Head in the Cloud

August 19, 2015

I always remember

 

When I was young

 

People would say to me

 

 

Hey Hutchie…

 

 

Get your head out of the clouds

 

 

Now it seems

 

 

Everyone is asking about the cloud

 

 

 

Does this mean….

 

 

I was ahead of my time????

 

 

 

 

What is the cloud?

 

 

 

What are the advantages?

 

 

 

Would it work for our business?

 

 

 

Is it affordable?

 

 

 

 

Cloud technology is revolutionizing the

 

Voice and data industry

 

Learn how the cloud can revolutionize your business

 

 

 

 

Want learn more?

 

 

Give us a call

 

 

Send us an email

 

 

 

HBS represents all the major providers

 

 

Who are leading the cloud evolution

 

 

 

 

HBS

 

 

Providing Smart Solutions for Smart Business

Advertisements

Turning Tables

March 21, 2013

Several weeks ago

I spoke about the projected

Increase of gasoline prices

Over the upcoming months

Experts were predicting the price

Of gasoline could reach…

The dreaded $4.00 a gallon mark

Before the summer hit

At the same time….

We were seeing

Natural gas prices

Continuing to fall….

The thought was….

That the Nymex (gas out of the ground)

May be heading…..

Back under $3.00 a decatherm

Well……..

The experts were wrong

The price of gasoline in NJ

Has been dropping

Over the past few weeks

Today I saw it listed for

$3.379 a gallon

(Don’t forget that last 9

You are not paying $3.38 a gallon)

Gasoline prices are….

Down about 25 cents

Do you think we can head into the low 3s?

Possibly sneak under $3.00 a gallon

With summer insight…

That could be a stretch…

Think of all those cars

Heading for the shore

Stay tuned…….

Natural gas prices

On the other hand…

Have jumped

Over the past 3 weeks

Near the end of February

The Nymex was around

$3.15 a decatherm

The talk was….

That the Nymex

Could be heading under $3.00 a decatherm

Surprise….Surprise….Surprise

With little or no warning

The nymex took off running

As of this writing

It is $3.965 a decatherm

Poised to break the $4.00 mark?

That is a 25% jump…

In less than a month

There is little or no support

To this Meteoric rise

Yeah, we had some cold weather

After all, it is winter

December and January

Were fairly mild

It did get cold in

February and March but…

The overall winter

Has not been that cold

Spring started yesterday

That tells me the weather will be….

Getting warmer

With warmer weather

The demand will drop

They are still dealing with

Abundant supplies

The nymex should settle down

And start dropping again

Don’t change the channel

We will keep you updated

With any breaking news

For more information contact us

george@hbsadvantage.com

Smart Solutions for Smart Business

As reported in The Hill 12/03/12 bt=y Russell Berman
House Republican leaders on Monday made a counteroffer to President Obama in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, proposing to cut $2.2 trillion with a combination of spending cuts, entitlement reforms and $800 billion in new tax revenue.

The leaders delivered the offer to the White House on Monday with a three-page letter signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and four other senior House Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the party’s just-defeated vice presidential nominee.

The White House rejected the offer as insufficient in a statement released about two hours after Boehner made the offer public. White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer in a statement said the GOP proposal was unbalanced on the key issue of taxes on wealthier households, and that it also lacked detail.

Republican officials said the offer was based on a proposal outlined by Erskine Bowles, who served as chief of staff to former President Clinton, in testimony last year before the congressional “supercommittee” on deficit reduction. That offer is distinct from the widely cited Simpson-Bowles deficit plan released two years ago.

 

The GOP offer is a response to Obama’s opening bid, which called for $1.6 trillion in tax increases and reducing the power of Congress to block an increase in the debt ceiling.

“What we are putting forward is a credible plan that deserves serious consideration by the White House,” Boehner told reporters in a brief appearance at the Capitol. He said he hoped the administration would respond in a timely manner.

He characterized it as a response to what he called the “la-la land” offer that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner presented to congressional leaders last week.

The Speaker last spoke to Obama on Wednesday and indicated he did not plan to personally present his offer to the president. “I think the letter’s appropriate,” he said.

Boehner is scheduled to attend the White House holiday party on Monday evening. Asked if he might speak to Obama there, the Speaker smiled and replied: “I might run into him.”

The Republican counteroffer does not include an increase in the debt ceiling, but a GOP aide said the party remained open to negotiating additional borrowing authority for the Treasury before the end of the year. The nation is expected to reach its borrowing limit by mid-February at the latest.

Republican officials said their offer amounted to $4.6 trillion in deficit reduction when compared directly to the White House offer, which they emphasized was more than what the White House had put on the table.

In its own deficit plan, the White House counts legislation that has already been enacted, savings from future interest on the debt and savings from the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Republicans do not count those as new savings, so their offer amounts to $2.2 trillion in future deficit reduction.

