Haley reaffirms state won’t participate in health exchange
Gov. Nikki Haley told the federal government Thursday that South Carolina won’t set up a state health exchange, saying President Barack Obama’s re-election did not change her stance. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Haley says the exchanges called for under the federal health care law known as Obamacare are state-based in name only and “pass along to the state the burdens of a new and cumbersome bureaucracy.” Haley’s decision is no surprise. But Sebelius wanted to hear by Friday if states would be setting up health insurance markets under the law. States that can’t or won’t set up exchanges will have theirs run by Washington. The insurance exchanges are meant to function as one-stop online marketplaces of private health plans. Their goal is to make it easier for households and small businesses to buy a private health plan they must have in 2014 or face penalties under the Obama administration’s 2010 health reform law.
Biden, Boehner get letters touting Savannah harbor project
SAVANNAH, Ga. The federal agency seeking to deepen the Savannah harbor says it sent letters promoting the $652 million project to Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and leaders of key congressional committees. Ten letters to House and Senate leaders were disclosed Thursday by the Army Corps of Engineers in a filing in U.S. District Court in South Carolina, where environmentalists are suing over the project. The letters by Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant Army secretary for civil works, claim an exemption that would allow dredging to begin without state permits from Georgia and South Carolina. The letter says Congress would consent to the exemption by funding construction. The Port of Savannah wants deeper water to accommodate supersized cargo ships. But permitting efforts in South Carolina are tied up in court.
Bernanke points to obstacles in housing recovery
WASHINGTON Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says banks’ overly tight lending standards may be holding back the U.S. economy by preventing creditworthy borrowers from buying homes. Bernanke says some tightening of credit standards was needed after the 2008 financial crisis. But he says “the pendulum has swung too far the other way.” He says some qualified borrowers are being prevented from getting home loans. Bernanke’s comments came on a day when the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a record low of 3.34 percent.
The Associated Press