The week that was: House of (Credit) Cards

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House of (Credit) Cards

Bolstered by the success of its original programming, particularly the Kevin Spacey-headlined “House of Cards,” Netflix may be raising its monthly subscription by $1 to $2 for new customers while current customers will enjoy a one-year reprieve from the increase. And this may be only the beginning. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission announced new rules that will give Netflix and other companies the right to buy fast-lane content streaming from Internet providers — an added cost that many expect will be passed on to consumers. At its current $7.99-a-month rate, Netflix brought in nearly 12 million new subscribers the past year, increasing revenues by 24 percent.

Till debt do us part

Some college students who have had a parent or grandparent co-sign for their school loans are discovering those private loan agreements include a clause that triggers a demand for immediate, full payment if the family member dies or declares bankruptcy — even if the borrower had been making all payments on time to that point. The clause is not included in federal student loan agreements.

The muddle in the middle

Middle class ain’t what it used to be. A New York Times analysis has found that, over the last three decades, Americans classified as middle or lower class have fallen behind their counterparts in Canada and other developed nations when it comes to pay raises.

Tax dodgers make the bonus round

The IRS paid $1 million in bonuses to workers who owed back taxes, a treasury inspector reported this week, and nearly $2 million more to staff members who had been recently disciplined for misconduct such as drug use, making violent threats or fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits. The bonuses, while not a violation of federal regulations, “appear to create a conflict with the IRS’s charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration,” the inspector wrote.

Take two herbs and call me in the morning

The Wall Street Journal this week reported that our neighbor to the north, the Cleveland Clinic, has opened a center specializing in Chinese herbal therapy. Although a National Institutes of Health official said proof of herbs’ effectiveness is “quite thin” — insurance plans typically won’t cover the treatments — patients who have had more traditional therapies fail are lining up to try it. The clinic is part of the hospital’s Center for Integrative Medicine, which also features acupuncture, holistic psychotherapy and massage therapy.

Steve Twedt can be reached at or 412-263-1963.

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