The $800 billion in new tax revenue matches what Boehner offered Obama during their 2011 negotiations for a grand bargain. Republicans are keeping to their opposition to tax rate increases, and aides said Monday they believe that $800 billion can be raised from the wealthy through other means, which their offer does not specify.

Senior Republican aides argued that their offer represented a “fair middle ground” because, unlike the White House, they did not use their budget proposal as their opening bid. The House budget contains no revenue increases and included far-reaching changes to Medicare and Medicaid that Democrats consider non-starters.

“We’re not doing that today, because we don’t have time,” one top GOP aide said, speaking during a background briefing on the condition of anonymity.

Republicans have complained that the White House waited three weeks to present its offer to avoid the fiscal cliff at year’s end, which they panned as “not serious.”

In addition to the $800 billion in revenue, the Republicans are proposing $600 billion in health savings, $300 billion in savings from other mandatory spending and $300 billion in further cuts to discretionary spending.

The GOP is also proposing to raise $200 billion through changes to the way inflation is calculated for the purpose of determining benefits and tax policy across a range of programs, including $200 billion. The offer is consistent with a framework that leaders in both parties have agreed to: averting the looming tax hikes and spending cuts with a “down payment” of deficit reduction while settling on targets for tax and entitlement reform in 2013.

The Republican proposal does not specify what would be immediately enacted as a down payment, and aides said it could replace the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that are set to begin taking effect next year, although it does not explicitly eliminate them.

While the offer only specifies targets for entitlement reform, aides said they would likely include means testing of Medicare and raising the age of eligibility, which they noted have been at the center of deficit reduction talks for years.

“It’s not as if we have had no conversations over the past few years,” an aide said.

Pfeiffer faulted the GOP for raising rates on the wealthy and sticking the middle class with the bill.

“Their plan includes nothing new and provides no details on which deductions they would eliminate, which loopholes they will close or which Medicare savings they would achieve,” Pfeiffer said.” While the President is willing to compromise to get a significant, balanced deal and believes that compromise is readily available to Congress, he is not willing to compromise on the principles of fairness and balance that include asking the wealthiest to pay higher rates.”

The House counteroffer drew immediate praise from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), who issued a statement calling it a “good-faith effort to find common ground.”

“While the president hasn’t moved an inch away from his efforts to please his radical left-wing base, the Speaker has consistently shown a good-faith effort to find common ground and a realistic approach to solving the very real economic problems facing our country,” McConnell said. “If the president is serious about joining us in an effort to reduce the deficit and protect the economy, he’ll get off the campaign trail, drop the left-wing talking points, and instruct his staff to negotiate a solution in good faith based on actual written proposals. In short, he’ll begin doing what leaders do: Lead.”

The letter, sent by the full House leadership, along with Ryan, indicates Boehner has the full support of key players in his conference.

“This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform,” the leaders wrote in their letter to Obama. “Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs. We believe it warrants immediate consideration.

“If you are agreeable to this framework,” they continue, “we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached.”

—This story was posted at 3 p.m. and last updated at 5:01 p.m.

 

Here is the full text of the GOP letter to Obama:

December 3, 2012 The President The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

After a status quo election in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected, the American people rightly expect both parties to come together on a fair middle ground and address the nation’s most pressing challenges.

To that end, shortly after the election, we presented you with a balanced framework for averting the fiscal cliff by coupling spending cuts and reforms with new tax revenue.  We then welcomed Secretary Geithner to the Capitol on November 29 with every expectation that he would lay out a similarly reasonable path.

Regrettably, the proposal he outlined on behalf of your Administration contains very little in the way of common ground.   The proposal calls for $1.6 trillion in new tax revenue, twice the amount you supported during the campaign.  The proposal also includes four times as much tax revenue as spending cuts, in stark contrast to the “balanced approach” on which you campaigned.  While administration officials are claiming that this proposal contains 2.5 dollars of spending cuts for each dollar in new revenue, counting as part of this ratio previously enacted savings – as if these were new spending reductions – only confuses the public debate.  What’s worse, the modest spending cuts in this offer are cancelled out by the additional ‘stimulus’ measures the Administration is requesting.  And, this proposal would remove any and all limits on federal borrowing.

We cannot in good conscience agree to this approach, which is neither balanced nor realistic.  If we were to take your Administration’s proposal at face value, then we would counter with the House-passed Budget Resolution.  It assumes an overhaul of our tax code with revenue remaining at historically normal levels and proposes structural reforms to preserve and protect the Nation’s entitlement programs, ensuring they are sustainable for the long-term rather than continuing to grow out of control.  Some of its key reforms include:

The House-passed Budget Resolution assumes enactment of structural Medicare reform that offers future beneficiaries guaranteed coverage options, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare plan.  This proposal is based on recent bipartisan efforts and would provide greater support for the poor and the sick and less support for the wealthy.  We achieve these reforms in Medicare without affecting current seniors or those nearing retirement.  This would slow the projected explosive spending growth in this program and eventually maintain Medicare spending as a share of the economy at 4.75 percent, thus saving the program for future generations.

