September 9th, 2009
10:53 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Make Or Break

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Gene Bloch
Managing Editor
CNN New York

As President Obama prepares to outline his health care reform plan to a joint session of Congress tonight, we take a look at how the plan might be financed. The compromise proposal floated by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus includes a new tax on insurance companies.

The 35% tax would be levied on any plan that costs more than $8-thousand for individual and $21-thousand for family coverage. Supporters say taxing the most expensive health care plans will raise revenue and curb overall health care costs. But critics say this tax could mean higher premiums for everyone, if insurers try to pass the cost on to consumers. Poppy Harlow reports today in The Breakdown.

The battle to shape health care reform has been bitter...and very expensive. Health care lobbying, advertising, political donations have cost about $375 million so far, the most expensive fight ever to hit Congress. Jennifer Liberto has this story on CNNMoney.

Expensive, but not as opulent as one might expect. That’s what many people are saying about Bernie Madoff’s homes and boats. In the latest video presentation courtesy of the U.S. Marshals Service, who have seized the homes from the convicted ponzi-schemer and are preparing them for sale. We get good views of his Manhattan penthouse, Palm Beach home, and his yacht and two smaller boats. The Palm Beach property may be worth about $7 million, even thought the house itself is valued at less than $800-thosuand. The value of the assets of course is enhanced by the fact that they belonged to Bernie Madoff – call it a “novelty premium” – as the marshal showing the property says when displaying a desk in the New York apartment, “This is where Bernard Madoff spent the last free days of his life.”

The Federal Reserve will weigh in on economic conditions around the country in its “beige book” report due out today at 2p.

Another day, another half cent decline in gas prices. Lower crude prices are pushing down gas for an eight straight day. A gallon of regular unleaded stands at $2.573 ($2.57 for graphics) according to AAA.

And bad news on the auto bailouts: taxpayers are expected to lose money on the billions of dollars put up to save GM and Chrysler according to a report today from a Congressional Oversight Panel. More than $60 has been pledged so far to the two companies.

On CNNMoney:


* Five lessons from the crash. One year ago a perfect storm on Wall Street nearly destroyed your portfolio – and our financial system. Now it's time to take stock.

* Is Anyone Going to Jail for This? Of all the potential perps on Wall Street, there are only two defendants so far. Why vengeance is so elusive.

* Wells Fargo: Good bank or bad bank? Ongoing worries about loans it inherited from Wachovia and capital questions leave Wall Street divided about the health of the West Coast banking giant.

Filed under: Economy • Finance • Gene Bloch • Wall St.
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Is there any part of TARP that we will not lose money on? If so, will we see a profit or just break even?

    Madoff's properties are something else – highly priced being the salient factor here. In all these assets was Ruth Madoff allowed to keep one residence for her living quarters or is she just out of luck?

    September 9, 2009 at 6:57 pm |
  2. Lisa in CA

    Wouldn't it be nice if once, just once, our government representatives actually listened to those they represent? Not those who lobby or donate funds - but those who vote whom they purport to represent. I have no doubt they would be shocked to learn that what they are being told by their "expert advisors" and what the reality is are 2 very different things.

    Oh, and where is gas $2.57/gal? I filled up yesterday and it was $3.10/gal and I passed another station where it was $3.19/gal.

    September 9, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  3. Conserve' for USA

    We will find out if he will listen to what the majority of the United States wants, or if he is just going to pass something through that he wants.

    September 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm |
  4. Kula May Ellison

    Health care appears to be a 5 min coffee break discussion. These are bankers.

    September 9, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  5. Michael C. McHugh

    I disassociate myself with any health care "reform" that requires everyone to buy private insurance or be fined, with no public alternative at all. That will be just a windfall and a bonanza for the insurance companies, but a rip off for the consumer, and I will not support it.

    September 9, 2009 at 12:33 pm |