In today’s On the News segment: House and Senate negotiators are close to a deal on "fast-tracking" the Trans-Pacific Partnership; another government shutdown could be right around the corner; the World Bank wants everyone to have health care; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Congress hasn't done much this year, but House and Senate negotiators are close to a deal on "fast-tracking" the Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP is a massive trade agreement among the US and a dozen Pacific nations that poses a major threat to our jobs, our economy, and our national sovereignty. It would allow corporations to challenge national laws if they believe the regulations pose any risk to raking in massive profits. And, congressional aides say that as early as next week, Congress could advance legislation to give up their own power to make changes to this monster deal, and a vote could take place early next year. If that vote is approved, Congress would only get an up or down vote on the final TPP agreement, which is being pushed by multinational corporations, and opposed by unions, workers, and other groups in several nations. The biggest issue these groups have with the Trans Pacific Partnership is that it's been negotiated in secret. Trade officials and corporate lobbyists have drafted the agreement behind closed doors – away from public scrutiny. And, the sections that have been leaked consistently put corporate profits and power ahead of human rights. Corporate lobbyists should not be given the power to negotiate any legislation in our nation, let alone huge free trade agreements that ship more jobs overseas and give corporations power over our national sovereignty. We don't need free trade, we need fair trade, and we must act fast to stop the Trans Pacific Partnership before it's too late.
In screwed news... Another government shutdown could be right around the corner. The next budget deal deadline is December 13th, and it's already on shaky ground. Eighteen Republican House members sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging him to bring up a "clean" continuing resolution, which would keep in place the next round of sequester cuts. In that letter, they accuse Democrats of "feigned concern over national defense in order to distract attention from the disaster that is Obamacare." But, Democrats oppose the current deal because it doesn't extend long-term unemployment benefits, doesn't close any tax loopholes, and it includes another round of budget-slashing for social programs. If this deal falls apart, we could be looking at another government shutdown by January 15th, and the economic backlash that it could bring about. The last government shutdown cost our nation at least $2 billion dollars in direct cost, and at least 120,000 private-sector jobs. And, it weakened global confidence in the US economy. There's no telling what price Americans will pay for the next one, and they're calling on Congress to pass a budget.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The World Bank wants everyone to have health care. Last Friday, the president of the World Bank, Jim Young Kim, made the economic case for universal health care. He said that the World Bank is partnering with the World Health Organization to drastically cut the number of people who fall into poverty because they can't afford medical care. Together, the organizations are pushing to reduce the number of uninsured by 50 percent by the year 2020, and their goal is to eliminate this problem by 2030. To reach that goal, these organizations are advocating for more nations to implement universal health care, and they say there's not just a moral reason – but an economic one. Kim used Japan as an example, explaining that when that nation implemented health care for all, many people thought that Japan could not afford it. However, economists say that the move actually strengthened Japan's middle class, and provided a boost to their economy. Our nation only recently started to implement the Affordable Care Act, but it's a good first step on the path to universal heatlh care.
According to RadCast.org, we're seeing elevated readings in the South and Midwest, and it could be coming over from Fukushima. Near the East Coast, Taylors, South Carolina is reporting levels of 43 counts per minute, with spikes of 71, and Gainsville, Georgia is at 65, with spikes of 84. In the Midwest, Frederic, Wisconsin is hovering at 47 counts per minute, with spikes of 74, and Colorado Springs is up around 63, with spikes all the way to 92. In the Southwest, Chandler, Arizona is averaging 44 counts per minute, with spikes up to 63. And, Borger, Texas is at 38, with spikes up to 56 counts per minute. Readings on the West Coast are slightly calmer, with Seattle, Washington at 32 counts per minute, and North Portland, Oregon at 33, with spikes of 59. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they are monitoring radiation levels closely to keep us informed.
And finally... They say you can't judge a book by its cover. And, that means we shouldn't judge a person by the clothes that they wear or the places that they choose to get dinner. Bonnie Kaltenborn was a regular around Lincoln, Nebraska soup kitchens, and most people believed that she was homeless. So, her 24 favorite charities were quite surprised to see that she left each of the $20,000 dollars in her will. Some checks went to the very shelters that provided her meals, and others went to national health organizations, like the Heart Association and the Leukemia Society. The people who knew Bonnie were utterly surprised that she saved that kind of money for charity, as she was never seen without her trademark blue parka, or tattered gloves that were patched with duct tape. She purposely saved every penny to pass on to organizations that help the less fortunate, and never asked for anything beyond a hot meal. Bonnie's story helps us remember that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and that we should never judge someone over a pair of duct-tape-covered gloves.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, December 9, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.