Posts Tagged ‘Federal reserve’


Fewer than 50,000 Americans have thus far bought a health-care plan on the problem-plagued ObamaCare website according to an insurance industry report, representing only a fraction of the half-million enrollees the administration apparently wanted the first month.

The number was reported first Monday by The Wall Street and confirmed by Fox News, which was told the final reporting day was Nov. 3.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a prompt response, saying officials could not confirm the numbers.

“We have always anticipated that initial enrollment numbers would be low and increase over time,” said agency spokeswoman Joanne Peters. “And, as we have said, the problems with the website will cause the numbers to be lower than initially anticipated.”

Healthcare.gov went live Oct. 1 and was immediately plagued with such problems as slow response time, volume-induced crashes and supplying incorrect information.

Official have since called in private technical experts and have taken the site off line in non-peak hours to perform maintenance and improve the situation.

The federal site handles insurance enrollment for 36 states without their own sites.

The administration has set a goal of signing up seven million Americans for insurance by next March, when open enrollment ends.

The Journal reported the number of enrollees thus far could be as low as 40,000 and  that the administration’s goal of 500,000 enrollees in October is based on an internal memo cited last week by Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp.

The top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a statement the low numbers are not surprising because of the website’s problems.

“Whether it’s higher costs, fewer choices or simply website glitches, it’s becoming more clear with each passing day that this law isn’t ready for prime time and should be delayed,” Hatch said.

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As the days drag on, the shutdown has deepened public disgust with leaders of our government.

I share the feeling – there’s no doubt that most of this current Congress has got to go – but I also feel something that I don’t think many share, unfortunately, and that’s a sense of optimism.

Last week, I had the chance to talk about the government shutdown on LinkedIn Today with CBS’s Jill Schlesinger andUniversity of Michigan Professor Jeff DeGraff. It was a great conversation.

Here’s what we need to remember: Yes, this Congress is in charge right now but they don’t have the monopoly on leadership.

Right now, there are states and municipalities that are getting it done. (Look at Mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal). They’ve recognized that this is a time where we’re confronting some very thorny problems, none of which has a clean solution. Instead, they’re compromising, innovating, moving forward as best they can with common-sense strategies.

This is the next generation of leadership. They’re earning their chops now for future greatness. A mayor who will become a congresswoman. A state congressman on track for a Senate run. A governor eyeing the presidency.

They’re not hampered or hamstrung by the problem that’s tying so much of Washington up in knots.

They’re willing to be disruptors.

When I talk to people in DC, I’m struck by the slavish adherence to incrementalism. An inch in the right direction is heralded as magnificent progress, even if it’s evidence of massive dysfunction to the rest of the country. Here in Silicon Valley, my colleagues and I see an area that’s ripe for disruption, for exploring big, creative, smart ideas that really could generate momentum. It needs us, though, to believe it can happen and to work for it, whether it’s voting for the right leaders, lobbying for our passions, writing letters and blogs, etc.

The shutdown will end – as Dr. DeGraff pointed out, there will be some kind of face-saving deal.

In the meantime, look to Nov. 5 and remember that we need daring disruption sooner, not later, even at the local level.

What ideas do you wish our leaders would implement?

His public awaits. AP Photo / LM Otero

If there was ever a backdrop for a heist film, the last few weeks would have been it. In preparation for the launch of the new $100 bill, pallets of millions of dollars worth of bank notes emblazoned with Ben Franklin’s visage arrived in US Federal Reserve banks across the country. The new C-note is chock-a-block with fancy security features, including:

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  • A blue “security ribbon” with images that look like they’re moving when the note is tilted
  • An image of a copper inkwell, with a holographic Liberty Bell inside that turns green when tilted

Here’s what it looks like.

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Of course, its unclear how long these high-tech banknotes will stay in the country. As we’ve told you before, the working theory is that a large chunk of US $100 billsfinds its way outside of the US. (Though, incredibly, there are few good answers about exactly how much.) And the growth of foreign holdings of $100 bills is one of the main reasons that the share of US currency outstanding denominated in $100 remains near 80%. It was 76.6% at the end of 2012, up from 75.5% in 2011, according to the Federal Reserve. The $100 bill is the world’s most popular bank note.

