msnbc.msn.com — Contractors large and small have been heading offshore to shield piles of taxpayer dollars, according to an Associated Press investigation, but irate lawmakers are thundering that they'll put an end to it. The House recently passed tax legislation that would treat foreign subsidiaries of U.S. government contractors as American employers. That means they would have to pay the taxes that finance Social Security and Medicare programs. The Senate is now considering the legislation.
washingtonpost.com — Fannie Mae, one of the main sources of mortgage funding and a barometer of the housing market, reported that home prices fell faster than it expected during the first quarter, contributing to a $2.2 billion loss for the company. The company had been predicting that the toll from defaults and foreclosures would worsen this year, and yesterday it revised its forecast to predict even higher credit losses ahead.
usatoday.com — Corporate defaults are reaching levels not seen in years as companies struggle with a fickle bond market and nervous consumers. Already this year, 27 U.S. companies have defaulted on their debt, exceeding the 16 companies that defaulted in all of 2007. Many of these companies have already filed for bankruptcy protection. Bankruptcy experts say this is just beginning, because massive amounts of debt will come due at a much faster pace in about a year.
— Witnesses at a congressional hearing alleged that mortgage lenders are abusing the bankruptcy court system by pursuing unjustified foreclosures against struggling homeowners, piling on questionable fees and misstating the amounts owed. The result is a systemic breakdown that increases foreclosures, raises the number of families losing their homes and threatens the integrity of the legal system, the witnesses told the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts.
nytimes.com — On the eve of a House floor debate on a plan to help homeowners in danger of foreclosure, the Bush administration said that it opposed the measure and that White House advisers would urge the president to veto it. The bill, championed by Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, would expand access to federally insured mortgages to help troubled homeowners refinance their loans.
nytimes.com — Oil jumped to another record, and the government said it expected gasoline prices to peak at a national average of $3.73 a gallon in June, just as the summer driving season kicks off. The new forecast from the Energy Department came on a day oil futures rose above $122 a barrel in New York trading after rebels in Nigeria renewed their attacks against oil installations. Oil prices have nearly doubled in a year. Gasoline is selling for a national average of about $3.61 a gallon, according to AAA, the automobile club, a penny less than the record set on May 1 but 58 cents higher than a year ago.
huffingtonpost.com — It is not a coincidence that the middle-class squeeze began at the same time as the corporate-funded anti-government, tax-cutting fervor. In fact, many of the reasons the middle class feels squeezed are the result of pressures brought about almost entirely from the effects of tax cuts and cutbacks in government services, regulations and enforcement that went along with the tax cuts.