The House-passed Budget Resolution reforms Medicaid and provides states with greater flexibility to better deliver health security to beneficiaries, saving the federal government nearly $800 billion over 10 years.

Separate from savings in our proposal for the 2010 health care law, the House-passed Budget Resolution envisions hundreds of billions in savings in other mandatory spending, including reforms to Federal employee compensation and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. These reforms are, in our view, absolutely essential to addressing the true drivers of our debt, and we will continue to support and advance them.  At the same time, mindful of the status quo election and past exchanges on these questions, we recognize it would be counterproductive to publicly or privately propose entitlement reforms that you and the leaders of your party appear unwilling to support in the near-term.

With the fiscal cliff nearing, our priority remains finding a reasonable solution that can pass both the House and the Senate, and be signed into law in the next couple of weeks.  The best way to do this is by learning from and building on the bipartisan discussions that have occurred during this Congress, including the Biden Group, the Joint Select Committee, and our negotiations leading up to the Budget Control Act.

For instance, on November 1 of last year, Erskine Bowles, the co-chair of your debt commission, presented the Joint Select Committee with a middle ground approach that garnered praise from many fiscal watchdogs and nonpartisan experts.  He recommended that both parties agree to a balanced package that includes significant spending cuts as well as $800 billion in new revenue.

Notably, the new revenue in the Bowles plan would not be achieved through higher tax rates, which we continue to oppose and will not agree to in order to protect small businesses and our economy.  Instead, new revenue would be generated through pro-growth tax reform that closes special-interest loopholes and deductions while lowering rates.  On the spending side, the Bowles recommendation would cut more than $900 billion in mandatory spending and another $300 billion in discretionary spending.  These cuts would be over and above the spending reductions enacted in the Budget Control Act.

This is by no means an adequate long-term solution, as resolving our long-term fiscal crisis will require fundamental entitlement reform.  Indeed, the Bowles plan is exactly the kind of imperfect, but fair middle ground that allows us to avert the fiscal cliff without hurting our economy and destroying jobs.  We believe it warrants immediate consideration.

If you are agreeable to this framework, we are ready and eager to begin discussions about how to structure these reforms so that the American people can be confident that these targets will be reached.

Again, the American people expect their leaders to find fair middle ground to address the nation’s most pressing challenges.  To achieve that outcome, we respectfully request that you respond to this letter in a timely fashion and hope that you will refrain from any further action that would undermine good-faith efforts to reach a reasonable and equitable agreement in this critical matter.

Sincerely,

John Boehner, Speaker Eric Cantor, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican Conference Chairman Dave Camp, Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means Paul Ryan, Committee on the Budget Fred Upton, Committee on Energy & Commerce

Just Thinking

October 5, 2012

My wife and I were watching TV

 

Last week

 

 

And she made a very

 

Astute observation

 

 

“How come all we hear about

 

 

 

In the Presidential election

 

 

 

Is the middle class

 

 

 

 

Did everyone stop talking…..

 

 

 

 

About the Poor?”

 

 

 

 

 

We hear about the top 2%

 

 

 

And

 

 

 

The middle class

 

 

 

What are we doing about the poor?

 

 

 

 

Are they now the middle class…

 

 

 

Want to hear some sobering facts?

 

 

 

There have been

 

48 murders…..

 

 

 

In Camden, NJ

 

 

So far this year

 

 

 

Camden has gained the title of….

 

 

 

America’s most dangerous city

 

 

 

Camden is about 7 miles

 

From where I am sitting

 

 

 

Let’s look at some of the facts:

 

  • 13 homicides in July – the most deadly month since a shooting spree in 1949
  • Murder rate was ten times New York City in 2011 — and on pace to be even higher this year
  • More than half of children live below the poverty line as the city is ravaged by drugs
  • Police department forced to cut one third of officers in 2011 and arrests dropped to less than half of what they were in 2009

 

 

 

I am using Camden

 

 

As an example

 

 

Because it is

 

 

Close to home

 

 

 

There are many families hurting

 

 

Not only in Camden….

 

 

 

But in all across…

 

 

The United States

 

 

 

In cities

 

 

And

 

 

 

In small towns

 

 

 

 

There are independent programs

 

 

Set up

 

 

To help these people…..

 

 

 

Mostly non profits

 

 

With Church affiliations

 

 

 

Providing food

 

 

Temporary Shelter

 

 

 

 

Working with youth

 

 

Helping them to

 

 

Believe in their abilities

 

 

 

 

Teaching them

 

 

You can make a difference

 

 

 

 

Aspire,

 

 

 

Don’t settle

 

 

 

 

But there is no grand effort

 

 

 

 

No coordinated

 

 

Vision

 

 

 

To make a difference

 

 

 

 

 

To lift these people up

 

 

 

 

Yes,

 

 

There is unemployment

 

 

Disability

 

 

Food Stamps

 

 

And

 

 

Other Government assistance programs

 

 

 

 

But what are we doing

 

 

As a whole….

