Gratitude’s Nice, Affordable Healthcare is Better
This past Grandparents Day some grandparents across our nation might get a telephone call or a note from a loved one. It is more important to focus on more crucial issues facing older Americans.
Retirement and how to afford it is one critical issue that concerns seniors. Our healthcare costs have soared. A new study by Fidelity says couples need $260,000 in retirement just to pay our end of Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs.
These high medical costs are why it’s necessary that retirees have a loud voice in Congress, in Washington, D.C., and in our own state capitals, to fight to preserve the healthcare and earned retirement benefits we earned.
Members of Congress are paying more attention this year because election season is the perfect time for seniors to stand up and be heard. They want our votes. Suddenly, we’re visible.
I’m a member of the nonprofit group ProtectSeniors.Org, which advocates for retiree protections. It is critical for all retirees to get behind this retiree protection group to save their hard-earned benefits. This year and next, let’s hope that Congress does more for America’s grandparents than just sending a Grandparents Day card.
Thomas A. Hyer
Puerto Rico Got Conned
On September 27, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, my company, Commercial Solar Power, one of the many victims of the Puerto Rico financial collapse, will host a press conference detailing the findings of a company-led investigation into what spurred Puerto Rico’s financial collapse (“Between the Lines: Puerto Rico isn’t GoodFellas,” Dec. 7, 2015).
Sources close to the investigations suggest that there was rampant and repeated massive government theft of public funds going on for over a decade. The theft of public money, along with widespread Wall Street fraud associated with the island’s bond issues, resulted in $39 billion in bondholder losses.
Although all the specifics may not be known until September 27, Commercial Solar Power is sharing this much with the public.
The Puerto Rico Power Authority (PREPA), one of the world’s largest government owned utilities, has been burning lowest grade No. 6 fuel oil for over a decade. The authority has been billing its citizens for the higher grade No. 2 oil. The payments for this oil have been wired offshore and then kicked back to government officials’ family members. The difference in cost between No. 2 and No. 6 oil is approximately 58 percent. In some years the overpayments exceeded $1.6 billion.
Our findings also state that the ongoing EPA testing results could only occur with the utility burning low grade sludge oil and that the equipment needed to burn No. 6 fuel oil is different than the equipment needed for the burning of higher grade No. 2 fuel. A quick walk through of PREPA’s plants showed that PREPA was indeed using equipment for fuel No. 6, which requires preheating.
Reviews of the various agencies’ financial statements indicate those agencies were all technically bankrupt as early as 2007. Normally, bankrupt entities would not be able to secure any credit rating, let along investment grade ratings. Without investment grade ratings the agencies could not issue bonds to raise more capital.
The typical fee for a credit rating is 1-2 percent, but, by paying the rating agencies as much as 9 percent, the Puerto Rico municipal agencies were able to secure good credit ratings.
These fraudulent credit ratings allowed Puerto Rico to issue new debt ultimately resulting in the financial collapse and a loss to the original bondholders of $39 billion.
I have been told that all members of both the Congress and the Senate knew this when they voted to revoke all legal rights for the victims, the bondholders.
It is reasonable to expect that, when a full disclosure is final made, Wall Street and Washington will have some explaining to do.
Richard Lawless CEO Commercial Solar Power