Archive for the ‘government and politics’ Category

A Record 24 Million Latinos Are Eligible to Vote, But Turnout Rate Has Lagged That of Whites, Blacks

October 1, 2012 Comments off

A Record 24 Million Latinos Are Eligible to Vote, But Turnout Rate Has Lagged That of Whites, Blacks

Source: Pew Hispanic Center

A record 23.7 million Latinos are eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. This is up by more than 4 million, or 22%, since 2008, when 19.5 million Latinos were eligible to vote.

Latinos are the nation’s largest minority group. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011 there were 51.9 million Latinos in the U.S., making up 16.7% of the nation’s population.

However, the turnout rate of eligible Latino voters historically lags that of whites and blacks by substantial margins. In 2008, for example, 50% of eligible Latino voters cast ballots, compared with 65% of blacks and 66% of whites (Lopez and Taylor, 2009).

Also, despite ongoing Latino population growth, the number of Latinos who said they are registered to vote fell by about 600,000 between 2008 and 2010, according to Census Bureau data. This was the only significant decline in the number of Latino registered voters in the past two decades.

CFPB orders American Express to pay $85 million refund to consumers harmed by illegal credit card practices

October 1, 2012 Comments off

CFPB orders American Express to pay $85 million refund to consumers harmed by illegal credit card practices

Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today announced an enforcement action with orders requiring three American Express subsidiaries to refund an estimated $85 million to approximately 250,000 customers for illegal card practices. This action is the result of a multi-part federal investigation which found that at every stage of the consumer experience, from marketing to enrollment to payment to debt collection, American Express violated consumer protection laws.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) together with the Utah Department of Financial Institutions discovered the illegal activities during a routine examination of an American Express subsidiary, the American Express Centurion Bank.

The FDIC transferred portions of the investigation to the CFPB when the Bureau opened its doors last year and together the agencies pursued the matter. The CFPB later concluded that many of the same violations that occurred at American Express Centurion Bank also took place at American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc. and American Express Bank, FSB.

The investigations found that the violations occurred at various points in time between 2003 and spring 2012. They occurred at every stage of the consumer experience, from shopping for cards, to applying for cards, to paying charges, and to paying off debt. More specifically, American Express subsidiaries:

  • Deceived consumers who signed up for the American Express “Blue Sky” credit card program: Consumers were sometimes led to believe they would receive $300 in addition to bonus points if they signed up for this American Express Centurion Bank program. But consumers who met the qualifications did not receive the $300. This violates federal laws prohibiting deceptive practices.
  • Charged unlawful late fees: American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB billed late fees on certain cards based on a percentage of the debt in violation of the Credit CARD Act.
  • Unlawfully discriminated against new account applicants on the basis of age: American Express Centurion Bank used a credit scoring system that treated charge card applicants differently on the basis of age. For a period of time, the bank did not fully implement the system for applicants over the age of 35. This violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act because it requires credit scoring systems that take age into account to be properly designed and implemented.
  • Failed to report consumer disputes to consumer reporting agencies: American Express Centurion Bank and American Express Bank, FSB failed to report the existence of certain customer disputes to credit bureaus, which is a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
  • Misled consumers about debt collection: All three of the American Express subsidiaries deceived consumers into believing there were certain benefits to paying off old debt. Consumers were wrongly told that if they paid off the old debt, the payment would be reported to credit bureaus and could improve their credit scores. In fact, American Express was not reporting the payments and the debts were so old that even if they had tried to report them, many of the payments would not have appeared on these consumers’ credit reports or affected their credit scores. American Express also told some consumers that a portion of their debt would be waived or forgiven if they accepted certain settlement offers. But for customers who applied for a new American Express card, the company was not really forgiving or waiving the debt.

