CD099 Cover

CD099: April Takes a Turn

Medicare, cybersecurity, favors for banks, mortgages, IRS bullying, a tax cut for the rich, and a couple of good ideas are highlighted from the law and bills that passed Congress in April.


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Laws

H.R. 2: Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015

Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR): Enacted in 1997, the SGR paid doctors for Medicare patients based on the growth in gross domestic product (GDP). If Medicare costs increased more than GDP, doctors payments were cut across the board. According to the American College of Physicians, this formula for payment has meant that the Medicare payment rate to doctors is essentially the same as it was in 2001 and cuts have been postponed so many times that doctors' payments would have been cut by 21% if this bill was not signed into law by April 1.

This new law:


Bills


H.R. 1731: National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015

For reference, here's the text as of March 2015 of the Homeland Security Act, which is amended by this bill.

This bill:


H.R. 1560: Protecting Cyber Networks Act


H.R. 650: Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act of 2015

  • Changes the definition of "Mortgage originator" to exclude mobile home retailers who take mortgage loan applications, negotiate loans, or advise consumers on loan terms (including rates, fees, and other costs)
    • This exempts mobile home dealers from licensing, registry, a law prohibiting payment based on the terms of the loan, regulations prohibiting steering customers towards loans they can't repay or with excessive fees, regulations prohibiting mischaracterizing a customer's credit history, regulations prohibiting the mischaracterization of the appraised value of the home, or steering a customer towards a loan that's more expensive than others that they qualify for.
  • Increases the interest banks can charge people buying a home for under $75,000 without the loan being labeled as "high-cost", which subjects the loans to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations. The regulations this would exempt the loans from:
    • Ban balloon payments, which is an oversized payment due at the end of a mortgage
    • Prohibit banks from charging prepayment penalties and fees
    • Restrict late fees to four percent of the payment that is past due
    • Bans fees for loan modification
    • Require banks make sure the loan can be repaid before offering it
    • Prohibit banks from recommending that a customer default on a loan
    • Require that banks receive a confirmation that the customer has received homeownership counseling before they accept a high-cost mortgage.
  • Would allow banks to charge $3,000 or 5% in fees for loans under $75,000, whichever is greater.
    • Current law says banks can charge 5% for loans over $20,000, so the $3,000 fee option would hit the smaller loans the hardest.
  • Passed the House 263-162. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina was the only Republican no vote.
  • The bill would be vetoed by President Obama.
  • Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee
  • 4 pages

H.R. 685: Mortgage Choice Act of 2015

By changing the definition of what charges count as "points and fees", this bill…


H.R. 299: Capital Access for Small Community Financial Institutions Act of 2015

Federal Home Loan Banks are privately owned cooperatives, funded by the global credit market, which provide money to local banks. There are twelve of them around the country and they are owned by the member banks. Most local banks are members of least one Federal Home Loan Bank.


H.R. 1259: Helping Expand Lending Practices in Rural Communities Act


H.R. 1195: Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Advisory Boards Act

  • Creates paid advisory boards for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made up of bankers
  • Places limits on funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Passed the House 235-183, with 4 Democrat Ayes and 5 Republican Nays
  • President Obama would veto the bill
  • Sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger of North Carolina
    • His #4 and #5 contributing industries are Securities & Investment and Commercial Banks; he's taken a combined $189,450 during his 3 years in Congress
  • 7 pages

H.R. 1314: Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act

  • Became the vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority in the Senate
  • Creates an appeal process for organizations that are denied tax-exempt status
  • Would apply to decisions made on or after May 19, 2014.
  • Passed the House by voice vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania
  • 4 pages

H.R. 1026: Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act

  • Gives the Treasury Secretary the option of telling organizations if they are investigating a claim of unauthorized information disclosure by a government, if the investigation substantiated their claim, and if any action, including prosecution, is planned.
  • Passed the House by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania
  • 3 pages

H.R. 709: Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act

  • Allows the IRS to fire employees who steer and audit for a political purpose or for personal gain.
  • Passed the House by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. James Renacci of Ohio
  • 2 pages

