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During and After the Toyota Recalls

March 31, 2010 --

José Pinomesa, Chairman
Oregon Independent Auto Dealers Association

If you look around you will see Toyota models everywhere and more than likely if it is a late model it is included in the recall.  If it is an older one then it is not included.  If you are the owner of a recalled Toyota then everything is going to be okay.  Don’t get me wrong because brakes that don’t work and accelerating vehicles do not make consumers feel safe.  If you look at the total number of claims you will find that it is a very small percentage of cars (less than 1%) that actually have a claim where something really went wrong.  If you have a Toyota that is included in the recall do not go and sell it for a loss.  If you are looking for a deal then maybe buying a new Toyota or another brand that is competing with Toyota could be a good thing to do right now.

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New Labor Board May Enact Union Card Check provisions

March 30, 2010 --

Fasten Your Seatbelts: President Obama Makes Recess Appointments to National Labor Relations Board
By Wayne D. Landsverk, Frank Van Dusen
Miller Nash LLP,
Oregon and Washington Law Firm

On Saturday, March 27, President Obama announced recess appointments for two Democratic nominees to the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”), including a controversial union lawyer whose published views on labor law and policy have alarmed many observers. The recess appointments are valid until the end of 2011 or the Senate confirms an individual to the seat in question, whichever comes first. The news was cheered by unions and caused the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to put business on “red alert.”

The recess appointments to the NLRB are Democrats Craig Becker and Mark Pearce. The President did not give a recess appointment to the pending Republican nominee Brian Hayes. The result is that the Obama board now has four members—three Democrats, including current chair Wilma Liebman and one Republican, Peter Schaumber, whose term expires in August 2010. Starting today, and for the foreseeable future, this new NLRB majority can be expected to move forward with a pro?union agenda.

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Oregon #9 in Foreclosures

March 29, 2010 --

Oregon #9 in Foreclosures but #37 in Home Insurance Costs
By Oregon Tax News,

Oregon ranked as one of the top 10 states with the highest foreclosure rate in the nation according to a recent survey.  Earlier this year, RealtyTrac, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, released its January 2010 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report listing 315,716 default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions on U.S. properties during the month of January alone.  Despite the daunting number, this is actually a decrease of nearly 10 percent from December 2009, but 15 percent above the level reported in January 2009. The report also shows one in every 409 U.S. housing units received a foreclosure filing in January.

Nevada, Arizona, California and Florida are at the top of the foreclosure list.  Despite a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity of nearly 18 percent, Nevada’s foreclosure rate remained highest among the states for the 37th straight month. One in every 95 Nevada housing units received a foreclosure filing during January 2010.  This is more than four times the national average.  Oregon is not far behind.

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Financial Reform Battle: Fact-Fiction List

March 28, 2010 --

U.S. Chamber Statement on Financial Regulatory Reform
By US Chamber of Commerce

WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Bruce Josten today responded to remarks by Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin that politicized the debate on financial regulatory reform and distorted the facts. “The U.S. Chamber is committed to a bipartisan effort to modernize and strengthen our broken regulatory system, restore investor confidence, and get Main Street America back to work,” said Josten. “Despite the political grandstanding and distortion of facts today by Secretary Wolin, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is in lockstep agreement with the Deputy Secretary on one point:  facts do matter.”

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IRS lists 2010 Dirty Dozen Tax Scams

March 27, 2010 --

Beware of IRS’ 2010 “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams
Internal Revenue Service,

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued its 2010 “dirty dozen” list of tax scams, including schemes involving return preparer fraud, hiding income offshore and phishing. “Taxpayers should be wary of anyone peddling scams that seem too good to be true,” IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. “The IRS fights fraud by pursuing taxpayers who hide income abroad and by ensuring taxpayers get competent, ethical service from qualified professionals at home in the U.S.” Tax schemes are illegal and can lead to imprisonment and fines for both scam artists and taxpayers. Taxpayers pulled into these schemes must repay unpaid taxes plus interest and penalties. The IRS pursues and shuts down promoters of these and numerous other scams. The IRS urges taxpayers to avoid these common schemes:

Return Preparer Fraud

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ObamaCare effect on Pre-existing conditions costs

March 26, 2010 --

Economic Effects of Health Care Reform: Insurance Costs with Pre-existing Conditions
By Bill Conerly,
Conerly Consulting
, Businomics,

Today’s topic is health insurance cost impacts due to the access provisions.  The new bill mandates “immediate access to insurance for uninsured individuals with a pre-existing condition,” and eliminates “pre-existing condition exclusions for children.”  (I’m working off a summary, being no more inclined to read the entire document than any of our elected officials are.)

