Displaying 1 - 10 of 235 Forum Posts1 2 3 4 5 Next
  • Jan 09, 2019 02:11 PM
    Last: 7d

    The Trump Administration promised that Americans tax refund payments will be sent out in a timely manner, despite the fact that the IRS is one of the agencies currently affected by the government shutdown. Russell T. Vought, acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, told reporters that "tax refunds will go out" during the shutdown, reversing longstanding policy to the contrary.

    This may sound like welcome news to individuals and families who file their taxes early, but it's not clear whether the Administration has the legal authority to do what they are promising. Not just that, but upwards of ninety percent of IRS workers are currently furloughed due to the government shutdown and the ten percent remaining are higher level political appointees that don't handle refund checks.

    In an attempt to work around that, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal that he will require IRS employees to return to work, without pay, to help with the filing season and to begin issuing refunds.

    However, many House Democrats caution that the Administration doesn't have the legal authority to issue refunds during a government shutdown because refunds are sent out using the government’s general fund, which is included in the current shutdown fight. I tend to agree with Chairman Neal's assertion that issuing refunds during a shutdown is not legal because the Congress, not the Executive, has the "power of the purse."

    So if you are someone who likes to file your taxes early then beware that it's not a guarantee you'll be getting your refund while the government is shut down. If the shutdown is resolved in the next couple of weeks then no one will have anything to be concerned about, but if it drags on for some time then we'll be in uncharted territory and the courts will have to decide what the next steps are.

  • Jan 09, 2019 11:43 AM
    Last: 9d

    The 9 month extension is certainly nice, but it frustrates me that it's only for a very (very) specific degree path. I'm of the belief that our veterans have earned the right to pursue the post-military career of their choice and that 36 months, as is currently the maximum amount of education the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows (not including the STEM extension), is simply not enough.

    It took me 4.5 years to graduate college and that was the *only* thing I was doing (other than a menial job as a lifeguard at a community pool). Veterans entering college after their tour or tours of duty often don't have that luxury. Our leaders should focus on the number of credit hours it will require to obtain a degree or trade certification, not the number of months a veteran is enrolled in a program.

    It's the least we could do for people who served our country.

  • Jan 07, 2019 04:19 PM
    Last: 10d
    J.K.Logic Wrote: Am curious of the part where you say 'for years to come'. I get that this will be bad and agree with you otherwise. But what do you mean by that exactly? How will this reverberate years down the road? Wouldn't things get back on track more or less once the govt opens back up?

    I'm worried about the domino effect of a prolonged disruption in the food stamp program on the individuals and families who rely on them and the businesses who predominately sell to those with food assistance.

    My main concern is this hypothetical, but very real, scenario. February 1 rolls around and the SNAP program is suddenly out of money. Overnight, millions of Americans will no longer be able to purchase groceries. Convenience and grocery stores located in low-income neighborhoods suddenly find themselves facing a massive reduction in revenue with no clear end in sight. If the disruption lasts one or two days then they won't have much to be concerned about, but if it drags on for weeks or months they may decide to close up shop because their revenue stream dried up.

    America is already riddled with "food deserts" and I worry that a prolonged shutdown, especially one affecting the SNAP program, will inject steroids into the problem.

    I'm well aware that this is a "worst case scenario," but I also think it's important for SNAP recipients to be aware of what the worst case scenario is. My hope is that we solve this impasse in the next few days and this shutdown will go in the history books with prior ones, but we also should understand the real life consequences of a prolonged shutdown.

  • Dec 26, 2018 06:54 PM
    Last: 10d

    I think it's a possibility if we rephrase the question. The best route, in my opinion, would be instituting a "public option." You may have heard about it back during the Obamacare debate, but it didn't have enough votes to pass the Senate and President Obama dropped it as a demand in order to get the larger bill passed.

    The reason I'm in favor of a public option is because it would ensure everyone in the country would be able to obtain quality health coverage for a reasonable price while not disrupting it for the hundreds of millions of people who already have coverage they may like. It also will force insurance companies to lower their prices or offer greater benefits if they want to stay in business. The government would be able to set the prices they are willing to pay for a procedure (as they already do with Medicare and Medicaid) and other health insurers will likely have to follow suit because if they don't then their clients will simply go the public option route.

    I'm not naive enough to think this is something that will be happening anytime soon, but if we do decide to revisit the healthcare debate some day then I hope that the public option is something that's seriously considered.

  • Jan 07, 2019 04:19 PM
    Last: 10d

    The shutdown affecting large swaths of the federal government is already the second longest shutdown in US history and, with both sides being as far apart as ever, it is not a stretch to think we may be in for a protracted stalemate. It's easy to turn the shutdown into yet another political battle between Democrats and Republicans, but peel the onion back one or two layers and you quickly begin to see that this shutdown will directly impact tens of millions of Americans ability to put food on the table in the not too distant future.

    Federal funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is due to run out on January 31 and over 40 million Americans who depend on the program for food assistance may soon see their benefits severely reduced or outright frozen if Congressional leaders and the President can't find a compromise out of the current impasse. As if the immediate impact on individuals and families isn't bad enough, the trickle down effect on local grocery and convenience stores that rely on customers with SNAP benefits can turn this into one of the worst manufactured crises to hit our country in many years and its ramifications will be felt for years to come.

