College loan debt has become a red-flag issue rivaling that of home mortgage debt a half-decade ago. Ironically, the White House, like Congress, in the haste to avert disaster, might create it. President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget includes a plan to expand participation in the Income-Based Repayment program, which is designed to assist eligible persons going through a partial financial hardship to stay current on federal student loans. At present, the program forgives outstanding debt for borrowers who make 20 years of timely payments - 10 years if they work in the public or nonprofit sector. But eligibility is limited to borrowers approved since October 2007. The Obama plan would extend forgiveness to those who took out loans before that. And it would render debt tax-exempt. It's a sweet deal - except to taxpayers.
According to a report in USA Today, venture capitalists are throwing tons of money into clean and “Green” technology companies. In fact, investor Alan Salzman of VantagePoint Capital Partners says, “It's not alternative: We think of it as mainstream."
How mainstream? The newspaper says:
Several venture capitalists interviewed say it could be hundreds of billions of dollars — if not more — when adding up various slices, such as wind (estimated $60 billion) and solar ($20 billion to $30 billion).
Politicoreported yesterday that "it's not easy being green anymore," allegedly because of environmental groups' failure to score political victories even when news events are in their favor, such as the BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and the Japan nuclear reactor drama. And initiatives such as cap-and-trade failed despite the environoiacs' having a Democrat-dominated Congress and executive branch in 2009 and 2010. From the news story:
Google Inc. cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.
Google’s income shifting -- involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” -- helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.
Of course, Google executives were among Barack Obama largest campaign contributors. CEO Eric Schmidt stumped for candidate Obama, and he and other senior executives contributed $150,000 to help pay for the inaugural celebration.
Yet, inside the Beltway, it’s business as usual. The Obama Administration plans to award the company a sweetheart, no-bid contract for satellite imagery and access to classified data. After protests, the Administration backtracks, allowing other companies to bid, but still intends to award the contract to the company. According to industry sources the total spending in that segment on intelligence outsourcing in 2009 was $161 billion. This is no small contract.
A federal judge recently gave us some fascinating reading when he ordered the release of documents in Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against YouTube, now owned by Google. Viacom has alleged that YouTube violated its copyrights on over 100,000 clips, including those of its most popular shows like South Park and The Daily Show.
The emails, obtained by Viacom as part of the litigation discovery process, reveal more than indifference to copyright, or simply looking the other way. Indeed, they chronicle a race to the bank by the YouTube founders who sought to build their user base by offering copyrighted material, in order to sell the company before the scope of what they were doing became apparent.