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Tags: Auto | Bailout | 10 | Billion | Palestinians to Outnumber Jews in Israel | Minimum Wage Rose in 20 States | Michael Savage Launches To Be an American Essay Contest

Auto Bailout Tab: $10 Billion; Palestinians to Outnumber Jews in Israel

By    |   Sunday, 11 January 2015 03:38 PM

Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Minimum Wage Rose in 20 States on New Year's Day
2. Michael Savage Launches 'To Be an American' Essay Contest
3. Auto Bailout Cost Taxpayers $10 Billion
4. Palestinians Will Outnumber Israeli Jews Next Year
5. Social Security Overpaid Millions in Student Benefits

1. Minimum Wage Rose in 20 States on New Year's Day

The minimum wage officially rose in 20 U.S. states on Jan. 1, joining one state that boosted the wage on New Year's Eve — with two more states set to raise the wage later this year.

In nine states, the minimum wage rose due to state laws linking it to an inflation index. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington boosted their minimums to at least $8.05 an hour, and Missouri raised its minimum to $7.65.

The states allow lower minimums for workers who receive tips.

Legislatures in seven other states approved laws raising the minimum wage, effective on Jan. 1, to at least $7.75 — Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia, with Vermont's minimum rising to $9.15.

In three states, voters in November approved ballot measures to increase the minimum wage effective Jan. 1 — Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

Voters in Alaska passed an initiative raising the minimum wage beginning on Jan. 1, but the rise won't take effect until 90 days after the election results.

New York raised its minimum wage to $8.75 an hour on Dec. 31, 2014, and will boost it to $9 at the end of 2015.

The minimum wage in Delaware will rise in June, and in Minnesota it will go up in August.

Washington now has the highest minimum wage, $9.47 an hour, although the minimum in the District of Columbia will rise to $10.50 an hour on July 1.

Oregon is second at $9.25, followed by Vermont at $9.15, while the minimum is $9 in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Five states have no minimum wage — Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee, although there is a $7.25 federal minimum wage in effect.

President Barack Obama last year called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, and fast-food workers have led demonstrations calling for a $15 per hour minimum.

While higher minimums benefit lower-wage workers, they can also lead to layoffs as employers seek to cut costs, or to a reduction in fringe benefits, Melissa Quinn points out in The Daily Signal.

She cites a three-year study by the University of California, San Diego, finding that an increase in the minimum wage ultimately had a negative impact on employment and income growth.

A rise in the minimum wage would also likely lead to an increase in prices. James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation estimated that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour would compel a typical fast-food restaurant to raise its prices by 38 percent to offset increased labor costs.

According to The Daily Signal, that would raise the price of a Big Mac meal at McDonald's from $5.69 to $7.82, and a Whopper meal at Burger King from $6.15 to $8.46.

Editor's Note:


2. Michael Savage Launches 'To Be an American' Essay Contest

Amid Muslim terrorist attacks and other ills afflicting people around the globe, talk radio host Michael Savage is seeking to make the world a "better place" by offering scholarships to deserving Americans who champion the cause of conservatism.

Savage on Tuesday announced the launch of the "What does it mean to be an American?" essay contest. His Paul Revere Society will award a $20,000 scholarship grant to each of five winners.

"What I'm trying to do is promote traditional conservatism in the colleges," he said on his "Savage Nation" radio program.

"I want to leave the world a slightly better place than I found."

The applicants must be American citizens ages 17 and above who have been accepted by a two- or four-year U.S. institution and can demonstrate financial need.

"I think it will be a nice thing to talk about over the coming year, because there is so much negative news out there, so much backbiting that I think we in the media have somewhat of an obligation to be leaders instead of snipers," Savage told WND.com.

"I wanted to make sure that [my contest] is open to all races and religions, but that there is one unifying theme, which is American and Americanism — what is an American. That seems to have been forgotten in the colleges today."

The contest begins on Jan. 15 and ends on March 31. The winners will be announced on July 4.

Savage's syndicated radio show is heard by 10 million listeners a week, and his 25 books include four New York Times best-sellers.

Click here to find out how to enter Michael Savage’s "What does it mean to be an American" essay contest.

Editor's Note:


3. Auto Bailout Cost Taxpayers $10 Billion

Contrary to claims by some that the federal bailout of the U.S. auto industry didn't lose government funds and may even have turned a profit, the bailout cost American taxpayers nearly $10 billion, new figures disclose.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced in late December the official end of the automobile industry bailout after loans given to General Motors and Chrysler had been repaid to the government's satisfaction.