New From the GAO

October 1, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Batteries and Energy Storage: Federal Initiatives Supported Similar Technologies and Goals but Had Key Differences. GAO-12-842, August 30.
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2. Solar Energy: Federal Initiatives Overlap but Take Measures to Avoid Duplication. GAO-12-843, August 30.
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3. Ambulance Providers: Costs and Medicare Margins Varied Widely; Transports of Beneficiaries Have Increased. GAO-13-6, October 1.
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FTC Issues Revised “Green Guides”

October 1, 2012 Comments off

FTC Issues Revised "Green Guides"

Source: Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive.

The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions. They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims.

“The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and for producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated. The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.”

In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed.

FDA Announces Draft Compliance Policy Guide on Labeling and Marketing of Nutritional Products Intended for Use to Diagnose, Cure, Mitigate, Treat or Prevent Disease in Dogs and Cats

October 1, 2012 Comments off

FDA Announces Draft Compliance Policy Guide on Labeling and Marketing of Nutritional Products Intended for Use to Diagnose, Cure, Mitigate, Treat or Prevent Disease in Dogs and Cats

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Today, FDA is announcing the availability of a draft compliance policy guide (CPG) entitled, “Labeling and Marketing of Nutritional Products Intended for Use to Diagnose, Cure, Mitigate, Treat or Prevent Disease in Dogs and Cats.” The CPG provides guidance to FDA staff and industry on how FDA intends to use its enforcement discretion with regard to the labeling and marketing of these therapeutic diets.

These nutritional products or therapeutic diets are pet foods that are specially formulated to address specific disease conditions (for example urinary tract disease in cats). The products were originally sold through and used under the direction of licensed veterinarians.

Recently, FDA has observed an increase in marketing directly to pet owners over the internet and in supermarkets or pet stores. This shift in marketing directly to pet owners without veterinary direction, concerns FDA because these products are formulated for specific needs and may not be tolerated by all animals.

The draft CPG sets out the factors FDA will consider when determining whether or not to initiate enforcement action if the products are sold or marketed inappropriately.

Sequestration and What it Might Mean for American Military Power, Asia, and the Flashpoint of Korea

October 1, 2012 Comments off

Sequestration and What it Might Mean for American Military Power, Asia, and the Flashpoint of Korea

Source: Brookings Institution

In a five-part series for Time Magazine’s Battleland blog, Peter W. Singer attempts to dive deeper into the issue of sequestration and what it might really mean for U.S. military spending and power projection across the globe. A version of this article was presented at a private event at Brookings organized by the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies and the 21st Century Defense Initiative.

CBO Releases a Report on the Taxation of Capital and Labor Through the Self-Employment Tax

October 1, 2012 Comments off

CBO Releases a Report on the Taxation of Capital and Labor Through the Self-Employment Tax

Source: Congressional Budget Office

Today CBO released a report, The Taxation of Capital and Labor Through the Self-Employment Tax.

The Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax is paid mainly by certain small business owners. That tax on sole proprietors and owners of partnerships is often characterized as one that parallels the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that employers and employees pay to fund Social Security and Medicare. The two taxes, CBO concludes, are not really parallel in the way that they tax capital income and labor income. (For people who are not self-employed, interest, dividends, rents, and capital gains are capital income, and wages and benefits are labor income.) The differences in the treatment of capital and labor income may prompt people to make choices that they would not otherwise make about self-employment or the organizational form of a business, thereby reducing the efficient allocation of resources.

CBO finds that:

  • Approximately 40 percent of the SECA tax base derives from capital income and 60 percent from labor income. The FICA tax base, in contrast, derives entirely from labor income.
  • More than half of the labor income of self-employed people is not included in the SECA tax base. In contrast, virtually all of the labor income of employees is taxable under FICA.

CBO analyzed three options that would modify the SECA tax base by either reducing the share of capital income or increasing the share of labor income it includes. No option by itself would accomplish both of those objectives when applied to both sole proprietorships and partnerships, but one option would do so if applied only to partnerships.

