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The Best Thing That Trump Has Done So Far

On Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives finally approved a bill that would repeal and replace significant portions of the law that created Obamacare.  But it was a very close vote.  On Donald Trump’s 105th day in the White House, 217 members of the House voted in favor of the bill, and 213 members of the House voted against the bill.  Of course “Trumpcare” is far from perfect, and it actually does very little to fix our rapidly failing healthcare system, but the reason why this is the best thing that Trump has done so far is because this bill would greatly reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood.  But first this bill must get through the Senate before it can become law, and that is looking extremely doubtful at this point.  In fact, The Hill is reporting that one Republican Senator has said that this bill has less than a 20 percent chance of succeeding in the Senate…

A senior GOP senator said the chances of getting 51 votes for legislation based on the House healthcare bill are less than 1 in 5.

The senator also put the chances that the House bill will meet Senate budgetary rules preventing a filibuster at less than 1 in 5, meaning portions of the legislation would have to be removed.

Lawmakers are keeping quiet about their concerns because they want to help Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), whose job they fear may be in jeopardy if the House fails again to approve an ObamaCare repeal bill.

Yes, I know that Trump and the Republicans in the House were greatly celebrating on Thursday, but there really isn’t anything to celebrate yet.

The Senate is probably going to come up with an entirely different version of this legislation, and it is likely to look far different from the bill that just passed the House.

If a bill of some sort can actually get through the Senate, and that is a huge “if”, then an attempt would be made to reconcile the differences between the two bills, and then the final version would be submitted to both the House and the Senate for an up or down vote.

The problem is that the Senate is not going to pass anything like the version that the House just came up with, and conservatives in the House are likely to balk at anything that the Senate comes up with.

So please don’t think that an Obamacare repeal is a done deal.

The truth is that it probably is not going to happen any time soon.

But for the moment, I am going to applaud President Trump and House Republicans for doing something right.  I have been very tough on them in recent weeks, and rightly so, but when they do something good I am certainly going to give them the praise that they are due.

The bill that the House just passed would greatly reduce federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and that fact alone more than makes up for all of the other flaws in it.  The following comes from CNS News

The American Health Care Act—the Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill that the House of Representatives passed by a 217-to-213 vote this afternoon–will temporarily and significantly reduce, but not eliminate, federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The bill will prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding through “mandatory” federal funding streams—primarily Medicaid—for exactly one calendar year after the president signs it.

But it does not prevent Planned Parenthood from getting “discretionary” funding through the Title X family planning program.

It is just for one year, which is far from ideal, but at least for 12 months Planned Parenthood would see their funding go down by hundreds of millions of dollars

The pro-life bill would eliminate more than $390 million (over 86%) of over $450 million in annual federal funding to Planned Parenthood, from all mandatory spending programs. The measure also redirects funding to community health centers which outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 20 to 1 and offer a wider array of health care services, but not abortion.

Of course this is one of the provisions in the bill that some Republicans in the Senate want to eliminate.

It is extremely unlikely that any bill that even defunds Planned Parenthood in part will ever get through the Senate, but Trump should make an all-out effort to get this accomplished anyway.

And if Republican leadership can somehow get a bill through the Senate and signed into law that at least significantly reduces federal funding for Planned Parenthood, I will officially take back all of the negative things that I have said about the Republicans so far this year.

This week President Trump also signed a landmark executive order that does a great deal to protect religious liberty

The order, signed during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, directs the Internal Revenue Service to exercise “maximum enforcement discretion” over the so-called Johnson amendment, which prevents churches and other tax-exempt religious organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. The order also provides “regulatory relief” for organizations that object on religious grounds to a provision in Obamacare that mandates employers provide certain health services, including coverage for contraception.

All Americans, including Christians, should be free to express their political beliefs without fearing repercussions from the federal government.  The Johnson Amendment was probably always unconstitutional, and that is one of the reasons why it has never really been enforced.  Congress should go even farther and completely repeal it, and hopefully that will happen someday.