 

 

 

To lift the poor in spirit

 

 

 

 

Give them the opportunity

 

 

To live

 

 

To Share

 

 

 

 

The American dream

 

 

 

 

Whatsoever you do

 

 

To the least of my brethren

 

 

 

That you do unto me

 

 

 

 

I think we are all familiar with that line

 

 

 

 

 

What are we doing to help…..

 

 

The poor?

 

 

 

 

We all take our lives for granted

 

 

 

 

What we fail to realize is that…..

 

 

 

Every Day is a Gift

 

 

 

 

 

I am a product of Catholic Schools

 

 

 

They taught the….

 

 

 

 

 

The 7 Corporal Works of Mercy

 

 

  • Feed the Hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Cloth the naked
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Comfort the imprisoned
  • Visit the sick
  • Bury the dead

 

 

 

What have we been doing….

 

 

 

With the gifts that we have been given?

 

 

 

 

Many years ago

 

 

As man evolved

 

 

They realized

 

 

The only way

 

 

They could sustain

 

 

Continue to grow

 

 

And Survive

 

 

Would be by

 

 

Helping each other

 

 

 

There was no….

 

 

Bigger

 

 

Better

 

 

Stronger

 

 

 

 

They all worked together

 

 

They Realized that they….

 

 

 

All needed each other

 

 

 

 

The world calls us to be engaged

 

 

 

We are all one

 

 

 

 

“For I was hungry and you gave me food

 

 

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink

 

 

I was a stranger and you welcomed me

 

 

I was naked and you gave me clothing

 

 

I was sick and you took care of me

 

 

I was in prison and you visited me.”

 

 

Mathew 25:34-36

Giving Hope

April 13, 2012

For the last 8 years I have shared an affiliation

 

With Hopeworks in Camden

 

 

4 of those years I was on the Board;

 

 

And for 2 years I served as the

 

President of the Board

 

 

 

 

Hopeworks is the vision of Fr Jeff Putthoff

 

 

A Jesuit

 

 

Gotta love the Jesuits

 

 

 

Fr Jeff  has committed himself to making a difference

 

 

In Camden

 

 

 

Thru hard work and patience

 

 

His vision is becoming a reality

 

 

 

Camden is recognized as one of

 

 

America’s poorest cities

 

 

 

There has been constant wrangling

 

Whether it is #1 or #2

 

 

 

It is also is ranked #2

 

 

As one of America’s

 

 

 

Dangerous cities

 

 

 

 

Over 40% of the youth never even graduate

 

 

From High School

 

 

 

Hopeworks vision:

 

 

 

Empowering the youth to identify

 

 

And develop their D.R.E.A.M.S.

 

 

 

(Dynamic, Realizable Efforts to Attain and Maintain Success)

 

 

And own their future.

 

 

 

 

Hopeworks provides the youth an opportunity to

 

 

Stay in school

 

 

Or to

 

 

Get their GED

 

 

 

Learn a skill

 

 

 

Giving them an opportunity to

 

 

 

Go to college

 

 

 

 

Education is the Key

 

 

 

The environment that The Camden youth

 

 

Are exposed to

 

 

Is frightening

 

 

Just within the last month

 

Over 3 people were shot and killed

 

Within a 2 block radius of Hopeworks

 

At 5th and State St

 

 

 

Drugs are dealt opening

 

 

One youth when asked what he hoped to do

 

When he got older

 

 

Stated that before coming to Hopeworks

 

 

He never really thought about it

 

 

 

For he never expected to live past 17

 

 

 

When he was 10 years old

 

His brother died in his arms

 

A victim of the streets

 

 

By 12 years old he was running drugs

 

And arrested on gun charges

 

 

After he shot at the police

 

 

 

 

Hopeworks is making a difference

 

 

 

While I was on the Board

 

Fr Jeff introduced the

 

 

 

Fun in the Sun Calendar

 

 

Each summer;  Hopework uses

 

The Fun in the Sun Calendar

 

To help fund summer jobs

 

For Camden youth

 

 

 

This summer we are hoping to raise

 

Enough funds to support

 

25 summer jobs at Hopeworks

 

 

 

 

This is where you can help

 

 

 

I have agreed to be a Captain

 

For the Fun in the Sun program

 

 

 

I am looking for you to help me sell

 

60 tickets

 

 

Which will help us to partially fund the

 

 

Hopeworks summer work program

 

 

 

There are many options available

 

 

1 subscription cost $20

 

 

You may also choose to support a youth for 1 week

 

 

That only cost $160

 

 

Each day in June a name will be pulled

 

From those you have bought a subscription

 

 

 

You will have a chance to win a

 

Specific dollar amount assigned to that day

 

 

One lucky subscribe stands to win

 

 $2012

 

 

That could be you

 

 

Click on the link below to get more information about the

 

 

Fun in the Sun Subscription

 

And take a minute to look at the other tabs on the website

 

 

These tabs provide more information

 

About Hopeworks

 

 

Their Vision and Mission statements

 

 

The programs available

 

 

To the Camden youth

 

 

 

Hopeworks is all about

 

 

Giving back……

 

 

Providing Hope…..