New From the GAO

September 28, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Warfighter Support: DOD Should Improve Development of Camouflage Uniforms and Enhance Collaboration Among the Services. GAO-12-707, September 28.
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2. VA and DOD Health Care: Department-Level Actions Needed to Assess Collaboration Performance, Address Barriers, and Identify Opportunities. GAO-12-992, September 28.
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3. Government Contracting: Federal Efforts to Assist Small Minority Owned Businesses. GAO-12-873. September 28.
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4. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Changes to the Workers Program Benefited Participants, but Little Is Known about Outcomes. GAO-12-953, September 28
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5. Trade Adjustment Assistance: Labor Awarded Community College Grants in Accordance with Requirements, but Needs to Improve Its Process. GAO-12-954, September 28.
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6. Department of Homeland Security: Efforts to Assess Realignment of Its Field Office Structure. GAO-12-185R, September 28.

Excluded Individuals Employed by Providers Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Entities

September 28, 2012 Comments off

Excluded Individuals Employed by Providers Enrolled in Medicaid Managed Care Entities (PDF)

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General


OIG is authorized to exclude certain individuals and entities (providers) from participating in federally funded health care programs, such as Medicaid managed care. These programs are generally prohibited from paying for any items or services furnished, ordered, or prescribed by an excluded provider or paying anyone who contracts with an excluded provider. In Medicaid managed care, States contract with managed care entities (MCE) to provide healthcare services to enrolled beneficiaries. The managed care entities create and manage networks of providers who deliver healthcare services to the enrolled beneficiaries. Since the providers in the Medicaid managed care networks are not under direct oversight by the States, we wanted to determine if the provider networks are vulnerable to excluded providers.


This is the second of two evaluations related to excluded providers in Medicaid managed care. In the prior study, entitled Excluded Providers in Medicaid Managed Care Entities (OEI‑07‑09‑00630), we compared the provider networks of 12 selected MCEs to the List of Excluded Individuals and Entities (LEIE) to identify excluded providers. In the current study, we selected a stratified random sample of 500 hospitals, nursing facilities, home health agencies, and pharmacies from the population of providers enrolled in the 12 MCEs. From each of the 500 sampled providers, we collected rosters of employees in 2011, and responses to a survey on the safeguards they used to ensure that excluded individuals are not employed. We compared the employee rosters to the LEIE to identify excluded individuals.


Of the 248,869 individuals listed on the employee rosters requested from sampled providers, we identified 16 individuals who were excluded among the employees of 14 sampled providers. Incorrect names and failure of contractors to follow procedures contributed to the employment of the excluded individuals. Most providers reported using a variety of safeguards to ensure they do not employ excluded individuals, but identified costs and resource burdens as challenges in executing those safeguards. Seven percent of providers in the 12 selected MCEs do not check the exclusions status of their employees; most of these providers lacked knowledge regarding exclusions.

This report does not contain recommendations.

New From the GAO

September 27, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Reports

Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Human Capital: DOD Needs Complete Assessments to Improve Future Civilian Strategic Workforce Plans. GAO-12-1014, September 27.
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2. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Additional DHS Actions Needed on Foreign Worker Permit Program. GAO-12-975, September 27.
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3. Civilian Service Contract Inventories: Opportunities Exist to Improve Agency Reporting and Review Efforts. GAO-12-1007, September 27.
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4. Community Reinvestment Act: Challenges in Quantifying Its Effect on Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Investment. GAO-12-869R, August 28.

5. Managing for Results: Key Considerations for Implementing Interagency Collaborative Mechanisms. GAO-12-1022, September 27.
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6. Medical Devices: FDA Should Expand Its Consideration of Information Security for Certain Types of Devices. GAO-12-816, August 31.
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In U.S., Trust in State, Local Governments Up

September 27, 2012 Comments off

In U.S., Trust in State, Local Governments Up
Source: Gallup

Americans’ trust in their state and local governments has increased this year, with 74% expressing a great deal or fair amount of trust in local government and 65% in state government. Trust in state government has now essentially returned to levels seen before the financial crisis, after falling to as low as 51% in 2009.

The results are based on Gallup’s annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 6-9. Americans’ trust in the federal government’s ability to handle international and domestic issues and their trust in the three branches of the federal government are all up at least marginally this year.