H.R. 1104: Fair Treatment for All Gifts Act


H.R. 1058: Taxpayer Bill of Rights Act

  • Tells the IRS Commissioner to "ensure" that IRS employees are "familiar with and act in accord" with a list of "taxpayer rights" including
    • The right to be informed
    • The right to quality service
    • The right to pay no more than the correct amount of tax
    • The right to challenge the position of the Internal Revenue Service and be heard
    • The right to appeal a decision of the Internal Revenue Service in an independent forum
    • The right to finality
    • The right to privacy
    • The right to confidentiality
    • The right to retain representation
    • The right to a fair and just tax system
  • Passed the House by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois
  • 3 pages

H.R. 1152: IRS Email Transparency Act


H.R. 1105: Death Tax Repeal Act


H.R. 622: State and Local Sales Tax Deduction Fairness Act

  • Permanently extends the law that allows taxpayers who itemize their claims to deduct their state's sales taxes instead of getting a deduction for their state's income taxes.
  • The effect of this bill on the budget would not be counted.
  • CBO says this would increase the Federal deficit by $42 billion over the next ten years.
  • President Obama would veto the bill.
  • Passed the House 272-152. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina was the only Republican no vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas
  • 2 pages

H.R. 1562: Contracting and Tax Accountability Act of 2015


H.R. 471: Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act

  • Makes the Attorney General list specific laws and regulations that a drug company is accused of violating in their notices to the companies regarding the possible suspension of their drug's registration.
  • Allows drug companies to submit a "corrective action plan" when their drug registration may be suspended
  • Passed the House by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania
    • His top contributing industry for the last election was the pharmaceutical industry; they gave him $55,250.
  • 6 pages

S. 971: Medicare Independence at Home Medical Practice Demonstration Improvement Act

  • Increases the length of Medicare contracts for at-home care from 3 years to 5 years
  • Passed the Senate by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon
  • 2 pages

H.R. 373: Good Samaritan Search and Recovery Act


S. 304: Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act

  • Protects the identity of whistleblowers who provide information relating to motor vehicle defects or other dangerous safety problems.
  • Allows the government to give up to 30% of the fine collected from a car company that breaks the law to the whistleblower whose information lead to the conviction.
  • The whistleblower is not allowed to be represented by a lawyer.
  • Passed the Senate by a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Senator John Thune of South Dakota
    • Senator Thune has taken over $380,000 from the automotive industry
  • 11 pages

S. 984: Steve Gleason Act of 2015

  • Starting in 2016, Medicare would cover speech generating devices.
  • Allows people to own their speech generating devices (as opposed to renting them) if purchased between October 1, 2015 and October 1, 2018.
  • Named after former NFL football player Steve Gleason, who played for the New Orleans Saints before being diagnosed with ALS
  • Passed the Senate of a voice vote
  • Sponsored by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana
  • 3 pages

Hearings

Rules Committee: April 13 on HR 650 and HR 685, about housing bills.

Rules Committee: April 21 on HR 1731 and HR 1560 on Cybersecurity

House Committee on Financial Services: March 18 hearing on deregulation for banks titled "Preserving Consumer Choice and Financial Independence"


Information Presented in This Episode

Article: 'Doc fix' headed to president's desk after easily clearing Senate by Paul Demko, Modern Healthcare, April 14, 2015.

Article: The mobile-home trap: How a Warren Buffett empire preys on the poor by Mike Baker and Daniel Wagner, The Seattle Times, April 2, 2015.

Article: MBA's Mortgage Action Alliance: A Message from MAA Chairman Fowler Williams by Fowler Williams, National Mortgage Professional Magazine, June 11, 2015.

Article: U.S. Bank Profits Near Record Levels by Robin Sidel and Saabira Chaudhuri, Wall Street Journal, August 11, 2014

Article: Bureaucracy hindered search for slain brother by Anjeanette Damon, USA Today, March 8, 2014.

Webpage: About the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, Department of Homeland Security.

Webpage: Team Gleason

Press Release: Rep. Kelly Introduces Taxpayer Knowledge of IRS Investigations Act


Additional Information

Kickstarter: Explore Campaign Finance App by Soloman Kahn.


Jen's Podcast Appearances

Talk Nerdy

Episode 66: Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria

Podcast Junkies

Episode 42: Podcast Junkies with Harry Duran


Music Presented in This Episode

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