 

 

Opening Doors……

 

 

Fulfilling Dreams……

 

 

 

Let’s take time to Pay it Forward

 

 

 

http://www.hopeworks.org/fun-in-the-sun/

 

 

 

It is my hope that you will help us

 

 

Give 25 youth in Camden

 

 

A job at Hopeworks

 

 

This summer

 

 

 

Note: Should you choose to buy a subscription

 

There is a space that ask for the captain name

 

Please enter my name

Thanks

 

And God Bless You

 

 

We are now on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Hutchinson-Business-Solutions/160324787348229

 

Visit our website: www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

As reported by Mike Sacks for the Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — After the Supreme Court oral arguments in the health care case Tuesday morning, the Obama administration better start preparing for the possibility of a future without the individual mandate.

From the very start, things did not go well for the government’s argument that the requirement under the Affordable Care Act that virtually all Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty is constitutional.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli began his argument not with his usual calm and clear delivery, but rather with a case of coughs that seemed to take him off his game.

And just as he was starting to recover his composure, Justice Anthony Kennedy, a key swing vote, asked, “Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Kennedy’s question adopted the framing of the case put forward by those challenging the mandate.

From there, the barrage against Verrilli did not relent until he sat down nearly an hour later.

The conservative justices appeared particularly concerned that if they upheld the mandate, Congress would be loosed to regulate nearly anything else it deemed a national problem.

Verrilli argued that the health care market’s unique features allow Congress to require the uninsured to purchase health insurance.

“The health care market is characterized by the fact that, aside from the few groups that Congress chose to exempt from the minimum coverage requirement, … virtually everybody else is either in that market or will be in that market,” Verrilli said. Plus, he said, “people cannot generally control when they enter that market.”

Chief Justice John Roberts responded, “The same, it seems to me, would be true, say, for the market in emergency services: police, fire, ambulance, roadside assistance, whatever.”

When Verrilli said those services do not constitute markets, Justice Samuel Alito asked what would keep the government from applying to burial services — which Verrilli conceded do constitute a market — the same rationale about preventing cost-shifting that it used for health care.

Verrilli never quite answered that question, pointing instead to the “billions of dollars of uncompensated costs” that distort the health insurance market.

Alito then flipped the tables, saying that the mandate will require young, healthy people to pay more per year for insurance than they would pay for health care out-of-pocket, thus forcing them “to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else.”

“If you’re going to have insurance, that’s how insurance works,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued back, in the first of the four-justice liberal bloc’s attempts to shore up the government’s case.

She and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor would all leap in to make the government’s case themselves after Justice Antonin Scalia invoked the prospect of a broccoli mandate.

Verrilli could not gain traction with his alternative arguments that the mandate falls within Congress’ ability to pass laws “necessary and proper” to effectuate its constitutionally enumerated power to regulate commerce. Scalia, who relied on this clause in 2005 to uphold a federal ban on cultivating marijuana for personal consumption, said the individual mandate may be necessary to carry out the Affordable Care Act, but it is not proper “because it violated the sovereignty of the States.”

“If the government can do this, what, what else can it not do?” Scalia asked.

After a brief halftime, Paul Clement, a former U.S. solicitor general, began his argument on behalf of the 26 states challenging the mandate.

If Verrilli struggled, Clement shined. The conservative justices remained largely silent as he skated through the liberals’ heavy questioning.

“The mandate represents an unprecedented effort by Congress to compel individuals to enter commerce in order to better regulate commerce,” he began, employing the same terms Kennedy used to describe the mandate throughout the government’s argument.

When Breyer rolled out a multi-part question seemingly designed to be his tour de force on the mandate’s obvious constitutionality, Clement cut the legs out from under it, noting that Breyer was talking about the wrong constitutional provision.

Roberts then asked Clement to address the government’s contention that “everybody is in this market, so that makes it very different than the market for cars.” But it was hard to view this question as anything but diplomatic after Roberts’ own clear antagonism to the same contention during Verrilli’s hour.

Instead, Roberts appeared to favor the challengers’ belief that the mandate regulates the insurance market, not the health care market, and the consumption of insurance, unlike health care, is not an inevitable fact of life.

