In today's On the News segment: As Obamacare goes into effect, the Koch brothers have orchestrated a multi-million dollar misinformation campaign; The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says an increase in the federal minimum wage would be a huge boost to our economy; Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he will not run for reelection; and more.
You need to know this. As Obamacare goes into effect, some states are getting creative with ads telling residents about the healthcare law's benefits. However, those ads will be running alongside a multi-million dollar misinformation campaign orchestrated by the Koch brothers. According to the Think Progress Blog, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity is spending a fortune on television ads aimed at turning Americans against the new healthcare law. The group's first ad is called "Questions," and it features a mother of two who tells viewers that she "has some questions about Obamacare." Her so-called questions imply that under the Affordable Healthcare Act, she will be paying higher premiums and won't be able to select her family's doctor. The ad perpetuates myths that have been clearly debunked. As Think Progress points out, there is nothing in Obamacare that stops patients from choosing their own doctors, and people who get their insurance through their employer likely won't see any changes at all. And, while the Americans For Prosperity ad refers to higher healthcare premiums, we've seen insurance rates go down in states implementing the law – like California – and millions of Americans will qualify for subsidies to purchase healthcare through insurance exchanges. In fact, it's Republican policies – like refusing to implement the law's Medicaid expansion – not Obamacare – that will leave some people uninsured. The constant misinformation from the Right is exactly why states like Oregon and New Jersey are working so hard to inform the public about the law's new benefits with their new television ads. However, thanks to the Koch brothers, Americans will have a difficult time sorting through the lies, and figuring out the real ways Obamacare will improve their lives.
In screwed news... The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago says an increase in the federal minimum wage would be a huge boost to our economy, but that won't stop Republicans from keeping wages low. According to economists at the Chicago Fed, raising the minimum wage to $9 dollar per hour would increase total household spending by nearly $50 billion dollars the following year. Nine dollars is the minimum wage President Obama proposed in his 2013 State of the Union. In response, Speaker of the House John Boehner rejected the idea immediately. He said that raising the wages of the lowest-paid Americans would cost jobs and hurt our economy. However, multiple studies have shown that an increase in wages would not lead to job losses, and the authors of this recent study wrote, "a minimum wage hike can stimulate economic activity by putting money into the hands of people who are especially likely to spend it." Republicans would rather be able to blame the President for the economy, than give the lowest-paid workers a modest raise.
In the best of the rest of the news...
On Monday, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced he will not run for reelection. While leaving the door open for another presidential run, Governor Perry said he will retire from office in January of 2015. The news presents an opening for a democratic candidate for governor, and it could finally bring an end to Rick Perry's extreme right-wing policies. During his announcement, Perry said, "Our responsibility remains to the next generation of Texans, who will inherit a state of our making. We alone are responsible for the kind of Texas that will greet them." And, that's exactly why Texas democrats are hopeful that they can win the Governor's office, and implement policies that will actually benefit that next generation.
Congress may have failed to act to protect students, but at least two states are stepping in to prevent young people from being burdened with outrageous college debt. Lawmakers in Oregon and New Jersey are drafting plans to make college affordable for students in their states. Newark Mayor Cory Booker is calling on the federal government to contribute to a college fund for low-income families, and Oregon lawmakers are working on legislation to allow students to go to public universities tuition free. Both plans could provide much-needed relief to students and families considering the looming cost of higher education, and could be implemented as early as 2015. New Jersey and Oregon recognize the need to invest in our future leaders, and are working to give everyone access to a college education.
And finally... After Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll resigned because of suspected ties to an internet gambling ring, lawmakers in that state went into over-drive to address the problem. Last April, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into a law a ban on all internet cafes. But, it turns out, the poorly worded bill may have effectively outlawed all computers and smartphones in the Sunshine State. According to a recent lawsuit by one of the internet cafes, the legislation bans any "system or network of devices" that may be used in a game of chance. The law suit alleges that the law was passed "in a frenzy of distorted judgment." Some say it's no surprise that Republican lawmakers didn't consider the unintended consequences of the law. But, others suspect the ban is simply another sneaky GOP attempt to send our country back to the 1950s.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, July 9, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.