Cheat Sheet Q & A:
My husband and I are considering joining AARP because of the numerous discounts and benefits that are available through membership. Our concern is that if join we may be supporting politicians and issues that we don't personally support. How do we find out where our money would be going?
Bottom Line: AARP is a very politically active organization. They also do have a distinct political bend to the money the spend on political considerations. So first I’ll break down the money going to specific political parties. Here is the break down by cycle since 2000:
· 2000: 97% to Democrats – 3% to Republicans
· 2002: 98% to Democrats – 2% to Republicans
· 2004: 89% to Democrats – 11% to Republicans
· 2006: 96% to Democrats – 4% to Republicans
· 2008: 77% to Democrats – 23% to Republicans
· 2010: 90% to Democrats – 10% to Republicans
· 2012: 75% to Democrats – 23% to Republicans – 2% to third parties
So you can clearly see where their political loyalties lie. That being said the biggest money spend on political considerations isn’t on candidates or parties. It’s on issues. They typically are donating less than $100,000 per year to candidates. They spend many millions per year on lobbying. For example in 2013 alone they spent nearly $10 million lobbying on more than 30 different issues. Over the past decade they’ve averaged $15 million per year in lobbying on issues. Given the hundreds of issues they’ve lobbied on over the years it’s difficult to apply ideology to all or even many of them. Perhaps most instructive is the one they’ve gained the most attention for and the one they’ve spent the most money lobbying over the past eight years. The Affordable Care Act.
It’s no secret that the AARP was one of the single biggest backers of ACA spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million pushing for its passage and providing lots of cover through their materials. Not all issues are ideological in nature but its generally safe to say that AARP’s lobbying philosophy is consistent with their pledged party support.
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Rubio on – “Opportunity Inequality”:
Bottom Line: Congratulations to Gay Gaines and Marie Davis of the Palm Beach Republican Club for hosting an outstanding reception for Senator Marco Rubio at the Colony last night. Senator Rubio spoke for more than a half hour on the amazing opportunities that have historically existed in the United States and still do. He also honed in on what is holding back our economy and most importantly greater economic opportunity and growth. One characterization was new to me and also exceedingly profound in my view. Senator Rubio said our problem isn’t income inequality it’s “opportunity inequality”.
Marco articled the many changes in the level of skill required for many of the middle class professions today. He used his parents as an example of how times have changed. He outlined how his family immigrated to the US with very little. His Dad was a bartender and his Mom cleaned houses. During their time those occupations allowed them to enter the middle class and better their situation. He pointed out that times have changed. Those professions often won’t enable a middle class lifestyle when attempting to raise a family in 2014. He pointed out that many people even who have work, let alone those who don’t, require more education to achieve the jobs that do enable upward mobility but don’t have the money or the time to be able to attain that education. He talked about an innovative idea of new “degrees” that would be a culmination of work experience and classes taken online or in a classroom here and there that would eventually provide a path to receive a degree that would open up new opportunities.
Anyway the big takeaway for me was premise. Our issue isn’t income inequality, it’s opportunity inequality. If one has greater access to opportunity, the income will follow as they prove their value in their profession.
How many companies are still checking credit reports as a condition of employment?
Bottom Line: Prior to the Great Recession the average company checked a credit report and/or score. At the peak more than 60% of companies would run credit during the hiring process. One the recession and housing crisis hit many cried foul as they were a victim of circumstance, in some cases, no fault of their own and the only way they’d be able to improve their credit would be to obtain employment once again. Well some companies did agree and have dropped the practice.
· Currently 47% of all employers will run credit during the hiring process
So it’s lower but there is still a good chance it will happen so here are two important considerations:
· This is a critical reminder about the importance of managing your credit to the best of your ability but also…
· It’ critical that you help establish good credit with your kids
Too many young adults are avoiding credit altogether in an attempt to avoid debt. That’s not a good idea. Establishing good credit doesn’t require having to go into debt. The unemployment rate is highest among young adults and not having established or good credit isn’t helping.
New Jersey's loss is Florida's gain:
Bottom Line: Several years ago New Jersey added an additional “millionaires” tax on upper income earners. The effect since has been pretty incredible.
· An estimated $5.5 billion in lost taxable income per year has left New Jersey each year since 2010
This gets right back to a point I’ve often articulated. Everyone has a threshold of what they’ll tolerate before they change their behavior. In the case of targeted tax increases… Every upper income earner has a threshold of how much tax they’re willing to tolerate. It can vary by person but once that threshold is breached the wealthy have something that most don’t. Complete flexibility. Most people cant’ just pick up and relocate. Most wealthy individuals can. And they’ve been doing it. So naturally the number one destination of New Jersey migrants… Florida.
Now not all New Jersey transplants are wealthy but the numbers over the last three years are demonstrating just how much Florida is benefiting economically from these transplants.
· The average per capita income in Florida is about $27,000
· The average household income in Florida is about $45,000
So what about the profile of the folks from New Jersey?
· The average income per capita is $73,000
· Therefore an average two person household income would total nearly $150,000
So they benefit from not having to pay personal income tax and we benefit from their economic capability in our local economy. So… Keep it up liberal states. Keep sending your residents and their money to us.
If you have this final four, so do many others around you:
Bottom Line: So… The most common final four being picked?
All told about 9% of all brackets being filled out have that final four combination. Even the President has that bracket. Here’s the thing… The odds of this occurring are far worse than even 9%.
Earlier in the week I mentioned that based on history, favored teams win 70% of the time in the NCAA Tournament. Well. Florida and Arizona are 1 seeds buts the other two are fours. Statistically that outcome doesn’t compute. There is only a 1.5% change of that final four occurring. So… Perhaps you may think to mix your bracket up a little.
But then again these are just statistics and that’s why we play the games…
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WJNO Financial Analyst & Co-Host for The Palm Beaches’ Morning Rush
I work every day to keep you ahead of the curve on the crazy state of the economy, business, investments and technology.
My motto: Passion plus talent is unstoppable.
My faith: Don’t worry I don’t use the mic to preach but… I firmly believe that without God in our lives happiness will never be found. I believe that many of our societal failures have resulted from a general willingness to distance ourselves from our founding values while embracing political correctness.
I'm in my 19th year with iHeartMedia and 11th in South Florida. With my father as inspiration, I started investing in the stock market when I was 11 and co-founded a smoothie company at 18. The highlights of my radio career have been serving as a fill-in for Sean Hannity.
I've made my share of mistakes along the way as well. I shape my perspective from success and failure to provide you with a truly objective picture of business and money in your world. Business and investing are passions of mine. Some read Dean Koontz... I read financial reports.