So once again I want to take this opportunity to applaud Trump for doing something right.  This is a good executive order, although it doesn’t quite go far enough.  A major war against people of faith is being waged by very powerful forces in this country, and I am thankful for a president that is at least trying to keep some of the heat off of our backs.

I tend to get criticized by both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump camps because I try to be objective.

When our politicians do things that are wrong, I am going to say that they are wrong.

And when our politicians do things that are right, I am going to say that they are right.

We lose credibility when we act as cheerleaders for politicians that are “on our side” no matter what they say or do.

In our society today, there is a desperate need for people that are willing to think critically and that are willing to cling objectively to the truth.

Because once we let go of the truth we are all in trouble…

Member Of Congress Warns Of A 1,000 Point Stock Market Crash If Obamacare Lite Does Not Pass

Obamacare LiteAre we going to see a dramatic stock market plunge if the effort to get “Obamacare Lite” through the U.S. House of Representatives ultimately fails?  On Thursday, a vote on the Republican healthcare bill was postponed once it became clear that there would not be enough votes for it to pass.  House Republican leaders are still optimistic that there will still be a vote on Friday, but that is far from certain.  Many strong conservatives in the House are balking at supporting this bill because while it does eliminate a few of the most troublesome provisions of Obamacare, it keeps many of the elements of Obama’s signature healthcare law that have proven to be popular with the American people.  In other words, this bill is much more about “tweaking” Obamacare than “repealing” it.

This is the first major legislative test for President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, and so far they are failing.  House Republican leaders have gone into panic mode, because a “no” vote could have some very serious implications outside of Washington.  In fact, one member of Congress is warning that if this bill does not pass that we could see the Dow drop 1,000 points in a single day

It happened in real life on Sept. 29, 2008, when the House first voted on a Wall Street bailout intended to stem the financial crisis. In a swirl of uncertainty, Republican members stampeded to “no,” defeated the measure and watched the Dow tumble by more than 700 points. The same thing could happen on the GOP health bill, a veteran member told CNBC on Thursday — only bigger.

“If this goes down, we could take a 1,000-point market hit,” the member said. To be sure, traders and investors tell CNBC the market likely will go lower if there is no compromise Thursday, but the decline won’t likely come near a 1,000-point drop. That would represent a nearly 5 percent drop in the Dow, a bit less than the 7 percent decline when the index fell 777 points in September 2008.

And even if this bill does pass, we are probably headed for some sort of significant downturn anyway.  Sven Henrich has just told CNBC that he believes that “the market could see a 5 to 10 percent drop in the near term”…

The market has enjoyed a stellar bull run, but a correction is likely looming, according to Sven Henrich, also known as the “Northman Trader.”

A very long-term analysis of the S&P 500, in conjunction with a look at the CBOE Volatility Index, leads Henrich to believe the market could see a 5 to 10 percent drop in the near term.

But fixing our failing healthcare system is far more important than trying to prop up the financial markets, and so the strong conservatives in the House are quite right to stand by their principles.

Simply “tweaking” Obamacare is not going to fix anything, and it is extremely disappointing that President Trump and Paul Ryan are advocating such an approach.

Thankfully, there are a number of strong conservatives in Congress that are willing to take a stand for what is right even if it means standing up against their own party.  One of those principled conservatives is Senator Rand Paul, and he says that right now there are at least 35 Republican “no” votes in the House, and that would be enough to kill the bill…

I think there’s easily 35 no votes right now so unless something happens in the next 24 hours, I would predict they pull the bill and start over. I think if conservatives stick together, they will have earned a seat at the table where real negotiation to make this bill an acceptable bill will happen. But it’s interesting what conservatives are doing to change the debate. We went from keeping the Obamacare taxes for a year—hundreds of billions of dollars—but they’re coming towards us because we’re standing firm. So we have to stick together, and if we do stick together there will be a real negotiation on this. The main goal I have is not to pass something that does not fix the situation. If a year from now, insurance rates and premiums are still going through the roof and it’s now a Republican plan it will be a disservice to the president and all of us if we pass something that doesn’t work.

