On today's On the News segment: Republicans' answer to the government shutdown is simply a continuation of their earlier demands; Wall Street gamblers want to get their hands on our pensions; a federal judge in New Jersey ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Over the weekend, House Republicans approved a so-called compromise to avoid a government shutdown. However, their idea of negotiation was nothing more than ridiculous, right-wing demands they included in the continuing resolution. Rather than voting on the complete defunding of Obamacare, republicans voted to delay the healthcare law for an entire year. In addition, they want employers to have the right to deny women access to birth control coverage, and they want to repeal the medical device tax which is one of the funding sources for healthcare expansion. According to thhe nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act would leave 11 million Americans without health insurance, and repealing the medical device tax would add $30 billion dollars to the deficit. And, the provisions are simply more political theater, as they will likely be stripped out of the continuing resolution by the Senate again anyway. House Republicans simply wanted to push our nation to economic brink in order to leave no time for the Senate to make changes to the legislation. And, their political ploy is an effort to leave the upper chamber holding the continuing resolution when the government funding clock runs out, so that the Senate gets the blame for a government shutdown. But, Americans are not fooled by these political tactics, and they want Republicans to stop using our economy as pawn in their partisan games. If the government shuts down, federal workers will be furloughed, national parks will be closed, soldiers won't get paid, and our economy will suffer. Republicans can try all the political maneuvering they can think of, but Americans will know who is to blame for all of it.
In screwed news... Wall Street gamblers want to get their hands on our pensions. Apparently, bank bailouts, corporate profits, and risky derivative trades are no longer enough, so now the financial predators are going after public employee retirement funds. According to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone Magazine, billionaire John Arnold has teamed up with Tea Partiers like Orrin Hatch and Dick Armey, and together they've been beating the drum of the so-called "unfunded liability crisis." The group has fear-mongered about public pensions being "unsustainable," and suggested that all teacher, firefighter, and police pension funds should be handed over to Wall Street – where billionaire traders can charge huge managing fees and profit by gambling with other people's money. Taibbi explained that the group has been "proselytizing pension reform all over America, including California, Florida, Kansas, Arizona, Kentucky, and Montana." And, they've spent millions getting Americans to believe their lies. The Wall Street banksters already made billions from wrecking our economy, we can't let them steal retirement from public workers too.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Justice Department is standing up for voting rights in the Tar Heel State. Attorney General Eric Holder is filing a lawsuit to block North Carolina's new voter ID-disenfranchisement law. The lawsuit charges that the state's new law discriminates against African-Americans, and requests that the entire state of North Carolina be placed under a pre-clearance requirement. Before the Supreme Court struck down a vital provision in the Voting Rights Act, 40 North Carolina counties had to gain approval from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes to their voting laws. Once that provision was struck down, right-wing lawmakers in that state pushed through the most extreme voter disenfranchisement laws in our nation. North Carolina republicans eliminated same-day voter registration, slashed early voting hours, instituted an extreme voter ID provision, and weakened disclosure requirements for outside spending groups. Judges have yet to act on a similar lawsuit against the state of Texas, but Attorney General Eric Holder isn't going to wait to stand up for the voters of North Carolina.
On Friday, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married. Judge Mary C. Jacobson said that by only allowing civil unions in that state, New Jersey has created a "separate-but-equal" status for same-sex couples, which is illegal under that state's constitution. Judge Jacobson wrote, "By statutorily creating two distinct labels – marriage for opposite-sex couples and civil unions for same-sex couples – New Jersey civil union partners are excluded from certain federal benefits that legally married same-sex couples are able to enjoy." She explained, "This unequal treatment requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy the equal protection guarantees of the New Jersey Constitution." Her decision will likely be appealed to an intermediate court, and then to the state Supreme Court. But, New Jersey's highest court has previously ruled in favor of same-sex couples being treated equally under the law. If those higher courts continue to rule on the side of equality, New Jersey would become the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage. Slowly buy surely, our nation is realizing that everyone should have the legal right to marry the person who they love.
And finally... Over the last week, thousands of Americans have liked, tweeted, and shared the social media feeds from an account called "The Adorable Care Act." And, the White House says they are not behind it. The anonymous user started posting pictures of cute and cuddly animals, along with messages that explain the benefits of Obamacare. One message included a picture of a mouse, along with the caption, "I can rest easy knowing that lifetime caps on health coverage have been eliminated. Thanks, Adorable Care Act." Other posts featured a piglet in a tiara, elephants linking their tusks, and a furry little kitten that had its paws clasped together as if saying a prayer. No word yet on who is behind the brilliant messaging, but they apparently know the number one rule of social media – if you want people to notice something, attach it to a picture of a cute, little kitten.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, September 30, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.