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So when will you see one? It’s really up to the banks. The notes started circulating today. And that basically means that banks who put in new orders for paper currency to the Federal Reserve will start getting the new bills today. But it’s up to the banks to dole them out over time. So it could take awhile before they start appearing more broadly in circulation.

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Oh, and it might pay to take a look at the serial numbers on the bills when you finally do get them. Currency collectors prize bills with so-called fancy numbers. (Those are especially low serial numbers or other strings of digits that are particularly distinctive.) The fanciest of them all would be the redesigned $100 note with the serial number 00000001. That could be worth as much as $15,000,according to the Boston Globe.

 

 

 

The government slimdown enters its second week with Democrats and Republicans continuing to blame each other with no compromise in sight, as a second major budget deadline looms larger and closer.

Despite Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warning again Sunday about the potential “catastrophic” impact of Congress allowing the government to default on its debt on Oct. 17, Republican leaders made clear the House won’t agree on any deal to increase the county’s borrowing authority without concessions from President Obama.

Lew told “Fox News Sunday” such a strategy was “irresponsible” and “reckless.”

“Which is why Congress needs to act,” said Lew, calling on members to pass a temporary spending bill to reopen the government and pass a measure to increasing the nation’s $16.7 trillion debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner made a point Sunday of saying his GOP-led chamber has stayed on Capitol Hill two straight weekends to try to pass spending bills to keep the government fully operational, only to have them rejected by the Democrat-led Senate.

The upper chamber will try to vote this week on a bill that passed the House unanimously on Saturday to pay federal workers for days missed.

Boehner told ABC’s “This Week” that Obama is risking default by refusing to negotiate with Republicans and that he doesn’t have the votes to pass a debt-limit proposal free of other fiscal issues.

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” he said. “The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit, and the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us. … I’m ready for the phone call.”

Changes to ObamaCare, entitlement reform and other spending cuts are among the possible concessions for which Republicans might ask.

On Monday, the government slimdown enters its seventh day with hundreds of thousands of federal employees furloughed, national parks closed and an array of government services on hold. However, the Obama administration is calling back to work hundreds of thousands of civilian military workers.

Lew said Obama has not changed his opposition to coupling a bill to re-open the government and raise the borrowing authority with Republican demands for changes in the 3-year-old health care law and spending cuts.

Boehner insisted that Obama must negotiate if the president wants to end the shutdown and avert a default that could trigger a financial crisis and recession that would echo the events of 2008 or worse.

Boehner said he lacks the votes to pass a clean temporary spending bill. Democrats argue that their 200 members in the House, plus close to two dozen pragmatic Republicans, would back a so-called “clean” bill if Boehner just allowed a vote, but he remains hamstrung by his Tea Party-strong GOP caucus.

“Let me issue him a friendly challenge,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer told ABC. “Put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday. I would bet there are the votes to pass it.”

In a series of Sunday television appearances, Lew warned that on Oct. 17, when he exhausts the bookkeeping maneuvers he has been using to keep borrowing, the threat of default would be imminent.

“I’m telling you … Congress is playing with fire,” he said.

Lew said that while the Treasury expects to have $30 billion of cash on hand on Oct. 17, that money will be quickly exhausted in paying incoming bills given that the government’s payments can run up to $60 billion on a single day.

Treasury issued a report on Thursday detailing in stark terms what could happen if the government actually defaulted on its obligations to service the national debt.

“A default would be unprecedented and has the potential to be catastrophic,” the Treasury report stated.

Private economists generally agree that a default on the U.S. debt would be extremely harmful, especially if the impasse was not resolved quickly.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a force in pushing Republicans to get changes to ObamaCare in exchange for keeping the government running, spelled out his conditions for raising the borrowing authority.

“We should look for three things. No. 1, we should look for some significant structural plan to reduce government spending,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “No. 2, we should avoid new taxes. And No. 3, we should look for ways to mitigate the harms from ‘ObamaCare,” Cruz said, describing the debt ceiling issue as one of the “best leverage the Congress has to rein in the executive.”

Asked how the standoff might end, Boehner said: “If I knew, I’d tell you.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.