Americans typically trust local government more than state government, but a majority have expressed trust in each every time Gallup has measured trust. The public’s trust in local government has been more stable over time, and thus appears to be affected less by state or national political and economic factors than trust in state government is.

State government trust dipped to 53% in 2003 amid the California recall of Gov. Gray Davis, largely due to the influence of Californians’ trust on the national numbers. Trust quickly rebounded to 67% in 2004, then held steady at that level through 2008. Then the 2008-2009 financial crisis caused state governments to face financial hardships of their own, with many struggling to pay their obligations, and trust sank to 51% in 2009.

But with the economy improving somewhat and states apparently on better financial footing after making cutbacks in recent years, trust in state government has improved, a total of 14 percentage points since 2009.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ

September 27, 2012 Comments off

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Study Finds Credit Scores Used by Consumers and Lenders Can Differ
Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a study comparing credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers. The study found that about one out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a lender.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed the CFPB to compare credit scores sold to creditors and those sold to consumers by nationwide credit bureaus and to determine whether differences between those scores harm consumers. Today’s study analyzes credit scores from 200,000 credit files from each of the following credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. It is a follow up to a study the Bureau released in July 2011 that described the credit scoring industry, the types of credit scores, and the potential problems for consumers that could result from differences between the scores they purchase and the scores creditors use.

The study released today determined:

  • One out of five consumers would likely receive a meaningfully different score than would a creditor: When consumers purchase their score from a credit bureau, the score they receive may be meaningfully different from the score that a lender would consult in making a decision. A meaningful difference means that the consumer would be likely to qualify for different credit offers – either better or worse – than they would expect to get based on the score they purchased.
  • Score discrepancies may generate consumer harm: When discrepancies exist between the scores consumers purchase and the scores used for decision-making by lenders in the marketplace, consumers may take action that does not benefit them. For example, consumers who have reviewed their own score may expect a certain price from a lender may waste time and effort applying for loans they are not qualified for, or may accept offers that are worse than they could get.
  • Consumers unlikely to know about score discrepancies: There is no way for consumers to know how the score they receive will compare to the score a creditor uses in making a lending decision. As such, consumers cannot exclusively rely on the credit score they receive to understand how lenders will view their creditworthiness.

The Bureau recommends that consumers consider the following in evaluating the credit score they receive:

  • Shop around for credit. Consumers benefit by shopping for credit. Regardless of the scores different lenders use, they may offer different loan terms because they operate different risk models or face different competitive pressures. Consumers should not rule out of seeking lower priced credit because of assumptions they make about their credit score. While some consumers are reluctant to shop for credit out of fear that they will harm their credit score, that negative impact may be overblown. Inquiries generally do not result in a large reduction in a consumer credit score.
  • Check the credit report for accuracy and dispute errors. Credit scores are calculated based on information in a consumer’s credit file. Inaccurate information may be the difference between a consumer being approved or denied a loan. Before shopping for major credit items, the Bureau recommends that consumers review their credit files for inaccuracies. Each of the nationwide credit bureaus is required by law to provide credit reports for free to consumers who request them once every 12 months.

Global Financial Stability Report: Restoring Confidence and Progressing on Reforms

September 26, 2012 Comments off

Global Financial Stability Report: Restoring Confidence and Progressing on Reforms

Source: International Monetary Fund

Chapter 3 of the October 2012 Global Financial Stability Report examines whether the regulatory reforms designed to make the financial system safer are moving the system in the correct direction, using a benchmark set of features that include financial institutions and markets that are more transparent, less complex, and less leveraged. The analysis suggests that progress has been limited so far, in part because many of the reforms are still in the early stages of implementation. Chapter 4 evaluates how aspects of current changes to financial structure, including those elicited from regulatory reforms, may be associated with economic outcomes. Both chapters stress that the success of measures to produce a safer financial system depend on effective implementation of reforms and strong supervision.