The bailout was inaugurated in January 2009 as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program designed to combat the subprime lending crisis. The Auto Industry Financing Program loaned $79.69 billion to GM and Chrysler and their in-house financing companies.

Some of the funds were used to purchase majority shares of the companies, in effect nationalizing them, the Heartland Institute observed in a report on the end of the bailout.

The government later sold Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat.

Meanwhile the Treasury Department provided $17.2 billion in public loans to GM's financing company, now known as Ally Financial. The company made its final repayment on December 19.

The bottom line: Taxpayers recovered only $70.42 billion of the $79.69 billon loaned through the bailout program, a loss of $9.3 billion — about $65.75 per taxpayer.

The Treasury Department stated in a report: "While the auto industry rescue resulted in a cost of $9.3 billion to the government, the cost of a disorderly liquidation to the families and businesses across the country that rely on the auto industry would have been far higher.

"The government’s actions not only saved GM and Chrysler but they saved many businesses up and down the supply chain."

But Hester Peirce, a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, said: "Taxpayer money was put at great risk, and the return on investment that Treasury now trumpets is not adequate to compensate taxpayers for the risk they took."

Editor's Note:


4. Palestinians Will Outnumber Israeli Jews Next Year

The number of Palestinians living in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is projected to exceed the number of Jewish Israelis in 2016, according to a report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.

At present the population of Israel is around 8.2 million, including 6.13 million Jews. Israel is also home to 1.46 million Palestinians, while there are 4.62 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel's population also includes migrant workers from various other countries, and the world population of Palestinians includes 5.34 million living in Arab countries.

If current growth rates remain constant, Palestinians will number 6.42 million in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank next year, equaling and then surpassing the number of Jewish Israelis.

In Israel, the fertility rate of the average Palestinian woman is 3.4 births compared with 3.1 births for Jewish women, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

The Bureau of Statistics projects that by the end of 2020, the number of Palestinians in those areas will total 7.14 million compared to 6.87 million Israeli Jews.

But according to a recent map of the Middle East, there are no Israeli Jews — or Israeli Palestinians — because there is no Israel.

Collins Bartholomew, a subsidiary of New York-based publishing house HarperCollins, omitted Israel from an atlas it sells to English-speaking schools in the Middle East.

HarperCollins has apologized for the omission, saying in a statement that it "regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas. This product has now been removed from sale in all territories and all remaining stock will be pulped."

Collins Bartholomew had said that leaving Israel off its maps incorporated "local preferences."

Editor's Note:


5. Social Security Overpaid Millions in Student Benefits

Children of deceased parents were overpaid nearly a quarter of a billion dollars by the Social Security Administration over a seven-year period because the SSA did not verify that they were full-time students as required.

A report from the SSA's Office of Inspector General states that children are entitled to benefits "upon the insured wage earners' retirement, death, or disability. Child beneficiaries are entitled to benefits until they marry or attain age 18."

After age 18, child beneficiaries become eligible for student benefits if they attend high school full time. "Generally, student benefits continue through the earlier of age 19 and 2 months or the end of the school year."

But the report estimates that from January 2007 to December 2013, the SSA overpaid $225.3 million in student benefits to 106,336 beneficiaries, and did not have evidence of school attendance for $968 million in student benefits paid to 246,252 beneficiaries.

Furthermore, the report estimates that there could have been as much as $345 million in overpayments and $1.3 billion in benefits that were not supported by evidence that the children were in fact full-time students.

According to the report, the payment errors generally occurred "because neither students nor schools reported to SSA when students stopped attending school full time before the expected end of school year or SSA employees did not record graduation dates on the MBR (Master Beneficiary Record). Further, we identified cases where SSA staff did not retain supporting documentation of student attendance as required."

The report recommends that the SSA should encourage schools to report when students stop attending full time before the end of the school year, and should urge SSA employees to retain evidence of student attendance.

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Auto, Bailout, 10, Billion, Palestinians to Outnumber Jews in Israel, Minimum Wage Rose in 20 States, Michael Savage Launches To Be an American Essay Contest, Social Security Overpaid Millions in Student Benefits
Sunday, 11 January 2015 03:38 PM
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