Why do insurance companies exclude pre-existing conditions?  We economists call it “moral hazard.”  If people have a choice about whether they buy insurance or not, then those most likely to buy it are those who are sick or going to be sick.  This self-selection of the sick is mostly avoided through employer-provided health care.  When everyone who works at the ABC company gets health coverage, then there’s less chance that only sick people are buying coverage.  However, notice that I said “mostly avoided,” because today people who have pre-existing conditions, or suspect they are likely to get sick, seek out jobs with good health care coverage.

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Bailout tax in new financial reform bill

March 25, 2010 --

Native Oregonian Greg Zerzan, former Acting Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury, wrote an excellent review of the financial reform bill that was featured in teh Wall Street Journal.  Here is his review:

Greg Zerzan– On Monday the Senate Banking Committee passed the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” on a 13-10, party-line vote. The legislation, drafted by committee chairman Chris Dodd, gives the Federal Reserve power to regulate any large company in America. When considered alongside similar legislation that passed the House of Representatives in December, at least part of the intent of the bills’ sponsors becomes clear. The current proposals for “financial” reform are stalking horses allowing government intervention into virtually every facet of the U.S. economy.

The bill that passed the House proposed to create a systemic risk regulator with the power to look into any company in America to determine if it poses a “threat” to the economy. If so, the bill gave the Federal Reserve power to order the company to segregate its financial dealings into a separate business to be regulated as a bank holding company. Remarkably the provision was aimed not just at financial firms like insurers or securities and investment businesses. Under its terms the bill would apply to potentially every large company in America, no matter its primary line of business.

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New Obama Health Care Bill Explained 2010

March 24, 2010 --

New Obama Health Care Bill Explained 2010
Barran Liebman LLP
Oregon Law Firm,

3/22/2010- In what is being called a landmark move, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Senate’s health care bill along with a budget reconciliation bill containing several important changes on Sunday night. The Senate’s bill will now progress to the President for signature while the Reconciliation Bill will move to the Senate for vote. The Senate has assured the House that it plans to approve this bill, so we expect these bills to be the final word on health care (for the moment at least).

We’ll be conducting a seminar on April 13 to address the specifics of the new health law, but a brief summary of the key issues for employers follows. Each of these points includes the Reconciliation Bill changes, and each relevant effective date is noted in parentheses.

•    Employers will not be required to provide health coverage, but employers with 50 or more full-time employees may be subject to penalty payments if their employees use federal subsidies to buy insurance (2014)

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States begin freezing tax refunds to fix budget

March 23, 2010 --

States Consider Holding Tax Returns to Save Money
— New York’s Governor Paterson froze $500 Million in refunds
By Oregon Tax News,

USA Today reported that California, Hawaii, Alabama, North Carolina, Kansas, Idaho and New York are considering delaying issuing refunds because the states did not have the cash on hand to cover the costs.  The delays come as states continue to face deep budget holes.  While some economists say the say the nation as a whole is recovering, a recent report conducted by the National Governors Association said state fiscal conditions continue to worsen, and that state revenues will likely lag one to three years behind a national recovery from recession.

California delayed tax refunds and issued billions of dollars in IOUs to vendors and others who the state owed money because of its massive budget shortfall that exceeded $20 billion last year.

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Where Oregon workers are dying

March 22, 2010 --

Workplace deaths continued to decline over past decade 2009 figure ties record for lowest in Oregon history
By Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services

(Chart by Oregon Business Report)

(Salem) – Thirty-one people covered by the Oregon’s workers’ compensation system died on the job during 2009, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced.

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