“We don’t get insurance so that we can stare at our insurance certificate,” Justice Elena Kagan responded when Clement offered her that argument. “We get it so that we can go and access health care.”

Clement parried that remark and concluded his time before the justices apparently unscathed by the liberals’ attacks.

Michael Carvin, representing the National Federation of Independent Business and several individuals, used his half hour as a sort of end-zone dance for the seeming defeat of the mandate, going so far as to chuckle at questions from Breyer and Sotomayor.

When Verrilli returned for his rebuttal, all he could do was remind the justices of their “solemn obligation to respect the judgments of the democratically accountable branches of government.”

Whether one or more of the Supreme Court’s conservatives will ultimately come to that conclusion, and thereby defy the expectations they set on Tuesday morning, is anyone’s guess.

By Andrew Maykuth

Inquirer Staff Writer

Pennsylvania electricity customers are skeptical they can save much by
shopping for power.

Although 88 percent of customers say they are aware they can switch to
alternative suppliers, only 45 percent have shopped, according to a statewide
survey conducted by Terry Madonna Opinion Research.

Twenty-three percent of residential customers statewide have switched,
according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. About 1.4 million
customers have switched.

Madonna and several electricity suppliers told the PUC on Thursday that
nearly a year after Pennsylvania’s retail utility deregulation went into full
effect, the public remains wary of shopping.

“There are a fair number of people who did not look into changing an electric
supplier because they didn’t believe there would be long-term savings in it,”
said Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin
and Marshall College in Lancaster.

The poll results were presented Thursday at a PUC hearing on competition.

The surveys found that price was the main concern driving customers to
switch, but many said the perceived savings were insufficient to make them
switch.

Suppliers said some residential customers have recorded savings up to $300 a
year.

Madonna, who conducted his telephone survey of 801 customers in September on
behalf of Constellation Energy, said 78 percent said they would consider
switching if they could save 10 percent on their generation charge.

Many customers who declined to shop said they were happy with their current
supplier regardless of the cost.

Madonna’s findings were echoed by an Internet survey of 450 customers
conducted by AlphaBuyer, a Paoli group- buyer that markets online.

Forty percent of the customers said the savings were not worth it, said Kevin
McCloskey, AlphaBuyer’s chief operating officer. About 24 percent said shopping
was too confusing or the choices overwhelming. About 15 percent said switching
was too risky or that it was a “scam.”

Under Pennsylvania’s Electric Choice law, customers can choose a company that
markets the power. Billing is still conducted by the incumbent utility company,
which collects a fee for distributing the power.

Customers who don’t switch are still supplied by the utility at a default
rate.

Only 18 percent of customers had visited the PUC’s website for choosing a
supplier. PUC members said more customer education was needed.

“It’s perplexing to us with all the tools being made available to customers
we only see 20 percent of the residential customers shopping,” said Robert F.
Powelson, PUC chairman.

Our Perspective:

HBS has been dealing in the deregulated energy market for over 10 years. I have always been suspect of the proposed residential savings in this market.  Most of the time you are offered a floating rate that may offer minimal savings.

The opposite is true in the commercial market. There are providers offering fixed price alternatives that offer a great opportunity for savings. HBS has found great success in the PA commercial deregulated market. We represent all the major providers selling electric in the PA market.

There is no upfront cost. Deregulated savings in the energy market has been a welcomed windfall for any business in both the New Jersey and Peennsylvania market who willing to look at the opportunity.

 

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20111111_Most_in_Pa__avoid_shopping_for_electricity_supplier.html#ixzz1ddcYbDS5

As reported by Jennifer Bendary from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Senate Democratic leaders have settled on which piece of President Barack Obama’s jobs plan they want to move on first: $35 billion for state and local governments to rehire teachers, police and firefighters.

“Our expectation [is] that the first measure will be teachers,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a Monday press gaggle aboard Air Force One.

“I didn’t want to get ahead of Senator Reid,” Carney said of breaking the news. “We have been in consultation with him, but it’s his prerogative and we’re very pleased that he will be taking it up.”

During a conference call, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he plans to unveil the Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act later Monday and decide “in the next day or two” when to hold a vote on it. He said the bill would keep 400,000 teachers and first responders on the job, and would be paid for by imposing a 5 percent tax on millionaires.

Asked which pieces of Obama’s jobs plan are next in line for Senate votes, Reid demurred. But he said he has already settled on the next four votes on pieces of Obama’s bill and is waiting to meet with the Democratic Caucus on Tuesday before discussing his plan publicly.

“There is no reason we cannot finish the appropriations bills before the end of the week, and have a vote on this jobs bill,” Reid told reporters on the call. “I am happy to keep the Senate in session as long as needed to make sure we get a vote on this jobs bill.”