    If you're on SNAP and are worried about how a prolonged shutdown will directly impact you then I would encourage you to reach out to your state Department of Human Services (or equivalent) and ask what their contingency plan is if SNAP funding dries up.

    I have to stress that there's still a few weeks to go before any potential disruption in funding, so your benefits for the month of January are not affected at all. However, if there is no agreement to reopen the government by February 1 then there is a very real possibility of a disruption in SNAP benefits.

  • Dec 30, 2018 02:53 PM
    Last: 19d

    Relocating abroad is certainly doable for people with comfortable savings and retirement accounts, but it's not something those with less means will likely ever be able to do.

    There are many barriers to moving abroad that people have to take into account before they pull the trigger. For starters - expats are still required to file income taxes every year if they don't want to run into any problems with the IRS. That may not be an issue for people with means, but it's a big barrier for those who are moving abroad with a goal of saving money. Another thing to understand before you move is that cost of living savings aren't necessarily a guarantee.

    My wife and I live in Lima, Peru for six months when we were dating a number of years ago and found that we were actually spending more on living expenses than we were in the states. A one bedroom apartment in a "safe" part of Lima wasn't much cheaper than a one bedroom apartment in Portland. Both of us were financially stable and able to afford the extra perks, but not everyone is able to do so. And Peru is still a developing country, which means that what we paid was likely far less than more established countries in South America.

    I'm not remotely suggesting moving abroad is a bad idea, but it's definitely not for everyone. It's something that shouldn't be done on a whim, but after exhaustive research. The last thing anyone would want is to leave everything behind in search of better things only to find out it's not as sunny on the other side as they originally thought.

  • Dec 14, 2018 03:18 PM
    Last: 25d
    J.K.Logic Wrote: Does seem to be more up in the air than I thought. I wouldn't be so sure it doesn't go through the Supreme Court and they decide to rule with the judge. Trump did make the court majority conservative.

    I long ago stopped making predictions about Supreme Court rulings, but I would be shocked if Chief Justice Roberts overrules his own 2012 opinion largely upholding Obamacare. He is well aware of the politicization of the Courts and has to know him doing an about face and sabotaging Obamacare after voting to uphold it will be a self-inflicting wound he may not be able to dig himself out of.

    Nothing surprises me anymore though, so take what I say with a grain of salt.

  • Dec 14, 2018 03:18 PM
    Last: 25d
    bryce28 Wrote: If the Court of Appeals says the judge is correct, how would that work exactly? Can a single state operate as if the ACA is unconstitutional while the rest of the country does not? Or is this judge trying to set a legal precedent solely to get the entire country to label the ACA unconstitutional?

    It just depends. If the Fifth Circuit upholds the judges ruling and the Supreme Court doesn't issue an immediate stay then, for lack of a better saying, all s*it will hit the fan. Appeals Courts are supposed to only have oversight of states in their districts, but Obamacare is a law that affects every single American, so I'd be shocked if the Supreme Court would allow the ruling to stand pending appeal.

    However, if the Supreme Court agrees with the Fifth Circuit and throws Obamacare out then all bets are off. The health insurance industry will be thrown into absolute chaos and average Americans will be the ones dealing with the consequences of the ruling.

    I can envision blue states immediately moving to pass laws from keeping the status quo to enacting single-payer while red states return to the pre-Obamacare era of allowing health insurance companies to do whatever they want with little to zero oversight. Your zip code will effectively determine the type of health coverage you get and whether you have a right to health coverage at all.

    We're a long way from that scenario, but it's an actual possibility for the first time since the Supreme Court largely upheld the law back in 2012.

  • Dec 14, 2018 03:18 PM
    Last: 25d

    A Federal Judge in Texas ruled the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional, leaving millions of Americans health insurance coverage in doubt. U. S. District Judge Reed O'Conner of Texas ruled that because the Republican tax law passed late last year did away with the tax penalty for those who chose not to obtain coverage, the entire law was now unconstitutional. Experts from both sides of the political spectrum cast serious doubt about the constitutionality of O'Conner's ruling and predicted it would ultimately be struck down on appeal, but that is not guaranteed.

    This ruling does not affect you or your insurance plan (for now) because it will be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals and potentially to the U.S. Supreme Court, so you can rest knowing that your health insurance is still secure. The only thing that will change that is if the Supreme Court sides with the judges ruling, which many legal experts think is very unlikely due to his apparent flawed arguments explaining his decision to strike the law in its entirety.

  • Dec 21, 2018 01:33 PM
    Last: 28d

    The Social Security Trust Fund is sheltered from market swings by being fully invested in Treasury securities, so a market crash shouldn't have any negative effect on benefit distribution.

    My biggest worry about Social Security isn't market fluctuation, but rather the fact that baby boomers are living a hell of a lot longer and will likely be drawing SSI for decades to come. Congress has refused to raise the cap of taxable income at $128,400, so someone making $100 million a year is contributing as much as the trust fund as someone making low six figures.

    A recession, or heaven forbid, depression won't doom Social Security, but our inability to think outside the box about ensuring the trust fund has enough money in it just might.