New York (CNNMoney.com) - President Obama's foreclosure prevention program will likely fall far short of its goal and may even do more harm than good, a government watchdog said Tuesday.
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said the Treasury Department set targets that weren't "meaningful," mismanaged the implementation of the program, and now risks a substantial number of "re-defaults," with many participants ultimately losing their homes anyway.
The administration's $75 billion loan modification program may help as little as 1.5 to 2 million people, about half the number Obama said it would when he first unveiled the program in February 2009, the inspector general, Neil Barofsky, wrote in a report.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Democratic Senators Monday unveiled a $150 billion bill that pushes back the deadline to file for unemployment insurance until year-end and extends dozens of expiring corporate and personal tax credits.
The wide-ranging legislation, which could be voted on as soon as this week, would allow the jobless to apply for extended federal unemployment benefits and the COBRA health insurance subsidy through Dec. 31. It would also make the prevision retroactive to March 1, so the unemployed would not miss any payments.
Federal unemployment benefits kick in after the basic state-funded 26 weeks of coverage expire. These federal benefits, worth up to 73 weeks, are divided into tiers, and the jobless must apply each time they move into a new tier.
But last week the Senate failed to pass a 30-day extension of the filing deadline, which expired on Feb. 28, because one Republican Senator objected. As a result, more than a million people are set to lose their federal unemployment benefits this month.
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New York (CNNMoney.com) - The Senate voted Tuesday to begin considering a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed.
The 4-prong bill would:
-Exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed;
-Fund highway and transit programs through 2010;
-Extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments
like equipment purchases;
-Expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states
and municipalities fund capital construction projects.
Five Republicans - including newly elected Senator Scott Brown, R-Mass. reached across the aisle to approve the procedural measure, which passed by a 62-30 vote. One Democrat did not support it.
A final vote on the bill should take place in a few days.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Under pressure to do more for troubled homeowners, President Obama announced Friday a $1.5 billion program to help borrowers in the five states hit hardest by the housing crisis.
The initiative calls for pumping money into state housing agencies in California, Arizona, Nevada, Florida and Michigan to fund programs to prevent foreclosure for people who are unemployed or who owe more than their homes are worth.
Also, the agencies can assist homeowners having trouble securing loan modifications because of second liens, as well as promote affordable housing opportunities.
Obama unveiled the initiative, which will be funded with money from the TARP bank bailout, at events in Nevada, which has the highest number of underwater homeowners at 65% and the nation's second-highest unemployment rate at 13%.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) – The Senate's slow-moving effort to spur job creation was thrown into turmoil Thursday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Democrats will offer a slimmed down jobs bill. Only hours earlier, a key Republican and key Democratic issued a more comprehensive measure that they said had bipartisan support.
The switch left many on snowed-in Capitol Hill scratching their heads, wondering why Reid lopped off most of the provisions included in the draft legislation unveiled earlier by Senate Finance Committee's Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
"The Reid announcement undermines the carefully crafted Baucus-Grassley effort and throws sand in the gears of bipartisan negotiation," a Grassley spokeswoman said.
A Democratic aide said Reid was concerned about the Senate's ability to pass a larger bill.
New York (CNNMoney.com) – Companies will begin slowly adding to their payrolls in 2010, according to an annual White House review of the economy.
The White House Council of Economic Advisers, which on Thursday released a 462-page analysis of the president's economic initiatives, said that the unemployment rate will be at 10% during 2010. It is now at 9.7%.
"With millions of Americans still unemployed, much work remains to restore the American economy to health," the report said. "It will take a prolonged and robust GDP expansion to eliminate the large jobs deficit that has opened up over the course of the recession."
On a call Wednesday with reporters, Council Chairwoman Christina Romer said she expects an average of 95,000 jobs a month to be created this year, and that the nation's GDP will expand at a 2.5% rate.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Senate Democrats' draft plan for job creation, circulated Tuesday, contains a couple of employment measures and a lot of leftover business.
What's not included in the draft legislation is additional funds for states or stimulus money for infrastructure, which Republicans have said they will not support.
President Obama met with Senate and House leaders on both sides of the aisle Tuesday to push for a jobs proposal. The House passed a $154 billion bill in December, but momentum has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats recently lost their 60-vote filibuster-proof edge.
While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said lawmakers need to pass a jobs bill this week, Republicans were not so sure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said GOP lawmakers need to know more about the package.
"My members need to be able to feel like they understand what they are being called upon to support," McConnell said.
The Republican leader, meanwhile, said he'd like to explore a competing vision for job creation that centers around international trade and clean energy.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Senate Democrats are expected to take up President Obama's call and start rolling out their employment creation package by week's end.
With the balance of power shifted in the Senate, Democrats have moved away from introducing a comprehensive bill similar to the $154 billion legislation passed by the House in December. Instead, the Democrats will likely push through smaller measures in stages.
"First of all, we do not have a jobs bill," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, on Tuesday. "We have a jobs agenda that we're working on."
New York (CNNMoney.com) –They're not calling it Stimulus 2, but the Obama administration wants to extend the life of several Recovery Act provisions by building them into the federal budget.
The president's $3.8 trillion budget for fiscal 2011, unveiled Monday, calls for giving states more money for Medicaid and infrastructure projects, as well as renewing tax breaks for workers, small businesses and municipalities issuing bonds. It also requests additional funding for Obama's educational reform initiative, Race to the Top.
All these were key provisions in the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a massive two-year stimulus program enacted last February. Many of its measures are set to run out this year.
But none of Obama's budget measures will take effect unless Congress incorporates them into legislation. And, at the moment, "stimulus" is not the most popular word on Capitol Hill.
New York (CNNMoney.com) - Intense pressure from the Obama administration spurred loan servicers to ramp up the amount of permanent modifications they offered to troubled borrowers.
The number of long-term adjustments completed under the president's foreclosure prevention plan rose to 66,465 at the end of December, or 7.4% of all trial modifications started, up from 31,382 a month earlier.
Another 46,056 modifications are pending borrowers' final signatures, according to Treasury statistics released Friday.
Meanwhile, the number of delinquent homeowners in trial modifications rose to 787,231, up from 697,026 a month earlier.
"Treasury is committed to working with servicers and borrowers to sustain this improved pace," said Phyllis Caldwell, chief of Treasury's Homeownership Preservation Office.