In today's On the News segment: According to Moody's analytical expert Mark Zandi, constant economic brinkmanship is putting our economy at risk; gay marriage is now legal in 14 states in our nation; US Attorney General Eric Holder has tentatively agreed to a record $13 billion settlement in the case of several civil lawsuits against JP Morgan over the sale of troubled mortgage-backed securities; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. As of today, more than half a million people have signed up for Obamacare. However, many more people may have enrolled, but they were unable to because of glitches on the healthcare website. On Sunday afternoon, HHS officials posted a blog saying, “Unfortunately, the experience on HealthCare.gov has been frustrating for many Americans.” And on NBC's “Meet the Press”, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said, “I think that there's no one more frustrated than the president at the difficulty in the Web site.” So, President Obama announced that the administration has enlisted the help of some computer experts to help fix the glitches, and improve the online marketplaces. Although the White House has not disclosed exactly who will be working on the site, or how many glitches need repair, they described the new team of experts as “the best and the brightest.” It may take several weeks for coders to find and correct the various problems, from people having difficulty signing up, to computers communicating with each other among at least 50 different databases. And, the corrections should be in place for people to sign up long before the March 31st enrollment deadline. A project this massive is bound to have at least a few technical issues, but this is too important to give up after just a few glitches. In a speech this morning, the President said that the Affordable Care Act “is not just a website”, and the essence of the law is working just fine. He added, “It's time for folks to stop rooting for its failure, because hard-working middle class families are rooting for its success.
In screwed news... Economists are warning about the danger of governing by crisis. According to Moody's analytical expert Mark Zandi, constant economic brinkmanship is putting our economy at risk. Although Congress avoided a potential world-wide economic disaster, the short-term debt limit deal prevents US businesses from planning more than a couple months into the future. Essentially, for all their talk about the danger of uncertainty, Republicans have left business owners far from certain about our economy. And, Mr. Zandi said that the harmful effects of the latest shutdown, along with the looming fears about a next one, will mean a slow holiday season for US businesses. On CBS's “Face the Nation”, Mark Zandi said, “I had expected the economy to pick up pace by the end of the year going into the next, but now I think that's very unlikely. I think we're stuck in this very slow growth, lackluster kind of environment.” Despite all the Republican warnings that Obamacare would destroy our economy, it appears that the Tea Party's hostage-taking poses the biggest risk for businesses.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Gay marriage is now legal in 14 states in our nation. Starting today, same-sex couples are getting married in the state of New Jersey. Last month, New Jersey Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, but Governor Chris Christie and Republicans in that state requested that the ruling be delayed. Last week, Judge Jacobson refused to delay the law, and today Governor Christie announced he will not challenge the marriage equality ruling. Couples rushed to New Jersey courthouses this morning, to be among the first to exchange marriage vows. Senator-elect Cory Booker even joined in, by presiding over some of that state's first same-sex marriage ceremonies at Newark's City Hall. Mayor Booker even got a little choked up during one ceremony, saying, “This is very beautiful.” And he's right. It is beautiful to see any loving couple exchange vows. Some same-sex couples in New Jersey have been waiting years, or even decades, for the right to marry. Finally, after that long wait, same-sex couples in New Jersey will finally be recognized as the loving families that they are. Now, which state will be the next in our nation to ensure that everyone has the right to marry the person who they love?
JPMorgan banskters are being forced to pay up. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has tentatively agreed to a record $13 billion dollar settlement, and for once it won't absolve the bank of criminal charges. The settlement came as a response to several civil lawsuits against JPMorgan, over the sale of troubled mortgage-backed securities. According to the New York Times, JPMorgan's CEO Jamie Dimon and Attorney General Eric Holder personally helped foster the deal, after the banks initial offers of $1 billion and $3 billion were rejected. Sources close to the deal told The Times that despite the record-breaking number that was finally agreed on, Holder also demanded that JPMorgan plead guilty to a criminal charge in an ongoing investigation against that bank in California. It is possible that this deal could still fall apart if JPMorgan refuses to admit to wrongdoing in the California case, but if it's accepted it could set a new precedent for taking on the banksters. So far, five years after the too-big-to-fail banks brought down our economy with reckless and fraudulent trading, there has been little-to-no admission of guilt or criminal prosecution. The American people were forced to bail out the banksters, but the banksters were never held accountable for their actions. It may be five years later, but it's about time that someone be charged for crashing our economy.
And finally… Textbook publishers are standing up to religious groups in Texas. Over the past few years, officials who approve that state's textbooks have demanded that creation be taught in science class. And, for some time, it appeared that the textbook publishers were going to cave, simply to hang on to that state's enormous purchasing agreements. Because publishers don't often print separate books for different states, including creation in science textbooks would have meant that most kids in our nation were being taught phony science. But, publishers refused to print the creation story in their science textbooks. Teachers will have to leave the biblical story to religion classes, and leave the fiction to Fox News.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, October 21, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.