The Senate plans to (finally!) vote this week on an unemployment insurance extension; S. 2148 isn't a bad bill, which is a wonderful surprise, since the Senate couldn't agree to a considerably worse bill the previous month. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner has already readied a new excuse: that it would be too "difficult" and "costly" for states to backdate unemployment insurance to late December. Always the whining with these Republicans! They whine and they whine about how hard everything is and then, when we try to clean up the mess they constantly make, they accuse us of whining! How do Republicans ever appear tough to anyone? Would it be too much to ask that the "liberal" media finally stop treating John Boehner like he's a Serious Person? All he ever does is say "no" to everything; at least Newt Gingrich, flights of fancy and all, took governing more seriously, but the only thing John Boehner takes seriously is crippling our government so it can't respond to the needs of its owners, the American people. Hence, of course, his latest attempt to run out the clock. The Coalition on Human Needs helps you tell your Congressfolk to extend unemployment benefits already. Feel free to use words like "excuses" and "whining" in your letter to your House Reps, particularly if they're Republicans or Blue Dogs.
Speaking of things Congress has lately failed to do, the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act expired at the end of 2013, likely unrenewed because Barack Obama is a Socialist Communist Nazi Kenyan Anti-Colonialist and nothing that does any good for anyone can ever happen while he is President. What does the Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act do? Well, when good folks get mortgage modifications, the banks holding the mortgage reduce the principal part of their loans (the principal being, essentially, the agreed-upon sale price of the house; not counting interest). But the tax code ordinarily treats that principal reduction as a huge chunk of income, and would tax it as such. Thing is, it's really not a big chunk of income, because -- unlike, say, the hedge fund "carried interest" rate or the lower rates for dividends and capital gains -- it doesn't put a big chunk of money directly into your hands; but merely reduces the amount of money you've already borrowed. The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act would fix this state of affairs, but the longer Congress waits to act, the fewer homeowners will take a mortgage modification -- and given how many homes are underwater these days, that's a big deal. Hence Americans for Financial Security helps you tell Congress to give underwater homeowners the help they need to stay in their homes.
Finally, if you've missed previous opportunities to tell the Department of Justice and the FCC to reject the proposed Comcast/Time-Warner cable merger, Consumers Union still helps you do that. You need not agree (as I know few folks do) that one corporation should never be able to buy or own another to oppose this merger. You need not agree that mergers kill jobs to oppose this merger. You need not agree that we need more diversity -- not merely racial and gender diversity, but just, you know, more different human beings -- in media ownership to oppose this merger. You need not even agree that, with the most recent death of FCC net neutrality rules in court, one corporation shouldn't become so big that it can dictate where you go and what you see on the internet. You need only be tired of high cable prices, lousy service, and slow download speeds to oppose this merger, because this merger will make all those situations a lot worse, in addition to the other situations listed above. One corporation, without adequate competition, has no incentive to serve its customers, because those customers are its prisoners; one corporation, without adequate competition, will only serve the cause of fattening its CEO's pay package. So oppose this merger now, and reap the benefits of better customer treatment later.