Reid’s office also sent out a fact sheet that highlights past votes and statements by Republicans in favor of jobs bills similar to the teacher/first responders aid bill. The fact sheet cites a May 2010 press release by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) saying he was “proud” to help secure funds for first responders. It also points to a March 2007 vote to fully fund the COPS program; it included the support of 16 GOP senators.

//

//

http://ads.tw.adsonar.com/adserving/getAds.jsp?previousPlacementIds=&placementId=1517131&pid=2259768&ps=-1&zw=300&zh=250&url=http%3A//www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/teacher-aid-obamas-jobs-plan_n_1015854.html&v=5&dct=Teacher%20Aid%20Is%20First%20Piece%20Of%20Obama%27s%20Jobs%20Plan%20To%20Get%20Senate%20Vote&ref=http%3A//www.huffingtonpost.com/&metakw=teacher,aid,is,first,piece,of,obama's,jobs,plan,to,get,senate,vote,politics

During a speech earlier Monday in Fletcher, N.C., Obama knocked Senate Republicans for voting down his entire $447 billion jobs package last week. All Republicans opposed a procedural vote to begin debate on the bill, along with two Democrats. Obama said his push to break out pieces of his bill and hold individual votes on them gives Republicans “another chance” to act on jobs.

“Maybe they just couldn’t understand the whole thing all at once,” Obama said, drawing laughs from the crowd of supporters. “So we’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces so they can take a thoughtful approach to this legislation.”

“So this week, I’m going to ask members of Congress to vote on one component of the plan, which is whether we should put hundreds of thousands of teachers back in the classroom and cops back on the street and firefighters back to work.”

Of course, the reality is that Republicans are poised to vote against any piece of Obama’s plan because they don’t like how it is paid for: by raising taxes on millionaires and ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry. But with the 2012 elections in mind, Obama and Democratic leaders plan to keep lining up votes anyway to build the case that Republicans are voting against jobs and the economy in the name of protecting corporate interests.

This story has been updated with information on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s conference call Monday.

As reported In Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)– It’s a microcosm of the budget battling that has consumed Congress all year: The Obama administration wants federal agencies to save money while Republicans push for additional savings to take a substantial bite out of the government’s towering pile of IOUs.

White House budget chief Jacob Lew has ordered agency heads to submit spending plans for the upcoming budget at least 5 percent below this year’s levels. He also wants them to propose ways to trim a total of at least 10 percent of their spending.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Thursday that Lew’s directive was a good way to start finding spending cuts that are required under the recent debt-ceiling agreement between the two sides.

“But the White House must get serious about real structural reform of our entitlement programs if we’re going to get our debt under control to help our economy grow and create jobs,” Steel said, referring to huge and fast-growing benefit programs like Social Security and Medicare that help drive annual deficits skyward.

Lew’s letter did not rule out, or even address, the possibility of finding savings from benefit programs. But Steel’s remark pointed directly at the major fault line that has blocked a sweeping debt-cutting deal between the two parties: Democrats have resisted paring benefits from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while Republicans have refused to consider tax increases.

The Obama administration has asked agencies in years past to propose similar savings. But Lew’s order comes just two weeks after Obama and congressional Republicans ended an epic debt ceiling battle that has left both sides eager to demonstrate a willingness to trim red ink ahead of a fierce autumn battle over the economy and the debt and just as the 2012 presidential and congressional elections approach.

By requesting two sets of potential savings from agencies, Lew is moving toward fulfilling the debt-ceiling deal, which created a series of annual spending targets and would save tens of billions of dollars a year.

“By providing budgets pegged to these two scenarios, you will provide the president with the information to make the tough choices necessary to meet the hard spending targets in place and the needs of the nation,” Lew wrote to agency heads.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents more than 625,000 federal workers and employees of the District of Columbia, also jumped into the fray.

In a written statement, national president John Gage said the cuts “mean just one thing: more job destruction in the midst of a jobs crisis.” He said that with millions of Americans already unemployed or too discouraged to seek work, “why on earth would the administration be trying to dig an even deeper hole?”

The spending that Lew ordered federal agencies to trim will consume more than $1 trillion of this year’s $3.8 trillion federal budget. The rest of the budget covers benefit programs and interest payments on the government’s $14.3 trillion debt.

Lew’s letter suggests that savings can be found by eliminating unneeded programs and making agencies more efficient. It also invites agency heads to propose initiatives that would spark economic growth.

“Finding the savings to support these investments will be difficult, but it is possible,” Lew wrote.

In a White House blog on Thursday, Lew said his request for savings was designed to help the administration make decisions about living within overall spending limits. He said it did not mean every agency will necessarily see budget cuts.

Republicans say tax and spending cuts are needed to blow life back into the flagging economy and create jobs. Obama plans to unveil a jobs proposal next month mixing tax reductions, construction initiatives and deficit reduction.

When Congress returns from its summer recess in September, also generating political heat will be the special bipartisan panel of 12 lawmakers that the debt-ceiling agreement created to try to craft a compromise $1.5 trillion, 10-year debt reduction package.

