In today's On the News segment: If the debt limit isn't raised then a chain reaction of events will happen that will ruin both the US' and global economy; more than 300 employees of the Wendy's fast food chain in Nebraska stand to get screwed by their employer; former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is launching a new organization to take on the National Rifle Association, and More.
You need to know this. A nightmarish scenario of what might happen if Republicans refuse to raise the debt limit, is beginning to emerge. According to analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center – if the debt limit isn't raised by the end of February – then a chain reaction of events will happen that will ruin both the United States' and global economy. To begin with, the Treasury Department has to make roughly 100 million payments a month, to pay for things already spent by Congress. Without an increase in the debt limit – those payments will not be able to go out. Yes, in the short term, the Treasury can prioritize what they pay out first – and keep payments to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Education, and Defense going for a little while – but that would mean everything else would cease getting funding after March 1st. That includes food safety inspectors, prisons, researchers, courts, the FAA, and the list goes on and on. And then there's the subsequent shock to global financial markets, that will occur once America defaults on her debt – and the benchmark interest rate for US debt skyrockets – forcing rates on credit cards, mortgages, and complex derivatives to spike as well. The interest on our debt will go up – revenue into the government will go down – and we'll be in an even worse fiscal situation than we were before. This would be a nightmare for everyone. Yet, it's exactly what House Republicans are willing to bring about, unless President Obama agrees to significant cuts in Medicare and Social Security Insurance programs. There's no other way to describe this than economic terrorism. And the President must cut off negotiations with these terrorists right now – and embrace either the 14th Amendment, or the trillion-dollar platinum coin, to raise the debt limit on his own.
In screwed news...corporate executives aren't job creators...they're just greedy. More than 300 employees of the Wendy's fast food chain in Omaha, Nebraska stand to get screwed by their employer. Rather than complying with the new Obamacare mandate, to offer health insurance to his full-time workers, Gary Burdette – the Vice President of operations for the local Wendy's franchise, is cutting all of his workers hours to part-time – thus shrinking their paychecks and putting the cost burden of finding health insurance squarely on their shoulders. Darden Restaurants, which nearly did the same thing, changed its mind after a harsh backlash from customers, and an immediate 37% drop in profits. Burdette argues that he simply can't afford to pay for health insurance for his workers. My response to that is if you run a business – and you can't afford to offer the basic essentials to your workers like a living wage and healthcare – then you don't deserve to be in business in the first place. Time to bring back business in the public interest.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords is launching a new organization to take on the National Rifle Association. Giffords – who was a victim of a mass shooting in 2011 by an assailant using assault weapons. She wants to put an end to these mass shootings in the future and has created the organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions, to engage the American public in a discussion about guns, and break the stranglehold that the NRA has on our Congress. In a USA Today op-ed, Giffords and her husband call out the NRA, writing, "Rather than conducting a dialogue, they threaten those who divert from their orthodoxy with political extinction." Giffords' campaign got a boost this morning from the former top military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who called for a ban on assault rifles. The stakes are too high in America today to let the NRA win another gun battle in Congress. Let's hope organized people defeat organized money to make our communities safer.
In the next 100 years, the world will be rocked by mass human migrations as a result of unchecked global climate change. New studies show that the rate of sea level increase, as a result of a hotter plant, is much faster than previously believed. According to research published last weekend, in the journal Nature Climate Change, sea levels are now expected to rise as much as one meter by 2100. What that translates into is massive floating of low-lying coastal areas and islands. Researchers warns that a one meter rise in the oceans would force the migration of nearly 200 million people around the planet. The word the researchers use to describe this event is "catastrophic." This is the world that the billionaire executives behind Big Oil want to leave to our children – and time is running out for "we the people" to stop them.
And finally...meet the most ungrateful financial institution in America – A.I.G. As the New York Times reports – the insurance giant would have brought down the entire financial system in 2008 -- had it not been for a generous 182 billion bailout courtesy of "we the taxpayers" -- is now looking to sue "we the taxpayers" for offering up a bailout in the first place. Leading up the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008, AIG made enormous profits insuring junk mortgages for other banks and financial institutions. And when those junk mortgages finally exploded – and everyone came to A.I.G. to collect on their insurance claims – A.I.G. didn't have the money – and had to be bailed out. Now – A.I.G. is arguing that the conditions of the bailout were too onerous – and deprived company shareholders tens of billions of dollars. According to A.I.G. – that's a violation of the 5th Amendment, which bans the confiscation of private property without just compensation. So here we have a business that would have failed had it not received a bailout – now suing the government saying the bailout was too burdensome. You can't make this stuff up, folks. And it shows just how entitled Wall Street feels nowadays to our money.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, January 08, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.