovery" for the U.S. economy, while critics insist it is too expensive and will create fewer jobs than proponents insist.
The bill, which includes government spending and tax cuts intended to help push the U.S. economy out of recession, is the president's first big legislative victory since taking office last month.
Moody's Economy.com chief economist Mark Zandi who also appeared on Fox News Sunday said President Obama's contention that the stimulus plan will create or save 3.5 million jobs is optimistic.
U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker, who represents Iowa's Southern District, says Vision Systems Group Inc. brought foreign workers to the U.S. to fill temporary high-tech jobs.
The company filed documents claiming the workers were employed in Iowa, but Whitaker says they were actually located on the coasts. Whitaker says the move saved the company money as the foreign workers were paid lower wages in Iowa than they would have been paid in places like New Jersey and California.
In addition, prosecutors allege the tactic displaced American workers that were qualified to fill those positions in those coastal locations. Whitaker calls Vision Systems Group an I-T company and says the foreign workers were hired for advanced computer programming positions.
"These fraud schemes are not only very sophisticated in their use of Iowa as a location to drive down the prevailing wage that they can pay their workers - and then farm them out to more higher-wage, populated areas - but also how lucrative it is for the individuals that are behind these schemes," Whitaker said. The indictment claims the illegal maneuver may have saved the company more than seven-million dollars. Whitaker called the 18-month long investigation the "tip of the iceberg" and expects similar arrests in the future.
Authorities recently executed search warrants at two private homes in Columbia, S.C., and arrested eight people for marijuana possession, in connection with an investigation into the photo of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps holding a bong, ABC News has learned.
The British tabloid News of the World published a photo of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps holding a bong. Phelps, a swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games in 2008, ackowledged that it was him in the photo and admitted "bad judgment."
Armed Richland County Sheriff's Department officers entered at least one of the properties Saturday, Feb. 7, sources told ABC News. Though eight people were arrested, less than an ounce of marijuana was confiscated by sheriff's deputies, the sources said.
Investors are frustrated with the government's latest bank bailout plan — and showing it by unloading stocks. The major stock indexes fell more than 5 percent Tuesday, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which tumbled 382 points. Financial stocks led the market lower, reflecting Wall Street's growing concerns about the government's ability to restore the health of the banking industry.
"The economy is in deep trouble. The stimulus plan is not very stimulative. It's not addressing the real problem," Buetow said. "We have an insolvent financial system. The government is trying to find a comprehensive way to save it. They can't afford to just throw money at it. That's what they tried to do in the fall and that clearly did not work."
Smith, the top elections official in Anoka County, dropped a minor bombshell Thursday in the courtroom where a lawsuit over Minnesota's U.S. Senate race was being heard. She testified that the county has found — within the prior 24 hours — a dozen or more ballots that were never counted in the statewide recount that ended last month.
While the number is not enough to overcome Democrat Al Franken's 225-vote lead over former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, it suggests there might be other uncounted ballots in other counties. Only a handful of elections officials have testified in the recount trial so far.
America is now nearly three weeks into the Obama presidency and already his administration has been plagued with a few political scandals. Chief among them are the inability of anyone in his cabinet to pay their taxes.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Obama’s nominee for secretary of health and human services, recently stepped down as the nominee after controversy broke out over the fact that he did not pay $140,000 worth of income taxes to the government.
This happened after Nancy Killefer, nominee for Obama’s chief White House performance officer, withdrew her name after it was revealed that she failed to pay unemployment taxes in the District of Columbia. This new cabinet position is ironically supposed to help the president control wasteful spending. Too bad Killefer considers her taxes an example of useless spending.
And then there is Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner, who prior to being confirmed to his present job failed to pay $35,000 in self-employment taxes. This is even greater irony, considering it is his job to handle the government’s money.
My mission for 40 years has been to train Black Americans and find jobs for them. But it has become mission impossible as the government allows more and more jobs to be filled by legal and illegal foreign workers. Now Congress is considering amnesty for millions of illegal foreign workers. Some members see it as an easy way to get votes; some as cheap labor for their supporters. But to Black Americans, amnesty is an immoral seizure of our jobs.
Black Americans have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs to foreign workers willing to work for next to nothing. And the hiring of low-skilled immigrants is responsible for 40% of the decline in employment among Black American men. Amnesty for illegal workers will further devastate many of our communities. Around 40%of Black American men are without a job today. Why would anybody favor giving American jobs to MORE foreign workers – especially illegal ones?
A lesbian couple who led the fight for gay marriage in Massachusetts has filed for divorce. Julie and Hillary Goodridge were among seven gay couples who filed a lawsuit that led to a court ruling making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriages in 2004. The couple became the public face of the debate in the state and married the first day same-sex marriages became legal.
The divorce case was filed last week in Suffolk Probate and Family Court and was not unexpected. The couple announced they were separating in 2006.
All U.S. taxpayers would enjoy the same immunity from IRS penalties and interest as House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Obama Administration Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, if a bill introduced today by Congressman John Carter (R-TX) becomes law.
Carter, a former longtime Texas judge, today introduced the Rangel Rule Act of 2009, HR 735, which would prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from charging penalties and interest on back taxes against U.S. citizens. Under the proposed law, any taxpayer who wrote “Rangel Rule” on their return when paying back taxes would be immune from penalties and interest.
“We must show the American people that Congress is following the same law, and the same legal process as we expect them to follow,” says Carter. “That has not been done in the ongoing case against Chairman Rangel, nor in the instance of our new Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. If we don’t hold our highest elected officials to the same standards as regular working folks, we owe it to our constituents to change those standards so everyone is abiding by the same law. Americans believe in blind justice, which shows no favoritism to the wealthy or powerful.”
Thomas A. Daschle, fighting to defend his nomination to be secretary of health and human services, released a letter early today apologizing to the top lawmakers on the Senate Finance Committee for mistakes on his personal income tax returns that resulted in $146,000 in back payments.
"I am deeply embarrassed and disappointed by the errors that required me to amend my tax returns," he wrote to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). "I apologize for the errors and profoundly regret that you have had to devote time to them."