In today's On the News segment: Obamacare is off to a great start; after flooding, Colorado is being hit hard by the government shutdown; New York's top prosecutor is holding the banksters accountable; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. You wouldn't know it by listening to right-wing media, but Obamacare is off to a great start. On the first day of open enrollment, millions of Americans around our nation visited online marketplaces, and tens of thousands of people created accounts. The overwhelming demand for information did leave several sites running slowly, but overall, the first day of the Affordable Care Act was a huge success. For the first time ever in our nation, the majority of Americans have access to low-cost, quality healthcare, and they are signing up fast. In California, state residents took to social media to say that state's healthcare app was "working like a charm," despite the fact that the site was getting 10,000 hits every second. By 11a.m., 1,300 Colorado residents had created accounts on that state's exchange. And, by 2p.m. in Connecticut, state officials reported that more than 17,000 residents had called that state's healthcare hotline. Of course, the new flood of healthcare choices and information is still confusing for many people, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, "I think [administration officials] bear part of the responsibility [for] not being able to cut through all the noise." However, now that exchanges are open, Americans are logging on, or calling in to ask questions and learn more about Obamacare. And, judging by the number of new enrollees, people must like what they're learning. Republicans tried more than 40 times to repeal the new healthcare law, and they tried every scare tactic in the book to make Americans afraid of Obamacare. They even shut down the government in a last-ditch effort to stop the law from going into effect. Through it all, President Obama, White House officials, and healthcare advocates worked to give Americans access to affordable healthcare, and it appears that they've succeeded.
In screwed news... As if deadly flooding and billions of dollars in damages weren't enough, now Colorado is being hit hard by the government shutdown. National Guard troops, who are helping with the repair and rebuilding efforts, won't receive their federal salary, and Colorado has to come up with the money to keep them working. Governor John Hickenlooper said that the state will pay the national guard salaries, but they are hoping to get some help from FEMA to cover the cost. He said, "We can't afford to lose one day in rebuilding areas destroyed or damaged by the floods. Our National Guard troops are an invaluable part of the team working on the recovery. We need them to stay on the job." The catastrophic flooding caused $2 billion dollars in property damage, and another $500 million in damage to roads and bridges, so Colorado's money is already stretched pretty thin. It's likely that they will have to skip paying for some other important part of clean up to cover the salaries that should be paid by the federal government.
In the best of the rest of the news...
New York's top prosecutor is hold the banksters accountable. That state's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is about to file a lawsuit against Wells Fargo bank. According to Schneiderman, our nation's largest home lender violated the terms of the multibillion-dollar foreclosure fraud settlement that they signed last year. The New York Attorney General identified 210 separate violations, and sent letters to Wells Fargo and Bank of America warning them to comply with the 2012 settlement. While Bank of America apparently instituted a series of additional protections for homeowners at Mr. Schneiderman's request, Wells Fargo balked at the accusations. In a letter to the Attorney General, Wells Fargo said that they "disagree with allegations", and that they have voluntarily improved their processes. Apparently, that did not satisfy Eric Schneiderman, who said that his office still continues to get complaints about Wells Fargo mortgage servicing, and that he is moving forward with the lawsuit. The mortgage settlement itself was the so-called punishment for the banksters who cheated thousands of Americans out of their homes. Thankfully, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is making sure they comply with the terms of that agreement.
Palo Alto, California is already one of the "greenest" cities in America. And, they're making plans to keep it that way. In addition to their clean, reliable trains, their bike trails, and their clean air standards, Palo Alto city council adopted a measure that requires new homes to be wired for electric vehicles. The council voted 9 to zero to approve the proposal, which states that every new home must be pre-wired for a 240-Volt Level 2 charging station. The bill is a response to the prohibitive cost of installing a charging station in an existing home. As more residents purchase electric vehicles, Palo Alto wants to ensure that building standards are keeping up with technology. City Councilman Marc Berman said that after encountering an all-electric Tesla vehical on a road trip to Alaska, he realized, "It is necessary that we create the infrastructure to allow [electric vehicle sales] to happen. In Palo Alto, of all places, we should absolutely do that."
And finally... If you're going to try to evade police, a paddle boat may not be the greatest escape vehicle. But, authorities in Waterford, Michigan say that Mark Steven Rood thought it was a great plan. Police went to the man's home last Friday to arrest him for a probation violation, and Mr. Rood ran to a lake, jumped in a neighbor's paddle boat, and attempted to make his get-away. Unfortunately for Mr. Rood, the boat quickly sank, forcing him to swim to shore, where he was arrested. He is now being held by authorities in lieu of a $20,000 dollar bond, as well as being the punchline for jokes around the precinct. The boat sinking did make his capture easier for authorities, but you have to wonder how far he thought he would get in a paddle boat to begin with.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, October 2, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.