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    Casey Anthony just won't go away -- and now is coming out swinging against the people she owes money to. I'm guessing that since she was found not guilty in the murder of her little girl, Caylee, in 2011, she figures there is no reason she should have to pay for the court expenses incurred while defending herself. Why do I think that? Because yesterday she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in a Florida court. It's a convenient way to get out of her debt. $792,000 in debt.

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    Tax season is upon us, and although that means we have to go through the tedious motions of getting all the necessary paperwork in order and either sitting down with our ol' pal TurboTax or making an appointment with our accountant, there could very well be a bright shiny light at the end of the tunnel ... In the form of a tax return! Who doesn't love a happy "surprise!" check in the mail (or gets direct deposited) that almost feels like a reward (but is actually your own hard-earned cash the government has decided to give back to you)?

    We all have different ways of handling our tax return. For some, it goes straight into a savings account. Others use it to pay down a credit card. And well, whether we'd like to admit it or not, plenty of us consider putting our "bonus from Uncle Sam" toward a total splurge.

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    A woman walked into a Wal-Mart and tried to buy several iPads with her EBT card. Twice. Food stamps for iPads. Tracy Browning, a 38-year-old Louisville, Kentucky woman, allegedly attempted to purchase the Apple tablets using an Electronic Benefit Transfer card, then assaulted store employees and took off with the merchandise when it didn’t work. She was arrested when she tried to do the same thing at another Wal-Mart a few hours later.

    According to Louisville police, Browning had previously been banned from all Wal-Mart locations for other incidents with the discount retailer. She’s been charged with robbery, shoplifting, and trespassing, and has been booked into the Louisville Metro jail. No word on what those prior incidences were, or if they involved theft or fancy electronics.

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    While most of us were toasting to the new year this week and contemplating how long we can leave our Christmas decorations up before we start to look like total slackers, Congress has been in session trying to keep us from flying off the fiscal cliff. They eventually reached a deal, but not without some drama.

    Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took the floor and accused Speaker of the House John Boehner of being a “dictator” for only bringing up legislation in the House that’s supported by the majority of the Republican Party. He also accused him of caring more about his job than doing what’s right for the American people. Apparently, “doing what’s right” is to just agree with the Democrats and do whatever they want, but I digress.

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    And so my fellow Americans, we finally cross the fiscal cliff finish line, panting wearily with our shorts around our ankles. Late last night Congress passed the Senate's budget deal. Our middle-class tax cuts have been preserved. We will tax the rich a little bit more. And tomorrow the sun will come up same as always.

    Okay, so now that the dust has settled, what have our elected officials agreed to, exactly? And which can did we just kick down the road? Here's the big picture.

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    You guys, I've been dying to write "fiscal cliff" for the last time ever but I'm afraid the fight goes on. But there is an end in sight! This afternoon President Obama gave us an update on how these negotiations are going. Short story: There will be no grand bargain today, but a deal is in the works that will extend middle-class tax cuts and unemployment benefits. It will raise taxes for households earning over $450,000 a year and raise estate taxes to 40 percent, generating an estimated $600 billion in revenue.

    As for the rest of the fiscal pie, that's a $24 billion fight for another day. Part of the agreement is a delay in planned, across-the-board cuts to programs until the whole enchilada is baked. Vice President Biden has been in talks with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. The Senate may vote on the deal this afternoon. We're almost there. So what's keeping us from passing the no-brainer portion of the budget?

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    You'd have to be living under a rock right now not to know that we're all at risk of falling off the fiscal cliff. Even Starbucks is P.O.-ed about it and encouraging politicians to "come together" on the conflict. But, if they don't, a whole bevy of issues may surface, including the return of the so-called "marriage penalty!"

    Sounds scary, right? Like the government might beat down your door and make you fork over more dough just for being hitched?! Well, not quite. Here's the 101 on the potential tax upset for wed couples ...

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    Remember when the auto industry started crashing and the government came in and spent our money to prop it up? In 2009, we spent $50 billion on GM, to purchase just over 25% of the company -- 500 million shares. Then remember a few months ago, when President Obama campaigned hard on the premise that they had saved the auto industry? Joe Biden even illustriously cried from the podium at the Democratic National Convention, “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!”

    So what’s all this news now about the U.S. Treasury selling off its GM shares at a loss to taxpayers? Didn’t GM already pay off their loans? President Obama praised them as a great example, and GM even said “thanks” to America in a commercial about it. Did they pay back the loans in full and with interest or did they not?

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  • Say What!?

    Obamacare Is Raising Insurance Rates

    posted by Jenny Erikson December 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM in In The News
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    Barack Obama Signs the Healthcare ActSome months after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- Obamacare -- was passed in 2010, I got a letter from my insurance provider. Blue Shield of California was kindly informing me that my rates were going up considerably, “due to new regulations in the health care industry.”

    More recently, I got another letter saying that my doctor I’ve been going to for a decade no longer accepts my insurance. It did not say anything about Obamacare specifically, but I’m pretty sure that the President said that if I liked my doctor, I could keep my doctor, so that’s another promise broken.

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    So our government is headed toward the fiscal cliff, and most people don’t even know what that means. However, they do think that we should cut spending, avoid raising the debt ceiling, and reform our entitlement programs to sustainable levels. So they reelected a president that wants to raise taxes and use 75 percent of that revenue for new spending. Because that makes sense -- in Bizarro World, at least.

    So what is the fiscal cliff? Basically, legislators couldn't come to a budget agreement earlier this year, so they do what they always do -- punt. They borrowed some money and put serious fiscal ramifications in place if they didn't agree on a final budget by the end of the year. Guess what? They can't agree. So off the fiscal cliff we go -- with serious cuts in defense and other areas across the board.

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