As another part of the debt-cutting deal, the two sides agreed to a separate $900 billion in 10-year savings from agency budgets. The details of those cuts will have to be worked out every year, but they will be evenly divided between national security and domestic programs.

Earlier this year, Obama and Congress also battled down to the wire over spending cuts and came within hours of forcing a partial government shutdown. In the end, they agreed to pare agency spending by $38 billion.

Lew asked agency chiefs for the two spending scenarios as the administration plans for the 2013 budget year, which begins in October 2012. That budget will be released early next year.

As reported in Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Standard & Poor’s says it downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating because it believes the U.S. will keep having problems getting its finances under control.

S&P officials on Saturday defended their decision to drop the government’s rating to AA+ from the top rating, AAA. The Obama administration called the move a hasty decision based on wrong calculations about the federal budget. It had tried to head off the downgrade before it was announced late Friday.

But S&P said it was the months of haggling in Congress over budget cuts that led it to downgrade the U.S. rating. The ratings agency was dissatisfied with the deal lawmakers reached last weekend. And it isn’t confident that the government will do much better in the future, even as the U.S. budget deficit grows.

David Beers, global head of sovereign ratings at S&P, said the agency was concerned about the “degree of uncertainty around the political policy process. The nature of the debate and the difficulty in framing a political consensus … that was the key consideration.”

S&P was looking for $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years. The deal that passed Congress on Tuesday would bring $2.1 trillion to $2.4 trillion in cuts over that time.

Another concern was that lawmakers and the administration might fail to make those cuts because Democrats and Republicans are divided over how to implement them. Republicans are refusing to raise taxes in any deficit-cutting deal while Democrats are fighting to protect giant entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

S&P so far is the only one of the three largest credit rating agencies to downgrade U.S. debt. Moody’s Investor Service and Fitch Ratings have both issued warnings of possible downgrades but for now have retained their AAA ratings.

The rating agencies were sharply criticized after the 2008 financial crisis. They were accused of contributing to the crisis because they didn’t warn about the dangers of subprime mortgages. When those mortgages went bad, investors lost billions of dollars and banks that held those securities had to be bailed out by the government.

Ratings agencies assign ratings on bonds and other forms of debt so investors can judge how likely an issuer – like governments, corporations and non-profit groups – will be to pay the debt back.

//

//

http://ads.tw.adsonar.com/adserving/getAds.jsp?previousPlacementIds=&placementId=1517131&pid=2259768&ps=-1&zw=300&zh=250&url=http%3A//www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/07/standard-and-poors-downgrade-defense-politics_n_920430.html&v=5&dct=S%26P%20Officials%20Blame%20Downgrade%20On%20%27Degree%20Of%20Uncertainty%27%20In%20Politics&ref=http%3A//www.huffingtonpost.com/&metakw=s%26p,officials,blame,downgrade,on,'degree,of,uncertainty',in,politics,business

Asked when the United States might regain its AAA credit rating, Beers said S&P would take a look at any budget agreements that achieve bigger deficit savings. But the history of other countries such as Canada and Australia who saw cuts in their credit ratings, shows that it can take years to win back the higher ratings.

Administration sources, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the debt issue, said the administration was surprised by the timing of the announcement, coming just a few days after the debt agreement had been signed into law.

Treasury officials were notified by S&P of the imminent downgrade early Friday afternoon and spent the next several hours arguing with S&P. The administration contended that S&P acknowledged at one point making a $2 trillion error in their computations of deficits over the next decade.

But S&P officials said the difference reflected the use of different assumptions about how much spending and taxes will come to over the next decade. The S&P officials said they decided to use the administration’s assumptions since the $2 trillion difference in the deficit numbers was not going to change the company’s downgrade decision.

In a Treasury blog posting Saturday, John Bellows, the Treasury’s acting assistant secretary for economic policy, said he was amazed by that decision.

“S&P did not believe a mistake of this magnitude was significant enough to warrant reconsidering their judgment or even significant enough to warrant another day to carefully re-evaluate their analysis,” Bellows wrote.

S&P officials said their decision hadn’t been rushed. They noted that S&P had been warning about a potential downgrade since April.

Some critics, the debacle of 2008 still in mind, raised questions about S&P’s actions now.

“I find it interesting to see S&P so vigilant now in downgrading the U.S. credit rating,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said Saturday. “Where were they four years ago?”

Standard & Poor’s roots go back to the 1860s. One of its founders, Henry Varnum Poor, was a publisher of financial information about the nation’s railroads. His company, then called Poor’s Publishing, merged in 1941 with Standard Statistics Inc., another provider of financial information.

S&P’s website said both founding firms warned clients well before the 1929 stock market crash that they should sell their stocks.

The company has been owned by publisher McGraw-Hill Cos. since 1966.