If this bill is ultimately defeated, I have an idea that might work.

Why don’t we get the government out of the healthcare business entirely?

Once upon a time when we actually let the free market determine the allocation of healthcare resources, we had the best healthcare system in the entire world.

But after decades of experimenting with socialist principles and adding mountains of rules, regulations and red tape to the system, we have a giant mess on our hands.

Either we need to go back to a true free market system, or we might as well go ahead and just socialize the entire thing.

Right now, hard working families have to pay for their own healthcare and also pay for the socialized healthcare that more than 125 million other Americans are receiving.

Yes, when you add up all of the Americans that are on Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare and other government programs, it comes to more than 125 million people.

So a lot of hard working families are scared to ever go to the hospital because their insurance deductibles are so high, and yet their taxes go to pay for all of the free healthcare that people on government assistance are receiving.

If the government is going to pay for the healthcare for nearly half the country, why should the rest of us have to pay for ours?

What we have now is such a ridiculous system, and what President Trump and Paul Ryan are proposing is not “free market” in any way, shape or form.

So I say let this horrible bill fail even if it means that financial markets will freak out for a little while.

Hopefully what transpires over the coming days will cause Republican leadership to go back to the drawing board, and a clean repeal of Obamacare would be a really good place to start.

Broken Promises: Pensions All Over America Are Being Savagely Cut Or Are Vanishing Completely

How would you feel if you worked for a state or local government for 20 or 30 years only to have your pension slashed dramatically or taken away entirely?  Well, this exact scenario is playing out from coast to coast and in the years ahead millions of elderly Americans are going to be affected by broken promises and vanishing pensions.  In the old days, things were much different.  You would get hired by a big company or a government institution and you knew that the retirement benefits that they were promising you would be there when you retired in a few decades.  Unfortunately, we have now arrived at a time when government institutions and big companies have promised far more than they are able to deliver, and “pension reform” has become one of the hot button issues all over the nation.  Many Americans that have been basing their financial futures on their pensions are waking up one day and finding that their pensions are either gone or have been cut back dramatically.  According to Northwestern University Professor John Rauh, the latest estimate of the total amount of unfunded pension and healthcare obligations for state and local governments across the United States is 4.4 trillion dollars.  America is continually becoming a poorer nation and all of that money is simply not going to magically materialize somehow.  So where is that 4.4 trillion dollars going to come from?  Well, either pension benefits are going to have to be cut a lot more all over America or taxes will need to be raised dramatically.  Either way, we are all going to feel the pain of these broken promises.

There simply is not enough money out there to keep all of the pension commitments that have been made.  Something has got to give.  In the end, millions of elderly Americans will likely be plunged into poverty as pensions disappear.

Some local governments around the nation are already declaring bankruptcy and are either eliminating pensions or are cutting them very deeply.  Just check out what just happened in Central Falls, Rhode Island….

For years, city officials promised robust union contracts and pensions without raising revenue to pay for them. Last August, the math caught up with them. Central Falls was broke, its pension fund short $46 million. It declared bankruptcy.

“My daughters grew up here, went to school here. It’s all gone,” said Mike Geoffroy, a retired firefighter.

He said he could not make the payments on his house after his pension was cut by $1,100 a month.

When will the math catch up with the city where you are living?

For years and years most of our state and local politicians have been ignoring this problem.  But eventually a day comes when you simply cannot ignore it any longer.

Check out what Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward said about the situation in his city recently….

“When our annual pension liability is more than our yearly property tax revenues, we have to do something”

Keep in mind that taxpayers don’t get any new services for money spent on pensions.  It is money that goes straight into the pockets of retired workers.  State and local governments are desperately trying to pay retired workers what they are owed and fund ongoing government functions at the same time, but many have reached the breaking point.