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action

September 26, 2012 Comments off

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Surgeon General)

From press release:

Today on World Suicide Prevention Day, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (Action Alliance) released an ambitious national strategy to reduce the number of deaths by suicide. The strategy was called for by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates when they launched the Action Alliance on Sept. 10, 2010. The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, a report from the U.S. Surgeon General and the Action Alliance, details 13 goals and 60 objectives for reducing suicides over the next 10 years.

The Action Alliance, co-chaired by Gordon Smith, chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters, and Army Secretary John McHugh, highlights four immediate priorities to reduce the number of suicides: integrating suicide prevention into health care policies; encouraging the transformation of health care systems to prevent suicide; changing the way the public talks about suicide and suicide prevention; and improving the quality of data on suicidal behaviors to develop increasingly effective prevention efforts.

The Obama Administration also announced a series of activities that will help prevent suicide:

  • Secretary Sebelius announced $55.6 million in new grants for national, state, tribal, campus and community suicide prevention programs made possible under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act and partially funded by the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act, the health care law enacted in 2010.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched, Stand by Them: Help a Veteran, a joint VA-Department of Defense (DoD) outreach campaign that includes a new public service announcement, Side by Side, designed to help prevent suicide among veterans and servicemembers and focuses on the important role family and community play in supporting Veterans in crisis. Throughout September and beyond, VA and DoD are urging community-based organizations, Veterans Service Organizations, health care providers, private companies and other government agencies to connect Veterans and Service members in need of assistance to the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, press 1). Additionally, as directed by President Obama’s Mental Health Executive Order issued August 31st, VA is also increasing the workforce of the Crisis Line by 50% and hiring 1,600 new mental health professionals.

Population Aging Will Have Long-Term Implications for Economy; Major Policy Changes Needed

September 25, 2012 Comments off

Population Aging Will Have Long-Term Implications for Economy; Major Policy Changes Needed

Source: National Research Council

The aging of the U.S. population will have broad economic consequences for the country, particularly for federal programs that support the elderly, and its long-term effects on all generations will be mediated by how — and how quickly — the nation responds, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The unprecedented demographic shift in which people over age 65 make up an increasingly large percentage of the population is not a temporary phenomenon associated with the aging of the baby boom generation, but a pervasive trend that is here to stay.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are on unsustainable paths, and the failure to remedy the situation raises a number of economic risks, the report says. Together, the cost of the three programs currently amounts to roughly 40 percent of all federal spending and 10 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Because of overall longer life expectancy and lower birth rates, these programs will have more beneficiaries with relatively fewer workers contributing to support them in the coming decades. Combined with soaring health care costs, population aging will drive up public health care expenditures and demand an ever-larger fraction of national resources.

Population aging is also occurring in other industrialized nations, so any consequences for the U.S. must be considered in the broader context of a global economy. Adapting to this new economic landscape entails costs and policy options with different implications for which generations will bear the costs or receive the benefits. Recent policy actions have attempted to address health care costs, but their effects are as yet unclear. According to the report, the ultimate national response will likely be some combination of major structural changes to public support programs, more savings during people’s working years, and longer working lives.

New From the GAO

September 25, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Report

Source: Government Accountability Office

Grants to State and Local Governments: An Overview of Federal Funding Levels and Selected Challenges. GAO-12-1016, September 25.
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Feinstein, Grassley Release Report on Strategies to Prevent a Security Crisis in the Caribbean

September 25, 2012 Comments off

Feinstein, Grassley Release Report on Strategies to Prevent a Security Crisis in the Caribbean

Source: United States Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), co-chairs of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today released a bipartisan report entitled Preventing a Security Crisis in the Caribbean that provides recommendations for Congress and the Obama Administration to enhance current security efforts in the Caribbean.

