Medicaid Debt Can Cost You Your House – The Atlantic

She soon learned that the rumors held some truth. Medicaid, the government program that provides health care to more than 75 million low-income and disabled Americans, isn’t necessarily free. It’s the only major welfare program that can function like a loan. Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are expected to repay the government for many medical expenses—and states will seize houses and other assets after those recipients die in order to satisfy the debt.

“The folded american flag from her father’s military funeral is displayed on the mantel in Tawanda Rhodes’s living room. Joseph Victorian, a descendant of Creole slaves, had enlisted in the Army 10 days after learning that the United States was going to war with Korea.To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app.After he was wounded in combat, Joseph was stationed at a military base in Massachusetts. There he met and fell in love with Edna Smith-Rhodes, a young woman who had recently moved to Boston from North Carolina. The couple started a family and eventually settled in the brick towers of the Columbia Point housing project. Joseph took a welding job at a shipyard and pressed laundry on the side; later, Edna would put her southern cooking skills to use in a school cafeteria.

In 1979, Joseph and Edna bought a house in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood for $24,000. Just a few years after they moved in, Joseph died of blood-circulation problems. But by leaving that house to his wife and children, its mortgage satisfied by his life-insurance payout, he died believing that he had secured a legacy for his family, which, in just a few generations, had lifted itself out of slavery, segregation, and poverty to own a piece of the American dream.

Source: Medicaid Debt Can Cost You Your House – The Atlantic

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The Fiscal Cliff Fallout: This Is Not What MLK Would Have Wanted l P365

   Guest Contributor, Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Fiscal Cliff Fallout: This Is Not What MLK Would Have Wanted

By Barbara R. Arnwine, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Fiscal Cliff Fallout: This Is Not What MLK Would Have Wanted

As we reflect on Martin Luther King Day, many of us reflect on his famous and stirring “I Have A Dream Speech.” This speech is memorialized as the centerpiece of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” which spoke of the twin evils of racial discrimination and economic deprivation that prevailed because of the defaulted promissory note that stipulated equality for all. In an earlier speech in Detroit (1963), Dr. King linked the “twin evils” stating that “I have a dream this afternoon that one day right here in Detroit, Negroes will be able to buy a house or rent a house anywhere their money will carry them and they will be able to get a job.” Then and now the civil rights movement is about much more than ending racial discrimination, it’s also advocating  for economic justice and opportunities for all people.

Until there is equal access to economic opportunities, America cannot call itself a post racial society. The modern form of racial discrimination is realized through an economic proxy. We find evidence of this in the fiscal cliff compromise, which was hard fought and difficult to reach. The fruition of the compromise allowed racial minorities to avoid a compound of injustice and discrimination that could have manifested without a decision.

According to the August, 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022 Report” the cuts could have sent the entire country into another recession. As we have learned from the Great Recession, racial minorities are disproportionately impacted by downturns in the economy. In 2001, nearly 65 percent of White adults and just over 60 percent of Black adults were employed. The Great Recession caused the share of Black working adults to slide down to 52 percent, nearly seven points behind Whites.

Throughout the recession, the unemployment rate for African Americans continued to rise in the double digits, with the December 2012 unemployment rate at 14 percent for African Americans, while it was only 6.9 percent for Whites. Even though racial minorities can count this fiscal cliff compromise as a win, the political showdowns surrounding the compromise have fostered a breeding ground of animosity that may preview continual struggles ahead.

Debates in coming months concerning spending cuts and raising the nation’s limit on borrowing are raising legitimate concerns in minority communities. Those who opposed the compromise and  were against raising taxes on the wealthy, have vowed that in any future debates they would stalwartly include significant cuts in government benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which could potentially have a disparate impact on minorities and low income families. This debate illustrates the twin evils of racial discrimination and economic deprivation that Dr. King spoke of so eloquently.

Many of Dr. King’s remarks are almost prescient of today’s economic issues. His remark that “God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous wealth while others live in abject deadening poverty” resonates soundly with the fiscal cliff compromise to tax wealthy Americans at a higher rate in order to supplant the harrowing growth of the minority poverty rate, which had previously been narrowed prior to the recession. In a similar fashion, his observation that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” speaks to how politicians should approach future economic debates.

Decisions in any upcoming fiscal debates should ensure that all Americans are treated fairly and should not create an undue burden on those in our country who are already struggling. That type of injustice only impedes the growth our nation in becoming a post-racial society. Dr. King’s speeches push beyond issues of economic inequality, calling for parity in all facets of life. However, it is hard to envision the dream of equality manifesting without an equal economic playing field.

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Barbara R. Arnwine is president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to enlist the private bar’s leadership and resources in combating racial discrimination and the resulting inequality of opportunity – work that continues to be vital today. Tahirah Marston, a Business Major at George Washington University and intern for the Lawyers’ Committee, contributed to this editorial. For more information on the Lawyers’ Committee, please visithttp://www.lawyerscommittee.org

 Barbara Arnwine is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice

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All You Wanted to Know About Housing in Three Minutes » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names

“So, here’s the million dollar question: If prices are already at “normal”, and sales are already above trend, and President Obama isn’t going to approve another round of fiscal stimulus, (He won’t) and the Fed’s $85 billion per month QE4 program continues to have no impact on sales (it doesn’t), then what magical force is going to push the market higher?

The only way that prices can continue to rise is if the banks start issuing loans to unqualified mortgage applicants en masse like they did back in 2005-2006. Otherwise, the market’s going to stay right where it is today, in the dumps.”

DECEMBER 31, 2012

In the Dumps

All You Wanted to Know About Housing in Three Minutes

by MIKE WHITNEY

There’s a terrific video at Bloomberg News that will tell you everything you want to know about housing in just under 3 minutes. Unfortunately, the video hasn’t gotten much attention, probably because it veers from the MSMs fairytale about a housing recovery. Even so, I have transcribed the interview below so that readers can judge for themselves whether housing is really bouncing back or it’s just a bunch of baloney.

Keep in mind that Robert Shiller, who predicted both the dot.com and housing bubbles, is widely regarded as the nation’s top housing market expert. Also, the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which he co-founded, is the benchmark index for home price trends in the country’s 20 largest cities. Here’s the interview (with some commentary):

Bloomberg anchor:

“According to the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which we got yesterday, home values are up over 4 percent on the year. Can this positive housing news weather the fiscal cliff and all the uncertainty into 2013?

For a closer look at what the housing recovery means for the economy, we turn to Robert Shiller of Yale University, the co-founder of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

Good morning Bob. You’ve been very, very hesitant to call a bottom for home prices and an all-out housing recovery, but don’t the data pretty broadly speak to the fact that housing is on the mend?

via All You Wanted to Know About Housing in Three Minutes » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.

 

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.