All over the country, state and local governments are going broke.  The following is from a recent article by Duff McDonald….

Alabama’s Jefferson County has actually gone bankrupt. Stockton, California is all but ready to do the same. And all you have to do is look to Detroit—or any of the nearby auto towns named after a Buick model of one sort or another—and you see fiscal crisis playing out right now. Look in your own backyard—or at the potholes on your neighborhood roads—and you will likely find the same.

Things are so bad in Stockton, California that they are actually skipping debt payments….

The city of 290,000 that rode the wave of the housing boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s now finds itself littered with foreclosed homes, saddled with pension, health care and other obligations it can’t afford, and unable to pay its bills.

The City Council voted last month to suspend $2 million in bond payments and begin negotiations with bond holders, creditors and unions.

And did you notice what is being blamed for the financial problems in Stockton?

Pension and healthcare benefits.

Sadly, we are seeing pension nightmares erupt all over the nation right now.

For example, check out what is happening to the Public School Employees’ Retirement System and State Employees’ Retirement System in Pennsylvania….

PSERS had an accrued unfunded liability of nearly $26.5 billion, the amount of money the fund is short to cover existing retirement benefits. That hole is expected to grow to $43 billion by 2019. SERS is $12.5 billion in the red, and that shortfall is expected to climb to nearly $18 billion by 2018. Unless the stock market makes giant sustained gains, taxpayers will have to refill those funds.

That doesn’t sound good at all.

In California, the Orange County Employees Retirement System is estimated to have a 10 billion dollar unfunded pension liability.

How in the world can a single county be facing a 10 billion dollar hole?

This is madness.

The state of Illinois is facing an unfunded pension liability of more than 77 billion dollars.  Considering the fact that the state of Illinois is flat broke and on the verge of default, it is inevitable that a lot of those pension obligations will never be paid.

In fact, there are going to be a whole lot of broken promises all over the country.

Pension consultant Girard Miller told California’s Little Hoover Commission that state and local government bodies in the state of California have $325 billion in combined unfunded pension liabilities.

That comes to about $22,000 for every single working adult in the state of California.

So where is all of that money going to come from?

But at least most state and local government employees are still covered by pension plans, even if they are failing.

In the private sector, pension plans are vanishing at lightning speed.

According to the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, the percentage of workers in America covered by a traditional pension plan fell from 62 percent in 1983 to 17 percent in 2007.

That isn’t just a trend.

That is a tidal wave.

And many of the private pension plans that still exist are massively underfunded.  For example, Verizon’s pension plan is underfunded by 3.4 billion dollars.

So what should Americans do in light of all this?

Well, the number one thing to realize is that the pension plan you have been counting on could disappear at any time.

We live in an economic environment that is extremely unstable, and about the only thing you can count on in this environment is rapid and dramatic change.

Do not plan your financial future around a pension plan.  If you do, you are likely to be bitterly disappointed.

Americans that plan to retire in the coming years should do their best to try to fund their own retirements.

Unfortunately, most Americans are not putting away much of anything for retirement.  As I have written about previously, one study found that American workers are $6.6 trillion short of what they need to retire comfortably.

Ouch.

Over the next 20 years approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers will be retiring every single day.

A lot of them are going to be blindsided by empty pension funds and broken promises.

We are facing a retirement crisis of unprecedented magnitude, and there is not much hope in sight.

And if there is a major stock market crash, things are going to be much, much worse.

Most pension funds and retirement plans are heavily invested in the stock market.  If we were to see a major financial crisis like we saw back in 2008 it would be absolutely devastating.  Millions of Americans could see their retirement plans wiped out in short order.

Once again, please do not place your faith in the system.

If you do, you are likely to end up holding a bag of broken promises.

A gigantic tsunami of unfunded pension obligations is coming.  A lot of state and local governments are going to go broke.  A lot of promises are going to be broken.

If you hope to retire any time soon, you better plan on being able to take care of yourself.

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