The report recommends:

  • An assessment by the State Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of where Sensitive Investigative Units are most needed in the Caribbean. Jamaica, with the fourth highest murder rate in the world, should be considered a top candidate for one of these units.
  • Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should send a full criminal history of all deportees to authorities in the Caribbean so they are aware of the return of any criminals or drug traffickers. Caribbean countries’ authorities do not currently receive a full criminal rap sheet from ICE on deportees returning home.
  • United States technical assistance to the countries of the Caribbean to support the drafting of asset forfeiture laws and laws controlling precursor chemicals used to make illegal drugs.
  • The integration of Puerto Rico into working level meetings held between the State Department and countries in the Caribbean on security and narcotics issues.
  • Strong support of Haitian counternarcotic efforts.
  • Strengthening of U.S. anti-money laundering laws.
  • Continued extradition of drug kingpins from the Caribbean to the United States.
  • The return of DEA helicopters used in Operation Bahamas, Turks and Caicos to the Exumas Islands in The Bahamas.

New From the GAO

September 24, 2012 Comments off

New GAO Report

Source: Government Accountability Office

International Food Assistance: Improved Targeting Would Help Enable USAID to Reach Vulnerable Groups. GAO-12-862, September 24.
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Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program

September 24, 2012 Comments off

Policy Intervention in Debt Renegotiation: Evidence from the Home Affordable Modification Program

Source: Social Science Research Network

The main rationale for policy intervention in debt renegotiation is to enhance such activity when foreclosures are perceived to be inefficiently high. We examine the ability of the government to influence debt renegotiation by empirically evaluating the effects of the 2009 Home Affordable Modification Program that provided intermediaries (servicers) with sizeable financial incentives to renegotiate mortgages. A difference-in-difference strategy that exploits variation in program eligibility criteria reveals that the program generated an increase in the intensity of renegotiations while adversely affecting effectiveness of renegotiations performed outside the program. Renegotiations induced by the program resulted in a modest reduction in rate of foreclosures but did not alter the rate of house price decline, durable consumption, or employment in regions with higher exposure to the program. The overall impact of the program will be substantially limited since it will induce renegotiations that will reach just one-third of its targeted 3 to 4 million indebted households. This shortfall is in large part due to low renegotiation intensity of a few large servicers that responded at half the rate than others. The muted response of these servicers cannot be accounted by differences in contract, borrower, or regional characteristics of mortgages across servicers. Instead, their low renegotiation activity — which is also observed before the program — reflects servicer specific factors that appear to be related to their preexisting organizational capabilities. Our findings reveal that the ability of government to quickly induce changes in behavior of large intermediaries through financial incentives is quite limited, underscoring significant barriers to the effectiveness of such polices.

Key Factors, Unresolved Issues in New Deferred Action Program for Immigrant Youth Will Determine Its Success

September 23, 2012 Comments off

Key Factors, Unresolved Issues in New Deferred Action Program for Immigrant Youth Will Determine Its Success
Source: Migration Policy Institute

On August 15, just 60 days after President Obama announced a policy to offer two-year relief from deportation to certain qualifying unauthorized immigrants under the age of 31 who were brought to the United States as children, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for its new program. Even as many thousands of applicants lined up to apply or seek information on the program’s first day, a number of key factors, some still unknown or unresolved, will ultimately determine the success of an initiative that will allow qualifying unauthorized immigrants a conditional reprieve from deportation.

The most salient issues to be addressed include the efficiency and uniformity of the program by the government and service providers; those of confidentiality concerns for both applicants and their families and employers who have hired them, national and state-level issues of how to qualify for the educational attainment guideline, and unspecified guidelines of what crimes preclude registration. As well, how states choose to react to DACA will be a significant factor in DACA’s implementation, as already Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has issued an executive order noting the state will not grant driver’s licenses or other public benefits to DACA recipients.

Though interpretation of some of the guidelines remains unclear – and it remains an open question how states will react on key issues such as whether DACA beneficiaries are deemed eligible to apply for and receive in-state tuition rates and other criteria – the broad outlines of the program have emerged. In addition to protection from deportation, the program will on a case-by-case basis offer work authorization and possibility of travel abroad to a subset of this specific unauthorized population, popularly referred to as DREAMers (from the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Minors Act on which the policy is based). The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that 1.76 million individuals could be potentially eligible for the program, formally titled Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), making it the largest US immigration benefit program ever authorized by the US executive branch at one time.


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