ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 145

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 145 OCTOBER 27, 2016   VETERANS are being asked to repay signing bonuses of up to $15,000 mistakenly paid by the government to encourage re-enlistments.  (Los Angeles Times, October 23, 2016.)  National Guard told California Congressional delegation of clawbacks 2 years ago, but no action taken at that time by Congress.  (Los Angeles Times, October 25, 2016.)  Pentagon suspends collection of Guard sign-up bonuses after national outcry.  (Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2016.) THOSE deciding whether to take social security benefits early should consider that lifespans have increased since 1983, when rules of thumb were calculated.  Although 2/3 of recipients begin their Social Security benefits early, most would benefit by waiting until they turn 70.  (Bob Carlson, The New Rules of Retirement, 2016.) EVANGELICALS feel no choice but to support Trump, because Clinton will doubtless appoint pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court.  (The WEEK, October 28, 2016.) OBAMACARE increases to average 20% in 2017 (before adjustment for subsidies), showing only way to limit price increases is to have a competitive public option.  In 2017 5 states will effectively have single payer insurance as all but 1 company have dropped out of the Exchange, while another 9 have only 2 companies providing coverage.  These states already have “single-payer”, but the single payer is a profit making insurance company.  (New York Times, October 28, 2016.) One could analogize investing in health care now to provide better long term national health to getting a skill as prevention of future unemployment.  Deferred income – like higher health costs now – will be rewarded by higher income – and lower health care costs...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 144

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 144 OCTOBER 20, 2016   SOCIAL Security benefits will increase 0.3% in 2017, or about $4 per month for many recipients.  Incomes will be taxes up to $127K per year, up from the current $118K per year. HPV cancer is on the rise among middle-aged men; primarily found in head and neck regions.  Signs include: – pain or difficulty swallowing; – persistent sore throat or hoarseness; –  unexplained weight loss; and – enlarged lymph nodes.  (AARP Bulletin, October, 2016.) BAY Area housing sales volume down 10%+ over last year, with median price declining 2%.  (Dr.HousingBubble.com, October 18, 2016.) WELLS Fargo profits take 3% hit as new CEO admits bank was slow to respond to problems former CEO knew of in 2013.  In September, new accounts were opened at a rate 30% less than the year before.  (Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2016.  Disclosure, I have a small position which I wish I’d purchased years earlier or later.) CALIFORNIA State Attorney General to investigate Wells Fargo for possible prosecution for illegal sales practices.  (Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2016.) CALIFORNIA appeals court rules pensions for currently working state employees are not “immutable” and are subject to “reasonableness”.  The matter is being appealed to the state Supreme Court (Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2016.) LOS Angeles County hospitals required to report on cases of CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae) superbug, which can be fatal to ½ those contracting it.  Names of reporting hospitals will not be released to the public.  (Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2016.) CONCURRENTLY, for only the 4th time in its history, the United Nations is meeting to discuss these...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 143

ELDERUPDATES.COM, No. 143, October 13, 2016   PROP. 55 will extend “millionaire’s tax” to 2030 on the 1.5% of California’s highest earners.  The top 1.5% paid $33.9 B in 2014. (Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2016.)  Meanwhile over 90% of the increase in incomes has gone to the top 10% since 2008 and we have the highest income and asset inequality since the Roaring 20’s, which in turn lead to the Great Depression. MARIJUANA legalization proposition includes a 15% sales tax on top of the previously existing sales tax.  While one can be of 2 minds about passing this bill, at least the tax may go to helpful programs. REPEAL of the death penalty is also on the California ballot this year.  With DNA evidence sometimes proving inmates aren’t lying when they blame someone else, the exorbitant costs in pursuing death penalty cases, and the extreme rarity of its use, there seems little reason not to repeal the death penalty. YET another proposition requires porn actors to use condoms when having actual sex.  If passed, will it actually be enforced?  If enforced, will the industry leave the San Fernando Valley, in Los Angeles? $2 a pack increase for cigarettes is on the ballot. My aging brain tends to support sin taxes more, especially cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana. PROP 58 preserves requirement that students obtain English proficiency, requires English learners be taught mostly in English, allows schools to have bi-lingual programs, and requires school districts to engage in an annual planning process with parents. PROP 61 requires the State to pay no more for prescription drugs than the lowest price...

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 142

ELDERUPDATES.COM, NO. 142 OCTOBER 6, 2016   DONALD Trump’s tax secrets are out; by taking $915M in losses in 1995, he has been able to carry those losses forward, (New York Times, October 2, 2016), just as you or I would on an investment that went south in a bad way – i.e. Bernie Madoff investors — if we are among those who itemize. These acts appear legal, but what is right for a regular citizen may not be what is right for a Presidential candidate who hopes to lead the country with both intellectual and moral authority.  He will, if elected, have little moral authority to pressure others to increase spending in areas he supports, such as Veterans and police. Also, worth noting that Trump’s childcare program provides “deductions”.  “Deductions” are only taken by those who itemize their taxes.  A different way could have been a refundable credit, which would provide a flat rate to all takers, hopefully including men as well as women. HILLARY Clinton plans 2 changes for Social Security. First, to raise the cap at which future earnings aren’t taxed from it’s current ($118,000?) to a much higher amount. Second, to expand benefit amounts for low-income retirees, often either women who left the workforce to raise their kids, or disabled people who didn’t have the opportunity to make much money.  (The Motley Fool, via AOL.com, October 5, 2016.) INCREASING number of beneficiaries are ditching standard Medicare for Medicare Advantage HMO Plans.  In counties with over 17% of potentials enrolled, greater growth in the Advantage plans was associated with slower growth in traditional Medicare spending.  (New York...