In today's On the News segment: President Obama's plan would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, through a mix of spending cuts and revenues; Oregon Democrats are working make the rich pay their fair share; the long-anticipated deliberations on gun control are expected to begin Thursday, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. President Obama has officially released his fifth annual budget. Once again, the president has put forward a mix of infrastructure spending, investments in education and research, and a plan for additional deficit reduction. Unlike previous budget plans, however, this new proposal offers cuts to Social Security, Medicare and V.A. benefits, in an attempt to bring Republicans to the negotiating table. President Obama's plan would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over 10 years, through a mix of spending cuts and revenues. The plan includes $580 billion in new taxes on the wealthy, $200 billion in defense cuts, $600 billion in reduced subsidies and unemployment, and an estimated $230 billion in savings from the so-called chained CPI. That's the reduction in cost-of-living adjustments that will reduce benefits for recipients of Medicare and Social Security. By including the chained CPI in his budget, President Obama has infuriated many in his own party. And Republican leaders refused to consider any additional tax increases before the President even released this budget. A senior White House administration official said, "If they refuse to include revenues in any deal, then there will be no deal. It's that simple." The last time the Administration made such a proposal – during the fiscal cliff negotiations – Republican opposition to tax increases prevented the chained CPI from cutting benefits to those in need. The question now is, will Republican's give in to revenues now, to achieve their goal of destroying our social safety net? We must not let that happen. Call Congress and the White House today and tell them to take our safety net off their chopping block.
In screwed news... North Carolina won't be out done by Mississippi's recent Anti-Bloomberg Bill. Lawmakers in the Tar Heel state have passed their own law prohibiting cities and counties from limiting the size of sugary beverages. The new law is similar to a measure that recently passed in Mississippi. However, North Carolina legislators took it a step further, by including a provision that protects food-industry companies from being sued over any illness caused by long-term consumption of their products. Under the guise of "you can't sue because you gained weight," North Carolina lawmakers have given the food-industry a preemptive pass on any other ill effects caused by the food they sell. This law is not only a waste of tax payer dollars, but it's a danger to public health. North Carolina lawmakers should be ashamed.
In the best of the rest of the news...
At his State of the Union Address, President Obama said gun-violence victims deserve a vote – and it looks like they may finally get one. The long-anticipated deliberations on gun-control are expected to begin Thursday, as it appears Republicans do not have the numbers to block debate on the issue. The bi-partisan team of Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey have been working together on a compromise, which will expand the background check system, and close the gun-show loophole. Even though the bill may finally make it to the Senate floor, there is certainly no guarantee that it will become law. But finally, Senators may have to take a vote on gun-control, and let voters know whether they stand with the majority of Americans who support background checks, or whether they stand with the gun lobby.
Oregon Democrats are working make the rich pay their fair share. A new budget proposal released Monday calls for limiting tax deductions on individuals who make over $125,000 per year. The plan also targets corporations in that state, and closes loopholes that allow businesses to off-shore profits. Of course, Republicans in the Oregon House and Senate want more cuts included in Senate Bill 822, which already trims $810 million out of the Public Employee Retirement System. Democrats control both the House and Senate in Oregon, but will need at least two Republican votes to pass the tax increases in both chambers. Hopefully, there's at least two Republicans in Oregon that understand they can't cut their way to prosperity. Good luck Beaver State!
Lancaster, California is shining a light on solar energy. That city's Republican mayor, Rex Parris, wants to make Lancaster the solar capital of the world. Two years ago, Mayor Parris started working to require all new homes in the city come equipped with solar panels, or be built in subdivisions that produce at least one kilowatt of solar energy per house. Parris wants to make Lancaster the center of renewable technology, and he said entrepreneurs should know, " if they come and have an idea to create energy without a carbon footprint, we will move mountains for them." The Mayor – who the New York Times terms "aggressively pro-business" – has figured out what green energy advocates have been saying all along – green technology isn't just good science, it's good business. Mayor Parris says that global warming will eventually convince others to make the switch to renewable energy, and his city will serve as a great example of how to do it. Rex Parris is putting Lancaster on the path to be a captial of innovative, environmentally sound technology. Great work Mayor Parris!
And finally... They say everybody gets 15 minutes of fame... but one Florida woman may have preferred her rise to stardom had taken a different route. Meagan Simmons has become an internet sensation dubbed the "Attractive Convict," after being arrested in 2010 for reckless driving. Her mug shot continues to be shared on the web three years after her arrest, with snarky comments attached to the picture. At least 280 different versions of the photo have been created, with added commentary like, "Guilty...of taking my breath away." Simmons says she certainly wasn't thinking about taking a great mug shot, but continues to get asked for tips on taking attractive booking photos. It goes to show you never know when and where your 15 minutes may happen, but we're guessing Ms. Simmons would have preferred that hers wasn't the result of an arrest.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, April 10, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.