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February 19, 2010     Post-Gazette
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February 19, 2010

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Page 4 POST-GAZETTE, FEBRUARY 19, 2010 Bernanke Starts Delicate Talk of Remowng Stimulus. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke outlined steps to remove emergency stim- ulus but it will be a long goodbye. Bernanke said the Central Bank would start out by draining cash from the banking system and increas- ing some secondary rates. He reiterated his promise to keep the key rates low for an extended period of time to help the economy. The Fed cut its Fed Fund rate to near zero per- cent and injected $I trillion into the financial system to head off a collapse after bank- ing lending dried up mortgage losses. With the economy growing again they must re- move the stimulus. A quick exit could tip the US into re- cession again while waiting too long could fuel inflation. By raising rates in the Fed, they would pull money out of circulation. They expect the Fed to hold rates the same without a change in policy. The Fed Funds, the rate banks pay to borrow from each other, and helps to keep mortgage rates low, boosting housing and the overall economy. The US trade deficit wid- ened in December to 10.4%, as imports rose 4.8%. The deficit with China fell to $18.1 billion on a record US exports to China. For 2009 the deficit dropped 45.3%, the biggest drop since 1991. Euro zone countries held intensive talks on a rescue for Greece, while civil service workers staged their first big strike at government austerity plans. Europe is helping, but Spain and Portugal also have debt issues, but others are help- ing out to aid Greece avoid default. They expect other European countries to help Greece avoid default. Jobs data show jobless rate down, but so are payrolls. Analyst see mixed results as consis- tent with views for a long, slow recovery. The pace of job losses has slowed substan- tially, and new hiring is just starting to pick up, but still consistent with the idea that this recovery is going to be gradual. The economy grew at 5.7% in the fourth quarter, the biggest gain in six years. Economists expect much slower gain in the coming quarters. A broader unem- ployment gauge that includes discouraged workers and part- timers who can't find full- time jobs, slowed at 16.5% in January down from 17.3% in December. This is going to be a long slow recovery. Tempo- rary jobs shot up 52,000 with the storms throughout the country. President Obama recognized the latest employ- ment report and are work- ing on a new stimulus bill to spur jobs, but are skeptical after last year's $787 billion package failed to prevent unemployment's sharp rise. Toyota has recalled 2.3 mil- lion autos in the US because of faulty accelerator pedals. The company is suspending US sales of its most popular models, including the Camry, Corolla and Highlander. It also is recalling 1.09 million. Toyota has over 35,000 work- ers in the US and it may re- call 270,000 Prius Hybrids due to faulty brakes. The stock is down 20% on the news. State budget woes are drag on growth. Tax hikes, spend- ing cuts, and layoffs are tops as states wrestle with a severe budget crisis that can't be deferred by borrowing. State and local government deficit cuts is a drag on growth equal .6%-.7% of GDP for mid 2009-mid 2010. They expect the drag to continue as the fiscal year for states start on July for most states. Most states including Penn- sylvania expect a 09 budget to be negative $2.8 billion. Pension funds are set to soar by $2.4 billion, driving the states deficit by $5.6 billion. New Jersey's Chris Christie declared a fiscal emergency to close a $2.2 billion deficit. Oregon approved a two year $733 million hike in income and business taxes. Arizona approved a ballot measure seeking a .1 cent sales tax increase to raise $1 billion over three years. Other states have raised taxes also by raising sales taxes to include candy and soft drinks and other retail purchases. It's time to call your financial advisor or call me at 617-261-7777. Elderly Home Care Wait Lists Rises Above 3,000 According to the Mass Home Care Association, more than 3,093 seniors are now waiting to get into the home care program. This is the largest waiting list in the program's history -- and is directly tied to the loss of more than $16 million in home care funding in the current fiscal year. "The expression "home is where the heart is" should be changed to "home is not where the home care is," said Mass Home Care executive director A1 Norman. Norman told the story of one wait list couple in their 70s. The husband was hospitalized for heart-related problems. While he was being dis- charged from the hospital, his wife was also hospital- ized with chest pains. The couple are both back home now and need help with meals, bathing, dressing, cleaning, laundry and shop- ping. "The husband told our worker that he is so worried about his wife's health that he sleeps with