Thursday, December 22, 2005


...while a Republican donor and your money are soon joined.

Hey, did you hear that great news about how everything's gonna cost a lot more this coming year? I guess that's because our magically swell free-market economy is taking perfect care of everyone and wealth and prosperity are just trickling down like sweet raindrops of bliss from the Lord Himself.

Here's a quote from the article:

Unprecedented damage from natural disasters is a new addition to the list of reasons why a lot of critical and recurrent costs in your life will be going up next year.

The hikes in many instances will be multiples higher than the annual inflation rate, which at last reading was 2.1 percent, excluding the volatile categories of food and energy, or 4.3 percent, including them.
It goes on to say that prices will rise in four areas: home insurance, home heating, health insurance, and college costs. To which I say "Yay!" Because you know what's not rising? My income! Yippee! You're doing a heck of a job, Bushie, a gosh-darn heck of a job!

And that last part about college reminds me again of Cheney's tie-breaking vote on the budget bill, which Alterman mentions in his column today. And I'm going to cut and paste the text he quotes because it's from the Wall Street Journal, which is subscription-only and I'm not sure that MSNBC archives Alterman's stuff even though there is a "permalink."

And also through Alterman quoting the Wall Street Journal, we find out that housing affordability is at its lowest ebb in 14 years. To which I emphatically say "Yay!" That's what a good Bush/Republican ream job does for you--it stagnates your wages and makes the price of everything skyrocket.

But we all know we love it, because darn it, Bush is just so charming and likable. He's so folksy and down-to-earth, with his millions of dollars, his private school education, his famous President father--that's just like all the former president's sons that live on my block.

Bush isn't at all like that ponderous Al Gore or that stuffy John Kerry. I mean, Bush--I'm actually tearing up as I type this--well, his favorite philosopher is our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Y'all if that don't make all this economic hardship we've faced and are about to face worth it, I don't know what does. I'd rather be homeless, penniless, and freedom-less, than let a damn godless, pro-choice, homo-loving Democrat be the president.

Thank God for George W. Bush is all I can say. He's protecting us and keeping us safe...from our freedoms.

Here's the cut and paste from Alterman/WSJ:

Congress raised interest rates on the popular Stafford loans to a fixed 6.8%, even if commercial rates are lower, and cut subsidies to lenders.
Other affected programs include Medicaid and pension insurance.

Though it isn't the first time the federal government has made cuts in student-aid programs, it is the largest single cut in dollar terms, and it follows years of increased federal support for these programs....

The changes come at a time when families have been struggling with skyrocketing tuition bills. After adjusting for inflation, private-college tuition and fees have increased 37% over the past decade, while public tuition has risen 54%. Today, most college students borrow money to pay for college.

Two-thirds of undergraduates graduate with debt; among graduating seniors, the average debt load is $19,202, according to an analysis of data from the Department of Education's National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. That doesn't include any debt that their parents might incur.

Here is how the bill will affect two of the most popular student-loan

Stafford loans. These are the most ubiquitous type of student
loans, largely because students don't have to demonstrate need in order to
secure one. The interest rate on a Stafford loan is variable and reset annually,
depending on a formula that looks at prevailing market interest rates. Today,
that rate is as low as 4.7%, and students can lock it in thanks to the Federal
Consolidation Loan Program, which allows for a one-time opportunity to
Under the new legislation, the interest rate changes to a fixed
rate of 6.8% starting July 1, 2006, on Stafford loans. While that is
significantly higher than what students are currently paying, it is only
slightly higher than what the average repayment rate has been since 1992-93,
when the current interest-rate calculus was instituted, and is still below the
current cap of 8.25%.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students. Under this
program, money is lent directly to parents rather than students. As with
Stafford loans, the variable rate is reset every year, though it is capped at

Housing Affordability
At the end of the first five years of the Bush administration, Housing affordability, one of the two key building blocks of the American Dream, has hit a 14-year low, according to the National Association of Realtors' Affordability Index, a widely followed measure of the average household's ability to buy a home at current interest rates. In some areas, including New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Miami, housing affordability has dropped to levels not seen sincethe early to mid-1980s, according to mortgage giant Fannie Mae....

Housing affordability fell nearly 9% in the third-quarter from the same period a year earlier, according to an analysis prepared for The Wall Street Journal by Moody's, a unit of Moody's Corp., which adjusted the NAR Affordability Index for seasonal variations. Affordability dropped by more than 20% in nearly two-dozen markets, including Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz., Spokane, Wash., and Orlando and Lakeland, Fla., according to the study. "You have to go back 25 years to find a decline that is as significant on a percentage basis," says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's

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