his hand on his wife's stomach to make sure she is breathing. These are the kind of people that are piling up on waiting lists." Norman said putting such people on wait lists was "fi- nancial folly," because if they go into a nursing home, the taxpayers will pay more than twice as much for their care. "We have helped cut nursing home use by 25% over the past decade," Norman said. "But when we ask for some of those savings to be plowed back into home care -- we get waiting lists instead." JG BAFFO, LLC Certified Public Accountant INCOME TAX PREPARATION Individuals Businesses John G. Baffo, CPA Lewis Wharf, Bay 217, Boston, MA 02110 Tel.: 617.248.9500 Fax: 617.248.9511 E-mail: jb Serving the Italian Community According to Mass Home Care: Massachusetts ranks 20 th in the nation for the percent- age share of Medicaid long term care spending in the community vs. nursing homes. 61% of our Medicaid long term spending is on a form of care that elders want least: nursing homes The state will save at least $344 million this year be- cause of reduced use of nurs- ing homes. The vast share of federal stimulus money is going into health care reform, ignoring the long term care needs of our citizens, mostly seniors. Over the next two decades, Massachusetts population growth will occur almost en- tirely among the elderly. Mass Home Care is asking state lawmakers to boost the Governor's budget by $36 million to fund care at home. Norman concluded: "Our message to Beacon Hill is end the waiting lists." Vazzd Funeral Homes 262 Beach St., Revere 781-284-1127 11 Henry St., E. Boston 617-567-0955 Louis R. Vazza - Mark A. Tauro Funeral Directors by Sal Giarratani  .... HANDLING LIFE Driving along the South- east Expressway along its Dorchester stretch, I noticed that a new billboard adver- tisement had gone up near the South Bay Mall for a new 2010 automobile. The ad copy on the billboard simply read, "Handle Life Hero- ically." I wondered what that was supposed to signify. Is it a car for heroes? Do you have to wear a super guy outfit while driving it? Or is it about avoiding all the hor- rible drivers all around you? Isn't a car just a car like a cigar is just a cigar as Groucho Marx often stated? The misuse of ordinary words to sell some product is plain silly. "Handle Life Heroically." Huh? Some folks can't even walk heroically. I really don't want to spend too much time and effort wondering about that billboard mes- sage. I gotta keep my eyes on the roadway or I'll be a dead hero. The last thing you really want to do while driv- ing in rush hour traffic is heavy-duty spacing out. Enough with this hero stuff. By the way things are going with the economy I'm more concerned about han- dling life cheaply. Actually, by the time I get to the IBEW I've almost forgot about the foolish car advertisement and then there comes the billboard for that casino down in Rhode Island that's luring all those Bay State bucks. This ad gets right to the point, "Winning is closer than you think." Actually, and to be re- HEROICALLY? ally honest, isn't losing also closer than you think too. Another ad not to stare at too long because if you do, crashing will be closer than you think. Watching billboards is probably safer than texting while driving but only by a little bit. Billboards along highways have been with us as long as there have been highways. Drivers are a captive audi- ence and those ads can be seen clearly no matter what lane you are weaving into by removing your eyes from the guy driving ahead of you. Remember, he could be look- ing at those billboards too. When two or more drivers are doing it, it can only lead to a fender bender or worse. Handling life heroically is really just about getting home in one piece without getting too close to the car ahead of you and that goes for the guy behind you too. One final thing comes to mind, the final highway bill- board at Exit 12 at Neponset Circle. It simply reads, "Forgive." "Forgive." One simple word with no mixed messages. Just forgive. It wasn't sell- ing a super car or trying to take your money. It just wanted the readers to for- give. So forgive me for rambling on about hand- ling life heroically, but at least by the end of my stay on the expressway, I think I actually learned some- thing worth remembering. Hopefully. DIVORCE * CRIMINAL * LAW OFFICES OF FRANK J. CIANO 230 MSGR. O'BRIEN HIGHWAY GENERAL PRACTICE OF LAW WILLS * ESTATE PLANNING TRUSTS PERSONAL INJURY WORKERS COMP. 617-354-9400 Si Parla Italiano CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS 02141 FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS AUTO * HOMEOWNERS * TENANTS LIFE * HEALTH BUSINESS GROUP Experience makes the difference WE PROMISE TO MEET OR IMPROVE YOUR PRESENT POLICY COVERAGE AT AFFORDABLE RATES CALL TODAY FOR YOUR QUOTE 617-523-3456 1 Longfellow - Place Suite 2322 - Boston, MA 02114 The Post-Gazette is now on the Web! Check us out at You'll find the history of the Post-Gazette, information about our columnists, as well ] as advertising, submission and subscription information. [